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Introduction: The cross border flood of millions of immigrants provokes profound political divisions, violence and the rise of mass movements challenging the unity of the European Union (EU) and the survival of the dominant political parties in the US and Europe.

Both the progressive pro-immigrant and rightwing anti-immigration parties and movements propose easy answers and attack their adversaries with political invective.

Both left and right engage in a losing war, based on historical omissions, abstract and muddle-headed assumptions and destructive proposals.

I will proceed by outlining a framework to understand the political, economic and security implications, which form the centerpiece for confronting immigration.

The Past and the Present

A serious discussion of immigration begins by focusing on the centrality of time and place, encouraging the flow and absorption of immigrants.

In the past, immigration flourished during periods when countries experienced: (1) rapid productive growth; (2)increasing labor demand; (3) trade unions and organizations capable of integrating new (immigrant) workers and protecting the on-going wage rates and conditions for all; (4) cross sectoral labor co-operation and solidarity lowering conflict between immigrant and native workers; (5) inclusive, equitable welfare programs; (6) local, not global wars and (7) violence confined outside of the US and the EU. During these periods, most immigration was confined within Europe and North America or between them.

These conditions could not eliminate competition and conflict but they limited its nature and time frame and allowed for successful integration.

If these conditions formed the basis for relatively peaceful immigration, their absence has intensified conflict amidst an increased flow of immigrants. This process has produced deep political problems. Progressives, who cite past ‘Ellis-Island’ type immigration experience and ignore the unfavorable current socio-economic conditions, are in denial. They dismiss the vast socio-economic and political changes, which have occurred and which make the absorption of new waves of immigrants extremely difficult.

Mass Immigration and Imperial Wars

The vast majority of refugees today are on the move because of Western wars. These wars are ‘total’ wars, designed to obliterate civilian, as well as military institutions and structures. In the last two decades, the US and EU have launched seven wars devastating the lives of once-cohesive and productive families, their homes and farms, jobs, institutions and security. Millions have been driven into exile.

The vast majority of new immigrants are refugees from countries targeted by the US-EU and their suffering has no visible end. During and after the Second World War, refugees suffered greatly, but were generally absorbed or repatriated and integrated into re-constructing their homes and societies. These favorable transitions were aided by an acute post-war labor shortage (over 40 million, mostly men, were killed in WWII) and the economic demands of post-war reconstruction. Western peace movements in the post-WWII past were effective and succeeded in limiting the scope and length of wars. Such peace movements no longer exist. Wars today are designed to be endless and total – in terms of the destruction of civilian infrastructure and national institutions.

Over the past 2 decades, the peace movements have disappeared. This is largely because the US and EU increasingly rely on the use of devastating bombing campaigns by their air and naval forces, which sharply limit Western casualties. Most anti-war movements were sustained by domestic anger at their own soldiers returning in ‘body bags’.

Current domestic economic conditions have sharply deteriorated. Capitalist regimes have imposed brutal economic policies increasing unemployment and low paying temporary job. Joblessness approaches 50% among young workers in Southern Europe – regions flooded with desperate refugees.

Moreover imperial policies have shifted steadily to increased military spending for wars while imposing austerity measures, slashing social programs at home.

In this context, new immigrants, especially refugees from imperial wars, compete for diminishing public resources and drastically reduced wages. Their competition effectively drives down the wages for all workers – sharply increasing the conditions for brutal exploitation.

The intense competition over jobs between native workers and immigrants is the result of capitalist wars and deliberate domestic economic policies to pay for these wars. This creates greater insecurity and hastens the downward mobility experienced by workers and the lower middle class.

In the past, such pressures and conditions led to workers protest, resistance and class conflict.

Today, trade unions cease to unify old and new workers into a strong organized force to confront the worst excesses of capital. Trade union membership has declined precipitously. The union bosses have exchanged militancy and independence for self-serving alliances with capitalist politicians. Trade unions do not protect the basic interests of workers and their families – they follow the lead of the ‘progressive’ pro-immigrant parties which are an arm of the militarist capitalist ruling class.

The workers are not racist when they resist further deterioration in their income and living standards: They are trying to protect their jobs, benefits and social programs for their families – in an environment of increasing insecurity and capitalist exploitation.

In the recent past, workers could rely on stable jobs and increasing wages because of the strong manufacturing domestic economy. These same workers, who are now labelled as ‘racist’, generally accepted immigrant workers at their plants and in their neighborhoods and schools. But this was in the decades before droves of refugees and destitute immigrants fleeing US-EU wars and destruction came to be viewed as threats to their livelihoods and children’s future.

Unlike the past, when international capital brought extracted raw materials back to the imperial country to be processed by local manufacturers, today US and EU multi-nationals have relocated their industries to overseas low wage countries, undermining jobs and living standards at home.

Commercial importers and retailers, like Wal-Mart, re-employ the displaced workers with offers of minimum pay, no benefits and contingent work.

‘Free Trade’ is not really ‘trade: Rather it is the easy outflow of investment and jobs and the retention of profits overseas in tax-havens.

US government-subsidized, high-tech corporate agro-exports have decimated ‘Third World’ farmers, forcing mass immigration of displaced peasants who then form a base to compete with domestic workers and lower the wages in the US and EU.

Progressives falsely argue, ‘ex post facto’, that migrant have merely taken the poorly-paid, unpleasant jobs that local workers rejected. The reality is more complex: In a previous era, most immigrants quickly moved into decently-paid jobs and were generally accepted by US workers.

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Once, US meat packers were well-paid workers supported by militant unions. Over time, the unions lost key labor struggles and capitalists reduced wages, in some cases by fifty percent. What had once been well regulated and strictly protected workplaces deteriorated dramatically. This decline was accompanied by the influx and hiring of low wage immigrants from Mexico and Central America. Today, the meat packing industry is among the most dangerous work environment where even immigrant children are employed. The same pattern of deteriorating wages and conditions and replacement by immigrant labor has occurred in landscaping, construction, the garment industry, transport, retailing, plumbing etc.

What has most recently pushed millions of young workers to migrate from their homes are the series of destructive imperial wars. These devastated the domestic security situation, erasing any functional national military and police structures as well as the possibilities for jobs and a stable future for young people. Former military commanders and soldiers, whose families have been torn apart by imperial US-EU wars and stripped of all dignity, have little choice but to join resistance fighters, such as ISIS in Iraq, or join the waves of refugees.

The US and EU invasion forces and puppet regimes have systematically destroyed any secular, democratic, nationalist or socialist parties and movements in the targeted countries, in their drive to divide once cohesive nations into tribal client states. In their place, violent Islamist and ethnic resistance movements have sprung up to fight the invaders and their puppets. This is the natural and predictable result of the imperial policy of destroying modern states on a massive scale.

Since multiple imperial wars in contiguous countries have destroyed all hope for refuge and new lives within the war-torn region, the new violent Islamist movements have adopted their own ‘international strategy’. Since the imperial wars were launched from distant imperial capitals in Washington, London and Paris, using bombs and missiles, the Islamists have little alternative but to base their military and terrorist strategies within civilian populations, leading to massive casualties.

The violent jihadi attacks against civilian targets in the West are not specifically religious or directed at capturing economic resources or power. The objective is to gain political influence among the growing and marginalized immigrant population in Europe and to undermine the capacity and willingness of the EU and US to continue these endless wars.

In the neglected immigrant neighborhood, there will be growing numbers of sympathizers for the ‘attackers’. This will increase demands by angry and frightened citizens in the West who have increasingly accepted the nationalist political solution of ‘draining the lake’ (immigrants) to catch the ‘fish’ (terrorists). Anti-immigrant politics and anti-terrorist police activities become inter-mingled with growing domestic economic insecurity and the sense of cultural and national displacement experienced by traditional homogeneous working class communities adjacent to large enclaves of immigrants. Increasingly severe ‘austerity’ policies, imposed by neo-liberal governments, greatly inflame the situation.

The so-called, liberal pro-immigration parties and movements ignore the fragile socio-cultural fabric of the local communities. They have done little to protect vulnerable communities from capitalist policies of literally dumping immigrants into areas and regions which cannot support or absorb them. The political leaders of pro-immigrant parties are generally far from these communities and immune to growing competition for scarce jobs and resources. For many politicians, bureaucrats and even NGO administrators, ‘their immigrants’ are domestic workers, cooks, baby sitters, gardeners, who directly serve the most comfortable strata of society. In contrast, the masses of uprooted refugees and immigrants live close to local workers, compete for jobs and share crowded clinics, social services and schools – under conditions of increasing scarcity.

The ruling class collaborates with highly domesticated trade union officials and certain ‘coopted’ second generation immigrant leaders to ‘pacify’ this domestic discontent through multi-cultural programs and mandatory diversity training sessions for workers and neighborhoods, without ever having to actually confront the class issues of deteriorating living standards and the loss of future job prospects for the children of local workers.

Working and lower middle class communities will naturally close ranks on ethnic, regional and religious bases, because they lack principled class leaders. They are susceptible to the appeals of nationalist-populist or anti-immigrant leaders and politicians, despite these parties long association with the hard right. With the notable exception of French leader, Marine Le Pen, who skillfully combines a deep understanding of French socio-economic trends with her restrictive immigration policies, the majority of Western populist and anti-immigrant politicians channel the widespread resentment over downward mobility among native workers to blaming ‘the immigrants’.

The virulent media attacks and charges of ‘racism’ made by liberal politicians and intellectuals against the downwardly mobile workers, who have been devastated by neo-liberal policies and the broad consequences of imperial wars, do nothing to combat imperialism and class exploitation. They certainly do not help the immigrants. Denunciations of the marginalized American workers and rural citizens, who voted for US President Donald Trump, by the middle class intellectuals, living in the more comfortable and urbanized coastal states, show a deep misunderstanding of the fundamental changes occurring in the country. In Europe and the US, employees and activists, connected to liberal NGOs, flock to immigrants like carrion birds, carving out their own little careers ‘educating’ immigrants and entreating the local residents of deteriorated neighborhoods to join in ’sharing’ the dominant ruling class-directed celebrations of ‘diversity’ ( or the ‘multi-culturalism of suffering’).

Conclusion

Immigration in the 21st century is significantly different from past waves of migrants. It is highly manipulative to compare the current displacement of millions of war refugees with ‘Ellis Island’ in the US or the post-WWII situation of massive reconstruction in Europe. Immigration today is a direct product of imperial wars, where murder, injury, terror and deliberate shredding of social institutions have forcibly displaced tens of millions of people – the immigrants.

Meanwhile, in the imperial countries, crass capitalist exploitation, the export of capital and jobs, and austerity have aroused the anger of workers and lower middle class employees, whose living standards have sustained significant losses. The forced merger of two enormous waves – the millions of dispossessed refugees and migrants and the marginalized and increasingly threatened workers and citizens in the West has become the key focus of the deepening conflicts of capitalists and workers in the US and the EU. Progressives and reactionaries alike obfuscate the fundamental class issues by diverting public attention to the issue of ‘racism’ and ‘immigrants’.

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In the long run, the West must face this dangerous phenomenon by organizing broad and militant anti-imperial peace movements to prevent the wars that produce these waves of desperate migrants. Trade unions, co-operatives and local or national social movements must organize the under-employed, unemployed and underpaid workers to combat the loss of jobs, the pillage of national wealth, massive capitalist tax evasion and the de-industrialization of the national economy. Banks must be nationalized, and education and health care should be publically funded and replace the current massive public budgets for war. Immigrants, who decide to settle in their new countries, should seek to fully integrate, reject dual citizenship and dual loyalties and denounce organizations that act as “fifth columns” for overseas ethno-religious states of all persuasions.

Uprooted people must ultimately choose to remain and fight over flight. They must engage in resistance to imperial occupations in their homelands instead of choosing abject submission and indignities abroad. The role of citizens in the West is to support these struggles by opposing the militarists among their own political leaders.

There are no easy answers for mass migration but there are clear causes and proposals for the future.

(Reprinted from The James Petras Website by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Immigration 

Introduction: From their dismal swamps, US academic and financial journal editorialists, the mass media and contemporary ‘Asia experts’, Western progressive and conservative politicians croak in unison about China’s environmental and impending collapse.

They have variably proclaimed (1) China’s economy is in decline; (2) the debt is overwhelming; a Chinese real estate bubble is ready to burst; (3) the country is rife with corruption and poisoned with pollution; and (4) Chinese workers are staging paralyzing strikes and protests amid growing repression – the result of exploitation and sharp class inequality. The financial frogs croak about China as an imminent military threat to the security of the US and its Asian partners. Other frogs leap for that fly in the sky – arguing that the Chinese now threatens the entire universe!

The ‘China doomsters’ with ‘logs in their own eyes’ have systematically distorted reality, fabricated whimsical tales and paint vision, which, in truth, reflect their own societies.

As each false claim is refuted, the frogs alter their tunes: When predictions of imminent collapse fail to materialize, they add a year or even a decade to their crystal ball. When their warnings of negative national social, economic and structural trends instead move in a positive direction, their nimble fingers re-calibrate the scope and depth of the crisis, citing anecdotal ‘revelations’ from some village or town or taxi driver conversation.

As long-predicted failures fail to materialize, the experts re-hash the data by questioning the reliability of China’s official statistics.

Worst of all, Western ‘Asia’ experts and scholars try ‘role reversal’: While US bases and ships increasingly encircle China, the Chinese become the aggressors and the bellicose US imperialists whine about their victim-hood.

Cutting through the swamp of these fabrications, this essay aims to outline an alternative and more objective account of China’s current socio-economic and political realty.

China: Fiction and Fact

We repeatedly read about China’s ‘cheap wage’ economy and the brutal exploitation of its slaving workers by billionaire oligarchs and corrupt political officials. In fact, the average wage in China’s manufacturing sector has tripled during this decade. China’s labor force receives wages which exceed those of Latin America countries, with one dubious exception. Chinese manufacturing wages now approach those of the downwardly mobile countries in the EU. Meanwhile, the neo-liberal regimes, under EU and US pressure, have halved wages in Greece, and significantly reduced incomes in Brazil, Mexico and Portugal. In China, workers wages now surpass Argentina, Colombia and Thailand. While not high by US-EU standards, China’s 2015 wages stood at $3.60 per hour – improving the living standards of 1.4 billion workers. During the time that China tripled its workers ‘wages, the wages of Indian workers stagnate at $0.70 per hour and South African wages fell from $4.30 to $3.60 per hour.

This spectacular increase in Chinese worker’s wages are largely attributed to skyrocketing productivity, resulting from steady improvements in worker health, education and technical training, as well as sustained organized worker pressure and class struggle. President Xi Jinping’s successful campaign for remove and arrest of hundreds of thousands of corrupt and exploitative officials and factory bosses has boosted worker power. Chinese workers are closing the gap with the US minimum wage. At the current rate of growth, the gap, which had narrowed from one tenth to one half the US wage in ten years, will disappear in the near future.

China is no longer merely a low-wage, unskilled, labor intensive, assembly plant and export-oriented economy. Today twenty thousand technical schools graduate millions of skilled workers. High tech factories are incorporating robotics on a massive scale to replace unskilled workers. The service sector is increasing to meet the domestic consumer market. Faced with growing US political and military hostility, China has diversified its export market, turning from the US to Russia, the EU, Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Despite these impressive objective advances, the chorus of ‘crooked croakers’ continue to churn out annual predictions of China’s economic decline and decay. Their analyses are not altered by China’s 6.7% GNP growth in 2016; they jump on the 2017 forecast of ‘decline’ to 6.6% as proof of its looming collapse! Not be dissuaded by reality, the chorus of ‘Wall Street croakers’ wildly celebrate when the US announces a GNP increase from 1% to 1.5%!

While China has acknowledged its serious environmental problems, it is a leader in committing billions of dollars (2% of GNP) to reduce greenhouse gases – closing factories and mines. Their efforts far exceed those of the US and EU.

China, like the rest of Asia, as well as the US, needs to vastly increase investments in rebuilding its decaying or non-existent infrastructure. The Chinese government is alone among nations in keeping up with and even exceeding its growing transportation needs – spending $800 billion a year on high speed railroads, rail lines, sea- ports, airports subways and bridges.

While the US has rejected multi-national trade and investment treaties with eleven Pacific countries, China has promoted and financed global trade and investment treaties with more than fifty Asia-Pacific (minus Japan and the US), as well as African and European states.

China’s leadership under President Xi Jinping has launched an effective large-scale anti-corruption campaign leading to the arrest or ouster of over 200,000 business and public officials, including billionaires, and top politburo and Central Committee members. As a result of this national campaign, purchases of luxury items have significantly declined. The practice of using public funds for elaborate 12 course dinners and the ritual of gift giving and taking are on the wane.

Meanwhile, despite the political campaigns to ‘drain the swamp’ and successful populist referenda, nothing remotely resembling China’s anticorruption campaign have taken root in the US and the UK despite daily reports of swindles and fraud involving the hundred leading investment banks in the Anglo-American world. China’s anti- corruption campaign may have succeeded in reducing inequalities. It clearly has earned the overwhelming support of the Chinese workers and farmers.

Journalists and academics, who like to parrot the Anglo-American and NATO Generals, warn that China’s military program poses a direct threat to the security of the US, Asia and indeed the rest of world.

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Historical amnesia infects these most deep diving frogs. Forgotten is how the post WW2 US invaded and destroyed Korea and Indo-China (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) killing over nine million inhabitants, both civilian and defenders. The US invaded, colonized and neo-colonized the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century, killing up to one million inhabitants. It continues to build and expands its network of military bases encircling China, It recently moved powerful, nuclear armed THADD missiles to the North Korean border, capable of attacking Chinese and even Russian cities. The US is the worlds’ largest arms exporter, surpassing the collective production and sale of the next five leading merchants of death.

In contrast, China has not unilaterally attacked, invaded or occupied anyone in hundreds of years. It does not place nuclear missiles on the US coast or borders. In fact, it does not have a single overseas military base. Its own military bases, in the South China Sea, are established to protect its vital maritime routes from pirates and the increasingly provocative US naval armada. China’s military budget, scheduled to increase by 7% in 2017, is still less than one-fourth of the US budget.

For its part, the US promotes aggressive military alliances, points radar and satellite guided missiles at China, Iran and Russia, and threatens to obliterate North Korea. China’s military program has been and continues to be defensive. Its increase is based on its response to US provocation. China’s foreign imperial thrust is based on a global market strategy while Washington continues to pursue a militarist imperial strategy, designed to impose global domination by force.

Conclusion

The frogs of the Western intelligentsia have crocked loud and long. They strut and pose as the world’s leading fly catchers – but producing nothing credible in terms of objective analyses.

China has serious social, economic and structural problems, but they are systematically confronting them. The Chinese are committed to improving their society, economy and political system on their own terms. They seek to solve immensely challenging problems, while refusing to sacrifice their national sovereignty and the welfare of their people.

In confronting China as a world capitalist competitor, the US official policy is to surround China with military bases and threaten to disrupt its economy. As part of this strategy, Western media and so-called ‘experts’ magnify China’s problems and minimize their own.

Unlike China, the US is wallowing at less than 2% annual growth. Wages stagnate for decades; real wages and living standards decline. The costs of education and health care skyrocket, while the quality of these vital services decline dramatically. Costs are growing, un-employment is growing and worker suicide and mortality is growing. It is absolutely vital that the West acknowledge China’s impressive advances in order to learn, borrow and foster a similar pattern of positive growth and equity. Co-operation between China and the US is essential for promoting peace and justice in Asia.

Unfortunately, the previous US President Obama and the current President Trump have chosen the path of military confrontation and aggression. The two terms of Obama’s administration present a record of failing wars, financial crises, burgeoning prisons and declining domestic living standards. But for all their noise, these frogs, croaking in unison, will not change the real world.

(Reprinted from The James Petras Website by permission of author or representative)
 
Latin America, the Middle East and Ukraine

Introduction: Over thirty year ago a savvy Colombian peasant leader told me, “Whenever I read the word ‘peace accords’ I hear the government sharpening its knives”.

In recent times, ‘peace accords’ (PAs) have become a common refrain across the world. In almost every region or country, which are in the midst of war or invasion, the prospects of negotiating ‘peace accords’ have been raised. In many cases, PA’s were signed and yet did not succeed in ending murder and mayhem at the hands of their US-backed interlocutors.

We will briefly review several past and present peace negotiations and ‘peace accords’ to understand the dynamics of the ‘peace process’ and the subsequent results.

The Peace Process

There are several ongoing negotiations today, purportedly designed to secure peace accords. These include discussions between (1) the Kiev-based US-NATO-backed junta in the west and the eastern ‘Donbas’ leadership opposed to the coup and NATO; (2) the Saudi US-NATO-armed terrorists in Syria and the Syrian government and its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies; (3) the US-backed Israeli colonial regime and the Palestinian independence forces in the West Bank and Gaza; and (4) the US-backed Colombian regime of President Santos and the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC).

There are also several other peace negotiations taking place, many of which have not received public attention.

Past and Present Outcomes of Peace Accords

Over the past quarter century several PAs were signed – all of which led to the virtual surrender of armed anti-imperialist protagonists and popular mass movements.

The Central-American PA’s, involving Salvador and Guatemala, led to the unilateral disarmament of the resistance movement, the consolidation of oligarchical control over the economy, the growth and proliferation of narco-gangs and unfettered government-sponsored death squads. As a consequence, internal terror escalated. Resistance leaders secured the vote, entered Congress as politicians, and, in the case of El Salvador, were elected to high office. Inequalities remained the same or worsened, and murders matched or exceeded the numbers recorded during the pre-Peace Accord period. Massive numbers of immigrants, often of internal refugees fleeing gang violence, entered the US illegally. The US consolidated its military bases and operations in Central America while the population continued to suffer.

The Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations did not lead to any accord. Instead ‘negotiations’ became a thin cover for increasing annexation of Palestinian land to construct racists ‘Jews-Only’ enclaves, resulting in the illegal settlement of over half a million Jewish settlers. The US-backed the entire farcical peace process, financing the corrupt Palestinian vassal-leaders and providing unconditional diplomatic, military and political support to Israel.

US-Soviet Union: Peace Accord

The Reagan/Bush-Gorbachev ‘peace accords’ were supposed to end the Cold War and secure global peace. Instead the US and the EU established military bases and client regimes/allies throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic and Balkans, pillaged the national assets and took over their denationalized economies. US-based elites dominated the vassal Yeltsin regime and virtually stripped Russia of its resources and wealth. In alliance with gangster-oligarchs, they plundered the economy.

The post-Soviet Yeltsin regime ran elections, promoted multiple parties and presided over a desolate, isolated and increasingly surrounded nation – at least until Vladimir Putin was elected to ‘decolonize’ the State apparatus and partially reconstruct the economy and society.

Ukraine Peace Negotiations

In 2014 a US-sponsored violent coup brought together fascists, oligarchs, generals and pro-EU supporters seizing control of Kiev and the western part of Ukraine. The pro-democracy Eastern regions of the Donbas and Crimean Peninsula organized resistance to the putsch regime. Crimea voted overwhelmingly to re-unite Russia. The industrial centers in Eastern Ukraine (Donbas) formed popular militias to resist the armed forces and neo-Nazi paramilitaries of the US backed-junta. After a few years of mayhem and stalemate, a ‘negotiation process’ unfolded despite which the Kiev regime continued to attack the east. The tentative ‘peace settlement” became the basis for the ‘Minsk agreement’, brokered by France, Russia and Germany, where the Kiev junta envisioned a disarming of the resistance movement, re-occupation of the Donbas and Crimea and eventual destruction of the cultural, political, economic and military autonomy of the ethnic Russian East Ukraine. As a result, the “Minsk Agreement” has been little more than a failed ploy to secure surrender. Meanwhile, the Kiev junta’s massive pillage of the nation’s economy has turned Ukraine into a failed state with 2.5 million fleeing to Russia and many thousands emigrating to the West to dig potatoes in Poland, or enter the brothels of London and Tel Aviv. The remaining unemployed youth are left to sell their services to Kiev’s paramilitary fascist shock troops.

Colombia: Peace Accord or Graveyard?

Any celebration of the Colombian FARC – President Santos’ ‘Peace Accord’ would be premature if we examine its past incarnations and present experience.

Over the past four decades, Colombian oligarchical regimes, backed by the military, death squads and Washington have invoked innumerable ‘peace commissions’, inaugurated negotiations with the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) and proceeded to both break off negotiations and relaunch full-scale wars using ‘peace accords’ as a pretext to decimate and demoralize political activists.

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In 1984, then-President Belisario Betancur signed a peace accord with the FARC, known as the ‘Uribe Agreement’. Under this agreement, thousands of FARC activists and supporters demobilized, formed the Patriotic Union (UP), a legal electoral party, and participated in elections. In the 1986 Colombian elections, the UP candidates were elected as Senators, Congress people, mayors and city council members, and their Presidential candidate gained over 20% of the national vote. Over the next 4 years, from 1986-1989, over 5,000 UP leaders, elected officials and Presidential candidates were assassinated in a campaign of nationwide terror. Scores of thousands of peasants, oil workers, miners and plantation laborers were murdered, tortured and driven into exile. Paramilitary death squads and landlord-backed private armies, allied with the Colombian Armed Forces, assassinated thousands of union leaders, workers and their families members. The Colombian military’s ‘paramilitary strategy’ against non-combatants and villagers was developed in the 1960’s by US Army General William Yarborough, Commandant, US Army Special Warfare Center and ‘Father of the Green Beret’ Special Forces.

Within five years of its formation, the Patriotic Union no longer existed: Its surviving members had fled or gone into hiding.

In 1990, newly-elected President Cesar Gaviria proclaimed new peace negotiations with the FARC. Within months of his proclamation, the president ordered the bombing of the ‘Green House’, where the FARC leaders and negotiating team were being lodged. Fortunately, they had fled before the treacherous attack.

President Andrés Pastrana (1998-2001) called for new peace negotiations with the FARC to be held ‘in a demilitarized zone’. Peace talks began in the jungle region of El Caguan in November 1998. President Pastrana had made numerous pledges, concessions and reforms with the FARC and social activists, but, at the same time he had signed a ten-year multi-billion dollar military aid agreement with US President Clinton, known as ‘Plan Colombia’. This practice of ‘double-dealing’ culminated with the Colombian Armed Forces launching a ’scorched earth policy’ against the ‘demilitarized zones’ under the newly elected (and death-squad linked) President Alvaro Uribe Velez. Over the next eight years, President Uribe drove nearly four million Colombian peasants into internal exile. With the multi-billion dollar funding from Washington, Uribe was able to double the size of the Colombian Armed Forces to over 350,000 troops, incorporating members of the death squads into the military. He also oversaw the formation of new paramilitary armies. By 2010 the FARC had declined from eighteen thousand to under ten thousand fighters – with hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties and millions rendered homeless.

In 2010 Uribe’s former Minister of Defense, Juan Manual Santos was elected President. By 2012 Santos initiated another “peace process” with the FARC, which was signed by the end of 2016. Under the new ‘Peace Accord’, signed in Cuba, hundreds of officers implicated in torture, assassinations and forced relocation of peasants were given immunity from prosecution while FARC guerillas were to face trial. The government promised land reform and the right to return for displaced farmers and their families. However, when peasants returned to claim their land they were driven away or even killed.

FARC leaders agreed to demobilize and disarm unilaterally by June 2017. The military and their paramilitary allies would retain their arms and gain total control over previous FARC- liberated zones.

President Santos ensured that the ‘Peace Accord’ would include a series of Presidential Decrees – privatizing the country’s mineral and oil resources and converting small family farms to commercial plantations. Demobilized peasant-rebels were offered plots of infertile marginal lands, without government support or funding for roads, tools, seed and fertilizer or even schools and housing, necessary for the transition. While some FARC leaders secured seats in Congress and the freedom to run in elections unmolested, the young rank and file FARC fighters and peasants were left without many alternatives but to join paramilitary or ‘narco’ gangs.

In summary, the historical record demonstrates that a series of Colombian presidents and regimes have systematically violated all peace agreements and accords, assassinated the rebel signees and retained elite control over the economy and labor force. Before his election, the current President Santos presided over the most deadly decade when he was Uribe’s Defense Minister.

For brokering the peace of the graveyard for scores of thousands of Colombian peasants and activists, President Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In Havana, FARC leaders and negotiators were praised by Cuban President Raul Castro, President Obama, Venezuelan President Maduro and the vast majority of ‘progressives’ and rightists in North and South America and Europe.

Colombia’s bloody history, including the widespread murder of Colombian civil rights activists and peasant leaders, has continued even as the documents finalizing the Peace Accords were being signed. During the first month of 2017, five human right activists were murdered by death squads – linked to the oligarchy and military. In 2015, while the FARC was negotiating over several clauses in the agreement, over 122 peasant and human rights activists were murdered by paramilitary groups who continued to operate freely in areas controlled by Santos’ army. The mass media propaganda mills continue to repeat the lie that ‘200,000 people were killed by the guerillas (FARC) and the government’ when the vast majority of the killings were committed by the government and its allied death squads; a calumny, which guerilla leaders fail to challenge. Prominent Jesuit researcher Javier Giraldo has provided a detailed factual account documenting that over three quarters of the killings were committed by the Army and paramilitary.

We are asked to believe presidential regimes that have murdered and continue to murder over 150,000 Colombian workers, peasants, indigenous leaders and professionals are suddenly transformed into justice-loving partners in peace. During the first three months of this year, activists, sympathetic to the peace agreement with the FARC, continue to be targeted and killed by supposedly demobilized paramilitary murderers.

Social movement leaders report rising political violence by military forces and their allies. Even peace monitors and the UN Human Rights Office admit that state and paramilitary violence are destroying any structure that President Santos could hope to implement the reforms. As the FARC withdraws from regions under popular control, peasants seeking land reform are targeted by private armies. The Santos regime is more concerned with protecting the massive land grabs by big mining consortiums.

As the killing of FARC supporters and human rights activists multiply, as President Santos and Washington look to take advantage of a disarmed and demobilized guerilla army, the ‘historic peace accord’ becomes a great deceit designed to expand imperial power.

Conclusion: Epitaph for Peace Accords

Time and again throughout the world, imperial-brokered peace negotiations and accords have served only one goal: to disarm, demobilize, defeat and demoralize resistance fighters and their allies.

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‘Peace Accords’, as we know them, have served to rearm and regroup US-backed forces following tactical setbacks of the guerrilla struggle. ‘PA’s are encouraged to divide the opposition (’salami tactics’) and facilitate conquest. The rhetoric of ‘peace’ as in ‘peace negotiations’ are terms which actually mean ‘unilateral disarmament’ of the resistance fighters, the surrender of territory and the abandonment of civilian sympathizers. The so-called ‘war zones’, which contain fertile lands and valuable mineral reserves are ‘pacified’ by being absorbed by the ‘peace loving’ regime. This serves their privatization programs and promote the pillage of the ‘developmental state’. Negotiated peace settlements are overseen by US officials, who praise and laud the rebel leaders while they sign agreements to be implemented by US vassal regimes . . . The latter will ensure the rejection of any realignment of foreign policy and any structural socio-economic changes.

Some peace accords may allow former guerilla leaders to compete and in some cases win elections as marginal representatives, while their mass base is decimated.

In most cases, during the peace process, and especially after signing ‘peace accords’, social organizations and movements and their supporters among the peasantry and working class, as well as human rights activists, end up being targeted by the military and para-military death-squads operating around government military bases.

Often, the international allies of resistance movements have encouraged them to negotiate PAs, in order to demonstrate to the US that ‘they are responsible’— hoping to secure improved diplomatic and trade relations. Needless to say, ‘responsible negotiations’ will merely strengthen imperial resolve to press for further concessions, and encourage military aggression and new conquests.

Just ‘peace accords’ are based on mutual disarmament, recognition of territorial autonomy and the authority of local insurgent administration over agreed upon land reforms, retaining mineral rights and military-public security.

PA’s should be the first step in the political agendas, implemented under the control of independent rebel military and civil monitors.

The disastrous outcome of unilateral disarmament is due to the non-implementation of progressive, independent foreign policy and structural changes.

Past and present peace negotiations, based on the recognition of the sovereignty of an independent state linked to mass movements, have always ended in the US breaking the agreements. True ‘peace accords’ contradict the imperial goal of conquering via the negotiating table what could not be won through war.

(Reprinted from The James Petras Website by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Latin America, Middle East, Ukraine 
From Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump

Introduction: US militarism expanded exponentially through the first two decades of the Twenty-First Century, and was embraced by both Democratic and Republican Presidents. The mass media’s hysteria towards President Trump’s increase in military spending deliberately ignores the vast expansion of militarism, in all its facets, under President Obama and his two predecessors, Presidents ‘Bill’ Clinton and George Bush, Jr.

We will proceed in this essay to compare and discuss the unbroken rise of militarism over the past seventeen years. We will then demonstrate that militarism is an essential structural feature of US imperialism’s insertion in the international system.

Militarism

Vast increases in military spending have been a constant regardless of who was President of the United States, and regardless of their popular campaign rhetoric to curb military spending in favor of the domestic economy.

Under ‘Bill’ Clinton, the war budget increased from $302 billion in 2000 to $313 billion in 2001. Under President George W. Bush (Jr.), military spending jumped from $357 billion in 2002 to $465 billion in 2004, to $621 billion in 2008. Under President Obama(the ‘Peace Candidate’), military spending soared from $669 billion in 2009 to $711 billion in 2011 and then apparently declined to $596 billion in 2017. Currently, the newly installed President Trump is asking for an increase to $650 billion for 2018.

Several observations are in order: Obama’s military budget in 2017 excluded spending in several ‘Defense-related’ departments of government, including a $25 billion increase for the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons program. Obama’s total for military spending for 2017 adds up to $623 billion or $30 billion less than Trump’s proposal. Moreover, Obama’s military spending for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), which is not listed in the annual budget proposals, included the cost of US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and numerous other countries and had skyrocketed during his term. Indeed, Obama’s eight years in office exceeded George W. Bush’s military spending by over $816 billion dollars.

President Trump’s proposed increase in military spending is in line with the Democratic President’s trajectory – contrary to the claims of the mass media. Clearly both Republicans and Democrats have massively increased their reliance on the US military as the driving force of world power. While Obama’s 2017 budget included $7.5 billion for ‘ISIS operations’ (an increase of 50%) and $8 billion for cyber warfare and (counter) terrorism, the largest increase was for stealth warplanes, nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers, clearly aimed at Russia, China and Iran. The Navy and Air Force got three quarters of the budget.

Under Obama, the US escalation of weaponry was not directed at ‘terrorist groups’ but, instead, at Russia and China. Washington has been intent on bankrupting Russia -in order to return it to the vassalage of the pre-Putin decade. The CIA – Obama – and the Republican Partys’ ferocious campaign against Trump is based on his overtures toward Russia. The centerpiece of the decades-long US quest for unipolar domination now depends on stripping Trump of his power and appointments, which in part or whole, are seen as undermining the entire structure of US military-driven imperialism as had been pursued by the previous four administrations.

Trump’s increase in military spending is apparently intended to be a ‘bargaining chip’ in his plan to expand US economic opportunities – cutting deals with Russia, renegotiating trade with China, East Asia (Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea) and Germany, all of which comprise the bulk of the US trillion-dollar annual trade deficit.

Trump’s repeated setbacks, the constant pressure on his appointees and the toll inflicted by the mass media on every aspect of his persona and personal life, even in the face of a historic increase in the stock market across the board, indicates a deep division among US oligarchs over power and ‘who governs’. Not since the onset of WWII have we witnessed fundamental cleavages over foreign policy. Previous conceptions of partisan debates are out of date. The financial press (the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal) is openly aligned with the militarists, while the financial marketers on Wall Street support Trump’s pro-business domestic policies and conciliatory overtures to Russia and China. Most of the propaganda mills, dubbed ‘think tanks’, with their stables of academics, ‘experts’, editorialists, and liberal and neoconservative ideologues promote military aggression against Russia. Meanwhile, the populist social media, grass roots Trump supporters, domestic manufacturers and the nation’s Chambers of Commerce press for domestic tax cuts and protectionist measures.

The Army is pro-Trump and favors his concept of regional wars for economic gains. In contrast, the CIA, the Navy and Air Force, which benefited significantly from Obama’s lopsided war budgets, pursue a policy of global military confrontations with Russia and China and multiple wars against their allies, such as Iran, regardless of the devastation such a policy will have on the domestic economy.

Donald Trump’s concept of imperialism is based on exporting products and capturing markets while attracting multinational corporation capital back to the US for re-investing their profits (currently over one trillion held overseas)in the domestic market. He opposes economic and military alliances that have increased US trade deficits and debt in contrast to the previous administrations of militarists who accepted crippling trade deficits and disproportionate US spending on military intervention, bases and sanctions against Russia and its allies.

President Trump’s goal of making Western Europe pay a greater share of NATO (and thus reduce Europe’s dependence on US military spending) has been rejected by both political parties. Every one of Trump’s small steps toward improving relations to Russia has aroused the ire of the unipolar military imperialists who control the leadership of the Democrats and the Republicans.

Militarist imperialism has offered a few tactical concessions to Russia’s allies – the unstable agreements with Iran and Lebanon and the flimsy peace accords in Ukraine. At the same time Washington is expanding its military bases from the Nordic-Baltic regions to Asia. It threatens support for military coups in Brazil, Venezuela and Ukraine.

The strategic purpose of these bellicose moves is to encircle and destroy Russia as a potential independent counter-weight to US global dominance.

ORDER IT NOW

President Trump’s initial policy has been to build ‘fortress America’: Increasing the military budget, building up police and military power along the Mexican border and within the oil rich Gulf States. Trump’s agenda would strengthen the military in Asia and elsewhere in order to enhance the US’ economic bargaining position in bilateral negotiations with the aim of enlarging its export markets.

Conclusion

The United States is witnessing a deadly confrontation between two sharply polarized imperialisms.

Militarism, the established form of US imperialism is deeply entrenched within the permanent state apparatus. This includes the 17 intelligence agencies, the propaganda departments, the Air Force and Navy, as well as the high tech sector and the commercial capitalist elites who have benefited from foreign imports and foreign low cost skilled labor at the expense of US workers. Their record is one of disastrous wars, lost markets, declining wages, deteriorating living standards and the relocation of well-paid jobs abroad. At best, they have secured a few, weak vassal regimes at an enormous cost.

The Trump regime’s attempt to fashion a strategic imperialist alternative revolves around a more nuanced approach: He seeks to use military power to enhance the domestic labor market and secure mass support for overseas economic intervention.

First and foremost, Trump realizes that Russia cannot be isolated from its markets in Europe and defeated by sanctions. This led him to propose negotiating a global agreement for large-scale trade deals, which would favor US banks, oil, agriculture and upscale industries. Secondly, Trump supports ’social imperialism’, whereby US exports markets, based on local US industries, labor and banks, would lead to higher wages and profits for American businesses and workers. US imperialism would not depend on costly and failed military invasions, but on overseas ‘invasions’ by US industries and banks who would then return their profits to the US for investment and further boost the stock market already stimulated by his stated plans for deregulation and tax cuts.

President Trump’s transition to this new imperial paradigm faces a formidable adversary which has so far succeeded in blocking his agenda and threatens to overthrow his regime.

From the beginning, Trump’s failed to consolidate state power, an error which undermined his administration. While his election victory gave him the Office of the Presidency, his regime is only one aspect of state power, which is vulnerable to immediate erosion and ouster by the independent coercive and legislative branches, intent on his political demise. The other government branches are filled with holdovers from the Obama and previous regimes – and are deeply committed to militarism.

Secondly, Trump failed to mobilize his elite supporters and mass base around an alternative media. His ‘early morning Tweets’ are a flimsy counter-weight to the concentrated mass media attack on his governance.

Thirdly, while Trump moved successfully to secure international support with Japan and England, he backed off from dealing with Russia– which will be central to undermining his imperial adversaries.

Fourthly, Trump has failed to connect his immigration policies with an effective new program of domestic employment and he failed to expose and capitalize on the draconian anti-immigrant policies waged under the Obama administration, during which millions were imprisoned and expelled.

Fifthly, Trump failed to clarify the link between his pro-market economic policies and military spending and how they are linked to a totally different paradigm.

As a consequence, the success of the liberal-neo-conservative militarist assault on the new president has put his central strategy in retreat. Trump is under siege and on the defensive. Even if he survives this concentrated onslaught, his original conception of ‘re-making’ American imperial and domestic policy is in tatters and the pieces will blend the worst of both worlds: Without expanding overseas markets for American products and a successful domestic jobs program, the prospects are for President Donald Trump to revert to overseas wars and usher in a market collapse.

(Reprinted from The James Petras Website by permission of author or representative)
 

Introduction: The Financial Times’ Special Report (2/16/2017) published a four-page spread on the ‘use and possible dangers of artificial intelligence (AI)’. Unlike the usual trash journalists who serve as Washington’s megaphones on the editorial pages and political columns, the Special Report is a thoughtful essay that raises many important issues, even as it is fundamentally flawed.

The writer, Richard Walters, cites several major problems accompanying AI from ‘public anxieties, to inequalities and job insecurity’. Walters pleads with those he calls the ‘controllers of autonomous systems’ to heed social and ‘political frictions’ or face societal ‘disruption’. Experts and journalists, discussing the long-term, large-scale destruction of the working class and service jobs, claim that AI can be ameliorated through management and social engineering.

This essay will proceed to raise fundamental issues, questions leading to an alternative approach to AI relying on class analysis. We will reject the specter of AI as a ‘Frankenstein’ by identifying the social forces, which finance, design and direct AI and which benefit from its negative social impact.

Basic Questions: Demystifying AI

The best and the worst of the experts reporting on AI assert that it is an autonomous system, devoid of any link to the class structure within which it operates. Their version of technological determinism, above and beyond the needs and demands of capitalists, has fits neatly with the corporate ideology of the trash journalists and pundits.

The fundamental questions that must be raised include: 1) ‘AI’, for whom?; 2) How are the productivity gains of AI to be distributed between capital and labor? 3) How are work time, income and pensions distributed between the owners of technology and the labor force?; and 4) What kinds of socio-economic activity does AI serve?

‘Artificial Intelligence’ and related technological innovations are financed, designed, controlled and ultimately applied by the major corporations and financial institutions in order to reduce the cost of labor and to enhance profits and competitiveness between capitalist rivals.

AI and similar capitalist technological changes, along with the overseas relocation of information technology and manufacturing production are the principal destroyers of workers’ employment and living standards in the US.

AI technology, alongside vast spending for imperial wars and military procurement, multi-billion dollar bank-bailouts and the promotion of finance-over-productive capital represent the forces driving down wages, salaries, living standards, pensions and, lately, life expectancy for the marginalized working class and rural population.

The innovators and promoters of AI, whether individuals or small groups, seek capitalist support to finance, market and ‘acquire’ their ‘discoveries’. In fact, the entire industry has been built upon large-scale, tax-funded public research centers and university laboratories, which have paid for the buildings as well as the scientists’ and professors’ salaries.

Most of IT and AI related profits are distributed among the military-industrial complex, the chemical agro-industrial monopolies and the transport and consumer goods manufacturing elites. While garbage journalists and experts cite ‘AI’s contribution to health, education and social services, they forget to clarify that these ‘innovations’ are controlled by private health corporations, private ‘charter’ schools and public sector education elites intent on increasing profits, lowering teachers’ salaries, slashing programs and undermining student learning. The dismal, fragmented and mal-distributed state of healthcare and education in the United States are never seriously discussed because they put the lie to the absurd claims made about the benefits of AI and IT for the broader population.

Far from being ‘autonomous’ and subject to abstract ‘controllers’, AI, IT and high technology serve to concentrate wealth, power and profits for multiple sectors of the ruling class who determine how such technologies will be used.

The financiers of AI and their partners direct the scientists, engineers and marketers. The garbage journalists are paid to proclaim the arrival of ‘history-making’ innovations. The media describe AI as ‘machine learning, a form of advanced pattern recognition technology to make judgments by analyzing large amounts of data (which) could supplement human thought’ (FT Special Report 2/17/2017).

Contrary to the above-mentioned assumptions, the ‘judgments’ are made by the ruling class, using parameters and metrics determined by the elite, deciding on what kinds of ‘patterns are to be recognized’ in order that they can derive the kind of information they need to enhance profits, make war, maximize killing and engineering massive layoffs of workers. In a word, class assumptions dictate AI, IT and the use of these innovations.

Conclusion: Alternatives

If class determines AI, and in present-day America that means the ruling class, then only changes in the class structure can pose different questions and answers to our originally stated problems. Only by sharpening the class struggle, which changes who rules the banks, factories and social institutions, will new assumptions direct AI and IT and other innovations.

Only workers, professionals and scientists, who replace the prioritizing of profits with meeting social needs, can produce an AI that lowers the retirement age, increases national health care, facilitates workers’ decision making, distributes high quality education and information to the citizenry, reduces inequalities and shifts earnings from capital to labor.

(Reprinted from The James Petras Website by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Artificial Intelligence 

Introduction

By the end of the first month of President Trump’s Administration we are in a better position to evaluate the policies and direction of the new President. An examination of foreign and domestic policy, particularly from a historical and comparative perspective will provide insights about whether America is heading for a catastrophe as the mass media claim or toward greater realism and rationality. We will proceed by examining whether Trump pursues diplomacy over warfare. We will evaluate the President’s efforts to reduce US foreign debt and trade burdens with Europe and Asia. We will follow with a discussion of his immigration and protectionist policies with Mexico. Finally we will touch on the prospects for democracy in the United States.

Foreign Policy

President Trump’s meeting with the leaders of Japan, the United Kingdom and Canada were largely successful. The Abe-Trump meeting led to closer diplomatic ties and a promise that Japan would increase their investment in automobile manufacturing in the US. Trump may have improved trade relations by reducing the trade imbalances. Trump and Abe adopted a moderate position on the North Korean missile test in the Sea of Japan, rejecting a further military build-up as the liberal-neo-con media demanded.

US-UK meeting, in the post-Brexit period, promised to increase trade.

Trump moved to improve relations with China, clearly backing the ‘single China’ policy and proceeding to re-negotiate and re-balance trade relations.

The US backed the unanimous UN Security Council vote to condemn North Korea’s missile launch. Trump did not consider it a military threat or rising to the level of additional sanctions.

Trump’s policy of reconciliation with Russia in order to improve the war against Islamist terrorism has been stymied. Led by the witch-hunting left liberal Senator Elizabeth Warren, neo-conservative militarists and Democrats pronounced Russia as the primary threat to US national security!

The rabid, ceaseless mass media blitz forced the resignation of Trump’s National Security Adviser, Ret. General Michael Flynn, on the basis of an 18th century law (the Logan Act) that prohibited private citizens from discussing policy with foreign leaders. This law has never been implemented. If it were enforced, hundreds of thousands of American citizens, most especially the big-wigs among the 51 ‘Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations’, as well as the foreign affairs editors of all major and minor US media outlets and foreign policy academics would be on the ‘chain-gangs’ with convicted drug dealers. Never embarrassed by absurdity or by trivializing tragedy, this recent ‘Tempest in the Teapot’ has whipped up passionate calls by the media and Democratic Party operatives for a new ‘Nine-Eleven Style Investigation’ into General Flynn talks with the Russians.

Trump’s setback on his National Security Adviser Flynn has put the prospects for improved, less bellicose foreign affairs in danger. It heightens the risk for a nuclear confrontations and domestic repression. These dangers, including a domestic anti-Russian McCarthy-style purge of foreign policy ‘realists’, are exclusively the responsibility of the ultra-militarist Democratic Party-Neo-Conservative alliance. None of this addresses the serious domestic socioeconomic problems.

Rebalancing Foreign Spending and Trade

Trump’s public commitment about rebalancing US relations with NATO, namely reducing the US share of funding, has already started. Currently only five NATO members meet the required contribution. Trump’s insistence on Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada, France and 18 other members fulfilling their commitments would add over $100 billion to NATO’s budget – reducing US foreign imbalances.

Of course, it would be far better for all if NATO was disbanded and the various nations re-allocate these many hundreds of billions of dollars for social spending and domestic economic development.

Trump has announced a major effort to reduce US trade imbalances in Asia. Contrary to the claims, often made by foreign trade ‘experts’ in the mass media, China is not the only, or even the largest, among the ‘offenders’ in exploiting unbalanced trade with the US.

China’s current account trade surplus is 5% of its GDP, while South Korea’s is 8%, Taiwan’s 15% and Singapore’s is 19%. Trump’s target is to reduce the US trade imbalances to $20 billion dollars with each country or 3% of GDP. Trump’s quota of $100 billion dollars stands in marked contrast to the ‘Asian Five’s’ (Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore) current trade imbalance of $700 billion dollars in 2015, according to the International Monetary Fund.

In sum, Trump is moving to reduce external imbalances by 85% in order to increase domestic production and create jobs for US-based industries.

Trump and Latin America

Trump’s Latin America policy is focused primarily on Mexico and to a much lesser degree on the rest of the continent.

The White House’s biggest move has been to scuttle Obama’s Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, which favored multi-national corporations exploiting Chile, Peru and Mexico’s work force, as well as attracting the neo-liberal regimes in Argentina and Uruguay. Trump inherits from President Obama numerous military bases in Colombia, Guantanamo, Cuba and Argentina. The Pentagon has continued Obama’s ‘cold war’ with Venezuela – falsely accusing the Venezuelan Vice President of drug trafficking.

Trump has promised to alter US trade and immigration policy with Mexico. Despite the widespread opposition to Trump’s immigration policy, he lags far behind Obama’s massive expulsion of immigrants from Mexico and Central America. America’s deportation champion was President Barack Obama, who expelled 2.2 million immigrants and their family members in eight years, or approximately 275,000 a year. In his first month in office, President Trump has deported just one percent of Obama’s monthly average.

President Trump promises to re-negotiate NAFTA, imposing a tax on imports and enticing US multinational corporations to return and invest in America.

ORDER IT NOW

There are numerous hidden advantages for Mexico if it responds to Trump’s policies with its own ‘reciprocal protectionist’ economic measures. Under NAFTA, 2 million Mexican farmers went into bankruptcy and billions of dollars have been spent importing (subsidized) rice, corn and other staples from the US. A ‘Mexico First’ policy could open the door for a revival of Mexican agriculture for domestic consumption and export; this would also decrease out-migration of Mexican farm workers. Mexico could re-nationalize its oil industry and invest in domestic refineries gaining billions of dollars and reducing imports of refined petroleum products from the US. With an obligatory import-substitution policy, local manufacturing could increase the domestic market and employment. Jobs would increase in the formal economy and reduce the number of unemployed youth recruited by the drug cartels and other criminal gangs. By nationalizing the banks and controlling capital flows, Mexico could block the annual outflow of about $50 billion dollars of illicit funds. National-popular policies, via reciprocity, would strengthen the election of new leaders who could begin to purge the corrupt police, military and political leadership.

In sum, while the Trump policies may cause some short-term losses, it can lead to substantial medium and long-term advantages for the Mexican people and nation.

Democracy

President Trump’s election has provoked a virulent authoritarian campaign threatening our democratic freedoms.

Highly coordinated and endless propaganda by all the major media and the two political parties have fabricated and distorted reports and encouraged elected representatives to savage Trump’s foreign policy appointees, forcing resignations and reversals of policy. The forced resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn highlights the Democratic Party’s pro-war agenda against nuclear-armed Russia. Liberal Senators, who once made grand speeches against ‘Wall Street’ and the ‘One Percent’, now demand Trump reject working with Russian President Putin against the real threat of ISIS while supporting the neo-Nazis in Ukraine. Liberal icons openly push for sending more US warships in Asia to provoke China, while opposing Trump’s policy of favorably re-negotiating trade deals with Beijing.

There are many hidden dangers and advantages in this partisan political warfare.

Trump has exposed the systemic lies and distortions of the mass media, confirming the distrust held by a majority of Americans for the corporate news media. The low opinion of the media, especially held by Americans in the economically devastated center of the country (those described by Hillary Clinton as the ‘deplorables’) is clearly matched by the media’s deep disdain for this huge portion of the electorate. Indeed, the constant media chatter about how the evil ‘Russians’ had hacked the US presidential elections giving the victory to Donald Trump, is more likely a ‘dog whistle’ to mask their unwillingness to openly denounce the ‘poor whites’– including workers and rural Americans – who overwhelmingly voted for Trump. This class and regional element goes a long way to explain the constant hysteria over Trump’s victory. There is widespread fury among the elites, intellectuals and bureaucrats over the fact that Clinton’s big ‘basket of deplorables’ rejected the system and rejected its coiffured and manicured media mouthpieces.

For the first time there is a political debate over freedom of speech at the highest levels of government. The same debate extends to the new President’s challenge from the enormous, uncontrolled police state apparatus (FBI, NSA, CIA, Homeland Security, etc..), which expanded massively under Barack Obama.

Trump’s trade and alliance policies have awakened the US Congress to debates over substantive issues rather than internal procedural quibbles. Even Trump’s rhetorical policies have aroused mass demonstrations, some of which are bona fide, while others are bankrolled by billionaire supporters of the Democratic Party and its neo-liberal expansionist agenda, like the ‘Grand Sugar Daddy of the Color Revolutions’ George Soros. It is a serious question whether this may provide an opening for genuine grass-roots democratic-socialist movements to organize and take advantage of the rift among the elite.

The bogus charges of ‘treasonous’ communication with the Russian Ambassador against Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, while still a civilian, and the convoking of the Logan Act against civilians discussing foreign policy with foreign governments, opens up the possibility of investigating legislators, like Charles Schumer and several hundred others, for discussing US strategic policy positions with Israeli officials…

Win or lose, the Trump Administration has opened a debate on the possibilities of peace with a nuclear superpower, a re-examination of the huge trade deficit and the necessity to stand-up for democracy against authoritarian threats from the so-called ‘intelligence community’ against an elected President.

Trump and the Class Struggle

The Trump socio-economic agenda has already set in motion powerful undercurrents of class conflict. The media and political class have focused on conflicts over immigration, gender issues, and relations with Russia, NATO and Israel as well as intra-party politics. These conflicts obscure deeper class antagonisms, which grow out of Trump’s radical economic proposals.

President Trump’s proposal to reduce the power of the federal regulatory and investigatory agencies, simplify and lower taxes, curtail spending on NATO, re-negotiate or scrap multilateral agreements and cut the budgets for research, health and education all seriously threaten the employment for millions of public sector workers and officials across the country. Many of the hundreds of thousands of protestors at the women’s rallies and marches for immigration and education are public employees and their family members who are under economic threat. What appears on the surface to be protests over specific cultural, identity or human rights issues are manifestations of a deeper and more extensive struggle between public sector employees and the agenda of a privatizing state, which draws its class support from small business people attracted by lower taxes and less regulatory burdens, as well as private ‘charter school’ officials and hospital administrators.

Trump’s protectionist measures, including export subsidies, pit the domestic manufacturers against multi-billion dollar importers of cheap consumer goods.

Trump’s proposals for deregulated oil, gas, timber, more agro-mineral exports and major infrastructure investments are supported by bosses and workers in those sectors. This has provoked a sharp conflict with environmentalists, community-based workers and producers, indigenous peoples and their supporters.

Trump’s initial effort to mobilize domestic class forces opposed to continued budget-draining overseas warfare and in support of market relations-based empire building has been defeated by the combined efforts of the military-industrial complex, the intelligence apparatus and their supporters in a liberal-neo-conservative-militarist political elite coalition and their mass supporters.

ORDER IT NOW

The evolving class struggle has deepened and threatens to tear apart the constitutional order in two directions: The conflict can lead to an institutional crisis and toward the forceful ouster of an elected president and the installation of a hybrid regime, which will preserve the most reactionary programs of both sides of the class conflict. Importers, investors and workers in extractive industries, supporters of privatized educations and healthcare, warmongers and members of the politicized security apparatus may take total control of the state. On the other hand, if the class struggle can mobilize the public sector workers, workers in the commercial sector, the unemployed, the anti-war democrats and progressive IT entrepreneurs and employers dependent on skilled immigrants, as well as scientists and environmentalists into a massive movement willing to support a living wage and unify around common class interests, deep systemic change becomes possible. In the medium term, the unification of these class movements can lead to a progressive hybrid regime.

 

‘De Omnibus Dubitandum’
Everything is to be Doubted

Introduction

President Trump is deeply embedded in the politics of the deep state structure of American imperialism. Contrary to occasional references to non-intervention in overseas wars, Trump has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors.

While neoconservatives and liberals have raised a hue and cry about Trump’s ties to Russia, his ‘heresies’ over NATO and his overtures to peace in the Middle East, in practice, he has discarded his ‘market humanitarian’ imperialism and engaged in the same bellicose policies of his Democratic Party presidential rival, Hillary Clinton.

Because he lacks the slick ‘demagogy’ of former President Obama, and does not slather his actions with cheap appeals to ‘identity’ politics, Trump’s crude, abrasive pronouncements drive young demonstrators into the streets in mass actions. These demonstrations are not-so-discretely supported by Trump’s major opponents among the Wall Street bankers, speculators and mass media moguls. In other words, President Trump is an icon-embracer and follower, not a ‘revolutionary’ or even ‘change agent’.

We will proceed by discussing the historical trajectory, which gave birth to the Trump regime. We will identify ongoing policies and commitments determining the present and future direction of his administration.

We will conclude by identifying how current reaction can produce future transformations. We will challenge the current ‘catastrophic’ and apocalyptic delirium and offer reasons for an optimistic perspective for the future. In brief: This essay will point out how current negatives can become realistic positives.

Historical Sequences

Over the past two decades US presidents have squandered the financial and military resources of the country in multiple unending, losing wars, as well as in trillion dollar trade debts and fiscal imbalances. US leaders have run amok provoking major global financial crises, bankrupting the largest banks, destroying small mortgage holders, devastating manufacturers and creating massive unemployment followed by low-paid unstable jobs leading to collapse in living standards for the working and lower middle classes.

Imperial wars, trillion dollar bail-outs for the billionaires and unopposed flight of multinational Ccorporations abroad, have vastly deepened class inequalities and given rise to trade agreements favoring China, Germany and Mexico. Within the US, the major beneficiaries of these crises have been the bankers, high-tech billionaires, commercial importers and agro-business exporters.

Faced with systemic crises, the ruling regimes have responded by deepening and expanding US Presidential powers in the form of presidential decrees. To cover-up the decades-long series of debacles, patriotic ‘whistle-blowers’ have been jailed and police-state style surveillance has infiltrated every sector of the citizenry.

Presidents Bush, Clinton and Obama defined the trajectory of imperial wars and Wall Street plunder. State police, military and financial institutions are firmly embedded in the matrix of power. Financial centers, like Goldman Sachs, have repeatedly set the agenda and controlled the US Department of Treasury and the agencies regulating trade and banking. The ‘permanent institutions’ of the state have remained, while Presidents, regardless of party, have been shuffled in and out of the ‘Oval Office’.

The ‘First Black’ President Barack Obama pledged peace and pursued seven wars. His successor, Donald Trump was elected on promises of ‘non-intervention’ and promptly picked up Obama’s ‘bombing baton’: tiny Yemen was attacked by US forces, Russia’s allies in the Donbas Region of Ukraine were savaged by Washington’s allies in Kiev and Trump’s ‘more realist’ representative, Nikki Haley, put on a bellicose performance at the UN in the style of ‘Madame Humanitarian Intervention’ Samantha Power, braying invectives at Russia.

Where is the change? Trump followed Obama by increasing sanctions against Russia, while threatening North Korea with nuclear annihilation in the wake of Obama’s major military build-up in the Korean peninsula. Obama launched a surrogate war against Syria and Trump escalated the air war over Raqqa. Obama encircled China with military bases, warships and warplanes and Trump goose-stepped right in with warmongering rhetoric. Obama expelled a record two million Mexican workers over eight years; Trump followed by promising to deport even more.

In other words, President Trump has dutifully picked up the march along his predecessors’ trajectory, bombing the same targeted countries while plagiarizing their maniacal speeches at the United Nations.

Obama increased the annual tribute (aid) to Tel Aviv to a whooping $3.8 billions while bleating a few pro-forma criticisms of expanding Israeli land-grabs in Palestine; Trump proposed to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem while blubbering a few of his own mini-criticisms of illegal Jewish settlements on stolen Palestinian land.

What is overwhelmingly striking is the similarity of Obama and Trump,’s policies and strategies in foreign policy, their means and allies. What is different is their style and rhetoric. Both ‘Change Agent’ Presidents immediately break the same phony pre-election promises and function well within the boundaries of the permanent state institutions.

Whatever differences they have are a result of contrasting historic contexts. Obama took over the collapse of the financial system and sought to regulate banks in order to stabilize operations. Trump took over after Obama’s trillion-dollar ‘stabilization’ and sought to eliminate regulations – in the footsteps of President Clinton! So ‘much ado’ about Trump’s ‘historic deregulation’!

The ‘winter of discontent’ in the form of mass protests against Trump’s ban against immigrants and visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries follows directly from Obama’s ‘seven deadly wars’. The immigrants and refugees are direct products of Obama’s invasions and attacks on these countries leading to murder, injury, forced displacement and misery for million of ‘predominantly’ (but not exclusively) Muslims. Obama’s wars have created tens of thousands of ‘rebels’, insurgents and terrorists. The refugees, fleeing for their lives, have been largely excluded from the US under Obama and most have sought safe havens in the squalid camps and chaos of the EU.

As terrible and illegal as Trump’s border closure to Muslims and as promising as the mass public protests seem, they are all the result of the near decade long policy of murder and mayhem under President Obama.

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Following the policy trajectory – Obama shed the blood and Trump, in his vulgar racist style is left to ‘clean up the mess’. While Obama has been made into a ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ peace maker, grumpy Trump is soundly attacked for picking up the bloody mop!

Trump has chosen to tread the path of obloquy and faces the wrath of purgatory. Meanwhile, Obama is off playing golf, wind surfing and flashing his ‘devil may care’ smile to his adoring scribblers in the mass media.

As Trump stomps down the path laid out by Obama, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators fill the streets to protest the ‘fascist’, with scores of major mass media networks, dozens of plutocrats and ‘intellectuals’ of all genders, races and creeds writhing in moral outrage! One is left confused at the deafening silence of these same activists and forces when Obama’s aggressive wars and attacks led to the deaths and displacement of millions of civilians, mostly Muslim, and mostly women – as their homes, weddings, markets, schools and funerals were bombed.

So much for American muddle-headedness! One should try to understand the possibilities that arise from a massive sector finally breaking their silence as Obama’s glib warmongering has been transformed into Trump’s crude march to doomsday.

Optimistic Perspectives

There are many who despair but there are more who have become aware. We will identify the optimistic perspectives and realistic hopes rooted in current reality and trends. Realism means discussing contradictory, polarizing developments and therefore we accept no ‘inevitable’ outcomes. This means that outcomes are ‘contested terrain’ where subjective factors play a leading role. The interface of conflicting forces can result in an upward or downward spiral – toward more equality, sovereignty and liberation or greaterconcentration of wealth, power and privilege.

The most retrograde concentration of power and wealth is found in the oligarchic German-dominated European Union – a configuration which is under siege by popular forces. The United Kingdom voters chose to exit from the EU (Brexit). As a result, Britain faces a break-up with Scotland and Wales and an even greater separation from Ireland. Brexit will lead to a new polarization as London-based bankers depart to the EU and free market leaders confront workers, protectionists and the growing mass of the poor. Brexit fortifies nationalist-populists and leftist forces in France, Poland, Hungary and Serbia and shatters the neo-liberal hegemony in Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal and elsewhere. The challenge to the EU oligarchs is that popular insurgency will intensify social polarization and can bring to the fore progressive class movements or authoritarian nationalist parties and movements.

Trumps ascent to power and his executive decrees have led to highly polarize electorates, increased politicization and direct action. The awakening of America deepens internal fissures between small ‘d’ democrats, progressive women, trade unionists, students and others against the big ‘D’ Democratic Party opportunists, speculators, life-long Democratic warmongers, bourgeois black ‘D’ Party hacks (the mis-leaders) and a small army of corporate-funded NGO’s.

Trumps embrace of the Obama-Clinton military and Wall Street agenda will lead to a financial bubble, bloated military spending and more costly wars. These will divide the regime from its trade union and working class supporters now that Trump’s cabinet is composed entirely of billionaires, ideologues, rabid zionists and militarists (as opposed to his promise to appoint ‘hard-nosed’ deal-making businessmen and realists). This could create a rich opportunity for movements to arise which reject the truly ugly face of Trump’s reactionary regime.

Trump’s animosity to NAFTA, and advocacy of protectionism and financial and resource exploitation will undermine the corrupt, murderous, narco-neoliberal regimes which have ruled Mexico for the past 30 years since the days of Salinas. Trump’s anti-immigration policy will lead to Mexicans choosing to ‘fight over flight’ in confronting the social chaos created by the narco-gangs and gangster police. It will force the development of Mexico’s domestic markets and industry. Mass domestic consumption and ownership will embrace national-popular movements. The drug cartel and their political sponsors will lose the US markets and face domestic opposition.

Trump’s protectionism will limit the illegal flow of capital from Mexico, which amounted to $48.3 billion in 2016 or 55% of Mexico’s debt. Mexico’s transition from dependency and neo-colonialism will deeply polarize the state and society; the outcome will be determined by class forces.

Trump’s economic and military threats against Iran will strengthen nationalist, populist and collectivist forces over the neo-liberal ‘reformist’ and pro-Western politicians. Iran’s anti-imperialist alliance with Yemen, Syria and Lebanon will solidify against the US-led quartet of Saudi Arabia, Israel, Britain and the US.

Trump’s support for Israel’s massive seizure of Palestinian land and its ‘Jews-only’ ban against Muslims and Christians will lead to the ‘shaking off’ of the multi-millionaire Palestinian Authority quislings and the rise of many more uprisings and intifadas.

The defeat of ISIS will strengthen independent governmental forces in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, weaken US imperial leverage and open the door to popular democratic secular struggles.

China’s President Xi Jinping’s large-scale, long-term anti-corruption campaign has led to the arrest and removal of over a quarter-million officials and businesspeople, including billionaires and top Party leaders. The arrests, prosecution and jailing has reduced the abuse of privilege, but more important, it has improves the prospects for a movement to challenge vast social inequalities. What began from ‘above’ can provoke movements from ‘below’. The resurrection of a movement toward socialist values can have a major impact on US vassal states in Asia.

Russia’s support for democratic rights in Eastern Ukraine and the re-incorporation of Crimea via referendum can limit US puppet regimes on Russia’s southern flank and reduce US intervention. Russia can develop peaceful ties with independent European states with the break-up of the EU and the Trump electoral victory over the Obama-Clinton regime’s threat of nuclear war.

The world-wide movement against imperialist globalism isolates the US-backed right-wing power grab in South America. Brazil, Argentina and Chile’s pursuit of neo-liberal trade pacts are on the defensive. Their economies, especially in Argentina and Brazil, have seen a three-fold increase in unemployment, four-fold rise in foreign debt, stagnant to negative growth and now face mass-supported general strikes. Neo-liberal ‘toadyism’ is provoking class struggle. This can overturn the post-Obama order in Latin America.

Conclusion

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Across the world and within the most important countries, the ultra-neoliberal order of the past quarter century is disintegrating. There is a massive upsurge of movements from above and below, from democratic leftists to nationalists, from independent populists to the right-wing reactionary ‘old guard’: A new polarized, fragmented political universe has emerged. The beginning of the end of the current imperial-globalist order is creating opportunities for a new dynamic democratic collectivist order. The oligarchs and ‘security’ elites will not easily give way to popular demands or step down. Knives will be sharpened, executive decrees will issue forth, and electoral coups will be staged to attempt to seize power. The emerging popular democratic movements need to overcome identity fragmentation and establish unified, egalitarian leaders who can act decisively and independently away from the existing political leaders who make dramatic, but phony, progressive gestures while seeking a return to the stench and squalor of the recent past.

 

Introduction:

During his inaugural speech, President Trump clearly and forcefully outlined the strategic political-economic policies he will pursue over the next four years. Anti-Trump journalist, editorialists, academics and experts, who appear in the Financial Times, New York Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal have repeatedly distorted and lied about the President’s program as well as his critique of existing and past policies.

We will begin by seriously discussing President Trump’s critique of the contemporary political economy and proceed to elaborate on his alternatives and its weaknesses.

President Trump’s Critique of the Ruling Class

The centerpiece of Trump’s critique of the current ruling elite is the negative impact of its form of globalization on US production, trade and fiscal imbalances and on the labor market. Trump cites the fact that US industrial capitalism has drastically shifted the locus of its investments, innovations and profits overseas as an example of globalization’s negative effects. For two decades many politicians and pundits have bemoaned the loss of well-paid jobs and stable local industries as part of their campaign rhetoric or in public meetings, but none have taken any effective action against these most harmful aspects of globalization. Trump denounced them as “all talk and no action” while promising to end the empty speeches and implement major changes.

President Trump targeted importers who bring in cheap products from overseas manufacturers for the American market undermining US producers and workers. His economic strategy of prioritizing US industries is an implicit critique of the shift from productive capital to financial and speculative capital under the previous four administrations. His inaugural address attacking the elites who abandon the ‘rust belt’ for Wall Street is matched by his promise to the working class: “Hear these words! You will never be ignored again.” Trump’s own words portray the ruling class ‘as pigs at the trough’ (Financial Times, 1/23/2017, p. 11)

Trump’s Political-Economic Critique

President Trump emphasizes market negotiations with overseas partners and adversaries. He has repeatedly criticized the mass media and politicians’ mindless promotion of free markets and aggressive militarism as undermining the nation’s capacity to negotiate profitable deals.

President Trump’s immigration policy is closely related to his strategic ‘America First’ labor policy. Massive inflows of immigrant labor have been used to undermine US workers’ wages, labor rights and stable employment. This was first documented in the meat packing industry, followed by textile, poultry and construction industries. Trump’s proposal is to limit immigration to allow US workers to shift the balance of power between capital and labor and strengthen the power of organized labor to negotiate wages, conditions and benefits. Trump’s critique of mass immigration is based on the fact that skilled American workers have been available for employment in the same sectors if wages were raised and work conditions were improved to permit dignified, stable living standards for their families.

President Trump’s Political Critique

Trump points to trade agreements, which have led to huge deficits, and concludes that US negotiators have been failures. He argues that previous US presidents have signed multi-lateral agreements, to secure military alliances and bases, at the expense of negotiating job-creating economic pacts. His presidency promises to change the equation: He wants to tear up or renegotiate unfavorable economic treaties while reducing US overseas military commitments and demands NATO allies shoulder more of their own defense budgets. Immediately upon taking office Trump canceled the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and convoked a meeting with Canada and Mexico to renegotiate NAFTA.

Trump’s agenda has featured plans for hundred-billion dollar infrastructure projects, including building controversial oil and gas pipelines from Canada to the US Gulf. It is clear that these pipelines violate existing treaties with indigenous people and threaten ecological mayhem. However, by prioritizing the use of American-made construction material and insisting on hiring only US workers, his controversial policies will form the basis for developing well-paid American jobs.

The emphasis on investment and jobs in the US is a complete break with the previous Administration, where President Obama focused on waging multiple wars in the Middle East, increasing public debt and the trade deficit.

Trump’s inaugural address issued a stern promise: “The American carnage stops right now and stops right here!” This resonated with a huge sector of the working class and was spoken before an assemblage of the very architects of four decades of job-destroying globalization. ‘Carnage’ carried a double meaning: Widespread carnage resulted from Obama and other administrations’ destruction of domestic jobs resulting in decay and bankruptcy of rural, small town and urban communities. This domestic carnage was the other side of the coin of their policies of conducting endless overseas wars spreading carnage to three continents. The last fifteen years of political leadership spread domestic carnage by allowing the epidemic of drug addiction (mostly related to uncontrolled synthetic opiate prescriptions) to kill hundreds of thousands of mostly young American’s and destroy the lives of millions. Trump promised to finally address this ‘carnage’ of wasted lives. Unfortunately, he did not hold ‘Big Pharma’ and the medical community responsible for its role in spreading drug addiction into the deepest corners of the economically devastated rural America. Trump criticized previous elected officials for authorizing huge military subsidies to ‘allies’ while making it clear that his critique did not include US military procurement policies and would not contradict his promise to ‘reinforce old alliances’ (NATO).

Truth and Lies: Garbage Journalists and Arm Chair Militarists

Among the most outrageous example of the mass media’s hysteria about Trump’s New Economy is the systematic and vitriolic series of fabrications designed to obscure the grim national reality that Trump has promised to address. We will discuss and compare the accounts published by ‘garbage journalists (GJ’s)’ and present a more accurate version of the situation.

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The respectable garbage journalists of the Financial Times claim that Trump wants to ‘destroy world trade’. In fact, Trumps has repeatedly stated his intention to increase international trade. What Trump proposes is to increase US world trade from the inside, rather than from overseas. He seeks to re-negotiate the terms of multilateral and bilateral trade agreements to secure greater reciprocity with trading partners. Under Obama, the US was more aggressive in imposing trade tariffs that any other country in the OECD.

Garbage journalists label Trump as a ‘protectionist’, confusing his policies to re-industrialize the economy with autarky. Trump will promote exports and imports, retain an open economy, while increasing the role of the US as a producer and exporter.. The US will become more selective in its imports. Trump will favor the growth of manufacturing exporters and increase imports of primary commodities and advanced technology while reducing the import of automobiles, steel and household consumer products.

Trump’s opposition to ‘globalization’ has been conflated by the garbage journalists of the Washington Post as a dire threat to the ‘the post-Second World War economic order’. In fact, vast changes have already rendered the old order obsolete and attempts to retain it have led to crises, wars and more decay. Trump has recognized the obsolete nature of the old economic order and stated that change is necessary.

The Obsolete Old Order and the Dubious New Economy

At the end of the Second World War, most of Western Europe and Japan resorted to highly restrictive ‘protectionist’ industrial and monetary policies to rebuild their economies. Only after a period of prolonged recovery did Germany and Japan carefully and selectively liberalize their economic policies.

In recent decades, Russia was drastically transformed from a powerful collectivist economy to a capitalist vassal-gangster oligarchy and more recently to a reconstituted mixed economy and strong central state. China has been transformed from a collectivist economy, isolated from world trade, into the world’s second most powerful economy, displacing the US as Asia and Latin America’s largest trading partner.

Once controlling 50% of world trade, the US share is now less than 20%. This decline is partly due to the dismantling of its industrial economy when its manufacturers moved their factories abroad.

Despite the transformation of the world order, recent US presidents have failed to recognize the need to re-organize the American political economy. Instead of recognizing, adapting and accepting shifts in power and market relations, they sought to intensify previous patterns of dominance through war, military intervention and bloody destructive ‘regime changes’ – thus devastating, rather than creating markets for US goods. Instead of recognizing China’s immense economic power and seek to re-negotiate trade and co-operative agreements, they have stupidly excluded China from regional and international trade pacts, to the extent of crudely bullying their junior Asian trade partners, and launching a policy of military encirclement and provocation in the South China Seas. While Trump recognized these changes and the need to renegotiate economic ties, his cabinet appointees seek to extend Obama’s militarist policies of confrontation.

Under the previous administrations, Washington ignored Russia’s resurrection, recovery and growth as a regional and world power. When reality finally took root, previous US administrations increased their meddling among the Soviet Union’s former allies and set up military bases and war exercises on Russia’s borders. Instead of deepening trade and investment with Russia, Washington spent billions on sanctions and military spending – especially fomenting the violent putchist regime in Ukraine. Obama’s policies promoting the violent seizure of power in Ukraine, Syria and Libya were motivated by his desire to overthrow governments friendly to Russia – devastating those countries and ultimately strengthening Russia’s will to consolidate and defend its borders and to form new strategic alliances.

Early in his campaign, Trump recognized the new world realities and proposed to change the substance, symbols, rhetoric and relations with adversaries and allies – adding up to a New Economy.

First and foremost, Trump looked at the disastrous wars in the Middle East and recognized the limits of US military power: The US could not engage in multiple, open-ended wars of conquest and occupation in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia without paying major domestic costs.

Secondly, Trump recognized that Russia was not a strategic military threat to the United States. Furthermore, the Russian government under Vladimir Putin was willing to cooperate with the US to defeat a mutual enemy – ISIS and its terrorist networks. Russia was also keen to re-open its markets to the US investors, who were also anxious to return after years of the Obama-Clinton-Kerry imposed sanctions. Trump, the realist, proposes to end sanctions and restore favorable market relations.

Thirdly, it is clear to Trump that the US wars in the Middle East imposed enormous costs with minimal benefits for the US economy. He wants to increase market relations with the regional economic and military powers, like Turkey, Israel and the Gulf monarchies. Trump is not interested in Palestine, Yemen, Syria or the Kurds – which do not offer much investment and trade opportunities. He ignores the enormous regional economic and military power of Iran, Nevertheless Trump has proposed to re-negotiate the recent six-nation agreement with Iran in order to improve the US side of the bargain. His hostile campaign rhetoric against Tehran may have been designed to placate Israel and its powerful domestic ‘Israel-Firsters’ fifth column. This certainly came into conflict with his ‘America First’ pronouncements. It remains to be seen whether Donald Trump will retain a ‘show’ of submission to the Zionist project of an expansionist Israel while proceeding to include Iran as a part of his regional market agenda.

The Garbage Journalists claim that Trump has adopted a new bellicose stance toward China and threatens to launch a ‘protectionist agenda’, which will ultimately push the trans-Pacific countries closer to Beijing. On the contrary, Trump appears intent on renegotiating and increasing trade via bilateral agreements.

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Trump will most probably maintain, but not expand, Obama’s military encirclement of China’s maritime boundaries which threaten its vital shipping routes. Nevertheless, unlike Obama, Trump will re-negotiate economic and trade relations with Beijing – viewing China as a major economic power and not a developing nation intent on protecting its ‘infant industries’. Trump’s realism reflect the new economic order: China is a mature, highly competitive, world economic power, which has been out-competing the US, in part by retaining its own state subsidies and incentives from its earlier economic phase. This has led to significant imbalances. Trump, the realist, recognizes that China offers great opportunities for trade and investment if the US can secure reciprocal agreements, which lead to a more favorable balance of trade.

Trump does not want to launch a ‘trade war’ with China, but he needs to restore the US as a major ‘exporter’ nation in order to implement his domestic economic agenda. The negotiations with the Chinese will be very difficult because the US importer-elite are against the Trump agenda and side with the Beijing’s formidable export-oriented ruling class.

Moreover, because Wall Street’s banking elite is pleading with Beijing to enter China’s financial markets, the financial sector is an unwilling and unstable ally to Trump’s pro-industrial policies.

Conclusion

Trump is not a ‘protectionist’, nor is he opposed to ‘free-trade’. These charges by the garbage journalists are baseless. Trump does not oppose US economic imperialist policies abroad. However, Trump is a market realist who recognizes that military conquest is costly and, in the contemporary world context, a losing economic proposition for the US. He recognizes that the US must turn from a predominant finance and import economy to a manufacturing and export economy.

Trump views Russia as a potential economic partner and military ally in ending the wars in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Ukraine, and especially in defeating the terrorist threat of ISIS. He sees China as a powerful economic competitor, which has been taking advantage of outmoded trade privileges and wants to re-negotiate trade pacts in line with the current balance of economic power.

Trump is a capitalist-nationalist, a market-imperialist and political realist, who is willing to trample on women’s rights, climate change legislation, indigenous treaties and immigrant rights. His cabinet appointments and his Republican colleagues in Congress are motivated by a militarist ideology closer to the Obama-Clinton doctrine than to Trumps new ‘America First’ agenda. He has surrounded his Cabinet with military imperialists, territorial expansionists and delusional fanatics.

Who will win out in the short or long term remains to be seen. What is clear is that the liberals, Democratic Party hacks and advocates of Little Mussolini black shirted street thugs will be on the side of the imperialists and will find plenty of allies among and around the Trump regime.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: American Media, Donald Trump, Free Trade 

Introduction:

The malady, common among political leaders who commit heartless crimes while craving popular adulation as heroes and misunderstood saints, is ‘Political Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy’ (PMSP).

PMSP best explains the pathologic drive of politicians and policy makers who inflict relentless, systematic mass destruction and then intervene in a most theatrical manner to save a few victims – thus drawing gratitude from the victim and public support for their ‘humanitarian intervention’ – ignorant of their fundamental role in creating the mayhem in the first place.

The actions of the outgoing President Barack Obama in the last three days of his administration present an example of PMSP on the domestic front.

Throughout his eight years as President of the United States, Obama exhibited many symptoms of PMSP – both abroad and in the US. For his cynical crimes, he was awarded the ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ among other honors.

PMSP – The Abuser as Savior

Each of Obama’s relentless military interventions, including Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and especially Syria, were characterized by the deliberate and total destruction of the means of normal civilized social existence for defenseless civilians – the bombing of homes, factories, markets, weddings, funerals, schools, hospitals – leading to the deaths of many thousands and the uprooting of millions into desperate flight. In each case, Obama would proclaim that he was saving the victims from imminent genocide by an abusive ruler or ethnic group. He would rush in to provide a few baskets of relief and a few blankets to some bedraggled survivors of his own bombing campaigns and bask in the glowing praise of mass media propagandists and fellow imperialists. Choreographed applause and adulation would seem to follow America’s First Black President everywhere.

Obama’s bombs, arms and mercenaries drove hundreds of thousands of families into the streets, into the mountains and most horrifically onto rickety, overloaded boats on the seas. In each series of destruction and chaos, he would calculate the point at which his ‘humanitarian intervention’ would most effectively reflect on his heroism.

He destroyed the entire nation of Libya, shredded its institutions and infrastructure, bombed its cities and villages, even deliberately sending a deadly missile into the home sheltering a half dozen of President Muammar Gadaffi’s small grandchildren and finally ended up with the public death by torture of the wounded Libyan president sodomized by stakes documented in a imperial-pornographic snuff film that should have revolted the entire world. That the main victims of Obama’s ‘liberation of Libya’ were hundreds of thousands of black Libyan citizens and sub-Saharan African workers did little to detract from his public persona as the first ‘African American’ world hero. The capsized boatloads of fleeing black Libyans and the bloated bodies washing ashore on the beaches of Spain and Italy were never linked to the criminal policies of our Nobel Prize recipient! He even urged Europe to accept the miserable refugees fleeing his war – in a gesture of supreme PMSP. He could do no wrong. This serial political killer had an unquenchable thirst for sympathy and admiration – and a wholly corrupt propaganda machine to polish his halo.

Obama’s PMSP and Chelsea Manning

In his last few days in power, Obama turned his ‘heroic and humanitarian’ attention to individual American victims of grotesque injustice in our bloated and racist prison system – just to prove that the great man could ‘set up’ and then save individuals as well as nations.

The cold, calculus of the Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy President finally focused on the fragile form of the imprisoned and tortured Chelsea Manning – hero to millions and condemned traitor to the empire’s ruling elite. For eight years, Barack Obama pursued the arrest, torture, kangaroo court-martial, virtual life sentencing and prison mistreatment of the US soldier who had dared to expose large-scale war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and release thousands of damning documents of systematic political war crime hidden from her compatriots. She released videos of US pilots playing ‘execution games’ against a crowd of defenseless Iraqi civilians, including children, as well as equally egregious war crimes elsewhere.

Obama and his fellow war criminals were furious at Manning’s revelations – and approved of her sentence of 35 years, some of which had been served before her conviction in solitary confinement, often stripped naked – in a condition described by the United Nations as torture and inhumane treatment. After her conviction, she was harassed and driven to multiple attempts to take her life.

After seven years of brutal and degrading treatment, spanning almost the entire Obama Administration, the condition of the frail transgender soldier-hero, almost a martyr to truth and justice, her supporters and the world community were desperate with concern for her safety, survival and sanity. At this point, and in the last three days of her administration on January 17, 2017, Obama ‘commuted Manning’s sentence’ but left it to the incoming Trump Administration to free her five months later in May.

Instead of celebrating the liberation and vindication of the hero Chelsea Manning in May, the media drowned out the plight of the frail tortured whistleblower with its loud tributes to the mercy and heroism of the serial abuser – Barack Obama.

Conclusion

In his last days, Obama played the ‘Merciful Pasha’ commuting Manning’s virtual life sentence – which he still justified. Obama did so in a way that literally begged the incoming rabidly reactionary regime of Donald Trump to rescind the commutation or at least impose such levels of torture and pressure on Manning that her very survival and sanity in prison up to her scheduled release in May will be in grave jeopardy.

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The most virulent militarists in the US Congress, including the war criminal John McCain, are howling for Manning’s head. While they will torture Manning during the next 5 months behind thick prison walls, the press will compare the vindictive Trump with the benevolent Obama. This is a cynical ‘set-up’ for our hero, Chelsea Manning to be driven to suicide by Trump while her ultimate persecutor, the ‘saintly’ Barack Obama will ‘shine’ for having issue the belated commutation. Obama could easily have released Manning earlier and spared her this mortal danger – but he chose to tie the poor prisoner to a stake – under the blood-lusting noses of our most sadistic militarists – and invite their public display of savagery.

In one very self-glorifying pronouncement, three days before leaving office, Obama has sanctified himself at Manning’s expense and insured Chelsea’s destruction. This is virtuosic Political Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy by a true master!

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, Barack Obama 
The CIA’s Overt Threats against Trump

Introduction

The norms of US capitalist democracy include the election of presidential candidates through competitive elections, unimpeded by force and violence by the permanent institutions of the state. Voter manipulation has occurred during the recent elections, as in the case of the John F. Kennedy victory in 1960 and the George W. Bush victory over ‘Al’ Gore in 2000. But despite the dubious electoral outcomes in these cases, the ‘defeated’ candidate conceded and sought via legislation, judicial rulings, lobbying and peaceful protests to register their opposition.

These norms are no longer operative. During the election process, and in the run-up to the inauguration of US President-Elect Donald Trump, fundamental electoral institutions were challenged and coercive institutions were activated to disqualify the elected president and desperate overt public pronouncements threatened the entire electoral order.

We will proceed by outlining the process that is used to undermine the constitutional order, including the electoral process and the transition to the inauguration of the elected president.

Regime Change in America

In recent times, elected officials in the US and their state security organizations have often intervened against independent foreign governments, which challenged Washington’s quest for global domination. This was especially true during the eight years of President Barack Obama’s administration where the violent ousting of presidents and prime ministers through US-engineered coups were routine – under an unofficial doctrine of ‘regime change’.

The violation of constitutional order and electoral norms of other countries has become enshrined in US policy. All US political, administrative and security structures are involved in this process. The policymakers would insist that there was a clear distinction between operating within constitutional norms at home and pursuing violent, illegal regime change operations abroad.

Today the distinction between overseas and domestic norms has been obliterated by the state and quasi-official mass media. The US security apparatus is now active in manipulating the domestic democratic process of electing leaders and transitioning administrations.

The decisive shift to ‘regime change’ at home has been a continual process organized, orchestrated and implemented by elected and appointed officials within the Obama regime and by a multiplicity of political action organizations, which cross traditional ideological boundaries.

Regime change has several components leading to the final solution: First and foremost, the political parties seek to delegitimize the election process and undermine the President-elect. The mass media play a major role demonizing President-Elect Trump with personal gossip, decades-old sex scandals and fabricated interviews and incidents.

Alongside the media blitz, leftist and rightist politicians have come together to question the legitimacy of the November 2016 election results. Even after a recount confirmed Trump’s victory, a massive propaganda campaign was launched to impeach the president-elect even before he takes office – by claiming Trump was an ‘enemy agent’.

The Democratic Party and the motley collection of right-left anti-Trump militants sought to blackmail members of the Electoral College to change their vote in violation of their own mandate as state electors. This was unsuccessful, but unprecedented.

Their overt attack on US electoral norms then turned into a bizarre and virulent anti-Russia campaign designed to paint the elected president (a billionaire New York real estate developer and US celebrity icon) as a ‘tool of Moscow.’ The mass media and powerful elements within the CIA, Congress and Obama Administration insisted that Trump’s overtures toward peaceful, diplomatic relations with Russia were acts of treason.

The outgoing President Obama mobilized the entire leadership of the security state to fabricate ‘dodgy dossiers’ linking Donald Trump to the Russian President Vladimir Putin, insisting that Trump was a stooge or ‘vulnerable to KGB blackmail’. The CIA’s phony documents (arriving via a former British intelligence operative-now free lance ‘security’ contractor) were passed around among the major corporate media who declined to publish the leaked gossip. Months of attempts to get the US media to ‘take the bite’ on the ‘smelly’ dossier were unsuccessful. The semi-senile US Senator John McCain (‘war-hero’ and hysterical Trump opponent) then volunteered to plop the reeking gossip back onto the lap of the CIA Director Brennan and demand the government ‘act on these vital revelations’!

Under scrutiny by serious researchers, the ‘CIA dossier’ was proven to be a total fabrication by way of a former ‘British official – now – in – hiding…!’ Undaunted, despite being totally discredited, the CIA leadership continued to attack the President-Elect. Trump likened the CIA’s ‘dirty pictures hatchet job’ to the thuggish behavior of the Nazis and clearly understood how the CIA leadership was involved in a domestic coup d’état.

CIA Director John Brennan, architect of numerous ‘regime changes’ overseas had brought his skills home – against the President-elect. For the first time in US history, a CIA director openly charged a President or President-elect with betraying the country and threatened the incoming Chief Executive. He coldly warned Trump to ‘just make sure he understands that the implications and impacts (of Trump’s policies) on the United States could be profound…”

Clearly CIA Director Brennan has not only turned the CIA into a sinister, unaccountable power dictating policy to an elected US president, by taking on the tone of a Mafia Capo, he threatens the physical security of the incoming leader.

From a Scratch to Gangrene

The worst catastrophe that could fall on the United States would be a conspiracy of leftist and rightist politicos, the corporate mass media and the ‘progressive’ websites and pundits providing ideological cover for a CIA-orchestrated ‘regime change’.

Whatever the limitations of our electoral norms- and there are many – they are now being degraded and discarded in a march toward an elite coup, involving elements of the militarist empire and ‘intelligence’ hierarchy.

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Mass propaganda, a ‘red-brown alliance, salacious gossip and accusations of treason (‘Trump, the Stooge of Moscow’) resemble the atmosphere leading to the rise of the Nazi state in Germany. A broad ‘coalition’ has joined hands with a most violent and murderous organization (the CIA) and imperial political leadership, which views overtures to peace to be high treason because it limits their drive for world power and a US dominated global political order.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: American Media, CIA, Donald Trump 
James Petras
About James Petras

James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York.

He is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has published over 2000 articles in nonprofessional journals such as the New York Times, the Guardian, the Nation, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, New Left Review, Partisan Review, TempsModerne, Le Monde Diplomatique, and his commentary is widely carried on the internet.

His publishers have included Random House, John Wiley, Westview, Routledge, Macmillan, Verso, Zed Books and Pluto Books. He is winner of the Career of Distinguished Service Award from the American Sociological Association’s Marxist Sociology Section, the Robert Kenny Award for Best Book, 2002, and the Best Dissertation, Western Political Science Association in 1968. His most recent titles include Unmasking Globalization: Imperialism of the Twenty-First Century (2001); co-author The Dynamics of Social Change in Latin America (2000), System in Crisis (2003), co-author Social Movements and State Power (2003), co-author Empire With Imperialism (2005), co-author)Multinationals on Trial (2006).

He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. In 1973-76 he was a member of the Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Repression in Latin America. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. He received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.


PastClassics
Which superpower is more threatened by its “extractive elites”?
The evidence is clear — but often ignored
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?
The sources of America’s immigration problems—and a possible solution