Subject: ON LEARNING HOW TO BE A VICTIM AND OTHER CAPITALIST APPRENTICESHIPS.
25 February 2007
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
The acts of state violence which we experience today has a nearly numbing effect on most of us. Our bodies and minds have been conditioned to tolerate and to endure, on an almost daily basis, injustices, inhuman degradation and the accompanying pain --all of which serve to accommodate the counter-adaptive economic system of which we are a part and that serves as the basis for the re-production of imaginary exchange values, to the detriment of real use values.
According to research into interpersonal communications, influenced largely by Gregory Bateson and the Palo Alto group's development of "double-bind" theory during their studies of pathogenic communications in the 1950s, semiotic oscillations in a malfunctioning cybernetic system can produce a virtual vortex effect, a spiral fed by positive feedback in a tangle of paradoxical injunctions (or of attributions having the force of injunctions), where choosing to obey is choosing to disobey and choosing to disobey is choosing to obey, thus producing a self-perpetuating oscillation. These mutually incompatible injunctions and attributions are linked to a desperate quest for security, from which arises social paradoxes such as can be seen, at the international level, in the "arms race" and nuclear proliferation. (At the interpersonal level, we find schizophrenic collapse and individual "paralysis," with almost complete withdrawal from social reality.)
We might diagram the collective fantasies* of U.S. policy makers, at the international level, by using a simple notation.
[*NOTE: In the theory of interpersonal communications developed by R.D. Laing in his book Self and Others (London: Penguin Books, 1971), the term fantasy is employed with a double meaning: the contents of phantasy, on the one hand, and phantasy as a function, on the other. "As a function," he writes, "phantasy can be regarded as an operation of mapping (0), from any domain of experience to any range of experience. It seems ... even possible to conceive of mapping desires (instincts), not experienced in themselves, as it were, on to experience, such that the range of experience so mapped acquires a 0 (phantasy)-value, and to conceive that a person may not himself recognize that this range of his experience has acquired such a 0-value, usually called the unconscious content of phantasy."(7-8)]
The notation on contemporary U.S. policy with Iran, for example, could look something like this :
the way American policy makers see America, a' = a
the way American policy makers see Iran, a' = i
the way Iranian policy makers see Iran, i' = i
the way Iranian policy makers see America, i' = a
the way Iranian policy makers see the American policy makers' (a') view of them, i' = (a' = i')
the way American policy makers see the Iranian policy makers' (i') view of them, a' = (i' = a')
the way Iranian policy makers (i') see the American policy makers (a') view of themselves, i' = (a' = a')
the way Iranian policy makers (i') see the Iranian policy makers (i') view themselves, i' = (i' = i')
the way American policy makers (a') see Iranian policy makers (i') view of themselves, a' = (i' = i')
the way American policy makers (a') see American policy makers (a') view of themselves, a' = (a' = a')
Thus, a practical application might appear at follows :
American policy makers (a') attribute to (=) Iranian (i) the capacity to develop nuclear arms (n'):
a' = i+n'
Iranian policy makers attribute to Iran no nuclear arms capacity (-n'):
i' = i-n'
American policy makers attribute to the Iran policy makers' negative self-attribution the will to take advantage of (>) America in order to weaken her:
a' = (i' = i-n')> a
Iranian policy makers attribute to the American policy makers' attribution of Iran's duplicity the will to take advantage of Iran:
i' = (a' = (i' = i-n')>a)>i
American policy makers attribute to the Iranian policy makers' attribution that the American policy makers' suspicion that Iranian duplicity is a deliberate effort to take advantage of Iran is, in fact, a ploy to weaken America:
a' = (i' = a' = (i' = i-n')>a)>i)>a.
et cetera, et cetera . . . .
We could perhaps better see the movement in this spiral by using an onion diagram :
(a') thinks (i') thinks that they have managed to trick (a') into a position of weakness, but (i') may not be deceiving (a'), they might only be pretending to deceive them, so (a') will only pretend to threaten (i'), but (i') might be aware that (a') is aware that (i') is not sure there will not be massive U.S. retaliation (with the help of Israel) against the "danger" in Iran. In this "paranoid" position there appears to be a failure in negative feedback, resulting in a sort of "run away" system, in which cybernetic controls have been lost and an almost infinite regress of obsessive thinking governs human activities in a spiral leading toward of nuclear conflagration.
(and perceptions of perceptions) (and perceptions of perceptions)
Our Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements (CEIMSA) has received much information on both conjunctive and disjunctive attributions which characterize the communications in our current period of global political/ecological crises. The 8 items below represent efforts by scholars and CEIMSA research associates to improve communications by providing accurate and accessible information that should be helpful in bringing us up to the level of strategists for improvements in our own lives, rather than remaining at the level of useful tacticians captured by the strategies of others. . . .
Item A., from Information Clearing House, is a video podcast of : "A Palestinian Woman".
Item B., from our research associate Professor Lawrence McGuire, is an article by Michele Brand on the imminence of war with Iran.
Item C. is an article by our research associate Diana Johnstone on "the future of Kosovo" after the rape of the nation by multinational military aggressors.
Item D. is an article by Chalmers Johnson on the significance of the 737 U.S. military bases and their strategic locations across our planet.
Item E. is article by Chris Hedges on the significance of the "Christian Right" in American political culture.
Item F. is an article by Carolyn Baker on scientific knowledge in the hands of "evil politicians"
Item G., sent to us by our research associate Professor Fred Lonidier, is an article in the Los Angeles Times by Timothy Ash on closing the curtain on the capitalist era and looking forward to Act II of "World Political Economies".
And item H., sent to us by George Kenney, is an interview on Electronic Politics with Dr. Helen Caldicott, Australian anti-nuclear activist.
Finally, we recommend to our readers the remarkable Democracy Now! news broadcasts, which discussed this past week the American victims of the War in Iraq:
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Universit Stendhal-Grenoble 3
from Information Clearing House :
20 February 2007
This documentary short film brings the viewer close to the conditions isolating Palestinians within their communities. It is filmed next to the separation barrier that Israel continues to build in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Terry Boulatta, mother, teacher and community activist, shows how the 27 foot high wall surrounds her neighborhood in East Jerusalem, dividing it from the adjacent community of Abu Dis, severing the historical bonds of the two communities. The wall contributes to the suffocation of life, the latest reality for Palestinians under occupation.
Terry takes us on a half hour drive to get from one side of the wall to the other, a trip that previously took only four minutes. We learn of the terminals and checkpoints through which Palestinians must pass to travel within their own territory.
Terry speaks of the illegal settlements and land confiscations as elements of apartheid, making the settlers "the masters of the land."
Alternate Focus is available on the Dish Network, Free Speech TV, Channel 9415, Saturdays at 8:00pm EST and on cable stations near you. Visit www.alternatefocus.org for details.
Video - Part I
"A Palestinian Woman"
from Lawrence McGuire :
Subject: Imperial Competition, EU, US and Iran
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2007
Wonder why, if Europe wants to resist the US, they went along in December with Security Council sanctions against Iran? Here is a fine analysis from Paris based writer, MICHELE BRAND, who perhaps we can connect with.
An earlier article from April 2006 by Brand on the same subject here http://www.counterpunch.org/brand04072006.html
adds more depth to the current article below.
Brand's point is that a weakened (from the Iraq invasion) US is trying to force Europe to place strong sanctions on Iran (the ones in December are weak), which would prevent European economic investment and profits flowing from Iran. Europe is resisting, but pretending to play the game, worried the US will attack Iran and thus perhaps prevent ALL future investments/profits.
The writer doesn't say much about China or Russian, which leaves me wondering why those two countries have gone so far appeasing the US.
Why does the US continue to prepare for war against Iran, given the increasing internal--and dead-set international--opposition to further US military intervention, and given its failure in Iraq?
In order for the anti-war and anti-imperialist movements to orient our opposition to this threat of aggression against the Iranian people, which should be taken seriously, we need to understand the inter-imperialist tensions that are provoking it. The "Iran dossier" is a microscope for the current geostrategic situation in which the highly developed, capitalist nations can be seen jockeying for status as American hegemony falters and the cold-war consensus is finished. Just as in the war on Iraq, the US interest in Iran has little to do with weapons of mass destruction, nor even immediate access to oil, but rather the long-term need to prevent its rivals from securing a friendly access to the country's natural resources and from getting a stable foothold in the region. I wrote an analysis of the US-EU tensions, and the EU-Iran relationship, in CounterPunch in early April, 2006, and I believe that the analysis is still accurate and helps clarify the stakes in this unprecedented situation. The international progressive Left needs to recognize the relative weakness of the US, and the aspirations of its rivals, in order to act effectively.
The disagreements (and "molasses-like pace") in the security council over the past year stem from the fact that the US wants to maintain and reinforce sanctions against Iran, while the rest of the world wants to lift the existing sanctions, no matter what the European countries disingenuously say. Far from being true "allies," the US and the EU are grinning at one another through their teeth, and signs of their tensions during the year of closed-door negotiations can be read by an attentive observer even in the sparse information given by the international press. The famous "rapprochement" between the two, after the Iraq falling-out of 2002-2003, is only cosmetic. It arises from the fact that the Iraq fiasco forced the US into a stance of "diplomacy" in Bush's second term, Europe knows it, and is only overwilling to accommodate, from a heightened position of power. It doesn't annul their deeper divergences. For why do the carrots always come from Europe, and the sticks from the US? Because in their uninterrupted negotiations with Iran since 2003, Europe (that is, the E-3, acting in the name of Europe: Germany, France and Britain) has worked to secure a diplomatic accord which would allow the further opening and above all the guaranteeing of economic relations with Iran. The US, on the other hand, has worked to undermine this process.
Both Europe and the US want "friendly regimes" in the gulf states, in order to have preferential access to their resources"and if possible, regimes that will accept the terms set by their western "friends" under which their markets are opened. The Iraqi insurgency has prevented the US from implanting one of these "friendly" regimes in Iraq, and so beyond Israel, the US lacks a solid foothold in the region. But even if unable to secure Iraq, as long as it keeps the region unstable for investment and trade, either militarily or economically, it freezes out its rivals as well. The last thing the US wants next to its burning colony is a stable and growing Iranian economy whose investment and energy contracts are locked in by the Europeans, Russians and Chinese.
The sanctions imposed on Iran by the US are intended first and foremost to make its economy inaccessible to America's rivals, and thus to make the US presence necessary as a gate-keeper to its development. If the US cannot succeed in "regime change" and install a friendly government in Iran, willing to privilege it over other countries in the long term, then at least it wants to make it difficult if not impossible for its rivals to establish a secure relationship with Iran. It seems ready to do this even by setting fire to the region, if it can't get its way through sanctions. When the US talks about "isolating" Iran, its purpose is to keep it away from Europe, Russia and China. The way it can isolate Iran from them is by enforcing multilateral sanctions. The term "isolation" is not one of the ones used by the Europeans in their negotiation process; rather, they repeat that the doors must be left open.
According to the neo-con logic, apparently, financial sanctions such as those used on North Korea would then cripple the economy so much that it might provoke the desired regime change from within. And, in alluding constantly to "the other option" as well as reinforcing its warships in the gulf, the US maintains the pressure necessary to make the effort credible, both to Iran and to its rivals. As Patrick Clawson, deputy director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said: "What means of enforcement is credible if you start out by saying in the beginning that 'oh, by the way, we're not going to do the one thing that you're most afraid of?' (Washington Post, November 5 2006). Although this explains the contradictory stance, it should not be assumed that the US will not attack, only that its immediate goal seems to be to isolate Iran economically, pushing its "allies" to implement sanctions beyond the (weakened) measures detailed in the December security council resolution. The American strategy is volatile, like a desperate bully who is losing and threatening irrational violence, and this very volatility keeps its rivals at bay. An attack on Bushehr or Natanz would be accompanied by attacks on Iranian infrastructure, making things very difficult also for European, Chinese and Russian interests. At the very least the schizophrenic strategy effectively postpones their investments, which otherwise would be increasing at a steady pace.
Europe's position, then, as the party that drafted the security council resolution of December 23 that allowed for minor sanctions, might seem to be more contradictory than America's, but it is anything but irrational. Although it has publicly advocated sanctions, it knew that Russia would never allow "sanctions with teeth." Russia effectively declawed the sanctions resolution (and even walked away with the US agreeing to support its entrance into the WTO). This is why the US is now insisting on sanctions that go beyond the resolution and pressuring its "allies" to adopt them as well. U.S. Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns made the US point clear: "We don't want to put all our eggs in the U.N. basket"; the vote "would open the way for further action outside the Security Council." According to the New York Times on January 29, ''We are telling the Europeans that they need to go way beyond what they've done to maximize pressure on Iran,'' said a senior administration official. ''The European response on the economic side has been pretty weak.'' The US is taking steps to make its sanction laws extraterritorial, or binding in other countries. "European countries have opposed moves by the United States to apply the principle of extraterritoriality, a term referring to cases when American law can affect dealings entirely within another country. But the Bush administration recently has stepped up its use of various laws and directives to press forward with the concept," wrote the Times on January 10. Exactly what the US wants is to make its crippling sanctions laws binding in rival countries, to put the teeth back into them. European foreign ministers met on February 12 in Brussels and decided to make effective only the light sanctions voted by the security council, despite US pressure to go beyond them. And in a document obtained by the AFP on February 13, the 27 EU member countries were asked "to consider how best to entice Iran back to the negotiating table, following the collapse of talks last year over the Islamic republic's refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. They assert that the EU must continue with its current approach; dangling the carrot of political and trade incentives in negotiations while pushing ahead with the UN measures." European and Iranian representatives met again for talks on February 11 in Munich.
To understand more deeply the apparent contradictions in Europe's stance, advocating sanctions it doesn't want, it's necessary to delve into the depths of its disingenuity and look at its process of negotiations with Iran. At the moment of the US invasion of Iraq, and Iraq's loss to French and other investors as well as its loss to Europe as a source of future energy resources, the EU made an aggressive move to bring Iran into a privileged economic, political and possibly military cooperation. This diplomatic endeavor, undertaken in the context of offering Iran the "incentives" to give up its nuclear program, was intended to give Europe preferential access to its market, its labor, and especially its oil and gas. The final offer of August 2005, rejected as "insulting" by Iran (which according to European officials was "very generous"), had been negotiated during the months of Iran's voluntary suspension of uranium. In my previous article in Counterpunch, I described this overture to Iran in detail.
Iran made it clear to the E-3 when it rejected its first offer that any deal ultimately hinges on getting its needed "security guarantees" from the US. In other words, it wants an official promise that the US will not invade Iran, will acknowledge and leave in peace the current regime, and will not try to mess with its borders. If these fears were not justified, given its location between Iraq and Afghanistan, the E-3 might have gotten further with its original offer. This fact in itself goes a long way to explaining why the US cannot afford to take the military option off the table. It needs to make these fears justified, wanting at all costs to sabotage the European attempt at rapprochement with Iran.
Because US participation in any real negotiations was clearly necessary, the E-3 then entered into a process of corralling the US to the negotiating table, which it succeeded in doing in late May, 2006. This allowed the EU to show Iran that it was able to get results, and therefore the Europeans seemed sincerely to hope that Iran would accept their second official offer of "incentives" brought in person by Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, to Teheran on June 5. The "U-turn" on May 29th that Condoleeza Rice was given credit or blame for, overturning the long-standing US policy of refusing any negotiations with the country, was entirely disingenuous since the US knew that at this point Iran's regime would never accept its precondition to negotiations, the suspension of uranium enrichment. This is especially true since the text omitted any promises on the part of the US that if Iran did so, it would get the security guarantees it needs. Iran rejected the offer for the same reasons as the last: it involved their quasi-indefinite suspension of enrichment, and it didn't include any security promises. The contents of this second offer were kept much more secret than the first, but one thing that we can deduce that it contained was some form of effort to get around the US economic sanctions"as well as the "economic and political cooperation" that had been offered a year before.
Although the US sabotaged this European effort as well, its own weakness is apparent in the fact that this document contained no concrete "sticks" to apply if the deadline to suspend enrichment passed, and that when it inevitably did on August 31, the Europeans were able to continue to negotiate with Iran for another 5 weeks. During this time, Solana met at least 4 times and for over 20 hours with Ali Larijani, Iran's national security secretary, while at the same time the US was impatient to get sanctions approved by the security council. ''Larijani and Solana have been engaged in this minuet,'' a senior Bush administration official said. ''The U.S. view is that those talks are worthwhile, but not sufficient. We will be moving early in the week to move forward on a sanctions resolution'' (New York Times, Sept. 17). During this time Chirac even suggested that negotiations might begin without first suspending enrichment, in direct contradiction with the US stance. Iran proposed that a "consortium" of countries (and, reportedly, specifically France) could oversee its nuclear facilities in order to verify their peaceful nature, as a way to break the impasse of the US's insistence on suspension as a precondition for talks.
But despite certain "progress," these talks broke down in early October over the same issue: the US didn't accept this progress. Larijani explained this collapse in an interview on November 8, reported by BBC: "But you might wonder what happened next and why there was a change of opinion later? Well, we said in the beginning that some parties should be involved in the talks which could take the ultimate decision over this issue. This is because we did not wish to hold superficial negotiations. However the gentleman said that he [Solana] was their plenipotentiary envoy. But apparently they later decided not to accept our agreement system. I heard that the Americans exerted a lot of pressure on him over this issue. He was not happy with the final outcome either. At any rate, the development shows that they were not committed to the talks. That is, their envoy admitted that we had made progress and had come closer to reaching a conclusion, but they chose another direction." Iran learned its lesson after the first round of "incentives" given by the Europeans to get Iran to give up its nuclear program: not only are the Europeans weak militarily and unable themselves to provide the needed security guarantees (and obviously unwilling to provoke the US so starkly) but also the carrot and stick strategy is entirely disingenuous and condescending. The EU wants a privileged relationship with Iran, but has been relying for leverage in its negotiations on the possibility of punitive measures that itself it doesn't want. Larijani continued: "We would like to have long-term cooperation. However, it is very bad when they say that they wish to conduct some sort of negotiations whose outcome is known from the start. Such an approach means everything is totally superficial from the start. On the basis of their talks with us, they wish to play a greater role in the Middle East. They say that they do not wish to remain as passive as in the past. Moreover, they say that they would like to benefit from Iran's spiritual influence - be it in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Lebanon or Palestine. However such aspirations would not be possible if they continue to yell at us. On the one hand they say that they wish to cooperate with Iran, but on the other hand, they raise their voice. A person, who is asking for cooperation, should utter logical words."
The European interest in Iran, again, has nothing to do with helping the country, but with keeping the US out, along the same imperialist logic as the US. Europe and especially Germany has major interests in Iran that it needs to protect from economic or military punishments, and especially Europe needs a friendly and secure access to energetic resources. The EU has insisted on "unity" in the security council since as long as the US stays at the negotiating table, it cannot so easily justify spinning off into unilateral actions. The superpower "consensus" bringing Iran to the security council may be an international compromise that is as much about getting the US to play by international rules as it is about Iran. The neocons are entirely aware of this and are furious, because they can't refuse to participate after the failed unilateralism in Iraq. The US's interest in the "unity" of the security council, then, is in forcing Europe, when its minuet is through, toward stronger punitive measures against the country. After these got "watered down" in December, the neocons seem ready now to start acting unilaterally again, if only so far by stepping up the sanctions and pressuring Europe to adopt them as well. This will play out in the next few weeks since the next deadline for Iran to quit enriching uranium is on February 21, and since it will pass, the fighting parties will have to meet again to decide whether they will go further in the sanctions or not. The neocons may be expecting this to work in their favor, for they will feel more justified in insisting on stronger sanctions, but nothing says that Europe, Russia and China will agree to them. Eventually, if Iran doesn't back down, we will see more and more tension becoming apparent in the superficial "unity" and it may break down. Europe may be faced soon with a decision as to whether it wants to give up the disingenuity and refuse outright to step up the sanctions, but this would mean the open admittance of that which all parties have been hiding: the real divergent interests of the major powers. Chirac has been much less discreet about this than, for example, Merkel, with his aborted attempt in mid-January to send his foreign minister to Iran purportedly to talk about Lebanon, and his "gaffe" (which many Europeans are saying wasn't a gaffe) 2 weeks ago when he said that it wouldn't be so terrible if Iran had a military nuclear capability.
There is a call among American "realists" for a "grand bargain" with Iran: not only direct talks but an entire reopening of relations, which would involve security guarantees, normalizing economic relations and possibly Iran's cessation of enrichment. But such a grand bargain wouldn't serve America's purpose in the middle east, which is not just to establish a relationship with the country, but to establish a privileged relationship to the exclusion of its rivals. Ultimately the US needs regime change, because the regime of the mullahs is probably not disposed at this point to privileging the US under any circumstance. They would probably not privilege the US in the according of contracts. The hydrocarbons would remain carefully controlled. If they want investment, they would get that elsewhere. The situation in Iraq would not seriously improve as long as the occupation lasts. Of course, how would such a direct talk about Iran's meddling in Iraq play out? US: stop meddling outside your borders. Iran: look at yourself. Iran would love this opportunity. Robert Gates admitted that talks would yield nothing for the US in January when he said, "'Frankly, right at this moment there's really nothing the Iranians want from us, and so in any negotiation right now we would be the supplicant."
The only "bargain" the US wants with Iran (or with any of its colonies) is a bargain-basement bargain, where it can dictate investment and other economic policy. And this is not out of simple imperialism, but rather out of the logic of inter-imperialist rivalry: it is the only way it can shut out its rivals. Any other bargain would help its rivals to normalize and improve relations. Therefore the US won't provide the security guarantees that are the sine qua non for Iran, since it's simply not in its interest to give them. It's much more in its interest to be irrationally threatening and keep the region insecure. It may provoke Iran into a conflict, allowing the US to "retaliate" with Lebanon-style bombing, justifying its action by the slowness of the security council. A way to say to the world: we may be weakened in Iraq, etc, but we still rule it with force; you cannot enter where we say don't enter.
Michele Brand is an independent journalist and reseacher based in Paris, and can be contacted at michele.brand @yahoo.fr
from Diana Johnstone :
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2007
Subject: Kosovo article submitted to CounterPunch.
[*Diana Johnstone is author of Fools'Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions, Monthly Review:PlutoPress. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
After nearly eight years of uneasy occupation of the province of Kosovo that NATO wrested from Serbian control by 78 days of bombing in 1999, the "International Community" (a fancy name for governments that follow the lead of the United States) is eager to shift responsibility for the intractable situation to someone else. The way out could be a false "solution" that may provoke either Serbs or Albanians, or both, to react in ways that can be blamed for the impending disaster.
This month, the "special envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the future status process for Kosovo", former Finnish president Marrti Ahtisaari, unveiled his proposal for the future of the disputed province. This "Kosovo Status Settlement" is clearly designed primarily to soothe the collective ego of the "International Community" (IC) in its self-assigned role as humanitarian nation builder.
Ahtisaari's plan defines the future Kosovo according to the IC wish list. Kosovo, it announces, "shall be a multi-ethnic society, governing itself democratically and with full respect for the rule of law, the highest level of internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms, and which promotes the peaceful and prosperous existence of all its inhabitants."
Kosovo "shall be..." Not is. Because that description is about the exact opposite of what Kosovo is now: a poverty-stricken cauldron of discontent characterized by violent ethnic hatred, a political system manipulated by armed clans, a corrupt judicial system, and terrified minorities (notably Serbs and Roma) deprived of the most basic freedoms, such as being able to venture out of their besieged homes in order to shop, go to school or work their fields.
Not to mention broken down public services, an economy totally dependent on foreign aid and criminal trafficking, and massive unemployment affecting a youthful population easily aroused to violence.
Turning water into wine is nothing compared to transforming this failed province into a model democratic multi-ethnic State. But that is the miracle Ahtisaari is announcing.
And how is this miracle to be achieved?
Albanian separatists seem to be convinced that all that is needed is to grant Kosovo total independence. But that is not exactly what Ahtisaari is proposing. Without pronouncing the word, he is letting the Albanians conclude that his proposal leads to independence. According to his Status Settlement, Kosovo is to have the trappings of independence -- things to play with like "its own distinct flag, seal and anthem" (but they must reflect the "multiethnic" nature of the place). It can join the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. But the substance of independence is very much in doubt.
According to the Settlement plan, Kosovo will remain under strict international supervision. Control will be exercised by an international bureaucracy run by the European Union and a military presence led by NATO, in three parts:
1. An "International Civilian Representative (ICR), double-hatted as the EU Special Representative", appointed by an "International Steering Group (ISG) comprising key international stakeholders", will have the power to "ensure successful implementation of the Settlement", to "annul decisions or laws adopted by Kosovo authorities and sanction or remove public officials whose actions are determined by the ICR to be inconsistent with the letter or spirit of the Settlement". So much for political
These "key international stakeholders" are, incidentally, self-appointed and do not include the country with the greatest stake in Kosovo: Serbia. Rather, they are a reincarnation of what used to be called, in the nineteenth century, the Great Powers.
2. "A European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) Mission will monitor, mentor and advise on all areas related to the rule of law."
3. A "NATO-led International Military Presence will provide a safe and secure environment throughout Kosovo" until Kosovo's institutions are able to do so -- which could conceivably be many years, or 24 hours, depending on how the "key stakeholders" choose to interpret events.
With some name changes, this is the same sort of international supervision that has so far been unable to combat crime, provide real security to minorities or develop the economy.
Bureaucracy in the New World Order
Government by international bureaucracy seems to be a trend in the New World Order. Since the Dayton Accords that ended the Bosnia war in late 1995, Bosnia-Herzegovina has been ruled by a similar combination: a complicated set of local authorities under the strict supervision of a "High Representative" (contemporary version of Proconsul or Viceroy) who can, and does, annul laws adopted by the local democratic institutions or dismiss democratically chosen officials who fail to tow the IC line. The
declared purpose of this benevolent dictatorship is to foster "multiculturalism", but the result is that nationalist antagonism between Muslims, Serbs and Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina is as strong as ever, if not stronger. This eleven-year-old failure is to serve as model for the Kosovo success story.
But the trend is deeper and broader than the administration of the European Union's new protectorates. It applies to the European Union itself. A number of astute observers note that the complex double-tiered ruling structure of the Balkan colonies is essentially the same as that of the European Union, with its Member States progressively giving up their democratic decision-making power to the EU Commission, only very marginally controlled by a European Parliament with none of the powers or popular legitimacy of traditional national parliaments.
Even more striking, the "Settlement" spells out in advance a whole range of policies and measures for Kosovo, just as the EU draft "Constitution", rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands in referendums held in 2005, spells out in advance not only structures but policies. Basic economic policies are left to the "free market", or its institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank and the EU Commission. Deprived of its economic policy-making, the role of the State centers on defending "human rights", especially treatment of minorities. This focus on minority identities actually serves to distract populations from issues that might produce a majority concerned with redistribution of wealth. Such a majority, forgetting identity issues, might demand policies putting social welfare ahead of the demands of finance capital for ever-expanding
Despite its unique features, Kosovo illustrates the inextricable mess created by this current imposed version of Western "democracy".
Creating Rights Violations
The post-Cold War capitalist West, totally absorbed in frenetic consumption of the world's resources, needed to drape itself in a noble cause. "Human rights" did the trick.
To preserve and expand the U.S.-led Cold War military machine after the dismantling of its official adversary, the Warsaw Pact, NATO was endowed with the new mission of "humanitarian intervention". The 1999 "Kosovo war" was the trial run for this new mission.
The background of the centuries-old Kosovo conflict was dismissed as irrelevant by U.S. policy makers in their search for "new Hitlers" on one side and "victims" on the other -- the cast of characters required for staging "humanitarian intervention".
Encouraged by the prospect of getting to play the "rescued victim" role, the armed separatist group calling itself the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) provoked reprisals by shooting policemen and other persons loyal to the existing government. Violent repression predictably ensued. NATO then chose to interpret the reprisals as part of a deliberate plan of "ethnic cleansing" and perhaps even genocide. Thanks to ignorant and biased media coverage, NATO enjoyed overwhelming popular support for its bombing campaign and subsequent occupation of Kosovo.
Henceforth, NATO has had to maintain its Manichean interpretation in order to justify its intervention. The main instrument for this purpose is the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, which, although formally a "United Nations tribunal", is essentially staffed, funded and provided with "evidence" by NATO governments.
The main human problem in Kosovo today is psychological: the terrible hatred between communities stirred and aggravated by one-sided foreign intervention. This outside support by Great Powers encourages Albanian nationalists to seek more and more: more concessions, more territory, more indulgence toward their mistreatment of non-Albanians, who, according to the official NATO narrative, pretty much deserve what they get. At the same time it leaves Serbs to nurse a bitter sense of grievance
and unjust humiliation.
Instead of a punitive approach manipulated by NATO powers, what was needed to bring lasting peace to the Balkans was some sort of Truth Commission that would investigate events, motives, grievances and misdeeds on all sides in an effort to bring about reconciliation. Reconciliation can only be based on a sense of common humanity, which is destroyed by constant identification of "guilty" and "victim" ethnic groups.
But an unbiased investigation of the whole Kosovo drama would risk revealing the fatally negative role of foreign powers: the United States, Germany and NATO.
Thus hatred and prejudice must be perpetuated.
Designing the Zoo
The basic attitude of the decision-makers of the International Community is that they alone are qualified to make decisions. They are better qualified than the people directly affected by their decisions. Lesser peoples must be treated like unruly children, or rowdy animals in a zoo, kept in cages designed by those who know best what is good for them.
This attitude is perfectly illustrated by a gaming exercize conducted by and for U.S. officials in the fall and winter of 2001 and 2002 intended as preparation for final Kosovo status negotiations. 
In these simulations, participants -- mostly American officials -- played the roles of Serbs, Albanians, Americans and other international players. The report notes that : "Both simulated 'Serbs' and 'Albanians' looked to the 'U.S.' as the power broker, ignoring other elements in the international community like the 'UN', which lacked credibility with bothsides."
The conclusions were drawn in a report by two main operators of U.S. Balkan policy, James Hooper, executive director of the influential Balkan Action Council, and Paul Williams, who served as advisor both to the Bosnian Muslim delegation at the 1995 Dayton talks and to the Kosovo Albanian delegation at the 1999 Rambouillet talks that set the diplomatic stage for NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Incidentally, Williams heads the International Law and Politics group that carried out the exercise and has
already undertaken to write the Constitution of a future independent State of Kosovo.
Their most remarkable conclusion:
" -- When left to their own devices, the 'Albanian' and 'Serbian' delegations were ready to engage in division and reallocation of territory, exchanging land in northern Kosovo for land in southern Serbia and ignoring the consequences for Macedonia and Bosnia.
" -- If redistributing territory to promote ethnic homogeneity is to be avoided, the international community, led by the United States, will have to prevent it."
Leaving aside the reliability of such simulations, what is truly remarkable here is the arrogance of U.S. officials, their absolute certainty that they have the right and the capacity to judge what is best for the peoples directly concerned, who must not be allowed to work out a possible solution by themselves.
This has been U.S. policy all along. It is generally forgotten, because largely ignored at the time, that in 1998, Belgrade attempted to start negotiations with Kosovo Albanians. Kosovo Albanian leaders rejected talks in favor of the implicit promise of NATO intervention on their behalf if the situation deteriorated. Then to save diplomatic appearances before launching NATO's assault, the U.S. stage-managed last minute "negotiations" in Rambouillet chateau in France during which Serbian and Kosovo Albanian delegations were kept apart, as both were presented with "take it or leave it" proposals drafted by U.S. diplomats. These proposals were crafted to
obtain Albanian acceptance and Serbian rejection, in order to justify bombing with the claim that "the Serbs refuse to negotiate" -- which was not true. Official Serbian compromise proposals were simply ignored.
Adding insult to injury, the Americans at Rambouillet abruptly promoted Hashim Thaqi, a young rebel leaders with alleged criminal connections, as head of the Albanian delegation, shoving aside the better-known respected Albanian intellectuals who had also come to Rambouillet.
This illustrates a typical feature of U.S. imperial behavior abroad: select, listen to and promote only the worst elements in the foreign society you want to influence. Yes, there are, in any society, better and worse elements. On the one hand, there are shameless opportunists, flatterers and outright criminals. Their advantage is that
they are relatively easy to manipulate, at least in the short run. But not forever. There comes a time when they demand payment for their services. The Albanian secessionists in Kosovo are out of patience, and since they are still armed, the foreign occupiers are getting very nervous.
If the International Community itself is afraid of them, which is an urgent motive for giving them what they want before they start shooting, then what of the defenseless inhabitants? The remaining non-Albanian inhabitants of Kosovo, notably Serb-speaking or Roma, live in terror of these "liberators". And what of the welfare of the majority of Albanians of Kosovo, who have been delivered to the control of gangsters, or of feuding clan leaders such as Ramush Haradinaj, a favorite of the United States? Haradinaj was given the post of provisional prime minister of Kosovo despite a pending indictment for war crimes by The Hague Tribunal. After his arrest, while awaiting trial, Haradinaj was indulgently released to pursue his political activity. It is constantly repeated that "all Albanians in Kosovo want independence from Serbia", but in these circumstances, any Albanian who thought otherwise would be ill-advised to say so.
On the other hand there are honorable men and women who are concerned about the welfare of their country and their people. In any society, there are likely to be a few intelligent and selfless people who could be described with the outdated adjective "wise". They are systematically ignored... or worse.
One such man is unquestionably Dobrica Cosic, Serbia's geatestliving writer, who for a brief period as president of Yugoslavia in 1993 vainly tried to promote peace. Since it was unthinkable to qualify a Serb's concern for the future of his country as "patriotism", much less "wisdom", he was stigmatized as "nationalist" and ignored. Nevertheless, he has continued patiently to advocate the search for a genuine compromise agreement on Kosovo which might be sufficiently acceptable to all sides to
serve as a basis for reconciliation and peace. In any genuine effort to bring about mutual reconciliation, his ideas would at least be taken into consideration.
In September 2004, Cosic renewed his proposal "for the Coexistence of the Albanian and the Serbian People" in an eight-page document sent to all interested governments. It includes a detailed reflection on the background of the Kosovo conflict and its context. While naturally and inevitably speaking from a Serbian viewpoint, Cosic takes Albanian views into account and observes a certain symmetry in their national ideologies.
The "national ideologies of the Albanian and Serbian peoples", he writes, include anachronistic political perceptions based on their past misfortunes: lengthy national subordinations and crushing defeats. The products of these ideologies --"greater Albania" on the one hand and "the Serbian sacred land" of Kosovo on the other -- are myths that "cannot serve as a basis for a reasonable and just resolution of contemporary national and state problems of the Albanian and Serbian people, determined by
complete interdependence of the peoples in the Balkans, Europe and the world in modern civilization."
Cosic observes that radical changes in the ethnic composition of Kosovo, to the advantage of the Albanians, have compelled Serbia to review its policy, implying a compromise between Serbia's historical rights to the province and the Albanians' demographic rights. Keeping Kosovo within the Serbian state "would be a demographic, economic and political burden too heavy for Serbia, and hampering its normal development."
While the same U.S. representatives who have exacerbated ethnic hatred between Serbs and Albanians now insist that they must live together in a "multi-ethnic Kosovo" with unalterable borders, Cosic acknowledges that "ethnic Albanians do not want to live together with the Serbs" in Kosovo and "Serbs cannot live under Albanians; Serbs and Albanians can live freely only next to each other". He therefore argues that a territorial division worked out between the parties themselves could provide the basis for a genuine settlement allowing future generations to free themselves from this centuries-old conflict. Contrary to the U.S. approved Ahtisaari "Settlement", which prohibits Kosovo from uniting with neighboring Albania, Cosic sees such unification as a possible outcome of an overall settlement.
Mutual Respect, or Mutual Hatred
Whether or not Serbs and Albanians could work out a "peace of the brave", in mutual respect, along the lines suggested by Cosic, has been reduced to an academic question by U.S. meddling. Some ten years ago, a few people in Europe were ready to try that peaceful method. Danielle Mitterrand, the wife of the French President, sponsored round table talks in Paris between respected Albanian and Serb intellectuals. Such initiatives never enjoyed the support of the United States, which preferred
to promote Albanian gangsters and Serbian flatterers -- both eager for the favors of the Empire.
The United States and its "International Community" have done everything to preclude an accord based on mutual respect. The inevitable result is mutual hatred.
It used to be that conquerors grabbed the top spots but left certain essential structures in place, such as police and courts, so as to keep order. The humanitarian conquerors are different: in Kosovo as in Iraq, they abolish the police and courts as tainted by whoever it is they overthrew, and attempt to start from scratch. The result is chaos: large-scale chaos in Iraq and small-scale chaos in Kosovo.
The province is known as a hub of drug trafficking, transit for prostitutes bought and sold from desperately poor Eastern European areas, notably Moldova, and various other forms of illegal trade. Trash accumulates uncollected. The local police and courts are described as corrupt and indulgent toward the criminal activities of their Albanian brothers, and neither NATO nor the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) are able to bring order.
In the midst of this mess, the United States operates the huge, self-contained strategic military base, Camp Bondsteel, that it built the moment U.S. forces entered Kosovo -- the very symbol of the autistic empire. Revolution could happen in Cuba, but the U.S. military hung onto Guantanamo. Never mind what happens in Kosovo, Bondsteel can remain.
Other, less protected occupiers are more nervous. Already, in March 2004, some of them clashed with huge Albanian mobs that went on a rampage against Serbs and Serbian churches. Everyone knows that this could easily happen again, on a larger scale, and it will be very embarrassing to have to shoot at "the victims" in NATO's Manichean reality show.
Emissaries of the IC have announced that Serbia "lost its right to govern Kosovo" because of Milosevic's treatment of the province. But what gave the United States and its satellites the right to dispose of it as they see fit? The answer: 78 days of NATO bombing of Serbian bridges, homes, factories, schools and hospitals, brought to an end when the faithful IC emissary Ahtisaari conveyed to Milosevic the message that if he did not give in, Belgrade would be razed to the ground.
Many Serbs might agree with Cosic that the burden of trying to govern a violently hostile Albanian population would be too much for Serbia. Perhaps more than Kosovo, Serbs want to keep their sense of honor. Their whole nation has been slandered for close to twenty years by enemies intent on grabbing off pieces of the former Yugoslavia for themselves, on the pretext that they were "oppressed" by the Serbs. In their (successful) effort to curry favor with Western Great Powers, a number of Serbian politicians and journalists have eagerly spread lies about their own country in order to demonstrate that "we are better than Milosevic". The most significant of these lies is that the Albanians of Kosovo had to be rescued by NATO because they were "threatened with genocide" -- a "genocide" no more real than the "weapons of mass destruction" that served as pretext for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The Kosovo issue has been used to punish and humiliate Serbia in a way that no nation could be expected to accept. Serbia cannot resist Great Power dictates, but it can refuse to endorse them. This is not "nationalism" but elementary dignity.
The Russians and "Plan B"
Although the Ahtisaari plan does not mention "independence", the concerned parties seem to get the point It has met with the approval of Agim Ceku, who as a senior officer in the Croatian army commanded troops who "ethnically cleansed" Serbs from the Krajina region of Croatia, before taking command of Kosovo rebels and rising to his current post of provisional prime minister of Kosovo. It has been rejected by the Serbian government, which states its readiness to grant full autonomy to Kosovo but not to give up part of Serbia's historic territory. The Russians have said they will not give UN Security Council approval to a plan Serbia rejects. Independence for Kosovo is also opposed by European Union Member States Spain, Slovakia, Rumania, Greece and Cyprus.
The danger of the precedent set by rewarding an armed secessionist movement with independent statehood is of concern to much of the world, since it would almost certainly encourage armed insurrections by ethnic minority leaders hoping to win Great Power support as "victims" of the repression they would provoke.
After the death of the non-violent Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova, who was denounced in his time for being willing to negotiate with Milosevic, Kosovo has fallen into the hands of militia and clan leaders accused of war crimes. Serbia on the other hand is run by what the IC describes as "pro-Western democrats". This makes no difference to the U.S. tilt toward the Albanians. After all, there is nothing to fear from "pro-Western democrats", whereas the Albanian nationalists risk running amok, as they did in March 2004, if they don't get what they consider was promised them by NATO's war.
Kosovo Albanian leaders have long announced that they intend to declare independence, regardless of the UN Security Council. According to Fred Abrahams of Human Rights Watch, "If the UN Security Council fails to approve the plan, then Washington could turn to Plan B: unilateral recognition by the United States, the United Kingdom, and then other states."
This could lead to armed conflict if an "independent" Albanian nationalist Kosovo government undertook to extend its rule to Serbian enclaves, especially the solidly Serb northern part of the province whose inhabitants will surely wish to remain part of Serbia. Even Serbs who might want to forget about Kosovo cannot easily abandon their compatriots besieged in Kosovo by fanaticized mobs. The United States will of course blame the Serbs for whatever goes wrong. And meanwhile NATO has made
contingency plans to evacuate the remaining Serbs from their ancestral homes in Kosovo -- all to avoid partition, which is ruled out by the doctrine of imposed "multiculturalism".
1 - See the United States Institute of Peace Special Report No. 95, November 2002, "Simulating Kosovo: Lessons for Final Status Negotiations". The government-financed gaming exercises were conducted by the Public International Law and Policy Group on September 28 and November 2, 2001, and February 15, 2002 at American University in Washington, D.C.
2. Fred Abrahams, "Kosovo's Tricky Waltz", Foreign Policy In Focus, February 7, 2007.
from Chalmers Johnson :
20 February 2007
By the end of the 1990s, the neoconservatives were developing their grandiose theories to promote overt imperialism by the "lone superpower" -- including preventive and preemptive unilateral military action, spreading democracy abroad at the point of a gun, obstructing the rise of any "near-peer" country or bloc of countries that might challenge U.S. military supremacy, and a vision of a "democratic" Middle East that would supply us with all the oil we wanted.
737 U.S. Military Bases = Global Empire
by Chalmers Johnson
from Chris Hedges :
20 February 2007
Chris Hedges's new book examines how Christian dominionists are seeking absolute power and a Christian state. According to Hedges, the movement bears a strong resemblance to the young fascist movements in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and '30s. Hedges is the former New York Times Middle East bureau chief and author of "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning."
Video and Transcript
American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America
by Chris Hedges
from Carolyn Baker :
20 February 2007
Lobaczewskis analysis goes to the heart of why the United States government has become a criminal enterprise hell-bent on dominating the world and annihilating vast quantities of human beings globally and domestically.
The Science of Evil and its use for Political Purposes
by Carolyn Baker
from Fred Lonidier :
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007
Subject: Will capitalism fall victim...?
The Los Angeles Times
When anyone from the Hoover Institution worries about capitalism, we should all take notice!
Will capitalism fall victim to its own success?
(Karl Marx's solutions haven't worked, but he was right about the global reach and potential unsustainability of capitalism.)
by Timothy Garton Ash
[ TIMOTHY GARTON ASH is professor of European studies at Oxford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. ]
WHAT is the elephant in all our rooms? The global triumph of capitalism. Democracy is fiercely disputed. Freedom is under threat, even in old democracies like Britain. Western supremacy is on the skids. But everyone does capitalism.
Americans and Europeans do it. Indians do it. Russian oligarchs and Saudi princes do it. Even Chinese communists do it. And now the members of Israel's oldest kibbutz, that last best hope of egalitarian socialism, have voted for salaries based on individual performance. Karl Marx is turning in his grave. Or perhaps not, because some of his writings eerily foreshadowed our era of globalized capitalism. His prescription failed, but his description was prescient.
What, after all, are the big ideological alternatives? Hugo Chavez's "21st century socialism" still looks like, at most, a regional phenomenon best practiced in oil-rich states. Islamism - billed as democratic capitalism's great competitor in a new ideological struggle - offers no alternative economic system (aside from the peculiarities of Islamic finance) and does not appeal beyond the Muslim umma. Most anti-globalists are better at pointing out the failings of global capitalism than they are at suggesting systemic alternatives. "Capitalism should be replaced by something nicer," read a placard at a May Day demonstration in London a few years back.
Of course, there's a question of definition here. Is what Russian or Chinese state-owned companies do really capitalism? Isn't private ownership the essence of capitalism?
One expert on capitalism, Edmund Phelps of Columbia University, has an even more restrictive definition. Capitalism, he says, is "an economic system in which private capital is relatively free to innovate and invest without permissions from the state and green lights from communities and regions, from workers and other so-called social partners." In which case, most of the world is not capitalist.
I find this much too restrictive. Surely what we have across Europe are multiple varieties of capitalism, from more liberal market economies like Britain and Ireland to more coordinated "stakeholder" economies like Germany.
In Russia and China, there's a spectrum from state ownership to private ownership. Considerations other than maximizing profit play a part in the decision-making of state-controlled companies, but they too operate in national and international markets and increasingly speak the language of global capitalism. China's "Leninist capitalism" is a big borderline case, but the crab-like movement of its companies toward more rather than less capitalist behavior is clearer than any movement of its state toward democracy.
Does the lack of any clear ideological alternative mean that capitalism's triumph is secure? Far from it. For a start, the history of capitalism hardly supports the view that it is an automatically self-correcting system. As George Soros (who should know) points out, global markets are now more than ever constantly out of equilibrium - and teetering on the edge of a larger disequilibrium. Again and again, capitalism has needed the visible hands of political, fiscal and legal correction to complement the invisible hand of the market.
And the bigger it gets, the harder it can fall. An oil tanker is more stable than a dinghy, but if the tanker's internal bulkheads are breached and the oil starts swilling from side to side in a storm, you have the makings of a major disaster. Increasingly, the world's capital is like oil in the holds of one giant tanker, with ever fewer internal bulkheads to stop it from swilling around.
Then there is inequality. One feature of globalized capitalism seems to be that it rewards its high performers disproportionately. What will be the political effects of having a small group of super-rich people in China, Russia and India or other countries where the majority are super-poor? In more developed economies, such as Britain and the U.S., a reasonably well-off middle class, with a slowly improving personal standard of living, may be less bothered by the super-rich. But if a lot of middle-class people begin to feel that they are personally losing out as a few fund managers get stinking rich and jobs are outsourced to India, you may have a backlash. Watch Lou Dobbs on CNN for a taste of the rhetoric to come.
Above all, though, there is the inescapable dilemma that this planet cannot sustain 6.5 billion people living like today's middle-class in its rich north. In just a few decades, we would use up fossil fuels that took about 400 million years to accrete - and change Earth's climate as a result. Sustainability may be a gray and boring word, but achieving it is the biggest single challenge to global capitalism today. However ingenious modern capitalists are in finding alternative technologies - and they will be very ingenious - somewhere down the line richer consumers will have to settle for less rather than ever more.
Marx thought capitalism would have a problem finding consumers for the goods that improving techniques of production enabled it to churn out. Instead, it has become expert in a new branch of manufacturing: the manufacture of desires. It's that core logic of ever-expanding desires that is unsustainable on a global scale. But are we prepared to abandon it?
We may be happy to insulate our lofts, recycle our newspapers and bicycle to work, but are we ready to settle for less so others can have more? Am I? Are you?
from George Kenney :
23 February 2007
Subject: The Futurelessness of Nuclear Power.
OK, everybody makes mistakes. Up until this past year I really didn't pay that much attention to nuclear power -- I figured it had problems but was somehow a workable technology, and a necessary one as we transition away from fossil fuels. But if I'd spent even a little more time thinking critically, and carefully, it would have become obvious that nuclear is not the answer. To get the story straight I turned to Dr. Helen Caldicott, an Australian, and an anti-nuclear activist for about thirty five years now. She's truly an international treasure.
Whether you're for or against nuclear I think you'll find what Helen has to say fascinating. And I should tell you, I was very fortunate to talk with her as she's not doing many interviews these days, according to one of her publicists (who was amazed she agreed to talk with EP).
I hope you have time to listen and if you do, thank you very much. Please also consider forwarding the link to your friends.