Bulletin N°438



19 February 2010
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,

The burning question in our era of one-crisis-after-another, it would seem, is where must we look to discover the agencies of positive social change? According to the orthodox Marxist view, positive change will occur when the wage-workers (a class-in-itself) is transformed into a proletariat (a class-for-itself). Economic development will inevitably produce this psychological shift toward class consciousness, the precondition for social revolution, which can only occur "when objective conditions and subjective readiness coincide."

But who gains political power in the real world and how is this achieved? Does political power always flow from economic power and property relationships? Taking a look at the emergence of petty tyrannies in the specificities of our own local politics and everyday life might inform us as to how so-called "power elites" achieve dominance and immunity by using a myriad of techniques, not the least important of which are social stratification and ideological myopia. Similar patterns of dependent-power-pyramid formations might be expected to appear at national and international levels, as well.

Marxist methodology invites us to search for possible agents of change, without assigning them any outstanding personal virtues. Where are these men, women and children who are conscious of their unmet needs, and who are knowledgeable of the methods necessary to fulfill these needs?

In the past, these "agents" have been assumed to be various categories of people. For example, utopian socialists, capable of creating exemplary communities that would foster enlightened relationships among themselves as well as with their natural environment. Others believed these necessary agents of change would be a small group of enlightened intellectuals capable of asserting moral suasion over an already entrenched power elite; while still others held that the agents of change would be elected lawmakers representing the rational interests of their constituents. With Marx, there was the hope for a spontaneous uprising of the working class governed by objective property relationships which had established the capitalist control over labor. In the 1930s and 40s, corporate fascist societies dashed all hopes that industrial collectivization would somehow lead automatically to the development of new democratic mechanisms to govern institutions.Subsequently, the hope to find an agency for positive change attracted attention to the third world peasantry. And now, in our own post-Communist era, the various ideological beliefs in agencies of change have waned to the point where most people are simply waiting as passive spectators of their own lives, hoping that some other external force will deliver them from their growing malaise. The internal unfolding of events around them --and within them-- are producing ever increasing pressures which go largely unrecognized as being the inescapable contradictions which they most certainly are and which will result, perhaps, in a post-capitalist but nevertheless class-ridden society : terminating our present political economy "not with a bang, but a whimper. . . ."

The 9 items below provide CEIMSA readers with class-conscious descriptions of the present Imperialist Gamble to keep the private profit motive alive, by risking ever higher stakes in their private casino world --our world-- as the rest of us wait, watch and worry about the next wave of crises.

Item A. is an article by Princeton University professor of economics and international relations, Paul Krugman, that was first published in the New York Times, trying to answer the question: "Who is responsible for the fiscal crisis in Europe today?"

Item B., is a article by University of Massachusetts professor emeritus of economics Richard Wolff on the looming financial crisis of the capitalist state beginning with Greece, and extending throughout Europe and to the other capitalist centers of world power.

Item C., also by Professor Wolff, is an article on the development of income inequality in the U.S. between 1980 and 2007.

Item D., from Eugene Bird of the Council for the National Interest Foundation, is a graphic description of promised U.S. military aid to Israeli imperialist expansion over the next decade.

Item E. is a report on British compliance with the Israeli assassination team reported to have murdered Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a top Hamas military commander, who was found dead in his Dubai hotel room on January 20.

Item F. is an article by Frida Berrigan, first published by Tom's Dispatch, providing an update on the U.S. global arms monopoly.

Item G. is an article by Eric Sommer, first published in Moscow by Pravada, analyzing U.S. military strategy in Iran.

Item H. is a list of recent articles of historical interest, sent to us by Boston historian Jim O'Brien, representing the international organization Historians Against War.

Item I. is a 10-minute video interview with Yale University research scholar Immanuel Wallerstein in September 2009, on "The Crisis still to come."

And finally we offer CEIMSA readers a view of Michael Parenti's 2006 discussion on the cultural aspects of social change in America, filmed in Berkeley, California:

Race, Gender and Class Struggle

Peninsula Peace and Justice Center
This special PPJC presentation was recorded on April 27, 2006. (89 minutes.)

Michael Parenti is one of America's most astute and engaging political analysts. In this talk, he describes how divisions of race and gender have played into -- and often against -- struggles for economic justice and human rights. He calls on progressive activists to focus on fighting the oppressive power structures that are at the base of wars and economic injustices rather than on differences among ourselves.

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3

from New York Times :
Date: 14 February 2010
Subject: The Fiscal Crisis in Europe.

The Making of a Euromess
by Paul Krugman

ately, financial news has been dominated by reports from Greece and other nations on the European periphery. And rightly so.

But I’ve been troubled by reporting that focuses almost exclusively on European debts and deficits, conveying the impression that it’s all about government profligacy ­ and feeding into the narrative of our own deficit hawks, who want to slash spending even in the face of mass unemployment, and hold Greece up as an object lesson of what will happen if we don’t.

For the truth is that lack of fiscal discipline isn’t the whole, or even the main, source of Europe’s troubles ­ not even in Greece, whose government was indeed irresponsible (and hid its irresponsibility with creative accounting).

No, the real story behind the euromess lies not in the profligacy of politicians but in the arrogance of elites ­ specifically, the policy elites who pushed Europe into adopting a single currency well before the continent was ready for such an experiment.

Consider the case of Spain, which on the eve of the crisis appeared to be a model fiscal citizen. Its debts were low ­ 43 percent of G.D.P. in 2007, compared with 66 percent in Germany. It was running budget surpluses. And it had exemplary bank regulation.

But with its warm weather and beaches, Spain was also the Florida of Europe ­ and like Florida, it experienced a huge housing boom. The financing for this boom came largely from outside the country: there were giant inflows of capital from the rest of Europe, Germany in particular.

The result was rapid growth combined with significant inflation: between 2000 and 2008, the prices of goods and services produced in Spain rose by 35 percent, compared with a rise of only 10 percent in Germany. Thanks to rising costs, Spanish exports became increasingly uncompetitive, but job growth stayed strong thanks to the housing boom.

Then the bubble burst. Spanish unemployment soared, and the budget went into deep deficit. But the flood of red ink ­ which was caused partly by the way the slump depressed revenues and partly by emergency spending to limit the slump’s human costs ­ was a result, not a cause, of Spain’s problems.

And there’s not much that Spain’s government can do to make things better. The nation’s core economic problem is that costs and prices have gotten out of line with those in the rest of Europe. If Spain still had its old currency, the peseta, it could remedy that problem quickly through devaluation ­ by, say, reducing the value of a peseta by 20 percent against other European currencies. But Spain no longer has its own money, which means that it can regain competitiveness only through a slow, grinding process of deflation.

Now, if Spain were an American state rather than a European country, things wouldn’t be so bad. For one thing, costs and prices wouldn’t have gotten so far out of line: Florida, which among other things was freely able to attract workers from other states and keep labor costs down, never experienced anything like Spain’s relative inflation. For another, Spain would be receiving a lot of automatic support in the crisis: Florida’s housing boom has gone bust, but Washington keeps sending the Social Security and Medicare checks.

But Spain isn’t an American state, and as a result it’s in deep trouble. Greece, of course, is in even deeper trouble, because the Greeks, unlike the Spaniards, actually were fiscally irresponsible. Greece, however, has a small economy, whose troubles matter mainly because they’re spilling over to much bigger economies, like Spain’s. So the inflexibility of the euro, not deficit spending, lies at the heart of the crisis.

None of this should come as a big surprise. Long before the euro came into being, economists warned that Europe wasn’t ready for a single currency. But these warnings were ignored, and the crisis came.

Now what? A breakup of the euro is very nearly unthinkable, as a sheer matter of practicality. As Berkeley’s Barry Eichengreen puts it, an attempt to reintroduce a national currency would trigger “the mother of all financial crises.” So the only way out is forward: to make the euro work, Europe needs to move much further toward political union, so that European nations start to function more like American states.

But that’s not going to happen anytime soon. What we’ll probably see over the next few years is a painful process of muddling through: bailouts accompanied by demands for savage austerity, all against a background of very high unemployment, perpetuated by the grinding deflation I already mentioned.

It’s an ugly picture. But it’s important to understand the nature of Europe’s fatal flaw. Yes, some governments were irresponsible; but the fundamental problem was hubris, the arrogant belief that Europe could make a single currency work despite strong reasons to believe that it wasn’t ready.

from Richard Wolff :
Date: 14 February 2010
Subject: The Implosion of Global Capitalism.

The Stakes in "Punishing" Greece
by Rick Wolff

Global capitalism imploded in 2007.  The central causes of capitalism's crisis include:
  1. the end of real wage increases in the US and the substitution of rising worker debt far beyond what workers could sustain;
  2. the buildup of excess global industrial capacity;
  3. the explosion of speculation and excess risk-taking by banks, other financial and non-financial corporations, and the rich;
  4. the systematic misrepresentation of credit risks by capitalist rating firms;
  5. the failure of supervision and regulation by governments increasingly dependent on corporations and the rich (for campaign contributions, lobbyists' supports, etc.) over the last quarter century;
  6. the growing indebtedness of governments;
  7. the huge imbalances between trade and capital flows among nations (and, above all, the trade deficits of the US and the trade surpluses of the PRC)

In this list, the role of Greece is minor almost to the vanishing point.  But Greek workers loom large among the proposed victims of the capitalist crisis they did not cause.

When the global capitalist crisis hit in 2007, Greece like most other countries boosted its deficit finance.  It had already been running high government deficits largely based on very rosy predictions of Greece's economic prospects given its low (for Europe) wages and rising productivity in the years before 2007.  So Greece has borrowed a lot (although other countries who borrowed more and for similar reasons are not -- yet -- being treated like Greece).

The problem for Greek national debt is that other, larger, richer capitalist nations -- those whose capitalists' actions were the leading causes of the global crisis -- have also vastly increased their borrowing.  Lending to the latter is far safer than lending to the poorer, often more indebted countries like Greece, Portugal, etc.  So lenders are requiring them to pay much higher interest rates just to meet their current debt obligations (and they probably need to borrow more, just like other countries, to avoid another nasty recessionary downturn).  Lenders are also threatening to stop lending unless these poorer countries lower the ratio between their debt and their GDP (the widely used measure of the country's total output and thus its ultimate ability to pay back its debts).

To make the billions in extra interest payments and/or to lower their outstanding debt, governments in countries like Greece would have to raise taxes on their people or cut spending on their peoples' needs or both.  Those steps would provide those governments with the funds to pay higher interest rates on their debt and lower the total of outstanding debt.

In simple English: the global capitalist crisis first brought an economic downturn to Greece, and now the "recovery" seeks to impose on the Greek people an indefinite period of economic suffering as global lenders provide funds to the richer, larger capitalist economies elsewhere so that they can avoid what is demanded of the Greeks.  The same leaders of business and government who produced the crisis are managing the "recovery" in just this way.

Nor should we fail to mention that the Greek government and its business leaders are now forced to make a big decision too.  Will they go along with the plan?  Will they force the mass of Greek workers and their families to pay higher taxes, earn lower incomes, and lose government services to "service Greece's creditors"?  Or will they be blocked from doing so by the Greek peoples' resistance?  That's what is at stake in the mass strikes now rocking Greece.

And how might that resistance handle matters differently?  In the immediate future, they might finally demand an end to the massive evasion of Greek taxes by its billionaire and millionaire elite on both their corporate and personal accounts.  Let them finally pay -- according to their exalted abilities -- to service Greece's creditors.  However, given their equally notorious mechanisms of tax evasion, honed over centuries, it would be better -- and sooner rather than later -- to abolish private Greek enterprises and reorganize them as worker-controlled enterprises sharing power with the government.  Their joint project would then be to produce a "recovery" not just from this particular capitalist crisis but from the system that reproduces capitalist crises every few years.

Such a Greek resistance might also stimulate and inspire parallel movements in other countries whose people are likewise boiling because they bear the costs of a crisis they did not cause and a "recovery" that is not theirs.  And so it should be, because the Greek resistance would need allies elsewhere to succeed and vice versa.  Capitalism's global crisis is a burden for the working classes of the world, but it is also an opportunity.  To suffer the former while missing a chance to grab the latter would only make this crisis yet more tragic.

from Richard Wolff :
Date: 13 February 2010
Subject: The Rising Income Inequality in the U.S.

Rising Income Inequality in the US: Divisive, Depressing, and Dangerous
by Rick Wolff

The gap between annual incomes of the top 10 per cent of US citizens and what the other 90 per cent gets has been widening sharply for the last 30 years.  The nation's economic development has been increasingly divisive. Professor Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley, a leading expert, summarizes the facts on his website, from which the graph below is gratefully taken.

This graph shows how the top 10 per cent of income earners in the US took home, after the 1970s, an ever more outsized share of the total national income.  That top 10 percent had already taken 30-35 per cent of total national income between the early 1940s through the 1970s.  Thereafter they took ever more until reaching their current level of 45-50 per cent.

Top Ten Percent Income Share

Income inequality in the US is now greater than it has ever been over the last century.  From 1980 to 2007, the US became a far more unequal society.

Income inequality -- and especially rapidly rising income inequality -- provokes envy, resentment, and tension in a society.  They lie behind the more visible signs of bitter hostilities inside the US: for examples, talk radio outrages, harsh debates in legislatures, nasty outbursts at tea parties and by loose-lipped politicians, and surprising election outcomes.

There is no mystery about why income inequality got so much worse.  The real wages of average workers stopped rising during the 1970s (after having risen for a century or more).  Meanwhile those workers' productivity kept rising: they produced ever more goods and services for their employers to sell.  However, employers no longer had to raise wages to get that extra output from them.  Employers and those they support (share-holders, top managers, professionals, etc.) thus "earned" ever more because workers' incomes stagnated.

Most American workers have not understood, nor were they informed, why they were falling ever further behind the wealthy top 10 per cent.  They did not grasp that their decline flowed from changed social conditions that ended the tradition of rising wages for rising productivity.  First among those conditions were thecomputers that replaced so many jobs and the employers who moved ever more jobs outside the US to lower wage locations.  Second, there were the millions of US housewives and immigrants newly looking for paid work in the US after the 1970s -- out of necessity and desires for better lives.  The US labor market thus experienced a combination of shrinking demand for workers just as more workers looked for jobs.  Employers from Main Street to Wall Street took advantage of the changed conditions.  They stopped raising the wages paid to their US employees.  Nothing personal; it was just business; it was the way the system works.

The employers' computerized workplaces pressured more work out of their employees so their productivity kept rising.  By no longer paying the workers any more, employers kept the entire productivity gains for themselves, their share owners, their top managers, and their skilled professional subordinates.  So this group, the top 10 per cent of Americans, kept gathering more of the nation's annual income into their hands as the graph above shows.

Few among the lower 90 per cent understood how the changed social conditions combined with the economic system to cause their falling income shares.  Instead, many blamed themselves or friends and family or found still other scapegoats.  Workers who blamed themselves then suffered from damaged self-esteem and all its tragic consequences.  Those who turned in frustration on friends and families suffered from strained intimate and personal relationships and their painful results.  And those who scapegoated still others (immigrants, politicians, and, after 2007, bankers and Wall Street) not only over-reacted to them but, more importantly, missed a chance to see and solve the problems of the economic system rather than ineffectively fiddling with one or another of its parts.

What malfunctioned over the last 30 years was the economic system; it generated a divisive, depressing, and dangerous pattern of economic development.  It was the system of production -- where employers and employees endlessly seek advantages at each other's expense -- that stopped raising workers wages.  It was the financial part of the system that pushed unsustainable loans and risky speculations as part of the endless competition among banks, hedge funds, insurance companies, etc.  It was the political part of the system that looked the other way (instead of regulating) or passed laws to please those who increasingly throw money at the best government money can buy.  It was also the fact that the mass of workers as well as investors were hypnotized by the system's logic and bowed to its endless pressures to consume, borrow, lend and profit.

After all, the leading ideologues in the US -- politicians, media personalities, and academics -- had mostly bought into the system with enthusiasm.  They all but drowned out the voices of critics who saw systemic problems.  They denounced or ignored those who advocated a change of economic system as part of the needed solution.

Attacks on scapegoats are distractions from facing and dealing with the system that shapes what scapegoats do.  To remove this or that scapegoat while leaving the system in place is no solution.  For example, punishing or even excluding immigrants from the US will not likely raise domestic wages.  Given the system driving US employers to profit from low wages, they will likely react by moving more jobs to lower wages countries.  Punishing US bankers will only shift the location of risky financial deals to other institutions inside or outside the US.  Regulations constraining what private enterprises can do for profit only provoke them further to manipulate and/or corrupt politicians to evade, alter, or remove the regulations.  The system works that way and normally compels its parts to do likewise.  That is what "system" means.  But a systemic crisis like today's is "abnormal," a window onto possible system-change that would be terrible to waste.

Rick Wolff is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and also a Visiting Professor at the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University in New York.   He is the author of New Departures in Marxian Theory (Routledge, 2006) among many other publications.  Check out Rick Wolff’s documentary film on the current economic crisis, Capitalism Hits the Fan, at www.capitalismhitsthefan.com.  Visit Wolff's Web site at www.rdwolff.com, and order a copy of his new book Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do about It.

from the Council for the National Interest Foundation  :
Date: 18 February 2010
Subject: End the Occupation, YOUR Military Aid to Israel.

Council for the National Interest Foundation

End the Occupation's Josh Ruebner on CNI Radio, Feb. 18th

How much Military Aid are YOU sending to Israel?

Join CNIF's Spring 2010 Political Pilgrimage!

End the Occupation's Josh Ruebner on CNI Radio, Feb. 18th

Thursday, February 18th, Josh Ruebner will be our guest on the "CNI: Jerusalem Calling" internet-radio show. Ruebner will join CNI board member and host Dr. E. Faye Williams to discuss the cost and benefit of U.S. military aid to Israel, and how ignoring the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories hampers U.S. efforts at engagement in the Middle East.

Ruebner is the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a national coalition of more than 325 organizations, including the CNI Foundation, which works to change U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine to support human rights, international law, and equality. He is a former Analyst in Middle East Affairs at the Congressional Research Service (CRS), a federal government agency that provides policy analysis to Members of Congress. Ruebner holds a graduate degree in International Affairs from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

The show will air live online from Noon to 1 pm EST (5 pm to 6pm GMT). To listen, go to the show's home-page (http://www.wsradio.com/cni), and click on the "Listen Live" button for Studio A, at the top left.

To call your questions in during the second half of the show, call toll-free: 877-474-3302. International users can ask questions by Skype, by calling Skypename: WSRADIOSTUDIO.

Also, check out the archived versions of our show by clicking here. Past shows archived there include conversations with Mustafa Barghouti, Akiva Eldar, Stephen Walt, UNRWA's Andrew Whitley… and many more.

How much Military Aid are YOU sending to Israel?

The U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has recently launched a new website (http://www.aidtoisrael.org) that enables Americans to see how much money their state, congressional district, county, and city provide in military aid to Israel. The website also provides alternative ways the money could be used in each community for things such as healthcare, affordable housing, and education. The website also provides information about the impact of U.S. weapons transfers to Israel on Palestinian civilians.

Between 2009-2018, the United States is scheduled to give Israel - the largest recipient of U.S. aid - $30 billion in military aid. Through its illegal 42-year military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, Israel misuses U.S. weapons in violation of U.S. law to kill and injure Palestinian civilians, destroy Palestinian civilian infrastructure, blockade the Gaza Strip, and build illegal settlements in West Bank and East Jerusalem.

How much of this total will your community provide?  Is this a good use of your tax dollars? How else could your taxes be used in your community?  Click here to find out!

Join CNIF's Spring 2010 Political Pilgrimage!

CNI Foundation's much anticipated bi-annual political pilgrimage will travel to Israel and all of its neighbors this May/June!  This will be the 18th in a series of study tours CNIF has led to the region since 1999. Travel dates and destinations will be available soon. If you are interested in attending the upcoming pilgrimage or have any questions send an email to pilgrimages@cnionline.org. 

The Fall 2009 group of ten people was co-led by Amb. Jack Matlock, who was Pres. Ronald Reagan's last ambassador to the Soviet Union, and members of CNI/CNIF's staff.  You can watch a series of short films taken on that trip, here.  You can also see a collection of photos taken from the first country the delegation visited, Lebanon, here.


CNI Radio w/ End the Occupation's Josh Ruebner


Call in today with questions & comments 1-877-474-3302.

Today, Josh Ruebner will be our guest on the "CNI: Jerusalem Calling" internet-radio show. Ruebner will join CNI board member and host Dr. E. Faye Williams to discuss the cost and benefit of U.S. military aid to Israel, and how ignoring the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories hampers U.S. efforts at engagement in the Middle East.

Ruebner is the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a national coalition of more than 325 organizations, including the CNI Foundation, which works to change U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine to support human rights, international law, and equality. He is a former Analyst in Middle East Affairs at the Congressional Research Service (CRS), a federal government agency that provides policy analysis to Members of Congress. Ruebner holds a graduate degree in International Affairs from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

The show will air live online from Noon to 1 pm EST (5 pm to 6pm GMT). To listen, go to the show's home-page (http://www.wsradio.com/cni), and click on the "Listen Live" button for Studio A, at the top left.

To call your questions in during the second half of the show, call toll-free: 877-474-3302. International users can ask questions by Skype, by calling Skypename: WSRADIOSTUDIO.

Also, check out the archived versions of our show by clicking here. Past shows archived there include conversations with Mustafa Barghouti, Akiva Eldar, Stephen Walt, UNRWA's Andrew Whitley… and many more.


from Information Clearing House :
Date: 16 February 2010
Subject: Israeli assassination team, using British passports, kills top Hamas commander, in Dubai hotel room on January 20.

Mossad Assassination Squad Used British Passports
by Hugh Tomlison
(in Dubai)


from Truth Out :
Date: 16 February 2010
Subject: The Arms Trade: An Update.

America's Global Weapons Monopoly: Don't Call it "the Global Arms Trade"
by Frida Berrigan

On the relatively rare occasions when the media turns its attention to U.S. weapons sales abroad and shines its not-so-bright spotlight on the latest set of facts and figures, it invariably speaks of “the global arms trade.”

Let’s consider that label for a moment, word by word:


How about updating it this way: “the global weapons monopoly.”

In 2008, according to an authoritative report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), $55.2 billion in weapons deals were concluded worldwide. Of that total, the United States was responsible for $37.8 billion in weapons sales agreements, or 68.4% of the total “trade.” Some of these agreements were long-term ones and did not result in 2008 deliveries of weapons systems, but these latest figures are a good gauge of the global appetite for weapons. It doesn’t take a PhD in economics to recognize that, when one nation accounts for nearly 70% of weapons sales, the term “global arms trade” doesn’t quite cut it.

Consider the “competition” and reality comes into focus. Take a guess on which country is the number two weapons exporter on the planet: China? Russia? No, Italy, with a relatively paltry $3.7 billion in agreements with other countries or just 9% of the U.S. market share. Russia, that former Cold War superpower in the “trade,” was close behind Italy, with only $3.5 billion in arms agreements.

U.S. weapons manufacturers have come a long way, baby, since those Cold War days when the United States really did have a major competitor. For instance, the Congressional Research Service’s data for 1990, the last year of the Soviet Union’s existence, shows global weapons sales totaling $32.7 billion, with the United States accounting for $12.1 billion of that or 37% of the market. For its part, the Soviet Union was responsible for a competitive $10.7 billion in deals inked that year. France, China, and the United Kingdom accounted for most of the rest.

Since then, the global appetite for weapons has only grown more voracious, while the number of purveyors has shrunk to the point where the Pentagon could hang out a sign: “We arm the world.” No kidding, it’s true.

Cambodia ($304,000), Comoros ($895,000), Colombia ($256 million), Guinea ($200,000), Greece ($225 million), Great Britain ($1.1 billion), the Philippines ($72.9 million), Poland ($79.8 million), and Peru ($16.4 million) all buy U.S. arms, as does almost every country not in that list. U.S. weapons, and only U.S. weapons, are coveted by presidents and prime ministers, generals and strongmen.

From the Pentagon’s own data (which differs from that in the CRS report), here are the top ten nations which made Foreign Military Sales agreements with the Pentagon, and so with U.S. weapons makers, in 2008:

That’s more than $17 billion in weapons right there. Some of these countries are consistently eager buyers, and some are not. Morocco, for example, is only in that top-ten list because it was green-lighted to buy 24 of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 fighter planes at $360 million (or so) for each aircraft, an expensive one-shot deal. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia (which inked $14.71 billion in weapons agreements between 2001 and 2008), Egypt ($13.25 billion) and Israel ($11.27 billion) are such regular customers that they should have the equivalent of one of those “buy 10, get the 11th free” punch cards doled out by your favorite coffee shop.

To sum up, the U.S. has a virtual global monopoly on exporting tools of force and destruction. Call it market saturation. Call it anything you like, just not the “global arms trade.”

Getting Even More Competitive?

It used to be that the United States exported goods, products, and machinery of all sorts in prodigious quantities: cars and trucks, steel and computers, and high-tech gizmos. But those days are largely over.

The Obama administration now wants to launch a green manufacturing revolution in the U.S., and in February, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced a new “National Export Initiative” with the aim of doubling American exports, a move he said would support the creation of two million new jobs. The U.S. could, of course, lose the renewable-energy race to China and that new exports program may never get off the ground. In one area, however, the U.S. is manufacturing products that are distinctly wanted -- things that go boom in the night -- and there the Pentagon is working hard to increase market share.

Don’t for a second think that the American global monopoly on weapons sales is accidental or unintentional. The constant and lucrative growth of this market for U.S. weapons makers has been ensured by shrewd strategic planning. Washington is constantly thinking of new and inventive ways to flog its deadly wares throughout the world.

How do you improve on near perfection? In the interest of enhancing that “competitive” edge in weapons sales, the Obama administration is investigating the possibility of revising export laws to make it even easier to sell military technology abroad. As Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morell explained in January, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wants to see “wholesale changes to the rules and regulations on government technology exports” in the name of “competitiveness.”

When he says “government technology exports,” Morell of course means weapons and other military technologies. “Tinkering with our antiquated, bureaucratic, overly cumbersome system is not enough to maintain our competitiveness in the global economy and also help our friends and allies buy the equipment they need to contribute to global security,” he continued, “[Gates] strongly supports the administration’s efforts to completely reform our export control regime, starting ideally with a blank sheet of paper.”

The laws that regulate U.S. weapons exports are a jumbled mess, but in essence they delineate what the United States can sell to whom and through what bureaucratic mechanisms. According to U.S. law, for example, there are actually a few countries that cannot receive U.S. weapons. Myanmar under the military junta and Venezuela while led by Hugo Chavez are two examples. There are also some weapons systems that are not intended for export. Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor jet fighter was -- until the Pentagon recently stopped buying the plane -- deemed too sophisticated or sensitive to sell abroad. And there are reporting requirements that give members of Congress a window of opportunity within which they can question or oppose proposed weapons exports.

Given what’s being sold, these export controls are remarkably minimal in nature and are constantly under assault by the weapons industry. Bans on weapons sales to particular countries are regularly lifted through aggressive lobbying. (Indonesia, for example, was offered $50 million in weapons from 2006 to 2008 after an almost decade long congressional arms embargo.) The industry also works to relax controls on new technology exports to allies. Japan and Australia have mounted campaigns to win the ability to buy F-22 Raptors, potential sales that Lockheed Martin is now especially happy to entertain. The reporting window to Congress remains an important export control, but the time frame is shrinking as more countries are being “fast tracked,” making it harder for distracted representatives to react when a controversial sale comes up.

In addition to revising these export controls, the administration is looking at the issue of “dual-use” technologies. These are not weapons. They do not shoot or explode. Included are high-speed computer processors, surveillance and detection networks, and a host of other complex and evolving technologies that could have military as well as civilian applications. This category might also include intangible items like cyber-entities or access to controlled web environments.

Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and other major weapons manufacturers have invested billions of dollars from the Pentagon’s research and development budgets in exploring and perfecting such technologies, and now they are eager to sell them to foreign buyers along with the usual fighter planes, combat ships, and guided missiles. But the rules as they stand make this something less than a slam dunk. So the weapons industry and the Pentagon are arguing for “updating” the rules. If you translate updating as “loosening” the rules, then the United States would indeed be more “competitive,” but who exactly are we trying to beat?

Weapons Sales are Red Hot

“What’s Hot?” is the title of Vice Admiral Jeffrey Wieranga’s blog entry for January 4, 2010. Wieranga is the Director of the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which is charged with overseeing weapons exports, and such pillow talk is evidently more than acceptable -- at least when it’s about weapons sales. In fact, Wieranga could barely restrain himself that day, adding: “Afghanistan is really HOT!” Admittedly, on that day the temperature in Kabul was just above freezing, but not at the Pentagon, where arms sales to Afghanistan evidently create a lot of heat.

As Wieranga went on to write, the Obama administration’s new 2010/2011 budget allocates $6 billion in weaponry for Afghan Security Forces. The Afghans will actually get those weapons for free, but U.S. weapons makers will make real money delivering them at taxpayers’ expense and, as the Vice Admiral pointed out, that “means there is a staggering amount of acquisition work to do.”

It’s not just Afghanistan that’s now in the torrid zone. Weapons sales all over the world will be smoking in 2010 and beyond.

The year began with a bang when Wieranga’s Agency announced that the Obama administration had decided to sell a nifty $6 billion in weapons to Taiwan. Even as the United States leans heavily on China for debt servicing, Washington is giving the Mainland a big raspberry by offering the island of 22 million off its coast (which Washington does not formally recognize as an independent nation), a lethal cocktail of weaponry that includes $3 billion in Black Hawk helicopters. This deal comes on top of more than $11 billion in U.S. weapons exports to Taiwan over the last decade, and is certain to set Chinese-U.S. relations back a step or two.

Other bonanzas on the horizon? Brazil wants new fighter planes and Boeing is battling a French company for the contract in a deal that could be worth a whopping $7 billion. India, once a major arms buyer from the Soviet Union, is now another big buy-American customer, with Boeing and Lockheed Martin vying to equip its air force with new fighter planes in deals that Boeing estimates may reach $11 billion.

Such deals are staggering. They contribute more bang and blast to a world already bristling with particularly lethal weaponry. They are a striking American success story in a time filled with failures. Put in the lurid but everyday terms of a nation weaned on reality television, the Pentagon is pimping for the U.S. weapons industry. The weapons industry, for its part, is a pusher for every kind of lethal technology. The two of them together are working to ensure that more of the same will flow out of the U.S. in ever easier and more lucrative ways.

Global arms trade? Send that one back to the Department of Euphemisms. Pimps and pushers with a lucrative global monopoly on a killing drug -- maybe that’s the language we need. And maybe, just maybe, it’s time to launch a “war on weapons.”

Frida Berrigan is a Senior Program Associate with the New America Foundation’s Arms and Security Initiative. “Weapons at War 2008,” a report she co-authored with William D. Hartung, goes into much more detail about the politics and pratfalls of weapons exports.

from Information Clearing House :
Date: 17 February 2010
Subject: US Strategy in Iran.

USA's Global Military Dominance

Real Reason for Sanctions Against Iran
by Eric Sommer

The U.S.-sponsored drive to impose new economic sanctions on Iran has nothing to do with the noble cause of limiting proliferation of nuclear weapons on the planet. It is directly linked to the U.S. military doctrine of establishing 'full spectrum dominance' - i.e., military dominance on land, sea, air, and outer space over all other countries in the world. The logical extension of this doctrine is that only countries firmly allied to the U.S. government should be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons or to even develop the capacity to do so.

Israel , for example, is widely-believed to hold secret Nuclear weapons. Yet there is no call for sanctions or investigations of them. The reason is simple: They are a U.S. ally. India and Pakistan have declined to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and have developed nuclear weapons. Yet there is no call for sanctions or investigations of them. The reason is simple: They are U.S. allies.

Iran and North Korea are being subjected to economic sanctions, calls for more sanctions, and even threats of military aggression against them The reason is again simple: They are not U.S. allies.

The principal of national sovereignty includes non-interference in a nations internal affairs by outside powers. It is an important cornerstone of real international peace and security, and among other things is related to accepting and respecting the cultural, political, and economic diversity of the world.

A key element of national sovereignty is that wars of aggression against other nations which have not attacked ones' own nation are prohibited under international law. Wars of aggression were declared illegal at the Nuremberg trials after World War II, which established the invasion of other nations by Germany as the type-case.

Subsequently, the United Nations General Assembly has enacted resolutions prohibiting military aggression, invasions, and occupations of one country by another - except in self-defence when the target nation had attacked first.

Iran , at this point, is only known to be developing nuclear power plants and materials. And it has never attacked the U.S. Yet Iran is being subjected to sanctions, calls for more sanctions, and threats of possible military aggression against them.

The Truth About the Non-Proliferation Treaty

As a signatory of the U.N. Nuclear non-proliferation treaty, Iran must not develop nuclear weapons.

However - and this is a crucial point - the non-proliferation treaty gives every signatory the sovereign right to voluntarily withdraw from the treaty on three months notice. After doing so, that country has the absolute right under international law to develop nuclear weapons on its own territory.

North Korea , which originally signed the treaty and later withdrew, has now the legal right to develop nuclear weapons. India, Pakistan, and Israel never signed the treaty and therefore also have had the legal right to develop nuclear weapons.

Instead of acknowledging these realities, western politicians and media have systematically concealed them from the public. In place of the truth they have repeated vague mantras like 'defying the international community' (i.e., not bending to the will of the U.S.).

In a typical example of this deceptive rhetoric, U.S. President Obama said a few days ago: "Despite the posturing that its nuclear power is only for civilian use ... they in fact continue to pursue a course that would lead to weaponization, and that is not acceptable to the international community."

The absence of any legal argument in this statement reflects the fact that there is no legal argument against Iran's nuclear energy program, and that even development of weapons would be legal if Iraq withdraws from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty. Of course, Obama invoking the 'non-acceptance by the 'international community' does not mean the nations of the world; it's code for 'the U.S. and its allies'.

U.S. Sanctions are part of Imperialism

To fully understand U.S. policy towards Iran and North Korea, we need to situate it in the wider attempt to extend its military machine across the world, and to remove any obstacles to its dominance.

There are currently 700 U.S. military bases outside the U.S., and it is engaged in a vast project to extend the reach of Nato by incorporating as many as possible of the former East European socialist states and former parts of the Soviet Union.

The U.S. is also seeking to militarily encircle both Russia and China with sea-based missile carrying ships, bases in neighboring states, hi-tech weapons on Taiwan, and the arming of small client anti-Russian states like Georgia. U.S. bases are also being built in the South American country of Columbia, right next door to Venezuela, a country which has sought to develop a socialist alternative to U.S. domination of the region.

U.S. opposition to Iran's nuclear program is intended to help ensure that the U.S. - and its nuclear armed major allies such as Britain, France, India, and Pakistan - can continue to dominate the world. It is also intended to weaken the ability of middle eastern countries to resist U.S. domination in their region.

© 1999-2009. «PRAVDA.Ru»

from Jim O'Brien :
Date: 5 February 2010
Subject: Links to recent articles of interest.

To members and friends of Historians Against the War,
This is the latest in the series of biweekly mailings that we started in September, linking to recent articles on HAW-relevant topics, either written by historians or written by others but providing historical background.  Suggestions can be sent to jimobrien48@gmail.com.  The working group for this project consists of Matt Bokovoy, Carolyn (Rusti) Eisenberg, Jim O'Brien, Maia Ramnath, and Sarah Shields.

"Obama's State of the Union"
By Stephen Zunes, Foreign Policy in Focus, posted February 3
(on foreign policy aspects of the State of the Union speech)
"Missteps on Afghanistan"
By William R. Polk, History News Network, posted February 1
The author formerly taught history at the University of Chicago and is now working on a book to be entitled Afghanistan: Descent into Unending War
"Afraid of the Dark in Afghanistan"
By Anand Gopal and Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com, posted January 28
"Patriotic Anti-Militarism: Remodeling the Antiwar Movement"
By Kevin Zeese, CounterPunch, posted January 26
“Pakistan on the Brink? The Real Threat from Within”
By Adaner Usmani, Against the Current, January-February issue
“Replacing International Oppression with International Aid”
By Lawrence S. Wittner, History News Network, posted January 25
The author teaches history at SUNY Albany (not Vassar College, as was mistakenly stated in our last mailing)
“George Clooney's Haiti -- and Beyond”
by Jesse Lemisch, New Politics web site, posted January 23
The author formerly taught history at John Jay College and, before that, the University of Chicago and SUNY Buffalo
"Securing Disaster in Haiti"
By Peter Hallward, Americas Program web site, posted January 22
Note: You are receiving this email because you signed a Historians Against the War statement (see http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/) or asked to be including in HAW's informational mailings. If you no longer wish to receive these occasional messages about HAW's work, send an email to haw-info-request@stopthewars.org?subject=unsubscribe.
haw-info mailing list

from ZMag :
Date 16 September 2009
Subject: The Crisis Ahead.


'Major crisis still ahead, past one was minor'
by Immanuel Wallerstein