Posts tagged Geopolitics
Posts tagged Geopolitics
Side Note: If you’re into politics and haven’t heard the phrase ‘New World Order’ - then clearly you ARE NOT ‘into politics’. If you still regard this phrase as some peculiar ‘conspiracy theory’ - once again, you’re not paying attention.
The phrase “New World Order” is so loaded with explosive assumptions and perceptions that its very usage has become a kind of journalistic landmine. Many analysts (some in the mainstream) have attempted to write about and discuss this very real sociopolitical ideology in a plain and exploratory manner, using a fair hand and supporting data, only to be attacked, ridiculed, or completely ignored before they get a chance to put forward their work. The reason is quite simple; much of the general public has been mentally inoculated against even the whisper of the terminology. That is to say, they have been conditioned to exhibit a negative reaction to such discussion instinctively without even knowing why.
Some of this conditioning is accomplished through the stereotyping of New World Order researchers as “conspiracy theorists” (another term for loony) grasping at fantasies in a desperate bid for “attention”, or, as confused individuals who attempt to apply creative logic to a mad chaotic world swirling on the periphery of a great void of coincidence and chance. I know this because I used to be one amongst the naive herd of “rationalists”, and I and many I knew used the same shallow arguments to dismiss every cold hard fact on the NWO that we happened upon. After seeing the conspiracy crowd made iconic and ridiculous in hundreds if not thousands of books, movies, TV shows, commercials, and news specials, it becomes difficult for many to enter into the topic without a severe bias already implanted in their heads.
Another circumstance that leads to the immediate dismissal of NWO research is, ironically, the lack of open discussion on the subject. Yes, it’s a chicken and egg sort of thing. If more people were less afraid to shine a floodlight on the truth of the matter, more people, in turn, would be more willing to absorb it. And, if more unaware people were willing to listen to the information with an open mind, more people with knowledge would be willing to share it. The psychological barrier to the information, therefore, is not based on any legitimate argument against the existence of the NWO. Instead, people refuse to listen because they fear to embrace concepts personally that they believe are not yet embraced by the majority.
It is a sad fact of society that most men and women gravitate towards the life of the follower, and not of the leader. Only through great hardship and trauma do some plant their feet solidly in the Earth, and find the strength to break free from the collectivist mindset.
Elitist think-tanks and propaganda machines like the Southern Poverty Law Center take full advantage of the hive mentality by attacking Liberty Movement proponents and NWO researchers in light of the populace’s lack of background knowledge. A perfect example of this was the SPLC’s latest hit-piece on an Oath Keepers article dealing with the exposure of a Department of Defense program designed to import and train Russian soldiers on U.S. soil. Because the article dares to mention the “NWO”, the SPLC jumps to the vapid conclusion that Oath Keepers are “paranoid”:
The poorly written diatribe is little more than an Ad Hominem stab by an ankle biting author, but I felt it did hold a certain value as a test case of the strategic exploitation of uneducated mass opinion. Without the ignorance of a sizable portion of the American public, yellow journalism like the kind peddled by the SPLC would be relegated to the great dustbin of history…
If a man is able to get past his negative preconceptions on the matter, the next step is to ask a relatively straightforward question; what is the New World Order? What is the foundation of the philosophy that drives it? What are its origins? This is something mainstream pundits never explore. They simply take for granted that we in the Liberty Movement somehow made the whole thing up for our own entertainment. In reality, the phrase New World Order made its public debut early in the 20th Century, and it was expounded by numerous political and business elites decades before there was such a thing as “conspiracy theorists”.
The Liberty Movement has always defined the NWO as a concerted effort by elitist organizations using political manipulation, economic subversion, and even war, to centralize global power into the hands of an unelected and unaccountable governing body. The goal; to one day completely dismantle individual, state, and national sovereignty. However, what I and many others hold as fact on the New World Order is not enough. We must examine the original source and how we came to our mutual conclusions.
I have in numerous articles outlined the irrefutable data surrounding the directed efforts of corporate globalization and the deliberate strategies of central banks in the co-option of financial control over nations. But, to solidify our understanding of what the most financially and politically powerful men on Earth and their cheerleaders believe the NWO is, why not go straight to the horse’s mouth:
"It is the system of nationalist individualism that has to go….We are living in the end of the sovereign states….In the great struggle to evoke a Westernized World Socialism, contemporary governments may vanish….Countless people…will hate the new world order….and will die protesting against it." H.G. Wells, in his book, “The New World Order”, 1940
“Some even believe we (the Rockefeller family) are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.”
- David Rockefeller, Memoirs, page 405
"In the next century, nations as we know it will be obsolete; all states will recognize a single, global authority. National sovereignty wasn’t such a great idea after all."
- Strobe Talbot, President Clinton’s Deputy Secretary of State, Time Magazine, July 20th, 1992
"There does exist, and has existed for a generation, an international anglophile network which operates, to some extent, in the way the radical Right believes the Communists act. In fact, this network, which we may identify as the Round Table Groups, has no aversion to cooperating with the communists, or any other group, and frequently does so. I know of the operations of this network because I have studied it for twenty years and was permitted for two years, in the early 1960s, to examine its papers and secret records. I have no aversion to it or to most of its aims and have, for much of my life, been close to it and to many of its instruments … I have objected both in the past and recently, to a few of its policies … but in general my chief difference of opinion is that it wishes to remain unknown, and I believe its role in history is significant enough to be known … The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) … the American Branch of a society which originated in England … believes national boundaries should be obliterated and [a] one-world rule established."
Prof. Carroll Quigley, mentor to Bill Clinton, from his book ‘Tragedy and Hope’
"Ultimately, our objective is to welcome the Soviet Union back into the world order. Perhaps the world order of the future will truly be a family of nations."
President George Bush at Texas A&M University 1989
"We will succeed in the Gulf. And when we do, the world community will have sent an enduring warning to any dictator or despot, present or future, who contemplates outlaw aggression. The world can therefore seize this opportunity to fufill the long-held promise of a new world order - where brutality will go unrewarded, and aggression will meet collective resistance."
President George Bush State of the Union Address 1991
"The Final Act of the Uruguay Round, marking the conclusion of the most ambitious trade negotiation of our century, will give birth - in Morocco - to the World Trade Organization, the third pillar of the New World Order, along with the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund."
Part of full-page advertisement by the government of Morocco in The New York Times (April 1994)
"To keep global resource use within prudent limits while the poor raise their living standards, affluent societies need to consume less. Population, consumption, technology, development, and the environment are linked in complex relationships that bear closely on human welfare in the global neighborhood. Their effective and equitable management calls for a systemic, long-term, global approach guided by the principle of sustainable development, which has been the central lesson from the mounting ecological dangers of recent times. Its universal application is a priority among the tasks of global governance."
United Nations Our Global Neighborhood 1995
"What Congress will have before it is not a conventional trade agreement but the architecture of a new international system…a first step toward a new world order."
Henry Kissinger on NAFTA, Los Angeles Times
“All these new challenges are bringing together about the biggest restructuring we’ve ever seen not just of the global economy but global order as a whole. And two hundred years ago, a famous British foreign secretary said that the new world had been called into existence to address the balance of the old. In 1989 another world war ended dominated by the cold war and people talked then in 1990 of the new world order. What they meant then was a new political order. And what was not foreseen then but is obvious now, from everything that we see and do, what we experience every day of our life is the sheer scale and speed and scope of globalization…”
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, CBI Speech 2007
"The New World Order will have to be built from the bottom up rather than from the top down…but in the end run around national sovereignty, eroding it piece by piece will accomplish much more than the old fashioned frontal assault."
CFR member Richard Gardner, writing in the April 1974 issue of the CFR’s journal, Foreign Affairs
IT’S election season again, and the main contenders for the Oval Office are knocking themselves out to reassure Americans that their nation remains at the pinnacle of the global pecking order. MittRomney recently declared that “this century must be an American century.” Not to be outdone, President Obama insisted in his State of the Union address that “anyone who tells you that America is in decline” doesn’t “know what they’re talking about.”
Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama might overdo it a bit, but they’re actually not far off the mark. Despite two draining wars, sluggish growth and a diffusion of power from the West to China and the “rising rest,” a combination of economic resilience and military superiority will keep the United States at or near the top for decades.
Still, they’re missing the point. The most potent challenge to America’s dominance comes not from the continuing redistribution of global power, but from a subtler change: the new forms of governance and capitalism being forged by China and other rising nations.
The democratic, secular and free-market model that has become synonymous with the era of Western primacy is being challenged by state capitalism in China, Russia and the Persian Gulf sheikdoms. Political Islam is rising in step with democracy across the Middle East. And left-wing populism is taking hold from India to Brazil. Rather than following the West’s path of development and obediently accepting their place in the liberal international order, rising nations are fashioning their own versions of modernity and pushing back against the West’s ideological ambitions.
As this century unfolds, sustaining American power will be the easy part. The hard part will be adjusting to the loss of America’s ideological dominance and fashioning consensus and compromise in an increasingly diverse and unwieldy world.
Former US Secretary of State and foreign policy pundit Henry Kissinger has claimed in an interview that the US military is now considering plans to occupy seven Gulf states. These states include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman and are home to one of the largest oil reserves in the world. Not only that, he stated that the US has plans to tighten the noose around China and Russia as well. So far as Iran was concerned, he stated that Israel would decimate it by its sheer military strength. From the ashes of the next great war, the US would form the new world order, he warned.
Indeed, as of now the US has more than 700 foreign military bases scattered all over the globe; it has several aircraft carrier fleets cruising the open seas bullying a number of countries. Until a few years ago, its military budget spiked greatly owing to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and stood larger than that of the rest of the world. Indeed, the American foreign policy for the past many decades has largely been influenced by Neocons that is represented on the academic side by Bernard Lewis, Leo Strauss, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfield, former President Bush and others of their kind in American power structure. Though the Democrats are in power, Pentagon and Capitol Hill still remain under the thumb of such ideologues. That the main thrust of the American foreign policy under such influence is aggression against the world and is manifested by the ongoing war in Afghanistan, drone warfare in Pakistan and the threatening presence of troops in predominantly other Muslim states. Iran and Syria seem likely next targets. Likewise, one reason why it intends to squeeze China and Russia is because of their neutral stand towards Iran and resistance to US hegemony. Recently, Washington brazenly backed Israel in its intimidation of the neighbouring Muslim countries particularly in the 2006 war against Lebanon that resulted in a daylight massacre of innocent men, women and children. These are only some of the facts which chime in with Mr Kissinger’s assessment.
Meanwhile, a report in this paper says that the CIA has chalked out a plan to get favourable coverage from Pakistan’s media. Under such times when the US is on a crusade to conquer and decimate a number of Muslim countries and its allies like China, we can ill-afford to let our guard down. The CIA intends to counter the popular anger against the war that will further receive an impetus with recent deaths of nine British soldiers. Up until now the Pakistani media has been bravely exposing the US especially with respect to the excesses committed in the war on terror. It is hoped it would continue to watch national interest and would strongly repel CIA’s propaganda offensive.
Washington - Financial speculators are gambling on oil the same way they gambled on the housing market a few years ago — a frightening prospect for the fragile economy, a Democratic congressional committee was told Wednesday.
"It is similar to the gambling Wall Street did on whether or not people would pay their subprime (below-market rate) mortgages in the mortgage meltdown," said Michael Greenberger, a law professor at the University of Maryland and a former federal regulator of financial markets. "Now they are betting on the upward direction of the price of oil."
The housing industry collapse helped trigger the deep recession that began in late 2007 and whose effects are still felt today.
The economy is slowly recovering, Greenberger said, but it could come to a halt unless oil prices come down. Gene Guilford, president of the Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association, told lawmakers that the recent oil price run-up has cost consumers an additional $10 billion a month since mid-December.
The House of Representatives’ Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, which consists of party leaders, called the hearing to spotlight Democratic efforts to promote lower oil and gasoline prices. No Republicans were present.
Today’s routine $4-and-higher prices for a gallon of gasoline have nothing to do with conventional supply-and-demand forces, Greenberger said. He formerly directed regulation of market trading in futures contracts and derivatives for the Commodities Futures Trading Commission.
"It is excessive speculation, which is a fancy word for saying that gamblers wearing Wall Street suits have taken these markets over," he said.
Financial speculators such as investment banks and hedge funds account for at least 65 percent of purchases of contracts for future oil deliveries, more than twice their traditional share, while buyers who intend to actually take delivery of the oil and use it, such as airlines, make up only about one-third of demand. The speculators bid up contract prices, sending oil and gasoline prices higher and reaping them huge profits. The bidding is stoked by fear of possible violence in oil-producing countries, notably Iran.
Congress has tried to pressure the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to put limits on how many contracts anyone can buy, but financial interests have stymied CFTC efforts in federal court.
Greenberger suggested several remedies, including a strong Justice Department probe. He said the threat of a serious investigation can be enough to intimidate speculators.
"If there is a real investigation, just the appearance of it will cause these cockroaches to scatter," he said, "because the light will be turned on."
The Energy Information Administration said Wednesday that U.S. crude oil inventories “are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.” Total motor gasoline inventories also remain in the upper limit of the average range. Both were as of March 30. That means supplies are plentiful; there’s no shortage pressure driving prices up.
The EIA, the statistical arm of the Energy Department, also said that total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged about 18.2 million barrels per day, down by 4.7 percent compared with the similar period last year. Similarly, over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged nearly 8.6 million barrels per day, down by 3.8 percent from the same period last year.
That inventories are up and products supplied are down suggests that producers are stockpiling supplies on concern that prices could go even higher, when they could earn a premium, even as demand for oil and its derivative products such as gasoline is actually down. Inventories are often built up ahead of the summer driving season.
The benchmark U.S. oil price fell Wednesday to $101.47 in New York, its lowest level since mid-February, but still well above where analysts believe it should be with supplies up and demand down.
According to the report published by the Congressional Research Service Israel has received more assistance from the US than 15 European countries did to recover from the devastation caused during World War II.
More than 67 billion dollars of the Washington’s aid to Israel has been in military, the report said.
The astonishing report adds that the US has allocated 3.1 billion dollars, around one-fifth of its defense budget, to Israel this year alone.
Americans also allow the Israeli army to use their emergency reserve ammunition stored in Israel. The value of the weapons held in the US emergency supplies is 1.2 billion dollars.
The US gives billions of dollars in American taxpayers’ money to the Tel Aviv regime each year in the form of military and economic aid, legally justified as part of US government’s foreign aid package.
Washington has never downsized its annual 3 billion dollars grant to the Israeli regime despite going through its worst recession in decades which has prompted the government to impose major cuts on most public service programs for citizens
The world is currently being shaken by tectonic changes almost too numerous to count: the ongoing economic crisis is accelerating the degradation of international governance and supranational institutions, and both are occurring alongside a massive shift of economic and political power to Asia. Less than a quarter-century after U.S. political scientist and author Francis Fukuyama declared “the end of history,” we seem to have arrived at the dawn of a new age of social and geopolitical upheaval.
Dramatically, the Arab world has been swept by a revolutionary spring, though one that is rapidly becoming a chilly winter. Indeed, for the most part, the new regimes are combining the old authoritarianism with Islamism, resulting in further social stagnation, resentment and instability.
Even more remarkable, however, are the social — and antisocial — grassroots demonstrations that are mushrooming in affluent Western societies. These protests have two major causes.
First, social inequality has grown unabated in the West over the last quarter-century, owing in part to the disappearance of the Soviet Union and, with it, the threat of expansionist communism. The specter of revolution had forced Western elites to use the power of the state to redistribute wealth and nurture the growth of loyal middle classes. But when communism collapsed in its Eurasian heartland, the West’s rich, believing that they had nothing more to fear, pressed to roll back the welfare state, causing inequality to rise rapidly. This was tolerable as long as the overall pie was expanding, but the global financial crisis in 2008 ended that.
Second, over the past 15 years, hundreds of millions of jobs shifted to Asia, which offered inexpensive and often highly skilled labor. The West, euphoric from its victory over communism and its seemingly unstoppable economic growth, failed to implement necessary structural reforms, although Germany and Sweden were rare exceptions. Instead, Western prosperity relied increasingly on debt.
By Jason Leopold and Jeffrey Kaye
In May of 2002, one of several meetings was convened at the White House where the CIA sought permission from top Bush administration officials, including then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, to torture the agency’s first high-value detainee captured after 9/11: Abu Zubaydah.
The CIA claimed Zubaydah, who at the time was being held at a black site prison in Thailand, was “withholding imminent threat information during the initial interrogation sessions,” according to documents released by the Senate Intelligence Committee in April 2009.
So, “attorneys from the CIA’s Office of General Counsel [including the agency’s top lawyer John Rizzo] met with the Attorney General [John Ashcroft], the National Security Adviser [Rice], the Deputy National Security Adviser [Stephen Hadley], the Legal Adviser to the National Security Council [John Bellinger], and the Counsel to the President [Alberto Gonzales] in mid-May 2002 to discuss the possible use of alternative interrogation methods that differed from the traditional methods used by the U.S.”
One of the key documents handed out to Bush officials at this meeting, and at Principals Committee sessions chaired by Rice that took place between May and July 2002, was a 37-page instructional manual that contained detailed descriptions of seven of the ten techniques that ended up in the legal opinion widely referred to as the “torture memo,” drafted by Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) attorney John Yoo and signed by his boss, Jay Bybee, three months later. According to Rice, Yoo had attended the Principals Committee meetings and participated in discussions about Zubaydah’s torture.
That instructional manual, referred to as “Pre-Academic Laboratory (PREAL) Operating Instructions,” has just been released by the Department of Defense under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The document sheds additional light on the origins of the Bush administration’s torture policy and for the first time describes exactly what methods of torture Bush officials had discussed - and subsequently approved - for Zubaydah in May 2002.
The PREAL manual was prepared by the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA) and used by instructors in the JPRA’s Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE) courses to teach US military personnel how to withstand brutal interrogation techniques if captured by the enemy during wartime. The manual states one of the primary goals of the training is “to give students the most reliable mental picture possible of an actual peacetime governmental detention experiences [sic].”
A US counterterrorism official and an aide to one of the Bush officials who participated in Principals Committee meetings in May 2002, however, confirmed to Truthout last week that the PREAL manual was one of several documents the CIA obtained from JPRA that was shared with Rice and other Principals Committee members in May 2002, the same month the CIA officially took over Zubaydah’s interrogation from the FBI. As National Security Adviser to President George W. Bush, Rice chaired the meetings.
Rice and Bellinger have denied ever seeing a list of SERE training techniques. But in 2008,they told the Senate Armed Services Committee, which conducted an investigation into treatment of detainees in custody of the US government, that they recalled being present at White House meetings where SERE training was discussed.
Sarah Farber, a spokeswoman at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, where Riceteaches political economy, said she would pass on Truthout’s queries about claims that Rice reviewed and discussed the PREAL manual to Rice’s office. But Rice’s office did not respond to our inquiries.
Regrettably, states’ power to protect themselves and to ensure impunity has continued to grow in recent years. This paper discusses two recent examples of this political trend: the far-reaching reaction to Judge Baltasar Garzon’s legal decision not to apply the 1977 Spanish Amnesty Law to crimes against humanity committed during the Franco regime, and the recent International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling on state immunity according to which a state is immune from jurisdiction before foreign national courts, even in cases involving civil responsibility for international crimes. It also briefly notes relevant legal developments in the European Court of Human Rights and the US Supreme Court.
Side Note: Water… Fresh Water to be more precise is a resource that the nation of Libya has A LOT of, especially underground. Water, not oil is the resource that ultimately sealed Libya’s fate. Libya just finished a huge fresh water project in which they were going to use to help bolster neighboring countries in Northern Africa. This would have given that region more political power than the West was comfortable with.
From the Texas Oil Boom to the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, petroleum was undoubtedly the most notorious liquid of the last one hundred years. While some in the international marketplace still fixate on oil, recent political and environmental developments have helped nominate a stunning rival to oil’s supposed predominance: water! It’s a substance to which Plato gave highest praise: “Only what is rare is valuable, and water, which is the best of all things…is the cheapest.” However, in our time, water has become much rarer, or, in economic terms, more scarce than oil. In the words of James Bond’s latest nemesis, Dominic Greene, “This [water] is the most valuable resource in the world and we need to control as much of it as we can.” Global water resources have begun to dry up, even as water trading profitability increases. Although this situation may seem irrelevant for those with adequate water access, it truly could presage a global water catastrophe.
This predicament has not gone unrecognized by international bodies like the United Nations. In July 2010, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 64/292, which “Recognizes the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights…”. This document is legally binding, and could serve as a key precedent for multilateral water management. Furthermore, most observers have interpreted the resolution as supporting public water rights . On the other side of the spectrum, litigation like Sunbelt Water’s Chapter 11 NAFTA claim  and Canada’s parliamentary Bill S-11  have raised concerns that potential water privatization will result in irreversible water commodification, confirming the private sector’s primacy over the public.
Canada’s massive glaciers, rivers, and lakes have afforded it with 7% of the world’s renewable fresh water . This abundance has led to a relaxed national perspective on water use: Canadian daily water consumption per capita, about 4,400 liters , is currently the highest in the world behind the United States, with both a lack of adequate water utilities regulation and reckless industrial water use the culprits. Lines have been drawn in the taiga, and a number of organizations have sprung up throughout the country to take a stand on the issue. One front in this international hydro-scuffle is dominated by private firms and the Canadian government, while the opposition consists mainly of environmentalist and civic action bodies.
Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s administration has consistently opposed UN initiatives to define water as a human right. At a 2008 UN Human Rights Council, the Canadian delegation blocked a move by Spain and Germany to officially recognize water and sanitation as human rights . Canada had previously opposed two UN attempts to elevate water to human right status in 2002 and 2006 . Additionally, the Harper government has tended to encourage privatization as a solution to mismanagement and inefficiency within Canada’s system of water utilities. The aforementioned Bill S-11, introduced by the Conservatives, tacitly endorses water privatization by mandating clean water access for Canada’s First Nation communities (which is severely lacking) without allocating project funding or financial responsibility to any government regulatory bodies [6, 8]. Furthermore, the bill’s subsection 4 (1)(c)(iii) states that “regulations may confer on any person or body the power, exercisable in specified circumstances and subject to specified conditions, to require a First Nation to enter into an agreement for the management of its drinking water system or waste water system in cooperation with a third party.” This clause could force a First Nation community to accept a government-sponsored contract allowing a private firm to supply and purify that community’s water.
The danger of this silent privatization is among the chief concerns of the Council of Canadians, one of the primary dissenting voices in the Canada’s water debate. The Council believes that Harper’s corporatizing water policy will jeopardize Canada’s right to self-determination of its own water supply . Sunbelt Water’s aborted Chapter 11 litigation has demonstrated that once a firm gains water rights in state party to the NAFTA, that state’s federal government cannot dissolve those rights without compensating that firm for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages . In the absence of this costly reacquisition of water rights, any private corporation could engage in bulk water exports, shipping huge volumes of water from the country without accountability to the public; in essence, the firm would be ‘harvesting’ national water resources and selling them on the international market. This is, of course, how corn, iron ore, and other commodities are sold. The question here is whether a public good should be allowed to become a private benefit without the full consent of the state.
The geopolitical centre of gravity, as measured in arms spending and transfers, has shifted to Asia. The top five arms importers over the last five years, according to new datafrom the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), are from Asia. And, led by deep-pocketed China, Asia is poised to overtake Europe for the first time in modern history in overall military spending.
The Cold War ended in Europe in the early 1990s. But Asia continues to buy and sell weapons as if the Cold War never went out of style.
The biggest pull factor for the global arms trade is now South Asia. India is the world’s top weapons importer, accounting for 10 percent of the global total, with Russia as the top supplier. Pakistan is number three on the list, with China and the United States providing the bulk of the weapons.
After being the world’s largest arms importer from 2002-2006, China is now surging as an arms exporter. But the top five global arms suppliers remain non-Asian countries. The United States accounts for nearly one-third of all military exports, with Russia at the number two spot, supplying nearly one-quarter. Germany, France, and the United Kingdom round out the list.
"Those top five have been at the top for decades," explains Paul Holtom, director of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme. "If you go back to the SIPRI data from the 1950s, they were always there. The one thing we’ve noted is that their share is declining. So there is now competition with the dramatic increases of China."
So far, China’s major purchaser is Pakistan. The two countries have teamed up to produce the JF-17 Thunder combat aircraft, a rival to the U.S. F-16. If other countries begin to purchase this big-ticket item – and several countries including Azerbaijan have so far expressed interest – then China will continue to rise in the ranks of arms exporters.
Other changes affecting arms sales in Asia include Japan’s decision at the end of 2011 to further relax its 1967 ban on arms exports to facilitate participation in missile defence and fighter jet production.
South Korea, meanwhile, doubled its arms sales last year and is on pace to reach a record three billion dollars for 2012. As the United States executes its “Pacific pivot”, it has asked allies to spend more money on the military either as part of burden-sharing or to promote the interoperability of allied weapons systems.
"Arms sales are following the general global shift in power to the Asia," explains Patrick Cronin, senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Programme at the Center for a New American Security.
"More impressive than the arms trade to and from Asia is the rising indigenous production capabilities. The qualitative advances in Asian arms are gradually leveling the playing field with arms produced in the United States and Europe. These trends are likely to continue, even if the pace varies from year to year. "
On March 30, 1976, the Palestinian people declared a general strike and demonstrated against the Israeli confiscation of thousands of acres of land in the Galilee. The Israeli’s responded with violence, killing six unarmed Palestinian demonstrators and injuring hundreds. Every year Land Day is commemorated in Palestine in remembrance of those who would rise up to protect their land.
On this Land Day, I was at Erez Crossing. Several hundred youth had managed to find their way around the Hamas policemen blocking the roads leading to Erez. At the crossing, they moved to within two hundred yards of the Israeli gate. There they found their path blocked by rows of concertina wire across the road. The shabob set fire to tires in the roadway and threw stones towards the Israeli wall, most falling into the roadway, well short of their target. Intermittently and without warning, the Israeli occupation forces open fire on the stone throwers. Each volley consists of one to three shots, and with each volley, young men fall. Others immediately retrieve them. Dozens of youth mob the wounded. Somehow they manage to carry them through the crowd and load them onto motorcycles where they are ferried to the Palestinian side of the crossing to waiting ambulances.
I wonder about the young soldiers, picking their targets amongst the crowd and firing, like shooting fish in a barrel. I remember in 2002, the head of the IAF, Dan Hurlitz was asked what it felt like releasing a bomb over Gaza, and he said, “No. That is not a legitimate question and it is not asked. But if you nevertheless want to know what I feel when I release a bomb, I will tell you: I feel a light bump to the plane as a result of the bomb’s release. A second later it’s gone, and that’s all. That is what I feel.” I disagree with Hurlitz on this point. In any caring world this is a completely legitimate question. It is the answer that rings of illegitimacy. It is the answer of a sociopath. I wonder if this dehumanization trickles down to the soldiers opposite us. I wonder what they feel.
And I wonder about the young stone throwers, completely exposed to the guns of the Israelis, knowing full well someone is going to be shot.
With Tunisia’s economy in crisis, the Islamist party Ennahda should look beyond US and Bretton Woods principles to save it
I meet Mustafa and Kamal on Avenue Bourguiba, where they protested in January 2011 to get rid of the dictator who ruled their country with an iron-fist for 23 years. Tunisia has changed a lot since then – and celebrated its 56th independence day last week as a free nation. Both men said they will be out again to consolidate the gains of the revolution. “We couldn’t have [talked like this] before, no way,” says Mustafa, a 25-year-old originally from Tabarka in the north of Tunisia. “The only thing I could have told you is how great Ben Ali is, what a good man he is.”
But how independent is free Tunisia from the grips of its former colonial master and its allies? A demonstration last week by a group of fringe fundamentalists calling for sharia law has got some secular Tunisians in a funk again, as well as worrying the French, who are opposed to Ennahda. An opposition politician told me there are even rumours of a French-supported coup. It is clear that the next stage of western connivance in the subjugation of the Tunisian people is the widespread media and political fear over the democratically elected Ennahda party, which is Islamist. But despite constant derision by the western media, Ennahda revealed on Monday that they would not make sharia, or Islamic law, the main source of legislation for the new constitution. Wouldn’t it be better to judge them on their actions rather than conspiracies about their intentions? “We realise we have a historic responsibility to get this right, we are genuinely inclusive,” Said Ferjani, who sits on the Ennahda politburo, told me.
The course from actively arming a kleptocratic dictator to pushing for the Tunisians to support “western values” is familiar. As Frantz Fanon wrote in The Wretched of the Earth: “As soon as the native begins to pull on his moorings, and to cause anxiety to the settler, he is handed over to well-meaning souls who … point out to him the specificity and wealth of western values.”
Initially, when people were getting shot by snipers on the streets of Tunis, Hillary Clinton, said the US “didn’t want to take sides” and was worried about the “unrest and instability”. Sarkozy’s administration even offered to send police advisers to Ben Ali to quell the uprising. In the end, over 200 perished. Since the revolution has won out, Clinton and Sarkozy have moved on to praising “progress” in the country while also expressing apparent concern that Ennahda don’t impose Iranian-style dictatorship on the Tunisian people (the US or French didn’t care when it was Pinochet-style dictatorship).
But the fear of Ennahda is misplaced, and based on western desires to remain in firm control. There are plenty of clear differences in Tunisia to 1979 when the Iranian revolution overthrew another western-backed torturing tyrant, the Shah. First, Ennahda have assembled a coalition including secular socialists and social democrats to form their government. The president Moncef Marzouki is a secular human-rights activist who spent decades in the wilderness fighting the US-backed atrocities being committed against dissidents in Tunisia.
The second point is that Tunisian civil society is engaged with the process and will only grow. One of the retrograde patterns you see in a Middle East speckled with US-backed dictatorships is that Islamism is often the only avenue to express dislike of the current state of affairs. The space for secular left movements has been completely crushed since the pan-Arabism of Nasser in Egypt worried the US enough to extinguish the left across the region. Clearly what scares the west more than any Islamist, then, is a secular revolutionary left opposed to the neoliberal order we set up over the past 40 years. That would really hurt the bottom line.
Islamists themselves have often been quite welcoming to the model of the Bretton Woods institutions and with the neoliberal order trying to impose itself on Tunisia, it will be near-impossible for the ruling parties to try something else (even if they want to). Ennahda at the moment has no discernible economic programme, and talked to me mainly about how much it wanted to attract foreign investment, rather than launching on the massive public works initiative that the country really needs. So far, Tunisia has followed US and Bretton Woods dictates to the book, privatising many of its state-owned assets and eviscerating public institutions and subsidies for fuel and food. Many actually compare Ennahda to the Justice and Development party (AKP) in Turkey, and it is no secret that the AKP has been a dream for business and international capital.
In its time in power, the AKP privatised a raft of public assets including Tekel, the state-owned tobacco and alcohol company, which it agreed to sell off as part of the “structural adjustments” attached to a $16bn loan agreement with the IMF. Before Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, started acting like the new sultan, the business press was in raptures about the AKP. This is why I worry for Tunisia – not because of Islamists, but because of neoliberals. With the period of dictatorship over, the economy in Tunisia is now the big issue – with high unemployment everyone here talks jobs. Bretton Woods dictates have proven a disaster around the world as a development model. Ennahda should look elsewhere, for its own survival.
More Gulf War Veterans have died than Vietnam Veterans. This probably is news to you. But the truth has been hidden by a technicality. So here is the truth.
The casualties in the Vietnam War were pretty simple to understand. If a soldier was dead from his combat tour, he was a war casualty. There are 58,195 names recorded on the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC.
Some of these brave men died in the jungles of Vietnam while others died in Medivac units or hospitals in Japan and America. A dead soldier can surrender his life anywhere in service to his country. It really doesn’t matter where this happens. The location of a soldier’s death in no way colors his sacrifice.
But something odd has happened with the Iraq War. The government, under the Bush administration, did something dishonest that resulted in a lie that’s persisted since the war began — and continues to this very day. They decided to report the war deaths in Iraq only if the soldier died with his boots on the ground in a combat situation.
What’s the difference, you might ask?
The combat in Vietnam was in rural areas, far removed from medical treatment centers. Injured soldiers were treated by a Medic. Most died at the scene of the battle before they could be evacuated. Many died on route or were declared dead at the medical treatment facilities. The situation in Iraq is vastly different.
Fighting in Iraq is mainly in urban areas. Soldiers who are injured are quickly evacuated with armored personnel carriers or helicopters. It’s a much more efficient system than what was possible in Vietnam, but for those that are seriously injured it means that death is more likely to happen while they are in transit or at the treatment facility.
Under the new reporting system, deaths that happen en route or post evacuation are not counted as combat deaths. This is why the number seems unusually low — a little over four thousand as of 2009.
The actual figures have been hidden from the American public just like the returning, flag draped coffins were censored from the press. But the figures are now available and we can only hope that the American people will be outraged when they learn how they have been misled.
According to The Department of Veterans Affairs, as of May 2007, reports in the Gulf War Veterans Information System reveal these startling numbers:
Total U.S. Military Gulf War Deaths: 73,846
* Deaths amongst Deployed: 17,847
* Deaths amongst Non-Deployed: 55,999
The stastics for non-lethal injuries are likewise staggering:
Total “Undiagnosed Illness” (UDX) claims: 14,874
Total number of disability claims filed: 1,620,906
* Disability Claims amongst Deployed: 407,911
* Disability Claims amongst Non-Deployed: 1,212,995
Percentage of combat troops that filed Disability Claims 36%
The Harper government has been monitoring political messages online, and even correcting what it considers misinformation. One local expert says the government is taking things too far.
Under the pilot program the Harper government paid a media company $75,000 to monitor and respond to online postings about the east coast seal hunt.
UBC Computer Science professor and President of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, Richard Rosenberg, says it seems unnecessary for the government to be going this far. “The government has a lot of power, that it feels the need to monitor public bulletin boards, or places where people express views and then to respond to that, seems to me going beyond a reasonable action the government should be taking.”
Rosenberg says knowing that the government is monitoring certain topics online could result in people being more careful with their identities when they’re posting about political issues on the internet.
He says it’s the first time he’s heard of this happening in Canada.