Monday, July 27, 2015

Saudi's Step Up Oil Price War

Saudis Expand Price War Downstream

by Gaurav Agnihotri - OilPrice.com

The undisputed king of oil and gas is making some moves that could change the face of the global refining sector.

In June 2015, Saudi Arabia pumped a record 10.564 million barrels a day, a record level. As if being the world’s biggest exporter of oil was not enough, the desert kingdom is now looking to conquer the refining sector as it has quickly become the fourth largest refiner in the world. "Saudis have moved into the product business in a big way,” said Fereidun Fesharaki of FGE Energy. With Saudi Arabia’s refined fuel contributing to the global supply glut, what will be its impact on the refining markets especially those in Asia?

How will Saudi Arabia Capture Market Share Downstream?


A refinery’s success is measured by its ‘gross refining margins’. The gross refining margin is nothing but the difference between the value of the refined products and price of the crude oil. In case of Saudi Arabia, the price of crude oil would be extremely low. "The crude is so cheap it's pretty much free for them, the margins are going to be massive. It makes trade flows in products very different,” said Amrita Sen of Energy Aspects.

Related: Senate Sidesteps Key Issues In Latest Energy Bill

There is little doubt then as to why the Saudis are shifting their focus to domestic refining. Along with acquiring a controlling stake in Korea’s S- Oil, the desert kingdom is commissioning a new refinery in Jizan which would have a capacity of around 400,000 barrels per day when it begins operations in 2017. Jizan will come on top of Saudi Arabia’s two other 400,000 bpd- refineries at Yasref and Yanbu, and will turn the country into a major global player in the downstream sector, expanding its campaign for market share beyond just crude oil.



 

Is Saudi Arabia likely to win a potential price war against Asian producers of diesel?


By offering almost 2.8 million barrels of low-sulphur diesel to Asian and European markets, the Saudis are directly competing with Asian refiners, potentially sparking a price war. In fact, at $5.60 the Asian refining margins have fallen by almost 50 percent from June this year and are expected to drop by a further 30 percent.

Related: How Energy Tech Can Meet Needs of Rapid Population Growth

“We see refining margins weakening on worsening diesel fundamentals, particularly east of Suez, though gasoline should be supportive. A lot of diesel will be trapped in the Far East and this will lead to run cuts in places like Japan and South Korea as the arbitrage to the west will be closed by growing Middle Eastern supplies” said Robert Campbell of Energy Aspects.


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On the other hand, it won’t be easy for Saudi Arabia – Chinese refiners are also producing more gasoline, for which demand is still strong. Moreover, Indian refiners are now moving away from Saudi Arabia which was previously India’s largest crude oil supplier. Indian refiners are now buying more crude oil from Nigeria, Iraq, Venezuela and Mexico. As a result, Saudi Arabia was forced to offer discounts on its heavy and sour grade of crude oil to its Asian customers.

Still, Saudi Arabia can likely wait out the competition. Just as they have kept their crude oil production levels intact, it is possible that the Saudis will maintain their current refining output in spite of falling refining margins and eventually end up winning the price war against Asian producers.

Related: What Miniature Nuclear Reactors Could Mean For The World

However, one cannot easily neglect the Indian and Chinese refiners. Let us consider the case of Indian private refiners Essar and Reliance, which are among the most complex refineries in the world (refineries which are capable of processing heavier and cheaper crude). These two refineries have seen great success recently, following the recent dip in oil prices after a deal was reached between the P5+1 and Iran, and are likely to build upon their already impressive refining margins (Gross refining margin for Essar refinery was $9.04 per barrel while that of Reliance was $8.70 per barrel in first quarter of 2015).

So, who will reap the benefits of the low prices?


Given current market conditions, the Asian demand for diesel has reduced mainly due to the weakening Chinese market, while demand for gasoline is increasing in India, Pakistan, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam. The price for diesel is expected to fall, and gasoline prices will also continue to fall if there are no run cuts in the Asian refineries.

This all translates into lower prices of refined fuels will eventually benefit Asian customers who will pay less for transportation, basic commodities and essential services.

AnonDown: Canadian Cabinet Leaks


AnonDown: Canadian Cabinet Leaks (#CCLeaks) Document 1 Press Release

from procrastin8r on Vimeo

 



Anons: PLEASE MIRROR AND SEND US A YOUTUBE LINK ASAP IN COMMENTS HERE OR TO @OpAnonDown

Public Domain: use, reuse, mash up as you wish.

**PR TEXT**

We begin with a moment of silence for our fallen friend, James McIntyre. Stephen Harper, Canadian security forces, and their corporate overlords have now determined that anyone opposing their fossil fuel agenda is a terrorist.

This is the immediate and most important context of the murder of JayMack at the hands of RCMP officers in Dawson Creek, British Columbia.

Beginning with:

  • covert, warrantless surveillance
  • outright police state dystopia at the G-20
  • full court pressure against Idle No More
  • a series of monstrous crime legislation
  • and, finally, Bill C-51,

Canada has made opposing fossil fuel mania with action, words or thoughts into a summary criminal offense of the highest order.

Anonymous has been collecting bits of evidence and making plans for many months. Beginning in June, we launched an all out assault on Canada's Internet infrastructure in opposition to C-51, Canada's secret police bill.

We are also concerned that Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada will once again use widespread cheating in the upcoming federal elections.

Meanwhile, Canadian security forces and their Five Eyes partners in New Zealand, the UK, Australia, and the U.S. have been extremely pro-active in developing and purchasing offensive hacking capabilities.

Fortunately for us, Canada has been far more lax in defending its own systems. We have just released a secret document from the Canadian cabinet. We are excluding certain document security features, and, accordingly, some heading material. This is a painstaking process. We simply cannot release a document for every story we will be reporting over the coming months.

This first document, though, combined with remarks from Tony Clement after our DDoS attacks last month, show that Harper's cabinet made direct decisions domestically, as well as for foreign spy stations, to update security systems at a leisurely pace over at least a four year period.

Congratulations! You left many doors open for us!

We are now privy to many of Stephen Harper's most cherished secrets.

For instance, shortly after winning a majority in 2011, the NSA discovered that Stephen Harper had grown a bit to big for his Christian britches. He and the Canadian Security Establishment were attempting to spy on their Five Eyes partnes in the U.S. Obama's top intelligence officials were furious when they caught CSE in the act. They vowed to kill off Harper's number one priority, the KXL pipeline.

By the way, Mr. Stephen Blaney, there is nothing more undemocratic than repeatedly cheating at elections then cutting the budget for the elections watchdog. All the while, your government has continued with unprecedented secrecy, antipathy to legitimate media inquiry, and outright contempt independent scientific inquiry.

We repeat our insistence upon the immediate arrest of the RCMP killers of James McIntyre. Unless and until that happens, we will be releasing stunning secrets at irregular intervals. Of course, even if such arrests take place, we will still maintain access to information highly damaging to Stephen Harper and other supporters of Bill-C51.

Enjoy the summer, everyone. Fall will be Wild.

Until then: We Are Anonymous. Expect Us. All your secrets are belong to the mask.

"British Columbia's" Pipeline Disjuncture

Intellectual Disjuncture

by Kim Petersen - Dissident Voice


July 27th, 2015

British Columbia,”1 a province wrought through the genocide of First Nations2 and theft of their territory has been beset with several forest fires this summer that has at times choked urban centers with ash and particulate.

Christy Clark, the premier of British Columbia, has blamed climate change for the great burn. “Climate change has altered the terrain. It’s made us much more vulnerable to fire,” said Clark.

Clark noted the financial impact of such climate change — the province was $100 million over budget on fire fighting.

Lamenting the costs, the damage to the environment from forest fires, if it is that,3 and the air quality issues are legitimate areas of concern. However, blaming climate change while being a major contributor to climate change seems extremely hypocritical or extremely ignorant.

For example, Clark and her regime are pushing for:

A. Fracking in northeastern BC


Anyone who has watched Gasland is aware of the negative impact of fracking on the environment and that fracking releases fossils fuels that contribute to climate change. Nonetheless, BC health minister Terry Lake relayed the government’s findings on fracking: “After careful review and analysis, the study found that the risks to human health from the emissions from oil and gas activities in the northeast remain low.” “Low” is undefined, but the dangers are not considered nil.

The BC Medical Journal published its concerns over fracking in the province.4 The author noted “concerns including freshwater depletion, air quality, social factors, and greenhouse gas emissions.” Greenhouse gas emissions are implicated in climate change. Natural gas from fracking is often touted as a green alternative to other fossil fuels, but this claim is also dubious.5

First Nations are opposed to fracking.6

B. Pipelines 




Photo from Skeena River First Nations - In addition to wanting to
build an LNG pipeline through several First Nations’ territories
(and pretty much all “BC” is First Nation territory), Clark’s regime wants 
to establish an LNG port in an environmentally sensitive salmon rearing
area on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert (Tsimshian territory).


Clark’s regime signed an agreement with Malaysian oil giant Petronas which has been heavily criticized. A Georgia Straight article described the sudden implementation of the Liquefied Natural Gas Project Agreements Act as a “Faustian pact.” “[I]t ignored what science teaches about the drivers of global warming and it put its faith in LNG as something of a religion in its own right.”7

The Lax Kw’alaams First Nation had the moral integrity to turn down a $1 billion dollar offer to allow construction of the LNG port.8 The pro-environment sentiment is shared by many First Nations.9

Then there is the Kinder Morgan TransMountain line which in bringing Alberta’s tar sands oil south to Vancouver will “cross hundreds of kilometres of B.C. Crown land, slice five provincial parks, cross dozens of waterways, and result in six times more oil tankers off Canada’s west coast”10 before being shipped out through the confines of the Salish Sea. The oil spill in English Bay this April that spread to Vancouver beaches attests to the dangers of oil tanker traffic in Vancouver’s tight confines.11 The city of Vancouver is opposed to the Kinder Morgan pipeline.12

The recent Nexen oil spill in Alberta bodes ominously for pipelines transporting Alberta crude with the Apache pipeline spill13 of two years earlier still vivid.

This was supposed to be the poster-pipe for safe, eco-friendly oil transportation. One of the selling points used by Enbridge to convince British Columbians about its Northern Gateway pipeline to take bitumen to the West Coast is that the line will be double-walled and interwoven with leak alarms, so bad spills won’t happen in the Great Bear Rainforest or from a tanker port in the Douglas Channel.14

Scientists Neil C. Swart and Andrew J. Weaver concluded, “Developing the Alberta oil-sands will lead to carbon emissions that in turn result in global warming.”15

C. The construction of the Site C dam in Peace River region of BC


Dams are cited as a cause of climate change.16 One study published in the peer-review journal Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change indicates that 4% of global warming may be attributable to dams.17

Despite such misgivings the BC government has decided to issue environmental approval for the Site C dam without considering recommendations made by the Joint Review Panel 471-page document warning that the dam would have a negative impact on the environment, wildlife, Indigenous people, farmers, and wider public.18

First Nations are opposed to the dam.19

Conclusion


Two points jump out:

1) Clark and the BC government are oblivious to the concerns of First Nations. This is unsurprising, as it has long been the case.
2) Given Clark and her government’s pursuit of climate change-inducing industries, in what light should her laments of climate-change influenced forest fires be considered? There seems to be an intellectual disjuncture. 



Notes:
See Kim Petersen, “Unceded, British Columbia,” The Dominion, 16 February 2010. []
Tom Swanky, The Great Darkening: The True Story of Canada’s “War” of Extermination on the Pacific plus The Tsilhqot’in and other First Nations Resistance (Burnaby, BC: Dragon Heart Enterprises, 2012. See review. []
Sutton Eaves, “The Case For Letting Canada’s Forest Fires Burn,” DesmogCanada, 8 July 2015. []
Michael A Benusic, “Fracking in BC: A public health concern,” BCMJ, 55:5, June 2013: 238-239. []
See Eric Niiler, “Fracking Makes Climate Change Worse, Not Better,” D News, 15 October 2014. []
Sharlene Gale and Lana Lowe, “For B.C.’s First Nations, the true cost of gas fracking is too high,” Globe and Mail, 29 October 2013. []
Martyn Brown, “Our children will pay for B.C.’s Petronas LNG precedent,” Georgia Straight, 23 July 2015. []
Canadian Press, “B.C. First Nation voters reject $1B for LNG project in 1st of 3 votes,” CBC News, 7 May 2015 []
First Nations Oppose Petronas LNG Plant due to ‘shocking’ lack of consultation,” Vancouver Observer, 6 November 2014. []
Mychaylo Prystupa, “Whoops — BC government misses NEB deadline for Kinder Morgan pipeline review,” National Observer,3 June 2015. []
Jane Seyd, “Oil spill’s fingerprint on North Shore beaches,” North Shore News, 24 July 2015. []
Dene Moore, “Vancouver taking NEB to court over climate change, Kinder Morgan pipeline,” Globe and Mail, 21 August 2014. []
Canadian Press, “Apache fine for pipeline spill not even a slap on wrist: Environmentalists,” Beacon News, 7 July 2015. []
Lorne Gunter, “Nexen pipeline failure spells big trouble,” Edmonton Sun, 2015. []
Neil C. Swart and Andrew J. Weaver, “The Alberta Oil Sands and Climate,” Nature Climate Change, 2, 2012. []
Gary Wockner, “Dams Cause Climate Change, They Are Not Clean Energy,” Ecowatch, 14 August 2014. []
4% of Global Warming Due to Dams, Says New Research,” International Rivers, 9 May 2007. []
Canadian Press, “Peace Valley group appeals fail to quash Site C dam,” Vancouver Observer, 23 July 2015. []
See Allison Russell and Emily Beveridge, “Treaty 8 First Nations file lawsuits to protect sacred lands, stop Site C Dam,” West Coast Environmental Law, 1 July 2015. []

Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: kim@dissidentvoice.org. Read other articles by Kim.

Yemen: Saudi Blitz Krieg Kills More than 120 Civilians in One Night

US-backed Saudi strikes in Yemen kill 120 civilians

by Thomas Gaist - WSWS


27 July 2015

Saudi war planes killed at least 120 civilians in a series of airstrikes in the city of Taiz late Friday night. The strikes destroyed buildings that were serving as workers’ quarters as well as a nearby agricultural facility.

The attack was only the latest instance of mass killing of civilians in the bombing campaign waged by the Saudi-led, US-backed coalition that began in March.

Despite claims from Riyadh that such events are accidental, a growing body of evidence shows that the Saudi air campaign is systematically targeting civilian areas. The war is aimed at terrorizing the Yemeni masses into opposing the Houthi takeover and acceding to the restoration of US-Saudi control over the country through the re-imposition of the puppet government led by President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

The mass slaughter of civilians has become “the new trend now of the air strikes from the coalition,” a representative from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) told the Associated Press.

“It’s a house, it’s a market, it’s anything,” the MSF representative said, referring to the direct targeting of civilian areas by the Arab coalition.

In May, Saudi military officials declared that the Houthi stronghold of Saada would be considered a “military zone,” i.e. a free-fire area, and ordered leaflets dropped instructing all civilians to leave the city. UN investigators have argued that the Saudi coalition is knowingly targeting “trapped civilians.”

As many as 140 Saudi strikes ripped through areas of Saada on Friday. The strikes intentionally targeted civilian areas where Saudi war planners claim the Houthi insurgents have hidden stores of weapons and ammunition. Further strikes on Friday slammed into residential areas in the coastal town of Mokha.

From all appearances, Saudi pilots have been granted standing authorization to deploy their bombs against civilian areas.

An Amnesty International press release from July 1, titled “Airstrike and weapon analysis shows Saudi Arabia-led forces killed scores of civilians with powerful bombs,” documents the killing of at least 54 civilians by a series of strikes against the cities of Sanaa and Taiz between June 12 and June 16.

In one attack detailed by the report, a 2,000 pound bomb fell directly on a residential suburban home, killing at least 10 civilians.

As a reward for their participation in this bloody air campaign, some 100 Saudi pilots have been offered high-end sports cars.

The humanitarian catastrophe facing the civilian population is now reaching “unprecedented levels,” according to a statement from the International Red Cross on Friday. The punishing Saudi assault has contributed officially to the deaths of at least 1,700 civilians in a matter of months, while devastating Yemen’s infrastructure to the point where some 80 percent of the population lacks reliable access to food and water.

In the aftermath of Friday’s mass civilian deaths, Saudi authorities have called for a five day cease-fire over the weekend, under the pretense of seeking to allow humanitarian aid to enter the country.

There is every reason to believe that the Saudi cease-fire has been called as a tactical maneuver, aimed at gaining breathing space for the Saudi coalition to rearm its bombers and recalibrate its ground strategy. Following the pattern of previous “truces” declared by the Saudis, fighting has continued to rage on the ground in the hours leading up to the official start of the ceasefire.

Houthi representatives have already denounced the cease-fire as aimed at preparing for “the beginning of a new war,” according to statements cited by the Associated Press.

The Saudi-led war, which has killed thousands of civilians and produced a social cataclysm, is now morphing into a full blown hybrid ground war along the lines of those fomented by US imperialism in Libya and Syria.

The Arab powers are preparing to launch a new ground offensive, utilizing an array of freshly trained proxy forces assembled in areas along the southern coast recently reconquered from the Houthis.

In return for their loyalty, formations of pro-Saudi militants who sided with the Saudi-led coalition and the government-in-exile of Hadi have been outfitted by the Gulf states with hundreds of armored vehicles.

Hundreds of fighters have already received training at new military training camps established on the outskirts of Aden by “advisers” from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Jordan.

It is no coincidence that such operations bear the imprint of US-orchestrated machinations throughout the region. From the beginning of the war, US military advisers have been helping to orchestrate the bombing campaign from a Joint Planning Cell embedded with the Saudi coalition’s command element.

In the lead-up to the launch of Operation Decisive Storm in March, the Saudi ambassador to the US submitted a list of targets to be vetted by Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan. US Navy vessels have been deployed for months in support of the Saudi blockade of Yemen’s ports.

Washington views the war in Yemen as an opportunity to reshape the regional political order through the development of a new Arab military coalition dominated by its main “regional partners,” in particular Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Gulf monarchies that have been armed to the hilt by the Obama administration.

A new analysis produced by Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a leading think thank of the American military-intelligence establishment, makes clear that beyond its immediate role in prosecuting the war against Yemen, the Saudi-led Arab coalition is being developed as an instrument of US regional hegemony.

In the introduction to his “Arab-US Strategic Partnership and the Changing Security Balance in the Gulf,” soon to be published in the form of a 600-page book, Cordesman argues that the Gulf war coalition must emerge as a strategic force capable of a range of interventions beyond Yemen.

“The strategic partnership between Arab Gulf states, and with the US and other outside states, must now evolve to both deal with conventional military threats and a range of new threats including ideological extremists, non-state actors, their state sponsors, and a growing range of forces design ( sic ) to fight asymmetric wars,” Cordesman argues.

Cordesman writes that the main political nemesis of the “Arab-US Strategic Partnership” is the government of Iran. He contends that the Arab states should proceed with an aggressive anti-Iranian line in the region, confident in their military superiority over Tehran.

Figures compiled by the CSIS report show that the Gulf states have vastly outspent Iran on armaments and other military expenditures since 2001 by a total of some $600 billion to $140 billion in spending by Tehran.

At the same time as it pursues the war in Yemen aimed at intensifying pressure on Tehran, the US has initiated a shift aimed at potentially bringing Iran into alignment with its broader strategy in the Middle East through the recently-negotiated agreement on the country’s nuclear program.

Israel All In on Iran/US Nuke Deal Counter-Attack

Israel Clears the Bench in Iran Fight

by Robert Parry - Consortium News

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, acting like the coach of a football team, instructed congressional Republicans to “leave everything on the field” in the fight to defeat the international agreement with Iran over its nuclear energy program, a sign of how openly Israel now feels it controls the GOP.

Israel wants the Iran deal killed so it can keep open options for bombing Iran and imposing “regime change.” And, immediately after Dermer’s locker-room-style pep talk, Republican members of Congress began falling into line, lashing out at Secretary of State John Kerry and other senior officials who negotiated the agreement reached earlier this month between six world powers and Iran.

House Speaker John Boehner announced that he would “do everything possible to stop” the deal. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker told Kerry that he’d been “fleeced.” Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican candidate for president, said the next president – presumably meaning himself if he’s successful – could overturn the deal because it’s not a binding treaty.

All this was remarkable even to The New York Times, which usually looks the other way when Israel flexes its muscles in Official Washington. A Times article by Jonathan Weisman noted the extraordinary image of the Israeli ambassador using sports analogies to rile up Republican congressmen to overturn a key foreign policy initiative of the U.S. president.

“Mr. Dermer’s plea — which is widely expected to be followed by a mail, television and radio assault in Democratic districts during the August recess — demonstrates the power that the Israeli government and supportive interest groups in Washington maintain over congressional Republicans,” Weisman wrote.

Obviously, some of this Republican opposition is driven by a deep-seated animus toward President Barack Obama, but the confidence that Dermer, a onetime aide to former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, showed in rallying Republicans to Israel’s foreign policy priority of hostility toward Iran reveals the degree to which the GOP as a party now ties its agenda in the Mideast to Israel.

Connections between Republicans and right-wing Israelis have grown tighter since the presidency of George W. Bush who began implementing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s strategy of “regime change” against countries on his enemies list, starting with Iraq in 2003. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War.”]

Since then, wealthy Israeli backers, such as casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, have funneled huge sums of money into Republican campaigns. In 2012, Netanyahu virtually endorsed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. And, on March 3, House Speaker Boehner invited Netanyahu to deliver a speech to a joint session of Congress that was remarkable in its overt appeal to American lawmakers to embrace Israel’s foreign policy regarding Iran – over the head of the sitting U.S. president.

Clearing the Bench


In its current pull-out-all-the-stops to show who controls the U.S. political/media process, Israel also is throwing other key assets into this high-stakes fight. For instance, Steven Emerson, who has long posed as a professional journalist and then as a terrorism expert, was a featured speaker at a Times Square rally urging not only death to the nuclear deal but death to Iran.

“So now we have the situation that unless Congress acts, I believe ultimately, it’s going to be left up to a military strike to take out the Iranian capabilities to take out the world,” Emerson told a cheering crowd of a couple of thousand.
“If we don’t take out Iran, they will take out us. … Because if you don’t your children will never forgive you – never forgive you for not protecting this country from a holocaust. For not protecting the state of Israel from a holocaust that will occur assuredly just as it did 70 years ago.

“Rarely in our lives do we have an opportunity to change history. Now is the time to do it, and it’s your responsibility all of ours, to go do it.”



 

Steve Emerson interviewed by Jeanine Pirro on Fox News, where he 
claims Muslims "terrorized" non-Muslims into staying out of Birmingham, 
Great Britain’s second-largest city. (From the UK Guardian)

Earlier this year, Emerson, who has longstanding close ties to right-wing Israeli officials, was caught in a blatant falsehood – and slur – about British Muslims. Appearing on Fox News as a “terrorism expert,” he claimed that Birmingham, England, is now a “Muslim-only city” and that in parts of London “Muslim religious police … beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to religious Muslim attire.”

Emerson asserted that Muslim areas have become “no-go zones” for non-Muslims and cited as an example “actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim, where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in.” Yet, Birmingham, Great Britain’s second-largest city of more than one million people, is nearly half Christian, with the Muslim population less than one-quarter and with significant numbers of Sikhs, Hindus, Jews and non-religious.

As Emerson’s Muslim-bashing remarks drew criticism from the media watchdog group FAIR and ridicule across the United Kingdom, he acknowledged that his “comments about Birmingham were totally in error” and vowed not to blame someone else for his slander.

“I do not intend to justify or mitigate my mistake by stating that I had relied on other sources because I should have been much more careful,” Emerson said in an apparent attempt to do exactly that, shift the blame to some unnamed source for supposedly misleading him. [For more on Emerson’s history of distortion, see Consortiumnews.com’s “The Sorry Record of a Muslim Basher.”]

The heated debate over the Iran nuclear deal is bringing out of the woodwork other longstanding alarmists about Iran’s nuclear program, which has not produced a single bomb, even as some of these same “experts” have studiously ignored the reality of Israel’s rogue nuclear arsenal.

For instance, David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security (with the now unfortunate acronym ISIS), is back in the pages of the mainstream media warning about possible gaps in the Iranian nuclear deal.

Albright was sought out for comment by the Times’ neocon national security writer Michael R. Gordon, who co-authored the infamous “aluminum tube” story in 2002 that was used to frighten Americans about “mushroom clouds” if they didn’t support an invasion of Iraq. On Thursday, Gordon’s latest story quoting Albright was entitled, online, “Verification Process in Iran Deal Is Questioned by Some Experts.”

An Iraq War Reunion


At times, this Israeli-driven battle to stop the Iran deal almost seems like a reunion of discredited journalists and “experts” who helped guide the United States into the disastrous Iraq War. In 2002, around the same time Gordon, along with Judith Miller, was penning his “aluminum tube” story, Albright and his ISIS were key figures in stoking the hysteria for invading Iraq around other false allegations of its WMD program.

At the end of summer 2002, as Bush was beginning his advertising roll-out for the Iraq invasion and dispatching his top aides to the Sunday talk shows to cite Gordon’s “aluminum tube” article and warn about “smoking guns” and “mushroom clouds,” Albright co-authored a Sept. 10, 2002, article – entitled “Is the Activity at Al Qaim Related to Nuclear Efforts?” – which declared:

“High-resolution commercial satellite imagery shows an apparently operational facility at the site of Iraq’s al Qaim phosphate plant and uranium extraction facility … This site was where Iraq extracted uranium for its nuclear weapons program in the 1980s. … This image raises questions about whether Iraq has rebuilt a uranium extraction facility at the site, possibly even underground. … The uranium could be used in a clandestine nuclear weapons effort.”

Albright’s alarming allegations fit neatly with Bush’s propaganda barrage, although as the months wore on – with Bush’s warnings about aluminum tubes and yellowcake from Africa growing more outlandish – Albright did display more skepticism about the existence of a revived Iraqi nuclear program. Still, he remained a “go-to” expert on other Iraqi purported WMD, such as chemical and biological weapons. In a typical quote on Oct. 5, 2002, Albright told CNN: “In terms of the chemical and biological weapons, Iraq has those now.”

After Bush launched the Iraq invasion in March 2003 and Iraq’s secret WMD caches didn’t materialize, Albright admitted that he had been conned, explaining to the Los Angeles Times: “If there are no weapons of mass destruction, I’ll be mad as hell. I certainly accepted the administration claims on chemical and biological weapons. I figured they were telling the truth. If there is no [unconventional weapons program], I will feel taken, because they asserted these things with such assurance.” [See FAIR’s “The Great WMD Hunt,”]

Albright may have been “mad as hell” for being “taken” but he suffered little, especially compared to the nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq and the hundreds of thousands of slain Iraqis, not to mention the millions of others who have suffered from the chaos that the likes of Emerson, Gordon and Albright helped unleash across the Middle East.

In recent years, Albright and his institute have adopted a similarly alarmist role regarding Iran and its purported pursuit of a nuclear weapon, even though U.S. intelligence agencies say Iran terminated that weapons project in 2003.

Nevertheless, Albright transformed his organization into a sparkplug for a new confrontation with Iran. Though Albright insists that he is an objective professional, his ISIS has published hundreds of articles about Iran, which has not produced a single nuclear bomb, while barely mentioning Israel’s hundreds of bombs.

An examination of the ISIS Web site reveals only a few technical articles relating to Israel’s nukes while Albright’s ISIS expanded its coverage of Iran’s nuclear program so much that it was moved onto a separate Web site. The articles have not only hyped developments in Iran but also have attacked U.S. media critics who questioned the fear-mongering about Iran.

A couple of years ago when a non-mainstream journalist confronted Albright about the disparity between his institute’s concentration on Iran and de minimis coverage of Israel, he angrily responded that he was working on a report about Israel’s nuclear program. But there is still no substantive assessment of Israel’s large nuclear arsenal on the ISIS Web site, which goes back to 1993.

Despite this evidence of bias, mainstream U.S. news outlets typically present Albright as a neutral analyst. They also ignore his checkered past, including his prominent role in promoting President Bush’s pre-invasion case that Iraq possessed stockpiles of WMD.

However, since Albright and these other propagandists/operatives were never held accountable for the Iraq catastrophe, they are now rushing back into the game to try to block the Iran nuclear deal – and potentially turn the ball over in pursuit of another Mideast war. Netanyahu and his team appear to be clearing the bench for a goal-line stand.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Masterpiece or Bad Joke? Galeano's Barbarians and Apes from the Beginning Until Tomorrow

God’s Masterpiece or the Devil’s Bad Joke? Barbarians and Apes -- from the Opium Wars to the Origin of the Species

by Eduardo Galeano - TomDispatch



Origin of Freedom of Oppression 


Opium was outlawed in China.

British merchants smuggled it in from India. Their diligent efforts led to a surge in the number of Chinese dependent on the mother of heroin and morphine, who charmed them with false happiness and ruined their lives. 

The smugglers were fed up with the hindrances they faced at the hands of Chinese authorities. Developing the market required free trade, and free trade demanded war. 

William Jardine, a generous sort, was the most powerful of the drug traffickers and vice president of the Medical Missionary Society, which offered treatment to the victims of the opium he sold.

In London, Jardine hired a few influential writers and journalists, including best-selling author Samuel Warren, to create a favorable environment for war. These communications professionals ran the cause of freedom high up the flagpole. Freedom of expression at the service of free trade:

pamphlets and articles rained down upon British public opinion, exalting the sacrifice of the honest citizens who challenged Chinese despotism, risking jail, torture, and death in that kingdom of cruelty.

The proper climate established, the storm was unleashed. The Opium War lasted, with a few interruptions, from 1839 to 1860. 
Tomgram: Eduardo Galeano, The Previous Sole Superpower

Recently, Susan Bergholz, the devoted literary agent of the late Uruguayan writer and planetary great Eduardo Galeano, sent me this brief email: “A friend of Eduardo's and mine called yesterday to tell me, ‘Now we know where Eduardo went: he became pope!’” Somehow, that thought raised my spirits immeasurably. I was about to turn 71 and feeling my age as the dog days of summer approached. After all, when I flip through my address book -- and yes, I’m old enough to have a “dumb” one filled out with that ancient potion, ink -- it often reads like a book of the dead. I miss friends and authors I worked with like Chalmers Johnson and Jonathan Schell whose ways of thinking helped me make sense of our world. Eduardo has now entered that realm. I was once his English-language book editor and couldn’t be more proud of it. He remains one of my heroes.

When I’m in such moods, TomDispatch offers me an advantage few have. I can resuscitate the dead -- and so, with Pope Francis’s excoriating words about our deteriorating planet in mind, I thought I might bring back from the grave the “pope” of my life. History had a strange way of spilling its secrets to Eduardo Galeano, who died in April, and in his late-in-life masterpiece, Mirrors, a history of humanity in 366 episodes, he took us from our first myths to late last night. He could blend the distant past and yesterday (or even tomorrow) in a fashion that took your breath away. Here, for instance, is a passage he wrote early in Mirrors on the “origin of writing” that captures the essence of those first scratches on clay tablets and of the 2003 invasion of Iraq:

“When Iraq was not yet Iraq, it was the birthplace of the first written words.

The words look like bird tracks. Masterful hands drew them in clay with sharpened canes.

Fire annihilates and rescues, kills and gives life, as do the gods, as do we. Fire hardened the clay and preserved the words. Thanks to fire, the clay tablets still tell what they told thousands of years ago in that land of two rivers.

In our days, George W. Bush, perhaps believing that writing was invented in Texas, launched with joyful impunity a war to exterminate Iraq. There were thousands upon thousands of victims, and not all of them were flesh and blood. A great deal of memory was murdered too.

Living history in the form of numerous clay tablets were stolen or destroyed by bombs.

One of the tablets said:

We are dust and nothing
All that we do is no more than wind.”

If George W. Bush did a remarkable impersonation of the (whirl)wind across the Greater Middle East, with results that grow more horrific by the day, here is a set of passages from Mirrors on the planet's previous superpower, a small island nation that caused its own kind of devastation. This little history of Great Britain from the Opium Wars to Darwin’s finches ends on a typically spectacular Galeano riff on the nature of humanity. My thanks go to his publisher, Nation Books, for allowing me to bring Eduardo alive again at TomDispatch. I hope his spirit continues to inhabit this planet for a long time to come. Tom

God’s Masterpiece or the Devil’s Bad Joke? Barbarians and Apes -- from the Opium Wars to the Origin of the Species

by Eduardo Galeano

 

Our Lady of the Seas, Narco Queen


The sale of people had been the juiciest enterprise in the British Empire. But happiness, as everyone knows, does not last. After three prosperous centuries, the Crown had to pull out of the slave trade, and selling drugs came to be the most lucrative source of imperial glory.

Queen Victoria was obliged to break down China’s closed doors. On board the ships of the Royal Navy, Christ’s missionaries joined the warriors of free trade. Behind them came the merchant fleet, boats that once carried black Africans, now filled with poison.

In the first stage of the Opium War, the British Empire took over the island of Hong Kong. The colorful governor, Sir John Bowring, declared:

“Free trade is Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ is free trade.”

Here Lay China


Outside its borders the Chinese traded little and were not in the habit of waging war.

Merchants and warriors were looked down upon. “Barbarians” was what they called the English and the few Europeans they met.

And so it was foretold. China had to fall, defeated by the deadliest fleet of warships in the world, and by mortars that perforated a dozen enemy soldiers in formation with a single shell.

In 1860, after razing ports and cities, the British, accompanied by the French, entered Beijing, sacked the Summer Palace, and told their colonial troops recruited in India and Senegal they could help themselves to the leftovers.

The palace, center of the Manchu Dynasty’s power, was in reality many palaces, more than 200 residences and pagodas set among lakes and gardens, not unlike paradise. The victors stole everything, absolutely everything: furniture and drapes, jade sculptures, silk dresses, pearl necklaces, gold clocks, diamond bracelets... All that survived was the library, plus a telescope and a rifle that the king of England had given China 70 years before.

Then they burned the looted buildings. Flames reddened the earth and sky for many days and nights, and all that had been became nothing.

Lootie


Lord Elgin, who ordered the burning of the imperial palace, arrived in Beijing on a litter carried by eight scarlet-liveried porters and escorted by 400 horsemen. This Lord Elgin, son of the Lord Elgin who sold the sculptures of the Parthenon to the British Museum, donated to that same museum the entire palace library, which had been saved from the looting and fire for that very reason. And soon in another palace, Buckingham, Queen Victoria was presented with the gold and jade scepter of the vanquished king, as well as the first Pekinese in Europe. The little dog was also part of the booty. They named it “Lootie.”

China was obliged to pay an immense sum in reparations to its executioners, since incorporating it into the community of civilized nations had turned out to be so expensive. Quickly, China became the principal market for opium and the largest customer for Lancashire cloth.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Chinese workshops produced one-third of all the world’s manufactures. At the end of the nineteenth century, they produced 6%.

Then China was invaded by Japan. Conquest was not difficult. The country was drugged and humiliated and ruined.

Natural Disasters


An empty desert of footsteps and voices, nothing but dust stirred by the wind.

Many Chinese hang themselves, rather than killing to kill their hunger or waiting for hunger to kill them.

In London, the British merchants who triumphed in the Opium War establish the China Famine Relief Fund.

This charitable institution promises to evangelize the pagan nation via the stomach: food sent by Jesus will rain from heaven.

In 1879, after three years without rain, the Chinese number 15 million fewer.

Other Natural Disasters


In 1879, after three years without rain, the Indians number nine million fewer.

It is the fault of nature:

“These are natural disasters,” say those who know.

But in India during these atrocious years, the market is more punishing than the drought.

Under the law of the market, freedom oppresses. Free trade, which obliges you to sell, forbids you to eat.

India is a not a poorhouse, but a colonial plantation. The market rules. Wise is the invisible hand, which makes and unmakes, and no one should dare correct it.

The British government confines itself to helping a few of the moribund die in work camps it calls “relief camps,” and to demanding the taxes that the peasants cannot pay. The peasants lose their lands, sold for a pittance, and for a pittance they sell the hands that work it, while shortages send the price of grain hoarded by merchants sky-high.

Exporters do a booming trade. Mountains of wheat and rice pile up on the wharves of London and Liverpool. India, starving colony, does not eat, but it feeds. The British eat the Indians' hunger.

On the market this merchandise called hunger is highly valued, since it broadens investment opportunities, reduces the cost of production, and raises the price of goods.

Natural Glories


Queen Victoria was the most enthusiastic admirer and the only reader of the verses of Lord Lytton, her viceroy in India.

Moved by literary gratitude or patriotic fervor, the viceregal poet held an enormous banquet in Victoria’s honor when she was proclaimed empress. Lord Lytton invited 70,000 guests to his palace in Delhi for seven days and seven nights.

According to the Times, this was “the most colossal and expensive meal in world history.”

At the height of the drought, when fields baked by day and froze by night, the viceroy arose at the banquet to read out an upbeat message from Queen Victoria, who predicted for her Indian subjects “happiness, prosperity, and welfare.”

English journalist William Digby, who happened to be present, calculated that about 100,000 Indians died of hunger during the seven days and seven nights of the great feast.

Upstairs, Downstairs


In a slow and complicated ceremony marked by the back and forth of speeches, presentation of insignia, and exchange of offerings, India’s princes became English gentlemen and swore loyalty to Queen Victoria. For these vassal princes, the bartering of gifts was, according to well-informed sources, a trading of bribes for tribute.

The numerous princes lived at the summit of the caste pyramid, a system reproduced and perfected by British imperial power.

The empire did not need to divide to rule. Long-sacred social, racial, and cultural divisions were history’s bequest.

From 1872 on, the British census classified the population of India according to caste. Imperial rule thus not only reaffirmed the legitimacy of this national tradition, but also used it to organize an even more stratified and rigid society. No policeman could have dreamed up a better way to control the function and destiny of each person. The empire codified hierarchies and servitudes, and forbade any and all from stepping out of place.

Calloused Hands


The princes who served the British Crown lived in perpetual despair over the scarcity of tigers in the jungle and the abundance of jealousy in the harem.

In the twentieth century, they still consoled themselves as best they could:

the maharaja of Bharatpur bought all the Rolls-Royces on the market in London and used them for garbage collection;

the one from Junagadh had many dogs, each with his own room, servant, and telephone;

the one from Alwar set fire to the racetrack when his pony lost a race;

the one from Kapurthala built an exact replica of the Palace of Versailles;

the one from Mysore built an exact replica of Windsor Palace;

the one from Gwalior bought a miniature gold and silver train that ran about the palace dining room carrying salt and spices to his guests;

the cannons of the maharaja of Baroda were made of solid gold;

and for a paperweight the one from Hyderabad used a 184-carat diamond.

Darwin’s Voyage


Young Charles Darwin did not know what to do with his life. His father encouraged him thus:

“You will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family.”

At the end of 1831, he left.

After five years navigating South America, the Galapagos, and other far-flung realms, he returned to London. He brought with him three giant tortoises, one of which died in the year 2007 in a zoo in Australia.

He came back a different man. Even his father noticed:

“Why the shape of his head is quite altered!”

He brought back more than tortoises. He brought questions. His head was teeming with questions.

Darwin’s Questions


Why does the wooly mammoth have a thick coat? Could the mammoth be an elephant that found a way to stay warm when the ice age set in?

Why is the giraffe’s neck so long? Could it be because over time it got stretched in order to reach fruit high in the treetops?

Were the rabbits that run in the snow always white, or did they become white to fool the foxes?

Why does the finch have a different beak depending on where it lives? Could it be that their beaks adapted bit by bit to the environment through a long evolutionary process, so they could crack open fruits, catch larvae, drink nectar?

Does the incredibly long pistil of the orchid indicate that there are butterflies nearby whose remarkably long tongues are as long as the pistil that awaits them?

No doubt it was a thousand and one questions like these which, with the passage of years and doubts and contradictions, became the pages of his explosive book on the origin of the species and the evolution of life in the world.

Blasphemous notion, intolerable lesson in humility: Darwin revealed that God did not create the world in seven days, nor did He model us in His image and likeness.

Such horrible news was not well received. Who did this fellow think he was to correct the Bible?

Samuel Wilberforce, bishop of Oxford, asked Darwin’s readers:

“Are you descended from the apes on your grandfather’s side or your grandmother’s?”

I’ll Show You the World


Darwin liked to cite James Coleman’s travel notes.

No one better described the fauna of the Indian Ocean,

the sky above flaming Vesuvius,

the glow of Arabian nights,

the color of the heat in Zanzibar,

the air in Ceylon, which is made of cinnamon,

the winter shadows of Edinburgh,

and the grayness of Russian jails.

Preceded by his white cane, Coleman went around the world, from tip to toe.

This traveler, who did so much to help us see, was blind.

“I see with my feet,” he said.

Only Human


Darwin told us we are cousins of the apes, not the angels. Later on, we learned we emerged from Africa’s jungle and that no stork ever carried us from Paris. And not long ago we discovered that our genes are almost identical to those of mice.

Now we can’t tell if we are God’s masterpiece or the devil’s bad joke. We puny humans:

exterminators of everything,

hunters of our own,

creators of the atom bomb, the hydrogen bomb, and the neutron bomb, which is the healthiest of all bombs since it vaporizes people and leaves objects intact,

we, the only animals who invent machines,

the only ones who live at the service of the machines they invent,

the only ones who devour their own home,

the only ones who poison the water they drink and the earth that feeds them,

the only ones capable of renting or selling themselves, or renting or selling their fellow humans,

the only ones who kill for fun,

the only ones who torture,

the only ones who rape.

And also

the only ones who laugh,

the only ones who daydream,

the ones who make silk from the spit of a worm,

the ones who find beauty in rubbish,

the ones who discover colors beyond the rainbow,

the ones who furnish the voices of the world with new music,

and who create words so that

neither reality nor memory will be mute.

Eduardo Galeano was one of Latin America’s most distinguished writers, the author of a three-volume history of the Americas, Memory of Fire, and most recently, Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History. He was the recipient of many international prizes, including the first Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom, the Casa de las Américas Prize, and the First Distinguished Citizen of the region by the countries of Mercosur. He died on April 13, 2015. These excerpts are taken from his history of humanity, Mirrors, translated by Mark Fried.

This post is excerpted from Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone Copyright © 2009 by Eduardo Galeano; translation copyright © 2009 by Mark Fried. Published by Nation Books, a member of the Perseus Group, New York, N.Y. Originally published in the Spanish language in 2008 by Siglo XXI Editores (Spain and Mexico) and Ediciones del Chanchito (Uruguay). By permission of Susan Bergholz Literary Services, New York City, and Lamy, N.M. All rights reserved.

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Copyright 2015 Eduardo Galeano

Greece and the EU: First as Tragedy, Secondly Farce, Finally as Vassal

Greece and the European Union: First as Tragedy, Second as Farce, Thirdly as Vassal State

by James Petras

The Greek people’s efforts to end the economic depression, recover their sovereignty and reverse the regressive socio-economic policies, which have drastically reduced living standards, have been thrice denied.

First, the denial came as tragedy: When the Greek majority elected Syriza to government and their debts increased, the economy plunged further into depression and unemployment and poverty soared. The Greek people voted for Syriza believing its promises of ‘a new course’.

Immediately following their victory, Syriza reneged on their promise to restore sovereignty – and end the subjugation of the Greek people to the economic dictates of overseas bankers, bureaucrats and political oligarchs. Instead Syriza kept Greece in the oligarchical imperialist bloc, portraying the European Union as an association of independent sovereign countries.

What began as a great victory of the Greek people turned into a tragic strategic retreat. From their first day in office, Syriza led the Greek people down the blind alley of total submission to the German empire.

Then the tragedy turned into farce when the Greek people refused to acknowledge the impending betrayal by their elected leaders. They were stunned, but mute, as Syriza emptied the Greek treasury and offered even greater concessions, including acceptance of the illegal and odious debts incurred by private bankers, speculators and political kleptocrats in previous regimes.

True to their own vocation as imperial overlords, the EU bosses saw the gross servility of Syriza as an invitation to demand more concessions – total surrender to perpetual debt peonage and mass impoverishment. Syriza’s demagogic leaders, Yanis Varoufakis and Alexis Tsipras, shifting from fits of hysteria to infantile egotism, denounced ‘the Germans and their blackmail’ and then performed a coy belly-crawl at the feet of the ‘Troika’, peddling their capitulation to the bankers as ‘negotiations’ and referring to their overlords as . . . ‘partners’.

Syriza, in office for only 5 months brought Greece to the edge of total bankruptcy and surrender, then launched the ‘mother of all deceptions’ on the Greek people: Tsipras convoked a ‘referendum’ on whether Greece should reject or accept further dictates and cuts to bare bones destitution. Over 60% of the Greek people voted a resounding NO to further plunder and poverty.

In Orwellian fashion, the megalomaniac Tsipras immediately re-interpreted the ‘NO’vote as a mandate to capitulation to the imperial powers, accepting the EU bankers’ direct supervision of the regime’s implementation of Troika’s policies – including drastic reductions of Greek pensions, doubling the regressive ‘VAT’ consumption tax on vital necessities and a speed-up of evictions of storeowners and householders behind in their mortgage payments. Thus Greece became a vassal state: Nineteenth century colonialism was re-imposed in the 21st century.

Colonialism by Invitation


Greek politicians, whether Conservative or Socialist, have openly sought to join the German-led imperial bloc known as the European Union, even when it was obvious that the Greek economy and financial system was vulnerable to domination by the powerful German ruling class.

From the beginning, the Greek Panhellenic Socialist Party (PASOK) and their Conservative counterparts refused to recognize the class basis of the European Union. Both political factions and the Greek economic elites, that is, the kleptocrats who governed and the oligarchs who ruled, viewed entry into the EU as an opportunity for taking and faking loans, borrowing, defaulting and passing their enormous debts on to the public treasury!

Widely circulating notions among the Left that ‘Germany is responsible’ for the Greek crisis are only half true, while the accusations among rightwing financial scribes that the ‘Greek people are spendthrifts’ who brought on their own crisis is equally one-sided. The reality is more complex:

The crash and collapse of the Greek economy was a product of an entrenched parasitic rentier ruling class –both Socialist and Conservative – which thrived on borrowing at high interest rates and speculating in non-productive economic activities while imposing an astronomical military budget. They engaged in fraudulent overseas financial transactions while grossly manipulating and fabricating financial data to cover-up Greece’s unsustainable trade and budget deficits.

German and other EU exporters had penetrated and dominated the Greek markets. The bankers charged exorbitant interest rates while investors exploited cheap Greek labor. The creditors ignored the obvious risks because Greek rulers were their willing accomplices in the ongoing pillage.

Clearly entry into and continued membership in the EU has largely benefited two groups of elites: the German rulers and the Greek rentiers: The latter received short-term financial grants and transfers while the former gained powerful levers over the banks, markets and, most important, established cultural-ideological hegemony over the Greek political class. The Greek elite and middle class believed ‘they were Europeans’ – that the EU was a beneficent arrangement and a source of prosperity and upward mobility. In reality, Greek leaders were merely accomplices to the German conquest of Greece. And the major part of the middle class aped the views of the Greek elite.

The financial crash of 2008-2009 ended the illusions for some but not most Greeks. After 6 years of pain and suffering a new version of the old political class came to power: Syriza! Syriza brought in new faces and rhetoric but operated with the same blind commitment to the EU. The Syriza leadership believed they were “partners”.

The road to vassalage is rooted deep in the psyche of the political class. Instead of recognizing their subordinate membership in the EU as the root cause of their crisis, they blamed ‘the Germans, the bankers, Angela Merkel, Wolfgang Schnauble , the IMF, the Troika... The Greek rulers and middle class were in fact both victims and accomplices.

The German imperial regime loaned money from the tax revenues of German workers to enable their complicit Greek vassals to pay back the German bankers... German workers complained. The German media deflected criticism by blaming the ‘lazy Greek cheats’. Meanwhile, the Greek oligarch-controlled media deflected criticism of the role of the parasitical political class back to the ‘Germans’. This all served to obscure the class dynamics of empire building -- colonialism by invitation. The ideology of blaming peoples, instead of classes, is pitting German workers against Greek employees and pensioners. The German masses support their bankers, while the Greek masses have elected and followed Syriza – their traitors.

From Andreas Papandreou to Alexis Tsipras: Misconceptions about the European Union


After Syriza was elected a small army of instant experts, mostly leftist academics from Canada, the US and Europe, sprang up to write and speak, usually with more heat than light, on current Greek political and economic developments. Most have little knowledge or experience of Greek politics, particularly its history and relations with the EU over the past thirty five years.

The most important policy decisions shaping the current Syriza government’s betrayal of Greek sovereignty go back to the early 1980’s when I was working as an adviser to PASOK Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou. At that time, I was party to an internal debate of whether to continue within the EU or leave. Papandreou was elected on an anti EU, anti NATO platform, which, like Tsipras, he promptly reneged on– arguing that ‘there were no alternatives’. Even then, there were international and Greek academic sycophants, as there are today, who argued that membership in the EU was the only realistic alternative- it was the ‘only possibility’.

The ‘possibilistas” at that time, operating either from ignorance or deceit, were full of bluster and presumption. They denied the underlying power realities in the structure of the EU and dismissed the class capacity of the working and popular masses to forge an alternative. Then, as now, it was possible to develop independent alternative relations with Europe, Russia, China, the Middle East and North Africa. The advantages of maintaining a protected market, a robust tourist sector and an independent monetary system were evident and did not require EU membership (or vassalage).

Above all, what stood out in both leaders, Andreas Papandreou and Alexis Tsipras, was their profound misconception of the class nature of the dominant forces in the EU. In the 1980’s Germany was just beginning to recover its imperial reach. By the time Syriza-Tsipras rose to power (January 2015), Germany’s imperial power was undeniable. Tsipras’ misunderstanding of this reality can be attributed to his and his ‘comrades’ rejection of class and imperial analyses.

Even academic Marxists, who spouted Marxist theory, never applied their abstract critiques of capitalism and imperialism to the concrete realities of German empire building and Greece’s quasi-colonial position within the EU. They viewed their role as that of ‘colonial reformers’ –imagining that they were clever enough to ‘negotiate’ better terms in the German-centered EU. They inevitably failed because Berlin had a built-in majority among its fervently neo-liberal ex-communist satellites plus the IMF, French and English imperial partners. Syriza was no match for this power configuration. Then there was the bizarre delusion among the Syriza intellectuals that European capitalism was more benign than the US version.

EU membership has created scaffolding for German empire-building. The take off point was West Germany’s annexation of East Germany. This was soon followed by the incorporation of the rightwing regimes in the Baltic and Balkans as subordinate members of the EU – their public assets were snapped up by Germany corporations at bargain prices. The third step was the systematic break-up of Yugoslavia and the incorporation of Slovenia into the German orbit. The fourth step was the takeover of key sectors of the Polish and Czech economies and the exploitation of cheap skilled labor from Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and other satellite states.

Without firing a shot, German empire-building has revolved around making loans and financial transfers to the new subordinate member states in the EU. These financial transactions were predicated upon the following conditions: 1) Privatization and sale of the new member states’ prized public assets to mainly German as well as other EU investors and 2) Forcing member states to dismantle their social programs, approve massive lay-offs and meet impossible fiscal targets. In other words, expansion of the contemporary German empire required austerity measures, which transformed the ex-communist countries into satellites, vassals and sources of mercenaries – a pattern which is now playing out in Greece.

The reason these new German ‘colonies’ (especially Poland and the Baltic States) insist on the EU imposing harsh austerity measures on Greece, is that they went through the same brutal process convincing their own beleaguered citizens that there was no alternative – resistance was futile. Any successful demonstration by Greek workers, farmers and employees that resistance to empire was possible would expose the corrupt relationship between these client leaders and the German imperial order. In order to preserve the foundations of the new imperial order, Germany has had to take a hardline on Greece. Otherwise the recently incorporated colonial subjects in the Baltic, Balkan and Central Europe states might “re-think” the brutal terms of their own incorporation to the European Union. This explains the openly punitive approach to Greece – turning it into the ‘Haiti of Europe’ analogous to the US’ long standing brutalization of the rebellious Haitians – as an object lesson to its own Caribbean and Latin American clients.

The root cause of German intransigence has nothing to do with the political personalities or quirks of Angela Merkle and Wolfgang Schnauble: Such imperial leaders do not operate out of neurotic vindictiveness. Their demand for total Greek submission is an imperative of German empire-building, a continuation of the step-by-step conquest of Europe.

German empire-building emphasizes economic conquests, which go hand-in-hand with US empire-building based on military conquests. The same economic satellites of Germany also serve as sites for US military bases and exercises encircling Russia; these vassal states provide mercenary soldiers for US imperial wars in South Asia, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.

Syriza’s economic surrender is matched by its spineless sell-out to NATO, its support of sanctions against Russia and its embrace of US policies toward Syria, Lebanon and Israel.

Germany and its imperial partners have launched a savage attack on the working people of Greece, usurping Greek sovereignty and planning to seize 50 billion Euros of vital Greek public enterprises, land and resources. This alone should dispels the myth, promoted especially by the French social democratic demagogue Jacques Delores, that European capitalism is a benign form of ‘social welfarism’ and an ‘alternative’ to the savage Anglo-American version capitalism.

What has been crucial to previous and current versions of empire-building is the role of a political collaborator class facilitating the transition to colonialism. Here is where social democrats, like Alexis Tsipras, who excel in the art of talking left while embracing the right, flatter and deceive the masses into deepening austerity and pillage.

Instead of identifying the class enemies within the EU and organizing an alternative working class program, Tsipras and his fellow collaborators pose as EU ‘partners’ , fostering class collaboration – better to serve imperial Europe: When the German capitalists demanded their interest payments, Tsipras bled the Greek economy. When German capitalists sought to dominate Greek markets, Tsipras and Syriza opened the door by keeping Greece in the EU. When German capital wanted to supervise the take-over of Greek properties, Tsipras and Syriza embraced the sell-off.

There is clear class collaboration within the Greek elite in the destruction of nation’s sovereignty: Greek banker oligarchs and sectors of the commercial and tourist elite have acted as intermediaries of the German empire builders and they personally benefit from the German and EU takeover despite the destitution of the Greek public. Such economic intermediaries, representing 25% of the electorate, have become the main political supporters of the Syriza-Tsipras betrayal. They join with the EU elite applauding Tsipras’ purge of left critics and his authoritarian seizure of legislative and executive power! This collaborator class will never suffer from pension cuts, layoffs and unemployment. They will never have to line up at crippled banks for a humiliating dole of 65 Euros of pension money. These collaborators have hundreds of thousands and millions stashed in overseas bank accounts and invested in overseas real estate. Unlike the Greek masses, they are ‘European’ first and foremost – willing accomplices of German empire builders!

Tragic Beginnings: The Greek People Elect a Trojan Horse


Syriza is deeply rooted in Greek political culture .A leadership of educated mascots serving overseas European empire-builders. Syriza is supported by academic leftists who are remote from the struggles, sacrifices and suffering of the Greek masses. Syriza’s leadership emerged on the scene as ideological mentors and saviors with heady ideas and shaky hands. They joined forces with downwardly mobile middle class radicals who aspired to rise again via the traditional method: radical rhetoric, election to office, negotiations and transactions with the local and foreign elite and betrayal of their voters. Theirs is a familiar political road to power, privilege and prestige. In this regard, Tsipras personifies an entire generation of upwardly mobile opportunists, willing and able to sellout Greece and its people. He perpetuates the worst political traditions: In campaigns he promoted consumerism over class consciousness (discarding any mobilization of the masses upon election!). He is a useful fool, embedded in a culture of clientelism, kleptocracy, tax evasion, predatory lenders and spenders – the very reason his German overlords tolerated him and Syriza, although on a short leash!

Tsipras’ Syriza has absolute contempt for democracy. He embraces the ‘Caudillo Principle’: one man, one leader, one policy! Any dissenters invite dismissal!

Syriza has utterly submitted to imperial institutions, the Troika and their dictates, NATO and above all the EU, the Eurozone. Tsipras/ Syriza reject outright independence and freedom from imperial dictates. In his ‘capitulation to the Germans’ Tsipra engaged in histrionic theatrics, but by his own personal dictate, the massive ‘NO to EU’ vote was transformed into a YES.

The cruelest political crime of all has been Tsipras running down the Greek economy, bleeding the banks, emptying the pension funds and freezing everyday salaries while ‘blaming the bankers’, in order to force the mass of Greeks to accept the savage dictates of his imperial overlords or face utter destitution!

The Ultimate Surrender


Tsipras and his sycophants in Syriza, while constantly decrying Greece’s subordination to the EU empire-builders and claiming victimhood, managed to undermine the Greek people’s national consciousness in less than 6 months. What had been a victorious referendum and expression of rejection by three-fifths of the Greek voters turned into a prelude to a farcical surrender by empire collaborators. The people’s victory in the referendum was twisted to represent popular support for a Caudillo. While pretending to consult the Greek electorate, Tsipras manipulated the popular will into a mandate for his regime to push Greece beyond debt peonage and into colonial vassalage.

Tsipras is a supreme representation of Adorno’s authoritarian personality: On his knees to those above him, while at the throat of those below.

Once he has completed his task of dividing, demoralizing and impoverishing the Greek majority, the local and overseas ruling elites will discard him like a used condom, and he will pass into history as a virtuoso in deceiving and betraying the Greek people.

Epilogue:


Syriza’s embrace of hard-right foreign policies should not be seen as the ‘result of outside pressure’, as its phony left supporters have argued, but rather a deliberate choice. So far, the best example of the Syriza regime’s reactionary policies is its signing of a military agreement with Israel.

According to the Jerusalem Post (July 19, 2015), the Greek Defense Minister signed a mutual defense and training agreement with Israel, which included joint military exercises. Syriza has even backed Israel’s belligerent position against the Islamic Republic of Iran, endorsing Tel Aviv’s ridiculous claim that Teheran represents a terrorist threat in the Middle East and Mediterranean. Syriza and Israel have inked a mutual military support pact that exceeds any other EU member agreement with Israel and is only matched in belligerence by Washington’s special arrangements with the Zionist regime.

Israel’s ultra-militarist ‘Defense’ Minister Moshe Yaalon, (the Butcher of Gaza), hailed the agreement and thanked the Syriza regime for ‘its support’. It is more than likely that Syriza’s support for the Jewish state explains its popularity with Anglo-American and Canadian ‘left’ Zionists… Syriza’s strategic ties with Israel are not the result of EU ‘pressure’ or the dictates of the ‘Troika’. The agreement is a radical reversal of over a half-century of Greek support for the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people against the Israeli terrorist state.

This military pact, like the Syriza regime’s economic capitulation to the German ruling class, is deeply rooted in the ‘colonial ideology’, which permeates Tsipras’ policies. He has taken Greece a significant step ‘forward’ from economic vassal to a mercenary client of the most retrograde regime in the Mediterranean.

Cowboys and Indians Alliance Opposition Support Grows, Even As Site-C Dam Moves Forward

Cowboys and Indians keep gaining powerful allies in Site C Dam battle

by Damien Gillis - Common Sense Canadian

Battle lines are being drawn and sides taken in what is shaping up to be an epic fight over the the $9 Billion proposed Site C Dam.

On one side is the “Cowboy and Indian” alliance, which continues gathering strength against the project, said chiefs and landowners at a recent press conference in Vancouver. The Peace Valley leaders were in town for a federal court hearing on their legal challenge of the highly controversial Site C.
Heavy hitters line up against Site C

While the alliance has suffered some recent setbacks, it continues picking up big backers. Early in July, the Metro Vancouver board overwhelmingly voted to call on Christy Clark to institute a two year moratorium on the project, given the lack of business case, demonstration of need, and consideration of vast impacts on prime agricultural land. The First Nations’ Leadership Council – which represents all three major Aboriginal leadership groups in BC – has also come out swinging for Treaty 8 and its allies, calling for a halt to planned construction while various court cases are in progress.



“The provincial government seems to have tunnel vision when it comes to building this project. Pushing ahead with construction activities at this time is premature and dishonourable,” said Robert Phillips of the First Nations Summit political executive.
“All citizens of BC should be deeply concerned; by denying the Treaty 8 First Nations their day in court, the government is making an outright statement that they are above democratic rights and the judicial system.”

Meanwhile, the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union added their hefty support to the First Nations and landowners’ battle against Site C this week.

“A recent report by energy analyst Robert McCullough notes that the dam would cost twice as much as alternative energy options like renewables and natural gas generation,” a release from the organization noted.
“There’s been a shocking lack of public consultation on the Site C dam,” said BCGEU President Stephanie Smith.

The B.C. government has refused to allow the B.C. Utility Commission to review the project, and no effort has been made by this government to consider other sustainable energy sources.

Farmers keep truckin’



Peace Valley ranchers Ken and Arlene Boon are 
plaintiffs in several Site C Dam challenges (Damien Gillis)

“It’s a very strong coalition right now of the First Nations, the landowners, various NGOs,” said Ken Boon, a rancher in the proposed flood zone and president of the Peace Valley Landowner Association.
 “It’s never been stronger and we’re really building momentum.” 

This despite the recent dismissal by the BC Supreme Court of the landowners’ legal challenge. The group announced earlier this week that it will be appealing that decision, which essentially concurred with the BC government’s position that it is under no obligation to consider the findings of the Joint Review Panel – which was highly critical of the proposal.

These Site C opponents have recently hit a few other “speed bumps”, as Boon acknowledged at Thursday’s press conference. A pair of Alberta Treaty 8 First Nations withdrew their judicial review of Site C Dam after obtaining a commitment from Hydro to monitor downstream impacts. The McLeod Lake Indian Band also pulled out of the BC Treaty 8 challenge in the BC Supreme Court, while the Saulteau First Nation approved an Impact Benefit Agreement with BC Hydro related to the dam. And yet, spirits are high amongst Site C opponents, as they indicated in Vancouver this week.
Site C opponents raise close to $300,000

The groups have multiple legal challenges underway, with plenty of resources to see them through. After the Landowners’ Association raised over $200,000 from the public for its court cases, the BC Treaty 8 First Nations have garnered close to half that amount in just a few months of fundraising. And the backing of powerful organizations like Metro Vancouver, the First Nations’ Leadership Council and now the BCGEU demonstrates that the battle is spreading far beyond the Peace Valley.

Meanwhile, Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nations confirmed Thursday that despite the recent, rushed issuing of construction permits from the province and vows to get shovels in the ground this summer, little to no significant work has been performed. “They’ve pushed back their job fairs past after September,” Willson noted.

They’re puffing themselves up really big right now and trying to make things go forward, but everything is coming against them.

“The battle to save the Peace River is one of those fights that absolutely need to be won,” added Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. 

“As far as I’m concerned, this project is never, ever going to happen.”

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.
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