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Paul Street writes a foreboding analysis of what the TPP is on Counterpunch.
“Lawyers and lobbyists for giant multinational corporations have been working up the TPP and promoting it for nearly a decade. The measure would join the United States along with 11 other nations along the Pacific Rim (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam) in a “free-trade zone” covering nearly 40 percent of the world’s economy. Obama and his largely Republican “free trade” allies say the TPP will open foreign markets to American goods and “level the playing field by forcing Asian competitors to improve labor and environmental standards.”
But that’s just blatantly deceptive business propaganda. The measure isn’t really about trade and it certainly isn’t about improved standards. Its real thrust is to strengthen corporations’ ability to protect and extend their intellectual property rights (drug patents, movie rights, and the like) and to guarantee that they will be compensated by governments for any profits they might lose from having to meet decent public labor and environmental (and other) standards – something certain to discourage the enactment and enforce of such standards. Key parts of the TPP permit foreign capital to freely and easily enter a country and for profits to be just as easily removed. The TPP would ban capital controls, which let nations block disruptive inflows of ‘hot money’ from speculative investors and then escape before the bubble they create explodes. It would also block the passage of financial transaction taxes, a method for checking speculation and generating public revenue. The measure also legitimizes the extensive privatization of public enterprises.
The TPP is designed to help big multinational businesses attain special deals they would be unable to get through existing political processes, considered excessively democratic by the global deep state of capital. A foreign corporation could sue and receive damages for anticipated profit losses resulting from an increase in the minimum wage (federal, state, or local) in the United States. A U.S. state or Canadian province (or any other member-state jurisdiction) would have to compensate oil and gas companies for anticipated profits lost to bans on the environmentally disastrous practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Big Pharma and the big corporate media firms would be granted stronger and longer-lasting patent and copyright protections across the “free trade” zone. Big multinational banking and investment firms would have to be paid by TPP governments that wanted to keep their nations’ financial systems safe through responsible regulation. Food, chemical, consumer goods, and pesticide industries will be able to able to limit the ability of TPP governments to impose safety and environmental regulations on the things they sell and how they make them. The giant global and U.S.-based consumer packaged goods firm Procter & Gamble could demand compensation from any TPP nation (including the U.S.) that dared to subject its products and workplaces to basic social and environmental standards. (One could go on and on with such examples.)
“Level playing field”? The TPP is about a race to the capitalist bottom, a levelling down of people and government’s capacity to impose limits on business behavior. Like its regressive predecessor the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), it’s about what the New York Times calls “investor protection.”
Of critical and dark significance, the TPP constructs a new legal structure that transcends the existing, nation-based legal system.
Phone, write, send smoke signals to your MP’s fellow Canadians. We do not want this for our country, NAFTA is bad enough.
Taken from his essay on Counterpunch called Slouching Toward Global Disaster.
It is impossible to understand and explain such a disastrous failure of military interventionism without considering the effects of two toxic ‘special relationships’ formed by the United States, with Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The basic feature of such special relationships is an unconditional partnership in which the Israelis and Saudis can do whatever they wish, including pursuing policies antagonistic to U.S. interests without encountering any meaningful opposition from either Washington or Europe.
This zone of discretion has allowed Israel to keep Palestinians from achieving self-determination while pursuing its own territorial ambitions via constantly expanding settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, fueling grassroots anti-Western sentiment throughout the Arab world because of this persisting reliance on a cruel settler colonialist approach to block for seven decades the Palestinian struggle for fundamental and minimal national rights.
The special relationship with Saudi Arabia is even more astonishing until one considers the primacy of economic strategic priorities, especially the importance of oil supplied at affordable prices. Having by far the worst human rights record in the region, replete with judicially decreed beheadings and executions by stoning, the Riyadh leadership continues to be warmly courted in Western capitals as allies and friends. At the same time, equally theocratic Iran is hypocritically bashed and internationally punished in retaliation for its far less oppressive governing abuses.
Of course, looking the other way, is what is to be expected in the cynical conduct of opportunistic geopolitics, but to indulge the Saudi role in the worldwide promotion of jihadism while spending trillion on counter-terrorism is much more difficult to fathom until one shifts attention from the cover story of counter-terrorism to the more illuminating narrative of petropolitics. Despite fracking and natural gas discoveries lessening Western dependence on Middle Eastern oil, old capitalist habits persist long after their economic justifications have lapsed and this seems true even when such policies have become damaging in lives and financial burdens.”
-Richard Falk. Slouching Toward Global Disaster
Just a little peek into what fairness and equality means on the global scale. Take note of how the playing field is levelled instead of it being ‘level’ and one might start to see the patterns in our society and maybe start to question the conceptions of ‘equality’ when we are told things are ‘fine’.
(I’m writing this early in the week, for publication Friday. I’m dreading coming back and editing this list…)
and all the places being terrorized by “our” side…
Gustav Mahler wrote his song cycle Kindertotenlieder, Songs on the Death of Children, over a century ago, a setting of five (out of over 400) poems written by Friedrich Rückert some sixty years earlier, in reaction to the death of two of his children from scarlet fever.
“Now the sun wants to rise as brightly”
- Now the sun wants to rise as brightly
- as if nothing terrible had happened during the night.
- The misfortune had happened only to me,
- but the sun shines equally on everyone.
- You must not enfold the night in you.
- You must sink it in eternal light.
- A little star went out in my tent!
- Greetings to the joyful light of the world.
After the attacks in Paris, the Governors of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Texas, and the Premier of Saskatchewan, are opposed to receiving Syrian refugees.
I haven’t been able to find out if the Premier of Saskatchewan is a man of any particular faith, but it’s reasonable to assume all those American Governors do profess to be Christian. To them I say:
31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Even if there are terrorists mingled among the refugees, what kind of country do we want to be? One that turns away thousands of innocents to be sure that not one terrorist gets in (at least, not through that particular process); or one willing to take the risk, to save literally thousands of lives? I know my answer. I stumbled across this tweet that sums it up perfectly:
I hate this idea that taking in Syrian refugees involves no danger. It does. But compassion demands boldness in the face of terror.
— Ferrett Steinmetz (@ferretthimself) November 16, 2015
Even before the terror attacks in Paris last week, the possibility of terrorists was the reason the Harper government gave for being so incredibly slow to accept Syrian refugees. When the news of the attacks broke Friday afternoon my time, it was literally minutes before I heard it in the office water cooler talk: “No wonder, there’s so many refugees there.” And of course we have the Governors of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Texas, saying their states will not accept refugees, and the Premier of Saskatchewan asking our Prime Minister to put his ambitious refugee resettlement program on ice.
This is racist, indecent and inhumane garbage, and pants-on-head levels of stupid.
As a pacifist-leaning liberal arts major, I am pretty much the opposite of a military strategist. And if somebody like me can see how low the ROI is for terrorists to try to infiltrate foreign countries under the guise of refugees, then I have to conclude wilful ignorance (or worse) on the part of officials in higher levels of government, whose job it is, last I heard, to think strategically.
Radicalizing and training up a terrorist is an investment. Are you seriously going to put that investment on a leaky boat that may or may not reach its destination, and then, assuming the boat makes it, have your investment walk for months, sleeping rough, with little to eat, and provisioned with only what he can personally carry, only to have his route to the target country barred by intermediary countries that may or may not let him through? Then, assuming he reaches his destination, he still needs to learn to fit in with the society he intends to attack, enough to walk the streets unnoticed, and you still have to arm him, because he probably opted to carry food rather than explosives on his long walk.
The refugees fleeing IS are unlikely to be a useful source of terrorist recruits – if they agreed with IS, they would presumably be staying and fighting under their banner.
As the attacks on Paris demonstrate, there’s a much higher-ROI way of blowing up people in a foreign country: have their own citizens do the dirty work for you.
The narrative emerging after these attacks is that IS wants to create division and hatred. That they want to destroy what they call the “grey zone” of society, where Muslims and non-Muslims live and work together productively and peacefully. What will ultimately destroy IS, is expanding and solidifying those grey zones.
Domestically, it means combating Islamophobia and the othering of Muslims, and ensuring that Muslims are not excluded from the benefits and opportunities inherent in living in a well-to-do secular democracy. Failure to do so will only produce disaffected angry youth who feel like they have nothing to lose, a rich recruiting ground for induction into radicalism and ultimately terrorism.
When it comes to the refugees fleeing Syria, we need to get them safe, get them homes, and provide them all the support they need to adapt to their new countries and become full and contributing citizens.
Or, we can do IS’s radicalization work for them. All we have to do is watch while more children drown; let children freeze this winter; not find a place for all these families to be safe and call home; not give them full opportunity to belong when they get here.
Great mysteries of empire are always shrouded in mystery. One idea that I have lifted from terrible military fiction is the concept of the 6P’s.
Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
Can you guess which imperialistic nation didn’t do their homework?
“Sky said the United States led the invasion of Iraq in 2003 to oust a dictator, Saddam Hussein, and to help establish a democratic beachhead in the Middle East. But after the invasion, it was the military that was left with the job of trying to keep the country together.
“They had been told to go in and take care of Saddam and that was it. They were completely unaware of the situation there. They had to make the best of the situation they found themselves in.”
According to Sky, the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush believed that democracy would take hold on its own; they had no roadmap for how to make that happen.”
Yah. You would think after a grand statue toppling the rest of the piece of the ‘nation-building’ exercise would just fall into place. What could go wrong?
“These plans drawn up in Washington were all wishful thinking,” she said.
At one point, Sky recounts in the book, Donald Rumsfeld showed up for a military briefing in northern Iraq, and didn’t know where neighbouring Iran was on the map.”
Yep, the US had the smartest guys in the room in on this one. Predictably, they royally screwed the country up, destroying vital civilian infrastructure, murdering a bunch of civilians and of course setting the state for the next terrorist flavour of the month, ISIL. You’d think there would be some questions of accountability being asked as to who laid the foundation of this megalith of stupidity.
“No one has ever been held accountable for the decisions, for the false intelligence that led them to invade Iraq,” she says. “They should be. The people at the top should be held accountable for what went wrong.”
Sky was blunt in her assessment to General Odierno, telling him that America’s blundering in Iraq was the, “worst strategic failure since the foundation of the United States.”
I’m guessing that if you arbitrarily declare victory at some point during the shit-show it somehow allows the drivers of the clown-car to be exculpated for all their sins. Of course having the biggest war machine on earth allows you to do pretty much as you please – Nuremberg and Geneva Conventions be damned.
But let’s not focus too much on the big picture yet, more cock-ups are yet to happen:
“But the biggest missed opportunity happened following the first national elections in 2010, when the sitting Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, failed to gain a majority.
“Iraqis had become convinced that politics, not violence, was the way forward.” she says. “All the various groups came out to vote, and the bloc that won ran on a platform of ‘no to sectarianism.’
“Sky believes this presented an opportunity to oust Nouri al-Maliki, a man who was consolidating his own power base, in favour of a true – or at least fledgling – democracy.
“But it was a close result. Maliki refused to accept the results,” she said.
The U.S. decided that backing al-Maliki, even with his faults, was the best chance for stability. This wasn’t something the military supported.
“The ambassador at the time, Chris Hill, had no experience of Iraq and didn’t really want to be there.”
Sky writes that Hill spent most of his time trying to make the embassy in Baghdad “normal.” He even brought in rolls of sod to make a lawn where he could practise lacrosse.
“General Odierno was adamant that the U.S. should protect the political process, allow the winning group 30 days to form the government. Hill didn’t have the same feel for Iraq and he said ‘Maliki is our man, the strong man the country needs.’ In the end Biden went with the ambassador’s recommendation.”
Sky believes it was a huge mistake.
“Maliki’s politics were poisonous,” she said.”
Well he looked like Saddam Hussein 2.0 ( the one we liked and actively supported, economically and militarily)and that was a good thing! Oh wait…
“Sky was disheartened as she watched the Iraqi people lose confidence in the country’s leaders, especially groups such as Sunni Muslims, who felt there was no place for them and no chance to be part of the government.
“If you were Sunni, you made the unfortunate decision that supporting ISIS was a better option than supporting the central government in Baghdad,” she says.
Current Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has been trying to reform the government. This week he cut the cabinet in an attempt to oust some of the old guard, and dropped quotas for government positions that were based on ethnicity.
Sky is cautiously hopeful that the new government may help turn things around, but says it will not be easy.”
Well and that brings us up to today – Can we get a ‘Mission Accomplished’ ?! Anyone? Anyone??
Is this thing even on?
Here at DWR we’ve been keeping an eye on the Greek economic situation. As early as 2010 we commented that the IMF had been working its magic on the Greek economy:
“Did you ever want to see a society remade into the corporatist mode? Greece is going down that path right now. The IMF is gleefully setting out conditions and ‘austerity measures’ necessary for Greece to qualify for the bailout package. How much would you wager that the Public Sector is going to take a beating? Today’s news is part of a cycle of the forced privatization of the Greek economy.”
Here we are in 2015:
“Greek lawmakers have approved a government motion that allows reform proposals [AUSTERITY] to be used as a basis for negotiations with international creditors, as the country seeks a third bailout.
The 300-member parliament passed the motion by majority vote, with 251 lawmakers voting in favor, 32 against and 8 voting ‘present’ — a form of abstention indicating dissent from their own party line.
In a speech delivered ahead of the vote, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sought to persuade lawmakers, including dissenters within his own left-wing Syriza party, to back the proposals and grant his finance minister the authorization to use them as a basis for negotiations with creditors over the weekend.”
You see? The IMF hasn’t stopped its slow destruction of the Greek economy, like slowly metastasizing cancer, the financial skulduggery makes fixing the economy untenable. The recently ousted Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis comments:
“Varoufakis explains exactly why he fought for a NO vote and how unfair and irrational the creditors have been in refusing to discuss debt re-structuring. As Varoufakis points out, it is perfectly normal in the world of finance for us to be offered long term loans that suit our budget. It happens every day, yet Greece has not been offered a sustainable debt repayment plan that will enable it to pay back its creditors with interest, without forcing people at home to suffer as they do right now. If Greece has no money left, then how can it possibly pay what the IMF and the ECB expect it to? Varoufakis had suggested that his country pay an increased sum of money back over a longer time period, enabling the economy to grow over time. The creditors refused. When Prime Minister Tspiras announced a referendum would take place, the creditors were absolutely furious. Democracy is not something they understand, it seems.”
This is exactly the no-win situation that Disaster Capitalism sets up. Which leads to this inescapable conclusion:
“And herein lies the problem. We live in a neo-liberal, globalized plutocracy. An elite group of bankers control the global money supply (and the politicians we vote for), and here’s the thing: they do not believe in democracy. They do not believe that ordinary people have the right to an opinion, let alone a vote, on issues as enormous as the one facing Greece. This is all the more infuriating when you consider the fact that it’s regular members of the public who are being forced to bail out private banking debts. Worst of all, rather than listen with interest to Varoufakis’s logical and intelligent argument, corporate journos like Paul Mason prefer to doggedly defend the position of Greece’s creditors, while peddling fear and lies about the consequences of a Greek exit from the Eurozone.”
So what to do in Greece? The proposed “bailout plan” is shite, and the people of Greece have already said no to similar BS:
“The proposed measures, including tax hikes and cuts in pension spending, are certain to inflict more pain on a Greek public who just days ago voted overwhelmingly against a similar plan.”
“The new measures overturn many of the election promises of Tsipras’ left-wing Syriza party, which had vowed to overturn bailout austerity, and come less than a week after 61 per cent of voters opposed similar reforms, proposed by creditors, in last Sunday’s referendum.”
The Greek people have said “No” to Austerity and Greece’s political elite are apoplectically pretzelling trying to make the societal poison known as Austerity somehow palatable to masses.
A quick review of what is coming next:
We need to watch what happens in Greece very carefully now. The forces of international neo-liberal capitalism need to make an example of Greece to scare other countries in similar situations (Spain, Italy) into accepting the resculpting of society for the benefit of the hyper-rich.
Democracy is expected to bend a knee toward this insidious neo-liberal economic paradigm – the will of the people subsumed to corporate interests – an for what?
We all know the answer.