Thursday, August 28, 2008
Counterbalancing a Uni-polar World
The Trilateral Commission was founded in 1973 by David Rockefeller as an off-shoot of the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR). David Rockefeller was chairman of the CFR in 1970 and subsequently became the founding chairman of the Trilateral Commission. Soon the membership of the Commission had grown to 300 members, including prominent political figures like Zbigniew Brzezinski. Most members of the Trilateral Commission are bankers, media moguls, or corporate CEOs, primarily from North America, Europe and Japan, while all members of the CFR are U.S. Citizens.
The Commission seeks to extend its influence abroad and is careful to avoid the scrutiny of congressional investigations. The CFR on the other hand, focuses on the control of American media.
When American media discuss globalism, they rarely mention that the Trilateral Commission sets most global economic goals, primary among them being the creation of a one-world system of trade. It is basically a form of fascism in which global corporations and their elite CEOs determine the policies and direction of world governments. The creation of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank after World War II was intended to encourage Third World countries to borrow money from wealthy nations, so long as they agreed to the imposition of a wide range of “structural adjustment policies.” Any nation borrowing money from either organization would not be allowed to nationalize its natural resources and would be unable to prevent foreign corporations from buying or controlling those resources.
Shortly before World War II, Hjalmer Schacht, a German banker, toured the United States soliciting American corporate support for Hitler’s new fascist state. U.S. corporations not only agreed to support Germany against the socialist economic system of the Soviet Union, but also declared their opposition to the strong labor movement arising in the United States and Europe.
General Motors was prominent among the corporations that supported the Nazi government, investing $20 million in industries owned or controlled by Herman Goering and other Nazi officials. Other US multinational corporations that profited from and supported Hitler’s industrial war machine included General Electric, Standard Oil, Texaco, International Harvester, ITT and IBM. Today, Standard Oil of New York is unabashed in honoring its chemical cartel that manufactured Zyklon-B, the poison gas used by the Nazi gas chambers. (1)
Among the eminent business leaders backing these multinational corporations were the Rockefellers and Prescott Bush, father of George Bush and grandfather of George W. Bush. Prescott Bush worked with his father-in-law, George Herbert Walker, in the family firm Union Banking Corporation to raise $50 million for the Nazi government by selling German bonds to American investors from 1924 to 1930.
Even though the United States helped to defeat Nazi Germany in World War II, many of the powerful elite families continued to support Hitler’s fascist ideology after the war. John Rockefeller III was an uncritical believer in the doctrine of Thomas Robert Malthus, who claimed that population always increased at a geometric rate while food supply increased at the slower arithmetic rate. Malthus therefore concluded that population growth had to be rigidly controlled. Today, his theory is widely criticized for failing to take into account the vast technological advances in agriculture and food production.
Rockefeller also accepted Hitler’s concept of an Aryan race, leading him to propose population control on the poor and people of color, whom he believed were producing children of inferior intelligence. In an effort to support such views, the Rockefeller family became involved with Eugenics, a fascist doctrine that advocated breeding a superior race by eliminating the mentally ill, physically handicapped, and racially inferior.
During the 1920’s, anthropologist Franz Boaz helped to combat racial prejudice more than any of his contemporaries. Following in his steps was his young protégé, Margaret Mead, who went on to establish that nurture, not nature, was the primary determinant of human health and mental development. Their work showed that Eugenics was based on ideology, not science. The legitimate science of genetics emerged from the ashes of Eugenics, but even today, many geneticists are members of Eugenics societies.
Despite the demise of Eugenics, the theory of over-population remains a common political argument. It has been suggested by Henry Kissinger, a stout member of the Trilateral Commission, that countries that do not control their population should suffer sanctions and the human misery that accompanies them.
The US Congress has supported these early population concepts introduced by Rockefeller’s Foundation. In March 1970, Congress set up a “Commission on Population Growth and the American Future.” The commission included representatives from USAID, the State Department, and the Department of Agriculture, but CIA and Pentagon officials drew up the agenda. “Their objectives were not to assist developing countries, but as promoted by the Trilateral Commission, to curb world population with a view to serving US strategic and national security interests,” notes author Michel Chossudovsky.(2)
In 2007, more than 100 million tons of grain were used to make ethanol, which contributed to high global food prices and subsequent hunger and starvation. During this same year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization stated that there had been a record grain harvest, suggesting that there is enough food in the world to feed everyone. Indeed, over the last twenty years, food production has risen steadily at over two percent a year, while the rate of population growth has dropped to 1.4 percent a year. Access to food should be viewed as a fundamental human right, but corporations regard it only as a commodity to be sold for profit. No amount of technological progress or increase in food production can overcome corporate greed. The corporations ignore basic human needs, seeking to control world resources by encouraging the US government to build more and more military bases around the world. Presently, the US has 1000 such bases.
Under the Clinton administration, Yugoslavia was dismembered in order to advance American interests. In particular, the former Serbian province of Kosovo was occupied by U.S. troops in order to build Camp Bondsteel, among the largest military bases ever created by the United States. It will double as Kosovo’s largest prison, where prisoners can be held indefinitely without charges and without defense attorneys.(3)
Another major reason for building Camp Bondsteel was to provide protection for an oil pipeline to be built to the Caspian Sea. The Caspian holds some 50 billion gallons of oil, tempting foreign intervention in the Balkans. In an attempt to control Caspian oil, NATO and US troops have been sent to the Georgia.
As Latin America asserts its independence from the odious Monroe Doctrine, its progressive leaders face increasing American pressure and overt threats. These new leaders no longer rely on the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank. Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic have become members of the Bolivian Alternative for Latin America. This organization emphasizes local energy development and has become the bank of the South. This bank will not operate as a profit driven institution, but as a financial organization that will consider the economic needs of each borrower country.
In an effort to break up this new political organization in Latin America, the US has provided six billion dollars to Alvaro Uribe, President of Columbia, with the understanding that a US military base would follow. The base would be placed in La Guay, a region spanning Northeast Columbia and Northwest Venezuela, a clear threat to the Chavez government in Venezuela.
As in the Caucasus and Latin America, Africa is faced with American military expansion through AFRICOM. AFRICOM is the acronym for the US military command post planned for Sub-Sahara Africa. As pointed out by the members of the National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL), AFRICOM will infringe on the rights of African states and will violate international law that protects the sovereignty of nations. African leaders are well aware that AFRICOM is intended to exploit Africa’s national resources.
It has become increasingly clear that the US military has been stretched thin, with insufficient forces to fight simultaneous wars and maintain the vast military bases it is establishing around the world. Responding to this problem, Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense, and Vice President Dick Cheney have turned to private military forces. Blackwater, a well-paid mercenary army, has become the world’s most powerful private military corporation. Troops for Blackwater are recruited from countries like the Philippines, Nepal, Columbia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Peru, and Chili. Some 60 former commandos have been recruited from the remnants of the army of former Chilean dictator Augusta Pinochet. They now serve as part of Blackwater’s fighting forces. Other mercenary armies available to the highest bidder include Amo Group, Eunyo, Hart Security, and the Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI). (4)
In early August 1995, under former President Clinton, the MPRI mercenaries were sent to Croatia to train and assist the Croatian military in expelling ethnic Serbs from their villages in the Krajina, an area in Croatia.
American military bases are proliferating around the world like mushrooms. Among the more recent are the bases in Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Pakistan, India, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Morocco, Tunis, Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.(5) New bases are presently under construction in Eurasia along the borders of Russia and in areas close to China. The earlier Clinton Doctrine proclaimed that the United States has the unilateral right to use military force to protect markets and resources. Author Michael Swank says the Clinton Doctrine is taken for granted today. He explains, “With markets and resources we have a right to make sure that we control them, which is logical on the principle that we own the world anyway so of course we have that right.” (6)
Dr. Sheldon Wolin, emeritus professor of politics at Princeton University, states that under George Bush the United States has finally achieved an official ideology of imperial expansion comparable to that of Nazi Germany.(7)
The US policy of dividing up countries like Yugoslavia has caused concern in the Middle East, Russia and China. Today, Russia is well aware that the US and NATO hope to divide Russia into three regions, as described in Zbigniew Bryzinski’s book, The Grand Chessboard: Western Russia would be integrated into Europe; Siberia would be separated from Russia; and the Asian republics would be given independence. Both Russia and China are concerned about the relentless expansion of NATO toward their borders.
The military bases spread out over the world have done very little to aid the growth of markets for the US. Taxpayer money funds not only America’s military bases, but the corporations that run them. The current economic depression and the steadily growing public debt, now exceeding nine trillion dollars, has harmed the US social infrastructure in areas like public education and health care. It has also caused the US to lose its competitiveness in manufacturing products to meet civilian needs. Simultaneously, the US has lost international markets to China, India, Russia, and some EU countries.
On June 15, 2001, China, Russia and four of their central Asian neighbors, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, established the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a new regional group pursuing security and cooperation. The SCO is gaining influence internationally as more and more nations seek to join the group. Mongolia, Pakistan, Iran and India hold observer status, and nations as diverse as Bangladesh, Belarus, Nepal and the Philippines have expressed interest in affiliating with the SCO. (8)
Yevgeny Primakov, head of Russian trade and industry, has declared that the global economy no longer has a single undisputed leader. Russia and China, under the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, have worked to create a multi-polar world.
In May, 2008, Russia hosted the first meeting of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China), bringing together four nations that are home to forty percent of humanity and representing the fastest growing emerging economies in the world. BRIC is being built on the foundation of a successful trilateral collaboration known as RIC (Russia, India and China).
Anthony Ling, managing director of Goldman Sachs International, noting the rising power of the four BRIC countries, characterizes them as “the new economic tigers.” The US is now lagging behind them in terms of the percentage of energy companys world wide. (9)
The new economic power exercised by BRIC and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has created a new balance in world politics. The SCO has fostered economic and investment cooperation, including joint projects in the fuel and energy sectors, agriculture, and other spheres. The nations within the SCO have established relations with international bodies, including the United Nations, the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN), and the Islamic Conference.
In October, 2007, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), consisting of the presidents of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhatan, Ky7rgistan, Russia, and Tajikistan signed an agreement with the SCO to broaden cooperation on issues of security, crime, and drug trafficking. The major purpose of this agreement was to reaffirm that all participating states will be protected from the foreign threats. “Signatories would not be able to join other military alliances or other groups of states, while aggression against one signatory would be perceived as an aggression against all.”(10) The CSTO, an observer organization of the United Nations, offered aid and assistance in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, but NATO refused, indicating that they would rely instead on an expanded military presence. (11)
Russia and China feel that their union with SCO, CSTO and BRIC proves that a uni-polar world is out of date, and that a multi-polar world, based on cooperation and mutual support rather than competition and intimidation, will become the world’s standard.
Congratulations Obama... but I worry.
Well, Obama has just won the Democratic Party's presidential nomination and there may be quite some, that'll love to drive a knife through his back. I consider recent events a dress rehearsal-flying a kite, as Americans are wont to say. We are being sensitized for some major event in the course of American history, I smell so much gun powder. The charismatic Senator from Illinois, just made history and Jessie Jackson wasn't part of it but look how 'you-can't-say-I-did-it' sweet the Clintons are. The man, Jessie, let his pettiness exclude him from history as Hillary made cock-sure her name glowed in legend. Don't think it, say it-JEALOUS! Worked all my life towards that apex and some toddler crawls out of the woodwork...
A lot of people uncertain about Obama do know, deep in their hearts, come what may, there'll probably never be another like him. That there are interesting times ahead for America. In so many ways, I'm happy for him, happy for America... but sad. Sad because I worry. I worry for Obama's longevity and I worry for America's unpredictability.
Still, I pray that Obama gets it right, for America to heal itself... now just sit back and listen to Bill Clinton's taste-the-sugar speech.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
About a year ago, the Bush administration and the neocon babble-ocracy began touting Vladimir Putin as America's next Man We Love to Hate. This is odd, since by nearly all standards, Mr. Putin is the most successful neocon on the planet. Or perhaps it's jealousy. Since taking power in 2000, Mr. Putin's Russia has dodged chaos, seen its GDP increase six-fold, its poverty fall by half, average monthly real wages rise by 150% and, with the invasion of Georgia, demonstrated to the world that it can no longer be baited, humiliated or ignored without consequences.
In politics, international politics especially, the standard is not perfection, it's the alternative. Putin's no Stalin, either at home or abroad. Nor is he the new tsar. He's a Russian authoritarian, in some ways an autocrat, who is leaving his country better than he found it.
Would that the accomplishments of Mr. Bush and his (and Rupert Murdoch's) neocon minions and shills might receive the same evaluation. But they can't. Mr. Bush will go down in history as our worst president ever in terms of what he squandered, and among the worst in terms of criminality. The neocons have been proven wrong so often that, were they physicians or attorneys or plumbers, they'd have their licenses revoked. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin is currently the most successful leader around and in one very important way, among the most moral and humane.
For in power politics, it is extremely moral to know when to stop and profoundly immoral to posture and preen and make promises you can't keep and issue threats you can't back up.
We shall return to Mr. Putin in a bit. For now, it's necessary to review neoconservatism in its American context, then show why and how they've brought us only ruin...while Russia begins a resurgence that, if properly understood and acknowledged, can only benefit the world.
The present generation of American neocons believes, like many of us, that America is the greatest country on earth. To them, however, the greatest country on earth has to have an empire and a Purpose sufficient to justify whatever we want to do. In fact, for them, without a Mission, America isn't even America. Let's go thump someone and call it spreading democracy, "benevolent hegemony" or whatever. It'll be great fun and they'll thank us later. Or so the neocons told us.
American neocons have a long relationship with Russia, a viscerally hostile relationship that goes back to the Cold War. Sadly, it's a relationship they'd like to revive, now that Saddam's no longer available, Osama's gone missing and bombing Iran lacks popular sizzle.
It's a hostility few Americans have ever shared. Throughout the 20th century, the vast majority of Americans believed that we had no beef (or borscht) with Russia per se, and certainly not with its people. When the Romanov monarchy collapsed in 1917, we cheered Russia's ascent to democracy...and then did nothing to help. When the Bolsheviks took power, we began eighty years of proclaiming that Russia was not the problem. All they had to do was get rid of communism and everything between us would be copasetic. After all, we'd never fought each other (few Americans today know that we landed troops in the Russian far east in 1918, ostensibly and ineffectually to aid Bolshevism's enemies, and kept them there for two years). We'd even been allies during World War II. Nor did we have any obvious geographical or economic conflicts. It was just that darn Communism.
The American neocon movement was born in the aftermath of Vietnam. Its founding generation was composed largely of former liberals and Leftists, even a few cafeteria Trotskyites. Some had drifted away from communism in horror at the excesses of the 1930s, or during the 1950s when the full extent of those excesses began to be known. Many were conventional liberals who broke with the Old Left over Vietnam, which they supported, and with the New Left, whose anti-Vietnam antics they found frivolous, self-centered, self-righteous and self-interested. The neocon movement coalesced during the Carter administration and attained its first real influence during the Reagan years.
The neocons were not traditional conservatives. Some remained unrepentant New Dealers, when they bothered to consider domestic issues at all. They were primarily Manhattan and Beltway types, heavily Jewish, with little use for the "paleocons"-the Old Guard William F. Buckley crowd and Die Hard segregationists, or with the rising Sunbelt evangelicals. The paleocons and Sunbelt types, for their part, returned the sentiment.
The movement came of age with Ronald Reagan and it had but one overriding purpose: win the Cold War. A few senior neocons, such as movement "Godfather" Irving Kristol, took a broader view.
His stated purpose was "to convert the Republican Party, and American conservatism in general, against their respective wills, into a new kind of conservative politics suitable to governing a modern democracy." But foreign policy was always Job One, and the senior neocons included hard liners such as Henry "Scoop" Jackson of Washington and Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, both Democratic Senators, as well as former Democrat Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Ambassador to the UN under the Reagan Administration. The bipartisan nature of these elder neocons made them very useful to Ronald Reagan, who wisely never got in bed with them, instead keeping them at a distance. As he used to say, "Sometimes the Right hand doesn't know what the Far Right hand is doing." But in private, he and his senior advisers would tell the neocons, "We need you to hold our feet to the fire."
The elder neocons and, increasingly, their junior clique (many of whom were children of the founding generation) were happy to do so. This is because neocons like to play with fire, especially when it's other people getting burned. Throughout the 80s, they agitated incessantly for military action, covert and overt, against the Soviets in places like Nicaragua, El Salvador, Angola, Afghanistan. They were not always wrong.
When Ronald Reagan came to power, most Americans accepted the "mature Cold War" as a permanent fact of international life. This acceptance was based on the perceived realities of Soviet military power. But it was also based on the belief, carefully nurtured by the Soviets and the American academics and CIA types who studied them, that material life was getting continually better for the average Russian.
How nearly everybody got it exactly backwards is a fascinating story in itself. Suffice it to say: Ronald Reagan did not.
His strategy was cold, it was clear, it was thoughtful and purposeful, and it was very definitely his own. Reagan knew intuitively that the Soviet Union was tottering. But he did not want to fight the Soviets, he wanted to bring them to the negotiating table. To that end, he used little, if any, overt force against the Soviet Union. Instead, he developed what in Pentagonese was known as "competitive strategies." In plain English, this meant, "Spend 'em to death." Reagan's aim was to force the Soviet Union to spend money, allocate resources, and occupy technical talent that they either had better use for elsewhere or didn't have. (The best Soviet scientists and engineers were world-class, but they had no real depth, no bench strength.) Supporting the mujahedin in Afghanistan was one way to deplete them. The Strategic Defense Initiative, popularly known as Star Wars-perhaps the most successful weapons system never built or intended to be built-was another.
In short, Ronald Reagan walked the Soviets up to the edge of an economic abyss of their own making, then let them ponder what a revived competition with the United States would mean. Mikhail Gorbachev got the message. He wanted "Perestroika," or "restructuring." He got collapse.
And then we broke our word, which was not so much a set of firm promises as the word that had underlain our attitude toward Russia since 1917. Get rid of communism, call off the global offensive, we'll be friends. We'll even help.
But we didn't. Instead, we pushed them toward their present angry stance. And that is hard to forgive.
We said the right things, from time to time. But as we'd done with Vietnam and Afghanistan, we lost interest and walked away. We got attached to telegenic "celebrities" like Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin, which was a huge mistake. When they left power, we lost our frame of reference and were unable to sense the positive qualities of other leaders, such as the late General Alexander Lebed. When Russia's early experiments in democracy segued into anarchy, we shrugged it off. We sent them humanitarian aid, not troubling ourselves too much when it mostly ended up on the black market.
We even sent them Ivy League economists to screw up what was left of their economy by advocating extraordinarily premature privatization. Whole industries were looted or otherwise acquired by well-placed apparatchiks, former communists who'd printed up new business cards, while inflation soared. Both economic and political problems in the former Soviet Union were compounded by the fact that for generations, private business was a crime and "profit" was itself a criminal concept. The result was that criminal penetration of legitimate business activities is pervasive and profound; while organized crime in Russia became a huge business-and we didn't particularly care. If anything, trying to get a handle on organized crime kept the Russians busy. And we were pleased when some of the former Soviet Socialist Republics declared independence (like Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan) or tried to do so (like Chechnya and Dagestan). We could hardly disguise our glee when the Russian Army almost came apart in the First Chechen War.
Democracy, as the neocons liked to gloat, was a' bustin' out all over.
If we'd given a damn, we would have tried to understand this regional fragmentation from their point of view-a point of view that predated communism by five hundred years. If we'd given a damn, we would have helped, seriously helped, the Russians get their economic house in order before making any but the most basic political reforms. We would have understood that a nation with no democratic heritage and no functioning middle class had to go through some messy times, and could not do so on our timetable. We would have understood that a Vladimir Putin had to emerge-because the alternative was worse.
For that matter, if we'd ever cared about our own real greatness, we might have helped the Russians get their own house in order. But America's policy elites totally wasted the 90s with narcissistic navel-gazing. America needed a Purpose, and helping the Russians just wasn't sexy enough. So they were assigned their role in America's New World Order-pathetic, impotent basket case and object lesson-and we left it at that. We had the rest of the planet to play with.
And so the politics of feeling good about yourself came to dominate post-Cold War foreign policy. The "America's Purpose" debate of the 1990s must rank as proof of both the inherent idiocy and the inevitable failure of defining the world as a place for us to administer or save. On one side were the liberal "Muscular Humanitarians," not averse to using force provided we did it "selflessly." On the other were the neocons, the "America's Greatness" crowd, casting about for a lifelong crisis worthy of what they deemed their literary and political talents. They-the younger generation of neocons, especially-had no problem with Madeleine Albright, Clinton's secretary of state, when she asked Colin Powell, "What's the point of having an army if you don't use it?" Indeed, they answered the question General Powell was too furious to address. The neocon response: Let's use force-to turn the Arab world into good little American knock-offs, for starters. And ever since 1991, we've been using our muscle on behalf of Muslims: in Kuwait, in Somalia, in Bosnia, in Kosovo, in Afghanistan, in Iraq.
But what of Russia?
While we were nattering about America's Purpose and getting into war after war, the Russians were slowly putting their internal house in order. But we saw only corruption and crime, suppression and incompetence...when we bothered to look at all. And when we weren't ignoring or dismissing them, we were humiliating them. When the Cold War ended, we congratulated ourselves on how we were too decent to gloat. But we didn't bother to consider the cumulating humiliations we then inflicted upon them both by our indifference and our policies toward others.
We ostentatiously built bases and signed agreements with nations of the former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. We got bases in Uzbekistan and Kirghizstan in order to access Afghanistan, which we actually occupy, and have emergency landing rights in Kazakhstan that go beyond international treaties requiring any airport to offer landing rights to any aircraft in distress. NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization established in 1949 to counter the Soviet Union, now found itself without a purpose. So, with American blessing and prodding, NATO began an aggressive Drang nach Osten, moving eastward toward a nonexistent threat in order to have something to do. Today, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, what used to be East Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia are all members of NATO, All except Slovenia, which was part of the former Yugoslavia, were either members of the Warsaw Pact or actually part of the Soviet Union.
And then there was Georgia, still a candidate for membership, along with Ukraine, another former Soviet republic. And today we're busily planning to establish anti-missile systems in these areas, ostensibly to protect Europe from Iranian attack.
We call this expanding democracy and strengthening the "international community." In some ways, it was. But we did it boorishly, rather like a man who flaunts his new mistress in front of her old lover. And we continue to do so today, along with all our threats and admonitions: the empty, ludicrous words of a braggart whose bluff has been called but can't seem to shut up.
The Russians didn't like this militarization of lands near and on their borders. They let us know they didn't like this. They let us know it for a long time, very loudly. That was always the thing about them during the Cold War. If something really bothered them, they let us know, clearly and in a timely manner. This hasn't changed, except-until Georgia-we believed we didn't have to pay attention.
Which brings us to Vladimir Putin, who turns out to be less the Man You Love to Hate than a Russian who intends for his country to be respected...and is prepared to respect us in return. More's the pity that we've given him so little opportunity to do so.
In December 2007, Time Magazine named Putin as "Person of the Year." The magazine described him as "diminutive" (if he is, I'm a supermodel) and "sardonic but humorless. In our hours together, he didn't attempt a joke, and he misread several of our attempts at playfulness." But Time's transcripts of the interview show a man who is unfailingly courteous, even when confronted with outright insolence. Asked if he believed in a Supreme God, Putin replied, "Do you? ... There are things I believe, which should not in my position, at least, be shared with the public at large for everybody's consumption because that would look like self-advertising or a political striptease."
Asked how he viewed the relationship with the United States, Putin replied, "Indeed, Russia and the U.S. were allies during the two tragic conflicts of the Second and the First World Wars, which allows us to think there's something objectively bringing us together in difficult times, and I think-I believe-it has to do with geopolitical interests and also has a moral component. ... The ability to compromise is not a diplomatic politeness toward a partner but rather taking into account and respecting your partner's legitimate interests."
Asked for an example, Putin offered the North Korean nuclear issue: "We were thinking about each other's interests and at the same time about the interests of the country in question, the problems, the issues we were trying to address. Based on such an approach, in the end we resolved the issue to a large extent. At the same time, where we fail to be guided by those basic principles, where we push forward some economic or political self-interest, we fail to arrive at solutions that would realistically address the issue. ... Where we try to take into account each other's interest, we achieve lasting results." A back-and-forth exchange between Putin and Time is as follows:
TIME: Do you think the U.S. wants to see a strong Russia, or a weak Russia?
PUTIN: I believe the U.S. already understands and will understand more and more that only a strong Russia will respond to the genuine interests of the United States.
TIME: What is NATO's purpose today? If Russia were invited to join would it do so?
PUTIN: I wouldn't call NATO a putrid corpse of the cold war, but it is a leftover of the past, indeed.... Russia has no intention of joining military-political blocs because that would be tantamount to restricting its sovereignty. But we want to have good relations, both with the U.S. and with other countries, including NATO countries.
Later, after answering a question about chess great and dissident Gary Kasparov's unsuccessful bid for the Presidency, Putin addressed a very large issue: "The bloc system of relations must be replaced by an altogether different system based on common rules that are called international law, and those rules should be strictly abided by. At the end of the day, only this may ensure stability and respect for the interest of small nations and not just large ones and superpowers like the United States."
In a 10,600 word transcript, Putin uses the words interest or interests 23 times. These are not obscurantist subtleties that require a Ph. D. Kremlinologist to interpret. This is a man who has brought his country back from the brink of anarchy, saying in words so plain and simple even a child can understand them, that Russia is a friend and equal of the United States and as such, we must respect their interests-as they respect ours. He was too polite to state the obvious, that it is in the best interests of the United States to respect Russia's interests and that those interests will not be disrespected without consequence. An adult, he did his interviewers the courtesy of assuming they were also adults.
Time Magazine notwithstanding, the US has responded in two ways. First, Putin is increasingly demonized, especially in the Murdoch media apparat. The neocons continue their well-co-ordinated muttering about a new Cold War, and seem quite happy to do so. And why not? For eight years, the Bush administration's acting-out of their fantasies and obsessions have so weakened America, financially and militarily, that only a new threat can justify further expenditures and exertions.
Not so long ago, the neocons wanted Russia to be a basket case, on the verge of famine, corrupt and impotent, so we could have our way in what used to be their empire-and remains their border area. Now, suddenly, the neocons find their resurgence so deliciously alarming that it's already being used as justification for that ultimate indicator of Purpose, increased defense spending.
It's all so obvious, so contrived, so made-to-order, that you feel embarrassed for them.
Russia is never going to be an exemplar of democracy and human rights, no more than Iraq or Afghanistan. But that does not mean that Russia cannot be a decent and humane country. The neocons and the administration do not desire that for Russia, and that is the gravamen of all the verbiage about keeping Russia out of the "international community."
It helped the demonization process that Putin was former KGB. But even if he'd been a former dissident or priest, it wouldn't have mattered. We prefer our Russian leaders evil or, failing that, incompetent. Putin is neither. He is, to borrow a favorite neocon phrase, "tough-minded." And tough-minded people understand that patience is not a limitless virtue.
We brought him to the end of his patience. For a decade, we had been oblivious to Russian humiliation by our ham-handed pursuit of our interests in their own back yard. Then we began to deliberately bait them in a way we would never have dared to do to the old Soviet Union. The final straws were our recognition of Kosovo, part of the former Yugoslavia, as an independent and sovereign state back in February, over both Serbian and Russian protests, the attempt to extend a US anti-ballistic missile shield into the Czech Republic, Poland and Ukraine, and an offer of membership in NATO to the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, a US-supported drama queen of a democracy that was engaged in some very unwise provocations of its own.
In terms of the morality of power politics-a harsh morality that tolerates neither fantasy nor stupidity forever-there are three things wrong with baiting the Russians like this.
First, we didn't just humiliate the Russians; we angered them over their vital interests when there was no reason to. Anger can be very motivating. For over a decade, we humiliated them when they were really in no position to respond. It's when you can't respond that, when you have to just take it, that you are humiliated. When you can engage in the hard, purposeful pleasure of taking action, the humiliation is over. Time's transcript of the Putin interview was read by people who matter in DC-as Putin, a former professional intelligence officer, meant it to be. Putin was saying, clearly and publicly, the time for this nonsense was over; it was time for America to come to an adult understanding of its real interests and act accordingly.
We ignored that message by threatening Russia's very real interests. They didn't like it-they really didn't like it-when former Warsaw Pact nations join NATO, even if it is not quite a putrid corpse. And no one is stupid enough to think that an Iranian missile attack is going to come through Poland or Ukraine. Not even the neocons, and that was a gratuitous insult to Russian intelligence. But offering NATO membership to parts of the former Soviet Union, like Georgia, threatens Russia's right to control its own borders and no nation can tolerate that. Nor should any nation tolerate the hostile and threatening militarization of its neighbors. China didn't in 1950 when US troops approached the Yalu River in Korea. We didn't in 1962 when Khrushchev put missiles in Cuba.
In the end, nations who tolerate threats on their borders pay for it. Israel knows about this. So does the United States with-dare we be honest?-Mexico.
In sum, we have violated a basic tenet of the morality of power politics. Do not threaten the vital interests of others when you yourself have nothing vital to gain. Neither we nor the rest of NATO-including former Warsaw Pact countries like Poland and former Soviet Republics like the Baltics-has anything to gain by admitting Georgia (or Ukraine) to NATO over Russian objections. Rather the opposite. In fact, we've gone out of our way to ignore their positive actions and our commonalities of interest elsewhere. Russia supplies oil and natural gas to Europe and has been quietly very helpful and cooperative to both America and Europe when dealing with terrorism, Islamic and otherwise. Russia could be of enormous help in dealing with the Iranians, if we gave them any reason to be (the Iranians know better than to bait the Russians; doing so to us is safe). Russia also has a dwindling ethnic Russian population and a 2,600 mile border with China, which has a growing population, including a huge surplus of military-age males; in fact, the natural eastern border between Russia and China is the Ussuri River. Nevertheless, Russia holds lands east of the Ussuri, including the major port of Vladivostok, denying China access to the Sea of Japan. Prudent people wonder how long those lands can remain Russian, and the Russians, who are nothing if not prudent, remember the 1969 Ussuri River fighting. Currently, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and Russia have all signed a treaty limiting troops along their borders, but all those nations know that treaties only last as long as they are in the interests of the signatories.
America might also consider that the United States is for the foreseeable future imprudently dependent on oil, and begin cutting deals with Russia as we wean ourselves, first off Middle Eastern oil, then off of oil itself. America and Europe more generally have an enormous amount to gain from cooperating with Russia, and Russia knows very well it has an enormous amount to gain from cooperating with us. In return for infuriating and alienating the Russians the Georgians offer us-what? Two thousand troops whom we have to equip, transport, and train, to maintain the pretense that our Iraq war is really a "coalition" operation.
And then, unforgivably, our encouragement of Mr. Saakashvili's delusions of democracy and NATO membership got ordinary Georgians killed for nothing.
There has never been the slightest chance we would sacrifice Peoria, or anything else, for Georgia. Even if we had the money and conventional military forces available, any American President who would militarily challenge the Russians for part of their own nation would be justifiably considered certifiable. All we did, all we could have done, by offering NATO membership to Georgia, was get Georgians killed-conscripts, women, children, old men. For nothing. Not even in unilateral American interests. All we can do to the Poles by permitting them, as we have, to sign our missile defense treaty, is endanger them-for nothing, not even our own selfish interests. We have no intention of defending them, and this travesty of a treaty can only further convince the Russians (and anyone else who happens to be watching) of our President's lack of basic common sense and decency. At this point, Russian policy makers are probably less angry than deeply concerned about the collective sanity of the Bush Administration.
Of course, the United States is going to be around long after the neocons-who, not content with having wrecked our military and looted our treasury, are apparently trying to alienate our most powerful potential ally-are gone. We're going to have to fix the mess.
So how should we deal with the Russians?
For a start, look at a map. Russia's real enemies are to the south and east, and none of those folks, Chinese or Islamist, wish us well, either. Second, take a page from the Russians. Our foreign and defense policies have to take a back seat to fundamental economic restructuring because it is our wealth that enables us to implement our policies. Then let's start acting like adults: adults make foreign policy based upon a realistic assessment of their interests and capabilities, and the interests and capabilities of those around them. They don't pick fights they can't win and have nothing to gain from, with people who don't want to fight them.
The real world is a nasty place and America needs friends and allies. Why are we making an unnecessary enemy of a power that by all rights, as well as by logic and morality, ought to be our friend?
by Erin Solaro
Sunday, August 24, 2008
The other worry about Georgia
Quite a few people I have discussed Georgia with, seem to be under the impression that it is one pristine, clean nation. Seeing no evil and speaking no evil. Their understanding of that breakaway nation state is quite rudimentary, to say the very least, and it becomes useful to shed some light on the activities of this nation state beholden to the US.
Examining the role Georgia plays on its border with Russia raises some worrying issues and tend to reinforce reasons for Russia’s discomfort with Saakashvili’s government. Georgia is a known transit route for drugs, arms, human cargo and counterfeiting. This role is enabled by its strategic location and porous borders. South Ossetia for example has matured into a base for organized crime in the trafficking of all sorts of contraband including arms, drugs and uranium. Saakashvili has looked the other way, refusing to post border patrols etc, as its degradation occured and has left the Russians to their own devices in steming this malignant growth. The New York Times in its opinion of 15 August 2008 stated:
“While the Russian “peacekeepers” who entrenched themselves in the conflict zones in the 1990s (and who will now likely resume their posts anew) have proved ineffectual and uninterested in maintaining stability, they’ve been highly successful in protecting an array of sophisticated criminal networks stretching from Russia through Georgian territory. South Ossetia, in particular, is a nest of organized crime. It is a marketplace for a variety of contraband, from fuel to cigarettes, wheat flour, hard drugs, weapons, people and, recently, counterfeit United States $100 bills “minted” at a press inside the conflict zone.”
It goes on to tell us that about $20 million of this said counterfeit bills have been found floating “... up and down the East Coast of the United States as well as in Israel, Russia and Georgia.” Further more, we learn from the American Ambassador to Georgia, what the quality of this reproduction looks like “It’s a pretty sophisticated counterfeiting piece,” said John Tefft to Michael Bronner, an investigative journalist and film maker.
We also learn from the New York Times that:
“Three years ago, Georgian intelligence officials began receiving reports from South Ossetian criminal contacts that a Russian smuggler — a North Ossetian calling himself Oleg — was circulating in Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital. He was reportedly looking for a buyer for what he claimed was high-quality enriched uranium pilfered from the Russian military. The price was $1 million for the initial shipment: 100 grams at $10,000 per gram.”
Russia denies that the said uranium originates from its military and the Bush administration has been quick to grab hold of it. Amnesty International reports that:
“On February 19, 2003 a general cargo ship - the "Karin Cat" - foundered in rough conditions in the Mediterranean Sea midway between Malta and the Island of Crete... inquiry by the Danish Maritime Authority(65) that followed revealed that, in addition to 205 tons of equipment and pipes for a natural gas company, the cargo was made up of 158 tons of ammunition, a sophisticated man-portable short-range missile system, and a radar truck... However, the ship’s voyages and history cast doubt on the real destination of part of its military cargo and its owner’s activities... The Karin Cat was not the only ship of J. Poulsen involved in the transport of military equipment: the "Sarah Poulsen," had also been used along with other Danish ships for the transport of various arms cargoes to South Africa during the apartheid regime, in violation of the UN arms embargo. The routes followed in 2002 by the Karin Cat before reaching Antwerp were complex, calling at many ports with military-related activities, such as La Spezia (Italy), Gdynia (Poland), Poti (Georgia), Bar (Serbia) and Lymassol (Cyprus)... The secretive and irregular way these arms were collected in various ports casts many doubts about... the real destination of the military cargo.”
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that at least 500 Georgian women fall victim to trafficking every year. According to data from known cases, the majority of trafficking cases concerning Georgian women involve Turkey. One local non-governmental organization that took part in creating a government anti-trafficking action plan, People’s Harmonious Development, contends that 75 percent of the 800-1,200 people who cross into Turkey each day from Georgia eventually extend their stay with month-long visas. Of that number, the NGO believes that half – 300 to 450 – are trafficking victims.
A lack of statistics means, however, that the figures are largely a guessing game. Marc Hulst, the counter-trafficking program officer at the IOM mission in Tbilisi, states that there is no way of knowing exactly how many victims exist. "We believe the cases that come to the attention of police are the tip of the iceberg," Hulst said.
Given Georgia’s high unemployment rate and rampant poverty, experts fear that those numbers can only increase. The majority of trafficking victims are young (most are between 18 and 35, though some as young as 14 have been trafficked to Turkey as sex workers), female and come from poor families. But with only an estimated 20 percent of the Georgian working age population receiving wages - and average monthly wages hovering around $70 according to the latest data – even highly educated Georgians are at risk from the dangers of trafficking as they take their job searches abroad.
A report on states and their government activities viz-a-viz nacortics trade comments on Georgia thus:
“Georgia remains a secondary transit route for narcotics flowing from Afghanistan, by way of Iran and across the Caspian. The potential for Georgia to become an important narcotics transit route in the future is heightened by the lack of control the government exercises over its borders and territory. Despite numerous efforts of reform and frequent personnel changes, law enforcement agencies remained overstaffed, under-equipped, poorly paid, and with a reputation as highly corrupt.”
It further adds that:
“Afghan morphine and heroin base destined for Turkey is also presumed to transit Georgia. Given Georgia's geographic location and its ambition to be a key link in a future overland trade corridor between Europe and Asia there is a possibility it could also emerge as a major drug trafficking route. Narcotics trafficking routes through Georgia which have been identified are as follows: The east/west route with narcotics entering the country from Azerbaijan via the Caspian Sea (originating in Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan) to Baku, then they are shipped north via Russian land routes and then enter Georgia.
The main method of transit is TIR trucks that are not monitored in Azerbaijan or in Georgia, but rather theoretically inspected and sealed at their place of origin. TIR trucks move westward to Kyurdamir, then to Yevlakh and cross the border at Gardabani destined for Tbilisi. From Tbilisi the drugs are shipped west to the seaports of Poti, Batumi (Adjara) and Sukhumi (Abkhazia) on the Black Sea. From there the drugs are shipped mainly to Turkey (Istanbul), Romania (Constantia) and Ukraine (Odessa)...”
“Corruption has been the most significant problem within Georgia's law enforcement agencies. Georgia's anti- corruption efforts continue to be hampered by the widespread tolerance of corruption within Georgian society.”
All one needs to add, is that America and its wrenching of Georgia from Russia has not helped matters but aggravates them. Having no specific interest in that country but the protection of some pipeline that empties into the seaport at Poti, it couldn’t careless in which direction the wind blows Georgia’s domestic concerns. With Saakashvili being hopeful for the history books and suicidal about winning some dream war with Russia, he's unlikely to pay any attention to the trafficking that enriches his citizens to cripple the West and Russia.
POTI, Georgia (AP) — Russian forces blocked the only land entrance to Georgia's main oil port city on Thursday, a day before Russia promised to complete a troop pullout from its ex-Soviet neighbor.
Armored personnel carriers and troop trucks blocked the bridge to the Black Sea port city of Poti, and Russian forces excavated trenches and set up mortars facing the city. Another group of APCs and trucks were positioned in a nearby wooded area.
Although Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has promised that his forces would pull back by Friday, Russian troops appear to be digging in, raising concern about whether Moscow is aiming for a lengthy occupation of its small, pro-Western neighbor.
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili told The Associated Press that Russia was thinning out its presence in some occupied towns but was seizing other strategic spots. He called the Russian moves "some kind of deception game."
"(The Russians) are making fun of the world," he declared.
An EU-sponsored cease-fire says both Russian and Georgian forces must move back to positions they held before fighting broke out Aug. 7 in Georgia's separatist republic of South Ossetia, which has close ties to Russia. The agreement also says Russian forces can work in a so-called "security zone" that extends more than four miles into Georgia from South Ossetia.
Poti is at least 95 miles west of the nearest point in South Ossetia. It's also Georgia's key oil port.
Russian tanks, trucks and troops, meanwhile, continued to hold positions around the strategically key city of Gori and in Igoeti, about 30 miles west of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi.
The warfare in a nation straining to escape Moscow's influence has sent tensions between Moscow and the West to some of their highest levels since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union.
On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her Polish counterpart signed a deal to build an American missile defense base in Poland. Last week, a top Russian general warned Poland was risking an attack, possibly a nuclear one, by developing the base.
A spokeswoman for Norway's defense ministry said Russia had told its embassy that Moscow plans to "freeze all military cooperation" with NATO and its allies. Later, Russia's Interfax news agency cited Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko as saying Moscow was reconsidering its cooperation with the military alliance.
South Ossetia is recognized internationally as part of Georgia, but Russia says the future of the province is up to provincial leaders. President Bush and other Western leaders have stressed that Georgia must retain its current borders.
In a sign Russia plans to solidify its control of South Ossetia, Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn said Russia would build 18 checkpoints in the security cordon around the province, with 270 soldiers manning front-line posts.
The parliament of another pro-Russia separatist region, Abkhazia, urged Russia on Wednesday to recognize its independence. Fighting flared in both regions before Georgia and Russia agreed to a cease-fire.
In Gori, no Russian troops or heavy weaponry could be seen Wednesday evening, including on the bridges and main access points. Earlier in the day, Russian troops had been strictly limiting access to Gori to residents and turning away foreign journalists.
Shota Abramidze, a 73-year-old retired engineer, said Gori residents wanted the Russians out.
"They've stolen everything. They've bombed everything. This is fascism, that's what this is."
Along the main highway from Gori to Tbilisi, Russian peacekeepers stopped cars and checked documents of passengers. In Gori itself, Russian troops limited access to residents and turned away foreign journalists. In a back alley, dozens of people waited for promised food.
At a military training school in the mountain town of Sachkhere, a Georgian sentry said Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers had shown up the day before and demanded to be let in, leaving only after a 30-minute standoff. He said the Russians vowed to blow up facilities in the village of Osiauri.
On Wednesday, Georgia said Russian soldiers destroyed military logistics facilities in Osiauri, but the claim could not immediately be confirmed.
About 80,000 people displaced by the fighting are in more than 600 centers in and around Tbilisi. The United Nations estimates 158,000 people in all fled their homes in the last two weeks — some south to regions around Tbilisi, some north to Russia.
Friday, August 22, 2008
The fraud called America
George Monbiot takes up a theme we dealt with here the other day: the centrality of the Pentagon war machine -- and its attendant corporate war profiteers -- in American policy and politics today.
Monbiot's specific subject is the U.S. "missile defense system" -- the greatest boondoggle in human history, and an endless fount of corruption for decades. But he also provides an excellent general description of America's degraded, dysfunctional state, which is never on more naked display than during the quadrennial freak show of a presidential campaign:
If we seek to understand American foreign policy in terms of a rational engagement with international problems, or even as an effective means of projecting power, we are looking in the wrong place. The government's interests have always been provincial. It seeks to appease lobbyists, shift public opinion at crucial stages of the political cycle, accommodate crazy Christian fantasies and pander to television companies run by eccentric billionaires. The US does not really have a foreign policy. It has a series of domestic policies which it projects beyond its borders. That they threaten the world with 57 varieties of destruction is of no concern to the current administration. The only question of interest is who gets paid and what the political kickbacks will be.
I'm afraid this will be the chief question of interest to the next administration as well. As for "missile defense" -- which is now playing a starring role in the new Cold War being avidly fomented by America's bipartisan political elite - Monbiot is worth quoting at length:
The system has been in development since 1946, and so far it has achieved a grand total of nothing....All the trials run so far - successful or otherwise - have been rigged. The target, its type, trajectory and destination, are known before the test begins. Only one enemy missile is used, as the system doesn't have a hope in hell of knocking down two or more. If decoy missiles are deployed, they bear no resemblance to the target and they are identified as decoys in advance. In order to try to enhance the appearance of success, recent flight tests have become even less realistic: the agency has now stopped using decoys altogether when testing its GMD system.
This points to one of the intractable weaknesses of missile defence: it is hard to see how the interceptors could ever outwit enemy attempts to confuse them. As Philip Coyle - formerly a senior official at the Pentagon with responsibility for missile defence - points out, there are endless means by which another state could fool the system. For every real missile it launched, it could dispatch a host of dummies with the same radar and infra-red signatures. Even balloons or bits of metal foil would render anything resembling the current system inoperable. You can reduce a missile's susceptibility to laser penetration by 90% by painting it white. This sophisticated avoidance technology, available from your local hardware shop, makes another multibillion component of the programme obsolete. Or you could simply forget about ballistic missiles and attack using cruise missiles, against which the system is useless.
Monbiot then gets to the corroded heart of the matter: scratch, geetus, moolah, long green. As he notes, the Pentagon and its willing enablers on both sides of the political aisle have come up with a truly artistic budgetary innovation to keep golden goose a-laying: "spiral development." From Monbiot:
The US has spent between $120bn and $150bn on the programme since Ronald Reagan relaunched it in 1983. Under George Bush, the costs have accelerated. The Pentagon has requested $62bn for the next five-year tranche, which means that the total cost between 2003 and 2013 will be $110bn. Yet there are no clear criteria for success. As a recent paper in the journal Defense and Security Analysis shows, the Pentagon invented a new funding system in order to allow the missile defence programme to evade the government's usual accounting standards. It's called spiral development, which is quite appropriate, because it ensures that the costs spiral out of control.
Spiral development means, in the words of a Pentagon directive, that "the end-state requirements are not known at programme initiation". Instead, the system is allowed to develop in whatever way officials think fit. The result is that no one has the faintest idea what the programme is supposed to achieve, or whether it has achieved it. There are no fixed dates, no fixed costs for any component of the programme, no penalties for slippage or failure, no standards of any kind against which the system can be judged. And this monstrous scheme is still incapable of achieving what a few hundred dollars' worth of diplomacy could do in an afternoon.
So why commit endless billions to a programme that is bound to fail? I'll give you a clue: the answer is in the question. It persists because it doesn't work.
US politics, because of the failure by both Republicans and Democrats to deal with the problems of campaign finance, is rotten from head to toe. But under Bush, the corruption has acquired Nigerian qualities. Federal government is a vast corporate welfare programme, rewarding the industries that give millions of dollars in political donations with contracts worth billions. Missile defence is the biggest pork barrel of all, the magic pudding that won't run out, however much you eat. The funds channelled to defence, aerospace and other manufacturing and service companies will never run dry because the system will never work.
Monbiot also points out the obvious: the nation must be kept in a constant welter of fear and indignation in order to keep the pork flowing:
To keep the pudding flowing, the administration must exaggerate the threats from nations that have no means of nuking it - and ignore the likely responses of those that do. Russia is not without its own corrupting influences. You could see the grim delight of the Russian generals and defence officials last week, who have found in this new deployment an excuse to enhance their power and demand bigger budgets.
Yes, there's nothing inherently American about fearmongering and corruption. The Kremlin knows full well that the missile defense system which Bush is installing in Poland doesn't work. But it looks threatening, and is a handy bogey-man to shake at the Russian people. Then again, the missile base is just a beachhead for the coming horde of NATO forces that will soon be bristling on Russia's border, so the Kremlin's alarm at the placement is not just rabble-rousing. And of course, there is also the fact that the missile base could easily accomodate offensive weapons as well as the boondoggled duds. The threat to Russia from U.S. missiles and NATO encroachments is considerably more real and substantial than the idea that Russia poses any kind of genuine threat to America.
To be sure, Russia, and China, do pose a genuine threat to the American elite's idiotic, arrogant agenda of forcing its will on the entire world. Thus the frothing nonsense and belligerent posturing -- and murderous military adventures -- of our bipartisan foreign policy establishment will go on. But as we've often noted here before, none of this has anything to do with the genuine interests or well-being or security of the American people. That is just not "a question of interest" to our moneyed elites and our ludicrous, "purpose-driven" politicians.
Comment by egoigwe - 22 Aug 2008 - 01:20 [REGISTERED USER]
The Nigerian term for it is 419, derived from the section of our criminal code that deals with advance fee fraud. But as has been so aptly demonstrated, it is not merely a Nigerian thing. Confidence tricksters abound everywhere and especially in politics, as a matter of fact, it is a key ingredient in the artful politician's arsenal.
Is it not simply amazing how things work in the 21st Century? Folks who get elected as leaders and then end up as rulers and dupes of the most decadent being. It is however, appalling to read Monboit's claim "But under Bush, the corruption has acquired Nigerian qualities." That is simply not true, it is those so-called expatriates; foreign advisers and experts, who come to our shores to pervert our leaders and show them the art of fleecing their population of much needed succor and development, and how to do it in ways that conform, and are excusable to the international community. Truth be said, if any thing, it is corruption in Nigeria that has acquired American qualities. And this is not to take anything, but that bit, away from what is a fascinating read.