Saturday, June 27, 2015

What Borders Mean to Europe | By George Friedman

What Borders Mean to Europe

    
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Europe today is a continent of borders. The second-smallest continent in the world has more than 50 distinct, sovereign nation-states. Many of these are part of the European Union. At the core of the EU project is an effort to reduce the power and significance of these borders without actually abolishing them — in theory, an achievable goal. But history is not kind to theoretical solutions.
Today, Europe faces three converging crises that are ultimately about national borders, what they mean and who controls them. These crises appear distinct: Immigration from the Islamic world, the Greek economic predicament, and the conflict in Ukraine would seem to have little to do with each other. But in fact they all derive, in different ways, from the question of what borders mean.
Europe's borders have been the foundation of both its political morality and its historical catastrophes. The European Enlightenment argued against multinational monarchies and for sovereign nation-states, which were understood to be the territories in which nations existed. Nations came to be defined as groupings of humans who shared a common history, language, set of values and religion — in short, a common culture into which they were born. These groups had the right of national self-determination, the authority to determine their style of government and the people who governed. Above all, these nations lived in a place, and that place had clear boundaries.
The right of national self-determination has created many distinct nations in Europe. And, as nations do, they sometimes distrust and fear one other, which occasionally leads to wars. They also have memories of betrayals and victimizations that stretch back for centuries before the nations became states. Some viewed the borders as unjust, because they placed their compatriots under foreign rule, or as insufficient to national need. The right of self-determination led inevitably to borders, and the question of borders inevitably led to disputes among states. Between 1914 and 1945, Europeans waged a series of wars about national boundaries and about who has the right to live where. This led to one of the greatest slaughters of human history.
The memory of that carnage led to the creation of the European Union. Its founding principle was that this kind of massacre should never happen again. But the union lacked the power to abolish the nation-state — it was too fundamental to the Europeans' sense of identity. And if the nation-state survived, so did the idea of place and borders.
If the nation-state could not be abolished, however, then at least the borders could lose their significance. Thus two principles emerged after World War II: The first, predating the European Union, was that the existing borders of Europe could not be changed. The hope was that by freezing Europe's borders, Europe could abolish war. The second principle, which came with the mature European Union, was that the bloc's internal borders both existed and did not exist. Borders were to define the boundaries of nation-states and preserved the doctrine of national self-determination, but they were not to exist insofar as the movement of goods, of labor and of capital were concerned. This was not absolute — some states were limited in some of these areas — but it was a general principle and goal. This principle is now under attack in three different ways.

The Movement of Muslims in Europe

The chaos in the Middle East has generated a flow of refugees toward Europe. This is adding to the problem that European nations have had with prior Muslim migrations that were encouraged by Europeans. As Europe recovered from World War II, it needed additional labor at low cost. Like other advanced industrial countries have done, a number of European states sought migrants, many from the Islamic world, to fill that need. At first, the Europeans thought of the migrants as temporary residents. Over time, the Europeans conceded citizenship but created a doctrine of multiculturalism, which appeared to be a gesture of tolerance and was implicitly by mutual consent, given that some Muslims resisted assimilation. But this doctrine essentially served to exclude Muslims from full participation in the host culture even as they gained legal citizenship. But as I have said, the European idea of the nation was challenged by the notion of integrating different cultures into European societies
Partly because of a failure to fully integrate migrants and partly because of terrorist attacks, a growing portion of European society began perceiving the Muslims already in Europe as threatening. Some countries had already discussed resurrecting internal European borders to prevent the movement not only of Muslims, but also of other Europeans seeking jobs in difficult economic times. The recent wave of refugees has raised the matter to a new level.
The refugee crisis has forced the Europeans to face a core issue. The humanitarian principles of the European Union demand that refugees be given sanctuary. And yet, another wave of refugees into Europe has threatened to exacerbate existing social and cultural imbalances in some countries; some anticipate the arrival of more Muslims with dread. Moreover, once migrants are allowed to enter Europe by any one country, the rest of the nations are incapable of preventing the refugees' movement.
Who controls Europe's external borders? Does Spain decide who enters Spain, or does the European Union decide? Whoever decides, does the idea of the free movement of labor include the principle of the free movement of refugees? If so, then EU countries have lost the ability to determine who may enter their societies and who may be excluded. For Europe, given its definition of the nation, this question is not an odd, legal one. It goes to the very heart of what a nation is, and whether the nation-state, under the principle of the right of national self-determination, is empowered to both make that decision and enforce it.
This question does not merely concern Muslims. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Ostjuden — the Jews coming into Western Europe as they fled czarist edicts — raised the same challenge, even though they sought more vigorously to assimilate. But at that point, the notion of borders was unambiguous even if the specific decision on how to integrate the Jews was unclear. In many countries, the status of minorities from neighboring nations was a nagging question, but there were tools for handling it. The Muslim issue is unique in Europe only to the extent that the European Union has made it unique. The bloc has tried to preserve borders while sapping them of significance, and now there is an upsurge of opposition not only to Muslim immigration, but also to the European Union's understanding of borders and free movement.

The Greek Crisis

The question of borders is also at the heart of the Greek crisis. We see two issues: one small, the other vast. The small one involves capital controls. The European Union is committed to a single European financial market within which capital flows freely. Greeks, fearing the outcome of the current crisis, have been moving large amounts of money out of Greece into foreign banks. They remember what happened during the Cyprus crisis, when the government, capitulating to German demands in particular, froze and seized money deposited in Cypriot banks. Under EU rules, the transfer of deposits in one country of the bloc, or even outside the bloc, is generally considered legitimate. However, in the case of Cyprus, the free movement of capital across borders was halted. The same could conceivably happen in Greece.
In any event, which is the prior principle: the free movement of capital or the European Union's overarching authority to control that flow? Are Greek citizens personally liable for their government's debt — not merely through austerity policies, but also through controls imposed by the Greek government under European pressure to inhibit the movement of their money? If the answer is the latter, then borders on capital can be created temporarily.
The larger issue is the movement of goods. A significant dimension of this crisis involves free trade. Germany exports more than 50 percent of its gross domestic product. Its prosperity depends on these exports. I have argued that the inability to control the flow of German goods into Southern Europe drove the region into economic decline. Germany's ability to control the flow of American goods into the country in the 1950s helped drive its economic recovery. The European Union permits limits on the movement of some products, particularly agricultural ones, through subsidies and quotas. In theory, free trade is beneficial to all. In practice, one country's short-term gain can vastly outweigh others' long-term gains. The ability to control the flow of goods is a tool that might slow growth but decrease pain.
The essential principle of the European Union is that of free trade, in the sense that the border cannot become a checkpoint to determine what goods may or may not enter a country and under what tariff rule. The theory is superb, save for its failure to address the synchronization of benefits. And it means that the right to self-determination no longer includes the right to control borders.

Ukraine and the 'Inviolability' of Borders

Finally, there is the Ukraine issue — which is not really about Ukraine, but about a prior principle of Europe: Borders cannot be allowed to change. The core of this rule is that altering borders leads to instability. This rule governed between 1945 and 1992. Then, the fall of the Soviet Union transformed the internal borders of Europe dramatically, moving the Russian border eastward and northward. The Soviet collapse also created eight newly free nations that were Soviet satellites in Central and Eastern Europe and 15 new independent states — including Russia — from the constituent parts of the Soviet Union. It could be argued that the fall of the Soviet Union did not change the rule on borders, but that claim would be far-fetched. Everything changed. Then came the "velvet divorce" of Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and now there are potential divorces in the United Kingdom, Spain and Belgium.
Perhaps most importantly, the rule broke down in Yugoslavia, where a single entity split into numerous independent nations, and, among other consequences, a war over borders ensued. The conflict concluded with the separation of Kosovo from Serbia and its elevation to the status of an independent nation. Russia has used this last border change to justify redrawing the borders of Georgia and as a precedent supporting its current demand for the autonomy and control of eastern Ukraine. Similarly, the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia shifted dramatically as the result of war. (On a related note, Cyprus, divided between a Turkish-run north and a Greek-run south, was allowed into the European Union in 2004 with its deep border dispute still unsettled.)
Since the end of the Cold War, the principle of the inviolability of borders has been violated repeatedly — through the creation of new borders, through the creation of newly freed nation-states, through peaceful divisions and through violent war. The principle of stable borders held for the most part until 1991 before undergoing a series of radical shifts that sometimes settled the issue and sometimes left it unresolved. The Europeans welcomed most of these border adjustments, and in one case — Kosovo — Europeans themselves engineered the change.
It is in this context that the Ukrainian war must be considered. Europe's contention, supported by America, is that Russia is attempting to change inviolable borders. There are many good arguments to be made against the Russians in Ukraine, which I have laid out in the past. However, the idea that the Russians are doing something unprecedented in trying to redraw Ukraine's borders is difficult to support. Europe's borders have been in flux for some time. That is indeed a matter of concern; historically, unsettled borders in Europe are precursors to war, as we have seen in Yugoslavia, the Caucasus and now Ukraine. But it is difficult to argue that this particular action by Russia is in itself a dramatically unprecedented event in Europe. The principle of national self-determination depends on a clear understanding of a nation and the unchallenged agreement on its boundaries. The Europeans themselves have in multiple ways established the precedent that borders are not unchallengeable.
There are two principles competing. The first is the European Union's desire that borders be utterly permeable without the nation-state losing its right to self-determination. It is difficult to see how a lack of control over borders is compatible with national self-determination. The other principle is that existing borders not be challenged. On the one hand, the union wants to diminish the importance of borders. On the other hand, it wants to make them incontestable.
Neither principle is succeeding. Within Europe, more forces are emerging that want to return control over borders to nation-states. In different ways, the Muslim immigrant crisis and the Greek crisis intersect at the question of who controls the borders. Meanwhile, the inviolability of borders has been a dead letter since the fall of the Soviet Union.
The idea of borders being archaic is meaningful only if the nation-state is archaic. There is no evidence that this is true in Europe. On the contrary, all of the pressures we see culturally and economically point to not only the persistence of the idea of nationality, but also to its dramatic increase in Europe. At the same time, there is no evidence that the challenge to borders is abating. In fact, during the past quarter of a century, the number of shifts and changes, freely or under pressure, has only increased. And each challenge of a national border, such as the one occurring in Ukraine, is a challenge to a nation's reality and sense of self.
The European Union has promised peace and prosperity. The prosperity is beyond tattered now. And peace has been intermittently disrupted — not in the European Union, but around it — since the Maastricht Treaty was signed in 1992 to create a common economic and monetary union. All of this is linked to the question of what a border represents and how seriously we take it. A border means that this is my country and not yours. This idea has been a source of anguish in Europe and elsewhere. Nevertheless, it is a reality embedded in the human condition. Borders matter, and they matter in many different ways. The European crisis, taken as a whole, is rooted in borders. Attempting to abolish them is attractive in theory. But theory faces reality across its own border.

Iceland Recovering Fastest in Europe After Jailing Bankers Instead of Bailing them Out

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Iceland Recovering Fastest in Europe After Jailing Bankers Instead of Bailing them Out

By Claire Bernish

After Iceland suffered a heavy hit in the 2008-2009 financial crisis, which famously resulted in convictions and jail terms for a number of top banking executives, the IMF now says the country has managed to achieve economic recovery—“without compromising its welfare model,” which includes universal healthcare and education.

In fact, Iceland is on track to become the first European country that suffered in the financial meltdown to “surpass its pre-crisis peak of economic output”—essentially proving to the U.S. that bailing out “too big to fail” banks wasn’t the way to go.

Iceland is beautifully, yet unfortunately, unique in how it chose to handle the disaster. It simply let the banks fail, which resulted in defaults totaling $85 billion—lending ample justification for the prosecution and conviction of bank executives for various fraud-related charges. The decision seemed shocking at the time, but the gamble has obviously paid off. Choosing a different route, the U.S. bailed out the banks and let executives off the hook by levying fines that ultimately ended up being paid by the corporations—meaning the executives ostensibly responsible for the mess got off scot-free.

“Why should we have a part of our society that is not being policed or without responsibility?” special prosecutor Olafur Hauksson said after Iceland’s Supreme Court upheld the convictions for three bankers—and sentenced them to between four and five and a half years each. “It is dangerous that someone is too big to investigate—it gives a sense there is a safe haven.”

Hauksson, a police officer from a small fishing village, ended up taking the role of special prosecutor after being urged to do so when the first announcement to fill the position drew no applicants. The Icelandic Parliament even aided the prosecution’s effort by loosening secrecy laws to allow investigation without the hindrance of requiring court orders.

Six of the seven convictions that ended up in Iceland’s Supreme Court have been upheld, and five cases were scheduled for the top court as of February. An additional fourteen cases appear likely to be prosecuted. By contrast, the animosity Americans felt toward their largest financial institutions after the bailout has grown bitter. After the banks pled guilty in May for manipulating global currency and interest rates, the court imposed a paltry fine of $5.7 billion—which won’t even go to the people most affected by the fraud. Iceland’s successful prosecutions and economic recovery remain the subject of envy for Americans.

Shortly, however, Iceland’s economic health will be put to the test.

Strict capital controls that were applied when banks were circling the drain six years ago will now be loosened, allowing foreign investors—whose assets have essentially been frozen since then—to take their business elsewhere. To prevent a possible repeat crisis, the finance minister announced a 39% tax for anyone choosing to do so. “The danger is capital flight and a consequent fall in the value of the krona,” explained University of Iceland economics professor, Thorolfur Matthiasson. “That would be tantamount to October 2008, bringing back bad memories for ordinary people and possibly making most businesses unsustainable due to balance-sheet problems.”

Though many are nervous, there is still cautionary optimism since Iceland has certainly weathered the storm before.

Claire Bernish writes for TheAntiMedia.org, where this article first appeared. Tune in! The Anti-Media radio show airs Monday through Friday @ 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Image credit: Javier Soriano

This article may be re-posted in full with attribution. 

Monsanto Actually DID Buy the BLACKWATER Mercenary Group

It Turns Out Monsanto Actually DID Buy the BLACKWATER Mercenary Group


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A report by Jeremy Scahill in The Nation revealed that the largest mercenary army in the world, Blackwater (later called Xe Services and more recently “Academi”) clandestine intelligence services was sold to the multinational Monsanto. Blackwater was renamed in 2009 after becoming famous in the world with numerous reports of abuses in Iraq, including massacres of civilians. It remains the largest private contractor of the U.S. Department of State “security services,” that practices state terrorism by giving the government the opportunity to deny it.
Many military and former CIA officers work for Blackwater or related companies created to divert attention from their bad reputation and make more profit selling their nefarious services-ranging from information and intelligence to infiltration, political lobbying and paramilitary training – for other governments, banks and multinational corporations. According to Scahill, business with multinationals, like Monsanto, Chevron, and financial giants such as Barclays and Deutsche Bank, are channeled through two companies owned by Erik Prince, owner of Blackwater: Total Intelligence Solutions and Terrorism Research Center. These officers and directors share Blackwater.
One of them, Cofer Black, known for his brutality as one of the directors of the CIA, was the one who made contact with Monsanto in 2008 as director of Total Intelligence, entering into the contract with the company to spy on and infiltrate organizations of animal rights activists, anti-GM and other dirty activities of the biotech giant.
Contacted by Scahill, the Monsanto executive Kevin Wilson declined to comment, but later confirmed to The Nation that they had hired Total Intelligence in 2008 and 2009, according to Monsanto only to keep track of “public disclosure” of its opponents. He also said that Total Intelligence was a “totally separate entity from Blackwater.”
However, Scahill has copies of emails from Cofer Black after the meeting with Wilson for Monsanto, where he explains to other former CIA agents, using their Blackwater e-mails, that the discussion with Wilson was that Total Intelligence had become “Monsanto’s intelligence arm,” spying on activists and other actions, including “our people to legally integrate these groups.” Total Intelligence Monsanto paid $ 127,000 in 2008 and $ 105,000 in 2009.
No wonder that a company engaged in the “science of death” as Monsanto, which has been dedicated from the outset to produce toxic poisons spilling from Agent Orange to PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), pesticides, hormones and genetically modified seeds, is associated with another company of thugs.
Almost simultaneously with the publication of this article in The Nation, the Via Campesina reported the purchase of 500,000 shares of Monsanto, for more than $23 million by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which with this action completed the outing of the mask of “philanthropy.” Another association that is not surprising.
It is a marriage between the two most brutal monopolies in the history of industrialism: Bill Gates controls more than 90 percent of the market share of proprietary computing and Monsanto about 90 percent of the global transgenic seed market and most global commercial seed. There does not exist in any other industrial sector monopolies so vast, whose very existence is a negation of the vaunted principle of “market competition” of capitalism. Both Gates and Monsanto are very aggressive in defending their ill-gotten monopolies.
Although Bill Gates might try to say that the Foundation is not linked to his business, all it proves is the opposite: most of their donations end up favoring the commercial investments of the tycoon, not really “donating” anything, but instead of paying taxes to the state coffers, he invests his profits in where it is favorable to him economically, including propaganda from their supposed good intentions. On the contrary, their “donations” finance projects as destructive as geoengineering or replacement of natural community medicines for high-tech patented medicines in the poorest areas of the world. What a coincidence, former Secretary of Health Julio Frenk and Ernesto Zedillo are advisers of the Foundation.
Like Monsanto, Gates is also engaged in trying to destroy rural farming worldwide, mainly through the “Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa” (AGRA). It works as a Trojan horse to deprive poor African farmers of their traditional seeds, replacing them with the seeds of their companies first, finally by genetically modified (GM). To this end, the Foundation hired Robert Horsch in 2006, the director of Monsanto. Now Gates, airing major profits, went straight to the source.
Blackwater, Monsanto and Gates are three sides of the same figure: the war machine on the planet and most people who inhabit it, are peasants, indigenous communities, people who want to share information and knowledge or any other who does not want to be in the aegis of profit and the destructiveness of capitalism.
So why were so many media outlets, editorialists and bloggers clamoring to say that the purchase was a “hoax”?
That’s a good question. The more cynical among us might suspect a financial incentive from Monsanto itself to such “journalists.” Monsanto indeed has hired a public relations team to seek out critical blogs and websites reporting on their crimes against both Nature and humankind. We have seen this first hand in comments on PoliticalBlindSpot.com articles on Monsanto. It is not beyond the realm of possibilities that they have created blogs where seemingly legitimate authors write organic thoughts, observations and rebuttals. The public presumes these are real-world people, when in fact they are working PR for the company.
But the core argument of those who claim that the Monsanto purchase of Blackwater is not true lies in the fact that we can only officially document Blackwater being hired by Monsanto for years. Immediately following this extensive work that Blackwater did for Monsanto, they sold the company. Because of the nature of how the sale transpired, it is impossible to document who the sale was to. The obvious and logical conclusion to insiders (particularly in the private security industry), however, is that the sale was in fact to Monsanto who had been employing the group.
Xe (now Academi) has, indeed, been purchased, and while there’s no way of DOCUMENTING who the new owners really are, the logical conclusion would be that Monsanto, who had been employing them prior to the sale are the new owners. This, of course, would also make sense of the secrecy surrounding the deal and the identity of the new owners. The company was bought out by private investors via private equity companies that don’t have to divulge any of their dealings, with Bank of America providing much of the $200 million in financing for the deal.
New York-based USTC Holdings said it will acquire Xe and its core operating subsidiaries, but did not disclose the price or terms of the agreement in a statement.
USTC Holdings is an investor consortium led by private equity firms Forte Capital Advisors and Manhattan Partners.
Various researchers have been trying to document the buy via a paper trail, but so far without much luck. That, of course, is the point…
Keeping it private
One thing that is known: Forte Capital Advisors is the baby of long-time Blackwater ally Jason De Yonker:
DeYonker has unique experience with the Company that dates back to its founding in the late 1990s. He advised the Company through development of its early business plan and expansion of the Moyock training facility as well as supporting negotiations of its first training contracts with U.S. government agencies. Between 1998 and 2002, Mr. DeYonker co-managed Xe founder, Erik Prince’s family office which included management of Mr. Prince’s portfolio companies.
What does that mean? The guy is a glorified accountant.
Prior to joining Forté, Jason co-managed a +$100 million family office. In addition to actively managing various platform companies, Jason was a part of the executive team responsible for family wealth management.
Jason has spent the last 18 years advising on various mergers, acquistions and divestitures with an aggregate transaction value greater than $1 billion. Jason’s experience include: transaction advisory, portfolio management, real estate development, venture capital and cross border dealings. Jason began his career with Arthur Andersen Corporate Finance Group, and was a Director in Deloitte & Touche’s Corporate Finance Group. He also was the Finance Director for the West Family Trust, a venture capital group focused on cross-border transactons.
Jason recieved a Bachelor of Business Administration, with a concentration in finance and accounting, from the Univeristy of Michigan.
The other investor? It looks like the very junior partner will be Manhattan Partners, a private equity company – a shop that gathers money from anonymous rich investors and uses the pool of cash to  leverage buyouts of big companies they wouldn’t have been able to take over on their own.
Manhattan Partners invests in “compelling growth and special situation transactions,” but this will be their first known foray into defense industries – WarIsBusiness.com reports (via Spencer Ackerman):
Manhattan Growth Partners is led by Dean Bosacki and Patrick McBride. Bosacki serves on the board of “the world’s largest commencement photography business,” among other companies. Manhattan Growth Partners, which describes itself as “a progressive thinking private equity firm,” also holds a majority interest in Hugo Naturals, a line of organic, vegan-friendly soaps, lotions, scents and soy candles sold at Whole Foods and other greenwashed retailers.
At the end of the day, it would seem the logical conclusion is that in spite of arguments to the contrary, Monsanto in fact did by the Blackwater mercenary group… or at least the renamed Blackwater Xe (now Academi) Services group. The big question now is why?
Article by Isa Abu Jamal

Europe’s Complicity in Evil — Paul Craig Roberts

Europe’s Complicity in Evil — Paul Craig Roberts

Sovereignty or Imperialism?
On September 5, 2009 I addressed an international conference in Austria on the subject of Europe’s subordination to the US and, thus, the absence of any constructive criticism of US foreign and domestic policies. Karel van Wolferen, whose website is http://www.karelvanwolferen.com, kindly reminded me of my address to the conference when he he sent it to me with his supportive response. Both are available below. You can see from my address and from Karel’s response that the reckless direction of US foreign and domestic policy has been known for many years. Yet the recklessness continues
Europe’s Complicity in Evil
By Paul Craig Roberts
[An address by Hon. Paul Craig Roberts, Ph.D., Chevalier, Legion d’Honneur, to Mut zur Ethik Conference, “Sovereignty or Imperialism,” Feldkirch, Austria, September 5, 2009]
There is a widespread supposition that Obama, being black and a member of an oppressed race, will imbue US foreign policy with a higher morality than the world experienced from Bush and Clinton. This is a delusion.
Obama represents the same ideology of American “exceptionalism” as other re- cent presidents. This ideology designates the United States as The Virtuous Nation and supplies the basis for the belief that America has the right, indeed the responsibility, to impose its hegemony upon the world by bribery or by force. The claim of American exceptionalism produces a form of patriotism that blinds the US population to the immorality of America’s wars of aggression.
Nothing is any different under Obama. Obama has escalated war in Afghanistan; started a new war in Pakistan; tolerated or supported a military coup that overthrew the elected president of Honduras; is constructing 7 new US military bases in Colombia, South America; is going forward with various military projects designed to secure US global military hegemony, such as the Prompt Global Strike initiative that intends to provide the US with the capability to strike anywhere on earth within 60 minutes; is working to destabilize the government in Iran, with military attack still on the table as an option; supports America’s new military African Command; intends to encircle Russia with US bases in former constituent parts of the Soviet Union; has suborned NATO troops as mercenaries in US wars of aggression.
How should Europe react?
Europe should disassociate from the United States and go into active opposition to US foreign policy. Europeans should demand that their governments withdraw from NATO as it serves no European interest. The two aggressive militarist powers, the US and Israel, should be sanctioned by the UN and embargoed.
Instead, Europe is complicit in US and Israeli war crimes.
Because of the Cold War, Europe is accustomed to following US leadership. The financial convenience of the shelter provided by US military power negated independent European foreign policies. In effect, Western European countries became US puppet states.
How does Europe escape from a subservient relationship of many decades? Not easily. The US is accustomed to calling the shots and reacts harshly when it meets opposition. For example, French opposition to Bush’s invasion of Iraq brought about instant demonization of France by the US media and members of Congress.
The US government uses financial sanctions and threatened leaks of sensitive per- sonal information gathered by its worldwide spy networks to discipline any independent-minded European leader.
Europe is essentially captive and forced to put US interests ahead of its own. Consequently, unless Europeans find their courage and discard their servile status, Europe will be badgered into more wars and eventually led into a devastating war with Russia. One European country can do little, but concerted action would be effective. For example, why do not Europeans protest that the war criminal Tony Blair was given a post in the EU?
The Obama administration’s attitude towards self-determination and the sovereignty of the people is that these grand-sounding concepts are useful platitudes with which to mask the hegemonic interests of the US government. US money and propaganda foment “velvet” or “color” revolutions that turn more countries into American puppet states.
The platitudes are useful also to disguise the overthrow of US civil liberties, such as habeas corpus, due process, and prohibitions against torture and pre-emptive arrest.
During the Cold War era, one of the mainstays of US propaganda against the So- viet Union was the inability of Soviet citizens to travel within their country without the government’s permission. This indignity has now been inflicted upon US citizens. As of September, 2009, US citizens can no longer travel within their country by air with- out the permission of the Transport Security Administration.
The Obama administration has adopted the Bush administration’s search procedures. Under these rules travelers’ computers, cell phones, and other devices can be seized for searches that can take up to 30 days. If you are on your way to a meeting and your presentation is on your computer and your contacts’ numbers are on your cell phone, you are out of luck.
excuse for these Gestapo practices. However, there have been no domestic acts of terrorism in 8 years. The few “plots” that led to arrests were all instigated by FBI agents in order to keep the nonexistent threat alive in the public’s mind. Yet, despite any real terrorist threat the police state continues to gain ground. Considering the extent of America’s oppression of peoples abroad, one would expect much more blowback than has occurred, assuming that 9/11 was not itself an inside job designed to provide an excuse for America’s wars of aggression in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.
Europe must look beyond the empty American political rhetoric about “freedom and democracy” and recognize the emerging Brownshirt American State. Democracy is slipping away from America. Its place is being taken by an oligarchy of powerful interest groups, such as the financial sector, the military/security complex about which President Eisenhower warned, and AIPAC. Political campaign contributions from interest groups determine the content of US domestic and foreign policy. A country in which political elites are above the law and can violate with impunity both laws against torture and constitutional protections of civil liberties is not a free country.
American political leaders and the American people need Europe’s help in order to avoid the degeneration of the American political entity. American freedom, as well as sovereign independence elsewhere in the world, require criticisms of US foreign and domestic policies. The US media, which was concentrated into a few hands during the Clinton administration, functions as a Ministry of Propaganda for the government. It was the New York Times that gave credibility to the neoconservative propaganda and forged documents that were used to sell the invasion of Iraq to the public. It was the New York Times that sat for one year on the evidence that the Bush ad- ministration was committing felonies by violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It was not until after Bush was re-elected that the reporter was able to force his story through editorial opposition.
Americans need criticism from Europe to compensate for the absence of an inde- pendent American media. Americans need outside help in order to reach an under- standing of the immorality of their government’s policies, because they receive no such help from their own media. Without Europe’s help, Americans cannot regain the spirit of liberty and tolerance bequeathed to them by their Founding Fathers. America herself is a victim of the neoconservative and liberal internationalist pursuit of US hegemony.
We in America need to hear many voices telling us that it is self-defeating to be- come like an enemy in order to defeat an enemy. As Germans learned under Hitler and Russians learned under Stalin, it is the internal enemy—the unaccountable elite that controls a country’s government—that is the worst and most dangerous enemy.
If America has enemies who are against “freedom and democracy,” then America herself must make certain not to sacrifice her own civil liberties, and the sovereignty of other peoples, to a “War on Terror.” Acts of terror are a small cost compared to the cost of the erosion of civil liberties that took centuries to achieve. Far more people died to achieve liberty than have died in terrorist attacks.
The United States cannot pretend to be a guarantor of liberty when the US government takes away liberty from its own citizens.
The United States cannot pretend to be a guarantor of peace and democracy when the US government uses deception to attack other lands on false pretenses.
Europe, whose culture was wrecked by 20th century wars, Europe, which has experienced tyranny from the left-wing and from the right-wing, has a right to its own voice.
America needs to hear this voice.
An American Plea for European Awakening (18 Sept 09)
http://www.karelvanwolferen.com/an-american-plea-for-european-awakening/
    What I hoped to read has finally been written: A plea from an American addressed to all Europeans for help with bringing the United States to its senses. It ought to be on the editorial pages of every serious newspaper in Europe. In a speech contributed to the Mut zur Ethik Conference held in Austria a couple of weeks ago, Paul Craig Roberts lays out the case for Europe to “go into active opposition to US foreign policy.” American freedom as well as “sovereign independence elsewhere in the world” require this. Both the political leaders and the people of the United States “need Europe’s help in order to avoid the degeneration of the American political entity.”

     Europeans insufficiently clued in about the gyrations of American non-mainstream media discussion might imagine such exhortation as coming from rather far-off leftist quarters. But Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under President Reagan, Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal, and has held numerous academic appointments in what in the US are categorized as ‘conservative’ institutions. I first came across his writing on a well-known ‘conservative’ website. He disappeared from that ever rightward drifting site when he became one of the first authors from a non-leftist background to pierce through the political exploitation of the September 11 attacks. And pierce he did, deeper and more to the point than many on that threadbare left side of the American political spectrum. Articulate, erudite, and informed by historical perspective, Roberts has been one of my anchors on the internet, a reassurance that it was not me who had gone mad, while what I call the insanity factor began to affect widening circles of political discourse in the United States and Europe.

     Apparently unafraid of being thought excessively ‘emotional’, which is an epithet quickly earned today with even a bit of perfectly justifiable vehemence, he has been warning his fellow Americans about what could still await them, in the way of an Iran war, further restrictions on civil liberties and, indeed, the onset of what is best described as an American form of creeping fascism. These are things that I know many other concerned Americans have ghosting about in their heads, but dare not explicitly bring out into the open.

    Until now I have heard calls to awaken Europe only through personal communication with American friends and colleagues who themselves have the means to speak to fairly large audiences at home. I tell them that by forming a choir on their side, directing its voices across the Atlantic to appeal to a European sense of self-worth and long-term self interest, and asking for a critical European position on American militarism, is perhaps the best chance to bring forth an answering European choir that systematically could get to work on its own political elites.

     The situation with those European elites is dismal. I have written about it here and here and here. As far as I can make out, we are dealing in this case with a fair amount of cowardice and simple ignorance. Europeans are, on the whole, not well-informed about developments in the United States. It takes extremes like the candidacy of Sarah Palin or the utterly callous opportunism involved in the Healthcare tumult for them to become aware of how far gone things are in the United States. But those developments remain passing incidents to the elite European mind, and are quickly forgotten, especially now when America’s first black president has created the supposition that he (using Robert’s words) “will imbue US foreign policy with a higher morality than the world experienced from Bush and Clinton”. A delusion, Roberts reminds us, since Obama represents the same ‘exceptionalist’ ideology as his recent predecessors, one that “designates the United States as The Virtuous Nation and supplies the basis for the belief that America has the right, indeed the responsibility, to impose its hegemony upon the world by bribery or by force.”

     As I cite these words, I can hear the derision from what is probably still the majority among the editorial and political elites in The Netherlands, and certainly the vast majority of those who wish to maintain their respected positions in the Dutch establishment (and boy, is there ever one! It seems more octopus-like and rigid than what I found in Japan).

     Here in The Netherlands, anyone occupying a ‘responsible’ social position would be putting that at risk, were he or she to reproduce the arguments used in Roberts’ Austrian speech. I was once told by a prominent high-level member of the Dutch political system, himself sympathetic to my writing, that my published opinion about the Atlantic alliance had placed me outside the bounds of reasonableness where he and his colleagues could be expected to take me seriously. Even before George W. Bush’s speech before the graduating class of Westpoint, and the National Security Strategy of the United States document following it in 2002, I had concluded that the erstwhile alliance had been nullified since a common goal is by definition the basis for an alliance, and that a system of political and military vassalage was as the substitute on offer from Washington, with a structure of command replacing consultation.

     There are constant signals in Dutch public life where the bounds of reasonable discourse on the United States, and also Israel, lie. Take the recent example of a former Dutch prime minister, Dries van Agt, who distinguished himself as Europe’s envoy to Tokyo and Washington after his service in The Netherlands, and who has adopted the Palestinian cause, regretting his own blindness to what was already happening in Israel when he headed the Dutch government (in 1977-82). His recent book on the subject was lambasted in what is supposed to be the ‘quality newspaper’ of The Netherlands with irrelevant references to his Catholic upbringing substituting for an attempt to reproduce its arguments. There are just simply things that cannot be discussed honestly. At the top of that list, besides Israel’s warcrimes, is the fact that the United States has undergone a metamorphosis from being a prominent architect of a relatively peaceful and stable world order in the three decades following World War II to being the biggest threat to world order today. Former American military officers, like Andrew Bacevich or venerable social scientists, like Chalmers Johnson, may decry what they without hesitation identify as militarism and imperialism, but for European Atlanticists such labels remain anathema.

     It is staring Europeans in the face, Mr. Roberts, as much as it is in yours. But let me put a few things forward that could be considered mitigating circumstances. While traditional religion in its Calvinist or Catholic forms used to play a role as a guide for determining moral truth, guidance about such a thing in the much more secularized Europe of the past half century has required an alternative source of basic beliefs. While the Cold War alliance could of course not be called a substitute religion, the amalgam of notions about fundamental freedom, political decency, human rights, rationality and progress, with which the alliance was identified, in contrast to a defeated Nazi tyranny and the Cold War communist threat, was a sturdy alternative. Far more than a security guarantee, the relationship with the United States was the most important conceptual pillar supporting global order in the elite European mind. You still see this reflected in the ubiquitous phrase “it does not work without America!” on Dutch editorial pages. Asking staunch Atlanticists to accept the fact that with the loss of shared political purposes the Atlantic alliance has ended could be compared to asking pious believers to abandon their faith in God.

     All right, cynicism and opportunism are not alien to European elites, and among especially their younger members ‘belief’ in the United States is more habit than faith. But bad habits are cured by first having them placed in perspective. Roberts reminds us of the deplorable role played by the American media, very much including the New York Times, in making all that has gone wrong appear acceptable. But Europeans, by and large, are dependent on those same media for their information and perspective. What constitutes world news, and how to interpret it, is largely determined in American editorial offices. There is no European ‘public sphere’. The only non-business newspaper read throughout the continent is edited by the New York Times. Even developments in fellow member states two borders away inside the European Union are filtered through that channel. And European publishers hardly ever buy and translate each other’s ‘current affairs’ or serious political non-fiction books. The trade on the book fairs in Frankfurt and London is from English to everything else, and then only if the work has achieved American bestseller status. It is uncanny how on Dutch TV programs that purport to explain what is happening, the questions addressed and the answers most likely to dominate, are entirely predictable for anyone who follows mainstream American commentary closely.

     Paul Craig Roberts is fully aware how difficult it is for Europe to escape from its subservient relationship with the United States. “The US is accustomed to calling the shots and reacts harshly when it meets opposition.” Washington “uses financial sanctions and threatened leaks of sensitive personal information gathered by its worldwide spy networks to discipline any independent-minded European leader. Europe is essentially captive and forced to put US interests ahead of its own.” NATO provides the perfect illustration of this. It is interesting how public assessments that see NATO as not at all serving European interests, but as a liability, must come from Americans. William Pfaff, an American columnist based in Paris, has been presenting watertight arguments to that effect for years. One of the saddest post-Cold-War turns of events has been that those who could have made a difference in the decision making centers of the European Union were mesmerized by American triumphalism and neoliberal priorities for the expansion of the Union, and wasted the opportunity to make a huge move in the direction of collective security by asking Russia to join a reconstructed NATO.

     The American military-industrial complex and war making machine lead lives of their own, not under control of the American public, its congressional representatives, or the president. The United States needs war for domestic political reasons. This is where American goals diverge most widely from those of Europe. Roberts lists some of the most recent developments in this context: Obama has “started a new war in Pakistan; tolerated or supported a military coup that overthrew the elected president of Honduras; is constructing 7 new US military bases in Colombia, South America; is going forward with various military projects designed to secure US global military hegemony, such as the Prompt Global Strike initiative that intends to provide the US with the capability to strike anywhere on earth within 60 minutes; is working to destabilize the government in Iran, with military attack still on the table as an option; supports America’s new military African Command; intends to encircle Russia with US bases in former constituent parts of the Soviet Union”. And he reminds us that the NATO serves as a pool of “mercenaries in US wars of aggression”. On this subject see also Jan Sampiemon’s new column on the NATO Zombies in their Afghan vicious circle.
This will come come across as overly harsh for the majority of the European elites Roberts wishes to reach, because their denial is nurtured by continuous propaganda about Russia, Iran, Venezuela, or for that matter China; propaganda that has been mistaken for analysis. They have not bothered to look in the kitchens of American think tanks where much of it is produced. What will also come acrosss as exaggerated is Roberts’ alert against the grand sounding concepts of “self-determination and the sovereignty of the people” used by the Obama administration as “useful platitudes with which to mask the hegemonic interests of the US government. US money and propaganda foment “velvet” or “color” revolutions that turn more countries into American puppet states”. And at home they “disguise the overthrow of US civil liberties, such as habeas corpus, due process, and prohibitions against torture and pre-emptive arrest”.

     What can one say to European doubters? Stop for a moment, and think again. Do some homework. Go back and trace what actually happened when Georgia thought it could take on Russia. Re-evaluate the possible motives of Moscow and Teheran, and, for that matter, Beijing, after peeling away the layer of common interpretation to the extent this can be identified as propagandistic deposit. Are these governments by nature expansionist? Are they evil? If a campaign against terrorism is what must continue to tie the United States and Europe together strategically, ask: how are terrorists made?

     The speech by Paul Craig Roberts (which you can read here) is a genuine appeal by an American patriot. “Americans need criticism from Europe … Americans need outside help in order to reach an understanding of the immorality of their government’s policies … [w]ithout Europe’s help, Americans cannot regain the spirit of liberty and tolerance bequeathed to them by their Founding Fathers.” And he ends: “Europe, whose culture was wrecked by 20th century wars, Europe, which has experienced tyranny from the left-wing and from the right-wing, has a right to its own voice.”

     To which I would add: Especially if you continue to be grateful for the American help in rescuing Europe in the last century, you owe the American people a debt that you can try to pay by helping their out-of-control political system see where it is heading.
 
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West andHow America Was Lost.