Archive for the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa Category

AIIB, a paradigm power shift [Xinhua]

Posted in Beijing, Brazil, BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, China, Early 21st Century global capitalist financial crisis' US origins, Economic crisis & decline, Economy, France, Germany, India, Italy, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, US imperialism, USA, Wall Street on April 2, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

BEIJING, March 31 (Xinhua) — …As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, 46 countries had applied to be founders of the bank, but the United States and Japan have remained on the sidelines. The financial authority of China’s Taiwan said on Tuesday afternoon that the island has submitted a letter of intent on joining the mainland-proposed AIIB. Founders will be finalized on April 15.

TIMELINE

The bank was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in October 2013.

A year later, and 21 Asian nations, including China, India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Singapore had signed an agreement to establish the bank, headquartered in Beijing.

On March 12, 2015, Britain applied to join the AIIB as a prospective founding member, the first major western country to do so. France, Italy and Germany quickly followed suit.

Other nations will still be able to join the bank after the deadline, but only as ordinary members.

Negotiations on the AIIB charter are expected to conclude in the middle of the year and the bank should be formally established by the end of this year.

BUILDING FOR SUCCESS

As its name suggests, the AIIB will finance infrastructure–airports, mobile phone towers, railways, roads–in Asia.

There is a yawning infrastructure funding gap in Asia. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) pegged the hole at about eight trillion U.S. dollars between 2010 and 2020.

The World Bank and Asian Development Bank are more focused on poverty reduction and their funds alone are insufficient to bridge the gap, according to Hans-Paul Burkner, chair of the Boston Consulting Group.

While both the ADB and World Bank focus on a broad range of development programs including agriculture, education and gender equality, the AIIB will concentrate on infrastructure alone. The IMF, World Bank and ADB have all welcomed the AIIB initiative and see room for collaboration

The bank will have an authorized capital [of] 100 billion U.S. dollars and the initial subscribed capital is expected to be around 50 billion dollars. Although hardly enough to meet demand, it will still be a helpful boost.

GOOD FOR ASIA; GOOD FOR ALL

As the first China-proposed multilateral financial institution that has included developed nations as members, the AIIB offers an opportunity to test China’s ability to play its role as a responsible country, analysts said.

The initiative followed years of frustrated attempts to reform the existing international financial institutions, which have failed to reflect the changing landscape of global economy.

The existing economic system, shaped by the Bretton Woods agreement seven decades ago, is dominated by western countries and increasingly unrepresentative of the world’s economic architecture. Since the global financial crisis, emerging markets are becoming the main development drivers. Asian countries now make up one third of the global economy.

As global economic power shifts to emerging markets, it is only fair that they should play a bigger role in global institutions. Burkner said, “if it is not happening, then it is important to create additional institutions which, to some extent, cooperate and compete with existing institutions.

“There will be cooperation and also some healthy competition with the ADB and the World Bank.”

Good for Asia; good for the world as a whole.

Jin Liqun, secretary general of the interim secretariat of the AIIB, regards the bank as a complement to, rather than a substitute for, the World Bank and the ADB. It will improve the existing international financial system, not overturn it, Jin said.

The AIIB is just the start. Jim O’Neil, coiner of the BRICs acronym and former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, believes there are plenty more areas where China needs to be drawn in.

With its Belt and Road initiatives, the AIIB and other entities (a joint development bank with BRICs partners Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa, for example) China is trying to make its own development beneficial to the whole continent.

After over three decades of fast expansion, benefiting from globalization and opening-up, China can now share the fruits of its development and build a “community of common destiny” through international and regional cooperation.

INTO THE UNKNOWN

Even after membership is finalized, many questions will remain. How will the AIIB be governed? What will be the decision-making process be? Wha t lending criteria will it adopt? Will its policies be transparent and address issues like the environment?

The answers to those questions will determine whether the bank stands or falls.

While details are pending, China has repeatedly stated that the AIIB will uphold high standards and learn from the best practices at existing multilateral financial institutions.

During an interview with Xinhua, Lou Jiwei said the bank will have a three-tier structure — a council, a board of directors and management, as well as a supervising mechanism to ensure sufficient, open and transparent policy-making.

The prime challenge for the AIIB is how to channel funds to the most productive projects while maintaining security of repayment.

Zhang Yuyan, chief of the institute of world economics and politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government think tank, believes that, since infrastructure projects usually have long funding cycles and great potential for waste, sustainable profitability will be the real test of the AIIB.

Rigorous consultation and skillful management to coordinate and balance various demands and interests among members will be of the essence, Zhang said. This will be challenging at the very least, with so many histories, cultures and development stages on show.

Edited by Zuo Shou

Article link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2015-03/31/c_134114065.htm

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China challenges US economic war against Russia [World Socialist Website]

Posted in BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, NATO, Neo-colonialism, Obama, Pentagon, Russia, SCO Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Sino-Russian, Syria, Ukraine, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, USSR, Wall Street on January 7, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Alex Lantier
23 December 2014
Directly challenging the NATO powers’ policy of cutting off credit to Russia to undermine the ruble and bankrupt the Russian economy, China is pledging to extend financial aid to Moscow.

On Saturday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed the need for mutual aid between China and Russia in remarks on the ruble crisis, which has seen a drastic 45 percent fall in its value against the dollar this year. “Russia has the capability and the wisdom to overcome the existing hardship in the economic situation,” Wang said. “If the Russian side needs it, we will provide necessary assistance within our capacity.”

On Sunday, Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng told Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV that Beijing would strengthen ties with Moscow in energy and manufacturing, predicting that Chinese-Russian trade would hit its target of $100 billion this year despite the ruble crisis. As the ruble’s value in dollars or euros swings wildly, Gao proposed moving away from the dollar in financing Chinese-Russian trade and instead using the Chinese currency, the yuan or renminbi.

Gao said China would focus on “fundamental factors such as how the two economies complement each other,” Reuters reported. “Capital investors may be more interested in a volatile stock or foreign exchange market. But in terms of concrete cooperation between the two nations, we shall have a balanced mentality and push forward those cooperations,” Gao said.

Yesterday, China Daily cited Li Jianmin of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences saying that aid to Russia could pass through channels like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) or the BRICS forum. Significantly, both the SCO (an alliance of China, Russia, and Central Asian states) and the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) exclude the United States and Europe.

Li noted that already last month, when Chinese and Russian premiers Li Keqiang and Dmitry Medvedev met in Kazakhstan, they signed extensive deals on railways, infrastructure and development in Russia’s Far East region, north of China. “Loans, cooperation in major projects, and participation in domestic infrastructure investment in Russia are options on the table,” he added. In one such deal last month, China signed a $400-billion, 30-year deal to buy Russian gas.

These offers of assistance cut across the economic war on Russia launched by US and European imperialism to punish Moscow for opposing their neo-colonial restructuring of Eurasia.
In retaliation for Russian support for President Bashar al-Assad against NATO’s proxy war in Syria and Russian opposition to the NATO-backed Ukrainian regime in Kiev, the NATO powers sought to financially strangle Russia. As Russian oil revenues fell in line with the fall in world oil prices and the ruble collapsed, they worked to cut off credit to Russia and demanded that Russia acquiesce to the Kiev regime.

The basic financial mechanism of this strategy was laid out in London’s Financial Times by Anders Aslund of the Petersen Institute for International Economics. “Russia has received no significant international financing—not even from Chinese state banks—because everybody is afraid of US financial regulators,” he wrote. With a yearly capital outflow of $125 billion, liquid foreign currency reserves of only $200 billion, and total foreign debts of $600 billion, Russia would run out of dollars and be bankrupted in as little as two years, Aslund calculated.

Now, however, Beijing appears to be accepting the risk of a showdown with the United States and publicly preparing to throw a financial lifeline to Russia. Chinese currency reserves of $3.89 trillion are the world’s largest and, on paper at least, allow Beijing to easily repay Russia’s debts.

Significantly, the calls of Wang and Gao to aid Russia came a day after a divided European Union (EU) summit on Russia last week. Though the EU supported US sanctions against Russia, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, French President François Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi all publicly opposed calls for more sanctions. Leading European newspapers also warned of the risk of a collapse of the Russian state…

…The economic conflicts erupting between the major powers over the oil crisis and the imperialist war drive in Eurasia testifies to the advanced state of the crisis of world capitalism, and the rising risk of world war.

Chinese aid to Russia, should it materialize, will exacerbate US conflict with China. Washington has tried to militarily encircle it through the “pivot to Asia,” allying with Japan, Australia, and India. Plans for war with China, both economic and military, are doubtless being pored over on Wall Street and in the Pentagon.

A year ago, in an article titled “China must not copy the Kaiser’s errors,” Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf warned China against any action that could be construed as a challenge to US global hegemony. He indicated that a Chinese policy replicating the German Kaiser’s challenge to British hegemony before the outbreak of World War I in 1914 would lead to a similar outcome: all-out conflict.

“If open conflict arrived, the US could cut off the world’s trade with China. It could also sequester a good part of China’s liquid foreign assets,” Wolf wrote, recalling that China’s “foreign currency reserves, equal to 40 percent of GDP are, by definition, held abroad.” Such naked theft of trillions of dollars that China has earned from trade with the United States and Europe would directly raise the prospect of a collapse of global trade and preparation for war between nuclear-armed powers.

With its ever more reckless and violent policies, US imperialism is vastly overplaying its hand, discrediting itself at home and fueling opposition from rival states. By driving Russia and China together, in particular, Washington is undoing what was long seen as a major achievement of US imperialist statecraft: the 1972 rapprochement between US President Richard Nixon and Chinese leader Mao Zedong, which turned China into a US ally against the former Soviet Union.

“Many Chinese people still view Russia as the big brother, and the two countries are strategically important to each other,” Renmin University Associate Dean Jin Canrong said, referring to Soviet backing for China as it fought the United States in the Korean War, shortly after the…Chinese Communist Party (CCP) came to power in 1949. “For the sake of national interests, China should deepen cooperation with Russia when such cooperation is in need.”

“Russia is an irreplaceable partner on the international stage,” the CCP-linked Global Times wrote in an editorial yesterday. “China must take a proactive attitude in helping Russia walk out of the current crisis.”

Edited by Zuo Shou

Article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/12/23/chin-d23.html

“Don’t count on N America” – Asian films’ dismal prospects in US market [Film Business Asia / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Sweet & Sour Cinema on April 8, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

An article which almost admits the fact that US films have a virtual monopoly in their own backyard — in the words quoted here, the culturally-chauvinist US market is euphemised as “parochial and difficult”. So much for ‘free trade’. – Zuo Shou

By Patrick Frater

Sun, 12 February 2012, 07:24 AM (HKT)
Industry News

Asian film producers have seen the North American market for their films shrink in recent years. But thinking that they will make a come-back any time soon, or that video-on-demand is going to create a new market, could be a mistake…

The North American market for foreign-language films was described by distributors as “parochial and difficult”…

…Speakers [at a Berlin seminar] tried to remain optimistic…while the market for foreign-language titles may have contracted or become more difficult…

…But they held little particular hope for Asian films in North America.

“Indian films are doing pretty [sic], but box office wise they are not as spectacular as they were a few years ago….I’m not sure why those results have tapered off, maybe there are more releases,” said Arentz.

“CJ America and [China Lion Film Distribution Inc] are playing theatres that don’t typically play foreign-language films, and they are both involved with AMC which is the number one theatrical circuit in the US, and the numbers, with a few exceptions, are pretty bad by and large. Wasn’t the Communist Party anniversary film part of the China Lion line up? I can’t imagine there would be too much audience for that.

“Asian cinema was a lot more exciting in the 1990s, at least for American audiences, the whole classic period of Hong Kong cinema in the 1980s took a while. But there have been exceptions. [Magnolia Pictures] had a very successful release of MIIKE Takashi 三池崇史’s Thirteen Assassins 十三人の刺客 (2010).”

Tribeca’s Gilmore found that an troublesome example. “[Unfortunately] Thirteen Assassins gave the idea that companies could buy Asian genre films and that they would work, and there have been a lot of failures that cost a lot of money,” he said.

“But there is also the sense that there is a lot of opportunity to do things. I’m really interested in BRIC films and think that there is a number of films from the BRIC [from Brazil, Russia, India, China] countries that should have audiences and can find audiences. They actually have a spectrum of aesthetic to them. It is not just about one kind of Indian film, or one kind of Chinese film. And I think that maybe there will be some gateways that open for films that walk the line between mass distribution and niche distribution. We are constantly figuring out what are the strategies that go between the two, how to platform it, without over-spending on marketing.”

Ryan WERNER, from IFC Films said: “For a lot of the Asian films that we’ve done, for whatever reason we’ve not been able to get them out as quickly as we’d like. And they are already on DVD in some market in the world. And I think, more than other audiences, this kind finds the DVDs quicker than others, and that definitely has an impact…

Excerpted by Zuo Shou

Full article link: http://www.filmbiz.asia/news/dont-count-on-n-america

China and the BRICS summit in Delhi [Strategic Culture Foundation]

Posted in Brazil, BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, China, EU, European Union, India, Iran, Russia, Sanctions as weapon of war, US imperialism, USA on April 7, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Vladimir Portyakov
Mar. 31, 2012

– Excerpted –

The fourth summit of the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) took place in Delhi on March 28-29. The summit ended with the participants signing a joint declaration, summarizing cooperation between the BRICS member states and outlining the prospects for further cooperation. China thanks to its fast-growing economy often referred to as the BRICS` ‘informal leader’, this time managed to regain its ‘best of the equals’ status….

…the BRICS nations have confirmed their readiness to expand the role of their group of emerging economies on the global financial scene. The entire text of the Delhi declaration focuses on this very agreement. Its message can be interpreted in the following way: the macroeconomic recovery to a great extent depends not on the developed economies alone but on the developing countries and their cooperation with stronger economies as well.

We may even say that the BRICS summit in Delhi marked another step towards the internationalization of yuan. This has long been a widely discussed issue in Chinese and international politics- and economy-oriented media. A new term for yuan was introduced in the West – the red buck. Meanwhile, one should be aware that the internationalization of yuan will take much time and effort. In early 2010 the US dollar and the euro accounted for 65% and 25% of the world`s foreign-exchange reserves respectively. The British pound sterling and yen accounted for approximately 3.5% each. The IMF and China’s Development Research Center of the State Council have recently published a report titled China 2030: Building a Modern, Harmonious and Creative High Income Society, which predicts the Chinese yuan to become an international currency after 2025, and to account for 12% of the world’s foreign-exchange reserves by 2035.

There are also some other points in the Delhi declaration that could have been initiated by Beijing. A section dealing with ‘green economy’ deserves special attention. The authors of the declaration insist that the implementation of this kind of economy should not be an end in itself.

“We, – the BRICS leaders say, – do not approve any obstacles to trade cooperation made under the pretext of abiding to the principles of a green economy”. In other words, the BRICS have unanimously rejected the EU scheme to charge airlines for carbon emissions. As we know, China strongly refused to pay a EU carbon tax…

…Iran was also on the agenda of the BRICS summit. The declaration insists on a peaceful solution to the problem, adding that Iran itself could contribute to the settlement.

Speaking on March 28 Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming confirmed his country`s independent position on the Iranian problem. He said that honoring all UNSC resolutions China would maintain trade ties with other countries, Iran included. “We (BRICS nations) are not obliged to follow any domestic laws against Iran,” Deming said, commenting on sanctions proposed by the US and the EU against countries purchasing crude oil from Iran. Nevertheless, an urgent visit paid by the Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to the Gulf countries in January proves that China, which received 25 million tons of oil from Iran in 2010, is still considering alternative routes.

The 4th BRICS summit is over but it looks that its results will have a significant impact on the global politics and economy.
______________
Vladimir PORTYAKOV – Doctor of Economics, Professor, deputy head of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Full article link: http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2012/03/31/china-and-the-brics-summit-in-delhi.html

China’s shadow banking: not so bad [Financial Times / BeyondBRICS]

Posted in Anti-China propaganda exposure, BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, China, Economy on October 30, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Rahul Jacob

October 17, 2011

* Excerpted *

“Wenzhou has long been known for the unbridled entrepreneurial flair of its native businessmen. But, as people around the world have started to worry about a slowdown in the Chinese economy, Wenzhou in chameleon-like fashion has purportedly become an example of everything that is wrong with China’s economy…”

Article goes on to cite commentators and statistics showing that China’s underground lending (aka “shadow banking”) is not a hidden cancer in the Chinese economy which will lead to the economy’s imminent collapse, as some hyperbole-slinging financial journalists have alleged. While statistics point to a slowdown in its economic growth, Chinese economic indicators still show considerable growth (in contrast to the Western economies and other Asian neighbors).

Full FT article link: http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2011/10/17/chinas-shadow-banking-not-so-bad/?ftcamp=traffic/email/content/booster//memmkt#axzz1br2WFpvU

“The age of the Reaper” by Pepe Escobar – War-mongering on an international scale [Voltaire Network]

Posted in Afghan quagmire, Afghanistan, Brazil, BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, China, Colombia, Germany, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, NATO, NATO invasion, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Psychological warfare, Russia, Somalia, South Africa, Syria, UNSC, US "War on Terror", US drone strikes, US imperialism, USA, Yemen on October 6, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

— Arrogance and shameless doublespeak reign supreme in the world of diplomacy. Respect for international law and human rights is a farce. Never has this come across so blatantly as in President Obama’s speech on 21 September before the UN General Assembly. Revealing in terms of the hypocrisy and imperialist interests that pervade Washington’s policies all over the world, the speech was also Obama’s crowning moment as an Israeli doormat. —

Sept. 23, 2011

The Reaper was not formally invited to the United Nations General Assembly annual bash in New York.

In ancient times, he used to be known as the Grim Reaper. Grim the wily fellow still is – always under many guises. Reinventing the concept of death from above, he may call himself MQ-9 Reaper and strut his stuff equipped with Hellfire missiles.

Or he may wear a business suit and incorporate the persona of the president of the United States.

* Get me to the target on time *

Barack Obama, from his UN podium, told the world, “Let there be no doubt: the tide of war is receding.”

Neo-Orwellian spin doctors could hardly top him on this one. Referring to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s operation of bombing Libya into democracy, Obama stressed, “This is how the international community is supposed to work.”

Virtually on cue, that usual suspect, a “NATO official”, leaked that the alliance had just extended its mission to bomb Libya for another 90 days before the green card expired next Tuesday. Of course, the smart NATO bombs only recognize bad guys, and don’t commit collateral damage.

As for the “international community” – which now comprises only NATO members and Persian Gulf monarchies, to the exclusion of everybody else – it will still “have to respond to the calls for change” in the Middle East, according to Obama. Signaled targets, not surprisingly, were Syria and Iran.

And then, also on cue, the usual “US officials” leaked that the Obama administration was assembling what the Washington Post described as “a constellation of secret drone bases for counter-terrorism operations in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula”. Signaled targets, already engaged, are Somalia and Yemen.

As for the excuse, no surprises; it’s that same old al-Qaeda bogeyman. Once again, industrial-military complex “defense contractors” started uncorking their Moet.

* A killer low-cost airline *

As these contractors know so well, Washington is now involved in no less than six wars – or “kinetic” whatever, as the White House defines them – in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

For our friend the MQ-9 Reaper, the sky, literally, is the limit. He’s expanding his footprint from AfPak to the whole of East Africa up to the Gulf of Aden. He’ll now be based in Ethiopia as well as in the Seychelles, that lovely Indian Ocean archipelago famous for its fabulous beaches and 10-star [sic] resorts.

The “hunter-killer” fleet of MQ-9 Reapers – that is, capable in Pentagonese of both “surveillance” and “strike” – parked in a hangar near the main passenger terminal at Victoria, in the Seychelles, will bring to a whole new level the concept of low-budget airline.

Although they are being depicted as innocent toys flying over Somalia “to support ongoing counter-terrorism efforts”, bottles of supplemental Moet can be bet that sooner or later the exploits of this killer low-cost airline will hit the headlines.

Naturally, no MQ-9 Reapers will be bombing the al-Qaeda-linked Libyans formerly known as rebels who are now exercising total military control of Tripoli.

This will only happen after Libyan hardcore Islamists start getting into their Talibanization groove – be it as part of a Transitional National Council government or as a guerrilla force fighting NATO. The Pentagon always respects the motto of taking better care of its future enemies than its current friends.

In this newspeak-drenched “improved circles of surveillance” universe, there’s hardly a thought about collateral damage. Even an establishment think-tank such as the Brookings Institution has stressed that for every “terrorist” killed, “10 or so civilians also died”. More realistic estimates point to a ratio of 15 civilians to every “terrorist” biting the dust.

And this while the Pentagon-promoted, American Playstation way of war never ceases to be upgraded; Reapers or sons of Reapers will soon perform their chores by themselves, using just state of the art software and alien to human intervention.

Which bring us once again to Obama.

* This freedom is not for you *

At his UN pulpit, Obama stressed, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” This does not apply to Palestinians – because if he said it did the current president of the United States believes he would hit the unemployment lines in November 2012…

…Obama also did not even try to mention, even in passing, the pre-1967 borders of a future Palestinian state – something that virtually the whole planet supports. No wonder, considering that recently Obama could not even persuade the Israeli government to stop building settlements on stolen land.

As far as Washington’s position on the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN is concerned, torrents of bites [sic] have tried to explain how the US must abide by Israel’s demands while pretending it’s not at Israel’s beck and call.

On the eve of a showdown at the UN Security Council, Palestine had secured the nine votes out of 15 it needed to be recognized as a state – and thus win at least a resounding moral victory, even considering the inevitable US veto.

Significantly enough, the votes were by the five BRICS emerging powers – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – plus Bosnia, Gabon and Nigeria. Germany, Colombia and the US were poised to vote against it. So inevitably Washington unleashed major hardcore pressure on Bosnia (a Muslim-majority country), Gabon and Nigeria (a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, OIC).

It does not matter that the idea of a Palestinian state is a virtual consensus among the international community – the real flesh and blood one, not that ghost brandished by Washington.

Yet a glance at the map, comparing the erosion of Palestinian land from 1946 to 2011, is enough to show Israel has already killed the two-state solution, regardless of what happens at the UN.

What matters are the “facts on the ground” of Israel as the supreme dominatrix of US foreign policy as well as the US Congress being Israel’s bitch. What matters is Obama trying to entice Muslims with flowery rhetoric in Istanbul and Cairo just to meekly submit, and when the going gets tough, to feel the dominatrix whip.

And all this while from northern Africa to the Middle East multitudes are fighting for the same “freedom” Americans (and Israelis) apparently enjoy, but are forever denied to Palestinians.

Whatever happens at the UN, Israel’s got the deal of the century. Under the cover of a return of the living dead “peace process”, successive Israeli governments get to steal Palestinian land, build illegal settlements and procrastinate, while the US pays the heavy political price.

Washington not only pays for the settlements but fights virtually all of Israel’s enemies, lethally antagonizes 1.3 billion Muslims all over the world, spends trillions of dollars and goes bankrupt deploying a “war on terror”.

Which brings us to yet another impersonation by the Grim Reaper.

He may be a MQ-9 in AfPak or in the new Seychelles-Somalia killer route. He may be channeled by the president of the United States. And he may answer by the name of Bibi. He’s here, there, everywhere. Fear the Reaper. Or else …

[Edited by Zuo Shou]

Article link: http://www.voltairenet.org/The-age-of-the-Reaper

“Why Regime Change in Libya?” by Ismael Hossein-zadeh [Globalresearch.ca]

Posted in Africa, Algeria, Bahrain, Bolivia, Brazil, BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Cameron, Chile, China, Cuba, DPR Korea, Ecuador, Egypt, Evo Morales, Fidel Castro, France, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hugo Chavez, IMF - International Monetary Fund, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kim Jong Il, Libya, Morocco, NATO, Nicaragua, Nigeria, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Russia, Sarkozy, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Syria, Tunisia, U.K., US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, Venezuela, WTO, Zionism on September 19, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

June 20, 2011

In light of the brutal death and destruction wrought on Libya by the relentless US/NATO bombardment, the professed claims of “humanitarian concerns” as grounds for intervention can readily be dismissed as a blatantly specious imperialist ploy in pursuit of “regime change” in that country.

There is undeniable evidence that contrary to the spontaneous, unarmed and peaceful protest demonstrations in Egypt, Tunisia and Bahrain, the rebellion in Libya has been nurtured, armed and orchestrated largely from abroad, in collaboration with expat opposition groups and their local allies at home. Indeed, evidence shows that plans of “regime change” in Libya were drawn long before the insurgency actually started in Benghazi; it has all the hallmarks of a well-orchestrated civil war [1].

It is very tempting to seek the answer to the question “why regime change in Libya?” in oil/energy. While oil is undoubtedly a concern, it falls short of a satisfactory explanation because major Western oil companies were already extensively involved in the Libyan oil industry. Indeed, since Gaddafi relented to the US-UK pressure in 1993 and established “normal” economic and diplomatic relations with these and other Western countries, major US and European oil companies struck quite lucrative deals with the National Oil Corporation of Libya.

So, the answer to the question “why the imperialist powers want to do away with Gaddafi” has to go beyond oil, or the laughable “humanitarian concerns.” Perhaps the question can be answered best in the light of the following questions: why do these imperialist powers also want to overthrow Hugo Cavez of Venezuela, Fidel Castro (and/or his successors) of Cuba, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Rafael Correa Delgado of Ecuador,Kim Jong-il of North Korea, Bashar Al-assad of Syria and Evo Morales of Bolivia? Or, why did they overthrow Mohammad Mossadeq of Iran, Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala, Kusno Sukarno of Indonesia, Salvador Allende of Chile, Sandinistas in Nicaragua, Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti and Manuel Zelaya in Honduras?

What does Gaddafi have in common with these nationalist/populist leaders? The question is of course rhetorical and the answer is obvious: like them Gaddafi is guilty of insubordination to the proverbial godfather of the world: US imperialism, and its allies. Like them, he has committed the cardinal sin of challenging the unbridled reign of global capital, of not following the economic “guidelines” of the captains of global finance, that is, of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and World Trade Organization; as well as of refusing to join US military alliances in the region. Also like other nationalist/populist leaders, he advocates social safety net (or welfare state) programs—not for giant corporations, as is the case in imperialist countries, but for the people in need.

This means that the criminal agenda of Messrs Obama, Cameron, Sarkozy, and their complicit allies to overthrow or kill Mr. Gaddafi and other “insubordinate” proponents of welfare state programs abroad is essentially part of the same evil agenda of dismantling such programs at home. While the form, the context and the means of destruction maybe different, the thrust of the relentless attacks on the living standards of the Libyan, Iranian, Venezuelan or Cuban peoples are essentially the same as the equally brutal attacks on the living conditions of the poor and working people in the US, UK, France and other degenerate capitalist countries. In a subtle (but unmistakable) way they are all part of an ongoing unilateral class warfare on a global scale — whether they are carried out by military means and bombardments, or through the apparently “non-violent” processes of judicial or legislative means does not make a substantial difference as far as the nature or the thrust of the attack on people’s lives orlivelihoods are concerned.

In their efforts to consolidate the reign of big capital worldwide, captains of global finance use a variety of methods. The preferred method is usually non-military, that is, the neoliberal strategies of Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs), carried out by representatives of big business disguised as elected officials, or by the multilateral institutions such as the IMF and the WTO. This is what is currently happening in the debt- and deficit-ridden economies of the United States and Europe. But if a country like Libya (or Venezuela or Iran or Cuba) does not go along with the neoliberal agenda of “structural adjustments,” of outsourcing and privatization,and of allowing their financial system to be tied to the network of global banking cartel, then the military option is embarked upon to carry out the neoliberal agenda.

The powerful interests of global capitalism do not seem to feel comfortable to dismantle New Deal economics, Social Democratic reforms and welfare state programs in the core capitalist countries while people in smaller, less-developed countries such as Libya, Venezuela or Cuba enjoy strong, state-sponsored social safety net programs such as free or heavily-subsidized education and health care benefits. Indeed, guardians ofthe worldwide market mechanism have always been intolerant of any “undue” government intervention in the economic affairs of any country in the world. “Regimented economies,” declared President Harry Truman in a speech at Baylor University (1947), were the enemy of free enterprise, and “unless we act, and act decisively,” he claimed, those regimented economies would become “the pattern of the next century.” To fend off that danger, Truman urged that “the whole world should adopt the American system.” The system of free enterprise, he went on, “can survive in America only if it becomes a world system” [2].

Before it was devastated by the imperialist-orchestrated civil war and destruction, Libya had the highest living standard in Africa. Using the United Nations statistics, Jean-Paul Pougala of Dissident Voice reports,

“The country now ranks 53rd on the HDI [Human Development Index] index, better than all other African countries and also better than the richer and Western-backed Saudi Arabia. . . . Although the media often refers to youth unemployment of 15 to 30 percent, it does not mention that in Libya, in contrast to other countries, all have their subsistence guaranteed. . . . The government provides all citizens with free health care and [has] achieved high coverage in the most basic health areas. . . . The life expectancy rose to 74.5 years and is now the highest in Africa. . . . The infant mortality rate declined to 17 deaths per 1,000 births and is not nearly as high as in Algeria (41) and also lower than in Saudi Arabia (21).

“The UNDP [United Nations Development Program] certified that Libya has also made ‘a significant progress in gender equality,’ particularly in the fields of education and health, while there is still much to do regarding representation in politics and the economy. With a relative low ‘index of gender inequality’ the UNDP places the country in the Human Development Report 2010 concerning gender equality at rank 52 and thus also well ahead of Egypt (ranked 108), Algeria (70), Tunisia (56), Saudi Arabia (ranked 128) and Qatar (94)” [3].

It is true that after resisting the self-centered demands and onerous pressures from Western powers for more than thirty years, Gaddafi relented in 1993 and opened the Libyan economy to Western capital, carried out a number of neoliberal economic reforms, and granted lucrative business/investment deals to major oil companies of the West.

But, again, like the proverbial godfather, US/European imperialism requires total, unconditional subordination; half-hearted, grudging compliance with the global agenda of imperialism is not enough. To be considered a real “ally,” or a true “client state,” a country has to grant the US the right to “guide” its economic, geopolitical and foreign policies, that is, to essentiallyforgo its national sovereignty. Despite some economic concessions since the early 1990s, Gaddafi failed this critical test of “full compliance” with the imperialist designs in the region.

For example, he resisted joining a US/NATO-sponsored military alliance in the region. Libya (along with Syria) are the only two Mediterranean nations and the sole remaining Arab states that are not subordinated to U.S. and NATO designs for control of the Mediterranean Sea Basin and the Middle East. Nor has Libya (or Syria) participated in NATO’s almost ten-year-old Operation Active Endeavor naval patrols and exercises in the Mediterranean Sea and neither is a member of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue military partnership which includes most regional countries: Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania [4].

To the chagrin of US imperialism, Libya’s Gaddafi also refused to join the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), designed to control valuable resources in Africa, safeguard trade and investment markets in the region, and contain or evict China from North Africa. “When the US formed AFRICOM in 2007, some 49 countries signed on to the US military charter for Africa but one country refused: Libya. Such a treacherous act by Libya’s leader Moummar Qaddafi would only sow the seeds for a future conflict down the road in 2011” [5].

Furthermore, by promoting trade, development and industrialization projects on a local, national, regional or African level, Gaddafi was viewed as an obstacle to the Western powers’ strategies of unhinderedtrade and development projects on a global level. For example, Gaddafi’s Libya played a leading role in “connecting the entire [African] continent by telephone, television, radio broadcasting and several other technological applications such as telemedicine and distance teaching. And thanks to the WMAX radio bridge, a low cost connection was made available across the continent, including in rural areas” [3].

The idea of launching a pan-African system of technologically advanced network of telecommunication began in the early 1990s, “when 45 African nations established RASCOM (Regional African Satellite Communication Organization) so that Africa would have its own satellite and slash communication costs in the continent. This was a time when phone calls to and from Africa were the most expensive in the world because of the annual$500 million fee pocketed by Europe for the use of its satellites like Intelsat for phone conversations, including those within the same country. . . . An African satellite only cost a onetime payment of $400 million and the continent no longer had to pay a $500 million annual lease” [3].

In pursuit of financing this project, the African nations frequently pleaded with the IMF and the World Bank for assistance. As the empty promises of these financial giants dragged on for 14 years,

“Gaddafi put an end to [the] futile pleas to the western ‘benefactors’ with their exorbitant interest rates. The Libyan guide put $300 million on the table; the African Development Bank added$50 million more and the West African Development Bank a further $27 million – and that’s how Africa got its first communications satellite on 26 December 2007.

“China and Russia followed suit and shared their technology and helped launch satellites for South Africa, Nigeria, Angola, Algeria and a second African satellite was launched in July 2010. The first totally indigenously built satellite and manufactured on African soil, in Algeria, is set for 2020. This satellite is aimed at competing with the best in the world, but at ten times less the cost, a real challenge.

“This is how a symbolic gesture of a mere $300 million changed the life of an entire continent. Gaddafi’s Libya cost the West, not just depriving it of $500 million per year but the billions of dollars in debt and interest that the initial loan would generate for years to come and in an exponential manner, thereby helping maintain an occult system in order to plunder the continent”[3].

Architects of global finance, represented by the imperialist governments of the West, also viewed Gaddafi as a spoiler in the area of international or global money and banking. The forces of global capital tend to prefer a uniform, contiguous, or borderless global market to multiple sovereign markets at the local, national, regional or continental levels.Not only Gaddafi’s Libya maintained public ownership of its own central bank, and the authority to create its own national money, but it also worked assiduously to establish an African Monetary Fund, an African Central Bank, and an African Investment Bank.

The $30 billion of the Libyan money frozen by the Obama administration belong to the Central Bank of Libya, which

“had been earmarked as the Libyan contribution to three key projects which would add the finishing touches to the African Federation – the African Investment Bank in Syrte(Libya), the establishment in 2011 of the African Monetary Fund to be based in Yaoundé (Cameroon) . . ., and the Abuja-based African Central Bank in Nigeria, which when it starts printing African money will ring the death knell for the CFA franc [the French currency] through which Paris has been able to maintain its hold on some African countries for the last fifty years. It is easy to understand the French wrath against Gaddafi.

“The African Monetary Fund is expected to totally supplant the African activities of the International Monetary Fund which, with only $25 billion, was able to bring an entire continent to its knees and make it swallow questionable privatization like forcing African countries to move from public to private monopolies. No surprise then that on 16-17 December 2010, the Africans unanimously rejected attempts by Western countries to join the African Monetary Fund, saying it was open only to African nations” [3].

Western powers also viewed Gaddafi as an obstacle to their imperial strategies for yet another reason: standing in the way of their age-old policies of “divide and rule.” To counter Gaddafi’s relentless efforts to establish a United States of Africa, the European Union tried to create the Union for the Mediterranean (UPM) region. “North Africa somehow had to be cut off from the rest of Africa, using the old tired racist clichés of the 18th and 19th centuries, which claimed that Africans of Arab origin were more evolved and civilized than the rest of the continent. This failed because Gaddafi refused to buy into it. He soon understood what game was being played when only a handful of African countries were invited to join the Mediterranean grouping without informing the African Union but inviting all 27 members of the European Union.” Gaddafi also refused to buy into other imperialist-inspired/driven groupings in Africa such as ECOWAS, COMESA, UDEAC, SADC and the Great Maghreb, “which never saw the light of day thanks to Gaddafi who understood what was happening” [3].

Gaddafi further earned the wrath of Western powers for striking extensive trade and investment deals with BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), especially with China. According to Beijing’s Ministry of Commerce, China’s contracts in Libya (prior to imperialism’s controlled demolition of that country) numbered no less than 50 large projects, involving contracts in excess of $18 billion. Even a cursory reading of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) strategic briefings shows that a major thrust of its mission is containment of China. “In effect, what we are witnessing here,” points out Patrick Henningsten, “is the dawn of a New Cold War between the US-EURO powers and China. This new cold war will feature many of the same elements of the long and protracted US-USSR face-off we saw in the second half of the 20th century. It will take place off shore, in places like Africa, South America, Central Asia and through old flashpoints like Korea and the Middle East” [5].

It is obvious (from this brief discussion) that Gaddafi’s sin for being placed on imperialism’s death row consists largely of the challenges he posed to the free reign of Western capital in the region, of his refusal to relinquish Libya’s national sovereignty to become another unconditional “client state” of Western powers. His removal from power is therefore designed to eliminate all “barriers” to the unhindered mobility of the US/European capital in the region by installing a more pliant regime in Libya.

Gaddafi’s removal from power would serve yet another objective of US/European powers: to shorten or spoil the Arab Spring by derailing their peaceful protests, containing their non-violent revolutions and sabotaging their aspirations for self-determination.Soon after being caught by surprise by the glorious uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, the imperialist powers (including the mini Zionist imperialism in Palestine) embarked on “damage control.” In pursuit of this objective, they adopted three simultaneous strategies. The first strategy was to half-heartedly “support” theuprisings in Egypt and Tunisia (of course, once they became unstoppable) in order to control them — hence, the military rule in those countries following the departure of Mubarak from Cairo and Ben Ali from Tunis. The second strategy of containment has been support and encouragement for the brutal crackdown of other spontaneous and peaceful uprisings in countries ruled by “client regimes,” for example, in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. And the third policy of sabotaging the Arab Spring has been to promote civil war and orchestrate chaos in countries such as Libya, Syria and Iran.

In its early stages of development, capitalism promoted nation-state and/or national sovereignty in order to free itself from the constraints of the church and feudalism. Now that the imperatives of the highly advanced but degenerate global finance capital require unhindered mobility in a uniform or borderless world, national sovereignty is considered problematic — especially in places like Libya, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Bolivia and other countries that are not ruled by imperialism’s “client states.” Why? Because unhindered global mobility of capital requiresdoing away with social safety net or welfare state programs; it means doing away with public domain properties or public sector enterprises and bringing them under the private ownership of the footloose-and-fancy-free global capital.

This explains why the corporate media, political pundits and other mouthpieces of imperialism are increasing talking about Western powers’ “responsibility to protect,” by which they mean that these powers have a responsibility to protect the Libyan (or Iranian or Venezuelan or Syrian or Cuban or …) citizens from their “dictatorial” rulers by instigating regime change and promoting “democracy” there. It further means that, in pursuit of this objective,the imperialist powers should not be bound by “constraints” of national sovereignty because, they argue, “universal democratic rights take primacy over national sovereignty considerations.” In a notoriously selective fashion, this utilitarian use of the “responsibility to protect” does not apply to nations or peoples ruled by imperialism’s client states such as Saudi Arabia or Bahrain. [6].

This also means that the imperialist war against peoples and states such as Libya and Venezuela is essentially part of the same class war against peoples and states in the belly of the beast, that is, in the United States and Europe. In every instance or place, whether at home or abroad, whether in Libya or California or Wisconsin or Greece, the thrust of the relentless global class war is the same: to do away with subsistence-level guarantees, or social safety net programs, and redistribute the national or global resources in favor of the rich and powerful, especially the powerful interests vested in the finance capital and the military capital.

There is no question that global capitalism has thus woven together the fates and fortunes of the overwhelming majority of the world population in an increasingly intensifying struggle for subsistence and survival. No one can tell when this majority of world population (the middle, lower-middle, poor and working classes) would come to the realization that their seemingly separate struggles for economic survival are essentially part and parcel of the same struggle against the same class enemies, the guardians of world capitalism. One thing is clear, however: only when they come to such a liberating realization, join forces together in a cross-border, global uprising against the forces of world capitalism, and seek to manage their economies independent of profitability imperatives of capitalist production — only then can they break free from the shackles of capitalism and control their future in a coordinated, people-centered mode of production, distribution and consumption.

Ismael Hossein-zadeh, author of The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave-Macmillan 2007), teaches economics at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa.

[Footnotes can be accessed at article’s webpage]

Article link: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25317