Archive for the Liberia Category

Why U.S. rulers fear new Asian investment bank “AIIB” [Workers World]

Posted in Africa, Bill Clinton, Bolivia, China, China-US relations, Economy, Ecuador, France, Germany, IMF - International Monetary Fund, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Neo-colonialism, U.K., US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, Venezuela, Wall Street, World War II on March 28, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Deirdre Griswold March 24, 2015

Britain, France, Italy and Germany have agreed to join China in establishing an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. China has already announced it will put up $50 billion in initial capital.

It is too early to say what role this bank will play in helping underdeveloped countries modernize their infrastructure. Negotiations among the principals on the bank’s structure and policies are expected to take place for at least a year. What will emerge cannot be predicted at this time.

But one thing is very clear: Wall Street and Washington are fuming over the fact that the European imperialist countries are joining in, despite strong U.S. pressure to stay out.

Criticism of the new development bank by the U.S. has begun, with government officials telling the media they fear it will undermine the “good work” done by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which, they say, have aided developing countries while imposing regulations to protect the environment and help the poor.

You’re choking on this outrageous lie right now? So are we.

Tons of both popular and scholarly analyses of these institutions, and especially of the “structural adjustment programs” they have forced down the throats of poor countries, show that the kind of “development” they foster has usually done just the opposite: stripped countries of needed government services, increased their indebtedness and hurt the environment, all to benefit the financial institutions of the imperialists.

Take the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, for example, which have been going through the most horrific public health emergency caused by the spread of the Ebola virus. These countries are so poor that, even after Liberia declared an end to new cases, a televised news report on the return of a score of students to classes pointed out that their grammar school, which when full serves 1,000 students, has no electricity and no running water.

On Dec. 22, The Lancet, a preeminent British medical journal, published a commentary called “The International Monetary Fund and the Ebola outbreak.” It reads: “A major reason why the outbreak spread so rapidly was the weakness of health systems in the region. … Since 1990, the IMF has provided support to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, for 21, 7 and 19 years, respectively, and at the time that Ebola emerged, all three countries were under IMF programs. However, IMF lending comes with strings attached — so-called ‘conditionalities’ — that require recipient governments to adopt policies that have been criticized for prioritizing short-term economic objectives over investment in health and education.”

The authors add that “economic reform programs by the IMF have required reductions in government spending, prioritization of debt service, and bolstering of foreign exchange reserves.” In other words, recipient countries — which should be receiving reparations for all the wealth extracted from them by colonial rule — have instead been forced to cut back on health care, education and other services in order to pay interest on loans.

* Bretton Woods, the IMF and World Bank *

Why does the U.S. ruling class feel particularly threatened by this new China-headed development bank? Because U.S. banks have dominated the financial architecture of the capitalist world for decades. The U.S. emerged from World War II as the undisputed global industrial and financial powerhouse, while Europe and Japan were in ruins and all regions involved in the world war were suffering.

The intention of the U.S. imperialist ruling class to translate its military and industrial muscle into financial domination over the rest of the world was made clear even before the war ended, with the founding of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944. This conclave in New Hampshire of the soon-to-be-victorious Allied powers was dominated by Washington and London. It established the “tradition” that the president of the World Bank would always come from the U.S.

One can read many critiques of these institutions. One was an interview by Greg Palast with Joseph Stieglitz, a former chief economist of the World Bank, member of Bill Clinton’s cabinet and chair of his Council of Economic Advisers who turned against his former bosses.

Stieglitz told Palast that when nations are “down and out, [the IMF] squeezes the last drop of blood out of them. They turn up the heat until, finally, the whole cauldron blows up.” He referred to these social explosions as “IMF riots,” pointing to what happened when the IMF eliminated food and fuel subsidies in Indonesia in 1998, when it made Bolivia increase water prices in 2000, and when the World Bank imposed a rise in cooking gas prices on Ecuador in February 2001. (“IMF’s Four Steps to Damnation,” The Observer, April 29, 2001)

In Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the people have tried to get rid of governments that served as tools of these imperialist-dominated financial institutions and have looked for other ways to climb out of poverty. In Latin America, the result has been ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) — an alliance of countries, led by Venezuela, that is trying to break free of the stranglehold over their economies imposed by U.S. imperialism for nearly two centuries.

The anti-colonial revolutions that began in Asia in the 1930s and spread throughout the so-called Third World in the 1950s and 1960s drove out the structures of direct colonial rule. Bretton Woods was the answer of the imperialists: Keep the masses of people enslaved to the banks.

Washington’s objections to the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank have nothing to do with anything except the fear of U.S. capitalists that they could be losing their grip on what has been their main tool for world domination. As a backup, of course, they have the Pentagon, making the struggle against imperialist war ever more urgent.

Article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/03/24/why-u-s-rulers-fear-new-asian-investment-bank/

Female peace activists say they’ll walk across the DMZ [The Hankyoreh / 한겨레]

Posted in DMZ, DPR Korea, Iraq, Ireland, Korean War, Liberia, south Korea, State Department, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War on March 15, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Mar.13,2015

~Diverse group of activists wish to make a dramatic statement for peace and human rights~

Eyes are on Korea after a group of well-known female peace activists announced they will walk across the DMZ on May 24 for peace on the peninsula. The event suggests that women around the world are becoming more involved in the Korean Peninsula, which remains trapped in the Cold War even 70 years after the end of World War II.

In its coverage of the press conference for the event, which was held at the UN headquarters in New York on Mar. 11, the Associated Press said that “prominent women” were “making a dramatic statement in Korean relations.”

Along with two recipients of the Nobel [P]eace [P]rize – Mairead Maguire and Leymah Gbowee – women from a variety of backgrounds will be joining in the walk, including writers, scholars, filmmakers, and humanitarian activists. Most of the 30 participants, who hail from 12 countries, will be paying their travel expenses out of pocket.

Gloria Steinem, 81, regarded as an icon of the women’s movement in the US, drew attention by signing on as honorary co-chair of the event.

Steinem, who played a leading role in the feminist movement in the US in the 1960s and 1970s and was active in social issues and the peace movement after that, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013, the greatest honor that the US President can bestow on a private individual.

Steinem has taken great interest in the event, as her attendance at the press conference suggests. “It’s hard to imagine a more physical symbol of the insanity of dividing human beings than this zone. To me, to walk across it, has huge, huge, huge importance,” Agence France-Presse quoted her as saying.

Steinem’s deep interest in Korean Peninsula issues reportedly goes back to the sad story of a high school friend who was received a draft notice to fight in the Korean War.

“The friend’s father had suffered from trauma in the Second World War, and when he saw his son’s draft notice, he decided he couldn’t allow him to go to war,” explained Chung Hyun-kyung, a professor at New York’s Union Theological Seminary and member of the event’s executive committee. “So he killed his son and then himself.”

“Steinem noted that women had made a big contribution to ending conflict in Northern Ireland and Liberia, and she asked why that wouldn’t work on the Korean Peninsula too,” Chung added.

Abigail Disney, granddaughter of Walt, began making movies after meeting the Liberian female peace activist Leymah Gbowee in 2006. In 2008, she shared the story of the country’s peace movement with “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” a documentary about Gbowee.

Other participants included Medea Benjamin, co-founded of the leading women’s anti-war group Code Pink, and Ann Wright, a former US Army colonel who resigned from the State Department in 2003 in protest of the Iraq War.

Among the Korean and Korean-American participants joining them were Rutgers University professor Suzy Kim, Korea Policy Institute co-founder Christine Ahn, Chung, and women’s rights activist Kim Ban-a.

Foreign nationals don’t need approval from the South Korean government to visit North Korea, but they would need to apply with the UN Command to pass through the DMZ. Foreign nationals traveling between North and South Korea must pass through South Korean government immigration procedures.

“If we are provided with specific plans, including their course [sic] while traveling in North [sic] Korea, then it’s a matter for discussion with the relevant agency,” a Unification Ministry official explained. 

By Park Hyun, Washington correspondent

Edited by Zuo Shou

Article link: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_national/682155.html

Charles Taylor worked for CIA in Liberia [BBC]

Posted in CIA, Liberia on March 17, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

19 January 2012

US authorities say former Liberian leader Charles Taylor worked for its intelligence agencies, including the CIA, the Boston Globe reports.

The revelation comes in response to a Freedom of Information request by the newspaper.

A Globe reporter told the BBC this is the first official confirmation of long-held reports of a relationship between US intelligence and Mr Taylor.

Mr Taylor is awaiting a verdict on his trial for alleged war crimes.

Rumours of CIA ties were fuelled in July 2009 when Mr Taylor himself told his trial, at the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in the Hague, that US agents had helped him escape from a maximum security prison in Boston in 1985.

The CIA at the time denied such claims as “completely absurd”.

But now the Defence Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s spy arm, has disclosed that its agents – and those of the CIA – did later use Mr Taylor as an informant, the Globe reports.

Globe reporter Bryan Bender told the BBC’s Network Africa programme that Pentagon officials refused to give details on exactly what role Mr Taylor played, citing national security.

But they did confirm that Mr Taylor first started working with US intelligence in the 1980s, the period when he rose to become one of the world’s most notorious warlords, Mr Bender says.

Mr Taylor was later elected Liberia’s president.

He has been accused of arming and controlling the RUF rebels in neighbouring Sierra Leone during a 10-year campaign of terror conducted largely against civilians.

If convicted, Mr Taylor would serve a prison sentence in the UK.

He denies charges of murder, rape and using child soldiers.

Article link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-16627628

Civilians massacred by Western-backed forces in Ivory Coast [World Socialist Web Site]

Posted in Africa, EU, European Union, France, Hillary Clinton, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, U.K., UNSC on April 17, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Originally published prior to Gbagbo’s capture this week – Zuo Shou 左手

By Ann Talbot
4 April 2011

Up to 1,000 civilians have reportedly been massacred in the town of Duékoué in the West African country of Ivory Coast. This is the biggest loss of life in the former French colony since the disputed presidential election in November 2010.

There has been a standoff between the two rival presidential candidates since the election. The stalemate has now descended into civil war, as Alassane Ouattara, who is backed by France, the United States and international bodies, tries to oust the incumbent Laurent Gbagbo.

Ouattara’s forces have seized most of the country, including the political capital, Yamassoukro, and the main port, San Pedro.  They are now fighting to gain control of the commercial capital, Abidjan. Gbagbo retains the support of his 2,500-strong presidential guard, an unknown number of mercenaries and the Patriotic Youth movement.  Many elements in the army have shifted their allegiance to Ouattara, following a United Nations Security Council resolution on March 30.

France and Nigeria sponsored the resolution that called on all state officials to recognise Ouattara.  This was the signal for the beginning of Ouattara’s military assault on Gbagbo’s forces.

“In a sense, this resolution is maybe the last message that we wanted to send to Gbagbo which is very simple: Gbagbo must go,” France’s ambassador to the UN, Gerard Araud, said. “It is the only way to avoid a full-fledged civil war and maybe bloody violence in the streets of Abidjan,” he claimed.

The exact opposite has been the case.  The UN resolution has given the green light for a civil war with disastrous consequences for the civilian population.  One million people are thought to have fled the Ivory Coast in recent months.  The numbers have swelled in the last few days.  Many of them have crossed the border into neighbouring Liberia, which now faces a major humanitarian crisis in overcrowded refugee camps.  Abidjan residents are sheltering in their homes as heavy shelling continues around the presidential palace and armed youths roam the streets.  Shops and petrol stations have been looted.

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