Sunday, September 14, 2008

There Is an Alternative to Corporate Rule

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By Mark Engler

All over the world, truly democratic approaches are bubbling up from the grassroots.

One of the remarkable features of modern political life is how consistently global elites deny that viable alternatives to the current global order exist, even as the terrain of international politics rapidly shifts. The "imperial globalists" that rose to power in the Bush years contend that without U.S. military strength decisively projected abroad, the forces of evil will sweep the globe. Meanwhile, "corporate globalists" of Wall Street persist in their belief that, in the post-Cold War world, we have no choice but to embrace the continual advance of the "free" market.

Neither idea is credible. The disastrous war in Iraq has firmly contradicted the neocons’ argument that preemptive war can create security. Meanwhile, mainstream pundits continue to proclaim neoliberalism -- the radical free market doctrine that has defined the "Washington Consensus" in international economics in recent decades -- to be inevitable and irreplaceable. Yet as that ideology falls into disrepute across the globe, their contention is revealed as ever more deeply disingenuous. Today, there exist scores of books and hundreds of reports that offer new directions for the global order -- plus innumerable initiatives at local, national, and international levels to create political and economic systems that uphold human rights and defend the environment.

In truth, a lack of viable ideas is hardly the problem for those who reject both corporate and imperial models of globalization. Whether they are part of boisterous national uprisings or quiet, persistent community efforts to fuel a truly democratic globalization -- a globalization from below -- members of grassroots networks are now engaged in a debate about the proper balance of vision, program, political strategy, and tactics needed to move forward.

Changes in the Global Justice Movement

Part of what has fueled public confusion about alternatives was specific to the political moment when globalization protests captured the attention of the mainstream media. During the period around the year 2000, global justice organizing was being covered only in contexts where participants were providing a voice of opposition -- at the summit meetings of institutions like the World Trade Organization (WTO), World Bank, and International Monetary Fund (IMF). These events became flash points of resistance for a reason: the summit meetings were remarkably effective at drawing together a tremendously diverse body of global citizen activists.

Yet the globalization scene began to shift early in the Bush years, with the attacks of 9/11 playing an important role in the change. Just as abruptly as the major news outlets had announced the arrival of a "new" global movement after the Seattle protests against the WTO, challenges to the Washington Consensus became virtually invisible to their reporters once again after 9/11. This only partially reflected what was happening on the ground. In the months following the attacks, some protests -- notably a major mobilization against World Bank and IMF meetings in Washington, DC -- were cancelled as the world rose to express sympathy for the victims. However, the Bush administration’s reckless response wiped out global good will and ultimately widened the scope of protests.

As strategies to impose elite visions of globalization continued, global justice protests throughout the world resumed. Many people, particularly in Southern countries, combined outrage at U.S. militarism with a repudiation of corporate globalization. When Bush traveled abroad, he was met with huge protests, many of which raised economic issues as well as anti-war concerns. Yet media outlets mostly reported these demonstrations as incoherent anti-American riots when they covered them at all. Beltway pundits rushed to declare the global justice movement dead. Leading the pack was Edward Gresser of the Progressive Policy Institute, the think-tank of the pro-"free trade" Democratic Leadership Council, who pronounced the movement "destined for irrelevance" in a realigned world.

Millions of people had reason to protest. These activists were about to redraw the political map of Latin America, preside over the collapse of neoliberalism’s legitimacy, lead a worldwide rebellion against preemptive war, and push issues of economic justice to ever more prominent places in the global development debate. Their efforts for a democratic globalization, they would assert, were very much alive.

The View From Porto Alegre

As it turned out, a most visible manifestation of the next stage of global justice movement would come from a modest city of 1.5 million people deep in the south of Brazil, a place whose name has become synonymous with the pursuit of a more just and democratic global order. Today, mention of Porto Alegre, the original home of the World Social Forum, should be sufficient to forever put to rest the knee-jerk contention that there is no alternative to dominant visions of globalization.

Even as progressives within the U.S. turned to resisting Bush administration policies of preemptive war and its reactionary assaults on Constitutional rights, international movements have not waited for regime change in the U.S. to further the decline of the Washington Consensus. Massive crowds have joined Americans in rallying against the war in Iraq, as on February 15, 2003, when upwards of ten million people in over 500 cities took to the streets, constituting the largest coordinated global day of action in history. But, at the same time, local communities have waged battles to reverse privatization of public utilities and transnational campaigns have fought for reforms like debt cancellation. In countries throughout Latin America, they have successfully overthrown neoliberal governments, elected leaders who oppose the Washington Consensus, and they have pressured those officials to enact social policies that serve working people.

Reflecting this sustained torrent of global activity, the World Social Forum has grown and matured. While the first global forum in 2001 hosted 12,000 participants, subsequent events have grown larger and larger, drawing crowds of up to 150,000 people. In addition to returning to Porto Alegre for three additional years after the initial summit, the global event has also convened in Mumbai, India and Nairobi, Kenya, with smaller forums taking place at the regional level. At World Social Forum, community leaders, nonprofit representatives, scholars, organizers, and progressive lawmakers have presented, debated, and refined ideas that collectively represent as comprehensive a set of policies for the global economy as any wonky campaign office could ever hope to devise. These spaces have served as physical embodiments of the proposals for a democratic globalization.

Groups meeting in tents designated for discussion of energy and the environment have strategized about ways to break our dependence on the oil economy. They have proposed investment in mass public transportation, high mileage standards for cars, and shifting government subsidies for hydrocarbon exploitation to alternative energy. Other environmentalists have worked to promote an international carbon tax to penalize polluters -- something undoubtedly in the public interest, especially given mounting evidence about the perils of global warming. All these represent perfectly viable public policies, but have been vehemently opposed by the oil industry.

In other tents, family farmers and food safety advocates from throughout the world have gathered to promote models for redistributive land reform. Even the international financial institutions acknowledge that land reform would be beneficial for the poor, but it has been pushed off the political map by national elites and agribusiness conglomerates. Other advocates explained how current government subsidies for exports and for pesticides boost large-scale "mono-cropping" over organic agriculture; in response, they argued for a shift in public funds to support sustainable farming. Indigenous communities further asserted their right to self-determination, particularly with regard to maintaining traditional systems of land ownership and food production.

Tents holding discussions on the need to curb corporate power have advanced a slate of innovative proposals. These include public financing of elections to end what U.S. Senator Russ Feingold has called "a system of legalized bribery and legalized extortion." They include laws that allow victims of corporate abuses in the developing world to sue in U.S. or European courts. And they include detailed proposals for strengthening anti-trust law in order to break up business monopolies -- among them the massive media empires that do much to set the limits of public debate.

A group called ATTAC, one of the organizations that founded the World Social Forum, has set up tents promoting campaigning for the Tobin Tax. First proposed by Nobel Prize-winning economist James Tobin in the 1970s, the initiative would impose a low percentage tax on the hundreds of billions of dollars worth of international financial transactions that take place each day. This would provide a disincentive for short-term gambling on currencies, and it would encourage longer-term and more productive investment. Moreover, even a miniscule levy could create an annual fund of upwards of $100 billion that could be used to stop the spread of disease and alleviate global poverty.

Warehouse workspaces hosting labor organizations have offered myriad methods for protecting workers’ rights and ending sweatshop conditions. Over seventy cities and localities in the United States have passed Living Wage laws since the early 1990s. These go beyond paltry minimum wage requirements and mandate that businesses pay employees at least enough to keep their families out of poverty. At the social forums, U.S. advocates discussed how to spread these campaigns. Meanwhile, representatives from the estimated 180 worker-run factories that formed after capital fled Argentina’s collapsing neoliberal economy in 2001 spoke about their experiences in self-management. And groups like the Women’s International Coalition for Economic Justice have stressed that U.N.-backed summits and other international efforts to advance women’s rights must not be subordinated to multilateral trade agreements.

Finally, workshops organized by representatives from the fair trade movement profiled endeavors to build direct ties between producers in the global South and Northern consumers. The fair trade model aims to eliminate exploitative middlemen, ensure that workers get a living wage for their labor, and give local collectives a greater say in the determining the conditions under which international economic exchanges take place. Like organic food, fair trade remains a niche market, and it cannot substitute for wider structural changes in global economy. But it provides both a living alternative to exploitative trade and a hopeful model for future change.

Even this wide range of activity hardly constitutes an exhaustive survey. Unlike the corporate and imperial models, a globalization from below does not take the form of one-size-fits-all prescription for the global economy. With regard to alternative policies, the model of participatory democracy produces, in the words of another slogan, "One No, Many Yeses." It generates a strong challenge to structures of neoliberalism and empire, but allows for a wider sense of what might replace them.

Contrary to individual manifestos that presume that a lack of ideas is the problem for progressives, the advocates at Porto Alegre have presented an agenda for change rooted in local struggles and campaigns that have long been underway. Excellent volumes such as Alternatives to Economic Globalization, a book compiled by the San Francisco-based International Forum on Globalization, have profiled other aspects of this agenda. The Human Development Reports produced annually by the United Nations Development Program have backed many of these same initiatives. A number of progressive proposals have even been introduced as legislation in the U.S. Congress in such measures as the recent TRADE Act, advanced by fair trade advocates this summer. Needless to say, the elite beneficiaries of corporate and imperial rule, still steadfast in their contention that no alternatives exist, would prefer that the public not take notice of any of these developments.

Just Saying No, or First Do No Harm

The ideas, experiences, and proposals of the World Social Forum provide a trove of information for all those who want to construct a new agenda for the global economy. At the same time, as long as democratic movements do not have the power to overrule political and economic elites, there exists an important case for just saying "no" -- for first insisting that those now in power stop doing harm.

When Wall Street neoliberals and Washington militarists ask, "What is the alternative?" they base the question on faulty assumptions. Their question serves to naturalize very radical agendas of empire and corporate rule, suggesting that these are normal and acceptable states of affairs. They are not. In a situation where power is grossly imbalanced, where crimes are being perpetuated in the name of democracy, and where ever larger sections of public life are being handed over to the market, saying "no" to these radical agendas can be a perfectly worthy task in itself.

In an important respect, the alternative to invading Iraq is not invading Iraq. The alternative to NAFTA is no NAFTA. The neocons’ invasion of Iraq has cost thousands of American lives, taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, produced some two million refugees, and is set to squander over a trillion dollars of public funds. It has generated heightened regional tensions, greater instability, and more terrorism. Given the disastrous history of U.S. interventions -- not just in Iraq, but also, to mention some particularly ignoble examples of the past 60 years, in Vietnam, Indonesia, Chile, Guatemala, El Salvador, Iran, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua -- calling for a moratorium on such military actions, official and covert, is a first step in stemming the damage of imperial globalization.

The agenda of corporate globalization, which unfortunately thrived during the Clinton presidency and is still popular within the right wing of the Democratic Party, is subtler. But this, too, has relied on forceful maneuvering to come into existence. Neoliberalism involves aggressively opening markets, clearing the way for a previously unheard of level of speculative capital transfer, and dictating the restructuring of local economies. None of these things occur naturally, and they deserve opposition. A moratorium on harmful "free trade" deals and on further expansion of the WTO, especially into areas beyond the traditional realm of trade, is a vital immediate demand.

Simply refusing each of the mandates of the Washington Consensus -- or at least rejecting the idea that they should be imposed world as a one-size-fits-all uniform for development -- would itself allow for a substantial restructuring of globalization politics. The true utopians in the global economy are people who embraced the market fundamentalist fantasy that unchecked capital would serve the common good. Refuting this idea can be fairly straightforward.

Neoliberal corporate globalization prescribes the elimination of tariffs and other protections for local enterprises. An alternative would be to allow poorer countries to keep these intact, reviving what is known in trade agreements as "special and differential treatment." This model would give developing countries more flexibility in choosing to nurture infant industries and to protect agricultural commodities that are important to traditional cultures and to the security of their food supply. When the Washington Consensus demands the privatization of public industry and the division of the commons into private property, an alternative is to keep these things in the hands of the public, defending the provision of public goods as a way of ensuring economic human rights -- including guaranteed public access to water, electricity, and health care. If it calls for cuts in social services, an alternative is to reject the cuts, maintaining or bolstering these services and instead pushing for a redistributive tax system that makes the wealthy pay their fair share.

When Washington mandates a more "flexible" labor market -- one without unions or worker protections -- an alternative is to defend living wages, collective bargaining, and the right to associate. And when IMF bailouts for wealthy investors create a situation in which, to paraphrase author Eduardo Galeano, "risk is socialized while profit is privatized," an alternative is simply to end these bailouts, making speculators bear the cost of their gambles.

The demand to reverse neoliberal structural adjustment policies proposes a fundamentally different relationship between wealthy nations and the global South than currently exists. It would grant countries the freedom to determine their own economic policies, priorities for government spending, and rules for controlling foreign investment. Instead of imposing a single hegemonic model on the entire world, this new relationship would allow for broader diversity and experimentation in international development. While this does not by itself constitute a vision for ensuring human rights or protecting the environment, it nevertheless represents an important strategic gain. It alone would likely bring change of great enough magnitude to make the politics of the global economy look virtually unrecognizable to those who have grown accustomed to Washington-dictated corporate globalization.

Those who reject corporate and imperial models of globalization have a wealth of ideas at their disposal, a healthy internal debate to refine their strategies, and a vibrant, growing international network of citizens that see their efforts as part an interconnected whole. They also have very powerful enemies. Fortunately, as we enter the post-Bush era, the international community has voiced a firm rejection of unilateralism and preemptive war. Likewise, ever-larger swaths of the globe view the neoliberal doctrine of corporate expansion as a failed and discredited vision. This creates unique opportunities for citizens to fight to bring a democratic globalization into existence. More exciting still is that many people are already doing so, and, on key issues like debt relief and across entire regions like the Latin America, they are winning. The punditry is increasingly taking notice. For there is nothing so dangerous to those who insist that the world must remain as it is as the simple, stubbornly defiant doctrine of hope.

Cheney Scales New Heights of Hypocrisy

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The Veep Goads Russia

While Alaska Governor and Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin is getting all the attention, the current vice president, Dick Cheney, was able to pontificate about Russia and Georgia with barely any notice from the media. However, while hardly anyone was watching, Mr. Cheney echoed the hypocrisy of his boss, President George Bush. While traveling in Italy, Mr. Cheney decided to become the moral arbiter of Russia’s foreign policies. His incredible remarks are worth studying.

“Recent occurrences in Georgia, beginning with the military invasion by Russia, have been flatly contrary to some of our most deeply held beliefs. Russian forces crossed an internationally recognized border into a sovereign state; fueled and fomented an internal conflict; conducted acts of war without regard for innocent life, killing civilians and causing the displacement of tens of thousands.”

If anyone doubted the vice president’s disdain for those who elected him and kept him in power, this speech should have been an eye-opener. How he could make that statement with a straight face is beyond comprehension. Was he not a major force in the U.S. military invasion of Iraq? Mr. Bush may not have needed much encouragement to embark on this deadly oil grab, but whatever encouragement he may have needed was gladly provided by the vice president.

Did not U.S. forces cross an internationally recognized border into a sovereign state? At least Russia’s incursion was to a country it bordered; the U.S. sent 130,000 soldiers halfway across the world to invade and occupy sovereign Iraq.

Russia, says Mr. Cheney, ‘fueled and fomented an internal conflict.’ It has been some time since people have been talking about civil war in Iraq, possibly because with the increase of 30,000 soldiers, Iraq may have finally, after five bloody, terrifying years, been cowed into submission. The U.S. overthrew the government with nothing to put in its place, disbanded the police, and turned a once peaceful nation into an inferno of deadly, daily violence.

He goes on to decry the idea that Russia ‘conducted acts of war without regard for innocent life, killing civilians.’ When Mr. Bush’s horrific and unspeakable ‘Shock and Awe’ campaign began, residential areas were targeted. The president said he was invading Iraq because it had weapons of mass destruction aimed at the U.S., but since he didn’t know exactly where they were, he would simple practice genocide on the Iraqi people and hope the weapons of mass destruction would turn up eventually (they didn’t). At the time his bombers were dropping death from the air over Baghdad, over half the population of that city was under the age of 15.

As far as conducting acts of war is concerned, could someone point out to Mr. Cheney that the invasion of a sovereign nation is probably the ultimate act of war? Occupying it for years, killing a million of its citizens and terrorizing much of the population for over five years may be business as usual for U.S. foreign policy, but that does not make those actions any less acts of war.

One could also point out that torturing political prisoners, some as young as 15, is an horrific act of war. The torture chamber that the U.S. operates at Guantanamo Bay is only the most famous; the U.S. uses ‘rendition’ sites around the world to torture those it considers dangerous. The supposedly cherished rights, such as due process, that the U.S. is said to stand for are meaningless to those who get in the way of Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney’s imperial designs.

The Russian incursion, said Mr. Cheney, caused ‘the displacement of tens of thousands.’ That number pales in comparison to the millions who have been displaced in Iraq due to the U.S. invasion and occupation. At least a million Iraqis are in crowded refugee camps, forgotten by the media and certainly ignored by that master terrorist, Dick Cheney. Perhaps two million more have had to leave their homes, although they remain in Iraq.

“The United States and many in Europe have made clear that Russia's actions are an affront to civilized standards and are completely unacceptable.” Mr. Cheney did not bother to explain why these behaviors exhibited by Russia are ‘an affront to civilized standards,’ and why they are ‘completely unacceptable,’ but when the exact same acts are perpetrated by the U.S., although on a far larger scale, they are, apparently, just fine.

“For its part, Russia has offered no satisfactory justification for the invasion -- nor could it do so.” In over five years since the U.S. invaded Iraq, it has offered ‘no satisfactory justification’ for doing so. All the original lies, including the falsehoods that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, was close to developing nuclear weapons, etc., have faded into oblivion, like the blood of millions of Iraqis on the desert sands. Mr. Bush also stated the need for ‘regime change;’ why he and his neocon cohorts felt this was their right has also never been explained.

“Differing views on the status of these two areas, within the sovereign borders of the Georgian democracy, cannot justify a sudden and violent incursion by Russia. This much, at a minimum, should be understood by all people of good will in the year 2008.”

Yet apparently the belief that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the U.S., despite the fact that United Nations weapons inspectors were combing Iraq and finding nothing, could justify a sudden and violent incursion by the U.S. People of good will in the year 2008 understand that that is simply wrong, as they did in 2003.

“This chain of aggressive moves and diplomatic reversals has only intensified the concern that many have about Russia's larger objectives.” The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, continued threats against Iran and Cuba, and the fact that the U.S. has enough weapons of mass destruction to destroy the entire planet several times over have certainly intensified concern about the U.S.’s larger objectives.

Eight long years ago, Mr. Bush promised to bring dignity back to the White House. In his war-mongering mind the fact that President Bill Clinton had had an extra-marital affair was so disgraceful that the reputation of the U.S. was in tatters as a result. Today, following the Iraqi invasion and occupation that most of the world, including most of the U.S.’s allies, opposed from the start, the U.S. is the most hated and feared nation on the planet. With Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney now prancing around the world, criticizing Russia for actions that parallel in action but not in scope, the exact behaviors they have practiced and continue to practice, another mark of hypocrisy has been struck against the U.S.

As the U.S. plods towards the conclusion of its every-four-year election farce, the race for president is said to be too close to call. The Republican presidential candidate, the elderly Arizona Senator John McCain, the man who is so wealthy he does not even know how many houses he owns (or perhaps it is simply senility), calls for change by offering more of the same. This is the model his idol, Mr. Bush, used following the 2006 Congressional elections. After the war-mongering Republicans were thrown out of Congress, replaced by the spineless but equally war-mongering Democrats, Mr. Bush led the country on a ‘new way forward,’ by escalating the war. Mr. McCain has consistently supported Mr. Bush’s worst policies.

Mr. McCain’s Democratic challenger, Illinois Senator Barack Obama, has inspired many with his call for ‘change we can believe in.’ Whether or not we can actually believe in his idea of change, at the very least he offers a glimmer of the hope that U.S. citizens and the world have lived without for eight long years. He selected as his running mate Senator Joe Biden, a distinguished senator with a thorough knowledge of foreign policy, having served for many years on the senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he currently chairs. Mr. McCain selected Mrs. Palin, an (almost) one-term governor of a state with a population of less than 1,000,000. Her previous political experience was as mayor of an Alaskan town with a population of less than 7,000. She opposes every progressive movement known to man, encourages the shooting of wolves from airplanes, and believes that global warming is a natural occurrence, and not a man-made threat.

One wonders how more of the same will help to rebuild the reputation of the U.S. throughout the world, especially when it is ushered in by a cowgirl brandishing a gun and a chastity belt. Yet that is what change means to Mr. McCain.

The world is watching to see if the U.S. voters will make the same disastrous mistake in 2008 that they made in 2004. There was no excuse for it then, and there will be even less so if they do it again. The consequences of those mistakes grow with each one. It will not be long before those consequences are irreversible, to the detriment of the entire world population.

New Transcripts of Kissinger's Role in Chilean Coup

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By Peter Kornbluh

35 Years After Original 9/11

When Henry Kissinger began secretly taping all of his phone conversations in 1969, little did he know that he was giving history the gift that keeps on giving. Now, on the 35th anniversary of the September 11, 1973, CIA-backed military coup in Chile, phone transcripts that Kissinger made of his talks with President Nixon and the CIA chief among other top government officials reveal in the most candid of language the imperial mindset of the Nixon administration as it began plotting to overthrow President Salvador Allende, the world’s first democratically elected Socialist. "We will not let Chile go down the drain," Kissinger told CIA director Richard Helms in a phone call following Allende’s narrow election on September 4, 1970, according to a recently declassified transcript. "I am with you," Helms responded.

The "telcons"--telephone conversations transcripts made by Kissinger’s secretary from audio tapes that were later destroyed--captured for posterity all of Kissinger’s outgoing and incoming phone calls during his tenure as national security advisor and secretary of state. When Kissinger left office in January 1977, he took more than 30,000 pages of the transcripts, claiming they were "personal papers," and using them, selectively, to write his memoirs. In 1999, my organization, the National Security Archive, initiated legal proceedings to force Kissinger to return these records to their rightful owner--the government. At the request of Archive senior analyst William Burr, telcons on foreign policy crises from the early 1970s, including four previously unknown conversations on Chile, were recently declassified by the Nixon Presidential library.

’The Big Problem Today Is Chile’

September 15, 1970, when Richard Nixon ordered the CIA to ""prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him," has been considered, the starting point of the covert operations that eventually helped topple the socialist government, until now. According to the transcripts, however, Nixon and Kissinger set in motion plans to roll back Allende’s election three days earlier on September 12. At noon on that day, Kissinger called Helms to schedule an urgent meeting of the "40 Committee"--an elite group that oversaw covert operations. And approximately 35 minutes later, in the middle of briefing Nixon on a major terrorist hijacking/hostage crisis in Amman, Jordan, Kissinger is recorded as telling the President: "The big problem today is Chile."

The transcript of their conversation, kept secret for 35 years, reveals just how focused the U.S. president became on overseeing the effort to block Allende. In that call, Nixon demanded to see all instructions being sent to U.S. ambassador Edward Korry in Santiago; indeed, he ordered that the State Department be alerted that "I want to see all cables to Chile."

"I want an appraisal of what the options are," Nixon told Kissinger. When Kissinger told him that the State Department’s position was to "let Allende come in and see what we can work out," Nixon immediately vetoed the idea: "Like against Castro? Like in Czechoslovakia? The same people said the same thing. Don’t let them do that."

But Nixon cautioned: "We don’t want a big story leaking out that we are trying to overthrow the Govt."

Secretary of State William Rogers, who Nixon and Kissinger largely excluded from deliberations over Chile, was similarly sensitive to such a story leaking out. Indeed, the transcript of his conversation with Kissinger two days later underscored just how concerned the State Department was to the possibility that Washington might get caught trying to undermine Chile’s electoral democracy. In their September 14th discussion, Rogers accurately predicted that "no matter what we do it will probably end up dismal." He also cautioned Kissinger to cover up any paper trail on U.S. operations "to be sure the paper record doesn’t look bad."

"My feeling--and I think it coincides with the President’s--is that we ought to encourage a different result from the [censored reference]," Rogers conceded to Kissinger, "but should do so discretely so that it doesn’t backfire." Their conversation continues:

Kissinger: The only question is how one defines ’backfire.’

Rogers: Getting caught doing something. After all we’ve said about elections, if the first time a Communist wins the U.S. tries to prevent the constitutional process from coming into play we will look very bad.

Kissinger: the President’s view is to do the maximum possible to prevent an Allende takeover, but through Chilean sources and with a low posture."

The next day, during a 15 minute meeting at the White House attended by Kissinger, Nixon instructed CIA director Helms that Allende’s election was "not acceptable" and ordered the agency to "make the economy scream" and "save Chile," as Helms recorded in his notes. The CIA launched a massive set of covert operations--first to block Allende’s inauguration, and, when that failed, to undermine his ability to successfully govern. "Our main concern in Chile is the prospect that [Allende] can consolidate himself and the picture projected to the world will be his success," Nixon told his National Security Council on November 6, 1970, two days after Allende took office.

’That Chilean Guy Might Have Some Problems’

So far, the declassification of Kissinger’s telcons has not yielded much evidence of phone discussion on Chile as CIA operations to destabilize Allende evolved over the next several years. But at 11am on July 4, 1973, Kissinger’s clandestine tape recorder captured another previously unknown conversation with President Nixon. Two weeks after an aborted coup in Santiago, Nixon phoned Kissinger from his summer home in San Clemente, California, to chat about Allende and the prospects that he might be soon overthrown.

Nixon: You know, I think that Chilean guy might have some problems.

Kissinger: Oh, he has massive problems. He has definitely massive problems.

Nixon: If only the Army would get a few people behind them.

Kissinger: And that coup last week - we had nothing to do with it but still it came off apparently prematurely.

Nixon: That’s right and the fact that he just set up a Cabinet without any military in it is, I think, very significant.

Kissinger:. It’s very significant.

Nixon: Very significant because those military guys are very proud down there and they just may - right?

Kissinger: Yes, I think he’s definitely in difficulties.

Only ten weeks later, the military did move to overthrow Allende in a bloody coup on September 11, 1973. On September 15, Nixon called Kissinger again. They commiserated about what Kissinger called "the bleeding [heart] newspapers" and the "filthy hypocrisy" of the press for focusing on the Chilean military’s repression and the condemnations of the U.S. role. In this telcon--which was declassified in May 2004--Nixon noted that "our hand doesn’t show on this, though." "We didn’t do it," Kissinger replied on the issue of direct involvement in the coup. I mean we helped them. [Deleted] created the conditions as great as possible."

As Kissinger told the President: "In the Eisenhower period we would be heroes."

You can see all the new Kissinger documents at

The Syria-Israel Peace Gambit

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By Ramzy Baroud

Few would argue that the indirect Israel-Syria talks through Turkish mediation, which were first announced 21 May, were a sign of political maturity and readiness for peace. In fact, while the discussions seemed concerned with the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and Israel's desire for security at its northern borders, the true objective behind the sudden engagement of Syria is largely concerned with Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas.

A precarious report published in The Jerusalem Post -- citing a news report in the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai on 2 September -- claimed that the Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has left Syria and moved to Sudan. "Palestinian sources told the paper that Meshaal had come to an understanding with Damascus whereby the Hamas chief would agree to leave the state," according to the report. It suggested that the indirect negotiations between Syria and Israel "may have played a part in the decision". Hamas soon denied the report.

Whether the report is fully, partially or not at all accurate, the fact remains that Israel's key objective in engaging Syria is to further isolate Hamas and to deny its leadership safe haven. Syria opened its doors to several Palestinian factions, who have operated politically with a degree of unison, following the September 1993 Oslo Accords. The relationship between Syria and Hamas in particular was often scrutinised as a Syrian bargaining chip in any future negotiations with Israel over the fate of the Golan. It is no secret that Israel would not transfer the Golan back to its rightful owner if Hamas and other Palestinian groups continue to use Damascus as their headquarters, a platform of political freedom and a degree of legitimacy.

But this is an issue that even Hamas itself doesn't seem to be concerned with, at least at the moment, for it's equally understood that Israel is not serious about its negotiations with Syria, and that the whole affair is a political manoeuvre aimed at disturbing the Syria-Iran alliance, cutting off the supposed Hizbullah weapon supply route, and further de-legitimising Hamas, while propping up its Palestinian rivals. Israel is "engaging" Syria because it's simply running out of options.

Consider A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, a report prepared and signed by major Washington-based neoconservatives in 1996. It made the following recommendation to the Israeli government at the time: "Negotiations with repressive regimes like Syria's require cautious realism. One cannot sensibly assume the other side's good faith. It is dangerous for Israel to deal naïvely with a regime murderous of its own people, openly aggressive towards its neighbours, criminally involved with international drug traffickers and counterfeiters, and supportive of the most deadly terrorist organisations."

The mindset behind the report had great sway over Israeli thinking, as was made clear in 2000 when then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak froze Israeli-Syrian negotiations at a point that an agreement was reportedly at hand. The thrust of Israel's policy towards Syria was predicated on the latter's presence in Lebanon. Even after Hizbullah forced Israel out of Lebanon in the summer of 2000, Israel never disavowed its interests in that small country, and thoroughly focussed on removing Syria, a task that was made possible with backing from Washington.

"Syria challenges Israel on Lebanese soil. An effective approach, and one with which Americans can sympathise, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizbullah, Syria and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon," the Clean Break report recommended.

That was tried and failed miserably. Israel's goals were trashed in its war on Lebanon in July-August 2006. The war delivered more than a military blow to Israel and a political blow to its benefactors in Washington. It empowered Hizbullah to emerge as Lebanon's strongest party without any direct Syrian involvement.

Since then, Israel has resorted to a strategy of scare tactics against Syria and its Iranian ally. French President Nicolas Sarkozy used a recent four-way summit in Damascus to deliver an essentially Israeli message. He warned Iran of a "catastrophic" Israeli strike if it insists on pursuing its nuclear programme. Although the message was to Iran, the hope was for Syria to take notice as well.

But Sarkozy's choice of Damascus to promote Israel's ominous threat further highlights the relevance of Iran to his efforts, which would not have actualised without prior Israeli consent. Considering how quickly the Iraqi regime fell following the US invasion in 2003, and the succumbing of the Libyan government soon after, Syria is treading carefully, while trying to hold on to several winning cards, its strong relationship with Iran being one.

Although Syria is eager to reclaim the Israeli occupied Syrian Golan Heights, its leaders must also realise that the current Israeli leadership is in no position to negotiate withdrawal from what was illegally annexed by the Israeli Knesset in 1982. To override the strong opposition to withdrawal, the Israeli leadership must be indisputably interested in ending the occupation -- which it is not -- and strong enough to pull off such a major "concession", which is also not the case.

Nonetheless, Syria carries on with its indirect talks with Israel, one round after the other, with much enthusiasm, coupled with talks about economic development, investment, etc.

It is clear that neither Israel nor Syria is anticipating a "breakthrough" anytime soon. For now, talking is an end in itself. Concurrently, Israel wishes to woo Syria to break with Hamas and other Palestinian groups, break with Iran and, at least, twist Hizbullah's arm in Lebanon. Syria, on the other hand, knows well that indirect talks with Israel are an unmatched act of political validation in the West, enough to lessen US threats, win France's friendship, and appear in a positive light internationally.

Both parties want to come across as accommodating, willing partners in peace and, at a future point, there might be a few overtures, the extent of which could be devastating to Palestinian factions in Damascus. Meshaal might not be in Sudan, but if he is, or will be soon, one cannot be entirely surprised.

The End of the Myths

Go to Original
By Bill Noxid

It took a particularly long time to find any hint of reality on television yesterday. I decided that I wasn’t interested in watching the still complicit media and criminally culpable government pretend to morn the deaths of September 11, so my options were even more limited than usual. All of the cable networks were obviously covering themselves ( MSNBC even went as far as to cover itself covering itself minute by minute seven years ago ) and CSPAN was at the Pentagon. What fantastic choices… a seven year ditch or a false-flag memorial park. Therefore, unless I felt like tracking Ike, CNBC financial was my only remaining option.

To my surprise however, CNBC turned out to be a reasonably good choice. Not that the unfortunate masses of this country would know about anything other than lipstick and pigs but this imaginary economy is collapsing like the house of cards that it is, and they were actually talking about it for a change. I suspect after eight years of blowing smoke up each other’s behinds about how great the economy is, they’ve run out of ways to convince themselves this isn’t really happening. Even Jim Cramer, when asked by Erin Burnett if we were really at risk of Great Depression II, gave a very enthusiastic full body nod in the affirmative…

Obviously, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone anyway. It’s been developing for quite a long time. Eight years of stealing your children’s futures to pay for killing someone else’s children while you allow your own ability to produce anything to be shuttled off to the next generation corporate slave countries, does not make for a healthy economy. If you didn’t care so much about flag pins, ceiling cracks, and pastors, you might have noticed. Not that they are helping you understand anything - considering they control all major media outlets and political parties, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise either. Their only intent is to feed your ego and keep you stupid, so ( as you can plainly see ) you don’t even notice when they are taking your lives and livelihood.

To be perfectly honest, it’s even hard for me to believe how much damage ( or how much success - depending on how you look at it ) they fashioned in a mere eight years… and I saw it coming a decade before that. They took virtually all of your rights, all of your future, all of your money, all of your health, all of your respect, and all of your dignity, and yet some of you would still rather hear how great this country is than accept the truth about what is happening and why. It’s the impenetrable American egotism that has led to this abyss and that has led you to be the least educated, most imprisoned, least healthy, most destructive, least honest, most hated populous and culture in the history of the world… and that is no small feat on this planet.

Believe it or not, I used to accept the myth they disseminate in this country ( and force on the rest of the world ) too. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is everything they taught you was cover story for the criminal and diabolical enterprises you know as finance and government. As you should be able to discern from the hundreds of billions of dollars in “write-downs” ( lost, stolen, and imaginary value ) and the hundreds of billions of dollars in bail-outs ( tax-slaves having no say in giving them back the money they have already stolen in order to perpetuate the illusion of an economy ), criminal enterprise is exactly what it is.

If it’s any consolation, we are hardly alone. All of us on this planet are in the same predicament. The corporation purchased all of our governments a long time ago, and that should be obvious to everyone - by now. Think for a moment… When is the last time you saw a government take genuine action on behalf of its people that it couldn’t reap ludicrous power and profit from? The only ( theoretical ) purpose of government is to tend to the needs and advancement of its people, but find yourself discarded by the corporation or get swindled out of your house by the mortgage syndicate and you’ll find out very quickly what assistance the government won’t have for you, and who’s side they are actually on. They are quick to bail each other out to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars of your money, but if you are in need of a couple of bucks after a hurricane - you’re out of luck.

Go to and take a look at the latest hearing on the wonderful new Medicaid system they have developed for you, if you need another example. If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be hilarious. You can expect to quite literally die on the phone trying to get help from a system specifically designed to ensure that you don’t get the help. You, your children, and your children’s children pay before they are even born for every crime and scam they perpetrate on the masses, and all you’ll receive in return is speeches about flags, forefathers, patriotism, and your bootstraps…

Yet in spite of all of this empirical and inescapable every day evidence, there are those that still cling ( yes, that right… I said cling ) to the shallow mythologies that justify their continued denial of their own behavior, and the enslavement and molestation of the peoples and lands of this world… all while claiming to know and serve God.

A key component of the intentionally missed message of Reverend Wright was that:

“To say “I am a Christian” is not enough. Why? Because the Christianity of the slaveholder is not the Christianity of the slave. The God to whom the slaveholders pray as they ride on the decks of the slave ship is not the God to whom the enslaved are praying as they ride beneath the decks on that slave ship.”

No true follower of God could make a distinction on something as primitive as shade of skin, and call one Son and one Not, yet you have built an entire society and global economy on exactly that belief. It is the only way such a shallow mind could justify the atrocities you commit and condone against your own kind on this planet. You claim to understand the reality that God knows your every thought and action, yet you think what you think, and you do what you do.

Worst above all things, you still think you’re the highest and only form of intelligence created by God. Your arrogance is only matched by your stupidity. It doesn’t phase you one bit that in order to create a world small enough for you to be king, you have to negate hundreds of billions of years of reality and civilization on this planet alone, just so you can believe you walked with your pet dinosaurs in fig leaves like Fred and Wilma - before there were people of color… By far, the funniest myth of all.

But before you get too offended ( I know, far too late for that ), bear in mind that I am one of you ( sort of ), and I am on your side. The side of Mankind, that is. Coming to this awareness about my own country, planet, and species was no comfortable journey for me either, but it is necessary to understand in order to evolve. The alternative of living a lie and serving the corporations that purposefully suppress and poison the true nature of this glorious planet and all of its inhabitants was just not mentally, physically, or spiritually an option for me anymore.

Believe me when I tell you… It’s not an option for you anymore either. The Universe is watching and you cannot afford to wait one more second to face the truth. It is imperative that you become the stewards and contributors to the Universal Consciousness that you are designed to be, before you face the threat of the end of your time on Earth.