Home » Posts tagged 'counterpunch'

Tag Archives: counterpunch

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Cataclysm
Click on image to purchase

Means of Control: Russia’s Attempt to Hive Off the Internet

Means of Control: Russia’s Attempt to Hive Off the Internet

Such measures were always going to come on the heels, and heavily so, of the utopians.  Where there is Internet Utopia, Dystopia follows with dedicated cynicism.  Where there are untrammelled means of searching, there will be efforts to erect signposts, usually of a warning nature.  Like the librarian ever worried of her reader finding something inappropriate, material will be kept in a different section of the library, forever filed, concealed and kept from overly curious eyes.  The library, however, will never close.

Like many of President Vladimir Putin’s projects, tackling the internet has all the elements of the improbable, the boastful and the grand quixotic.  It also has a certain Icarus, waxwing quality to it, and may end up melting when approaching its sunny objective.  Be that as it may, the Russian Internet Isolation Bill is simply another one for the books, another project in authority’s efforts to control, in the name of security, the way the world wide web works.  It seeks to impose further restrictions on traffic and data, routing it through state-controlled points to be registered with Roskomnadzor, the federal communications regulator. To this will be added a national Domain Name System, enabling the internet to function even if severed from foreign links.

The obvious and sensible point here shared by all states with an interest in using, exploiting and controlling the internet is how best to preserve an information web function that is sovereign and resistant to attack.  The Russian suggestion here is somewhat bolder than others: to hive off and keep RuNet (the state’s internet infrastructure) safe from any cyber mauling. This would effectively link the Russian segment to a switch.  Even after an attack, the internet within the country might still function in its provision of online services, minimising internal chaos.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Siege of Venezuela and the Travails of Empire

The Siege of Venezuela and the Travails of Empire

Illustration by Nathaniel St. Clair

Here’s the bullet-point version:

+ It’s imperialism.

+ It’s American imperialism, a bipartisan national project.

+ American imperialism is the global management of capitalist class power.

+ It’s a binary situation in which one side or the other will win via the use and threat of armed force.

+ It’s trouble for Venezuela and for imperialism.

+ There’s no such thing as Progressive Except Imperialism.

Here’s the long rant:

The United States government’s new offensive against Venezuela is an act of naked imperialism.

I predicted last year that Venezuela would be the first new country hit by the Trump administration’s indispensable need to establish its American-exceptionalist, “Presidentialist,” bona fides. It is the Goldilocks target. Not too small:It is, in fact, a significant country with world’s largest oil reserves, and a proclaimed socialist government that’s been a thorn in the gringo boot on Latin America for almost twenty years. Not too big: It’s no military match for U.S. & Latin American proxy armed forces, and nobody will start WWIII to defend it. Just right: A decisive win, at little apparent cost. And just the kind of amuse-boucheneeded to get the U.S. population’s juices flowing for a more costly and difficult attack on the ultimate target—Iran. At least, that’s the way they think.

But I couldn’t anticipate the anger and frustration I would feel, seeing this crock of shit being shoved down the throats of the world, and being swallowed whole by the bipartisan political and media establishment, with nothing more than a few hard gulps from even most U.S. “progressives.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Deep Hurt: Lessons From American Coups

The Deep Hurt: Lessons From American Coups

As the world watches aghast at another US and allies’ attempt to engineer a coup in Venezuela, I would like to offer a few insights from Stephen Kinzer’ provocative chapter, “The deep hurt,” (pp. 227-250) in his book, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of the American Empire (2017). This remarkable text carries some hope and lessons for all of us. It tells the story of the great conflict around the turn of 20thcentury about the role that the US might play in either dominating the world or building a cosmopolitan democracy where all people feel secure that they reside in one country, the earth. Indeed, Kinzer states: “Anti-imperialists decisively influenced American history by helping to ensure that the first burst of American annexation would be the last” (p. 228).

Even swash-buckling Teddy Roosevelt was influenced, losing his zest for the idea of conquest.  When he charged into the White House he held two views simultaneously, intervene to help other people, without oppressing them. Kinzer thinks that this dichotomy “torments our national psyche” (p. 229). In the early parts of the book Kinzer sets out the anti-imperialist (Mark Twain) and pro-imperialist visions (Henry Cabot Lodge). These speeches are worth gathering round for reflection.

During the following hundred years much of what the anti-imperialists predicted has come to pass. The United States has become an “actively interventionist power. It has projected military or covert power into dozens of countries on every continent except Antarctica”(ibid.).  George Frisbie Hoar was right, Kinzer points out, when he “warned that intervening in other lands would turn the United States into a ‘vulgar, commonplace empire founded upon physical force”” (ibid.).

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Oil, Agriculture and Imperialism: Averting the Fast-Track to Armageddon?

Oil, Agriculture and Imperialism: Averting the Fast-Track to Armageddon?

US National Security Advisor John Bolton has more or less admitted that the ongoing destabilisation of Venezuela is about grabbing its oil. He recently stated:

“We’re looking at the oil assets… We’re in conversation with major American companies now… It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.”

The US’s hand-picked supposed leader-in-waiting, Juan Guaido, aims to facilitate the process and usher in a programme of ‘mass privatisation’ and ‘hyper-capitalism’ at the behest of his coup-instigating masters in Washington, thereby destroying the socialist revolution spearheaded by the late Hugo Chavez and returning to a capitalist oligarch-controlled economic system.

One might wonder who is Bolton, or anyone in the US, to dictate and engineer what the future of another sovereign state should be. But this is what the US has been doing across the globe for decades. Its bloody imperialism, destabilisations, coups, assassinations, invasions and military interventions have been extensively documented by William Blum.

Of course, although oil is key to the current analysis of events in Venezuela, there is also the geopolitical subtext of debt, loans and Russian investment and leverage within the country. At the same time, it must be understood that US-led capitalism is experiencing a crisis of over-production: when this occurs capital needs to expand into or create new markets and this entails making countries like Venezuela bow to US hegemony and open up its economy.

For US capitalism, however, oil is certainly king. Its prosperity is maintained by oil with the dollar serving as the world reserve currency. Demand for the greenback is guaranteed as most international trade (especially and significantly oil) is carried out using the dollar. And those who move off it are usually targeted by the US (Venezuela being a case in point).

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Greenwashing the Climate Catastrophe

Greenwashing the Climate Catastrophe

“With “capitalism in danger of falling apart” (a rare, cryptically honest quote from Al Gore), and years of stagnant global economic growth now in a free fall, the Greta campaign must be understood for what it is. An elaborate distraction that has nothing to do with protecting the natural world, and everything to do with the manufacturing of consent. The required consent of the citizenry that will unlock the treasuries and public monies under the guise of climate protection.” –

– Cory Morningstar and Forest Palmer, from The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – For Consent: The House is on Fire & the 90 Trillion Dollar Rescue, 2019

“One might think that if someone were conscious enough to recognise that global ecology was compromised and that pollutants were destroying fresh water, and the land, and that global warming was quite possibly going to make huge swatches of land non arable — you might think that person would look for solutions in a political frame. After all it was global capital that had brought mankind to this historic precipice. But instead, many if not nearly all the people I speak with, frame things in terms of personal responsibility. Stop driving big diesel SUVs, stop flying to Cabo for vacation, stop eating meat, etc-. But these same people tend to not criticize capitalism. Or, rather, they ask for a small non crony green capitalism. I guess this would mean green exploitation and green wars? For war is the engine of global capitalism today. Cutting across this are the various threads of the overpopulation theme. A convenient ideological adjustment that shifts blame to the poorest inhabitants of the planet.”

– John Steppling, Trust Nothing, 2019

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”

– Noam Chomsky, The Common Good, 1998

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The 12-Step Method of Regime Change

The 12-Step Method of Regime Change

On 15 September 1970, US President Richard Nixon and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger authorised the US government to do everything possible to undermine the incoming government of the socialist president of Chile, Salvador Allende. Nixon and Kissinger, according to the notes kept by CIA Director Richard Helms, wanted to ‘make the economy scream’ in Chile; they were ‘not concerned [about the] risks involved’. War was acceptable to them as long as Allende’s government was removed from power. The CIA started Project FUBELT, with $10 million as a first instalment to begin the covert destabilisation of the country.

CIA memorandum on Project FUBELT, 16 September 1970.

US business firms, such as the telecommunication giant ITT, the soft drink maker Pepsi Cola and copper monopolies such as Anaconda and Kennecott, put pressure on the US government once Allende nationalised the copper sector on 11 July 1971. Chileans celebrated this day as the Day of National Dignity (Dia de la Dignidad Nacional). The CIA began to make contact with sections of the military seen to be against Allende. Three years later, on 11 September 1973, these military men moved against Allende, who died in the regime change operation. The US ‘created the conditions’ as US National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger put it, to which US President Richard Nixon answered, ‘that is the way it is going to be played’. Such is the mood of international gangsterism.

Phone Call between Richard Nixon (P) and Henry Kissinger (K) on 16 September 1973.

Chile entered the dark night of a military dictatorship that turned over the country to US monopoly firms. US advisors rushed in to strengthen the nerve of General Augusto Pinochet’s cabinet.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Mother of All Bombs: U.S. Foreign Policy

The Mother of All Bombs: U.S. Foreign Policy

Following the horrific destruction left in the wake of World War II, the United Nations in its seminal and founding document, the Charter of the United Nations, set out to prevent future wars among member nations. The Charter’s admonition against war was also voiced in the lessons learned from the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals in its condemnation of war: “starting or waging a war against a territorial integrity, political independence or sovereignty of a state, or violation of international treaties or agreements.”  are crimes against peace  and “makes all war crimes possible.”

The few and the wealthy of many nations are no longer constrained by rules that categorize civilized and enlightened behavior toward other nations such as Venezuela and Iran. They’ve had many nations in their crosshairs and have met with much “success.” Their attacks against Venezuela’s sovereignty are the final nail in the coffin of the endless wars, and the preparation for war, that are now all the rage among the sycophants of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Venezuela is absolutely no threat to the U.S., and therefore, the U.N. Charter prohibits the kinds of dangerous and lethal idiocy that the Trump administration is now orchestrating against Venezuela. Readers need to consider that presidents are viewed in a positive light when they are seen as acting in a presidential manner, i.e., threaten or incite war against other nations. Recall the popularity of the newly elected Trump when he ordered the use of the mother of all bombs against Afghanistan. The bipartisan talking heads in the U.S. loved that theatre (“Trump Drops The Mother Of All Bombs On Afghanistan,” New Yorker, April 14, 2017).

Even billionaire Michael Bloomberg got in on the act of Venezuela bashing in his attacks against mild reformers of the political system like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren:

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Wall Street, Banks and Angry Citizens

Wall Street, Banks and Angry Citizens

A major question remains unanswered when it comes to the state of Main Street, not just here but across the planet. If the global economy really is booming, as many politicians claim, why are leaders and their parties around the world continuing to get booted out of office in such a sweeping fashion?

One obvious answer: the post-Great Recession economic “recovery” was largely reserved for the few who could participate in the rising financial markets of those years, not the majority who continued to work longer hours, sometimes at multiple jobs, to stay afloat. In other words, the good times have left out so many people, like those struggling to keep even a few hundred dollars in their bank accounts to cover an emergency or the 80% of American workers who live paycheck to paycheck.

In today’s global economy, financial security is increasingly the property of the 1%. No surprise, then, that, as a sense of economic instability continued to grow over the past decade, angst turned to anger, a transition that — from the U.S. to the Philippines, Hungary to Brazil, Poland to Mexico — has provoked a plethora of voter upheavals. In the process, a 1930s-style brew of rising nationalism and blaming the “other” — whether that other was an immigrant, a religious group, a country, or the rest of the world — emerged.

This phenomenon offered a series of Trumpian figures, including of course The Donald himself, an opening to ride a wave of “populism” to the heights of the political system. That the backgrounds and records of none of them — whether you’re talking about Donald Trump, Viktor Orbán, Rodrigo Duterte, or Jair Bolsonaro (among others) — reflected the daily concerns of the “common people,” as the classic definition of populism might have it, hardly mattered. Even a billionaire could, it turned out, exploit economic insecurity effectively and use it to rise to ultimate power.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Will Iran Sanctions Herald the Fall of the Imperial Dollar?

Will Iran Sanctions Herald the Fall of the Imperial Dollar?

When the Trump administration unilaterally pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement in May 2018 and announced it would reimpose sanctions against Iran, the European Union (EU) declared its commitment to preserving the agreement and finding ways for its companies to circumvent U.S. sanctions. Now, eight months later, the Europeans finally announced the creation of INSTEX (Instrument In Support Of Trade Exchanges) as an alternative payment system so that European firms can do business with Iran. This mechanism might be too little and too late to salvage the Iran nuclear deal but it marks a milestone in an inevitable transition of epic proportions: the end of the global hegemony of the dollar.

INSTEX is a complicated mechanism registered in France and headed by a German banker, with shareholders from the three European countries that were signatories to the Iran nuclear deal: France, Germany and the UK. It will initially be used for non-sanctionable trade, such as medicine, food and medical devices, and is also likely to only attract smaller businesses, not large companies with significant exposure to U.S. markets.It has had an 8-month difficult birth because no one country wanted to claim maternity rights for fear of a U.S. backlash. Indeed, the U.S. threatened to devour it before it was born.

While other countries use economic sanctions as weapons in international disputes, the U.S. is the only country that imposes secondary sanctions on third country citizens and institutions. The U.S. government uses the role of the dollar as an international reserve currency and the central role of U.S. banks and institutions in the international financial system to present third country firms with an insidious either/or choice: cut off business ties with Iran (or Russia, North Korea, Turkey, etc.), or lose far more lucrative business with the U.S. and risk financial penalties in U.S. courts. For most companies, the choice is clear.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Trump’s Brilliant Strategy to Dismember U.S. Dollar Hegemony

Trump’s Brilliant Strategy to Dismember U.S. Dollar Hegemony

The end of America’s unchallenged global economic dominance has arrived sooner than expected, thanks to the very same Neocons who gave the world the Iraq, Syria and the dirty wars in Latin America. Just as the Vietnam War drove the United States off gold by 1971, its violent regime change warfare against Venezuela and Syria – and threatening other countries with sanctions if they do not join this crusade – is driving European and other nations to create their alternative financial institutions.

This break has been building for quite some time, and was bound to occur. But who would have thought that Donald Trump would become the catalytic agent? No left-wing party, no socialist, anarchist or foreign nationalist leader anywhere in the world could have achieved what he is doing to break up the American Empire.

The Deep State is reacting with shock at how this right-wing real estate grifter has been able to drive other countries to defend themselves by dismantling the U.S.-centered world order. To rub it in, he is using Bush and Reagan-era Neocon arsonists, John Bolton and now Elliott Abrams, to fan the flames in Venezuela. It is almost like a black political comedy. The world of international diplomacy is being turned inside-out. A world where there is no longer even a pretense that we might adhere to international norms, let alone laws or treaties.

The Neocons who Trump has appointed are accomplishing what seemed unthinkable not long ago: Driving China and Russia together – the great nightmare of Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski. They also are driving Germany and other European countries into the Eurasian orbit, the “Heartland” nightmare of Halford Mackinder a century ago.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

People Who Care About Democracy Don’t Plot Coups Abroad

People Who Care About Democracy Don’t Plot Coups Abroad

Illustration by Nathaniel St. Clair

For some months now, Venezuela’s socialist government has lurched through a series of escalating crises — hyperinflation, mass protests, political violence — while both the government and its opposition have flirted with authoritarianism.

It isn’t pretty — and to hear the right wing tell it, it’s the future the U.S. left wants for our own country. As if to prevent that, the Trump administration is now fomenting a coup in Venezuela.

They’ve publicly recognized an unelected opposition leader as president, discussed coup plans with Venezuela’s military, and sanctioned oil revenues the country needs to resolve its economic crisis. They’re even threatening to send U.S. troops.

They’ll tell you this about restoring “democracy” and “human rights” in the South American country. But one look at the administration officials driving the putsch perishes the thought.

Take Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who recently spoke at the United Nations calling on countries to stand “with the forces of freedom” against “the mayhem” of Venezuela’s government.

This fall, the same Pompeo shared a photo of himself beaming and shaking hands with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince — just as the prince’s order to kill and dismember a U.S. resident journalist was coming to light. The same prince is carrying on a U.S.-backed war in Yemen, where millions are starving.

Does this sound like a man who gives one fig for democracy, or against mayhem?

Or take Pompeo’s point man on Venezuela, the dreaded Elliott Abrams. Pompeo said Abrams was appointed for his “passion for the rights and liberties of all peoples.” More likely, it was Abrams’ history as Reagan’s “Secretary of Dirty Wars” (yes, that’s a real thing people called him).

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Declare a Green War Now!

Declare a Green War Now!

Struggle has brought man into being.

Struggle against nature, against other humans, within himself.

Today it is no different.

The task now set before us is gargantuan transformation. Nothing less is required than changing humanity’s social and economic relationship to the planet.

The good news is that more and more people are aware and willing to pay the price of necessary change.

While some look to the stars to usher in a new age, others realize that the stars are still too far away. And in any case, there certainly will not be enough time to reach them if we do not fundamentally transform relationships here on earth.

Ironically, the much feared outbreak of World War Three has already begun; the planet has long since declared war on mankind.

Thus, it is time to declare a national emergency and to take the necessary steps to combat our present inimical, unsustainable state of technology and organization.

A defining feature of humanity has been the nature of its use of earth’s resources. In a sense, the history of man has been the story of the unfolding of the changing energy making regimes under which he has lived. We have lived through wood, coal, oil, and uranium. Now we seek the establishment of a new energy regime consisting of wind, sun, water, and (someday hopefully) fusion. We have the technological, organizational, and economic means to successfully accomplish this epochal transformation. What is momentarily lacking is an acute global political will.

Protest and publication of the issues at stake must increase as they indeed do on an almost daily basis. Political organization on a local, national, and global scale is both essential and practical given our new means of media.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Empire’s Propagandists

The Empire’s Propagandists

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

With most media attention in the US on the government shutdown and border wall stand-off spectacle, the Trump administration has been quietly ramping up US militarism around the world. And it has set its sights on Venezuela, once again, by supporting a coup. Whether or not one supports the policies of Maduro or any other leader is inconsequential in this regard because, despite the empty mythos, the American Empire has never been interested in defending democracy. After all, its list of allies include fascist strongholds, a murderous medieval kingdom, a ruthless apartheid regime and several compliant, neoliberal states.

The ruling class of the US imperium will simply not tolerate any government that opposes its financial and geopolitical dominance, attempts socialism, or transfers its nexus to another powerful state entity, like Russia or China for instance. If one chooses to do so it is instantly targeted for assault either by crippling economic sanctions or embargoes, which make governance nearly impossible and primarily harms the general population, or covert subversion, or by direct and indirect military intervention. And the corporate media, when it chooses to cover these issues, generally parrots State Department and Pentagon talking points and obfuscations about the intentions of the US government, the role of corporations and global capitalism, and the character of the governments the US happens to be opposing at the time. And all of this is done with virtually no historical analysis. But of course none of this is new.

Whether it was for Reagan in Grenada or Bush Sr. in Panama or Kuwait, or Clinton in the Balkans, the American mainstream media has dutifully peddled the lies of Washington. The media cycle was drenched in the lies of the Bush administration about “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Complacency and the Environmental Catastrophe

Complacency and the Environmental Catastrophe

Ask any reasonably well-informed person what the cause of climate change is and the chances are they will say greenhouse gas emissions (GGE’s), but they would only be partially correct. While it is true that man-made GGE’s are clogging Earth’s lower atmosphere, trapping heat and resulting in widespread climate change, the underlying 21st century cause, in contrast to the 19th and early 20th century when information was scarce, is something much more personal and lethal: complacency. Widespread complacency among politicians, big business and to a lesser degree, the general public, is the reason why, despite the various cries for restraint, global GGE’s continue to increase.

Complacency is why air pollution is getting worse in cities and towns across the world, leading to a range of health problems and premature deaths; complacency has caused the destruction of the planet’s rain forests, 85% of which have been lost through human activity, and it’s why the oceans have been poisoned and robbed of fish. Complacency is fueling the greatest extinction of animal and plant species in our history, it’s setting forests alight, filling the oceans and rivers with plastics and other pollutants, and is the reason why the ice mass in the North Pole is melting at unprecedented rates, leading to rising sea levels, flooding and the erosion of land, destroying homes and natural habitats, taking lives, displacing people – potentially millions.

It is complacency, which a wise man once described as the root of all evil, that is causing all of this and more – the ‘I’m all right Jack’ mentality’. And no matter how many reports are published and forecasts made, or how often someone speaks or writes about what is the greatest crisis in human history, few listen, even fewer act and nothing substantive changes, certainly nothing that matches the scale of the catastrophe. Do people even know there is a crisis, really?

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Small Laws, Great Crimes: the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act

Small Laws, Great Crimes: the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act

It’s been said that small laws breed great crimes.  The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act is such a law.  The crimes committed against the people in its name are legion.

But it got even more criminal last week when the Colorado Supreme Court decided the protection of public health and the environment was not the purpose of the law, that, instead, the public must share their lives and fortunes with the economic interests of the oil and gas industry.  Indeed, the public’s interests might have to be sacrificed if protecting them proves too costly for the industry.

The implication, it could be argued, is that the state constitution got it wrong, and that a court dominated by corporate lawyers is setting it right.   The first provision in the Colorado Constitution’s Bill of Rights says quite clearly:

 “All political power is vested in and derived from the people; all government, of right, originates from the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.” Colo. Const. Art. II, Section 1.

In reaching out to smack down the rights of the people–the constitution’s “good of the whole” over the rights of money–the High Court also took a meat axe to Section 3, which says:

All persons have certain natural, essential and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; of acquiring, possessing and protecting property; and of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness. Art. II, Section 3

It’s also a fact that the constitution can only be changed by a vote of the people, but perhaps I’m becoming tedious.  Still, when the lawless are the men and women festooned in black preaching from a high bench in a marbled palace that Albert Speer would envy, a word of bemusement may be warranted.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Cataclysm
Click on image to purchase