Category Archives: James Petras

Barbarism in Words and Deeds. Barbarism of U.S. Imperial Wars is Unmatched, by James Petras

Source: Global Research

“What Russia is sponsoring and doing [in Syria] is not counter-terrorism it is barbarism” Samantha Power, US Representative to the United Nations 

The US representative to the United Nations, Ambassador ‘Ranting Sam’ Samantha Power, accused the Russian and Syrian governments of ‘barbarism’, claiming Moscow or Damascus had attacked an unarmed United Nations humanitarian convoy delivering aid to civilians in Aleppo.  No evidence was presented.  Rants and threats do not require facts or proof; they only require vehement emotional ejaculations and compliant mass propaganda organs.

‘Barbarians’, to be clear, evoke images of leaders and groups, which abjure all civilized norms and laws.  They only respond to armed force.

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In the present context Power’s charges of barbarism against Russia and Syria was used to justify the US aerial bombardment of a Syrian army outpost, which killed and maimed almost 200 government troops engaged in combating ISIS terrorists and jihadi invaders.

In other words, accusing Syrian soldiers of ‘barbarism’ was Ambassador Power’s cynical way of dehumanizing the young victims of an earlier and deliberate US war crime.

Let’s analyze the appropriate context for the use and abuse of the language of ‘barbarism’ – and its rightful application.

Barbarism:  the Deed

Over the past decade and a half, the US and its allies have invaded, occupied, killed, wounded and dispossessed over ten million people, in countries from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.  Military and civilian officials have systematically destroyed entire economies, fostered ethno-religious wars, undermined ancient community and family ties and placed corrupt political puppets in power.

Promoted by the US, torture, arbitrary arrest and incarceration have become the norm creating lawless and chaotic societies, which had once been productive and stable.  The shredding of  social structures has provokes massive population flight, with millions of desperate refugees fleeing invasions, wars and total society breakdown.  The result of these deliberate imperial policy decisions has been emptied cities and neighborhoods, broken families, destroyed lives and futures for many millions of young Arabs and Muslims.

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Disruptive ideas from the ether abound, Max Keiser leads the way!

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

 

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The Age of Imperial Wars, by James Petras

Source: Global Research

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From Regional War, “Regime Change” to Global Warfare

2015 has become a year of living dangerously.

Wars are spreading across the globe. 

Wars are escalating as new countries are bombed and the old are ravaged with ever greater intensity.

Countries, where relatively peaceful changes had taken place through recent elections, are now on the verge of civil wars.

These are wars without victors, but plenty of losers; wars that don’t end; wars where imperial occupations are faced with prolonged resistance.

There are never-ending torrents of war refugees flooding across borders.  Desperate people are detained, degraded and criminalized for being the survivors and victims of imperial invasions.

 Now major nuclear powers face off in Europe and Asia:  NATO versus Russia, US-Japan versus China.  Will these streams of blood and wars converge into one radiated wilderness drained of its precious life blood?

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The Radical Reconfiguration of Southern European Politics: The Rise of the Non Leftist Left, by James Petras

Source: James Petras

Introduction: Over the past decade fundamental changes have taken place in Southern Europe, which have broken with previous political alignments, resulting in the virtual disappearance of traditional leftist ’parties, the decline of trade unions and the emergence of ‘middle class radicalism’.

New political movements, purportedly on the left, no longer are based on class conscious workers nor are they embedded in the class struggle. Likewise on the right, greater attention is paid to escalating the repressive capacity of the state instead of state intervention in pursuit of economic markets.

Radicalization of the right, including massive cutbacks in social spending, has demolished welfare programs. The dispossession of households has uprooted cohesive neighborhood-based social organizations.

In place of the class based traditional left, ‘non-leftist left’ movements have emerged. Their leaders embrace ‘participatory democracy’ but engage in vertical political practice.

On the right, politics no longer revolve around conserving national economic privileges. Rightwing leaders willingly subordinate their economies and society to imperial led crusades, which empty national sovereignty of any meaning while pillaging the national treasury.

This essay will proceed to discuss these complex changes and their meaning.

The ‘Non-Leftist Left’ in Southern Europe

The economic crisis, in particular the imposition of severe cuts in wages, pensions and other social welfare programs by rightwing and social democratic governments have led to widespread discontent, which the traditional workplace based leftist parties have been unable to address and mobilize the people. Prolonged and deepening unemployment and the growth of temporary employment have affected over 50% of the labor force.

Union representation has declined precipitously, further weakening the presence of traditional leftist parties in factories.

Large-scale evictions, foreclosure of mortgages and accompanying job losses have led to neighborhood-based anti-eviction movements and struggles. Millions of young workers now depend on their grandparents’ pensions and remain with two older generations in their parents’ home. For the young workers, the degradation of everyday life, the loss of personal autonomy and the inability to live independently have led to revolts for ‘dignity’.

The traditional left parties and trade unions have failed (or not attempted) to organize the unemployed. They have failed to attract the young and the downwardly mobile temporary workers in anything resembling class-based, class struggle-oriented movements.

Paradoxically despite the deepening crisis among most workers, the traditional left has declined. Its workplace orientation and its language of class struggle do not resonate with those without jobs or prospects. For the radicalized middle class the traditional left is too radical in seeking to overturn capitalism and too distant from power to realize changes.

The radicalized middle class includes public employees, professionals and self-employed private contractors who aspire to, and until recently, experienced upward mobility but have now found their path blocked by the austerity programs imposed by rightwing, as well as, social democratic parties.

Frustrated by the social democrats’ betrayal and facing downward mobility, the radicalized middle class are disoriented and fragmented. Many have joined amorphous street protests; some have even embraced, temporarily in most cases, the alternative traditional rightwing parties only to encounter even more brutal job cuts, insecurity and downward mobility.

The middle classes deeply resent being denied the opportunity for upward mobility for themselves and their children. They resent their formerly ‘moderately progressive’ Social Democratic leaders’ betrayal of their interests. Their radicalism is directed toward restoring their past access to social advancement. Their deep-seated hostility to the authorities is rooted in the loss of their previous status as a result of the crisis.

Middle class radicalism is tempered by nostalgia for the past. This radicalism is rooted in the struggle to restore the European Union’s social subsidies and growth policies. They remember a recent past of rising living standards and “social inclusion”, now denied their own children. This vision guides the rhetoric that the progressive middle class had earned and enjoyed theirrising incomes as a result of their own ‘merit’.

Today the radicalized middle class looks for practical, specifically defined and government-sponsored policies that can restore their past prosperity. They do not aim to ‘level the playing field’ for everyone but to prevent their proletariazation. They reject the politics of the traditional left parties because class struggle and worker-centered ideologies do not promote their own social aspirations.

For most radicalized middle class activists the culprits are ‘austerity’, the mega-bank swindlers and the political kleptocrats. They seek parties that can reform or moralize capitalism and restore ‘individual dignity’. They want to kick out corrupt officials. They demand ‘participatory democracy’ rather than the traditional left’s goal of public ownership under worker control.

Under the specific conditions generated by the current social crisis, a non-leftist left (NLL) has emerged throughout Europe. Spontaneous, amorphous, ‘anarchic’, extra-institutional and ‘street-centered’, the NLL has adopted an irreverent style. The NLL, in its origins, rejected political parties, well-defined programs and disciplined cadres in favor of spontaneity and irreverence toward institutions.

As the appeal of the NLL grew, the unemployed, the temporary workers, the insecure and unprotected non-unionized workers and the radicalized middle class joined demonstrations and found safety in the crowds. They were attracted by the appeals from ‘the street’ to oust the incumbent kleptocrats.

Emerging from this movement aimed at the downwardly mobile middle class’ anger, Podemosin Spain, Syriza in Greece and Five Stars in Italy have appealed to all the people disconnected from power, by promising a restoration of ‘dignity and respect.’ They made amorphous appeals to ‘end austerity’ with only a vague promise that they would create jobs.

The NLL leadership, however, is most clearly influenced by the non-radical resentments of the downwardly mobile middle class.

They never engaged in class struggles and have rejected class ideology. For the NLL leaders, social polarization is mostly a vehicle for building an electoral base. Their participation in small-scale local struggles was presented as ‘proof’ that the NLL leaders spoke to authentic popular aspirations.

The Non-Leftist Left’s Transition: From Street to Public Office

From the street, the NLL moved swiftly to elections and from elections they proceeded to form coalitions with traditional parties. Strategic decisions were taken by a small coterie of personalistic leaders: They redefined ‘participatory democracy’ to refer only to local neighborhood activism and issues – not national issues, which were the realm of ‘experts’.

Syriza, the first NLL to reach power, reflected the immense gap between the radical posturingof its leaders in opposition and their cringing conformity before Established Power (the Troika: IMF, European Commission, Central Bank) once elected to government.

Syriza embodied middle class resentment toward the Euro-technocratic elite in Brussels whom they blamed for their loss of past prosperity and job security and for the ongoing degradation of everyday life. Syriza denounced the Troika while it remained under its tutelage. It excoriatedthe EU elite in the highest moral tones for doing what its elite class interests dictated, that is, defend the EU bankers, extract debt payments and threaten their underlings. In practice,Syriza never applied any class analysis to the Troika’s policy as it continued to refer to their ‘EU partners’. ..even as they imposed brutall demands.

Once in power the Syriza leaders never mobilized a single mass protest and never even threatened a general strike in the face of EU colonial dictates.

Syriza’s personalist leader, Alexis Tsipra,s appointed right wingers from former regimes to key posts. He negotiated with the Troika and caved on all strategic issues dealing with debt payments, austerity and privatizations. Syriza never considered ‘going to the people’. Syriza’smoral crusade’ against capitalism ended by their embracing capitalism and the colonial Eurozone system.

Syriza’s lack of class analysis, class struggle and class mobilization and its total commitment to working within a moralized capitalism and the Eurozone to restore middle class status and security has resulted in the most abject conformity and surrender – punctuated by shameless buffoonery on the part of some leaders.

In the end, Syriza surrendered to the dictates of higher powers of the Troika ad their Eurozone acolytes, but not until it had emptied the Greek Treasury. The leaders have combined the worst of all worlds: a bankrupt national economy, a ‘protesting’ but fundamentally colonial regime and a disenchanted electorate.

Where Syriza wildly succeeded was in marginalizing the traditional left (the Greek Communist Party). It reaffirmed the historic pattern: free floating movements of the moment end up being run by personalistic leaders who presume to speak for “the people” while bending over to their overseas overlords.

NLL in Spain and Italy: Podemos and Five Stars

Podemos in Spain and Five Stars in Italy are ready to follow Syriza’s path of colonial subservience. They rejected and successfully marginalized the traditional left. They have gained mass support, organized mass protests and loudly rejected austerity and the dictates of the Troika.

While Podemos leaders talk of ‘participatory democracy’, a handful of leaders make all policy pronouncements, decide which candidates to support in the elections and determine what kind of post-election coalition governments they will join.

What gives Podemos and Five Stars their radical appearance is their opposition to the governing parties, their rejection of ‘austerity’, their criticism of neoliberalism – and their support for ‘micro-politics’ of local grassroots direct-action.

At no time or place have they counterpoised an alternative to capitalism. Nor have they repudiated illicit debts or supported the expropriation of the banks responsible for the pillage their economies.

Podemos and Five Stars deliberately obscure their politics: They are whatever any of their affiliates’ claim to be…

The leaders raise populist demands and speak about ‘dignity’, employment and punishment of corrupt officials. They call for an end to authoritarian measures, but avoid any real commitments to institutional change, especially of the repressive courts, police or armed forces.

Podemos and Five Stars criticize the EU’s austerity programs while staying in the EU as subordinate members of an organization dominated by German bankers. They promote popular mobilizations which they have turned into vote-gathering machines for electing their members to office.

The NLLs contradictory politics of populist gestures and institutional commitments reflect the politics of a frustrated and blocked middle class demanding a restoration of its past status and security. Podemos and Five Stars leaders put on the grand show of thumbing their noses at the establishment to promote limited middle class demands. On a much broader front, the leaders of the NLL have not organized any mass protests – let alone formed a mass movement which would seriously challenge the imperialist powers, NATO, the Middle East wars and US-EU sanctions against Russia.

Since most of their supporters are anti NATO, in favor of Palestinian independence and critical of the Kiev regime the popular base of the NLL will act on their own but will have no real impact on the current national leadership.

The reason for the disparity between leaders and followers is clear: The NLL leaders intend to form post-electoral coalitions with the corrupt and reactionary ‘center left’ parties so despised and rejected by their own electorate.

Following the nationwide Spanish municipal and regional elections, Podemos allied with corrupt Socialist Party (PSOE). In the municipality of Madrid, Podemos supported the left-center coalition Ahora Madrid (Madrid Now), which in turn has allied with the center-right Socialists to elect the ‘progressive’ mayoral candidate, Manuela Carmena.

While the entire ‘progressive camp’ celebrates the defeat of the hard-right Popular Party candidate –little has been said about consequential changes in the municipal and regional budgets, structures of economic power and class relations.

Five Stars’,( Movimento Cinque Stelle or M5S), Italy’s non-leftist left is dominated by a single ‘anti-leader’, Beppe Grillo, he defines the party’s programs and affiliations. He is known for making clownish, provocative gestures against the authorities, calling for a “Fuck the Parliament Day”.

It is Beppe who selects the candidates to run for Parliament. While in opposition, M5S loudly opposed all NATO wars in the Middle East, US military interventions in Latin America and free trade agreements. But now ensconced in the European Parliament, Beppe has aligned with the Libertarian Right.

Five Stars (M5S) central demands revolve around ‘direct democracy’ and ‘sustainable development’. It has captured the electoral support of the majority of the lower middle classgaining 26% of the vote (9 million voters) in the 2013 general elections.

While Beppe and his colleagues engage in fist fights within the Parliament, make radical gestures and spout belligerent rhetoric, ‘M5S’ has not supported a workers general strike. It participates in each and every election, but has stayed away from factory struggles.

Radicalism, as grand ‘gesture politics’, is an entertaining, non-threatening response to capitalism since there is no concerted effort to form class alliances with workers engaged in workplace struggles.

M5S’, like Podemos and Syriza, expresses the disorganized radicalism of the young, frustrated lower middle class raging against their downward mobility, while refusing to breakwith the EU .They rail against the concentration of power in the hands of the banks, but refuse to pursue their nationalization. M5S mobilized 800,000 people in Rome recently but led them nowhere. ‘Five Stars’ convokes crowds to meet and cheer its leaders and to ridicule the power brokers. Afterwards they all go home.

Conclusion

While the ‘NLL’ movements capture the support of the ‘indignant’, the mass of unemployed workers and the evicted householders, their leaders do not articulate a serious plan of action capable of challenging the economic power structures: they raise popular expectations via demands for ‘change’. However, these vague and deceptive slogans allow the NLL leaders to join in a medley of opportunist electoral coalitions and governmental alliances, with decidedly establishment personalities and parties.

In Greece, Italy and Spain the traditional left has either disappeared, or shrunk to a marginal force. With little or no base outside of the workplace and trade unions, they barely secure five percent of the votes.

The NLL has deepened the isolation of the traditional left and has even attracted a part of its social base. NLL’s rejection of the traditional left’s tight organization and top down leadership and its pluralistic rhetoric appeals to the young. Moreover, as the left trade unions have sought compromises with the bosses to save the jobs of employed workers and ignored the unemployed, the latter has looked to the ‘open and spontaneous’ NLL to express their opposition. In Spain’s municipal elections, the United Left, a Communist-led electoral formation, joined with Podemos to elect Manuela Carmena, the ‘insurgent mayor’ of Madrid.

While the Euro-US academic left has rightly celebrated the emergence of mass opposition to the rightist regimes in Southern Europe, they have failed to understand the internal dynamicswithin the NLL movements: the limitations of middle class radicalism and their conformists’ goals.

The example of Syriza in Greece is a warning of the fatal consequences of middle class leaders trying to realize radical changes, within the neo-liberal framework imposed by the EU.

Epilogue

Currently, the best example of the opportunism and bankruptcy of the NLL is found in the successful Mayor-elect of Madrid, Manuela Carmena, whose victory was hailed by Podemos as the ‘great victory for the people’ at recent celebration.

For her part, Mayor-elect Carmena has wasted no time repudiating all ‘five basic emergency reforms’ promised during the elections. In a press conference, the so-called ‘progressive Mayor of Madrid’ announced (with a cynical grin) that ‘promise number one’ – a public bank – was no longer needed because she was satisfied to work with the private banking oligarchy. She refused to pursue ‘promise number two’ – to provide subsidies for electricity, water and gas for poor families cut off from those services, claiming such support was too early and could wait until winter

Regarding Podemos ‘promise number three’ – a debt moratorium, Carmena insisted that “we will keep paying, for now”. On ‘promise number four’ favoring public over private contractors for municipal contracts, Carmena reversed the position: “We can’t change right away”.

Carmena even repudiated ‘promise number five’ – to immediately implement a summer meals program for poor children, insisting that she would rely on the inadequate programs of far right predecessor.

Moreover, Mayor-elect Carmena went even further, staffing her administration with far-right holdovers from the previous government to strategic policy-making positions. For example, sheappointed Carmen Roman, a former Director General of the far right Prime Minister Aznar, as Senior Executive of Madrid. She defended these reactionary decisions claiming that she was looking for “technocrats who are the best professional administrations”. Indeed, Carmen Roman had implemented mass firing of public workers and the dismantling of social programs in the ‘best professional’ manner possible!

Carmena further betrayed her Podemos electorate by insisting she looked forward to working with the hard right Prime Minister Rajoy and flatly rejected the idea of promoting a progressive alternative!

In less than one week, the euphoria over the victory of Podemos backed candidates has been dissipated by these acts of cynical opportunism: the non-leftist left has betrayed its electorate, from the very start!

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books).

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

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The Assassination of Greece, by James Petras

James Petras was Director of the Center for Mediterranean Studies in Athens (1981-1984) and adviser to Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou (1981-84). Here he analyzes the Greek crisis and its issues within the European Union.

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Yánis Varoufákis and Aléxis Tsípras

The Greek government is currently locked in a life and death struggle with the elite which dominate the banks and political decision-making centers of the European Union. What are at stake are the livelihoods of 11 million Greek workers, employees and small business people and the viability of the European Union. If the ruling Syriza government capitulates to the demands of the EU bankers and agrees to continue the austerity programs, Greece will be condemned to decades of regression, destitution and colonial rule. If Greece decides to resist, and is forced to exit the EU, it will need to repudiate its 270 billion Euro foreign debts, sending the international financial markets crashing and causing the EU to collapse.

The leadership of the EU is counting on Syriza leaders abandoning their commitments to the Greek electorate, which as of early February 2015, is overwhelmingly (over 70%) in favor of ending austerity and debt payments and moving forward toward state investment in national economic and social development [1]. The choices are stark; the consequences have world-historical significance. The issues go far beyond local or even regional, time-bound, impacts. The entire global financial system will be affected [2].

The default will ripple to all creditors and debtors, far beyond Europe; investor confidence in the entire western financial empire will be shaken. First and foremost all western banks have direct and indirect ties to the Greek banks [3]. When the latter collapse, they will be profoundly affected beyond what their governments can sustain. Massive state intervention will be the order of the day. The Greek government will have no choice but to take over the entire financial system . . . the domino effect will first and foremost effect Southern Europe and spread to the ‘dominant regions’ in the North and then across to England and North America [4].

To understand the origins of this crises and alternatives facing Greece and the EU, it is necessary to briefly survey the political and economic developments of the past three decades. We will proceed by examining Greek and EU relations between 1980 – 2000 and then proceed to the current collapse and EU intervention in the Greek economy. In the final section we will discuss the rise and election of Syriza, and its growing submissiveness in the context of EU dominance, and intransigence, highlighting the need for a radical break with the past relationship of ‘lord and vassal’.

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The Rise of German Imperialism and the Phony “Russian Threat”, by James Petras

December 08, 2014 “ICH” – The principle Nazi ideological prop that secured massive financial and political support from Germany’s leading industrialists was the Communist and Soviet threat.  The main Nazi military drive, absorbing two-thirds of its best troops, was directed eastward at conquering and destroying Russia.  The ‘Russian Threat’ justified Nazi Germany’s conquest and occupation of the Ukraine, the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the Baltic states, with the aid of a substantial proportion of local Nazi collaborators.

After Germany’s defeat , division  and  disarmament, and with the extension of Soviet power,  the US reinstated the Nazi industrial and banking giants, officials and intelligence operatives. At first they were engaged in rebuilding their domestic economy and consolidating political power, in collaboration with the US military occupation forces.

By the late 1960’s Germany regained economic primacy in Europe and was at the forefront of European ‘integration’, in association with France and England. It soon came to dominate the principle decision – making institutions of the European Union(EU). The EU served as Germany’s instrument for conquest by stealth. Year by year, through ‘aid’ and low interest loans,the EU  facilitated German capitalist’s  market penetration and financial expansion,through out south and central Europe. Germany set the agenda for Western Europe, gaining economic dominance while benefiting from US subversion and encirclement of Eastern Europe, Russia and the Baltic and Balkan states.

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The Fall of the Berlin Wall and the Multiplication of Western Walls, by James Petras

Introduction

On November 9, 2014, Germany and its Western Allies, celebrated the ‘Fall of the Berlin Wall’ and the subsequent ‘re-unification’of the ‘two Germanys’. Prime Minister Merkel described the ‘historic event’ as a “victory of freedom for all peoples in Europe and across the world.” The entire Western media and officialdom echoed Merkel’s rhetoric, as 300,000 Germans gathered at the Brandenburg Gate hailed their leader as she spoke of ‘one people, one nation and one state in freedom, peace and prosperity…’ But Merkel’s discourse is a self-serving chauvinist fabrication that distorts the real consequences of a united Germany. Moreover, the Western celebration of ‘fallen walls’ is very selective.

The notion that Germany was ‘unified’ democratically is of dubious historical accuracy. The consequences of a powerful unified Germany have not led to a peaceful prosperous Europe and Germany’s current role in world politics, particularly its policies toward the Middle East, North Africa and the Ukraine, has been anything but peaceful.

The Walls of Freedom and the Walls of Prison

While NATO regimes celebrate the ‘Fall of the Berlin Wall’ as the highest expression of freedom, these same political leaders support, finance and promote the construction of oppressive walls throughout world: Unified Germany and its NATO partners have supported Israel’s Separation Wall dividing and caging millions of Palestinians for the better part of two decades. Apparently there are progressive and reactionary ‘walls’ – ‘good walls’ and ‘bad walls’. Unlike the Palestinians, Berliners were never deprived of basic necessities and subject to random displacement or even murder – the Western airlift provided all for West Berliners. Israel’s Separation Wall results in division and seizure of Palestinian land, ancestral homes, farms, schools and cultural sites while centuries-old olive groves are razed – depriving their owners of productive income.

The US has built its own massive ‘Security Wall’ along its Mexican border, incarcerating and even shooting refugees fleeing Washington’s militarization of Central America and Mexico. The US ‘Security’ Wall condemns millions of Mexicans and Central Americans to live in terror and misery in murderous US client narco-states. In the past seven years, over 100,000 Mexican civilians have been killed under the reign of US-backed Presidents, who were elected through fraud, as they relentlessly pursue the US mandated “War on Drugs”. Similar levels of killings ravage Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala where narco-gangs, with the backing of corrupt political, police and military officials, terrorize the cities and countryside. The death toll from US military interventions in Central America far exceeds those by the former-Soviet Union in Eastern Europe. The US border wall ensures that the survivors of this terror will remain exposed to the brutal rule of US-backed regimes.

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Russia’s Vulnerability to EU – US Sanctions and Military Encroachments, by James Petras

Introduction

The US-EU sponsored coup in the Ukraine and its conversion from a stable Russian trading partner, to a devastated EU economic client and NATO launch pad, as well as the subsequent economic sanctions against Russia for supporting the Russian ethnic majority in the Donbas region and Crimea, illustrate the dangerous vulnerability of the Russian economy and state. The current effort to increase Russia’s national security and economic viability in the face of these challenges requires a critical analysis of the policies and structures emerging in the post-Soviet era.

Pillage as Privatization

Over the past quarter century, several trillion dollars worth of public property in every sector of the Russian economy was illegally transferred or violently seized by gangster-oligarchs acting through armed gangs, especially during its ‘transition to capitalism’.

From 1990 to 1999, over 6 million Russian citizens died prematurely as a result of the catastrophic collapse of the economy; life expectancy for males declined from 67 years during the Soviet era to 55 year during the Yeltsin period. Russia’s GNP declined sixty percent – a historic first for a country not at war. Following Yeltsin’s violent seizure of power and his bombing of the Russian parliament, the regime proceeded to ‘prioritize’ the privatization of the economy, selling off the energy, natural resources, banking, transport and communication sectors at one-tenth or less of their real value to well-connected cronies and foreign entities. Armed thugs, organized by emerging oligarchs “completed” the program of privatization by assaulting, murdering and threatening rivals. Hundreds of thousands of elderly pensioners were tossed out of their homes and apartments in a vicious land-grab by violent property speculators. US and European academic financial consultants “advised” rival oligarchs and government ministers on the most “efficient” market techniques for pillaging the economy, while skimming off lucrative fees and commissions –fortunes were made for the well-connected. Meanwhile, living standards collapsed, impoverishing two thirds of Russian households, suicides quadrupled and deaths from alcoholism, drug addiction, HIV and venereal diseases became rampant. Syphilis and tuberculosis reached epidemic proportions – diseases fully controlled during the Soviet era reemerged with the closure of clinics and hospitals.

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The US and Global Wars: Empire or Vampire?, by James Petras

To the growing army of critics of US military intervention, who also reject the mendacious claims by American officials and their apologists of ‘world leadership’, Washington is engaged in ‘empire-building”.

But the notion that the US is building an empire, by engaging in wars to exploit and plunder countries’ markets, resources and labor, defies the realities of the past two decades. US wars, including invasions, bombings, occupations, sanctions, coups and clandestine operations have not resulted in the expansion of markets, greater control and exploitation of resources or the ability to exploit cheap labor. Instead US wars have destroyed enterprises, reduced access to raw materials, killed, wounded or displaced productive workers around the world, and limited access to lucrative investment sites and markets via sanctions.

In other words, US global military interventions and wars have done the exact opposite of what all previous empires have pursued: Washington has exploited (and depleted) the domestic economy to expand militarily abroad instead of enriching it.

Why and how the US global wars differ from those of previous empires requires us to examine (1) the forces driving overseas expansion; (2) the political conceptions accompanying the conquest, the displacement of incumbent rulers and the seizure of power and; (3) the reorganization of the conquered states and the accompanying economic and social structures to sustain long-term neo-colonial relations.

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