jeudi 17 février 2011

A White House report from August predicted Middle-East Unrest

On the 17th of March, 2011, The New York Times' Mark Landler informed his readers that President Barack Obama "ordered his advisers last August to produce a secret report on unrest in the Arab world, which concluded that without sweeping political changes, countries from Bahrain to Yemen were ripe for popular revolt, administration officials said Wednesday". Yet the President chose to do nothing and even strengthened the US' support of Mubarak, until the inevitable happened. The aspirations of the Egyptian people weren't on his mind, as the little priority made of them throughout the article blatantly shows, and instead the central question for Obama is: "how the administration could push for political change in countries with autocratic rulers who are also valuable allies of the US". 

In other words: how can the US maintain the institutional and legal frameworks that benefit its interests without it being too obvious to the masses? True democracy is not an option for Obama because it is not certain that if given the full-spectrum of choice the Egyptian people would vote in power a pro-US coalition/candidate. It is even less sure that they would vote in anyone who would be disposed to satisfy the greed of the imperialist yankees as Mubarak had been. Perhaps Obama wants democracy and the rule of law in Egypt, but he and his owners (financial institutions and transnational conglomerates, not forgetting the military-industrial complex) have too much to gain from endless wars and federal bailouts/subsidies. Republicans and Democrats are the two faces of the same coin; factions of the single party that rules over the US and indeed the world: the Business Party. The little game works as long as the mainstream media(dis)misinforms the electorate [at least one-half of American citizens, those who vote in federal elections that is. For Congressional elections the turnout is much lower] believes in the two-party democracy rhetoric. But, as American officials themselves say in the report, things are now "ripe" for political unrest because oppressed people eventually get fed up and demand freedom. Maybe we in the "North" aren't "ripe" yet because we still have so many rights left to get taken away...

In any case, the types of calculations made by Obama and his cronies are totally illegitimate and morally reprehensible. But men of power are not to be judged on the content of their character alone (in a liberal democracy your private life stays private) but on the predictable consequences of their actions. Obama knew that Mubarak was weak, yet his administration's "first assessment" after the start of the demonstrations was that the regime was "stable and looking to meet the legitimate needs of the Egyptian people", as said on live television by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (and as already reported below). The official discourse changed less than a day later, yet material and scientific assistance/expertise was not offered to the protesters, who are the weakest and most vulnerable of all the parties at play (unlike the army, Mubarak, Israel and the US Government).

A country has to possess full sovereignty over its affairs to be democratic. Interference by other countries is justified in certain instances (the most important being that the population asks for it) but when a massive popular uprising overthrows a dictator who the US supported for 30 years, the US (or other Western countries) should not get any say in who governs things how next! At the very least, the US has a moral responsibility to help reconstruct Egypt. They must recognize the legitimacy of the protesters' demands and later that of elected officials. Funding must be redirected from outrageous military and intelligence spending to projects "of the people, by the people, for the people" (of the $1.5 billion given to Egypt every year, at least 75% of it could be used for social programs and getting people jobs).That is why transparent elections without foreign intervention must be organized on national Egyptian soil. The results of said elections must be accepted insofar as they do not threaten basic moral and legal principles.

In the US, citizens must realize that their rights are being stripped bit by bit by their government as well and that their national wealth is being transfered massively to the top 2% and more generally to the top 10% of wage earners, ie billionaires and millionaires who have the means to help out the rest of us through higher taxation rates. They are "ripe" for a revolt (or revolution?), because they are the lab rats being tested for the "global lifestyle" (one globalized culture working for the rich)  that is being imposed by the ruling elite. The conditions of their rule will be all the more comfortable when the vast majority of the world's inhabitants will be uneducated, unemployed, apathetic towards politics, denied of their basic rights and dignity, unhealthy, obese and living in poverty despite having one or two jobs.

It goes without saying that unions, the most effective way of achieving progressive victories, do not fit into this scenario. Defending workers' rights to social protection through employment is not socialism. It's a demand to recognize that "modernity" should not mean working more for less pay. With the technological and material resources humanity now possesses, we should be working less for more pay. The labour movement from within America must organize and affirm its existence, being the advocate of nationwide causes (like healthcare, welfare, protection from foreclosures) and helping people aggregate their demands into one list of prioritized grievances to be addressed by politicians. I can think of a few off the top of my head: ending risky financial speculation, a return to pre-1980s progressive tax rates, shortening working hours to boost up unemployment, health regulations in fast-food industry, drastic cuts in the trillion-dollar defense budget, adopting a national single-payer healthcare system, ending the counterproductive drug war...

As of today the situation for labour unions in the US is dire; the US is one of the rare developed nations that does not have a labour-based party in their electoral system. Organising a grassroots based, but nationally structured union with "electable" candidates (not corporate funded but within the political framework through a third party, or as Independent) is possible in the US, but both 'parties' in power agree on one thing: maintaining the bureaucratic, pyramidal power structures of the post 9/11 surveillance industry. During most of the XXth century unions were associated with the general communist scare and were infiltrated, exposed and repressed. From 1956-1971, the CIA and other special agents were ordered to harass any left-wing, feminist or civil rights group. They were placed on the same scale and treated worse than actual terrorist and hate groups (the KKK was a pretty and organised institution for a long time, and indirectly tolerated because it supported candidates in elections...). Operations went from simple tapping of phone or breaking up of marriages to assassinations. These criminal activities started coming to light in the late 60s, but the media attention around the Watergate scandal (peanuts compared to what successive administrations had done in COINTELPRO) conveniently placed this page of history in the dustbin. So the reason why there aren't any stronger unions today is because As the Select Committee To Study Governmental Operations concluded in their Final Report on April 26th, 1976:

"The Committee's fundamental conclusion is that intelligence activities have undermined the constitutional rights of citizens and that they have done so primarily because checks and balances designed by the framers of the Constitution to assure accountability have not been applied" [...]

The crescendo of improper intelligence activity in the latter part of the 1960s and the early 1970s shows what we must watch out for: In time of crisis, the Government will exercise its power to conduct domestic intelligence activities to the fullest extent. The distinction between legal dissent and criminal conduct is easily forgotten. Our job is to recommend means to help ensure that the distinction will always be observed.

And last week, the House Republicans passed a bill that will "reauthorize three expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act.[...] The three expiring provisions give the government the ability to use roving wiretaps to monitor the communications of suspects; obtain special court orders forcing businesses to turn over records; and conduct surveillance on a so-called "lone wolf", or somebody who is not knowingly associated with terrorists". 

The US can try and monitor its population as tightly and maliciously as it wants. But, as Obama himself confessed, "trying to suppress your own people is something that is not sustainable [...] When you resort to violence, that does not work". The man who escalated George W. Bush's criminal wars and the War on Terror (now rebranded of course) certainly knows what he's talking about. But he has gone down the same path as his predecessor and caused much more damage to the world's population than Mubarak could ever have dreamed of.

For anyone still hesitating on the question of terrorism, the solution is simple: stop participating in terrorism. The US government's aggressive global class warfare (waged with many other "partner countries"), which inevitably spirals down into real war, is the root of [almost] all our grievances. Their involvement in the Middle-East which consists of propping up puppet dictators who suppress the people in order to enrich the US elite is the root of Islamic terrorism.  It is also the root of future revolutionary movements that are about to erupt worldwide. Why? Because virtually all of our Western governments and media are complicit and they already have been exposed for what they are: corporate watchdogs.

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