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Critical Mission: Essays on Democracy Promotion
Related to country: Zimbabwe

Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

IN his book "Critical Mission: Essays on Democracy Promotion (2004)", Thomas Carothers wrote: "Where democracy appears to fit in well with US security and economic interests, the United States promotes democracy. Where democracy clashes with other significant interests, it is downplayed or even ignored."

Carothers served in the Reagan State Department on what was known as "democracy enhancement" projects in Latin America during the 1980s and he wrote a history of these projects in his book — drawing the foregoing conclusion.

The so-called democracy promotion has become the leading theme of declared US policy in the Middle East, just like it is the leading theme of the declared US policy on Zimbabwe. Declared because the US involvement in the affairs of Zimbabwe has nothing to do with the theme of democracy by any measure of imagination.

The project that has been assigned to Ambassador James D. McGee by George W. Bush has a background. It is part of a "strong line of continuity" in the post-Cold War period; as Carothers would call it.

The strong line of continuity, and the power interests that sustain it, is the only explanation that can be given for McGee’s new role as the campaign manager for Morgan Tsvangirai. The real substance of the puerile posture of "promoting democracy" by McGee, through the lapdog support of the gang of Western diplomats stationed in Harare, is the resolve by the West to ensure that Zimbabwe is run by a regime that kowtows to the US’ sabre-rattling foreign policy.

For the Empire, June 27 is the day to protect the "strong line of continuity". The continuity has been illustrated by McGee’s Cold War-style diplomacy. The roguery, the waggery, the incivility and the mischievousness portrayed so far by McGee is just but an explicit signal that the US is not only geared to upset the political establishment in Zimbabwe, but also to claim responsibility and credit for it.

The US has been pushing for confrontation between supporters of MDC-T and the Government for a long time. This has been pursued through the sponsoring of obnoxious civic organisations bent on rabble-rousing and pushing the Government of Zimbabwe into retaliatory action.

This confrontational approach could not be reflected any better than in the words of Morgan Tsvangirai when he was answering a question on his chances of winning the presidential election run-off. This was just after Tsvangirai returned from his self-imposed sympathy-seeking exile.

Said Tsvangirai: "As sure as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, Mugabe is not going to win this election." One would be forgiven for thinking that the reporter interviewing Tsvangirai had asked about Tsvangirai’s views on President Mugabe’s chances of winning the election.

Tsvangirai was explicitly asked about his own prospects and chances of winning the election but, of course, he knows that his winning cannot be news ahead of President Mugabe’s losing an election. This is the credo upon which Washington is directing operations in Harare.

The election is not about policy or issues affecting the welfare of Zimbabweans. It is about confronting a man who has angered the Emperor. It is about defeating a revolutionary process that has stood in the way of US-owned international capital. It is about confronting a revolution that has dismembered the imperial agrarian institution that once ruled supreme in the agricultural affairs of Southern Africa.

Tsvangirai knows very well that McGee will not be too impressed about him talking about how he intends to win the election. He knows that he is not the centrepiece of the political power play. He knows his sponsors are more worried about President Mugabe than they care about his winning or what becomes of him after any such win. He knows he is a pawn in the Great Game pitting Zanu-PF and his masters in the British rulership.

Tsvangirai’s role in the run-up to the run-off is to appear to be combating a ruthless dictatorship as well as to be seen to be promoting liberty and freedom. His role is not to offer Zimbabwe better leadership and he seems to be honest enough not to even pretend to be a promising leader. When he talks of food, jobs and a better life, he does make it clear that "our friends from the international community" will take care of that. In the first round of elections, Tsvangirai even had figures of how much money would be coming in the first 100 days of his "government".

Voters were told that the amount was US$10 billion and many thought better this package than the package of sanctions. George Orwell would not have known whether to laugh or to weep. And Josiah Tongogara would have exploded into revolutionary anger. In fact, he must have already.

McGee is trying to do what John Negroponte did in Iraqi in 2004. Negroponte was assigned to hand over "Iraqi sovereignty" in fulfilment of Bush’s "messianic mission" of bringing ‘‘democracy’’ to the Middle East. Of course, Western mentality does not see the irony of "handing over" sovereignty to other nations. To the Western ruling elite, the sovereignty of other nation-states is in the custody of the Empire.

Negroponte was heavily involved in the 2005 Iraqi election — an election he wanted postponed until the right "Shiite leaders" were put in place. However, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani led a popular non-violent resistance to Negroponte’s machinations and the US-UK gang had no other recourse but to allow the election. Sensing diplomatic mortification, Negroponte set the US doctrinal machinery into high gear to represent the elections as a US initiative, the same way the US claims to have ended the Kenyan crisis in January.

After this successful spin by Negroponte, he was immediately nominated as the first director of National Intelligence, a feat McGee must be itching to emulate via the politics of Zimbabwe.

Negroponte’s career had its arc ranging from Honduras, where as Reagan’s ambassador he oversaw the Contra terrorist forces’ war against Nicaragua, to Iraq, where as Bush’s ambassador he briefly presided over another exercise in purported democratisation.

McGee is not after the liberty and freedom of Zimbabweans. He is after an election result that is in line with the wishes of the US imperial authority. In as far as the coming election is concerned, the words spoken by Noam Chomsky, the renowned American linguist and academic, on March 2, 2005 are most incisive.

Said Chomsky: "In line with the strong line of continuity and its institutional roots, we can anticipate that Washington will not readily tolerate political outcomes that it opposes."

This is why the US does not tolerate Hamas in Palestine, and this is also why the public opinion in favour of US-UK withdrawal from Iraq has been totally ignored by the Bush crowd of the likes of Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

The US will not tolerate an election outcome that does not depose President Mugabe. Such an outcome is by definition ‘‘fraudulent and undemocratic". On the other hand, victory for Tsvangirai is by definition the compendium of democracy.

Zimbabwe is faced not with the threat of power-hungry puppet politicians shamelessly soliciting for funding from rich and powerful countries. This Tsvangirai-led and Biti-administered outfit is no challenge at all to a revolutionary party like Zanu-PF.

Rather, Zimbabwe is faced with the threat of the world’s most powerful country, a country that has deployed all its energies on trying to isolate the Government from as many countries as can be either persuaded or threatened.

The Government has been facing provocations of the highest order from some of its own citizens — people coming from a section of the population that has been romanticised by the glitter of Western capitals as well as the sweetness of the US dollar.

This provocation is meant to push the Government into repressive action and that way arming the US-UK alliance with the entire diplomatic arsenal they want. It is in this context that reports of violence in some parts of the country need to be managed with the ingenuity they deserve.

Tsvangirai and his MDC-T lieutenants may shout all they want that they find violence appalling, but the truth of the matter is that the MDC has from its formation been hankering for violence with the desperation of a cornered rabbit.

It is like hearing the MDC-T protecting the identity of sanctions in commentary related to the economic ills facing Zimbabwe today. It is dreadfully appalling to hear fellow Zimbabweans profusely defending sanctions and those who imposed them in as much as they hysterically blame President Mugabe for everything that the US-UK alliance has engineered in the country today.

Zanu-PF is not without blame. A revolution that can afford the luxury of corruption, laziness, greed and bickering cannot be without blame.

However, it is absolutely dishonest for anyone to claim that the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe at the beginning of this century are of a benign effect to the state of the economy today. Equally, it is not honest to pretend that corruption has nothing to do with the state of the economy today.

Some have said Zanu-PF is standing against the economy as its opposition, with the clownish gang in the opposition MDC-T only serving as a proxy. The economy, or is it the economic crisis, is, in fact, a creation of Western powers and logically Zanu-PF is, therefore, standing against the Western alliance as fronted by the MDC-T.

Likewise voters must be aware that they are engaging in an election between their party and the Western powers — their party because the majority of MDC members are indeed children of Zanu-PF.

It is incumbent upon the generality of Zimbabweans to reflect on what is before us politically right now and in that reflection choose to stand and defend the national interest.

Zimbabwe, together we are one. We shall overcome.

l Reason Wafawarova is a political writer and can be contacted on wafawarova@yahoo.co.uk

May 30, 2008 | 3:24 AM Comments  {num} comments


Somalia: Hidden Catastrophe, Hidden Agenda
Related to country: Somalia

Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

I got an interesting article on http://www.blackagendareport.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=630&Itemid=37 and its very interesting i thought i should share!

Somalia: Hidden Catastrophe, Hidden Agenda
Africa - US Imperialism in Africa
Wednesday, 21 May 2008
by Media Lens, UK

Since 1996 the US has engaged in a continual "low-intensity" war in Somalia that has killed a million of that country's inhabitants, a death toll second only to the Congo during that time. Another million Somalis are homeless, refugees from the fighting. In the US, news of happenings in Somalia is scarce and often misleading. It's worth noting that Somalia sits upon an untapped lake of oil, and has significant uranium deposits as well, making it in the US interest to prevent any viable national government not under its control from coming to power.

Somalia: Hidden Catastrophe, Hidden Agenda
by Media Lens

On May 1, the BBC website reported an attack on Somalia with the words: “Air raid kills Somali militants.”

One might think the BBC’s headline would identify the agency responsible for the bombing, but the first few sentences also shed no light:

“The leader of the military wing of an Islamist insurgent organization in Somalia has been killed in an overnight air strike.
“Aden Hashi Ayro, al-Shabab’s military commander, died when his home in the central town of Dusamareb was bombed.
“Ten other people, including a senior militant, are also reported dead.”

Only in the fourth sentence, was responsibility ascribed:

“A US military spokesman told the BBC that it had attacked what he called a known al-Qaeda target in Somalia.”

English teachers often illustrate use of the passive form with the sentence: ‘A man has been arrested.’ The passive is preferable, students are told, because the active form, ‘The police have arrested a man,’ contains a redundancy — the agent is already indicated by the action. There’s no need to actually mention ‘the police.’

Likewise, the BBC takes for granted that the US is the world’s policeman; no need to mention it by name. The action of bombing an impoverished Third World country already indicates the agent. This also helps explain why no mention was made of the illegality of this act of aggression.

On the rare occasions when the media mention the conflict in Somalia at all, the focus tends to fall on US attempts to hunt down al Qaeda, or on the West’s alleged humanitarian motives. Other priorities were indicated in 1992 when the US political weekly The Nation referred to Somalia as “one of the most strategically sensitive spots in the world today: astride the Horn of Africa, where oil, Islamic fundamentalism and Israeli, Iranian and Arab ambitions and arms are apt to crash and collide.” (December 21, 1992)

In December 2006, the US backed the invasion of Somalia by its close Ethiopian ally to overthrow the Islamist government, the Islamic Courts Union (ICU). Christian Ethiopia is a historic enemy of Somalia, which is made up entirely of Sunni Muslims.
On December 4 of that year, General John Abizaid, the commander of US forces from the Middle East through Afghanistan, travelled to Addis Ababa to meet the Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi. Three weeks later, Ethiopian forces crossed into Somalia and Washington launched a series of supportive air strikes. The Guardian quoted a former intelligence officer familiar with the region:

“The meeting was just the final handshake.” (Xan Rice and Suzanne Goldenberg, “The American connection: How US forged an alliance with Ethiopia over invasion,” The Guardian, January 13, 2007)
Political analyst James Petras commented:

“Somalia . . . was invaded by mercenaries by Ethiopia, trained, financed, armed and directed by US military advisers.” (Petras, ‘The Imperial System: Hierarchy, Networks and Clients: The Case of Somalia,’ Dissident Voice, February 18, 2007)

USA Today reported in January 2007 that the US had “quietly poured weapons and military advisers into Ethiopia,” which had received nearly $20 million in US military aid since late 2002. The report added:

“The [Somalia] intervention is controversial in Ethiopia, where the Meles government has become increasingly repressive, said Chris Albin-Lackey, an African researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“The Meles government has limited the power of the opposition in parliament and arrested thousands. A government inquiry concluded that security forces fatally shot, beat or strangled 193 people who protested election fraud in 2005.”
Petras noted that, having driven the last of the warlords from Mogadishu and most of the countryside, the ICU had established a government which was welcomed by the great majority of Somalis and covered over 90% of the population:
“The ICU was a relatively honest administration, which ended warlord corruption and extortion. Personal safety and property were protected, ending arbitrary seizures and kidnappings by warlords and their armed thugs. The ICU is a broad multi-tendency movement that includes moderates and radical Islamists, civilian politicians and armed fighters, liberals and populists, electoralists and authoritarians. Most important, the Courts succeeded in unifying the country and creating some semblance of nationhood, overcoming clan fragmentation.” (Petras, op. cit)

Martin Fletcher wrote in the Times of the ICU:

“I am no apologist for the courts. Their leadership included extremists with dangerous intentions and connections. But for six months they achieved the near-impossible feat of restoring order to a country that appeared ungovernable…
“The courts were less repressive than our Saudi Arabian friends. They publicly executed two murderers (a fraction of the 24 executions in Texas last year), and discouraged Western dancing, music and films, but at least people could walk the streets without being robbed or killed. That trumps most other considerations. Ask any Iraqi.
“The Islamists have now been replaced - with Washington’s connivance - by a weak, fragile Government that was created long before the courts won power, that includes the very warlords they defeated and relies for survival on Somalia’s worst enemy.” (Fletcher, ‘The Islamists were the one hope for Somalia,’ The Times, January 8, 2007)

It was clear to many commentators that the Ethiopian invasion would prove disastrous. Three months later, the Daily Telegraph reported:

“A new humanitarian crisis is rapidly taking shape in the Horn of Africa where eight days of heavy fighting in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, has forced about 350,000 people to flee.
“Artillery fire has devastated large areas of the city, forcing about one third of its population to leave. Yesterday Mogadishu’s main hospital was shelled.
“The plains around Mogadishu are filled with refugees enduring desperate conditions with little food or shelter. The fighting began when Somalia’s internationally recognised government, supported by Ethiopian troops, launched an offensive against insurgents.” (Mike Pflanz, ‘Fighting brings fresh misery to Somalia,’ Telegraph, April 26, 2007)
The Telegraph cited a British aid worker: “They are bombing anything that moves.”

Catherine Weibel, from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees was also quoted:

“Everyone we are talking to says this is the worst situation they have seen in 16 years since the last government fell.”

The War On Terror . . . And The Real Concern
The preferred media framework for making sense of US actions closely parallels cold war mythology. We are to believe the US is passionately, even blindly, battling ideological enemies in an effort to protect itself and the West. Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland could be relied upon to paint this picture of events:

“A fortnight ago the Ethiopians entered Somalia to topple the Islamist forces who had just taken Mogadishu. Americans dislike that Islamist movement, fearing it has the makings of an African Taliban, so they backed the Ethiopians to take it out. According to Patrick Smith, the editor of Africa Confidential, the war on terror is fast becoming a cold war for the 21st century, with the US finding proxy allies to fight proxy enemies in faraway places.” (Freedland, “Like a deluded compulsive gambler, Bush is fuelling a new cold war,” The Guardian, January 10, 2007)

If this sounds curiously simplistic, even childish, it is. In fact, the cold war, like the “war on terror”, was far less ideological, far more prosaic, than journalists like Freedland claim. Historian Howard Zinn has, for example, commented on the Vietnam war, which the BBC would have us believe “was America’s attempt to stop Communists from toppling one country after another in South East Asia”:

“When I read the hundreds of pages of the Pentagon Papers entrusted to me by [military analyst] Daniel Ellsberg, what jumped out at me were the secret memos from the National Security Council. Explaining the U.S. interest in Southeast Asia, they spoke bluntly of the country’s motives as a quest for ‘tin, rubber, oil.’”
Ethiopia’s invasion coincided with the Pentagon’s goal of creating a new ‘Africa Command’ to deal with what the Christian Science Monitor described as: “Strife, oil, and Al Qaeda.” Richard Whittle wrote:
“The creation of the new command will be more than an exercise in shuffling bureaucratic boxes, experts say. The US government’s motives include countering Al Qaeda’s known presence in Africa, safeguarding future oil supplies, and competing with China, which has been courting African governments in its own quest for petroleum, they suggest.” (Richard Whittle, ‘Pentagon to train a sharper eye on Africa,’ January 5, 2007)

As Andy Rowell and James Marriott have noted, the key fact is that “some 30 per cent of America’s oil will come from Africa in the next ten years”. (Rowell and Marriott, A Game as Old as Empire — The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption, edited by Steven Hiatt, Berrett-Koehler, 2007, p.118)

The US has plans for nearly two-thirds of Somalia’s oil fields to be allocated to the US oil companies Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips. The US hopes Somalia will line up as an ally alongside Ethiopia and Djibouti, where the US has a military base. This alliance would give America powerful leverage close to the major energy-producing regions.

Chatham House, a British think tank of the independent Royal Institute of International Affairs, commented on US and Ethiopian intervention last year:

“In an uncomfortably familiar pattern, genuine multilateral concern to support the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Somalia has been hijacked by unilateral actions of other international actors — especially Ethiopia and the United States — following their own foreign policy agendas.

Catastrophic Crisis

This ‘hijacking’ has had truly appalling consequences. More than one million people have been made internal refugees, and the UN food security unit warned last week that 3.5 million people, half of Somalia’s population, are facing famine. Fighting has turned Mogadishu into a ghost town. About 700,000 people have fled — out of a population of up to 1.5 million. The International Committee of the Red Cross describes Somalia’s crisis as “catastrophic.”

Soaring food prices have driven thousands of protestors onto the streets of the capital, Mogadishu. On May 5, Professor Abdi Samatar, a professor of geography and global studies at the University of Minnesota, told the US radio program Democracy Now:

“Well, what you see in Mogadishu over the last year and a half or so, since the Ethiopian invasion, which was sanctioned by the US government, has destroyed virtually all the life-sustaining economic systems which the population have built without the government for the last fifteen, sixteen years.”

A kilo of rice, which previously sold at around seventy US cents, now costs as much as $2.50. The average day’s income for anyone fortunate enough to have a job is less than a dollar a day. The gap between incomes and the cost of food primarily imported from overseas means that millions of people cannot afford to eat.

Last week, Amnesty International reported that it had obtained scores of accounts of killings by Ethiopian troops that Somalis have described as “slaughtering [Somalis] like goats.” In one case, “a young child’s throat was slit by Ethiopian soldiers in front of the child’s mother.”

Amnesty reported that during sweeps through neighborhoods, Ethiopian forces placed snipers on roofs, and civilians were unable to move about for fear of being shot:

“While some sniper fire appeared to be directed at suspected members of anti-TFG [Transitional Federal Government] armed groups, reports indicate that civilians were also frequently caught in indiscriminate fire. In many cases families were forced to carry their wounded to medical care in wheelbarrows and on donkeys because ambulance drivers would not operate their vehicles due to general insecurity, including sniper fire. As a result, it has become very difficult for civilians to access medical care.”

The British government has consistently downplayed both the gravity of the crisis and the murderous behavior of Ethiopian forces. In the Foreign Office’s latest annual human rights assessment of Somalia there was no mention of Ethiopia, let alone the conduct of its troops. No surprise — Ethiopia is one of the largest recipients of UK aid in Africa and, as discussed, is an important regional ally.

The Media Follow, The Government Leads

Predictably, the government’s strategic silence is reflected in press reporting. In the last year, the words ‘Somalia’ and ‘famine’ have appeared in a grand total of seven British broadsheet newspaper articles discussing the topic. Of the few references to the latest US attack in the British press over the last week, only the Independent and the Sunday Times made briefs references to Somalia’s humanitarian crisis. The Independent noted that life for Somalia’s nine million residents has become “unbearable”. The Guardian merely quoted Reuters:

“Western security services have long seen Somalia as a haven for militants. Warlords overthrew dictator Siad Barre in 1991, casting the country into chaos.” (Reuters, “US airstrike kills head of al-Qaida in Somalia,” Guardian International, May 2, 2008)

The Amnesty report was mentioned in three broadsheet newspapers. Of these, The Guardian failed to mention the US role at all. Ian Black commented:

“Ethiopia sent in troops in December 2006 and ejected them. Since then, Mogadishu has been caught up in a guerrilla war between the government and its Ethiopian allies and the Islamist insurgents. Up to 1 million Somalians are internally displaced.” (Ian Black, ‘Somali refugees speak of horrific war crimes,’ The Guardian, May 7, 2008)

By contrast, a short Independent piece led with the US role:
“Amnesty International has called for the role of the United States in Somalia to be investigated, following publication of a report accusing its allies of committing war crimes.”

Amnesty’s Dave Copeman was cited:

“There are major countries that have significant influence. The US, EU and European countries need to exert that influence to stop these attacks.”

This is the sole reference to Copeman’s comments in the entire national UK press.
Professor Samatar commented on the latest US attack:

“[I]t’s quite befuddling to Somalis and many other peace-loving people around the world as to why the United States has chosen to bomb people who are desperate for assistance and food, and who have been dislocated and traumatized by an Ethiopian invasion, a country that has its own people under tyranny in itself.”
The Truth of “Our Leaders”

With our shared responsibility for the catastrophe in Somalia buried out of sight, the Telegraph reported this week:

“Gordon Brown urged the Burmese authorities to give ‘unfettered access’ to humanitarian agencies. ‘We now estimate that two million people face famine or disease as a result of the lack of co-operation of the Burmese authorities. This is completely unacceptable,’ he said.” (Alan Brown, ‘Burmese officials “are seizing emergency aid and selling it for profit”,’ Daily Telegraph, May 13, 2008)

The great lie is that we are represented by people like Gordon Brown, described as “our leaders.” Because they represent us and we are not monsters, we are to believe that “our leaders” are seeking to resolve problems afflicting humanity in general, while working more specifically to protect us from terrorism and other threats. In other words, we are to believe that ‘our leaders’, like us, are rational, compassionate and well-intentioned.

The truth is very different. In fact we are free to chose from parties and leaders who all represent the same interests of concentrated state-corporate power — the tiny fraction of the population that owns much of the country and runs its business.

Crucially, “our leaders” front a political system that has an overwhelming advantage in high-tech military power. They are all too willing to use this power to convulse countries with bloodshed when doing so supports their lucrative version of economic “order”. Iraq is the obvious example — Somalia is another.

“Our leaders” rule in the name of democracy, but they act in the interests of a narrow, extremely violent kleptocracy.

Media Lens is a UK-based media watchdog group headed by David Edwards and David Cromwell. The first Media Lens book is Guardians of Power: The Myth Of The Liberal Media (Pluto Books, London, 2006). Read other articles by Media, or visit Media's website

May 29, 2008 | 9:20 AM Comments  {num} comments


Related to country: United States

Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

God damn America

By Margaret Kimberley

"THE Moslem religion is used as a convenient scapegoat to further the aims of war."

What does the word "Islamist" mean?

The millions of people around the globe who practise Islam are called Moslems, but this new term has crept into the language without question or investigation.

It seems to apply to Moslems who fight against the occupation of Iraq, or Somalis who don’t take kindly to the US-backed Ethiopian government invading their country and killing their countrymen and women.

In short, an Islamist seems to be any Moslem who has the nerve to act in opposition to the American government.

Like anyone else deemed an enemy, a new word has to be invented in order to dehumanise. If Somali resistance fighters were called just that, then Americans might question their government’s decision to keep killing them.

America’s intervention gave Ethiopia license to invade Somalia and begin a horrific cycle of violence.

According to Amnesty International, more than 600 000 Somalis have fled from their homes, at least 6 000 are dead and 90 000 children in refugee camps are in danger of death from starvation and lack of hygiene and medical care.

The so-called war on terror is, in fact, a war of terror practised against millions of people all over the world.

The Moslem religion is used as a convenient scapegoat to further the aims of that war and Somalia is just one of the victims.

Somalia is now in the grip of one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, and it is all happening under the direction of George W. Bush.

In a clear violation of the Geneva Conventions and all international human rights standards, a US naval vessel sent cruise missiles into the city of Dusa Mareb to commit an extra-judicial killing, an assassination, of Hashi Aden Ayro, the leader of al-Shabab.

Al-Shabab is dedicated to fighting the American-backed Ethiopian occupation and is therefore tagged as "Islamist", "terrorist" and "linked to al-Qaeda".

The corporate media, who make no pretence of independently reporting the news, repeat the administration’s well-worn phrases about Islamists and al-Qaeda connections but never bother to tell their readers and listeners about the atrocities committed on their behalf or about resistance to them.

At least 1 000 residents of Dusa Mareb gathered to protest the killing of Ayro and at least 20 other civilians in the bombing.

"Down with the Bush administration" was the marchers slogan of the day. To their credit, Somalis who are in harm’s way from American bombs have a greater willingness to take to the streets and condemn Bushism than American citizens do.

If American warships are sending cruise missiles into Somalia, shouldn’t Congress have authorised this use of force? Obviously they should have, but they aren’t interested in fighting the lame duck Bushies.

There will be no impeachment, no investigation of torture, and no pesky questions about military attacks on the Somali people.

Like the Iraqis, Somalis have done America no harm but die in large numbers at the hands of Americans nonetheless.

While Americans turn a blind eye to yet another act committed by its rogue government, Somalis are not suffering in silence.

Thousands protested in Mogadishu against soaring food prices. The Somali food crisis is a direct result of the terror inflicted upon them. Ethiopian and Somalian government troops raid local food markets and literally take food from the mouths of the people. So much evil, so little time to protest.

As the Democratic presidential nomination winds down, there should be opportunities to protest and make the war on terror extinct when Bush leaves office.

This campaign provided an opportunity to put both Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton on notice that the status quo must be gone with Bush. It is foolishly optimistic to think that the same people who allowed the political twins to fight over so little of substance would suddenly begin making demands.

So the next president, McCain or a Democrat, will continue the war on terror that kills so many people.

The Democrats are accessories to all of the Bush administration evil-doing. It takes foolish optimism to think that the willing accomplices to crime will change their ways when Bush is gone.

The Amnesty International report diplomatically states that all parties are responsible for the atrocities carried out against Somalian civilians.

That is not true at all. There is one force more to blame than any other. ". . . the bankroller, armourer and trainer of the Ethiopian invaders, the paymaster of the Somali warlords, the missile-striker, the refugee-bomber, the "extra-judicial" assassin, the renditioner, the wielder of death squads: the United States government, under the direction of George W. Bush, and with the full and willing complicity of the entire political establishment." God damn America.

lMargaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgandaReport.Com. Article reprinted from: www.blackagendareport.com

May 29, 2008 | 5:21 AM Comments  {num} comments


Zim: Battleground for true Uhuru
Related to country: United States
About the book: "From the Barrel of a Gun: The United States and the War against Zimbabwe, 1965-1980"

Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

Zim: Battleground for true Uhuru

Herald Reporter

THE presidential election run-off in Zimbabwe should not be viewed as a simple election but the last battle between Western imperialism and absolute African liberation.

President Mugabe has become the epicentre of resistance against the express exploitation of Africa’s rich resources by the West.

It would be foolhardy for anyone to believe that the election is only between President Mugabe and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai because in essence the tried and tested ultimate warrior President Mugabe is the last bastion of African resistance against colonialism and neo-colonialism.

On the other hand, the West supports Tsvangirai because they see him as a man they can easily manipulate to gain access to Africa’s life-saving resources. There are many Tsvangirais that have been created in Africa and have paved way for exploitation of their people and resources for the powerful dollar.

Battlelines have been drawn for June 27 and the West sees President Mugabe as the last obstacle in their attempts to overrun southern Africa that should fall and pave way for a more subtle form of colonialism which will give the West express rights over Africa’s rich resources.

Everyone should know that the British and the Americans will not sleep as long as they see stumbling blocks in their endeavour to have maximum exploitation of Africa’s natural resources.

The election in Zimbabwe can not be defined further than the fact that it is the true imperialist West versus true African resistance.

America and Britain are fighting Zimbabwe and indeed the whole of Africa to gain access to resources that gave their population better life while subjecting Africans to abject poverty on the pretext that their citizens are more superior than Africans.

The line of thought is that Africans have no right to those rich resources on their soil, as the resources should benefit the White West and advance their scandalous affluence at the expense of black Africans. Once a coloniser always a coloniser!

It is his defiance and resistance to white adventure that President Mugabe committed his "crime" against the Bush administration and Britain that has earned him all the terms such as dictator, despot and others. Once a liberator always a liberator!

Now Bush has set September as the deadline to establish the African command, a US military group permanently resident in Africa and is desperate to have it put in place before his term of office expires in November.

Africom will largely give the United States the much needed impetus to co-ordinate US resource exploitation in Africa, disguised as military co-operation.

Africa can only sleep at its own peril while the US creates bases that will eventually be used to deal with progressive governments and subsequently effective regime change that will give an express licence to resource exploitation.

To illustrate my point the Bush administration has solidified its militaristic engagement with Africa.

In February 2007, the Department of Defense announced the creation of a new US Africa Command infrastructure, code name AFRICOM, to "coordinate all US military and security interests throughout the continent."

"This new command will strengthen our security co-operation with Africa," President Bush said in a White House statement, "and create new opportunities to bolster the capabilities of our partners in Africa."

Ordering that AFRICOM be created by September 30, 2008, Bush said "Africa Command will enhance our efforts to bring peace and security to the people of Africa and promote our common goals of development, health, education, democracy, and economic growth in Africa."

The general assumption of this policy is that prioritising security through a unilateral framework will somehow bring health, education, and development to Africa.

In this way, the Department of Defense presents itself as the best architect and arbiter of US Africa policy.

According to Navy Rear Admiral Robert Moeller, director of the AFRICOM transition team, "By creating AFRICOM, the Defense Department will be able to

co-ordinate better its own activities in Africa as well as help coordinate the work of other U.S. government agencies, particularly the State Department and the US Agency for International Development."

This military-driven US engagement with Africa reflects the desperation of the Bush administration to control the increasingly strategic natural resources on the African continent, especially oil, gas, and uranium.

With increased competition from China, among other countries, for those resources, the United States wants above all else to strengthen its foothold in resource-rich regions of Africa.

While the Bush administration endlessly beats the drums for its "global war on terror," the rise of AFRICOM underscores that the real interests of neo-conservatives has less to do with al-Qaeda than with more access and control of extractive industries, particularly oil and land.

Responsibility for operations on the African continent is currently divided among three distinct Commands: US European Command, which has responsibility for nearly 43 African countries; US Central Command, which has responsibility for Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, and Kenya; and US Pacific Command, which has responsibility for Madagascar, the Seychelles, and the countries off the coast of the Indian Ocean.

Until December 2006 when the United States began to assist Ethiopia in its invasion of Somalia, all three existing Commands have maintained a relatively low-key presence, often using elite special operations forces to train, equip, and work alongside national militaries.

A new Africa Command, based potentially in or near oil-rich West Africa would consolidate these existing operations while also bringing international engagement, from development to diplomacy, even more in line with US military objectives.

Africa and indeed Zimbabweans must therefore, rise to the occasion and stand by President Mugabe as he stands eyeball to eyeball with the West in a ring match that will decide Africa’s destiny.

May 23, 2008 | 4:03 AM Comments  {num} comments


Pahad: Zim stories fabricated
Related to country: Zimbabwe

Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

Pretoria - There was much fabricated information about the situation in Zimbabwe, deputy foreign affairs minister Aziz Pahad said on Tuesday.

"I wish to express our concern that international media and the SA media is still dealing with Zimbabwe with information...(that) we don't know where it comes from, it's never checked with us.

"There is a lot of fabricated reports that are circulating both in the international media and in the SA media," he told reporters at a briefing at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

An example of the latest reports circulated around the Chinese arms ship which was allegedly destined to drop off arms in Zimbabwe.

"All of these are fabrications, and yet nobody is indicating what is the source of this information. There may be other such fabrications and we believe at this very difficult time for Zimbabweans... there's enough to write about, without putting out absolutely fabricated events in Zimbabwe," he said.

What is the source?

Pahad said reports on the ship, and on relations between President Thabo Mbeki and President Robert Mugabe had "no basis in fact".

"Our concern is that if this is emerging from international reports, why is the SA media not following up as you must do in any situation, to check what is the source?," he asked.

He said that when he returned from China a while ago he had indicated that the ship was returning to China.

He said the reports were not "constructively critical".

SA had not received information about possible threats to Zimbabwean presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai's life.

"As you know Mr Tsvangirai was supposed to return to Zimbwabwe on 17 May, but did not return because of what is being reported in the media that there's security concerns and threats to assassinate him.

"We have not been given this information."

Find a political solution

Pahad said the SADC, of which SA was a member, would continue to enhance its presence in the presidential run-off.

"We as SADC heads determined at the extraordinary summit that our presence will be enhanced to ensure that the conditions for the presidential run-off are as good as it was at the March 29 elections and we will make our contribution to the SADC observer mission.

"We are concerned that the cycle of violence and counter violence (in Zimbabwe) could upset the substantial progress made prior to the 29 March elections."

It was important to find a political solution in Zimbabwe. Judging by reports education and other basic services had deteriorated sharply and inflation was a problem, Pahad said.


May 21, 2008 | 10:33 AM Comments  {num} comments


The New Geopolitics of Energy
Related to country: United States
About the book: "From the Barrel of a Gun: The United States and the War against Zimbabwe, 1965-1980"

Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

By Michael T. Klare

While the day-to-day focus of US military planning remains Iraq and Afghanistan, American strategists are increasingly looking beyond these two conflicts to envision the global combat environment of the emerging period--and the world they see is one where the struggle over vital resources, rather than ideology or balance-of-power politics, dominates the martial landscape. Believing that the United States must reconfigure its doctrines and forces in order to prevail in such an environment, senior officials have taken steps to enhance strategic planning and combat capabilities. Although little of this has reached the public domain, there have been a number of key indicators.

Since 2006 the Defense Department, in its annual report Military Power of the People's Republic of China, has equated competition over resources with conflict over Taiwan as a potential spark for a US war with China. Preparation for a clash over Taiwan remains "an important driver" of China's military modernization, the 2008 edition noted, but "analysis of China's military acquisitions and strategic thinking suggests Beijing is also developing capabilities for use in other contingencies, such as conflict over resources." The report went on to suggest that the Chinese are planning to enhance their capacity for "power projection" in areas that provide them with critical raw materials, especially fossil fuels, and that such efforts would pose a significant threat to America's security interests.

The Pentagon is also requesting funds this year for the establishment of the Africa Command (Africom), the first overseas joint command to be formed since 1983, when President Reagan created the Central Command (Centcom) to guard Persian Gulf oil. Supposedly, the new organization will focus its efforts on humanitarian aid and the "war on terror." But in a presentation delivered at the National Defense University in February, Africom's deputy commander, Vice Adm. Robert Moeller, said, "Africa holds growing geostrategic importance" to the United States--with oil a key factor in this equation--and that among the key challenges to US strategic interests in the region is China's "Growing Influence in Africa."

Russia, too, is being viewed through the lens of global resource competition. Although Russia, unlike the United States and China, does not need to import oil and natural gas to satisfy its domestic requirements, it seeks to dominate the transportation of energy, especially to Europe. This has alarmed senior White House officials, who resent restoration of Russia's great-power status and fear that its growing control over the distribution of oil and gas in Eurasia will undercut America's influence in the region. In response to the Russian energy drive, the Bush Administration is undertaking countermoves. "I do intend to appoint...a special energy coordinator who could especially spend time on the Central Asian and Caspian region," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice informed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February. "It is a really important part of diplomacy." A key job of the coordinator, she suggested, would be to encourage the establishment of oil and gas pipelines that bypass Russia, thereby diminishing its control over the regional flow of energy.

Taken together, these and like moves suggest that a momentous shift has occurred. At a time when world supplies of oil, natural gas, uranium and key industrial minerals like copper and cobalt are beginning to shrink and the demand for them is exploding, the major industrial powers are becoming more desperate in their drive to gain control over what remains of the planet's untapped reserves [for more evidence of major shortages in fossil fuels, see Klare, "Beyond the Age of Petroleum," November 12, 2007, and Mark Hertsgaard, "Running on Empty," May 12]. These efforts typically entail intense bidding wars for supplies on international markets--hence the record high prices for all these commodities. But they also take military form, as arms transfers and the deployment of overseas missions and bases. It is to bolster America's advantage--and to counter similar moves by China and other resource competitors--that the Pentagon has placed resource competition at the center of its strategic planning.

Alfred Thayer Mahan Revisited

This is not the first time that American strategists have placed a high priority on the global struggle over vital resources. At the end of the nineteenth century a bold and outspoken group of military thinkers, led by naval historian and Naval War College president Alfred Thayer Mahan and his protégé, then-Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, campaigned for a strong American Navy and the acquisition of colonies to ensure access to overseas markets and raw materials. Eventually, their views helped generate public support for the Spanish-American War and, upon its conclusion, the establishment of a Caribbean and Pacific empire by the United States.

During the cold war, ideology reigned supreme as containment of the USSR and the defeat of Communism were the overriding objectives of American strategy. But even then, resource considerations were not entirely neglected. The Eisenhower Doctrine of 1957 and the Carter Doctrine of 1980, though couched in the standard anti-Soviet rhetoric of the day, were principally intended to ensure continued US access to the Persian Gulf's prolific oil reserves. And when President Carter established the nucleus of Centcom in 1980, its primary responsibility was protection of the Persian Gulf oil flow--not containment of the Soviet Union.

After the cold war, the first President Bush tried, and failed, to establish a global coalition of like-minded states--a "new world order"--that would maintain global stability and allow Western corporate interests (American firms foremost among them) to extend their reach across the planet. This approach, in watered-down form, was subsequently embraced by President Clinton. But 9/11 and the current Administration's relentless campaign against "rogue states," notably Iraq under Saddam Hussein and Iran, has reinjected an ideological element into US strategic planning. As George W. Bush tells it, the "war on terror" and rogue states are the contemporary equivalents of earlier ideological struggles against Fascism and Communism. Examine the issues closely, however, and it is impossible to disentangle the problem of Middle Eastern terrorism or the challenge posed by Iraq and Iran from the history of Western oil extraction in those regions.

Islamic extremism of the sort propagated by Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda has many roots, but one of its major claims is that the Western assault on and occupation of Islamic lands--and the resulting defilement of Muslim peoples and cultures--has been driven by the West's craving for Middle Eastern oil. "Remember too that the biggest reason for our enemies' control over our lands is to steal our oil," bin Laden told his sympathizers in a December 2004 audiotaped address. "So give everything you can to stop the greatest theft of oil in history."

Likewise, the US conflict with Iraq and Iran has largely been shaped by the fundamental tenet of the Carter Doctrine: that the United States will not permit the emergence of a hostile power that might gain control over the flow of Persian Gulf oil and thus--in Vice President Cheney's words--"be able to dictate the future of worldwide energy policy." The fact that these countries might be seeking weapons of mass destruction only complicates the task of neutralizing the threat they pose, but it does not alter the underlying strategic logic.

Concern over the safety of vital resource supplies has, therefore, been a central feature of strategic planning for a long time. But the attention now devoted to this issue represents a qualitative shift in US thinking, matched only by the imperial impulses that led to the Spanish-American War a century ago. This time, however, the shift is driven not by an optimistic faith in America's capacity to dominate the world economy but by a largely pessimistic outlook regarding the future availability of vital resources and the intense competition over them waged by China and other rising economic dynamos. Faced with these dual challenges, Pentagon strategists believe that ensuring US primacy in the global resource struggle must be the top priority of American military policy.

Back to the Future

In line with this new outlook, fresh emphasis is being placed on the global role of the Navy. Using language that would sound surprisingly familiar to Alfred Mahan and the first President Roosevelt, the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard unveiled A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower in October; it emphasizes America's need to dominate the oceans and guard the vital sea lanes that connect this country to its overseas markets and resource supplies:

Over the past four decades, total sea borne trade has more than quadrupled: 90% of world trade and two-thirds of its petroleum are transported by sea. The sea-lanes and supporting shore infrastructure are the lifelines of the modern global economy.... Heightened popular expectations and increased competition for resources, coupled with scarcity, may encourage nations to exert wider claims of sovereignty over greater expanses of ocean, waterways, and natural resources--potentially resulting in conflict.

To address this danger, the Defense Department has undertaken a massive modernization of the combat fleet, entailing the design and procurement of new aircraft carriers, destroyers, cruisers, submarines and a new type of "littoral combat" (coastal warfare) ship--an endeavor that could take decades to complete and consume hundreds of billions of dollars. Elements of this plan were unveiled by President Bush and Defense Secretary Gates in the budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2009, submitted in February. Among the big-ticket items highlighted in the shipbuilding budget are:

§ $4.2 billion for the lead ship of a new generation of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers;

§ $3.2 billion for a third Zumwalt class missile destroyer; these warships with advanced stealth capabilities will also serve as a "testbed" for a new class of missile cruisers, the CG(X);

§ $1.3 billion for the first two littoral combat ships;

§ $3.6 billion for another Virginia class submarine, the world's most advanced undersea combat vessel in production.

Proposed shipbuilding programs will cost $16.9 billion in FY 2009, on top of $24.6 billion voted in FY 2007 and FY 2008.

The Navy's new strategic outlook is reflected not only in the procurement of new vessels but also in the disposition of existing ones. Until recently most naval assets were concentrated in the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Northwest Pacific in support of American forces assigned to NATO and the defense pacts with South Korea and Japan. These ties still figure prominently in strategic calculations, but ever-increasing weight is placed on the protection of vital trade links in the Persian Gulf, the Southwest Pacific and the Gulf of Guinea (close to Africa's major oil producers). In 2003, for example, the head of the US European Command declared that the aircraft carrier battle groups under his command would be spending fewer months in the Mediterranean and "half their time going down the west coast of Africa."

A similar outlook is guiding the realignment of overseas bases, which has been under way for the past several years. When the Bush Administration came into office, most major bases were in Western Europe, Japan or South Korea. Under the prodding of then-Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, however, the Pentagon began to relocate forces from the outer fringes of Eurasia to its central and southern regions--especially East-Central Europe, Central Asia and Southwest Asia--as well as to North and Central Africa. True, these areas are home to Al Qaeda and the Middle Eastern "rogue states"--but they also contain 80 percent or more of the world's oil and natural gas, as well as reserves of uranium, copper, cobalt and other critical industrial materials. And, as noted, it is impossible to separate the one from the other in US strategic calculations.

A case in point is the US plan to maintain a basing infrastructure to support combat operations in the Caspian Sea basin and Central Asia. American ties with states in this area were established several years before 9/11, to protect the flow of Caspian Sea oil to the West. Believing that the Caspian basin could prove a valuable new source of oil and natural gas, President Clinton worked assiduously to open the doors to US involvement in the area's energy production; aware also of the endemic ethnic antagonisms in the region, he sought to bolster the military capabilities of friendly local powers and to prepare for possible intervention by American forces. President Bush later built on these efforts, increasing the flow of US military aid and establishing bases in the Central Asian republics.

A corresponding mix of priorities governs the Pentagon's plans to retain a constellation of "enduring" bases in Iraq. Many of these installations will no doubt be used to support continuing operations against insurgent forces, for intelligence activities or for the training of Iraqi army and police units. Even if all US combat troops are withdrawn in accordance with plans announced by senators Clinton and Obama, some of these bases will probably be retained for the training activities they say will continue. At least some bases, moreover, are specifically earmarked for the protection of Iraqi oil exports. In 2007, for example, the Navy revealed that it had established a command-and-control facility atop an offshore Iraqi oil terminal in the Persian Gulf to oversee the protection of vital terminals.

A Global Struggle

No other major power is capable of matching the United States when it comes to the global deployment of military power in the pursuit or protection of vital raw materials. Nevertheless, other powers are beginning to challenge this country in various ways. In particular, China and Russia are providing arms to oil and gas producers in the developing world and beginning to enhance their military capacity in key energy-producing areas.

China's drive to gain access to foreign supplies is most evident in Africa, where Beijing has established ties with the oil-producing governments of Algeria, Angola, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and Sudan. China has also sought access to Africa's abundant mineral supplies, pursuing copper in Zambia and Congo, chromium in Zimbabwe and a range of minerals in South Africa. In each case the Chinese have wooed suppliers through vigorous diplomacy, offers of development assistance and low-interest loans, high-visibility cultural projects--and, in many cases, arms. China is now a major supplier of basic combat gear to many of these countries and is especially known for its weapons sales to Sudan--arms that reportedly have been used by government forces in attacks on civilian communities in Darfur. Moreover, like the United States, China has supplemented its arms transfers with military-support agreements, leading to a steady buildup of Chinese instructors, advisers and technicians, who now compete with their US counterparts for the loyalty of African military officers.

Much the same process is under way in Central Asia, where China and Russia cooperate under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to provide arms and technical assistance to the military forces of the Central Asian "stans"--again competing with the United States to win the loyalty of local military elites. In the 1990s Russia was too preoccupied with Chechnya to pay much attention to this area, and China was likewise consumed with other priorities, so Washington enjoyed a temporary advantage; in the past five years, however, Moscow and Beijing have made concerted efforts to gain influence in the region. The result has been a far more competitive geopolitical environment, with Russia and China, linked through the SCO, gaining ground in their drive to diminish US influence.

A clear expression of this drive was the military exercise the SCO conducted last summer, the first of its kind to feature participation by all member states. The maneuvers involved some 6,500 personnel from China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and took place in Russia and China. Aside from its symbolic significance, the exercise was indicative of China's and Russia's efforts to enhance their capabilities, placing a heavy emphasis on long-range assault forces. For the first time, a contingent of Chinese airborne troops were deployed outside Chinese territory, a clear sign of Beijing's growing assertiveness.

To ensure that the intended message of these exercises did not go unnoticed, the presidents of China and Russia used the occasion of an accompanying SCO summit in Kyrgyzstan to warn the United States (though not by name) against meddling in Central Asian affairs. In calling for a "multipolar" world, for example, Vladimir Putin declared that "any attempts to solve global and regional problems unilaterally are hopeless." For his part, Hu Jintao noted, "The SCO nations have a clear understanding of the threats faced by the region and thus must ensure their security themselves."

These and other efforts by Russia and China, combined with stepped-up US military aid to states in the region, are part of a larger, though often hidden, struggle to control the flow of oil and natural gas from the Caspian Sea basin to markets in Europe and Asia. And this struggle, in turn, is but part of a global struggle over energy.

The great risk is that this struggle will someday breach the boundaries of economic and diplomatic competition and enter the military realm. This will not be because any of the states involved make a deliberate decision to provoke a conflict with a competitor--the leaders of all these countries know that the price of violence is far too high to pay for any conceivable return. The problem, instead, is that all are engaging in behaviors that make the outbreak of inadvertent escalation ever more likely. These include, for example, the deployment of growing numbers of American, Russian and Chinese military instructors and advisers in areas of instability where there is every risk that these outsiders will someday be caught up in local conflicts on opposite sides.

This risk is made all the greater because intensified production of oil, natural gas, uranium and minerals is itself a source of instability, acting as a magnet for arms deliveries and outside intervention. The nations involved are largely poor, so whoever controls the resources controls the one sure source of abundant wealth. This is an invitation for the monopolization of power by greedy elites who use control over military and police to suppress rivals. The result, more often than not, is a wealthy strata of crony capitalists kept in power by brutal security forces and surrounded by disaffected and impoverished masses, often belonging to a different ethnic group--a recipe for unrest and insurgency. This is the situation today in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, in Darfur and southern Sudan, in the uranium-producing areas of Niger, in Zimbabwe, in the Cabinda province of Angola (where most of that country's oil lies) and in numerous other areas suffering from what's been called the "resource curse."

The danger, of course, is that the great powers will be sucked into these internal conflicts. This is not a far-fetched scenario; the United States, Russia and China are already providing arms and military-support services to factions in many of these disputes. The United States is arming government forces in Nigeria and Angola, China is aiding government forces in Sudan and Zimbabwe, and so on. An even more dangerous situation prevails in Georgia, where the United States is backing the pro-Western government of President Mikhail Saakashvili with arms and military support while Russia is backing the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgia plays an important strategic role for both countries because it harbors the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, a US-backed conduit carrying Caspian Sea oil to markets in the West. There are US and Russian military advisers/instructors in both areas, in some cases within visual range of each other. It is not difficult, therefore, to conjure up scenarios in which a future blow-up between Georgian and separatist forces could lead, willy-nilly, to a clash between American and Russian soldiers, sparking a much greater crisis.

It is essential that America reverse the militarization of its dependence on imported energy and ease geopolitical competition with China and Russia over control of foreign resources. Because this would require greater investment in energy alternatives, it would also lead to an improved energy economy at home (with lower prices in the long run) and a better chance at overcoming global warming.

Any strategy aimed at reducing reliance on imported energy, especially oil, must include a huge increase in spending on alternative fuels, especially renewable sources of energy (solar and wind), second-generation biofuels (those made from nonedible plant matter), coal gasification with carbon capture and burial (so that no carbon dioxide escapes into the atmosphere to heat the planet) and hydrogen fuel cells, along with high-speed rail, public transit and other advanced transportation systems. The science and technology for these advances is already largely in place, but the funding to move them from the lab or pilot-project stage to full-scale development is not. The challenge, then, is to assemble the many billions--even trillions--of dollars that will be needed.

The principal obstacle to this herculean task is the very reason for its necessity in the first place: massive spending on the military dimensions of overseas resource competition. I estimate that it costs approximately $100 billion to $150 billion per year to enforce the Carter Doctrine, not including the war in Iraq. Extending that doctrine to the Caspian Sea basin and Africa will add billions. A new cold war with China, with an accompanying naval arms race, will require trillions in additional military expenditures over the next few decades. This is sheer lunacy: it will not guarantee access to more sources of energy, lower the cost of gasoline at home or discourage China from seeking new energy resources. What it will do is sop up all the money we need to develop alternative energy sources and avert the worst effects of global climate change.

And this leads to a final recommendation: rather than engage in militarized competition with China, we should cooperate with Beijing in developing alternative energy sources and more efficient transportation systems. The arguments in favor of collaboration are overwhelming: together, we are projected to consume 35 percent of the world's oil supply by 2025, most of which will have to be imported from dysfunctional states. If, as is widely predicted, global oil reserves have begun to shrink by then, both of our countries could be locked in a dangerous struggle for dwindling supplies in chronically unstable areas of the world. The costs, in terms of rising military outlays and the inability to invest in more worthwhile social, economic and environmental endeavors, would be staggering. Far better to forswear this sort of competition and work together on the development of advanced petroleum alternatives, super-fuel-efficient vehicles and other energy innovations. Many American and Chinese universities and corporations have already initiated joint ventures of this sort, so it is not hard to envision a much grander regime of cooperation.

As we approach the 2008 elections, two paths lie before us. One leads to greater reliance on imported fuels, increased militarization of our foreign fuel dependency and prolonged struggle with other powers for control over the world's remaining supplies of fossil fuels. The other leads toward diminished reliance on petroleum as a main source of our fuel, the rapid development of energy alternatives, a reduced US military profile abroad and cooperation with China in the development of innovative energy options. Rarely has a policy choice been as stark or as momentous for the future of our country.

About Michael T. Klare
Michael T. Klare, defense correspondent of The Nation, is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College. His newest book, Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy, will be published by Metropolitan Books in April. more...

May 14, 2008 | 5:33 AM Comments  {num} comments


political hypocricy part 2
Related to country: United States

Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

THE US pursuit of wealth is a well-documented tradition dating back to the days of Goerge Washington.

It is a tradition rooted in the maxim of the Greek historian, Thucydides — a maxim that says, "the strong do as they can, while the weak suffer what they must."

According to Western foreign policy in general, and US foreign policy in particular, the Government of Zimbabwe under President Mugabe, just like that of Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other leaders who refuse to toe Washington’s line, should suffer what they must — purely on the basis of their economic and military weaknesses.

On April 18, the Anglo-Saxon coalition as represented by Britain and the US; openly pushed for full-fledged UN sanctions on Zimbabwe at the UN Security Council meeting that was being chaired by South Africa. The reason for this was the delayed announcement of the result for the fraud-infested election — an election nearly stolen by British sponsored corruption and fraud.

The call for UN sanctions on Zimbabwe was just one in many desperate moves by the UK to divert attention from the real issues pertaining to the election. The whole world was told that the delay had everything to do with the doctoring of figures to ensure a win for President Mugabe. Now the result has been announced and the ‘‘doctored victory’’ has not materialised and the West has shifted to make unsubstantiated claims that the delay was all to do with bringing down Tsvangirai’s tally to below the 50 percent plus 1 mark.

For Britain, there has to be a problem with Zanu-PF for as long as Tsvangirai fails to emerge the winner, or more precisely, for as long as President Mugabe is not removed from power.

If Zanu-PF is not ‘‘rigging’’ itself into power they must be ‘‘rigging’’ Tsvangirai out of power.

The fact that ZEC challenged the MDC-T to prove its source of figures and they dismally failed to come up with a case does not really matter to the West.

What matters is that Zanu-PF has not lost power and that their nemesis in President Mugabe has not been pushed out.

The Western media do not make it look any better. We have all been subjected to screaming headlines saying anything else but the truth. It all ranged from "Mugabe loses power", "Morgan Tsvangirai wins Zimbabwean election", "Tsvangirai forces a run-off" to "We have defeated Mugabe" as the Evening Standard of the UK put it.

Every right thinking person knows that President Mugabe has not lost, that Tsvangirai never forced a run off, that Tsvangirai has not won the election and also that the Evening Standard and the country that hosts it have not defeated President Mugabe.

The failure of this sophisticated and well-funded fraudulent operation that almost saw a puppet regime presiding over Zimbabwe is in essence a victory of the weak in a world where the Thucydides hypothesis has just become a solid reality.

The strong did as they could.

The Western sponsored NGOs did their part in abusing aid for MDC-T’s political ends.

The corruptible were corrupted into manipulating the electoral process in favour of the MDCs.

The psychological games of sowing as much confusion into the electoral process as possible were obediently but not so articulately played by the simple-minded Tendai Biti — a man who has reportedly left his masters a hell lot unimpressed.

The traditional leadership was massively bribed to influence the vote while some Zanu-PF candidates were reportedly bribed into decampaigning their own presidential candidate. Put simply, the British infiltrated the communities, the ZEC, Zanu-PF, and even Sadc.

Indeed the strong did as they could.

But did the weak suffer what they must?

It is a yes and a no, in fact a small yes and a big no.

Yes, because Zanu-PF went to sleep, sleeping deep while on duty.

There were many in the ruling party who thought they had power and interests to defend — completely forgetting that there was a revolution and a country to defend; much the same way they had spent the last term of office sleeping on duty and forgetting that they had a country to run.

Zanu-PF slept on duty at the talks with the MDCs and gave in concessions like Santa Claus while the MDCs remained obnoxious all the way through, only signing Constitutional Amendment (No.18) — an amendment that proved so beneficial to the opposition at election time.

Zanu-PF slept on duty with its succession politics, going right into the battlefield while bickering and finger pointing like they were a boozer’s side with players quarrelling with a drunken coach over the exclusion of a fellow drunk.

Zanu-PF did a nasty job with the selection of their candidates for both the Senate and House of Assembly, as did the MDC-T as well. Both parties had double representations in some constituencies, thanks to the politics of imposition and the ‘‘Chef’’ culture.

Frankly speaking, a party that is faced with the menace that imperialism is and also standing right between the battle lines with the Anglo-Saxon coalition cannot afford to lose concentration the way we saw Zanu-PF do before March 29. It was the first time we saw senior politicians campaigning in riddles and proverbs, sometimes mentioning the name of the presidential candidate no more than once.

Simply put, the revolution was left badly exposed and the Zimbabwe we liberated in 1980 was left scantly defended.

By some divine intervention and maybe lack of skill on the part of the MDCs, the unthinkable almost happened.

In the end it was a big no from the revolution, a near miss for the MDC-T and a huge disappointment for the West.

The weak emerged in victory by denying the strong a win. It is like Iraq and Afghanistan, where the US has been denied victory by the country’s respective resistance forces.

For the weak, denying the strong victory is a major victory in itself and this is why the pending run-off is so important for Zimbabwe.

The Thucydides theory is indisputably unjust, and also a literal threat to the survival of the human species, particularly at the present stage of civilisation.

The strong do as they can and in this context history has been made to record that Kosovo was a "just war" and that Afghanistan is a good example of a "triumph of just war theory."

This writer has just quoted Michael Walzer when he wrote his highly praised reflections on just war.

Walzer is a rightwing intellectual who did not have to bother putting across an argument for his case.

With the backing of the ruling elite, a mere assertion was good enough to make Kosovo "a just war" and Afghanistan "a triumph of just war theory."

When the strong are doing as they can, facts are ignored, even the most obvious ones. When the bombing of Afghanistan began in 2001, George W. Bush warned Afghans that the bombing would continue until they handed over people that the United States suspected of terrorism. Suspected of course, what else? It is the US.

Eight months later, the FBI head Robert S. Mueller III told editors and reporters at the Washington Post that after what was by far the most intense manhunt in history, "We think the masterminds of 9/11 were in Afghanistan, high in the al-Qaeda leadership. Plotters and others — the principals — came together in Germany and perhaps elsewhere."

Obviously what was still unclear in June 2002 could not have been known definitively the preceding October.

When it comes to making maverick but weaker countries look bad, the West will always treat surmise and evidence as one and the same thing.

It is now surmised that Zanu-PF is engaging in systematic violence and killing civilians across the country and the ‘‘evidence’’ for that is of course the BBC news reader whose own credible source is Tendai Biti, speaking from every other country other than Zimbabwe.

History must record that ‘‘Tsvangirai won an outright vote that was then stolen by the ‘Mugabe regime’’ and the surmise is factual just because Tsvangirai insists that is what happened.

The V11 forms or any other documented evidence does not really matter when the strong are doing as they can.

The economic suffering of the ordinary Zimbabweans was not the reason for the sanctions that were imposed on Zimbabwe by the West in 2001, as many would sometimes argue, but its consequence, in fact its anticipated consequence.

Equally, the large scale killings and expulsions of Serbians in 1999, Iraqis since 2003, Afghans since 2001 and Palestinians since 1948, are uncontroversial consequences and not reasons for the US and Israeli aggression.

They are anticipated consequences in a game where the West wants to lord its values and interests over everyone else and at the expense of everyone else hailing from what they regard as lesser peoples.

By appeal to "just war", counter terrorism, democracy, freedom or some such other rationale, the US-led Western alliance exempts itself from the fundamental principles of world order that they proclaim to have played the primary role in formulating and enacting.

These are the post World War 11 principles enshrined in the international law regime, codified in the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, the Nuremberg principles, and adopted by the UN General Assembly.

The so-called pre-emptive war is in actual fact preventive war and in direct violation of the UN Charter.

The concept is the way by which the strong gives unto themselves the right to commit aggression, very plain and simple.

A US that occupies Iraq and Afghanistan cannot stand on any ground outside the bully’s podium to condemn others on matters such as human rights and respect for human life.

As said by US Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, who was chief prosecutor for the US at Nuremberg, "If certain acts of violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us."

Doubtless, the ruling elite in the West must be of the opinion that Justice Jackson was just one of those idealists.

To them crimes for weaker countries must, by definition, be different from crimes by the US. After all the US has a bigger economy to protect and a sabre-rattling foreign policy to implement.

Are the sanctions on Zimbabwe justifiable? Is the corrupting of the officials in Zimbabwe’s electoral system a justifiable cause?

Are these officials corruptible just because they have no conscience or because they can no longer resist the temptation for money in this environment of economic strangulation?

And David Milliband of Britain is demanding that the presidential election should be a free and fair election as was the first round, where fraud, corruption, cheating and vote buying was allowed a free reign!

Zanu-PF would be full of dead idiots if they allowed a recurrence of this travesty.

The weak can triumph if only they remain focused on a vision to protect what is theirs in unity.

The mighty can fall if the weaker victims only remember to unite.

Homeland or death.

Together we will overcome.

l Reason Wafawarova is a political writer and can be contacted on wafawarova@yahoo.co.uk

May 6, 2008 | 4:55 AM Comments  {num} comments


political hypocricy part 2
Related to country: United States

Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

THE US pursuit of wealth is a well-documented tradition dating back to the days of Goerge Washington.

It is a tradition rooted in the maxim of the Greek historian, Thucydides — a maxim that says, "the strong do as they can, while the weak suffer what they must."

According to Western foreign policy in general, and US foreign policy in particular, the Government of Zimbabwe under President Mugabe, just like that of Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other leaders who refuse to toe Washington’s line, should suffer what they must — purely on the basis of their economic and military weaknesses.

On April 18, the Anglo-Saxon coalition as represented by Britain and the US; openly pushed for full-fledged UN sanctions on Zimbabwe at the UN Security Council meeting that was being chaired by South Africa. The reason for this was the delayed announcement of the result for the fraud-infested election — an election nearly stolen by British sponsored corruption and fraud.

The call for UN sanctions on Zimbabwe was just one in many desperate moves by the UK to divert attention from the real issues pertaining to the election. The whole world was told that the delay had everything to do with the doctoring of figures to ensure a win for President Mugabe. Now the result has been announced and the ‘‘doctored victory’’ has not materialised and the West has shifted to make unsubstantiated claims that the delay was all to do with bringing down Tsvangirai’s tally to below the 50 percent plus 1 mark.

For Britain, there has to be a problem with Zanu-PF for as long as Tsvangirai fails to emerge the winner, or more precisely, for as long as President Mugabe is not removed from power.

If Zanu-PF is not ‘‘rigging’’ itself into power they must be ‘‘rigging’’ Tsvangirai out of power.

The fact that ZEC challenged the MDC-T to prove its source of figures and they dismally failed to come up with a case does not really matter to the West.

What matters is that Zanu-PF has not lost power and that their nemesis in President Mugabe has not been pushed out.

The Western media do not make it look any better. We have all been subjected to screaming headlines saying anything else but the truth. It all ranged from "Mugabe loses power", "Morgan Tsvangirai wins Zimbabwean election", "Tsvangirai forces a run-off" to "We have defeated Mugabe" as the Evening Standard of the UK put it.

Every right thinking person knows that President Mugabe has not lost, that Tsvangirai never forced a run off, that Tsvangirai has not won the election and also that the Evening Standard and the country that hosts it have not defeated President Mugabe.

The failure of this sophisticated and well-funded fraudulent operation that almo