Wednesday, September 22, 2010

On Sarkozy and Gypsies - The French Problem

Is this a Jewish joke or a Gypsy joke?

What do you get when a Jew and a Gypsy go into business together? A chain of empty stores.

About fifteen years ago, a friend of mine opened a shop selling fabrics and other household staples in a Tuscan town. She was English, beautiful and an innocent in the world of commerce. The other shopkeepers adored her, because she and her daughters charmed them and brought a lot of trade to the cobbled main street. Whenever Gypsy caravans camped outside the town walls, Roma women in brightly colored gowns would stroll casually from shop to shop. Keeping wary eyes on them were robust Tuscan women shopkeepers. When the Gypsy matrons went into my friend’s shop, the other lady shopkeepers followed them inside and guarded my friend’s stock until the women left. No one said anything. It was clear the Italians protected her because they suspected she was not canny enough to prevent the transfer of baubles into bags without money changing hands. If the assumption was that the Gypsy women would shoplift if given a chance, they did not get the chance.

My friend’s husband hired some Gypsy laborers from Romania a few years later to do some building work on his house. The workers lived with him for months, worked hard and never stole anything. They loved beer, but were not drunkards, and spent most of their money on telephone calls to their families. When the job was complete, they took enough pay back to Romania to restore their own houses (which had no electricity, part of Romania’s official neglect of them) and perhaps open a small business. I have never seen a British builder work as hard or with as much good will as they did.

Berlusconi praised “Franco-Italian convergence” on what he called “the Roma problem.” The Roma problem? Is that like the “Jewish problem” of 1930s Germany?

My old friend, the late Anthony Sampson, wrote a biography of his paternal grandfather who led a second, secret life as a Gypsy. The Scholar Gypsy: The Quest for a Family Secret tells the story of John Sampson, a respected philologist who died in 1931 when Anthony was five. The elder Sampson wrote the definitive dictionary of the Romani language as spoken in Wales in the late 19th century, The Dialect of the Gypsies of Wales. While living as a respectable late Victorian gentleman with his wife and three children (one of them Anthony’s father), he had a secret Gypsy wife named Gladys Imlach. She gave him a Gypsy daughter, whom he adored and whom Anthony knew as Aunt Mary. The Gypsies called him the Rai, meaning a “gentleman Gypsy.” His grandson, who wrote best-selling books on corporate malfeasance in the global economy, was regarded by his colleagues as the “gentleman journalist.”

Clover Stroud, an engaging and popular British reporter, wrote recently in the Spectator of her lifelong love affair with the Gypsies who roam the English countryside. Her envy of Gypsy children’s freedom began in her school days. While regretting English “Gypsy-bashing,” she observed that “there’s a part of us that will always hunger for a caravan and camp, for the lyrical romance of the open road.”

The lyricism of the open road, however, has eluded French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy nearly went to war with the European Union last week in defense of his decision to deport Gypsies en masse to Romania and Bulgaria. The EU justice commissioner, Viviane Reding, had threatened him with prosecution under EU laws forbidding the punishment of people based on their ethnicity. Mme. Reding reminded Sarkozy that Europe had turned its back on mass deportations of racial minorities after the Second World War. Sarkozy went to an EU summit last Thursday to scream about what he called “an insult, a humiliation, an outrage.” His language echoed then-mayor of Chicago Richard J. Daley’s indignation against the press forty years ago: “They have vilified me. They have crucified me. They have even criticized me!”

The EU was not alone in daring to criticize Sarkozy and his interior minister for actions that, as stated in a French government directive to local prefects, was a clearly racist policy of collective punishment. Among those condemning the practice of herding people onto planes without indicting any of them for criminal offenses are the United States and the Vatican, neither of which is without sins of it own, the United Nations, every human rights group in the western world and most of the world’s press.

Lining up with Sarkozy, inevitably, is Silvio Berlusconi of Italy. The former crooner’s latter day brownshirts burned a Gypsy encampment in October 2007 and expelled its inhabitants, following the murder of an Italian woman. The culprit, whether a Gypsy or an Italian or someone else, was never caught. If there was any evidence, it disappeared in the police conflagration that reminded some people of fascist destruction of Europe’s Jewish ghettos two generations back. Berlusconi praised “Franco-Italian convergence” on what he called “the Roma problem.” The Roma problem? Is that like the “Jewish problem” of 1930s Germany? Or the “Negro problem” of 1960s America? Or the “Indian problem” of America in the 19th century? Or, indeed, Russia’s “Chechen problem” in our time?

The problem is not the Roma, who have been abused and mistreated throughout Europe for centuries. European Union money earmarked for improving their lives in Romania, so that they would not have to emigrate to find work and live in houses without rats, disappeared into the post-Ceaucescu kleptocratic pockets. Gypsy life in Bulgaria, the other EU member state to which Sarkozy is deporting them, is little better. The problem in Europe was never the Jews or the Gypsies. It was the Europeans who were suspicious of the Other in their societies. The Negro and Indian “problems” in America can be defined as the “white problem” for people whose lives were marginalized and were uppity enough to demand fair treatment. Russia has no Chechen “problem.” There is a Russian problem in Chechnya, whose population demanded independence from the post-Soviet empire.

Mme. Reding is right. Sarkozy’s squalid selection of Gypsies for special, collective treatment is beneath contempt. It is a populist measure designed, as a few French officials have admitted and as leaked documents have shown, to divert attention from the Bettancourt scandal. That sorry tale involved post-prandial passing of white envelopes stuffed with Euro notes for Sarkozy’s party regulars. Sarkozy may stem the dive in his popularity with attacks on defenseless Gypsies that are proving popular with much of his electorate. Then again, Maréchal Pétain’s policy of turning Jews and Gypsies over to the Germans was popular among his supporters in Vichy. Mayor Daley, who distracted voters from corruption alegations with swipes at African-Americans who demanded their rights, would have been proud.

Ahmadinejad meets with leaders of the progressive left: Obama's former political base.

Borrowing a leaf from Cuban leader Fidel Castro's playbook almost 50 years ago to the date, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met on September 21 with leaders and representatives of President Obama's former political base, the progressive left, in New York. On September 19, 1960, Cuban President Fidel Castro met with civil rights leaders, including Malcokm X, in Harlem after he was banned from attending a luncheon for Latin American leaders hosted by President Eisenhower. Some of those who worked with Malcokm X attended a dinner meeting at which Ahmadinejad carefully listened, sometimes even taking notes, to the problems in the United States brought forth by many speakers, including former Green Party presidential candidate and congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

Ahmadinejad's meeting with representatives of the U.S. anti-war and peace movements, some coming from as far away as Iowa; labor; disaffected Democrats; African-Americans; military veterans; Iranian-American; Palestinian-American; and alternate media, including WMR, contrasted with Obama's meetings in New York with the global elites, U.S.-backed client dictators, and the leader of NATO military allies. The contrast was strikingly similar to that in 1960 of Eisnehower meeting with Latin American junta leaders while Castro was meeting with civil rights leaders at the Theresa Hotel in Harlem.

Ahmadinejad's speech to the progressives was lacking in any of the vitriol usually ascribed to him by the Western media. The Iranian president waxed about faith in God, justice, and the wonders of the universe. He also defended the right of every nation to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

On the issue of violent capitalism, Ahmadinejad condemned a system that sees the United States as the world's largest producer of military weaponry and starting wars to put money in the pockets of the wealthy investors in the firms that manufacture the weapons. Ahmadinejad cited the one million people who have been killed in U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the same military interests who supported Iraq's Saddam Hussein with weapons sales during the long and bloody war launched by Iraq against Iran in the 1980s.

Ahmadinejad also referred to the deplorable conditions faced by the people of Gaza, although there was no rancorous denunciation of Israel or "the Zionist entity" by name.

Several civil rights leaders told Ahmadinejad that it was hypocritical for the United States to condemn human rights abuses in Iran when the United States has the largest prison population in the world. One Iranian-American pointed to the fact that such "progressive" organizations as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International carry out the bidding of people like George Soros when they condemn Iran's human rights policies. Ahmadinejad nodded his head when it was stated by the Iranian-American representative that Soros just gave Human Rights Watch a $100 million grant. Soros was a major bank roller of the failed themed "Green Revolution" against Ahmadinejad after his re-election last year.

Ahmadinejad said that Iran was the victim of a propaganda campaign waged by the Western media. One speaker cited the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, 43, an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. The case that received worldwide attention and saw pleas for clemency from Pope Benedict XVI, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Amnesty International and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The woman's death sentence was later suspended by Iran. The Rupert Murdich-owned Times of London reported that Ashtiani had been lashed by Iranian authorities and showed a photograph of her unveiled. The Times was later forces to admit that both the photograph and the lashing stories were fakes. Ashtiani, who is from East Azerbaijan, was said to be sentenced to death for carrying on a relationship with a man after the death of her husband, however, she was originally charged with conspiring with another man to murder her husband.

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused a stay of execution by Virginia of Teresa Lewis, 41, who was convicted in 2003 of conspiring to kill her husband and stepson with two other men. Lewis, who will be the first woman executed by Virginia in 100 years, is considered mentally retarded. Ahmadinejad referred to the hypocrisy demonstrated by the West over the two cases.

Ahmadinejad, Iranian Foreign Minister, and Iranian ambassador to UN listen intently to concerns of leaders of American progressive left.

Several speakers pointed to the presence of political prisoners in the United States, including native American activist Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu Jamal, and others.

Ahmadinejad expressed anger at the United States continuing to launch military attacks on Pakistan during the worst floods in the nation's history. He also pointed to the nature of U.S. military attacks on civilians in Afghanistan. "Someone says there is one terrorist in an Afghan village and the United States responds by attacking the entire village and killing innocent people," he said. Ahmadinejad said that as a neighbor of Afghanistan, Iran is fully aware of what the United States is doing in the country.

The Iranian president also expressed solidarity with the goals of the American progressive left in fostering peace and social justice in the United States and abroad. When one speaker, a Christian clergyman from Iowa was introduced, Ahmadinejad respomded by holding the palms of his hands upward, a Muslim prayer gesture.

The Iranian President was provided a copy of this editor's book, "Jaded Tasks," the history of the Bush-Cheney administration's crimes against humanity, around the world and in the United States. Other copies have been given to Hugo Chavez; Muammar Qaddafi; Turkish President Abdullah Gul; former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti; and Prachanda, the Maoist leader and former Prime Minister of Nepal.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A crazed ethnic cleanser world leader has his finger on the nuclear button

He has been linked to instigating terrorist arson attacks in his own country to beef up his popularity before elections, he has been attacked by former Cuban President Fidel Castro who said he is "going crazy" and cannot be trusted with his finger on the nuclear button, he is ethnically-cleansing his country of people he despises, he is embroiled in a scandal involving receiving illegal campaign contributions from a billionaire heiress,he has been cited as an agent for a foreign intelligence service, he has verbally attacked a tiny neighbor that is half the size of Delaware, and he has openly sparred with the President of the European Commission.

We are not talking about some dictator in the Middle East or Northeast Asia but the president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy has been systematically deporting Roma (gypsies) from France and has questioned the "Frenchness" of French citizens who are Muslim and of Arab descent, which has galled many in France considering the fact that Sarkozy is of Hungarian-Jewish descent. French media have reported that Sarkozy is a long-time intelligence asset for the Israeli Mossad and the French president is the recipient of the American Jewish Committee’s “Light Unto The Nations” prize for his strongly pro-Israeli policies. Sarkozy's only real ally in Europe is the mercurial neo-fascist Prime Minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi.

Sarkozy, who is self-conscious about his short height and lack of sexual prowess, fits the profile of someone who uses his presidency, jumbo jet presidential airplane, and nuclear weapons to make up for his shortcomings in Napoleonic fashion.

As rumors swirl that Sarkozy's arch-rival, former French Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, the leader of the new political party, Republique solidaire, has even attracted the romantic eye of Sarkozy's model wife, Carla Bruni, the megalomanic French President is capable of just about anything. De Villepin, who has called Sarkozy a "dwarf," "midget," and suggested that his divorce from his first wife Cecilia and his recent reported marital problems with Carla Bruni are because Sarkozy has nothing in his trousers that would interest any woman, has also criticized Sarkozy's participation in the NATO war in Afghanistan. While Foreign Minister, de Villepin, lobbied the UN Security Council not to approve the Iraq war resolution. De Villepin instantly became a prime target of the neocons in France and abroad.

UN observers have noted that when Sarkozy has visited the UN, he stands on his toes when he around other world leaders. Sarkozy canceled a planned press conference at the UN General Assembly summit this week.

In Hitlerian fashion, Sarkozy has threatened to hang de Villepin from a butcher's meat hook. De Villepin said that he could not understand how anyone as beautiful as Bruni could be married to such a "buffoon." Sarkozy's lawyer, Thierry Herzog, promised Sarkozy that he would deliver de Villepin's head on a plate.

As Sarkozy's political future in France plummets, the danger exists that he may completely fly off the handle and egage in threatening other countries with France's nuclear "force de frappe" or strike force. Sarkozy has his finger on the button of the world's third largest nuclear arsenal, behind the United States and Russia. The French nuclear triad is based upon land-based missiles, nuclear submarines, and bombers. Sarkozy is one of the backers of military action against Iran, supporting his equally-fanatical allies in Jerusalem.

While the world is constantly treated by the corporate and neocon media to the nuclear threats posed by Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea, little is heard about the world's third-largest nuclear force being in the hands of an individual who has verbally attacked tiny Luxembourg, is ethnically-cleansing his nation of people he considers undesirable, and who tried to vanquish his arch-rival in matters of politics and sexual prowess, de Villepin, with a failed lawsuit.

If Sarkozy uses election fraud to win another term in the Elysee Palace in 2012, as he did in his last race against Socialist leader Segolene Royal, the world should forget Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea and seek the military seizure of French nuclear weapons from someone who fancies himself as a reincarnated Napoleon.

If de Villepin's RS party, the true successor to Charles de Gaulle's political legacy, succeeds in ousting Sarkozy from the Elysee Palace, the neocons will no longer enjoy Paris as a base of operations. France, along with Russia, Turkey, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, and other like-minded nations, can begin the process of checking the neocons globally and roll back their power in the United Nations, NATO, Washington, London, Ottawa, and Berlin. WMR endorses Dominique de Villepin for President of France and his Republique solidaire party. The Elysee Palace should be returned to an actual person of France who believes in "liberte, egalite, et fraternite" and not stock neocon racism and fascism. Vive la France sans Sarkozy!

Imperialism and Imperial Barbarism by James Petras

Imperialism, its character, means and ends has changed over time and place. Historically, western imperialism, has taken the form of tributary, mercantile, industrial, financial and in the contemporary period, a unique ‘militarist-barbaric’ form of empire building. Within each ‘period’, elements of past and future forms of imperial domination and exploitation ‘co-exist’ with the dominant mode. For example, in the ancient Greek and Roman empires, commercial and trade privileges complemented the extraction of tributary payments. Mercantile imperialism, was preceded and accompanied initially by the plunder of wealth and the extraction of tribute, sometimes referred to as “primitive accumulation”, where political and military power decimated the local population and forcibly removed and transferred wealth to the imperial capitals. As imperial commercial ascendancy was consolidated, manufacturing capital increasingly emerged as a co-participant; backed by imperial state policies manufacturing products destroyed local national manufacturers gaining control over local markets. Modern industrial driven imperialism, combined production and commerce, both complemented and supported by financial capital and its auxiliaries, insurance, transport and other sources of “invisible earnings”.

Under pressure from nationalist and socialist anti-imperialist movements and regimes, colonial structured empires gave way to new nationalist regimes. Some of which restructured their economies, diversifying their productive systems and trading partners. In some cases they imposed protective barriers to promote industrialization. Industrial-driven imperialism, at first opposed these nationalist regimes and collaborated with local satraps to depose industrial oriented nationalist leaders. Their goal was to retain or restore the “colonial division of labor” – primary production exchanged for finished goods. However, by the last third of the 20th century, industrial driven empire building, began a process of adaptation, “jumping over tariff walls”, investing in elementary forms of ‘production’ and in labor intensive consumer products. Imperial manufacturers contracted assembly plants organized around light consumer goods (textiles, shoes, electronics).

Basic changes in the political, social and economic structures of both the imperial and former colonial countries, however, led to divergent imperial paths to empire-building and as a consequence contrasting development performances in both regions.

Anglo-American financial capital gained ascendancy over industrial, investing heavily in highly speculative IT, bio-tech, real estate and financial instruments. Germany and Japanese empire builders relied on upgrading export-industries to secure overseas markets. As a result they increased market shares, especially among the emerging industrializing countries of Southern Europe, Asia and Latin America. Some former colonial and semi-colonial countries also moved toward higher forms of industrial production, developing high tech industries, producing capital and intermediate as well as consumer goods and challenging western imperial hegemony in their proximity.

By the early 1990’s a basic shift in the nature of imperial power took place. This led to a profound divergence between past and present imperialist policies and among established and emerging expansionist regimes.

Past and Present Economic Imperialism

Modern industrial-driven empire building (MIE) is built around securing raw materials, exploiting cheap labor and increasing market shares. This is accomplished by collaborating with pliant rulers, offering them economic aid and political recognition on terms surpassing those of their imperial competitors. This is the path followed by China. MIE eschews any attempt to gain territorial possessions, either in the form of military bases or in occupying “advisory” positions in the core institutions of the coercive apparatus. Instead, MIEs’ seek to maximize control via investments leading to direct ownership or ‘association’ with state and/or private officials in strategic economic sectors. MIEs’ utilize economic incentives in the way of economic grants and low interest concessionary loans. They offer to build large scale long term infrastructure projects-railroads, airfields, ports and highways. These projects have a double purpose of facilitating the extraction of wealth and opening markets for exports. MIEs also improve transport networks for local producers to gain political allies. In other words MIEs like China and India largely depend on market power to expand and fight off competitors. Their strategy is to create “economic dependencies” for long term economic benefits.

In contrast imperial barbarism grows out of an earlier phase of economic imperialism which combined the initial use of violence to secure economic privileges followed by economic control over lucrative resources.

Historically, economic imperialism (EI) resorted to military intervention to overthrow anti-imperialist regimes and secure collaborator political clients. Subsequently, EI frequently established military bases and training and advisory missions to repress resistance movements and to secure a local military officialdom responsive to the imperial power. The purpose was to secure economic resources and a docile labor force, in order to maximize economic returns.

In other words, in this ‘traditional’ path to economic empire building the military was subordinated to maximizing economic exploitation. Imperial power sought to preserve the post colonial state apparatus and professional cadre but to harness them to the new imperial economic order. EI sought to preserve the elite to maintain law and order as the basic foundation for restructuring the economy. The goal was to secure policies to suit the economic needs of the private corporations and banks of the imperial system. The prime tactic of the imperial institutions was to designate western educated professionals to design policies which maximized private earning. These policies included the privatization of all strategic economic sectors; the demolition of all protective measures (“opening markets”) favoring local producers; the implementation of regressive taxes on local consumers, workers and enterprises while lowering or eliminating taxes and controls over imperial firms; the elimination of protective labor legislation and outlawing of independent class organizations.

In its heyday western economic imperialism led to the massive transfer of profits, interest, royalties and ill begotten wealth of the native elite from the post-colonial countries to the imperial centers. As befits post-colonial imperialism the cost of administrating these imperial dependencies was borne by the local workers, farmers and employees.

While contemporary and historic economic imperialism have many similarities, there are a few crucial differences. For example China, the leading example of a contemporary economic imperialism, has not established its “economic beach heads” via military intervention or coups, hence it does not possess ‘military bases’ nor a powerful militarist caste competing with its entrepreneurial class in shaping foreign policy. In contrast traditional Western economic imperialism contained the seeds for the rise of a powerful militarist caste capable, under certain circumstance, of affirming their supremacy in shaping the policies and priorities of empire building.

This is exactly what has transpired over the past twenty years, especially with regard to US empire building.

The Rise and Consolidation of Imperial Barbarism

The dual processes of military intervention and economic exploitation which characterized traditional Western imperialism gradually shifted toward a dominant highly militarized variant of imperialism. Economic interests, both in terms of economic costs and benefits and global market shares were sacrificed in the pursuit of military domination.

The demise of the USSR and the virtual reduction of Russia to the status of a broken state, weakened states allied to it. They were “opened” to Western economic penetration and became vulnerable to Western military attack.

President Bush (senior) perceived the demise of the USSR as a ‘historic opportunity’ to unilaterally impose a unipolar world. According to this new doctrine the US would reign supreme globally and regionally. Projections of US military power would now operate unhindered by any nuclear deterrence. However, Bush (senior) was deeply embedded in the US petroleum industry. Thus he sought to strike a balance between military supremacy and economic expansion. Hence the first Iraq war 1990-91 resulted in the military destruction of Saddam Hussein’s military forces, but without the occupation of the entire country nor the destruction of civil society, economic infrastructure and oil refineries. Bush (senior) represented an uneasy balance between two sets of powerful interests: on the one hand, petroleum corporations eager to access the state owned oil fields and on the other the increasingly powerful militarist zionist power configuration within and outside of his regime. The result was an imperial policy aimed at weakening Saddam as a threat to US clients in the Gulf but without ousting him from power. The fact that he remained in office and continued his support for the Palestinian struggle against the Jewish state’s colonial occupation profoundly irritated Israel and its Zionist agents in the US.

With the election of William Clinton, the ‘balance’ between economic and military imperialism shifted dramatically in favor of the latter. Under Clinton, zealous Zionist were appointed to many of the strategic foreign policy posts in the Administration. This ensured the sustained bombing of Iraq, wrecking its infrastructure. This barbaric turn was complemented by an economic boycott to destroy the country’s economy and not merely “weaken” Saddam. Equally important, the Clinton regime fully embraced and promoted the ascendancy of finance capital by appointing notorious Wall Streeters (Rubin, Summers, Greenspan et al.) to key positions, weakening the relative power of oil, gas and industrial manufacturers as the driving forces of foreign policy. Clinton set in motion the political ‘agents’ of a highly militarized imperialism, committed to destroying a country in order to dominate it …

The ascent of Bush (junior) extended and deepened the role of the militarist-Zionist personnel in government. The self-induced explosions which collapsed the World Trade Towers in New York served as a pretext to precipitate the launch of imperial barbarism and spelled the eclipse of economic imperialism.

While US empire building converted to militarism, China accelerated its turn toward economic imperialism. Their foreign policy was directed toward securing raw materials via trade, direct investments and joint ventures. It gained influence via heavy investments in infrastructure, a kind of developmental imperialism, stimulating growth for itself and the “host” country. In this new historic context of global competition between an emerging market driven empire and an atavistic militarist imperial state, the former gained enormous economic profits at virtually no military or administrative cost while the latter emptied its treasury to secure ephemeral military conquests.

The conversion from economic to militarist imperialism was largely the result of the pervasive and ‘deep’ influence of policymakers of Zionist persuasion. Zionist policymakers combined modern technical skills with primitive tribal loyalties. Their singular pursuit of Israel’s dominance in the Middle East led them to orchestrate a series of wars, clandestine operations and economic boycotts crippling the US economy and weakening the economic bases of empire building.

Militarist driven empire building in the present post-colonial global context led inevitably to destructive invasions of relatively stable and functioning nation-states, with strong national loyalties. Destructive wars turned the colonial occupation into prolonged conflicts with resistance movements linked to the general population. Henceforth, the logic and practice of militarist imperialism led directly to widespread and long-term barbarism-the adoption of the Israeli model of colonial terrorism targeting an entire population. This was not a coincidence. Israel’s Zionist zealots in Washington “drank deeply” from the cesspool of Israeli totalitarian practices, including mass terror, housing demolitions, land seizures, overseas special force assassination teams, systematic mass arrests and torture. These and other barbaric practices, condemned by human rights organizations the world over, (including those in Israel), became routine practices of US barbaric imperialism.

The Means and Goals of Imperial Barbarism

The organizing principle of imperial barbarism is the idea of total war. Total in the sense that (1) all weapons of mass destruction are applied; (2) the whole society is targeted; (3) the entire civil and military apparatus of the state is dismantled and replaced by colonial officials, paid mercenaries and unscrupulous and corrupt satraps. The entire modern professional class is targeted as expressions of the modern national-state and replaced by retrograde religious-ethnic clans and gangs, susceptible to bribes and booty-shares. All existing modern civil society organizations, are pulverized and replaced by crony-plunderers linked to the colonial regime. The entire economy is disarticulated as elementary infrastructure including water, electricity, gas, roads and sewage systems are bombed along with factories, offices, cultural sites, farms and markets.

The Israeli argument of “dual use” targets serves the militarist policymakers as a justification for destroying the bases of a modern civilization. Massive unemployment, population displacement and the return to primitive exchanges characteristic of pre-modern societies define the “social structure”. Educational and health conditions deteriorate and in some cases become non-existent. Curable diseases plague the population and infant deformities result from depleted uranium, the pre-eminent weapon of choice of imperial barbarism.

In summary the ascendancy of barbarous imperialism leads to the eclipse of economic exploitation. The empire depletes its treasury to conquer, destroy and occupy. Even the residual economy is exploited by ‘others’: traders and manufacturers from non-belligerent adjoining states. In the case of Iraq and Afghanistan that includes Iran, Turkey, China and India.

The evanescent goal of barbarous imperialism is total military control, based on the prevention of any economic and social rebirth which might lead to a revival of secular anti-imperialism rooted in a modern republic. The goal of securing a colony ruled by cronies, satraps and ethno-religious warlords – willing givers of military bases and permission to intervene – is central to the entire concept of military driven empire building. The erasure of the historical memory of a modern independent secular nation-state and the accompanying national heritage becomes of singular importance to the barbarous empire. This task is assigned to the academic prostitutes and related publicists who commute between Tel Aviv, the Pentagon, Ivy league universities and Middle East propaganda mills in Washington.

Results and Perspectives

Clearly imperial barbarism (as a social system) is the most retrograde and destructive enemy of modern civilized life. Unlike economic imperialism it does not exploit labor and resources, it destroys the means of production, kills workers, farmers and undermines modern life.

Economic imperialism is clearly more beneficial to the private corporations; but it also potentially lays the bases for its transformation. Its investments lead to the creation of a working and middle class capable of assuming control over the commanding heights of the economy via nationalist and/or socialist struggle. In contrast the discontent of the ravaged population and the pillage of economies under imperial barbarism, has led to the emergence of pre-modern ethno-religious mass movements, with retrograde practices, (mass terror, sectarian violence etc.). Theirs is an ideology fit for a theocratic state.

Economic imperialism with its ‘colonial division of labor’, extracting raw materials and exporting finished goods, inevitably will lead to new nationalist and perhaps later socialist movements. As EI undermines local manufacturers and displaces, via cheap industrial exports, thousands of factory workers, movements will emerge. China may seek to avoid this via ‘plant transplants’. In contrast barbaric imperialism is not sustainable because it leads to prolonged wars which drain the imperial treasury and injury and death of thousands of American soldiers every year. Unending and unwinnable colonial wars are unacceptable to the domestic population.

The ‘goals’ of military conquest and satrap rule are illusory. A stable, ‘rooted’ political class capable of ruling by overt or tacit consent is incompatible with colonial overseers. The ‘foreign’ military goals imposed on imperial policymakers via the influential presence of Zionists in key offices have struck a mighty blow against the profit seeking opportunities of American multi-nationals via sanctions policies. Pulled downward and outward by high military spending and powerful agents of a foreign power, the resort to barbarism has a powerful effect in prejudicing the US economy.

Countries looking for foreign investment are far more likely to pursue joint ventures with economic driven capital exporters rather than risk bringing in the US with all its military, clandestine special forces and other violent baggage.

Today the overall picture is grim for the future of militarist imperialism. In Latin America, Africa and especially Asia, China has displaced the US as the principal trading partner in Brazil, South Africa and Southeast Asia. In contrast the US wallows in unwinnable ideological wars in marginal countries like Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan. The US organizes a coup in tiny Honduras, while China signs on to billion dollar joint ventures in oil and iron projects in Brazil and Venezuela and an Argentine grain production. The US specializes in propping up broken states like Mexico and Columbia, while China invests heavily in extractive industries in Angola, Nigeria, South Africa and Iran. The symbiotic relationship with Israel leads the US down the blind ally of totalitarian barbarism and endless colonial wars. In contrast China deepens its links with the dynamic economies of South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Brazil and the oil riches of Russia and the raw materials of Africa.

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). Petras’ most recent book is Zionism, Militarism and the Decline of US Power (Clarity Press, 2008). He can be reached at: Read other articles by James, or visit James's website.

Israeli (MOSSAD) Company Hired by State Government to Spy on Pennsylvanians and Other Americans

by Dave Lindorff

The surprise disclosure that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, through its state Homeland Security Agency, along with a number of local police departments in the state, have been employing a private Israeli security company with strong links to Mossad and the Israeli Defense Force grows increasingly disturbing when the website of the company, called the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response, is examined.

ITRR’s slick site at features a homepage image of an armor-clad soldier or riot policeman preparing to fire an automatic pistol, while the company boasts of being “the preeminent Isreal/American security firm, providing training, intelligence and education for clients across the globe.”

The firm, which offers courses locally at the University of Philadelphia, notes that all its course offerings, some of which are taught in Israel, are “approved by the Israeli Ministry of Defense.” The course titles include such compelling topics as: “Tactical Advantage in Combat,” “Civilian Battlefield,” “Undercover/Plainclothes Tactical Operations,” “Israeli Shooting Techniques,” “Arena Combat,” “Hard Entry (Arrest)” and “Principles of Night Operations.” While a number of the titles link to course descriptions, the links to the undercover class and the civilian battlefield class were disabled when this reporter visited the site, which was two days after the company’s role as a state security contractor was exposed.

The description for the Tactical Advantage course, which the website says was designed for military, law enforcement and security personnel, describes the program as “intense, dirty, aggressive and based on Israeli Counter-Terror Schools policy.” It says “This course pushes trainees to the physical and mental edge.” American organizations which engage in protests and rallies, hearing that reference to the Israeli Counter-Terror Schools policy, might recall the IDF’s handling of the aid flotilla that was boarded on the high seas by IDF troops as they read these lines. That assault, in which the Israelis used 9mm semi-automatic weapons against defenders armed at most with sticks and light chains, left nine flotilla participants, including a young Turkish American, dead.

The Institute of Terrorism Research and Response, which only lists a post-box address in Philadelphia (though in its report on the scandal the Philadelphia Inquirer referred to ITRR as a “Philadelphia-based company with offices in Philadelphia and Jerusalem”), also advertises a subsidiary operation it calls a Targeted Action Monitoring Center (TAM-C), which it claims is “world renowned” and which it says supplies “factual, actionable intelligence to subscribers.” All information gathered by the firm’s staff of “former law enforcement, military and intelligence professionals” is sent to the Israeli headquarters of the TAM-C for processing--a move which effectively insulates it from discovery by any surveillance victims who might seek disclosure under federal or state Freedom of Information laws, or who might sue in court for violation of their civil liberties.

While ITRR, founded in 2004, doesn’t name any of its clients, it says they range from Fortune 100 companies, including the power industry, maritime companies, US infrastructure companies, “the company company charged with protecting oil production facilities,” missionary organizations and pharmaceutical firms, to law enforcement agencies and joint terrorism task forces.

A search on Google for references to ITRR doesn’t turn up much, but there is a report in July 2008 by a Washington-based right-wing site called National Terror Alert, which attributes a warning of a “possible large-scale terror attack” to ITRR. Claiming that it had “intercepted communications from an organization closely associated with international terrorists, to include al Qaeda,” the National Terror Alert organization says TIRR reports that, “Available intelligence and recent events indicate that terrorists have an established capability and current intent to mount an attack on the target and there is some additional information on the nature of the threat. It is assessed that an attack on the target is a priority for the terrorists and is likely to be mounted.”

Nothing came of this "alert," but it should be noted that a year later, the first head of the new federal Department of Homeland Security, former Republican governor of Pennsylvania Tom Ridge, admitted that the color-coded terror alerts issued by his office had been manipulated to serve Republican political interests. It should also be recalled that the 2008 TIRR “warning” came during the height of the election season, just before the two national party conventions. As the Philadelphia Daily News commented at the time in a headline, “GOP kicks off fall campaign with heightened terror alert.”

But ITRR does much more than just monitor terrorists. Indeed, it seems to be far too busy monitoring legitimate, non-violent and completely legal protest organizations and other political groups to do much real anti-terror work. According to news reports on ITRR’s work for the Pennsylvania Homeland Security Agency and also the Pittsburgh Police Department, it would appear that ITRR was spying on and providing Pennsylvania State Police and Homeland Security with reports on everything from anti-war groups and anti-oil-shale-fracking groups to gay rights groups, animal rights groups, environmental organizations and even Good Schools Pennsylvania, a citizens association formed to back Gov. Ed Rendell’s school reform initiatives. Even a Harrisburg, PA man who likes to bring a 25-foot inflatable pig to demonstrations to symbolize government waste was targeted.

While local news media reports in Philadelphia have suggested that ITRR is just composed of two people, Aaron Richman, an Israeli police captain and security consultant and Michael Perelman, a retired New York City police commander, the website makes it clear that the company actually employs a large number of people in Israel, and may have as many as 15 people working “in the field” in the US.

Its activities are not limited to Pennsylvania either. The firm boasts on its website that “Information provided to clients ranges from issues of global jihad to Mexican Cartel threats along America’s southern border (maybe that’s where Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer got her weird tale, eventually debunked and retracted, of beheadings in the border desert?) to providing guidance of the threat of disorders as a result of international monetary meetings.”

This latter is a reference to the yeoman work ITRR reportedly did for the Pittsburg Police Department in advance of the disastrous G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh, which turned into a police riot after the local government and police brought in hundreds of reinforcements from other cities, with cops suited up as though for war, to lock down the city and prevent students from demonstrating against the predations of international capital and international “free trade” agreements. It appears that ITRR had ingratiated its way into the confidence of demonstration planners by having its agents join chat rooms and websites “posing as G-20 opponents.” One wonders whether these same agents may have also acted as agents provocateur.

As the head of Pennsylvania’s Homeland Security Agency, James Powers, who hired ITRR, put it, “We got the information to the Pittsburgh Police, and they were able to cut them off at the pass.”

So much for the Constitutional right to protest!

Several calls for comment made to the Homeland Security Agency and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency which oversees it went unanswered, but Perelman has released a statement saying "The Institute of Terrorism Research and Response tracks events, givinglaw enforcement a heads-up for the potential of disorder as our bulletins provided to the [state] clearly show...[and] does not follow people, conduct surveillance, photograph, or record individuals."

Gov. Rendell, after the story about ITRR’s activities for the state under a no-bid, $125,000/year contract, broke, claimed he was “embarrassed” by the spying on non-violent civic action organizations, and vowed to cancel the contract effective this October.

It is not clear, however, that there will be any information provided about who was spied on over the time the company has been active. Members of both political parties in the state legislature are calling for a General Assembly hearing into ITRR’s activities, but such calls in this closely divided body generally come to little or nothing. Meanwhile, Rendell, a lame duck governor headed for the exit, is unlikely to do anything about the issue beyond saying he’s embarrassed by it. He has said he has no intention of firing Powers.

I know how damaging this kind of spying by state and local governments can be. Back in the mid-1970s, when I and some journalist colleagues owned and ran a small weekly alternative newspaper in Los Angeles, the LA Vanguard, we were among the targets of a massive illegal spying campaign by the paranoid Los Angeles Police Department’s “red squad,” the Public Disorder Intelligence Division. Our staff was actually penetrated by a young red squad officer, who pretended to be a student wannabe journalist in order to try to learn our sources for reports on the LAPD. But we were only one of about 200 groups, ranging from a local anti-nuclear group to the Peace & Freedom Party, a well-known third party in California electoral politics, to the National Organization for Woman and even the office of then City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky.

The reason we all learned about what the LAPD red squad was doing was that one spy was outed, a class-action suit was filed by the ACLU of Southern California, there was discovery ordered by the court, and eventually the city of Los Angeles settled with the victims of the campaign, to the tune of $1.8 million.

The Pennsylvania ACLU may sue Pennsylvania over this latest domestic spying outrage, but the times have changed, and it is hard to be confident that the courts, no great friend of civil liberties at the state level, and packed with Reagan and Bush 1 and 2 appointees at the federal level, will mandate disclosure of the names of groups spied on, much less of the records that were compiled. Furthermore, because the state did this spying through an outside contractor, which is headquartered in Israel, government and police agencies could claim that the records are for the most part out of their hands and beyond the courts’ jurisdiction.

At least one man, Gene Stilp, owner of the giant inflatable pig, already has plans to sue the government in federal court. "When people's civil rights are trampled it's a federal issue," says Stilp, himself a licensed attorney. Stilp says he isn’t satisfied with Rendell’s statement that he is “embarrassed” by the disclosure of ITRR’s contract. “Being embarrassed doesn’t cut it,” says Stilp, who is calling for an investigation into ITRR’s spying activities by the attorney general or the federal government, and full disclosure of which groups and individuals were spied upon.

Another person who has good reason to believe he was probably targeted by ITRR is ThisCantBeHappening!’s own John Grant. Says Grant, “The more I read about this affair, the more disturbing it seems. I'm a Vietnam veteran and part of an organization -- Veterans For Peace -- that very publicly opposes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We meet monthly and we organize events with other anti-war groups. All First-Amendment-protected, red-blooded American stuff. To think that some self-ordained watchdog group of security freaks is monitoring me and my friends and reporting our activities to God-knows who in the context of 'terrorism' -- and probably making tons of money doing it -- really pisses me off. Governor Rendell SHOULD be embarrassed. He should come clean and make public all the groups and people this gang was spying and reporting on. The fact they are somehow connected to Israel -- a nation many of us have been critical of -- is further reason to clear up what's going on."

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent, collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper. His work, and that of colleagues John Grant, Linn Washington and Charles Young, can be found at