Eric Draitser of StopImperialism.org provides his commentary (April 30, 2016) on the intercept of the US aircraft near Russian airspace. Draitser explains that this is only the latest in a series of provocations that should be understood as part of the 25 year project of NATO expansion which seeks to dominate Russia in Eastern Europe. He notes that US policy vis-a-vis Russia is incredibly dangerous as it risks provoking WWIII either intentionally or by mistake.
Eric Draitser of StopImperialism.org provides his commentary (April 25, 2016) on the latest talks between the leaders of the US, UK, Germany, Italy, and France, and what this means for the future of Libya. Draitser explains the role of terrorism in the war on Libya, and how it is shaping politics in that country today. He also outlines why the Western powers were so hellbent on removing Gaddafi and bringing regime change to Libya, as well as the larger geopolitical context necessary for understanding US motives today. Lots more is covered in this information-packed 16 minutes.
What is little discussed amid all the talk of impeachment and corruption in Brazil is the larger context: how international finance capital is working with Hillary Clinton and other U.S. political elites to reassert the Washington Consensus in Latin America; how the right wing throughout the region is collaborating in this project; and how this is manifesting in the targeted countries. Though the pieces of this puzzle may be partially concealed, it is time to put them all together to see the big picture.
Brazil and Argentina: Case Studies in Wall Street Meddling
As the world waits for the next episode of the unfolding Brazilian drama, it is critical to note why the spectacle that is this “impeachment” process is happening. Having been elected, and re-elected, four times in the last four elections, Dilma Rousseff and the Workers’ Party are undeniably the single-most popular political formation in Brazil, a country known for its deep divide between a wealthy right-wing elite, and the masses of workers and poor people who predominantly support the left, including the Workers’ Party in recent years.
With this dynamic it is unsurprising to find that the government is being ousted by a coalition of right-wing extremists, from those who unabashedly support theU.S.-installed Brazilian military dictatorship, to those who simply want to see Brazil follow a more neoliberal model of economic development. However, what might be surprising to some is the key role that powerful financial interests have, and will continue to have, over this process, and any future Brazilian government.
In mid-April, just as the impeachment vote was set to take place, Reuters revealed that Brazil’s right-wing Vice President Michel Temer was already preparing the shortlist of his presumptive cabinet once Dilma and the Workers’ Party is removed. Temer tabbed Paulo Leme to serve as either finance minister or head of the Central Bank. Leme is the Chairman of Goldman Sachs’s operations in Brazil, making him perhaps the pre-eminent representative of Wall Street in the country.
Of course, one cannot discount the significant influence companies like Goldman Sachs have beyond just their actual holdings in the country. For instance, Wall Street finance capital is very well connected to Brazil’s richest man, Jorge Paulo Lemann, a multi-billionaire who owns Heinz Ketchup, Burger King, is the majority stockholder of Anheuser-Busch and Budweiser, and is a close associate of Warren Buffett. With his pedigree in finance capital, it is no surprise that Lemann, and the interests he represents, has been financially backinggroups involved in the street protests calling for impeachment, including the highly visible VemPraRua (Come to the Streets).
It should be equally unsurprising that other key protest groups have been funded directly by other Wall Street interests, in particular the infamous Koch Brothers.Charles and David Koch are key moneymen behind the Free Brazil Movement (MBL) and Students for Liberty (EPL) via the Atlas Economic Research Foundation and Atlas Leadership Academy, both of which spawned some of the key protest leaders.
For these reasons, it should come as no surprise then that key players in the impeachment push in Brazil seem to be taking their orders directly from, or at the very least collaborating with, officials in the United States. In fact, the day after the impeachment vote was taken, Senator Aloysio Nunes was in Washington for high level meetings with Republican Senator Bob Corker, who is the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, a key supporter of Hillary Clinton. Nunes was also scheduled to meet with Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon, the third highest ranking State Department official, and the lead on Latin American affairs, as well as representatives of the lobbyist organization Albright Stonebridge Group, headed by Clinton-backer Madeline Albright.
In effect, these meetings indicate a desire on the part of the coup plotters to collaborate with all sides of the Washington Consensus – Republicans and Democrats, private capital and government agencies – to execute a smooth, U.S.-backed transition in Brazil. In fact, one could be forgiven for thinking that they were watching a re-run of the 2009 coup in Honduras, presided over and sanctioned by Hillary Clinton and her Beltway lobbyist and insider friends.
Russia is the target of a multi-faceted, asymmetric campaign of destabilization that has employed economic, political, and psychological forms of warfare — each of which has been specifically designed to inflict maximum damage on the Kremlin.
This article is part of a series on Western meddling to foment unrest and destabilize BRICS nations in an effort to ensure the continuation of Western economic and political control over the Global South. The first two parts, focusing on Brazil and South Africa, can be found here and here. Up next: Part II on the assault on Russia, which focuses on the political, psychological and military aspects that run in tandem with the economic war on Moscow.
NEW YORK — The U.S.-NATO Empire, with its centers of power in Washington, on Wall Street, and in the city of London, is on the offensive against the BRICS countries. This assault takes many forms, each tailored to its specific target.
The ongoing soft coup in Brazil has recently entered a new stage with the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff of the left-wing Workers’ Party. Simultaneously, the destabilization of the ANC-led government in South Africa continues as political forces align to remove President Jacob Zuma. These two situations illustrate clearly the very potent forms of subversion via Western-funded political formations and movements being employed against Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the bloc of emerging economies also known as BRICS.
However, when it comes to a country as large as Russia, with its vast military capabilities, consolidated and wildly popular political leadership, and growing antagonism toward the West, the tools available to the Empire to undermine and destabilize are in some ways more limited.
Indeed, in the context of Russia, the popular mobilization pretext does not apply, and so that weapon in the imperial arsenal is blunted considerably. But there are other, equally potent (and equally dangerous) methods to achieve the desired effect.
Russia is the target of a multi-faceted, asymmetric campaign of destabilization that has employed economic, political, and psychological forms of warfare, each of which has been specifically designed to inflict maximum damage on the Kremlin. While the results of this multi-pronged assault have been mixed, and their ultimate effect being the subject of much debate, Moscow is, without a doubt, ground zero in a global assault against the BRICS nations.
Economic war: Hitting Russia where it’s vulnerable
While Russia is a world class power militarily, it is highly vulnerable economically. For that obvious reason, this area has been a primary focus of the destabilization thrust.
Russia has for decades been overly reliant, if not entirely dependent, on revenues from the energy sector to maintain its economic growth and fund its budget. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration and Russia’s Federal Customs Service, oil and gas sales accounted for 68 percent of Russia’s total export revenues in 2013. With more than two-thirds of total export revenues and roughly 50 percent of the federal budget, not to mention 25 percent of total GDP, coming from oil and gas revenue, Russia’s very economic survival has been as dependent on energy as almost any country in the world.
In light of this, it’s no surprise that the drop in oil prices over the 18-month period from April 2014 to January 2016, which saw prices dive from $105 per barrel to under $30 per barrel, has caused tremendous economic instability in Russia. Even many leading Russian officials have conceded that the negative impact to Russia’s economy is substantial, to say the least.
US elections, despite all the media hype and endless rhetoric about ‘democracy in action,’ are in fact little more than manufactured political theater. The country that ceaselessly trumpets democratic values and transparency practices neither when it comes to its own elections.
As New Yorkers go to the polls in Democratic and Republican primaries this week, it is critical to once again highlight the myriad ways that democracy in the United States is, like most other things, a commodity to be bought and sold. From corporate control of the infrastructure of elections, to the creation of mass bases of support out of whole cloth, the candidates, as well as the system itself, cannot be trusted to be genuine.
Perhaps nothing illustrates this point more clearly than the results of multiple studies on Hillary Clinton’s online following which reveal that the majority of her Twitter fans, and indeed her social media following in general, are completely fake. Consider the implications of these findings from StatusPeople.com, and well-respected analytical tool TwitterAudit, which both found that no more than 44 percent of Clinton’s followers were actually real, active users of Twitter.
This may seem something trivial, but in fact it cuts to the very heart of the notion of democracy, and the legitimacy of a candidate who is perhaps the most obvious embodiment of the political and financial establishment in the US. Indeed, Bernie Sanders, among many others, has correctly noted that Clinton is in many ways the epitome of the ruling elite.
In a blistering commentary on Clinton during a nationally televised debate, Sanders proclaimed, “I will absolutely admit that Secretary Clinton… has the entire establishment or almost the entire establishment behind her. That’s a fact. I don’t deny it. I’m pretty proud that we have over a million people who have contributed to our campaign averaging 27 bucks a piece.” Sanders highlighted the fact that the political and financial elites back Hillary, and in so doing noted that his campaign is backed by millions of ordinary Americans.
But Sanders was equally, though perhaps inadvertently, illustrating the fact that the Clinton campaign is, in effect, being manufactured; that she has no real support except for a near consensus of establishment policy-makers and powerful individuals. And yet, here’s Hillary marching into yet another major primary with a double-digitlead. How much of that is based on a perception shaped – at least in part – by social media?