Thursday, July 16, 2015

Today's Links

1---In 2003, just after the fall of the Hussein regime in Iraq, the Bush administration summarily dismissed an Iranian offer to severely limit its nuclear capacity (and instead import key nuclear products needed for energy and medical uses), in exchange for a guarantee that the U.S. and Israel would not undertake further military or economic warfare. In 2010, the Obama administration dismissed a similar deal brokered by Turkey and Brazil; opting instead for the dramatically amplified sanctions currently in place.

These offers continued to be available when the P5+1 (U.S., Russia, China, Britain, and France plus Germany) negotiations began in early 2013. But Obama opted for a half-measure: while insisting that Iran abandon any nuclear development that would bring it closer to a weapon, he refused to offer any guarantee against military attack. Instead, he offered a relaxation of the economic war. This arrangement would allow the U.S. to continue to utilize the (undeterred) threat of military attack to pressure Iran to accept or even cooperate with U.S. policies in the Middle East...

Why has Iran accepted such a deal without a guarantee against an invasion? Because, for Iran, this is also a half-measure. They get (if the U.S. keeps its side of the deal) a relaxation of the brutal economic warfare, at a time when the U.S. is in no position to undertake large-scale military action. During this hiatus, Iran can expect to further develop domestic industries, expand economic ties with Russia and China, and/or initiate important trade and investment relations with Europe and the United States. One particularly salient opportunity is for Iran to develop its huge natural gas resources to become a major supplier to energy-starved European Union (EU) countries as well as its immediate neighbors in the Middle East. Beyond allowing Iran to advance its goal of being a central figure in the Middle East economy, these developments would help insulate it from further U.S. economic or military attack.

2---Iran Nuclear Deal: What Future Has in Store for Russo-Iranian Relations

"The simplistic view is that a resurgent Iran would compete with Russia as a major exporter of oil and gas, hence compelling Moscow to stand in the way of Iran developing its oil and gas potential. However, the reality is more complex and any projection of Tehran-Moscow ties will need to take into account the larger picture, especially the role that Iran can play in Moscow's emerging strategy to focus more intensely on Asia," the expert pointed out.

3--Leftists who didn't sell out: The Greek people were ready to resist, but Tsipras clearly wasn’t.

Alexis Tsipras put his commitment to a colonial currency above everything else, and in doing so will be remembered as yet another pseudo-leftist who sided with the bankers against his own people

Charles de Gaulle, President of France from 1959-69, is a case in point. Always distrustful of the power of money and market fundamentalism, he introduced a mixed economy, a welfare state, and presided over the biggest rise in living standards for ordinary people in French history. “He was a man who did not care for those who owned wealth; he despised the bourgeois and hated capitalism” was the verdict of de Gaulle’s biographer Jean Lacouture.
De Gaulle not only did not care for those who owned wealth, he didn’t care much for wealth itself. Despite occupying the highest office in state for ten years, he died in penury—instead of accepting the pension he was entitled to as a retired president and general he only took the pension of a colonel. The contrast between de Gaulle and the money-obsessed career politicians of today could not be greater.
Remember de Gaulle - the man ‘who despised the bourgeois and hated capitalism’ was labeled a ‘conservative,’ not a ‘radical leftist’. In fact, the so-called ‘radical left’ protested against him in 1968 with leading figures of that ‘rebellion’ becoming enthusiastic pro-NATO ‘liberal interventionists’ in the 1990s and 2000s.
READ MORE: IMF: Greek debt ‘unsustainable,’ Europe should give relief – report
It’s also interesting to contrast the assertive stance that Hungary’s much maligned ‘conservative’ government has maintained against the international money men - including the IMF and EU - with the way that Greece’s ’radical-left’ prime minister has capitulated. The government of Viktor Orban was attacked by Brussels for taking on the foreign-owned energy companies, but government mandated cuts have led to big reductions in fuel bills.

The ‘conservative’ Orban has undoubtedly done more to alleviate the suffering of the Hungarian people than the ‘radical leftist’ Tsipras has with the Greeks. With his Gaullist, dirigiste approach, he’s actually proved to be more of a ‘socialist’ than his socialist opponents - who simply governed the country for the benefit of Washington and Brussels and foreign banks when they were in power.

Remembering those who did not 'sell out'

One socialist leader who most definitely did not betray his people was Bruno Kreisky, Chancellor of Austria from 1970-83. Kreisky made it clear that he wasn’t interested in going into coalitions with other parties who would water down his socialist policies- and was rewarded with a clear majority in three elections. Kreisky always put the interests of working people first. During the 1979 election campaign he said that he would rather the government run up a deficit, than people lose their jobs. "Hundreds of thousands unemployed matter more than a few billion schillings of debt," the great socialist declared.

Another leftist who put his people first was the late Hugo Chavez. Unlike most leading European ‘progressives’- who start off as radicals but who move inexorably towards embracing neocon/neoliberal positions, the late president of Venezuela became more socialist as the years went on. In 2009, he said "Every factory must be a school to educate, like Che Guevara said, to produce not only briquettes, steel, and aluminum but also above all the new man and woman, the new society, the socialist society."
The price for defying the international money men and not doing the dirty on the workers can be high.
Salvador Allende, the democratically elected Marxist President of Chile, paid with his life. He was toppled in a coup which bought to power General Pinochet, who proceeded to restructure the Chilean economy to the benefit of Western capital- with the help of neoliberal economists from Chicago University.

The leftists who did not sell out were all men of principle, with a deep commitment to socialism. Bruno Kreisky, for instance, spent time in jail in Austria in the 1930s on account of his beliefs. Compare his unwavering commitment to the socialist cause with the opportunistic positions of France’s Francois Mitterrand. Mitterrand, according to his biographer Philip Short, turned to socialism “less from conviction than from a process of elimination.” This was a man after all who had worked for both Vichy France, as well as the Resistance, and who had described the communists as “a pain”. It was easy for Mitterrand to ditch socialism in 1983, because he had no strong ideological attachment to it.
The events of the last few days have demonstrated the same about Alexis Tsipras’ commitment to ending austerity.
Defenders of the Greek Prime Minister are trying to maintain that he had no option but to surrender, but that is clearly untrue. He could- and should- have made it clear that unless there were substantial concessions from the Troika on Greece‘s debt, he would lead his country out of the euro.

4---Jade Helm military drills begin without media access, Twitter blows up
Martial law in the US

5--NATO to hold biggest military drills in decade, Russia welcome to observe

6--Obama promotes “historic” nuclear deal with Iran

Iran must either dismantle or roll back and freeze the key elements of its nuclear program and must submit to the most intrusive nuclear inspections regime ever devised....

The JCPOA provides for the “snap-back” or automatic reimposition of these US and EU sanctions—as well as those of the UN Security Council, which provide their legal underpinning—if two conditions are met. These conditions are rigged in favor of the US and its European allies, and thus provide Washington with a ready instrument to threaten and bully Iran. A majority of the agreement’s signatories (e.g., the US and its EU partners, which make up four of the seven) must vote in favor of a finding that Tehran has violated the agreement. Sanctions resume unless the Security Council adopts a resolution reaffirming the suspension within 35 days. Since the US can veto such a resolution, Washington can dictate the reimposition of sanctions almost at will...

if Obama made haste to promote the deal with Tehran, it is because it represents a major tactical shift on the part of US imperialism—one that is being opposed by significant sections of the US political and military-intelligence establishments, as well as by longstanding US client states in the Middle East, first and foremost Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Behind this shift lies a series of strategic calculations, bound up with the aggressive actions of the Obama administration around the world to assert US global hegemony.

The most important of these calculations are, (1) that US imperialism’s conflict with Tehran must be subordinated to its drive to strategically isolate Russia and China and prepare for war against one or both states, which the US ruling elite views as the main obstacles to its global domination, and (2) that Iran’s crisis-ridden bourgeois regime can be harnessed to serve US strategic interests....

In his Tuesday speech, Obama argued, in effect, that it would be more expedient—less costly and risky—for the US to pocket the concessions it has extorted from Iran and explore Tehran’s readiness to seek an accommodation with Washington, than to ratchet up economic sanctions and threats of war...

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has, himself, repeatedly authorized overtures to Washington. In 2001, Tehran assisted the US in installing Hamid Karzai as Afghanistan’s puppet president. And in 2003, shortly after the US’s illegal invasion of Iraq, Khamenei authorized a secret offer to the US, in which Tehran agreed to recognize Israel, and withdraw military support for Hezbollah and Hamas, in exchange for a US disavowal of regime change.

7---The Battle For China’s Oil Market

The historic deal with Iran once again opens up the opportunity for a flood of new supplies. In fact, China has jumped the gun – so far this year it has averaged a higher level of imports than before the sanctions regime went into place in 2012. The U.S. seems to have overlooked this fact in order to hold onto China’s support during the Iran negotiations. China is importing nearly 600,000 barrels per day from Iran so far this year. But that figure that could balloon in the coming years as Iran boosts production

8--The Dash for Gas How Iran’s Gas Supply Can Change the Course of Nuclear Negotiations
For Iran, replacing Russia as the EU’s long-term gas supplier is a highly lucrative avenue worth exploring, particularly as the recent drops in oil prices have started to impact the government’s federal budget. As a result, the implications for the relationship between Iran and Russia will have to be carefully addressed; where, in recent years they have developed closer economic ties but historically have maintained more of a tense relationship. While there is no complete pipeline network in place that fully connects Iran’s gas grid to Europe, the country is already connected to Turkey via the Tabriz-Ankara pipeline—a prospective solution.

9---The new Versailles, Varoufakis

10--EMU brutality in Greece has destroyed the trust of Europe's Left
'The Left let itself become the enforcer of reactionary policies and mass unemployment because of the euro.' Greece has broken the spell

The EU establishment henceforth faces what it has always feared: a political war on two fronts at once.
It is long been fighting an expanding coaltion of free marketeers, parliamentary "souverainistes", anti-immigrant populists on the Right.
Its has now lost its remaining emotional hold on the Left after the scorched-earth treatment of Greece over the past five months - culminating in the vindictive decision to impose yet harsher terms on this crushed nation just days after its cri de coeur in a landslide referendum.
This has been coming for a long time. We Conservatives have watched in disbelief as one Socialist party after another immolates itself on the altar of monetary union, defending a project that favours the elites - a "bankers' ramp", as the old Left used to call it...

As ex-official Philippe Legrain writes in Foreign Policy, Germany is proving to be a "calamitous hegemon".

11--The left must put Britain's EU withdrawal on the agenda

“Everything good about the EU is in retreat; everything bad is on the rampage,” writes George Monbiot, explaining his about-turn. “All my life I’ve been pro-Europe,” says Caitlin Moran, “but seeing how Germany is treating Greece, I am finding it increasingly distasteful.” Nick Cohen believes the EU is being portrayed “with some truth, as a cruel, fanatical and stupid institution”. “How can the left support what is being done?” asks Suzanne Moore. “The European ‘Union’. Not in my name.” There are senior Labour figures in Westminster and Holyrood privately moving to an “out” position too....

the EU has driven into an economic collapse unseen since America’s great depression. It was German and French banks who recklessly lent to Greece that have benefited from bailouts, not the Greek economy. The destruction of Greece’s national sovereignty was achieved by economic strangulation, and treatment dealt out to Alexis Tsipras likened to “extensive mental waterboarding”. Slovakia’s deputy prime minister, Peter Kažimír, may have deleted his tweet calling this modern-day Versailles “the results of their ‘Greek Spring’”, but he is right: this was all about crushing a rebellion...

look at how the EU has operated. It has driven elected governments – however unsavoury, like Silvio Berlusconi’s – from office. Ireland and Portugal were also blackmailed. The 2011 treaty effectively banned Keynesian economics in the Eurozone.

12--Greek parliament endorses EU-dictated austerity programme

How is it that a government, which claimed to be left-wing, even socialist, is now supporting attacks on the working class that go beyond anything that went before? The ability of the working class to recover from this defeat, and avoid similar betrayals throughout Europe and internationally, requires a clear understanding of the political forces that are responsible.

This means, first of all, understanding the nature of Syriza and its political co-thinkers, which the WSWS has defined as “pseudo-left.” The actions taken by Tsipras flow inexorably from the class basis of Syriza, a bourgeois party resting on more privileged layers of the upper-middle class. Syriza could not resist the demands of the European banks, because to do so would require mobilizing the working class against the national bourgeoisie within Greece itself, which functions as a fifth column of European imperialism....

The final word in Greece has not yet been heard. There will be more struggles to come. No one can claim that this defeat was inflicted on the working class because the workers did not want to fight. What was lacking was political leadership.

13--Japan's Economic Disaster: Real Wages Lowest Since 1990, Record Numbers Describe "Hard" Living Conditions
14---China-Led Bank Will "Keep America Honest," Provide Alternative To IMF, Nomura Says

15--The Shocking 2008 AIG Report On "Empire Europe" And The Death Of Greece

16--The euro system today is an instrument in the hands of European capital to roll back the gains of social democracy
17---The I.M.F. Is Telling Europe the Euro Doesn’t Work
18--China May Tip World Into Recession: Morgan Stanley

19--Eurozone Moves in Direction of Totalitarianism German Media

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