Friday, February 26, 2016

Today's Links

1---Gloomy predictions overshadow G 20 meetings


There is now a growing realisation that these massive money-printing operations have done nothing to boost global growth but have only fuelled the growth of socially-destructive parasitism and speculation, creating the conditions for another financial crisis, the consequences of which would be even more serious than that of 2008–2009.

Reflecting the growing perplexity in ruling circles over economic policy, Wolf commented: “No simple solution for the global economic imbalances of today exist, only palliatives.” Given that “palliative” care is most often associated with someone suffering from a terminal disease, placed in a hospice with no prospect for a cure, this is a revealing assessment of the state of global capitalism....



In its summary of the overall situation, the IMF said “the global recovery has weakened further amid increasing financial turbulence and falling asset prices”. Economic activity slowed towards the end of 2015, and the valuation of risky assets dropped sharply, increasing the likelihood of a further weakening of the outlook. The IMF did not revise down its estimates for global growth, but it indicated this was likely at its April meeting....



The austerity program is not a product of defective thinking on the part of the ruling elites as all the would-be reformers of global capitalism claim. It is a class policy imposed in the interests of definite social forces. Directed by the ruling corporate and financial elites, it is aimed at weakening the position of the working class, through unemployment, wage cuts and attacks on social conditions as one of the central mechanisms for increasing profits.



“These developments,” it said, “point to higher risks of a derailed recovery, at a moment when the global economy is highly vulnerable to adverse shocks.” To counter these dangers, it said the G-20 had to “act now” to implement growth strategies and plan for coordinated demand programs to boost public investment...



Wolf cited the OECD report, which pointed out that the global economy was growing at the lowest pace in five years. “Behind this is a simple reality: the global savings glut—the tendency for desired savings to rise more than desired investment—is growing and so the ‘chronic demand deficiency syndrome’ is worsening.” In other words, no amount of financial stimulus is going to boost investment in the real economy.



2--Laid Bare in Shanghai: G-20 Tensions Over How to Spur Growth



It’s critical for the G-20 to use all policy levers available, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew told reporters in Shanghai.



America’s Call

"There’s a shortfall in global demand -- it’s something we think does require focus," Lew said. "It’s a period when it’s increasingly important to use all the levers of policy that are available. And that means fiscal levers as well as monetary policy and structural reforms."



Lew also said that the G-20 should address "the need to avoid competitive devaluation. That’s competing in a beggar-thy-neighbor way to share a pie that’s either frozen or shrinking, and it doesn’t lead anywhere good."

As for pro-growth measures, "the most likely outcome could be commitment by some governments to prop up faltering private capital spending, especially in commodity and manufacturing exporters," strategists led by Valentin Marinov, head of Group-of-10 currency strategy at Credit Agricole SA’s corporate and investment-banking unit in London, wrote in a note.



Angel Gurria, secretary general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said in an interview that “we are advocating the possibility of using fiscal space to go for selective infrastructure projects” that can strengthen growth. “We need bolder initiatives now, because of how sluggish, how mediocre the performance has been."


3--OECD's William White: In Terms of Debt, the Situation Is Way Worse than 2007





William White, chairman of the Economic and Development Review Committee at the OECD and former chief economist at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), says the risks posed by global debt levels are greater today than they were in 2007 and that central banking monetary policy has lost its effectiveness....



"If you think about a crisis period as a period of deleveraging, in fact this has not happened and we've gone in the very opposite direction. Now, on the household side, clearly there have been some improvements made but on the corporate side in the US, things have gotten significantly worse—the debt ratios for corporations have gone up very substantially as has government debt......



well, in the end monetary easing is not going to work at all and...that's where I am today... Unfortunately, we are still, as far as I can tell, both the BIS and myself are still talking to a brick wall...



Lesson number two is that you can't predict when the system will break down precisely or where it will break down precisely but in a sense it doesn't matter because it's the system you want to focus on. And it is possible to get some sense of this system is getting stretched beyond its capacity to recover. And I think this is one of the central lessons of the BIS, which is the levels of credit—the stock of credit—and sometimes the rate of growth of that credit is of such a magnitude that it is clear that there's going to be some bad things that come out of it




3--Don't call it a ceasefire

4--Hillary's support for regime change and jihadi occupation





Joseph Massad, Associate Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University, wrote to Al-Jazeera “it was the United States that destroyed Syrian democracy in 1949 when the CIA sponsored the first coup d’├ętat in the country ending democratic rule. It is again the United States that has destroyed the possibility of a democratic outcome of the current popular uprising. My deep condolences to the Syrian people.”


There have also been many events that nearly lead to a full-scale invasion of Syria by western coalitions, including the 2013 East Ghouta chemical weapons attack. President Barack Obama along with the media did have some basis because they accurately mention that the Syrian government had possession and the capability to launch chemical weapons. However, the diplomatic community pointed out discrepancies in the President’s statement. Pulitzer Prize-winner, Seymour Hersh, called it “presenting assumptions as facts.” It was within our understanding at the time that Jabhat Al-Nusra had the capability to produce sarin in large quantities and also use it. Clinton, as a former head diplomat, knows these facts but has instead used this incident to further commit herself to regime change. What about U.S. allies supported by the Clinton dynasty? In a Freudian slip- the Vice President, Joe Biden, stated that the Turks, Saudis, and Emiratis funded and armed Jabhat Al-Nusra.



 Today, this association is unquestionable. The famed Professor Noam Chomsky told me an in an interview in December: “[Turkey] is playing a very dangerous game in Syria, tacitly supporting ISIS by allowing the borders to stay open, openly supporting Al-Nursa, attacking the Kurds who are the main ground force combating ISIS and defending their own territories and more. Not a pretty picture.”....



Hillary Clinton is not a diplomat; she is a bloodthirsty and deranged woman with no respect for human rights and a true exemplar of corruption.




5---Kerry reveals "Plan B"

6---Shamir: Israel wins when Arabs lose



Israel has been pleased with Arabs killing each other. Now, as the end of war is seen on the horizon, Israel spoke up. Amos Harel, a leading Israeli military observer with high-grade access, made it clear: “the war in Syria has largely served Israel’s interests. The ongoing fighting has worn down the Syrian army to a shadow of its former capabilities. ...

 

Israel’s main adversary in the north, is losing dozens of fighters every month in battle. Israel has been quietly wishing success to both sides and would not have been against the bloodletting continuing for a few more years without a clear victor” Now, after successful Russian intervention, Israel states openly that “an Assad victory would be bad for Israel” and it calls upon the West “to send real military aid to the less extreme Sunni rebels”.
Thus, the will of Israel, and of Israel Lobby in the US, directly contradicts the will of people as it was lucidly expressed by Stephen Kinzer. You can follow the lead of your Israeli Lobby, or you can have peace and security, but you can’t have both, it is that simple.





7---Dirty deeds done dirt cheap: Washington teams up with al Qaida to topple Assad

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sky1tt8vLA



US intelligence analysts have warned that al-Nusra and the so-called “moderate” terrorists promoted by Washington are “intermingled.” Brett McGurk, the Obama administration’s envoy to the “coalition” participating in the US-led war in Iraq and Syria, told a White House press briefing Tuesday that the supposed moderates and the Al Qaeda group “are marbled together.”

Behind such awkward formulations, the reality is that Al Qaeda and related groups have long constituted the principal proxy ground forces utilized by US imperialism and its allies in the brutal war to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad. They have served as a mercenary army, which has been massively funded and has received an avalanche of arms from the US and its principal regional allies, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar. What is commonly referred to as the Syrian civil war is nothing less than a massive CIA regime-change operation.

This bloody intervention in Syria exposes as a fraud the entire “war on terror,” which has served as the linchpin for the conduct of war abroad and the buildup of state repression at home for nearly 15 years, under both the Bush and Obama administrations. The US is not involved in some existential struggle against terrorism in general and Al Qaeda in particular. Rather, it is employing Al Qaeda killers to do its dirty work in the struggle to establish US hegemony in the Middle East....



The article suggests that there are differences within the US state apparatus over whether to supply these same “rebels” with Manpads, advanced portable antiaircraft weapons, that could bring down Russian jets, potentially triggering a wider war pitting the US against Russia. The CIA, at the same time, is warning that if action isn’t taken to defend the Islamist militias, Saudi Arabia or Turkey could “decide to break ranks with Washington and send large numbers of Manpads into northern Syria to shoot down Russian bombers.” In other words, the incredibly reckless policy pursued by Washington may yet unleash a conflict that could end in a nuclear exchange....



in virtually every terrorist incident, from 9/11 to the Boston Marathon bombing and beyond, the perpetrators were well known to US agencies and allowed to travel freely in and out of the country with no questions asked.

Today, US imperialism is more heavily invested than ever in these forces, and not only in the Middle East, where they have been employed to bring down the government of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and in the attempt to do the same to Assad in Syria....



There is an obvious danger that the Islamist outfits will devise their own “Plan B” involving retribution against their imperialist patrons for what they see as a betrayal. This is a familiar pattern, seen in the evolution of those around Osama bin Laden who were abandoned after the Soviets withdrew their troops from Afghanistan. The ultimate result was the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001.



8--Why the Arabs don’t want us in Syria

They don’t hate ‘our freedoms.’ They hate that we’ve betrayed our ideals in their own countries — for oil....



we must recognize the Syrian conflict is a war over control of resources indistinguishable from the myriad clandestine and undeclared oil wars we have been fighting in the Mideast for 65 years. And only when we see this conflict as a proxy war over a pipeline do events become comprehensible. It’s the only paradigm that explains why the GOP on Capitol Hill and the Obama administration are still fixated on regime change rather than regional stability, why the Obama administration can find no Syrian moderates to fight the war, why ISIL blew up a Russian passenger plane, why the Saudis just executed a powerful Shiite cleric only to have their embassy burned in Tehran, why Russia is bombing non-ISIL fighters and why Turkey went out of its way to shoot down a Russian jet. The million refugees now flooding into Europe are refugees of a pipeline war and CIA blundering....

Let’s face it; what we call the “war on terror” is really just another oil war. We’ve squandered $6 trillion on three wars abroad and on constructing a national security warfare state at home since oilman Dick Cheney declared the “Long War” in 2001. The only winners have been the military contractors and oil companies that have pocketed historic profits, the intelligence agencies that have grown exponentially in power and influence to the detriment of our freedoms and the jihadists who invariably used our interventions as their most effective recruiting tool. We have compromised our values, butchered our own youth, killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people, subverted our idealism and squandered our national treasures in fruitless and costly adventures abroad. In the process, we have helped our worst enemies and turned America, once the world’s beacon of freedom, into a national security surveillance state and an international moral pariah




In their view, our war against Bashar Assad did not begin with the peaceful civil protests of the Arab Spring in 2011. Instead it began in 2000, when Qatar proposed to construct a $10 billion, 1,500 kilometer pipeline through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey. Qatar shares with Iran the South Pars/North Dome gas field, the world’s richest natural gas repository. The international trade embargo until recently prohibited Iran from selling gas abroad. Meanwhile, Qatar’s gas can reach European markets only if it is liquefied and shipped by sea, a route that restricts volume and dramatically raises costs. The proposed pipeline would have linked Qatar directly to European energy markets via distribution terminals in Turkey, which would pocket rich transit fees. The Qatar/Turkey pipeline would give the Sunni kingdoms of the Persian Gulf decisive domination of world natural gas markets and strengthen Qatar, America’s closest ally in the Arab world. Qatar hosts two massive American military bases and the U.S. Central Command’s Mideast headquarters...

Of course, the Russians, who sell 70 percent of their gas exports to Europe, viewed the Qatar/Turkey pipeline as an existential threat. In Putin’s view, the Qatar pipeline is a NATO plot to change the status quo, deprive Russia of its only foothold in the Middle East, strangle the Russian economy and end Russian leverage in the European energy market. In 2009, Assad announced that he would refuse to sign the agreement to allow the pipeline to run through Syria “to protect the interests of our Russian ally.”
Assad further enraged the Gulf’s Sunni monarchs by endorsing a Russian-approved “Islamic pipeline” running from Iran’s side of the gas field through Syria and to the ports of Lebanon. The Islamic pipeline would make Shiite Iran, not Sunni Qatar, the principal supplier to the European energy market and dramatically increase Tehran’s influence in the Middke East and the world. Israel also was understandably determined to derail the Islamic pipeline, which would enrich Iran and Syria and presumably strengthen their proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas.
Secret cables and reports by the U.S., Saudi and Israeli intelligence agencies indicate that the moment Assad rejected the Qatari pipeline, military and intelligence planners quickly arrived at the consensus that fomenting a Sunni uprising in Syria to overthrow the uncooperative Bashar Assad was a feasible path to achieving the shared objective of completing the Qatar/Turkey gas link. In 2009, according to WikiLeaks, soon after Bashar Assad rejected the Qatar pipeline, the CIA began funding opposition groups in Syria. It is important to note that this was well before the Arab Spring-engendered uprising against Assad.
...
teran journalist, Bob Parry, echoes that assessment. “No one in the region has clean hands, but in the realms of torture, mass killings, [suppressing] civil liberties and supporting terrorism, Assad is much better than the Saudis.”...

Despite pressure from Republicans, Barack Obama balked at hiring out young Americans to die as mercenaries for a pipeline conglomerate. Obama wisely ignored Republican clamoring to put ground troops in Syria or to funnel more funding to “moderate insurgents.” But by late 2011, Republican pressure and our Sunni allies had pushed the American government into the fray.....

audi intelligence documents, published by WikiLeaks, show that by 2012, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were arming, training and funding radical jihadist Sunni fighters from Syria, Iraq and elsewhere to overthrow the Assad’s Shiite-allied regime. Qatar, which had the most to gain, invested $3 billion in building the insurgency and invited the Pentagon to train insurgents at U.S. bases in Qatar. According to an April 2014 article by Seymour Hersh, the CIA weapons ratlines were financed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The idea of fomenting a Sunni-Shiite civil war to weaken the Syrian and Iranian regimes in order to maintain control of the region’s petrochemical supplies was not a novel notion in the Pentagon’s lexicon. A damning 2008 Pentagon-funded Rand report proposed a precise blueprint for what was about to happen. That report observes that control of the Persian Gulf oil and gas deposits will remain, for the U.S., “a strategic priority” that “will interact strongly with that of prosecuting the long war.” Rand recommended using “covert action, information operations, unconventional warfare” to enforce a “divide and rule” strategy. “The United States and its local allies could use the nationalist jihadists to launch a proxy campaign” and “U.S. leaders could also choose to capitalize on the sustained Shia-Sunni conflict trajectory by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes against Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world … possibly supporting authoritative Sunni governments against a continuingly hostile Iran.”


The press portrait of the Free Syrian Army as cohesive battalions of Syrian moderates was delusional. The dissolved units regrouped in hundreds of independent militias most of which were commanded by, or allied with, jihadi militants who were the most committed and effective fighters. By then, the Sunni armies of Al Qaeda in Iraq were crossing the border from Iraq into Syria and joining forces with the squadrons of deserters from the Free Syrian Army, many of them trained and armed by the U.S.
Despite the prevailing media portrait of a moderate Arab uprising against the tyrant Assad, U.S. intelligence planners knew from the outset that their pipeline proxies were radical jihadists who would probably carve themselves a brand new Islamic caliphate from the Sunni regions of Syria and Iraq. Two years before ISIL throat cutters stepped on the world stage, a seven-page August 12, 2012, study by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, obtained by the right-wing group Judicial Watch, warned that thanks to the ongoing support by U.S./Sunni Coalition for radical Sunni Jihadists, “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI (now ISIS), are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.”

The Pentagon authors of the seven-page report appear to endorse the predicted advent of the ISIS caliphate: “If the situation unravels, there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor) and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want in order to isolate the Syrian regime.” The Pentagon report warns that this new principality could move across the Iraqi border to Mosul and Ramadi and “declare an Islamic state through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.”
Of course, this is precisely what has happened. Not coincidentally, the regions of Syria occupied by the Islamic State exactly encompass the proposed route of the Qatari pipeline
...
many of the Islamic State fighters and their commanders are ideological and organizational successors to the jihadists that the CIA has been nurturing for more than 30 years from Syria and Egypt to Afghanistan and Iraq...

Prior to the American invasion, there was no Al Qaeda in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. President George W. Bush destroyed Saddam’s secularist government, and his viceroy, Paul Bremer, in a monumental act of mismanagement, effectively created the Sunni Army, now named the Islamic State. Bremer elevated the Shiites to power and banned Saddam’s ruling Ba’ath Party, laying off some 700,000 mostly Sunni, government and party officials from ministers to schoolteachers. He then disbanded the 380,000-man army, which was 80 percent Sunni. Bremer’s actions stripped a million of Iraq’s Sunnis of rank, property, wealth and power; leaving a desperate underclass of angry, educated, capable, trained and heavily armed Sunnis with little left to lose. The Sunni insurgency named itself Al Qaeda in Iraq. Beginning in 2011, our allies funded the invasion by AQI fighters into Syria. In April 2013, having entered Syria, AQI changed its name to ISIL. According to Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker, “ISIS is run by a council of former Iraqi generals. … Many are members of Saddam Hussein’s secular Ba’ath Party who converted to radical Islam in American prisons.”
 

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