Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Bailout Created the Debt,
Not Vice-Versa




Take a look at this graph, from an interesting post (and follow-up) by documentary filmmaker David Malone on his blog Golem XIV. It shows that everything we've been told about the 2008 financial crisis and the resulting bailout is a complete crock of shit. It's the bailout that created the public debt crisis, not public debt that created the need for a bailout. The bailout, in every one of these countries, was a means for the financial elite to preserve its own enormous wealth by shifting its unsustainable private debt onto the shoulders of the public.

As Malone points out:
The green bars are debt as percentage of GDP before the bank bail outs and the blue bars are after. .... Notice Ireland. Its debt to GDP was down at 27%.  The ONLY thing that altered between 2007 and 2010 was the bank bails outs. Ireland’s ENTIRE debt problem is due to bailing out private banks and their bond holders. ... the fact is that all European nations apart from Portugal were either reducing their debt-to-GDP level or at least not allowing it to grow. Most of Europe was reducing government debt to quite manageable and historically low levels. ...Almost  every European country was keeping debt to GDP even or going down – before the banks were bailed out that is. The exceptions, of course, were Greece and Italy ..
The sudden explosion of European sovereign debt is the direct and indisputable result of all our political parties deciding they would safeguard their mates’ and their own personal wealth (it is the top 10% who hold the bulk of their wealth in the financial products which would be destroyed in a bank collapse. NOT the rest of us!) by bailing out the private banks and piling their unpaid debts on to the public purse.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Israel’s “Human Shield” Hypocrisy: The Early Days




Down those meme streets

In 2001, Edward Said called Leon Uris's 1958 novel Exodus: “The main narrative model that [still] dominates American thinking” about Israel.1 As a Haaretz columnist Bradley Burston put it more recently (2012), in an article entitled “The ‘Exodus’ effect: The monumentally fictional Israel that remade American Jewry,” Uris’s narrative “Tailor[ed], alter[ed] and radically sanitize[ed] the history of the founding of the State of Israel to flatter the fantasies and prejudices of American Jews.” Burston quotes American Zionist Jeffrey Goldberg, who served in the IDF as a prison guard, to the effect that "Exodus … made American Jews proud of Israel's achievements. On the other hand, it created the impression that all Arabs are savages.” And he quotes none other than David Ben-Gurion: "As a literary work it isn't much…But as a piece of propaganda, it's the best thing ever written about Israel."2       

Of course, even more Americans owe their education in Zionism to Otto Preminger’s 1960 movie version of the book, which has been “Widely characterized as a ‘Zionist epic’ [that was] enormously influential in stimulating Zionism and support for Israel in the United States.” It was Exodus, the movie, that really viralized (as we say now) the “Exodus-effect.”3

The film stars Paul Newman as Haganah militant Ari Ben Canaan.4 Newman provides the perfect image of what Burnson calls “the wiry, wily, can-pass-for-Christian New Israeli Jew - exactly [what Uris’s] literary engineering had intended.”  Gleaming blonde Eva Marie Saint plays the love interest, Kitty Fremont, a volunteer American and Presbyterian nurse who starts out all pacifistic and ends up riding off into battle as Ari’s shiksa comrade.  It was an iconic package that was, as Jerome A. Chanes, writing in New York Jewish Week in 2010, said: "just what we needed at the time - the Americanization of Zionism and Israel.”5

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Dogs of Hell: An Original Jihadi Trashes ISIS


In my last post, I treated ISIS as a phenomenon that serves imperial interests—the latest character in an ongoing tragedy of the opportunist use of jihadi players by hegemonic powers, which went into production in Afghanistan in 1979, and which has been on the road throughout the Middle East since, with the script frequently re-written as some members of the original cast and crew drop out, and new faces take on the challenge. One of the keys to its long run is the improvisational skill with which the producers adapt to the new talent that jumps on the well-financed and outfitted stage they have provided.

Thus, I have argued that ISIS, like other jihadi groups, has been effectively armed and nourished by American interventions in the region, and that its dramatic appearance and antics are of the If-they-didn’t-exist-we’d-have-had-to-invent-them genre—particularly, at this particular conjuncture, in regard to the grand plan for Syria. I am not, however, arguing that it was deliberately created by any particular country to do so. That’s not impossible, but I’ve seen no dispositive evidence of that. ISIS is just as likely, and no less perniciously, the product of the benign inadvertence of those who set and supplied the stage.

I do find it understandable, however, that many in the region, who doubt the possibility of coincidence—especially serial coincidences, especially serial coincidences that always end up promoting the urgent necessity for imperial powers to intervene in a particular group of Arab and Muslim countries for ostensibly non-imperialist reasons—will tend to favor notions that ISIS in Syria (and Iraq) is a deliberate creation of the foreign powers meddling in the region.

To get a glimpse of the kind of thinking that is prevalent in the region, and prevalent even among fellow jihadis, about ISIS, I strongly suggest that you look at the remarkable interview with Nabeel Naiem on Syria News below. (Bear with the rocky translation from Syria News.) I don’t endorse his theories about ISIS, or anything else he says, but if you’re interested in the dynamics of jihadism and jihadi thinking in the region, and of how even the most militant Islamists detest ISIS, you’re unlikely to find anything like it.

Friday, September 5, 2014

America, ISIS, and Syria: We have to bomb the jihadis in order to save them

Does it take more than one full minute of thought to see what’s going on here?


The short version:
  • ISIS is the product of years of American military intervention in Iraq, Libya, and Syria. ISIS is the creature of an imperial enterprise—a global effort to bring down the Syrian state using jihadi proxies that included the U.S and its allies--Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Turkey, and Israel, at least—that could only have proceeded, “at the bidding of,” and managed by, the imperial center. It was by surfing the American-directed “cataract” of weaponry and funds directed against Syria that ISIS became an international jihadi movement surpassing Al-Qaeda itself. Without that American intervention, there would be no ISIS.

  • In this regard, ISIS is only the latest in a series of worst-ever takfiri groups that has been cooked up in the stew of jihadi proxy fighters the U.S. and its allies have been serving up since the its holy war in Afghanistan in 1979—the one where Zbigniew Brzezinski told Bin Laden’s jihadis, “God is on your side.”1 As Gilbert Mercier quipped, “Just like al-Qaeda, ISIS is the secret love child of United States imperialism and the kings and sheiks of the Gulf states.”2
  •  
  • An American (“coalition”) military attack on Syria will not destroy ISIS, and will not have the primary purpose of destroying ISIS; it will target and degrade the Syrian military, and its primary purpose will be to destroy the Syrian state’s capacity to resist the onslaught of jihadi rebels, including ISIS—a “rebellion” which hasn’t been going so well recently. The Obama administration knows, and says, that an American military attack will not defeat ISIS. It also knows, and says (sometimes explicitly, sometimes implicitly, depending on the audience), that its main objective will be to help the jihadi onslaught succeed. “A­ssad must go” is still the prime directive; the jihadis are still the most effective instrument for that. ISIS changes nothing, except to help sell military intervention to the Western publics. In a number of ways, ISIS has intervened to save the jihadi rebellion from defeat. It’s the reverse of the Vietnam rule: We have to bomb the jihadis in order to save them.

For those who want the details, the long version:

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