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Empire Under Obama, Part 2: Barack Obama’s Global Terror Campaign
By: Andrew Gavin Marshall
Originally posted at The Hampton Institute
Under the administration of Barack Obama, America is waging a global terror campaign through the use of drones, killing thousands of people, committing endless war crimes, creating fear and terror in a program expected to last several more decades. Welcome to Obama’s War OF Terror.
When Obama became President in 2009, he faced a monumental challenge for the extension of American and Western imperial interests. The effects of eight years under the overt ruthless and reckless behaviour of the Bush administration had taken a toll on the world. With two massive ground wars and occupations under way in Iraq and Afghanistan, Western military forces were stretched thin, while the world’s populations had grown increasingly wary and critical of the use of military force, both at home and abroad. Just as Brzezinski had articulated: “while the lethality of their military might is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historic low.”
When it came to the ‘War on Terror,’ Obama implemented his electoral visions of “hope” and “change” in the only way he knows: change the rhetoric, not the substance, and hope to hell that the Empire can continue extending its influence around the world. As such, Obama quickly implemented a policy change, dropping the term “war on terror” and replacing it with the equally – if not more – meaningless term, “overseas contingency operations.”
A major facet of Obama’s foreign policy strategy has been the implementation of an unprecedented global terror war with flying killer robots (“drones”) operated by remote control. By 2011, the Washington Post reported that no president in U.S. history “has ever relied so extensively on the secret killing of individuals to advance the nation’s security goals.”
Every Tuesday, a counterterrorism meeting takes place in the White House Situation Room among two dozen security officials where they decide who – around the world – they are going to illegally bomb and kill that week, drawing up the weekly “kill list” (as it is called).
By October of 2012, Obama’s “kill list” had evolved into a “next-generation targeting list” now officially referred to as the “disposition matrix,” in yet another effort to demean the English language. The “disposition matrix”/kill list establishes the names of “terror suspects” who the Obama administration wants to ‘dispose’ of, without trial, beyond the rule of law, in contravention of all established international law, and in blatant war crimes that kill innocent civilians.
Obama administration officials believe that the use of global drone terror warfare and “kill lists” are likely to last at least another decade, with one top official commenting, “We can’t possibly kill everyone who wants to harm us… It’s a necessary part of what we do… We’re not going to wind up in 10 years in a world of everybody holding hands and saying, ‘We love America’.” Indeed, quite true. That’s one of the actual repercussions – believe it or not – of waging a massive global assassination program against people around the world: they tend to not “love” the country bombing them.
But the Obama administration warned the world that as of 2012, the U.S. had only reached the “mid-point” in the global war on [read: of] terror, with Obama’s assassination program having already killed more than 3,000 people around the world, more than the number of people killed on 9/11. As Glenn Greenwald noted, this represented “concerted efforts by the Obama administration to fully institutionalize – to make officially permanent – the most extremist powers it has exercised in the name of the war on terror.”
But in case you had any moral ‘qualms’ about bombing and murdering hundreds of innocent children in multiple countries around the world with flying robots, don’t worry: as Joe Klein of Time Magazine noted, “the bottom line in the end is – whose 4-year-old gets killed? What we’re doing is limiting the possibility that 4-year-olds here will get killed by indiscriminate acts of terror.”
Quite right. After all, “indiscriminate acts of terror” are only okay when the United States – or the “international community” – does it. But when the U.S. spreads terror, death and destruction around the world, this is referred to as a “war on terror,” instead of the more accurate “war of terror.” It could be argued that as a rule of thumb, whenever the United States declares a “war” ON something, simply remove the word ‘on’ and replace it with ‘of’, and suddenly, everything starts to make more sense. After all, whenever the U.S. declares a war “on” something (drugs, poverty, terror), the result is that there is a great deal more of whatever it is being ‘targeted’, and that U.S. policies themselves facilitate the exponential growth of these so-called ‘targets.’ Hence, the “war on terror” is truly more accurately described as a “war of terror,” since that is the result of the actual policies undertaken in the name of such a war.
A major NYU School of Law and Stanford University Law School research report was published in September of 2012 documenting the civilian terror inflicted by Obama’s global assassination-terror campaign. While the Obama administration has claimed that drones are “surgically precise” and “makes the US safer,” the report countered that this was completely “false.” The report noted that Obama’s drone war often uses the strategy of hitting the same target multiple times, thus killing rescuers and humanitarian workers who go to help the injured.
This is referred to as a “double-tap” strategy, and according to the FBI and Homeland Security, this is a tactic which is regularly used in “terrorist attacks” to target “first responders as well as the general population.” Obama’s drones not only target rescuers, but also frequently bomb the funerals of previous drone victims. According to the United Nations, such tactics “are a war crime.” Even the NYU/Stanford Law School report identified the drone program as a terror campaign when it noted that the effects of the drone program are that it “terrorizes men, women, and children.”
John O. Brennan, who served as Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser (and is now the director of the CIA), was the main advocate of the drone program inside the Obama administration. In 2011, he reassured the American people that, “in the last year, there hasn’t been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, [and] precision of the capabilities that we’ve been able to develop,” and added that, “if there are terrorists who are within an area where there are women and children or others, you know, we do not take such action that might put those innocent men, women and children in danger.” That sounds pretty impressive, though unfortunately, it’s an absurd lie.
The New York Times noted that Obama’s method for counting civilian deaths caused by drone strikes was “disputed” (to say the least), because it “counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants,” thus radically underreporting the level of civilian deaths. The “logic” of this view that that “people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good.” This “counting method,” noted the NYT, “may partly explain the official claims of extraordinarily low collateral deaths.” Some administration officials outside the CIA have complained about this method, referring to it as “guilty by association” which results in “deceptive” estimates. One official commented, “It bothers me when they say there were seven guys, so they must all be militants… They count the corpses and they’re not really sure who they are.”
In 2011, it was reported that drone strikes in Pakistan had killed 168 children, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. In Afghanistan, officials note that civilians are killed not only by Taliban attacks but also increasingly by drone attacks, with Afghan president Hamid Karzai condemning the attacks which kill women and children as being “against all international norms.” Afghanistan was in fact the epicenter of the U.S. drone war, even more so than Pakistan, with the CIA having launched upwards of 333 drone strikes in the country over the course of 2012, the highest total ever. The U.S. strategy in Afghanistan has evolved into “a new and as yet only partially understood doctrine of secret, unaccountable and illegal warfare,” which is “destroying the West’s reputation,” noted the Telegraph in 2012. And considering the already-existing “reputation” of the West in the rest of the world, that’s quite an impressive feat.
From 2004 to 2012, between 2,400 and 3,100 people were reported to have been killed by U.S. drone strikes, including at least 800 innocent civilians (as a low estimate). As Seumas Milne reported in the Guardian, the drone strikes “are, in reality, summary executions and widely regarded as potential war crimes by international lawyers.”
The UN warned in June of 2012 that drone strikes may constitute “war crimes,” and that the use of drone strikes and “targeted killings” has been found to be “immensely attractive” to other states in the world, and thus, such practices “weaken the rule of law,” as they “fall outside the scope of accountability.” A Pakistani Ambassador declared that, “We find the use of drones to be totally counterproductive in terms of succeeding in the war against terror. It leads to greater levels of terror rather than reducing them.” Ian Seiderman, the director of the International Commission of Jurists noted that as a result of the global drone war, “immense damage was being done to the fabric of international law.”
Robert Grenier, former head of the CIA’s counter-terrorism center from 2004 to 2006, commented that the United States was “creating a situation where we are creating more enemies than we are removing from the battlefield,” adding that, “If you strike them indiscriminately you are running the risk of creating a terrific amount of popular anger,” and that the strikes could even create “terrorist safe havens.”
In testimony before the U.S. Congress in April of 2013, a Yemeni man who had studied in the United States explained that his community in Yemen – a small village – knew about the United States primarily through stories of his own experiences living there (which were positive), but their positive association with America changed following U.S. drone strikes, commenting: “Now… when they think of America, they think of the fear they feel at the drones over their heads. What the violent militants had failed to achieve, one drone strike accomplished in an instant.”
U.S. drone bases operate out of multiple countries, including Afghanistan, Djibouti, Turkey, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Seychelles, and Saudi Arabia. Drones have conducted “surveillance missions” in Libya, Iran, Turkey, Mexico, Colombia, Haiti, and North Korea. Drone strikes have taken place in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and there have even been reports of drone strikes taking place in the Philippines. The U.S. has also considered undertaking drone strikes in the African country of Mali.
In February of 2013, the United States sent 100 U.S. troops to Mali to set up a drone base for operations in Western Africa. The U.S. began operating drones out of Mali right away, as “north and west Africa [were] rapidly emerging as yet another front in the long-running US war against terrorist networks,” giving the Pentagon “a strategic foothold in West Africa,” with Niger bordering Mali, Nigeria and Libya, which was already the target of a French-British-American war in 2011.
In September of 2011, Anwar al-Awlaki, an American “suspected terrorist” in Yemen had his name added to Obama’s “kill list” and was murdered in a drone bombing, with Obama reportedly saying that making the decision to kill him was “an easy one.” Two weeks later, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the 16-year-old son of Anwar, also born in America but at the time living in Yemen, was then killed with a drone strike. Obama’s former White House Press Secretary and then-reelection campaign adviser Robert Gibbs was asked how the U.S. justified killing the 16-year-old boy, with the journalist commenting, “It’s an American citizen that is being targeted without due process, without trial. And, he’s underage. He’s a minor.” Gibbs replied that the boy “should have [had] a far more responsible father.” Gibbs also noted, “When there are people who are trying to harm us, and have pledged to bring terror to these shores, we’ve taken that fight to them.” Pretty simple: America has decided to take the “terror” to “them.”
At his first inaugural address as President in 2009, Barack Obama said: “To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.” Less than two-and-a-half years later, favourable views of the United States in the Middle East had “plummeted… to levels lower than they were during the last year of the Bush administration.” A 2013 Gallup poll found that 92% of Pakistanis disapproved of U.S. leadership, with only 4% approving, “the lowest approval rating Pakistanis have ever given.” While there was “substantial affection” for American culture and people in the Muslim world, according to the poll, the problem was U.S. policies. Even a Pentagon study undertaken during the Bush administration noted: “Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies,” specifically, “American direct intervention in the Muslim world,” which, the Pentagon noted, “paradoxically elevate[s] stature of and support for Islamic radicals.”
A June 2012 poll of public opinion sought to gauge the level of support for U.S. drone strikes among 20 countries: the U.S., Britain, Germany, Poland, France, India, Italy, Czech Republic, China, Lebanon, Mexico, Spain, Japan, Brazil, Russia, Tunisia, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and Greece. The poll found that 17 of the countries had a “clear majority” opposed to drone strikes, while only the U.S. had a “clear majority” (62%) in support.
In May of 2013, Michael Sheehan, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee where he was asked how long the ‘war on terrorism’ will last, to which he replied: “At least 10 to 20 years,” with a Pentagon spokesperson later clarifying that he meant that, “the conflict is likely to last 10 to 20 more years from today – atop the 12 years that the conflict has already lasted.” In other words, according to the Pentagon, the world has at least one-to-two more decades of America’s global terror war to look forward to.
So, if America was actually waging a war on terror which sought to reduce the threat of terror, then why would it be undertaking policies that actively – and knowingly – increase the threat and levels of terrorism? Well the answer is perhaps shockingly simple: America is not attempting to reduce terror. Quite the contrary, America is not only increasing the threat of terror, but is doing so by waging terror against much of the world. So this begs the question: what is the actual purpose of Obama’s drone terror campaign?
Akbar Ahmed, the Islamic Studies chair at American University and former Pakistani high commissioner to Britain, explained in a May 2013 op-ed in the New York Times that the drone war in Pakistan was producing “chaos and rage” as it was “destroying already weak tribal structures and throwing communities into disarray,” threatening the Pakistani government and fueling hatred of America, and that this was also occurring in Afghanistan, Somalia, and Yemen, other major target nations of Obama’s terror campaign.
Many of these tribal societies had struggled for autonomy under colonial governments (usually run by the British), and then struggled against the central governments left by the British and other colonial powers. These tribal societies have subsequently come under attack by the Taliban and al-Qaeda (whose growth was developed by the US in cooperation with Saudi Arabia and the Pakistani state), and then they continued to suffer under foreign occupations led by the United States, Britain and other NATO powers in Afghanistan and Iraq, destabilizing the entire Middle East and Central Asia.
Now, these tribal societies are being subjected to Obama’s drone campaign of terror, “causing ferocious backlashes against central governments while destroying any positive image of the United States that may have once existed,” noted Ahmed. In his op-ed, he concluded: “Those at the receiving end of the strikes see them as unjust, immoral and dishonorable – killing innocent people who have never themselves harmed Americans while the drone operators sit safely halfway across the world, terrorizing and killing by remote control.”
So why would the United States knowingly do this, and why target these specific groups? The answer may be that the U.S. is simply targeting so-called “lawless” and “stateless” regions and peoples. In a world where states, corporations, and international organizations rule the day, with the United States perched atop the global hierarchy, the imperial concept of “order” reigns supreme, where the word ‘order’ is defined as control. In a world experiencing increased unrest, protests, rebellions, revolutions and uprisings, “order” is under threat across the globe.
For the American ‘Mafia Godfather’ Empire, control must be established, through whatever means necessary. For, as the ‘Mafia Principles’ of international relations dictate: if one state, region, or people are able to “successfully defy” the Godfather/Empire, then other states and people might try to do the same. This could potentially set off a “domino effect” in which the U.S. and its Mafia capo Western allies rapidly lose control of the world. Thus, we have witnessed the United States and the West intimately involved in attempting to manage the ‘transitions’ taking place as a result of the Arab Spring, desperately seeking to not lose control of the incredibly important strategic region of the Arab world.
Meanwhile, the technological capacity of American military force has reached new heights, with the global drone warfare as a major example. It allows the U.S. to reduce its use of large military forces being sent into combat, and thus reduces the domestic political pressure against foreign aggression and warfare. The drone program fits perfectly into Zbigniew Brzezinski’s description in 2009 of how the major state powers of the world are at a stage where “the lethality of their military might is greater than ever.” Yet, as Brzezinski elaborated, and as is evident in the case of the Arab Spring, the monumental political changes in Latin America over the past decade and a half, and the increased unrest of people around the world, the “capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historic low. To put it bluntly: in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people”
Thus, we attempt a logical reasoning as to why the U.S. is targeting stateless tribal societies with its global terror campaign: if you can’t control them, kill them. Such a strategy obviously could not be publicly articulated to the population of a self-declared “democratic” society which congratulates itself on being a beacon for “freedom and liberty.” Thus, political language is applied. As George Orwell wrote, political language “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
When it comes to Obama’s drone terror campaign against stateless tribal societies, the political language is firmly rooted in the “war on terror.” These people are deemed to be “terror suspects,” and so they are bombed and killed, their families and communities terrorized, and as a result, they become increasingly resentful and hateful toward the United States, thus leading to increased recruitment into terrorist organizations and an increased terror threat to the United States itself. Thus, the policy becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: in terrorizing and bombing impoverished, stateless, tribal societies in the name of “fighting terror,” the U.S. creates the terror threat that it uses to justify continued bombing. And thus, the war of terror wages on.
Some may find my use of the term “terror campaign” to refer to Obama’s drone program as hyperbolic or emotive. But what else are we supposed to call a program that produces “chaos and rage” around the world, creating “more enemies than we are removing” as it “terrorizes men, women and children,” so that when people think of America, “they think of the fear they feel at the drones over their heads”? What do you call this when it has been launched against at least seven different countries in the past four years, killing thousands of people – including hundreds of innocent children – and targeting first responders, humanitarian workers, and funerals?
By definition, this is terrorism. Obama’s global flying-killer-robot-campaign is the implementation of the most technologically advanced terror campaign in history. The fact that Obama’s terror war can continue holding any public support – let alone a majority of public support – is simply evidence of a public with little knowledge of the reality of the campaign, or the terror being inflicted upon people all over the world in their name.
If the objective of U.S. policies were to counter or reduce the threat of terror, one would think that the U.S. would then stop participating in terror. Obviously, that is not the case. Therefore, the objective is different from that which is articulated. As Orwell noted, “political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible,” and that committing such horrific atrocities – such as dropping atomic bombs on cities, supporting genocide, civil wars or, in this case, waging a global campaign of terror – “can indeed be defended,” added Orwell, “but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face.” Thus, “political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.”
As Obama sought to justify his global terror campaign, he claimed that it has “saved lives” (except, presumably, for the thousands of lives it has claimed), that “America’s actions are legal,” and that, “this is a just war – a war wage proportionally, in last resort, and in self-defense.” Perhaps the most poignant statement Obama made during his May 2013 speech was thus: “the decisions that we are making now will define the type of nation – and world – that we leave to our children.”
So the question for Americans then, should be this: do you want to live in a nation – and world – which is defined by the decision to wage a global campaign of terror upon multiple nations and regions, and tens of thousands of people around the world? Obama clearly has no problem with it, nor does the American foreign policy establishment, nor the media talking heads. But… do you?
Andrew Gavin Marshall is a 26-year old researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada. He is Project Manager of The People’s Book Project, chair of the Geopolitics Division of The Hampton Institute, research director for Occupy.com’s Global Power Project, and hosts a weekly podcast show with BoilingFrogsPost.
 Zbigniew Brzezinski, “Major Foreign Policy Challenges for the Next US President,” International Affairs, 85: 1, (2009), page 54.
 Scott Wilson and Al Kamen, “‘Global War On Terror’ Is Given New Name,” The Washington Post, 25 March 2009:
 Greg Miller, “Under Obama, an emerging global apparatus for drone killing,” The Washington Post, 27 December 2011:
 Jo Becker and Scott Shane, “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will,” The New York Times, 29 May 2012:
 Greg Miller, “Plan for hunting terrorists signals U.S. intends to keep adding names to kill lists,” The Washington Post, 23 October 2012:
 Glenn Greenwald, “Obama moves to make the War on Terror permanent,” The Guardian, 24 October 2012:
 Glenn Greenwald, “Joe Klein’s sociopathic defense of drone killings of children,” The Guardian, 23 October 2012:
 Glenn Greenwald, “New Stanford/NYU study documents the civilian terror from Obama’s drones,” The Guardian, 25 September 2012:
 Glenn Greenwald, “US drone strikes target rescuers in Pakistan – and the west stays silent,” The Guardian, 20 August 2012:
 Glenn Greenwald, “New Stanford/NYU study documents the civilian terror from Obama’s drones,” The Guardian, 25 September 2012:
 Glenn Greenwald, “New study proves falsity of John Brennan’s drone claims,” Salon, 19 July 2011:
 Jo Becker and Scott Shane, “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will,” The New York Times, 29 May 2012:
 Rob Crilly, “168 children killed in drone strikes in Pakistan since start of campaign,” The Telegraph, 11 August 2011:
 Azam Ahmed, “Drone and Taliban Attacks Hit Civilians, Afghans Say,” 8 September 2013:
 Noah Shachtman, “Military Stats Reveal Epicenter of U.S. Drone War,” Wired, 9 November 2012:
 Peter Osborne, “It may seem painless, but drone war in Afghanistan is destroying the West’s reputation,” The Telegraph, 30 May 2012:
 Seumas Milne, “America’s murderous drone campaign is fuelling terror,” The Guardian, 29 May 2012:
 Owen Bowcott, “Drone strikes threaten 50 years of international law, says UN rapporteur,” The Guardian, 21 June 2012:
 Paul Harris, “Drone attacks create terrorist safe havens, warns former CIA official,” The Guardian, 5 June 2012:
 Charlie Savage, “Drone Strikes Turn Allies Into Enemies, Yemeni Says,” The New York Times, 23 April 2013:
 Elspeth Reeve, “The Scope of America’s World War Drone,” The Atlantic Wire, 6 February 2013:
 Akbar Ahmed and Frankie Martin, “Deadly Drone Strike on Muslims in the Southern Philippines,” 5 March 2012:
 Raf Sanchez, “US ‘to deploy drones to launch air strikes against al-Qaeda in Mali’,” The Telegraph, 2 October 2012:
 Craig Whitlock, “U.S. troops arrive in Niger to set up drone base,” The Washington Post, 22 February 2013:
 Craig Whitlock, “Drone warfare: Niger becomes latest frontline in US war on terror,” The Guardian, 26 March 2013:
 Jo Becker and Scott Shane, “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will,” The New York Times, 29 May 2012:
 Conor Friedersdorf, “How Team Obama Justifies the Killing of a 16-Year-Old American,” The Atlantic, 24 October 2012:
 Glenn Greenwald, “Obama, the US and the Muslim world: the animosity deepens,” The Guardian, 15 February 2013:
 Glenn Greenwald, “Obama, the US and the Muslim world: the animosity deepens,” The Guardian, 15 February 2013:
 Glenn Greenwald, “Washington gets explicit: its ‘war on terror’ is permanent,” The Guardian, 17 May 2013:
 Akbar Ahmed, “The Drone War Is Far From Over,” The New York Times, 30 may 2013:
 Zbigniew Brzezinski, “Major Foreign Policy Challenges for the Next US President,” International Affairs, 85: 1, (2009), page 54.
 Barack Obama, “As Delivered: Obama’s Speech on Terrorism,” The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire, 23 May 2013:
Engineering Empire: An Introduction to the Intellectuals and Institutions of American Imperialism
By: Andrew Gavin Marshall
Originally posted at The Hampton Institute
The following is my first original piece for The Hampton Institute, “a working class think tank,” at which I chair the Geopolitics Division. This essay is meant as an introduction to modern American geopolitics, and a reference piece for future research and published material through The Hampton Institute’s Geopolitics Division.
Educating yourself about empire can be a challenging endeavor, especially since so much of the educational system is dedicated to avoiding the topic or justifying the actions of imperialism in the modern era. If one studies political science or economics, the subject might be discussed in a historical context, but rarely as a modern reality; media and government voices rarely speak on the subject, and even more rarely speak of it with direct and honest language. Instead, we exist in a society where institutions and individuals of power speak in coded language, using deceptive rhetoric with abstract meaning. We hear about ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’ and ‘security,’ but so rarely about imperialism, domination, and exploitation.
The objective of this report is to provide an introduction to the institutional and social structure of American imperialism. The material is detailed, but should not be considered complete or even comprehensive; its purpose is to function as a resource or reference for those seeking to educate themselves about the modern imperial system. It’s not an analysis of state policies or the effects of those policies, but rather, it is an examination of the institutions and individuals who advocate and implement imperial policies. What is revealed is a highly integrated and interconnected network of institutions and individuals – the foreign policy establishment – consisting of academics (so-called “experts” and “policy-oriented intellectuals”) and prominent think tanks.
Think tanks bring together prominent academics, former top government officials, corporate executives, bankers, media representatives, foundation officials and other elites in an effort to establish consensus on issues of policy and strategy, to produce reports and recommendations for policy-makers, functioning as recruitment centers for those who are selected to key government positions where they have the ability to implement policies. Thus, think tanks function as the intellectual engines of empire: they establish consensus among elites, provide policy prescriptions, strategic recommendations, and the personnel required to implement imperial policies through government agencies.
Among the most prominent American and international think tanks are the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Bilderberg meetings, the Trilateral Commission, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Brookings Institution, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Atlantic Council. These institutions tend to rely upon funding from major foundations (such as Rockefeller, Ford, Carnegie, etc.) as well as corporations and financial institutions, and even various government agencies. There is an extensive crossover in leadership and membership between these institutions, and between them and their funders.
Roughly focusing on the period from the early 1970s until today, what emerges from this research is a highly integrated network of foreign policy elites, with individuals like Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, and Joseph Nye figuring prominently in sitting at the center of the American imperial establishment over the course of decades, with powerful corporate and financial patrons such as the Rockefeller family existing in the background of American power structures.
Meet the Engineers of Empire
Within the U.S. government, the National Security Council (NSC) functions as the main planning group, devising strategy and policies for the operation of American power in the world. The NSC coordinates multiple other government agencies, bringing together the secretaries of the State and Defense Departments, the CIA, NSA, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and various other government bodies, with meetings directed by the National Security Adviser, who is generally one of the president’s most trusted and influential advisers. In several administrations, the National Security Adviser became the most influential voice and policy-maker to do with foreign policy, such as during the Nixon administration (with Henry Kissinger) and the Carter administration (with Zbigniew Brzezinski).
While both of these individuals were top government officials in the 1970s, their influence has not declined in the decades since they held such positions. In fact, it could be argued that both of their influence (along with several other foreign policy elites) has increased with their time outside of government. In fact, in a January 2013 interview with The Hill, Brzezinski stated: “To be perfectly frank – and you may not believe me – I really wasn’t at all conscious of the fact that the defeat of the Carter administration [in 1980] somehow or another affected significantly my own standing… I just kept doing my thing minus the Office of the National Security Adviser in the White House.” 
David Rothkopf has written the official history of the National Security Council (NSC) in his book, Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power, published in 2005. Rothkopf writes from an insiders perspective, being a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment, he was Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Policy and Development in the Clinton administration, and is currently president and CEO of Garten Rothkopf, an international advisory firm, CEO of Foreign Policy magazine, previously CEO of Intellibridge Corporation, and was also a managing director at Kissinger Associates, an international advisory firm founded and run by Henry Kissinger. In his book on the NSC, Rothkopf noted that, “[e]very single national security advisor since Kissinger is, in fact, within two degrees of Kissinger,” referring to the fact that they have all “worked with him as aides, on his staff, or directly with him in some capacity,” or worked for someone in those categories (hence, within “two degrees”).
For example, General Brent Scowcroft, who was National Security Advisor (NSA) under Presidents Ford and George H.W. Bush, was Kissinger’s Deputy National Security Advisor in the Nixon administration; Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter’s NSA, served on the faculty of Harvard with Kissinger, also served with Kissinger on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board during the Reagan administration, both of them are also members (and were at times, board members) of the Council on Foreign Relations, as well as members of the Trilateral Commission, and they are both currently trustees of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Other NSA’s with connections to Kissinger include: Richard Allen, NSA under Reagan, who worked for Kissinger in the Nixon administration; William P. Clark, NSA under Reagan, who worked for Kissinger’s former aide, Alexander Haig at the State Department; Robert McFarlane, also NSA under Reagan, worked with Kissinger in the Nixon administration; John Poindexter, also NSA for Reagan, was McFarlane’s deputy; Frank Carlucci, also NSA in the Reagan administration, worked for Kissinger in the Nixon administration; Colin Powell, NSA for Reagan (and Secretary of State for George W. Bush), worked for Carlucci as his deputy; Anthony Lake, Clinton’s NSA, worked directly for Kissinger; Samuel Berger, also NSA for Clinton, was Lake’s deputy; Condoleezza Rice, NSA for George W. Bush, worked on Scowcroft’s NSC staff; and Stephen Hadley also worked for Kissinger directly.
The foreign policy establishment consists of the top officials of the key government agencies concerned with managing foreign policy (State Department, Pentagon, CIA, NSC), drawing upon officials from within the think tank community, where they become well acquainted with corporate and financial elites, and thus, become familiar with the interests of this group of people. Upon leaving high office, these officials often return to leadership positions within the think tank community, join corporate boards, and/or establish their own international advisory firms where they charge hefty fees to provide corporations and banks with strategic advice and use of their international political contacts (which they acquired through their time in office). Further, these individuals also regularly appear in the media to provide commentary on international affairs as ‘independent experts’ and are routinely recruited to serve as ‘outside’ advisors to presidents and other high-level officials.
No less significant in assessing influence within the foreign policy establishment is the relative proximity – and relationships – individuals have with deeply entrenched power structures, notably financial and corporate dynasties. Arguably, both Kissinger and Brzezinski are two of the most influential individuals within the foreign policy elite networks. Certainly of no detriment to their careers was the fact that both cultivated close working and personal relationships with what can be said to be America’s most powerful dynasty, the Rockefeller family.
Dynastic Influence on Foreign Policy
At first glance, this may appear to be a rather obscure addition to this report, but dynastic power in modern state-capitalist societies is largely overlooked, misunderstood, or denied altogether, much like the concept of ’empire’ itself. The lack of discourse on this subject – or the relegation of it to fringe ‘conspiratorial’ views – is not reason enough to ignore it. Far from assigning a conspiratorial or ‘omnipotent’ view of power to dynastic elements, it is important to place them within a social and institutional analysis, to understand the complexities and functions of dynastic influence within modern society.
Dynastic power relies upon a complex network of relationships and interactions between institutions, individuals, and ideologies. Through most of human history – in most places in the world – power was wielded by relatively few people, and often concentrated among dynastic family structures, whether ancient Egypt, imperial Rome, ancient China, the Ottoman Empire or the European monarchs spreading their empires across the globe. With the rise of state-capitalist society, dynastic power shifted from the overtly political to the financial and economic spheres. Today’s main dynasties are born of corporate or banking power, maintained through family lines and extended through family ties to individuals, institutions, and policy-makers. The Rockefellers are arguably the most influential dynasty in the United States, but comparable to the Rothschilds in France and the UK, the Wallenbergs in Sweden, the Agnellis in Italy, or the Desmarais family in Canada. These families are themselves connected through institutions such as the Bilderberg Group and the Trilateral Commission, among others. The power of a corporate-financial dynasty is not a given: it must be maintained, nurtured, and strengthened, otherwise it will be overcome or made obsolete.
The Rockefeller family has existed at the center of American power for over a century. Originating with the late 19th century ‘Robber Baron’ industrialists, the Rockefellers established an oil empire, and subsequently a banking empire. John D. Rockefeller, who had a personal fortune surpassing $1 billion in the first decade of the 20th century, also founded the University of Chicago, and through the creation and activities of the Rockefeller Foundation (founded in 1913), helped engineer higher education and the social sciences. The Rockefeller family – largely acting through various family foundations – were also pivotal in the founding and funding of several prominent think tanks, notably the Council on Foreign Relations, the Asia Society, Trilateral Commission, the Group of Thirty, and the Bilderberg Group, among many others.
The patriarch of the Rockefeller family today is David Rockefeller, now in his late 90s. To understand the influence wielded by unelected bankers and billionaires like Rockefeller, it would be useful to simply examine the positions he has held throughout his life. From 1969 until 1980, he was the chairman and CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank and from 1981 to 1999 he was the chairman of the International Advisory Committee of Chase Manhattan, at which time it merged with another big bank to become JPMorgan Chase, of Rockefeller served as a member of the International Advisory Council from 2000 to 2005. David Rockefeller was a founding member of the Bilderberg Group in 1954, at which he remains on the Steering Committee; he is the former chairman of Rockefeller Group, Inc. (from 1981-1995), Rockefeller Center Properties (1996-2001), and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, at which he remains as an advisory trustee. He is chairman emeritus and life trustee of the Museum of Modern Art, and the founder of the David Rockefeller Fund and the International Executive Service Corps.
David Rockefeller was also the chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations from 1970 to 1985, of which he remains to this day as honorary chairman; is chairman emeritus of the board of trustees of the University of Chicago; honorary chairman, life trustee and chairman emeritus of the Rockefeller University Council, and is the former president of the Harvard Board of Overseers. He was co-founder of the Global Philanthropists Circle, is honorary chairman of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP), and is an honorary director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. David Rockefeller was also the co-founder (with Zbigniew Brzezinski) of the Trilateral Commission in 1973, where he served as North American Chairman until 1991, and has since remained as honorary chairman. He is also the founder and honorary chairman of the Americas Society and the Council of the Americas.
It should not come as a surprise, then, that upon David Rockefeller’s 90th birthday celebration (held at the Council on Foreign Relations) in 2005, then-president of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn delivered a speech in which he stated that, “the person who had perhaps the greatest influence on my life professionally in this country, and I’m very happy to say personally there afterwards, is David Rockefeller, who first met me at the Harvard Business School in 1957 or ’58.” He went on to explain that in the early 20th century United States, “as we looked at the world, a family, the Rockefeller family, decided that the issues were not just national for the United States, were not just related to the rich countries. And where, extraordinarily and amazingly, David’s grandfather set up the Rockefeller Foundation, the purpose of which was to take a global view.” Wolfensohn continued:
So the Rockefeller family, in this last 100 years, has contributed in a way that is quite extraordinary to the development in that period and has given ample focus to the issues of development with which I have been associated. In fact, it’s fair to say that there has been no other single family influence greater than the Rockefeller’s in the whole issue of globalization and in the whole issue of addressing the questions which, in some ways, are still before us today. And for that David, we’re deeply grateful to you and for your own contribution in carrying these forward in the way that you did. 
Wolfensohn of course would be in a position to know something about the influence of the Rockefeller family. Serving as president of the World Bank from 1995 to 2005, he has since founded his own private firm, Wolfensohn & Company, LLC., was been a longtime member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group, an honorary trustee of the Brookings Institution, a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Wolfensohn’s father, Hyman, was employed by James Armand de Rothschild of the Rothschild banking dynasty (after whom James was named), and taught the young Wolfensohn how to “cultivate mentors, friends and contacts of influence.” In his autobiography of 2002, Memoirs, David Rockefeller himself wrote:
For more than a century ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure–one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it. 
In the United States, the Rockefeller family has maintained a network of influence through financial, corporate, educational, cultural, and political spheres. It serves as a logical extension of dynastic influence to cultivate relationships among the foreign policy elite of the U.S., notably the likes of Kissinger and Brzezinski.
Intellectuals, ‘Experts,’ and Imperialists Par Excellence: Kissinger and Brzezinski
Both Kissinger and Brzezinski served as professors at Harvard in the early 1950s, as well as both joining the Council on Foreign Relations around the same time, and both also attended meetings of the Bilderberg Group (two organizations which had Rockefellers in leadership positions). Kissinger was a director at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund from 1956 until 1958, and thereafter became an advisor to Nelson Rockefeller. Kissinger was even briefly brought into the Kennedy administration as an advisor to the State Department, while Brzezinski was an advisor to the Kennedy campaign, and was a member of President Johnson’s Policy Planning Council in the State Department from 1966 to 1968. When Nixon became president in 1969, Kissinger became his National Security Advisor, and eventually also took over the role of Secretary of State.
In 1966, prior to entering the Nixon administration, Henry Kissinger wrote an article for the journal Daedalus in which he proclaimed the modern era as “the age of the expert,” and went on to explain: “The expert has his constituency – those who have a vested interest in commonly held opinions; elaborating and defining its consensus at a high level has, after all, made him an expert.”  In other words, the “expert” serves entrenched and established power structures and elites (“those who have a vested interest in commonly held opinions”), and the role of such an expert is to define and elaborate the “consensus” of elite interests. Thus, experts, as Henry Kissinger defines them, serve established elites.
In 1970, Brzezinski wrote a highly influential book, Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era, which attracted the interest of Chase Manhattan Chairman (and Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations) David Rockefeller. The two men then worked together to create the Trilateral Commission, of which Kissinger became a member. Kissinger remained as National Security Advisor for President Ford, and when Jimmy Carter became President (after Brzezinski invited him into the Trilateral Commission), Brzezinski became his National Security Advisor, also bringing along dozens of other members of the Trilateral Commission into the administration’s cabinet.
In a study published in the journal Polity in 1982, researchers described what amounted to modern Machiavellis who “whisper in the ears of princes,” notably, prominent academic-turned policy-makers like Walt Rostow, Henry Kissinger, and Zbigniew Brzezinski. The researchers constructed a ‘survey’ in 1980 which was distributed to a sample of officials in the State Department, CIA, Department of Defense and the National Security Council (the four government agencies primarily tasked with managing foreign policy), designed to assess the views of those who implement foreign policy related to how they measure influence held by academics. They compared their results with a similar survey conducted in 1971, and found that in both surveys, academics such as George Kennan, Hans Morgenthau, Henry Kissinger, and Zbigniew Brzezinski were listed as among the members of the academic community who most influenced the thinking of those who took the survey. In the 1971 survey, George Kennan was listed as the most influential, followed by Hans Morgenthau, John K. Galbraith, Henry Kissinger, E.O. Reischauer and Zbigniew Brzezinski; in the 1980 survey, Henry Kissinger was listed as the most influential, followed by Hans Morgenthau, George Kennan, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Stanley Hoffmann. 
Of the fifteen most influential scholars in the 1980 survey, eleven received their highest degree from a major East Coast university, eight held a doctorate from Harvard, twelve were associated with major East Coast universities, while seven of them had previously taught at Harvard. More than half of the top fifteen scholars had previously held prominent government positions, eight were members of the Council on Foreign Relations, ten belonged to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and eight belonged to the American Political Science Association. Influence tended to sway according to which of the four government agencies surveyed was being assessed, though for Kissinger, Morgenthau and Brzezinski, they “were equally influential with each of the agencies surveyed.” The two most influential academic journals cited by survey responses were Foreign Affairs (run by the Council on Foreign Relations), read by more than two-thirds of those who replied to the survey, and Foreign Policy, which was read by more than half of respondents. 
In a 1975 report by the Trilateral Commission on The Crisis of Democracy, co-authored by Samuel Huntington, a close associate and friend of Zbigniew Brzezinski, the role of intellectuals came into question, noting that with the plethora of social movements and protests that had emerged from the 1960s onwards, intellectuals were asserting their “disgust with the corruption, materialism, and inefficiency of democracy and with the subservience of democratic government to ‘monopoly capitalism’.” Thus, noted the report: “the advanced industrial societies have spawned a stratum of value-oriented intellectuals who often devote themselves to the derogation of leadership, the challenging of authority, and the unmasking and delegitimation of established institutions, their behavior contrasting with that of the also increasing numbers of technocratic policy-oriented intellectuals.” In other words, intellectuals were increasingly failing to serve as “experts” (as Henry Kissinger defined it), and were increasingly challenging authority and institutionalized power structures instead of serving them, unlike “technocratic and policy-oriented intellectuals.”
The influence of “experts” and “technocratic policy-oriented intellectuals” like Kissinger and Brzezinski was not to dissipate going into the 1980s. Kissinger then joined the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), taught at Georgetown University, and in 1982, founded his own consulting firm, Kissinger Associates, co-founded and run with General Brent Scowcroft, who was the National Security Advisor for President Ford, after being Kissinger’s deputy in the Nixon administration. Scowcroft is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, CSIS, and The Atlantic Council of the United States, which also includes Kissinger and Brzezinski among its leadership boards. Scowcroft also founded his own international advisory firm, the Scowcroft Group, and also served as National Security Advisor to President George H.W. Bush.
Kissinger Associates, which included not only Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft, but also Lawrence Eagleburger, Kissinger’s former aide in the Nixon administration, and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs in the Reagan administration, and briefly as Deputy Secretary of State in the George H.W. Bush administration. These three men, who led Kissinger Associates in the 1980s, made a great deal of money advising some of the world’s leading corporations, including ITT, American Express, Coca-Cola, Volvo, Fiat, and Midland Bank, among others. Kissinger Associates charges corporate clients at least $200,000 for “offering geopolitical insight” and “advice,” utilizing “their close relationships with foreign governments and their extensive knowledge of foreign affairs.”
While he was Chairman of Kissinger Associates, advising corporate clients, Henry Kissinger was also appointed to chair the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America by President Reagan from 1983 to 1985, commonly known as the Kissinger Commission, which provided the strategic framework for Reagan’s terror war on Central America. As Kissinger himself noted in 1983, “If we cannot manage Central America… it will be impossible to convince threatened nations in the Persian Gulf and in other places that we know how to manage the global equilibrium.”  In other words, if the United States could not control a small region south of its border, how can it be expected to run the world?
Between 1984 and 1990, Henry Kissinger was also appointed to Reagan’s (and subsequently Bush Sr.’s) Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, an organization that provides “advice” to the President on intelligence issues, which Brzezinski joined between 1987 and 1989. Brzezinski also served as a member of Reagan’s Chemical Warfare Commission, and from 1987 to 1988, worked with Reagan’s U.S. National Security Council-Defense Department Commission on Integrated Long-Term Strategy, alongside Henry Kissinger. The Commission’s report, Discriminate Deterrence, issued in 1988, noted that the United States would have to establish new capabilities to deal with threats, particularly in the ‘Third World,’ noting that while conflicts in the ‘Third World’ “are obviously less threatening than any Soviet-American war would be,” they still “have had and will have an adverse cumulative effect on U.S. access to critical regions,” and if these effects cannot be managed, “it will gradually undermine America’s ability to defend its interest in the most vital regions, such as the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean and the Western Pacific.”
Over the following decade, the report noted, “the United States will need to be better prepared to deal with conflicts in the Third World” which would “require new kinds of planning.” If the United States could not effectively counter the threats to U.S. interests and allies, notably, “if the warfare is of low intensity and protracted, and if they use guerrilla forces, paramilitary terrorist organizations, or armed subversives,” or, in other words, revolutionary movements, then “we will surely lose the support of many Third World countries that want to believe the United States can protect its friends, not to mention its own interests.” Most ‘Third World’ conflicts are termed “low intensity conflict,” referring to “insurgencies, organized terrorism, [and] paramilitary crime,” and therefore the United States would need to take these conflicts more seriously, noting that within such circumstances, “the enemy” is essentially “omnipresent,” meaning that the enemy is the population itself, “and unlikely ever to surrender.”
From Cold War to New World Order: ‘Containment’ to ‘Enlargement’
At the end of the Cold War, the American imperial community of intellectuals and think tanks engaged in a process that continues to the present day in attempting to outline a geostrategic vision for America’s domination of the world. The Cold War had previously provided the cover for the American extension of hegemony around the world, under the premise of ‘containing’ the Soviet Union and the spread of ‘Communism.’ With the end of the Cold War came the end of the ‘containment’ policy of foreign policy. It was the task of ‘experts’ and ‘policy-oriented intellectuals’ to assess the present circumstances of American power in the world and to construct new strategic concepts for the extension and preservation of that power.
In 1990, George H.W. Bush’s administration released the National Security Strategy of the United States in which the Cold War was officially acknowledged as little more than a rhetorical deception. The document referenced U.S. interventions in the Middle East, which were for decades justified on the basis of ‘containing’ the perceived threat of ‘communism’ and the Soviet Union. The report noted that, “even as East-West tensions diminish, American strategic concerns remain.” Threats to America’s “interests” in the region, such as “the security of Israel and moderate Arab states” – otherwise known as ruthless dictatorships – “as well as the free flow of oil – come from a variety of sources.” Citing previous military interventions in the region, the report stated that they “were in response to threats to U.S. interests that could not be laid at the Kremlin’s door.” In other words, all the rhetoric of protecting the world from communism and the Soviet Union was little more than deception. As the National Security Strategy noted: “The necessity to defend our interests will continue.” 
When Bush became president in 1989, he ordered his national security team – headed by Brent Scowcroft – to review national security policy. Bush and Scowcroft had long discussed – even before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait – the notion that the U.S. will have to make its priority dealing with “Third World bullies” (a euphemism referring to U.S. puppet dictators who stop following orders). At the end of the Cold War, George Bush declared a ‘new world order,’ a term which was suggested to Bush by Brent Scowcroft during a discussion “about future foreign-policy crises.” 
Separate from the official National Security Strategy, the internal assessment of national security policy commissioned by Bush was partly leaked to and reported in the media in 1991. As the Los Angeles Times commented, the review dispensed with “sentimental nonsense about democracy.”  The New York Times quoted the review: “In cases where the U.S. confronts much weaker enemies, our challenge will be not simply to defeat them, but to defeat them decisively and rapidly… For small countries hostile to us, bleeding our forces in protracted or indecisive conflict or embarrassing us by inflicting damage on some conspicuous element of our forces may be victory enough, and could undercut political support for U.S. efforts against them.”  In other words, the capacity to justify and undertake large-scale wars and ground invasions had deteriorated substantially, so it would be necessary to “decisively and rapidly” destroy “much weaker enemies.”
Zbigniew Brzezinski was quite blunt in his assessment of the Cold War – of which he was a major strategic icon – when he wrote in a 1992 article for Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, that the U.S. strategic discourse of the Cold War as a battle between Communist totalitarianism and Western democracy was little more than rhetoric. In Brzezinski’s own words: “The policy of liberation was a strategic sham, designed to a significant degree for domestic political reasons… the policy was basically rhetorical, at most tactical.”  In other words, it was all a lie, carefully constructed to deceive the American population into accepting the actions of a powerful state in its attempts to dominate the world.
In 1992, the New York Times leaked a classified document compiled by top Pentagon officials (including Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney) devising a strategy for America in the post-Cold War world. As the Times summarized, the Defense Policy Guidance document “asserts that America’s political and military mission in the post-cold-war era will be to ensure that no rival superpower is allowed to emerge in Western Europe, Asia or the territories of the former Soviet Union.” The document “makes the case for a world dominated by one superpower whose position can be perpetuated by constructive behavior and sufficient military might to deter any nation or group of nations from challenging American primacy.” 
In the Clinton administration, prominent “policy-oriented intellectuals” filled key foreign policy positions, notably Madeleine Albright, first as ambassador to the UN and then as Secretary of State, and Anthony Lake as National Security Advisor. Anthony Lake was a staffer in Kissinger’s National Security Council during the Nixon administration (though he resigned in protest following the ‘secret’ bombing of Cambodia). Lake was subsequently recruited into the Trilateral Commission, and was then appointed as policy planning director in Jimmy Carter’s State Department under Secretary of State (and Trilateral Commission/Council on Foreign Relations member) Cyrus Vance. Richard Holbrooke and Warren Christopher were also brought into the Trilateral Commission, then to the Carter administration, and resurfaced in the Clinton administration. Holbrooke and Lake had even been college roommates for a time. Madeleine Albright had studied at Columbia University under Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was her dissertation advisor. When Brzezinski became National Security Adviser in the Carter administration, he brought in Albright as a special assistant. 
Anthony Lake was responsible for outlining the ‘Clinton Doctrine,’ which he elucidated in a 1993 speech at Johns Hopkins University, where he stated: “The successor to a doctrine of containment must be a strategy of enlargement – enlargement of the world’s free community of market democracies.” This strategy “must combine our broad goals of fostering democracy and markets with our more traditional geostrategic interests,” noting that, “[o]ther American interests at times will require us to befriend and even defend non-democratic states for mutually beneficial reasons.”  In other words, nothing has changed, save the rhetoric: the interest of American power is in “enlarging” America’s economic and political domination of the world.
In 1997, Brzezinski published a book outlining his strategic vision for America’s role in the world, entitled The Grand Chessboard. He wrote that “the chief geopolitical prize” for America was ‘Eurasia,’ referring to the connected landmass of Asia and Europe: “how America ‘manages’ Eurasia is critical. Eurasia is the globe’s largest continent and is geopolitically axial. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over Eurasia would almost automatically entail African subordination.” The “twin interests” of the United States, wrote Brzezinski, were, “in the short-term preservation of its unique global power and in the long-run transformation of it into increasingly institutionalized global cooperation.” Brzezinski then wrote:
To put it in a terminology that hearkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.
The officials from the George H.W. Bush administration who drafted the 1992 Defense Policy Guidance report spent the Clinton years in neoconservative think tanks, such as the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). Essentially using the 1992 document as a blueprint, the PNAC published a report in 2000 entitled Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces, and Resources for a New Century. In contrast to previous observations from strategists like Brzezinski and Scowcroft, the neocons were not opposed to implementing large-scale wars, declaring that, “the United States must retain sufficient forces able to rapidly deploy and win multiple simultaneous large-scale wars.” The report stated that there was a “need to retain sufficient combat forces to fight and win, multiple, nearly simultaneous major theatre wars” and that “the Pentagon needs to begin to calculate the force necessary to protect, independently, US interests in Europe, East Asia and the Gulf at all times.”
Drafted by many of the neocons who would later lead the United States into the Iraq war (including Paul Wolfowitz), the report recommended that the United States establish a strong military presence in the Middle East: “the United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.”
When the Bush administration came to power in 2001, it brought in a host of neoconservatives to key foreign policy positions, including Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. As one study noted, “among the 24 Bush appointees who have been most closely identified as neocons or as close to them, there are 27 links with conservative think tanks, 19 with their liberal counterparts and 20 with ‘neocon’ think tanks,” as well as 11 connections with the Council on Foreign Relations.
The 2002 U.S. National Security Strategy announced by the Bush administration, thereafter referred to as the “Bush doctrine,” which included the usual rhetoric about democracy and freedom, and then established the principle of “preemptive war” and unilateral intervention for America’s War of Terror, noting: “the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively. The United States will not use force in all cases to preempt emerging threats, nor should nations use preemption as a pretext for aggression. Yet in an age where the enemies of civilization openly and actively seek the world’s most destructive technologies, the United States cannot remain idle while dangers gather.” The doctrine announced that the U.S. “will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community, [but] we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively against terrorists.”
A fusion of neoconservative and traditional liberal internationalist “policy-oriented intellectuals” was facilitated in 2006 with the release of a report by the Princeton Project on National Security (PPNS), Forging a World of Liberty Under Law: U.S. National Security in the 21st Century, co-directed by G. John Ikenberry and Anne-Marie Slaughter. Ikenberry was a professor at Princeton and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He had previously served in the State Department Policy Planning staff in the administration of George H.W. Bush, was a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Anne-Marie Slaughter was Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, has served on the board of the Council on Foreign Relations, the New America Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, New American Security, the Truman Project, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and has also served on the boards of McDonald’s and Citigroup, as well as often being a State Department adviser.
While the Bush administration and the neoconservatives within it had articulated a single vision of a ‘global war on terror,’ the objective of the Princeton Project’s report was to encourage the strategic acknowledgement of multiple, conflicting and complex threats to American power. Essentially, it was a project formed by prominent intellectual elites in reaction to the myopic and dangerous vision and actions projected by the Bush administration; a way to re-align strategic objectives based upon a more coherent analysis and articulation of the interests of power. One of its main critiques was against the notion of “unilateralism” advocated in the Bush Doctrine and enacted with the Iraq War. The aim of the report, in its own words, was to “set forth agreed premises or foundational principles to guide the development of specific national security strategies by successive administrations in coming decades.”
The Honourary Co-Chairs of the Project report were Anthony Lake, Clinton’s former National Security Adviser, and George P. Shultz, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Secretary of the Treasury in the Nixon administration, U.S. Secretary of State in the Reagan administration, president of Bechtel Corporation, and was on the International Advisory Council of JP Morgan Chase, a director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a member of the Hoover Institution, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and was on the boards of a number of corporations.
Among the co-sponsors of the project (apart from Princeton) were: the Brookings Institution, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Centre for International Governance Innovation, Oxford, Stanford, the German Marshall Fund, and the Hoover Institution, among others. Most financing for the Project came from the Woodrow Wilson School/Princeton, the Ford Foundation, and David M. Rubenstein, one of the world’s richest billionaires, co-founder of the global private equity firm the Carlyle Group, on the boards of Duke University, the Brookings Institution, the Council on Foreign Relations, President of the Economic Club of Washington, and the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum. 
Among the “experts” who participated in the Project were: Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Eliot Cohen, Francis Fukuyama, Leslie Gelb, Richard Haas, Robert Kagan, Jessica Tuchman Matthews, Joseph S. Nye, James Steinberg, and Strobe Talbott, among many others. Among the participating institutions were: Princeton, Harvard, Yale, CSIS, the Brookings Institution, Council on Foreign Relations, Carnegie Endowment, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, World Bank, the State Department, National Security Council, Citigroup, Ford Foundation, German Marshall Fund, Kissinger Associates, the Scowcroft Group, Cato Institute, Morgan Stanley, Carlyle Group. Among the participants in the Project were no less than 18 members of the Council on Foreign Relations, 10 members of the Brookings Institution, 6 members of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and several representatives from foreign governments, including Canada, Australia, and Japan.
The Road to “Hope” and “Change”
After leaving the Clinton administration, Madeleine Albright founded her own consulting firm in 2001, The Albright Group, since re-named the Albright Stonebridge Group, co-chaired by Albright and Clinton’s second National Security Adviser Samuel Berger, advising multinational corporations around the world. Albright is also chair of Albright Capital Management LLC, an investment firm which focuses on ’emerging markets.’ Albright is also on the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, is a professor at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, chairs the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the Pew Global Attitudes Project, and is president of the Truman Scholarship Foundation. She is also on the board of trustees of the Aspen Institute, a member of the Atlantic Council, and in 2009 was recruited by NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to chair the ‘group of experts’ tasked with drafting NATO’s New Strategic Concept for the world.
Kissinger, Scowcroft, and Albright are not the only prominent “former” statespersons to have established consulting firms for large multinational conglomerates, as the far less known Brzezinski Group is also a relevant player, “a consulting firm that provides strategic insight and advice to commercial and government clients,” headed by Zbig’s son, Ian Brzezinski. Ian is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council and also sits on its Strategic Advisors Group, having previously served as a principal at Booz Allen Hamilton, a major global consulting firm. Prior to that, Ian Brzezinski was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO Policy in the Bush administration, from 2001 to 2005, and had previously served for many years on Capitol Hill as a senior staff member in the Senate. Zbigniew Brzezinski’s other son, Mark Brzezinski, is currently the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden, having previously been a corporate and securities associate at Hogan & Hartson LLP, after which he served in Bill Clinton’s National Security Council from 1999 to 2001. Mark Brzezinski was also an advisor to Barack Obama during his first presidential campaign starting in 2007. Among other notable advisors to Obama during his presidential campaign were Susan Rice, a former Clinton administration State Department official (and protégé to Madeleine Albright), as well as Clinton’s former National Security Advisor Anthony Lake. 
No less significant was the fact that Zbigniew Brzezinski himself was tapped as a foreign policy advisor to Obama during the presidential campaign. In August of 2007, Brzezinski publically endorsed Obama for president, stating that Obama “recognizes that the challenge is a new face, a new sense of direction, a new definition of America’s role in the world.” He added: “Obama is clearly more effective and has the upper hand. He has a sense of what is historically relevant and what is needed from the United States in relationship to the world.” Brzezinski was quickly tapped as a top foreign policy advisor to Obama, who delivered a speech on Iraq in which he referred to Brzezinski as “one of our most outstanding thinkers.” According to an Obama campaign spokesperson, Brzezinski was primarily brought on to advise Obama on matters related to Iraq. 
Thus, it would appear that Brzezinski may not have been exaggerating too much when he told the Congressional publication, The Hill, in January of 2013 that, “I really wasn’t at all conscious of the fact that the defeat of the Carter administration somehow or another affected significantly my own standing… I just kept doing my thing minus the Office of the National Security Adviser in the White House.” While Brzezinski had advised subsequent presidents Reagan and Bush Sr., and had close ties with key officials in the Clinton administration (notably his former student and NSC aide Madeleine Albright), he was “shut out of the George W. Bush White House” when it was dominated by the neoconservatives, whom he was heavily critical of, most especially in response to the Iraq War. 
In the first four years of the Obama administration, Brzezinski was much sought out for advice from Democrats and Republicans alike. On this, he stated: “It’s more a case of being asked than pounding on the doors… But if I have something to say, I know enough people that I can get in touch with to put [my thoughts] into circulation.” When Afghan President Hamid Karzai visited Washington, D.C. in early 2013, Brzezinski was invited to a special dinner hosted by the Afghan puppet leader, of which he noted: “I have a standard joke that I am on the No. 2 or No. 3 must-visit list in this city… That is to say, if a foreign minister or an ambassador or some other senior dignitary doesn’t get to see the President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Adviser, then I’m somewhere on that other list as a fallback.”
Today, Zbigniew Brzezinski is no small player on the global scene. Not only is he an occasional and unofficial adviser to politicians, but he remains in some of the main centers of strategic planning and power in the United States. Brzezinski’s background is fairly well established, not least of all due to his role as National Security Adviser and his part in the creation of the Trilateral Commission with David Rockefeller in 1973. Brzezinski was also (and remains) a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and was a director of the CFR from 1972 to 1977. Today, he is a member of the CFR with his son Mark Brzezinski and his daughter Mika Brzezinski, a media personality on CNBC. Brzezinski is a Counselor and Trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and he is also co-Chair (with Carla A. Hills) of the Advisory Board of CSIS, composed of international and US business leaders and current and former government officials, including: Paul Desmarais Jr. (Power Corporation of Canada), Kenneth Duberstein (Duberstein Group), Dianne Feinstein (U.S. Senator), Timothy Keating (Boeing), Senator John McCain, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, and top officials from Chevron, Procter & Gamble, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Exxon Mobil, Toyota, and United Technologies.
And now we make our way to the Obama administration, the promised era of “hope” and “change;” or something like that. Under Obama, the two National Security Advisors thus far have been General James L. Jones and Tom Donilon. General Jones, who was Obama’s NSA from 2009 to 2010, previously and is now once again a trustee with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Just prior to becoming National Security Advisor, Jones was president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, after a career rising to 32nd commandant of the Marine Corps and commander of U.S. European Command. He was also on the boards of directors of Chevron and Boeing, resigning one month prior to taking up his post in the Obama administration.
Shortly after Jones first became National Security Advisor, he was speaking at a conference in February of 2009 at which he stated (with tongue-in-cheek), “As the most recent National Security Advisor of the United States, I take my daily orders from Dr. Kissinger, filtered down through General Brent Scowcroft and Sandy Berger… We have a chain of command in the National Security Council that exists today.” Although said in jest, there is a certain truth to this notion. Yet, Jones only served in the Obama administration from January 2009 to October of 2010, after which he returned to more familiar pastures.
Apart from returning as a trustee to CSIS, Jones is currently the chairman of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security and is on the board and executive committee of the Atlantic Council (he was previously chairman of the board of directors from 2007 to 2009). Jones is also on the board of the East-West Institute, and in 2011 served on the board of directors of the military contractor, General Dynamics. General Jones is also the president of his own international consulting firm, Jones Group International. The Group’s website boasts “a unique and unrivaled experience with numerous foreign governments, advanced international relationships, and an understanding of the national security process to develop strategic plans to help clients succeed in challenging environments.” A testimonial of Jones’ skill was provided by Thomas Donohue, the president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “Few leaders possess the wisdom, depth of experience, and knowledge of global and domestic economic and military affairs as General Jones.”
Obama’s current NSA, Thomas E. Donilon, was previously deputy to General James Jones, and worked as former Assistant Secretary of State and chief of staff to Secretary of State Warren Christopher in Clinton’s administration. From 1999 to 2005, he was a lobbyist exclusively for the housing mortgage company Fannie Mae (which helped create and pop the housing bubble and destroy the economy). Donilon’s brother, Michael C. Donilon, is a counselor to Vice President Joseph Biden. Donilon’s wife, Cathy Russell, is chief of staff to Biden’s wife, Jill Biden.  Prior to joining the Obama administration, Thomas Donilon also served as a legal advisor to banks like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. 
CSIS: The ‘Brain’ of the Obama Administration
While serving as national security advisor, Thomas Donilon spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in November of 2012. He began his speech by stating that for roughly half a century, CSIS has been “the intellectual capital that has informed so many of our national security policies, including during the Obama administration… We’ve shared ideas and we’ve shared staff.”
Indeed, CSIS has been an exceptionally influential presence within the Obama administration. CSIS launched a Commission on ‘Smart Power’ in 2006, co-chaired by Joseph S. Nye, Jr. and Richard Armitage, with the final report delivered in 2008, designed to influence the next president of the United States on implementing “a smart power strategy.” Joseph Nye is known for – among other things – developing the concept of what he calls “soft power” to describe gaining support through “attraction” rather than force. In the lead-up to the 2008 presidential elections, Nye stated that if Obama became president, it “would do more for America’s soft power around the world than anything else we could do.”
Joseph Nye is the former Dean of the Kennedy School, former senior official in the Defense and State Departments, former Chair of the National Intelligence Council, and a highly influential political scientist who was rated in a 2008 poll of international relations scholars as “the most influential scholar in the field on American foreign policy,” and was also named as one of the top 100 global thinkers in a 2011 Foreign Policy report. Nye is also Chairman of the North American Group of the Trilateral Commission, is on the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the board of trustees of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and a former director of the Institute for East-West Security Studies, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and a former member of the advisory committee of the Institute of International Economics.
Richard Armitage, the other co-chair of the CSIS Commission on Smart Power, is the President of Armitage International, a global consulting firm, and was Deputy Secretary of State from 2001-2005 in the George W. Bush administration, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs in the Reagan administration, and is on the boards of ConocoPhillips, a major oil company, as well as ManTech International and Transcu Group, and of course, a trustee at CSIS.
In the Commission’s final report, A Smarter, More Secure America, the term ‘smart power’ was defined as “complementing U.S. military and economic might with greater investments in soft power,” recommending that the United States “reinvigorate the alliances, partnerships, and institutions that serve our interests,” as well as increasing the role of “development in U.S. foreign policy” which would allow the United States to “align its own interests with the aspirations of people around the world.” Another major area of concern was that of “[b]ringing foreign populations to our side,” which depended upon “building long-term, people-to-people relationships, particularly among youth.” Further, the report noted that “the benefits of free trade must be expanded” and that it was America’s responsibility to “establish global consensus and develop innovative solutions” for issues such as energy security and climate change. 
The forward to the report was authored by CSIS president and CEO, John Hamre, who wrote: “We have all seen the poll numbers and know that much of the world today is not happy with American leadership,” with even “traditional allies” beginning to question “American values and interests, wondering whether they are compatible with their own.” Hamre spoke for the American imperial establishment: “We do not have to be loved, but we will never be able to accomplish our goals and keep Americans safe without mutual respect.” What was needed, then, was to utilize their “moment of opportunity” in order “to strike off on a big idea that balances a wiser internationalism with the desire for protection at home.” In world affairs, the center of gravity, wrote Hamre, “is shifting to Asia.” Thus, “[a]s the only global superpower, we must manage multiple crises simultaneously while regional competitors can focus their attention and efforts.” What is required is to strengthen “capable states, alliances, partnerships, and institutions.” Military might, noted Hamre, while “typically the bedrock of a nation’s power,” remains “an inadequate basis for sustaining American power over time.”
In their summary of the report, Nye and Armitage wrote that the ultimate “goal of U.S. foreign policy should be to prolong and preserve American preeminence as an agent for good.” The goal, of course, was to ‘prolong and preserve American preeminence,’ whereas the notion of being ‘an agent for good’ was little more than a rhetorical add-on, since for policy-oriented intellectuals like those at CSIS, American preeminence is inherently a ‘good’ thing, and therefore preserving American hegemony is – it is presumed – by definition, being ‘an agent for good.’ Nye and Armitage suggested that the U.S. “should have higher ambitions than being popular,” though acknowledging, “foreign opinion matters to U.S. decision-making,” so long as it aligns with U.S. decisions, presumably. A “good reputation,” they suggested, “brings acceptance for unpopular ventures.” This was not to mark a turn away from using military force, as was explicitly acknowledged: “We will always have our enemies, and we cannot abandon our coercive tools.” Using “soft power,” however, was simply to add to America’s arsenal of military and economic imperialism: “bolstering soft power makes America stronger.”
Power, they wrote, “is the ability to influence the behavior of others to get a desired outcome,” noting the necessity of “hard power” – military and economic strength – but, while “[t]here is no other global power… American hard power does not always translate into influence.” While technological advances “have made weapons more precise, they have also become more destructive, thereby increasing the political and social costs of using military force.” Modern communications, they noted, “diminished the fog of war,” which is to say that they have facilitated more effective communication and management in war-time, “but also heightened the atomized political consciousness,” which is to say that it has allowed populations all over the world to gain access to information and communication outside the selectivity of traditional institutions of power.
These trends “have made power less tangible and coercion less effective.” The report noted: “Machiavelli said it was safer to be feared than to be loved. Today, in the global information age, it is better to be both.” Thus, “soft power… is the ability to attract people to our side without coercion,” making “legitimacy” the central concept of soft power. As such, if nations and people believe “American objectives to be legitimate, we are more likely to persuade them to follow our lead without using threats and bribes.” Noting that America’s “enemies” in the world are largely non-state actors and groups who “control no territory, hold few assets, and sprout new leaders for each one that is killed,” victory becomes problematic: “Militaries are well suited to defeating states, but they are often poor instruments to fight ideas.” Thus, victory in the modern world “depends on attracting foreign populations to our side,” of which ‘soft power’ is a necessity. 
Despite various “military adventures in the Western hemisphere and in the Philippines” in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, “the U.S. military has not been put in the service of building a colonial empire in the manner of European militaries,” the report read, acknowledging quite plainly that while not a formal colonial empire, the United States was an imperial power nonetheless. Since World War II, “America has sought to promote rules and order in a world in which life continues to be nasty, brutish, and short for the majority of inhabitants.” While “the appeal of Hollywood and American products can play a role in inspiring the dreams and desires of others,” soft power is not merely cultural, but also promotes “political values” and “our somewhat reluctant participation and leadership in institutions that help shape the global agenda.” However, a more “interconnected and tolerant world” is not something everyone is looking forward to, noted the authors: “ideas can be threatening to those who consider their way of life to be under siege by the West,” which is to say, the rest of the world. Smart power, then, “is neither hard nor soft – it is the skillful combination of both,” and “means developing an integrated strategy, resource base, and tool kit to achieve American objectives, drawing on both hard and soft power.” 
Other members of the CSIS Commission on Smart Power included: Nancy Kassebaum Baker, former US Senator and member of the advisory board of the Partnership for a Secure America; General Charles G. Boyd, former president and CEO of the Business Executives for National Security, former director of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR); as well as Maurice Greenberg, Thomas Pickering, David Rubenstein and Obama’s newest Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel.
It’s quite apparent that members of the CSIS Commission and CSIS itself would be able to wield significant influence upon the Obama administration. Joseph Nye has even advised Hillary Clinton while she served as Secretary of State.  Perhaps then, we should not be surprised that at her Senate confirmation hearing in January of 2009, Clinton declared the era of “rigid ideology” in diplomacy to be at an end, and the foreign policy of “smart power” to be exercised, that she would make decisions based “on facts and evidence, not emotions or prejudice.”
Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Clinton declared: “We must use what has been called smart power, the full range of tools at our disposal – diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal, and cultural – picking the right tool, or combination of tools, for each situation.” She quoted the ancient Roman poet Terence, “in every endeavor, the seemly course for wise men is to try persuasion first,” then added: “The same truth binds wise women as well.”
While Joseph Nye had coined the term “soft power” in the 1990s, Suzanne Nossel coined the term “smart power.” Nossel was the chief operating officer of Human Rights Watch, former executive at media conglomerate Bertelsmann, and was a former deputy to UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke in the Clinton administration. She coined the term “smart power” in a 2004 issue of Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, after which time Joseph Nye began using it, leading to the CSIS Commission on Smart Power. At the Senate hearing, Senator Jim Webb stated, “the phrase of the week is ‘smart power’.” Nossel commented on Clinton’s Senate hearing: “Hillary was impressive… She didn’t gloss over the difficulties, but at the same time she was fundamentally optimistic. She’s saying that, by using all the tools of power in concert, the trajectory of American decline can be reversed. She’ll make smart power cool.”
Following the first six months of the Obama administration, Hillary Clinton was to deliver a major foreign policy speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, where she would articulate “her own policy agenda,” focusing on the strengthening of “smart power.” One official involved in the speech planning process noted that it would include discussion on “U.S. relations with [and] management of the great powers in a way that gets more comprehensive.” The speech was long in the making, and was being overseen by the director of the State Department’s Policy Planning Council, Anne-Marie Slaughter. 
Slaughter was director of Policy Planning in the State Department from 2009 to 2011, where she was chief architect of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, designed to better integrate development into U.S. foreign policy, with the first report having been released in 2010. She is also a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton, was co-Chair of the Princeton Project on National Security, former Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, served on the boards of the Council on Foreign Relations (2003-2009), the New America Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, New American Security, the Truman Project, and formerly with CSIS, also having been on the boards of McDonald’s and Citigroup. Slaughter is currently a member of the Aspen Strategy Group, the CFR, a member of the board of directors of the Atlantic Council, and has been named on Foreign Policy‘s Top 100 Global Thinkers for the years 2009-2012.
In preparation for her speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, according to the Washington Post blog, Plum Line, Clinton “consulted” with a “surprisingly diverse” group of people, including: Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Paul Farmer, Joseph Nye, Francis Fukuyama, Brent Scowcroft, Strobe Talbott (president of the Brookings Institution), John Podesta, and Richard Lugar, as well as Defense Secretary Robert Gates, then-National Security Advisor General James Jones, and President Obama himself.
When Clinton began speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C., she stated: “I am delighted to be here in these new headquarters. I have been often to, I guess, the mother ship in New York City, but it’s good to have an outpost of the Council right here down the street from the State Department. We get a lot of advice form the Council, and so this will mean I won’t have as far to go to be told what we should be doing and how we should think about the future.” Many in the world do not trust America to lead, explained Clinton, “they view America as an unaccountable power, too quick to impose its will at the expense of their interests and our principles,” but, Clinton was sure to note: “they are wrong.” The question, of course, was “not whether our nation can or should lead, but how it will lead in the 21st century,” in which “[r]igid ideologies and old formulas don’t apply.” Clinton claimed that “[l]iberty, democracy, justice and opportunity underlie our priorities,” even though others “accuse us of using these ideals to justify actions that contradict their very meaning,” suggesting that “we are too often condescending and imperialistic, seeking only to expand our power at the expense of others.”
These perceptions, explained Clinton, “have fed anti-Americanism, but they do not reflect who we are.” America’s strategy “must reflect the world as it is, not as it used to be,” and therefore, “[i]t does not make sense to adapt a 19th century concert of powers, or a 20th century balance of power strategy.” Clinton explained that the strategy would seek to tilt “the balance away from a multi-polar world and toward a multi-partner world,” in which “our partnerships can become power coalitions to constrain and deter [the] negative actions” of those who do not share “our values and interests” and “actively seek to undermine our efforts.” In order to construct “the architecture of global cooperation,” Clinton recommended “smart power” as “the intelligent use of all means at our disposal, including our ability to convene and connect… our economic and military strength,” as well as “the application of old-fashioned common sense in policymaking… a blend of principle and pragmatism.” Noting that, “our global and regional institutions were built for a world that has been transformed,” Clinton stated that “they too must be transformed and reformed,” referencing the UN, World Bank, IMF, G20, OAS, ASEAN, and APEC, among others. This “global architecture of cooperation,” said Clinton, “is the architecture of progress for America and all nations.”
Just in case you were thinking that the relationship between CSIS and the Obama administration was not strong enough, apparently both of them thought so too. CSIS wields notable influence within the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board, which is chaired by the president and CEO of CSIS, John Hamre. A former Deputy Defense Secretary in the Clinton administration, Hamre is a member of the Aspen Strategy Group, sits on the board of defense contractors such as ITT, SAIC, and the Oshkosh Corporation, as well as MITRE, a “not-for-profit” corporation which “manages federally funded research and development centers.” The Defense Policy Board provides the Secretary of Defense, as well as the Deputy Secretary and Undersecretary of Defense “with independent, informed advice and opinion on matters of defense policy;” from outside ‘experts’ of course. 
Also on the board is Sam Nunn, the chairman of CSIS, co-chair and CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), former U.S. Senator from 1972-1996, member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and currently on the boards of General Electric, the Coca-Cola Company, Hess Corporation, and was recently on the boards of Dell and Chevron. Other CSIS trustees and advisors who sit on the Defense Policy Board are Harold Brown, Henry Kissinger, James Schlesinger, Brent Scowcroft, General Jack Keane, and Chuck Hagel. 
Harold Brown was the Secretary of Defense in the Carter administration, honorary director of the Atlantic Council, member of the boards of Evergreen Oil and Philip Morris International, former partner at Warburg Pincus, director of the Altria Group, Trustee of RAND Corporation, and member of the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations. James Schlesinger was the former Defense Secretary in the Nixon and Ford administrations, Secretary of Energy in the Carter administration, was briefly director of the CIA, a senior advisor to Lehman Brothers, Kuhn, Loeb Inc., and was on George W. Bush’s Homeland Security Advisory Council. He is currently chairman of the MITRE Corporation, a director of the Sandia National Corporation, a trustee of the Atlantic Council and is a board member of the Henry M. Jackson Foundation.
Brent Scowcroft, apart from being Kissinger’s deputy in the Nixon administration, and the National Security Advisor in the Ford and Bush Sr. administrations (as well as co-founder of Kissinger), is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the Atlantic Council, and founded his own international advisory firm, the Scowcroft Group. General Jack Keane, a senior advisor to CSIS, is the former Vice Chief of Staff of the US Army, current Chairman of the board for the Institute for the Study of War; Frank Miller, former Defense Department official in the Reagan, Bush Sr., and Clinton administrations, served on the National Security Council in the George W. Bush administration, joined the Cohen Group in 2005, currently a Principal at the Scowcroft Group, and serves on the U.S.-European Command Advisory Group, is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Director of the Atlantic Council, and he serves on the board of EADS-North America (one of the world’s leading defense contract corporations).
Kissinger’s record has been well-established up until present day, though he has been a member of the Defense Policy Board since 2001, thus serving in an advisory capacity to the Pentagon for both the Bush and Obama administrations, continues to serve on the steering committee of the Bilderberg meetings, is a member of the Trilateral Commission and he is currently an advisor to the board of directors of American Express, on the advisory board of the RAND Center for Global Risk and Security, honorary chairman of the China-United States Exchange Foundation, the board of the International Rescue Committee, and is on the International Council of JPMorgan Chase.
Another member of the Policy Board who was a trustee of CSIS was Chuck Hagel, who is now Obama’s Secretary of Defense. Prior to his new appointment, Hagel was a US Senator from 1997 to 2009, after which he was Chairman of the Atlantic Council, on the boards of Chevron, Zurich’s Holding Company of America, Corsair Capital, Deutsche Bank America, MIC Industries, was an advisor to Gallup, member of the board of PBS, member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and was a member of the CSIS Commission on Smart Power. Hagel also served on Obama’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, an outside group of ‘experts’ providing strategic advice to the president on intelligence matters.
Other members of the Defense Policy Board (who are not affiliated with CSIS) are: J.D. Crouch, Deputy National Security Advisor in the George W. Bush administration, and is on the board of advisors of the Center for Security Policy; Richard Danzig, Secretary of the Navy in the Clinton administration, a campaign advisor to Obama, and is the current Chairman of the Center for a New American Security; Rudy de Leon, former Defense Department official in the Clinton administration, a Senior Vice President at the Center for American Progress, and is a former vice president at Boeing Corporation; John Nagl, president of the Center for a New American Security, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; William Perry, former Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration, who now sits on a number of corporate boards, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, on the board of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), and has served on the Carnegie Endowment; Sarah Sewall, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance in the Clinton administration, on the board of Oxfam America, and was a foreign policy advisor to Obama’s election campaign; and Larry Welch, former Chief of Staff of the US Air Force in the Reagan administration. More recently added to the Defense Policy Board was none other than Madeleine Albright.
Imperialism without Imperialists?
The ‘discourse’ of foreign affairs and international relations failing to adequately deal with the subject of empire is based upon a deeply flawed perception: that one cannot have an empire without imperialists, and the United States does not have imperialists, it has strategists, experts, and policy-oriented intellectuals. Does the United States, then, have an empire without imperialists? In the whole history of imperialism, that would be a unique situation.
Empires do not happen by chance. Nations do not simply trip and stumble and fall into a state of imperialism. Empires are planned and directed, maintained and expanded. This report aimed to provide some introductory insight into the institutions and individuals who direct the American imperial system. The information – while dense – is far from comprehensive or complete; it is a sample of the complex network of imperialism that exists in present-day United States. Regardless of which president or political party is in office, this highly integrated network remains in power.
This report, produced exclusively for the Hampton Institute, is to serve as a reference point for future discussion and analysis of ‘geopolitics’ and foreign policy issues. As an introduction to the institutions and individuals of empire, it can provide a framework for people to interpret foreign policy differently, to question those quoted and interviewed in the media as ‘experts,’ to integrate their understanding of think tanks into contemporary politics and society, and to bring to the surface the names, organizations and ideas of society’s ruling class.
It is time for more of what the Trilateral Commission dismissively referred to as “value-oriented intellectuals” – those who question and oppose authority – instead of more policy-oriented imperialists. The Geopolitics Division of the Hampton Institute aims to do just that: to provide an intellectual understanding and basis for opposing empire in the modern world.
Empires don’t just happen; they are constructed. They can also be deconstructed and dismantled, but that doesn’t just happen either. Opposing empire is not a passive act: it requires dedication and information, action and reaction. As relatively privileged individuals in western state-capitalist societies, we have both the opportunity and the responsibility to understand and oppose what our governments do abroad, how they treat the people of the world, how they engage with the world. It is our responsibility to do something, precisely because we have the opportunity to do so, unlike the majority of the world’s population who live in abject poverty, under ruthless dictators that we arm and maintain, in countries we bomb and regions we dominate. We exist in the epicenter of empire, and thus: we are the only ones capable of ending empire.
Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada. He is Project Manager of The People’s Book Project, head of the Geopolitics Division of the Hampton Institute, Research Director for Occupy.com’s Global Power Project and hosts a weekly podcast show at BoilingFrogsPost.
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 Julian Pecquet, “Brzezinski: Professor in the halls of power,” The Hill’s Global Affairs, 22 January 2013:
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 Richard Armitage and Joseph Nye, Jr., “CSIS Commission on Smart Power: A Smarter, More Secure America,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2007: page 1.
 Richard Armitage and Joseph Nye, Jr., “CSIS Commission on Smart Power: A Smarter, More Secure America,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2007: pages 3-4.
 Richard Armitage and Joseph Nye, Jr., “CSIS Commission on Smart Power: A Smarter, More Secure America,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2007: pages 5-6.
 Richard Armitage and Joseph Nye, Jr., “CSIS Commission on Smart Power: A Smarter, More Secure America,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2007: page 6.
 Richard Armitage and Joseph Nye, Jr., “CSIS Commission on Smart Power: A Smarter, More Secure America,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2007: page 6.
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 Originally posted at Slum Line, “Hillary Consulted Republicans, Neocons, And Liberals For Big Foreign Policy Speech,” Future Majority, 14 July 2009:
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 Marcus Weisgerber, “U.S. Defense Policy Board Gets New Members,” Defense News, 4 October 2011:
Italian Translation: Grandi corporation cercano un ‘accordo di libero scambio‘ euro-statunitense per un ulteriore dominio globale
Grandi corporation cercano un ‘accordo di libero scambio‘ euro-statunitense per un ulteriore dominio globale
Una Nato economica? No, grazie!
The following is an Italian translation of my recent article, “Large Corporations Seek U.S.–European ‘Free Trade Agreement’ to Further Global Dominance,” courtesy of Gil Guy Sparks.
La Partnership di Investimento e Commercio Transatlantico è l’ultimo piano delle multinazionali per rafforzare la loro presa sul pianeta.
di Andrew Gavin Marshall
Sta emergendo un ordine mondiale di corporation, e come ogni parassita, sta lentamente uccidendo il suo ospite. Purtroppo, “l’ospite” sembra sia il pianeta, e tutta la vita su di essa e al suo interno. Così, mentre l’estinzione delle specie sarà il risultato finale dell’accettazione passiva di un mondo a guida aziendale, dall’altra parte, essa è molto redditizia per le corporation e i loro azionisti.
La Partnership di Investimento e Commercio Transatlantico (TTIP) è l’ultima agenda a guida aziendale in ciò che viene comunemente definito un “accordo di libero scambio“, ma che in realtà equivale al ‘consolidamento aziendale cosmopolitico‘: grandi aziende che dettano e dirigono le politiche dei membri – sia livello nazionale e che internazionale – nella costruzione di strutture che facilitino il consolidamento regionale e globale del potere finanziario, economico e politico nelle mani di, relativamente poche, grandi corporation.
Tali accordi hanno poco a che fare con un reale ‘scambio’, e tutto a che fare con l’espansione dei diritti e dei poteri delle grandi aziende. Le corporation sono diventate potenti soggetti economici e politici – in competizione in termini di dimensioni e ricchezza con le grandi economie nazionali del mondo – e, quindi, hanno assunto un carattere spiccatamente ‘cosmopolitico’. Agendo attraverso associazioni industriali, aggregazioni lobbistiche, think tank e fondazioni, le società cosmopolitiche sono grandi progetti di ingegneria che mirano al consolidamento economico e politico transnazionale del potere… nelle loro mani. Con la costruzione di “una zona di libero scambio euro-americana“, come “ambizioso progetto,” stiamo assistendo alla promozione di un nuovo e inedito progetto globale di colonizzazione transatlantica aziendale.
La Fortezza Atlantica come “Ampia Strategia”
In un articolo del 2006 per Der Spiegel, Gabor Steingart suggeriva che “per combattere l’ascesa della Cina e dell’Asia“, il “ruolo che la NATO ha rappresentato in un’epoca di minaccia militare potrebbe essere svolto da una zona di libero scambio transatlantico nell’attuale epoca di confronto economico.“ Con la possibile “aggiunta del Canada,” gli Stati Uniti e l’Unione Europea “potrebbero arginare la diminuzione del potere del mercato occidentale unendo le forze… [cosa che] porterebbe inevitabilmente ad una convergenza dei due sistemi economici.” In un processo che probabilmente comporterebbe decenni, “una mega-fusione dei mercati“, che “serva da fortezza“, invierebbe un “nuovo messaggio” all’Oriente.
Durante il momento peggiore, all’inizio della crisi finanziaria ed economica, nel gennaio del 2009, Henry Kissinger scrisse un articolo per il New York Times in cui sottolineava che “l’indirizzo [americano] verso un ordine finanziario mondiale era stato generalmente incontrastato“, anche se la crisi lo aveva modificato, mentre la “disillusione” diveniva “diffusa“. Le nazioni in quel momento volevano proteggersi dai mercati globali e, quindi, diventare più indipendenti. Kissinger mise in guardia contro quest’idea, proclamando: “Emergerà un ordine internazionale se un sistema di priorità compatibili verrà posto in essere. Si frammenterà disastrosamente se le varie priorità non potranno essere conciliate… L’alternativa ad un nuovo ordine internazionale è il caos“.
Kissinger osservava che il mondo economico era “globalizzato“, ma il mondo politico non lo era, e nel bel mezzo di “crisi politiche in ogni parte del mondo“, accelerate da una “comunicazione in tempo reale“, era necessario che i sistemi politici ed economici venissero “armonizzati in uno solo di questi due modi: con la creazione di un sistema di regolamentazione politica internazionale della stessa portata di quello del mondo economico, oppure, riducendo le unità economiche a una dimensione gestibile dalle strutture politiche esistenti, cosa che rischia di portare a un nuovo mercantilismo, forse di unità regionali.” La vittoria elettorale del presidente Obama rappresentava una “opportunità” nel “dar forma ad un nuovo ordine mondiale.” Ma quell’opportunità doveva diventare “una politica” mentre si manifestava attraverso “una grande strategia.” Un aspetto centrale verso quella grande strategia includerebbe il rafforzamento “del partenariato atlantico“, che “dipenderà maggiormente da politiche comuni“.
Circa quattro anni dopo, l’ex consigliere della Sicurezza Nazionale Statunitense Zbigniew Brzezinski elogiò la “grande promessa” nel nuovo accordo transatlantico, che “può dar forma ad un nuovo equilibrio tra le regioni oceaniche dell’Atlantico e del Pacifico, mentre al contempo genera in Occidente una nuova vitalità, una maggiore sicurezza e una maggiore coesione.” Non era degno di nota, a quanto pare, che questa, dappertutto, fosse una “coesione” di interessi di potere. Nello stesso discorso nel quale Brzezinski approvava una “maggiore coesione” tra gli Stati Uniti e l’Unione Europea, criticava l’UE che era “un’Europa più di banche che di persone, più di convenienza commerciale che un sentito impegno dei popoli europei.“
E’ il tipo di “coesione” che solo a banchieri, aziende e “grandi strateghi” come Kissinger e Brzezinski potrebbe piacere. Così, naturalmente, tale accordo ha un grande sostegno, incoraggiamento e pianificazione organizzata. Mentre l’idea di ‘integrazione transatlantica‘ è stata a lungo nei discorsi e nei documenti dei grandi strateghi e dei think tanks finanziati dalle corporation, ha mantenuto una certa distanza dalla politica formale. Nel 2007, il vertice euro-statunitense dei leader – [alla presenza] del presidente americano Bush, della cancelliera tedesca Angela Merkel, e del presidente della Commissione Europea José Manuel Barroso – ha istituito il Consiglio Economico Transatlantico (CET) per promuovere la cooperazione economica tra le due regioni.
La crisi economica ha in sé ritardato che qualsiasi progresso avesse luogo, mentre i paesi si sono concentrati a salvare le loro banche e ad imporre misure di austerità con lo scopo di cacciare le proprie popolazioni nella povertà, privatizzare la società, e creare le condizioni idonee per il saccheggio senza ostacoli delle risorse e per lo sfruttamento del lavoro. Questa si chiama “riforma strutturale“.
Ma le riforme strutturali mostrano “successo” solo quando le aziende cominciano a trarre profitto da esse. Questa si chiama “ripresa economica“. C’è un intero linguaggio per la crisi del debito europeo – e per l’economia politica in generale – che, tradotto, aiuta a chiarire la ratio delle scelte politiche.
Linguaggio politico: Parole o armi?
Come George Orwell scrisse una volta: “Il linguaggio politico… è progettato per rendere il suono delle bugie veritiero e l’omicidio rispettabile, e per dare una parvenza di solidità al vento puro e semplice.“
In un mondo in radicale trasformazione di strutture e relazioni politiche, economiche e sociali – dalla primavera araba, dalla crisi economica mondiale, dalla crisi alimentare e dall’accaparramento delle terre, alla diffusione globale dei movimenti di protesta – il linguaggio politico diventa armato. Nascondendosi dietro parole apparentemente senza senso, rese oscure da una retorica abusata e da termini e concetti astratti e indefiniti, il linguaggio politico ed economico opera per impedire alla popolazione di comprendere il vero significato e le implicazioni delle politiche perseguite.
Prendete, per esempio, la parola ‘austerità‘. E’ stata utilizzata all’infinito – nella retorica e nelle politiche – come la ‘soluzione‘ alla crisi economica, finanziaria e del debito, ma il suo significato è reso oscuro da una nozione astratta di taglio della spesa pubblica allo scopo di far calare il debito e, quindi, accrescere la fiducia degli investitori nel paese. Questo dovrebbe portare ad un “risanamento” economico. Il problema è che non lo fa: porta invece ad una depressione molto profonda. Eppure, tali politiche continuano ad essere promosse e perseguite.
Che cosa si può dedurre da questo? Se la retorica promuove politiche specifiche per un effetto desiderato, e l’effetto desiderato non si è mai raggiunto, ma la retorica e le politiche continuano ad essere promosse, si può assumere una delle due cose: o, come aveva definito Einstein, coloro che prendono le decisioni mondiali sono tutti pazzi (“poiché mettono in atto la stessa cosa più volte, aspettandosi risultati diversi“), oppure, stanno semplicemente parlando una lingua diversa, e difettiamo nella sua comprensione. In tali circostanze, è utile tentare tradurre questo linguaggio.
Le politiche di ‘austerità‘ comprendono: licenziamento dei lavoratori del settore pubblico, taglio della spesa dell’assistenza sanitaria, dell’istruzione, del welfare, dei servizi sociali, delle pensioni, aumento dell’età pensionabile, aumento delle tasse e riduzione dei salari. I risultati, inevitabilmente, sono l’impoverimento generale della popolazione, l’aumento della disoccupazione, l’eliminazione dei servizi sanitari e sociali nel momento in cui occorrono maggiormente, l’aumento del costo della vita e la diminuzione del tenore di vita. Quindi, possiamo liberamente tradurre ‘austerità‘ come impoverimento, poiché questo è ciò che gli effetti reali di quelle politiche comportano.
Nel marzo 2010, l’OCSE (Organizzazione per la Cooperazione Economica e lo Sviluppo) ha suggerito che l’Europa intraprenda un programma di austerità della durata di non meno di sei anni dal 2011 al 2017, che il Financial Times ha indicato come cosa “estremamente ragionevole“. Nel mese di aprile del 2010, la Banca dei Regolamenti Internazionali (BRI) – la banca centrale delle banche centrali di tutto il mondo – ha chiesto alle nazioni europee di avviare l’attuazione di misure di austerità.
Nel giugno del 2010, i ministri delle finanze del G20 si misero d’accordo: era il momento di entrare nell’era dell’austerità! Il cancelliere tedesco Angela Merkel, la levatrice europea dell’austerità, fa da esempio per l’UE, imponendo misure di austerità a casa, in Germania. I leader del G20 si incontrarono e convennero che il tempo per lo stimolo era giunto al termine, e il tempo per la povertà da austerità era vicino. Questo è stato ovviamente approvato dal non eletto presidente tecnocrate della Commissione Europea, José Manuel Barroso.
Anche il non eletto presidente del Consiglio Europeo, Herman Van Rompuy, ha convenuto, spiegando con la sua spietata saggezza economica che l’austerità “non ha alcun effetto reale sulla crescita economica“. Pure Jean-Claude Trichet, presidente della Banca Centrale Europea (BCE), è saltato sul treno austerità, scrivendo sul Financial Times che “è ora il momento di ripristinare la sostenibilità fiscale.“
Jaime Caruana, direttore generale della Banca dei Regolamenti Internazionali (BRI) dichiarò nel giugno del 2011 che la necessità di austerità era “più urgente” che mai, mentre il presidente della Banca dei Regolamenti Internazionali (BRI), Christian Noyer, anche governatore della Banca di Francia (e membro del consiglio della BCE), dichiarava che, a parte l’austerità, “non c’è soluzione possibile” per la Grecia.
Ma, naturalmente, l’austerità non è completa senza il suo complementare programma di ‘riforme strutturali‘ (o di ‘aggiustamento strutturale‘), che comprende politiche volte a privatizzare tutti i beni di proprietà dello Stato, le risorse e i servizi, lo smantellamento delle tutele del lavoro e quelle ambientali e dei regolamenti, l’apertura di nuovi ‘mercati‘, ed enormi sovvenzioni e protezioni per banche e multinazionali.
Perché ciò viene messo in atto? Per promuovere gli investimenti, la concorrenza e la crescita. Privatizzare tutto – compreso gli aeroporti, la terra, la gestione delle acque, le strade e le risorse – incoraggia gli investimenti, perché le aziende possono entrare ed acquistare beni nazionali con penny anziché dollari. In effetti, la maggior parte dei programmi di privatizzazione comprendono sussidi enormi e protezioni per le aziende, per fornire loro un incentivo ad investire.
E la concorrenza è promossa meglio, consentendo solo ad una manciata di gruppi di corporation transnazionali di acquisire, a buon mercato, la ricchezza e le risorse di una nazione, e poi attraverso la promozione di quella che si chiama “flessibilità del lavoro“.
Queste ‘riforme‘ significano che i diritti dei lavoratori devono essere smantellati, [significano] taglio dei salari, dei benefici, delle protezioni, della capacità di fare sindacato e di fare richieste, allo scopo di rendere la forza lavoro flessibile alla domanda delle grandi imprese, che richiedono poco più di una forza lavoro a basso costo (così come il controllo assoluto dell’economia globale).
Pertanto, in tutti i mercati – in Europa attraverso l’Unione Europea, in Nord America attraverso il NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement) – e, di fatto, in tutto il mondo, le forze lavoro sono messe in concorrenza tra loro in una corsa verso il basso a chi può rappresentare la migliore, e quindi, la più economica forza lavoro a disposizione – allo scopo di attrarre investimenti e occupazione.
Pertanto, l’effetto delle “riforme strutturali” è quello di facilitare lo sfruttamento di risorse e persone e di consolidare il potere economico e politico in mani aziendali. L’austerità serve così lo scopo di impoverire la popolazione per renderla pronta e disposta ad accettare le riforme strutturali (o “di aggiustamento“) che aggiustano la gente ad una situazione di devastazione sociale rendendola un’idonea – ed economica – forza lavoro.
Il saccheggio aziendale senza ostacoli è facilitato dallo smantellamento di tutte le “barriere” agli investimenti e, quindi, del controllo dell’intera economia. Austerità e riforme strutturali creano le condizioni per gli investimenti, concorrenza e crescita. Investimento significa essenzialmente acquisizione/controllo sovvenzionato sull’economia da parte delle società, competizione implica la tutela degli interessi aziendali, e crescita significa che le aziende stanno facendo enormi profitti. L’effetto di tutte queste politiche e programmi è quello di consolidare il potere economico e politico regionale e globale nelle mani di multinazionali cosmopolitiche.
Austerità è impoverimento per le popolazioni.
Riforma strutturale è sfruttamento di persone/risorse, e consolidamento del potere politico in mani aziendali.
Investimento è controllo societario dell’economia.
Concorrenza è protezionismo per le aziende.
Crescita è profitto aziendale.
Mario Draghi è il presidente della Banca Centrale Europea (BCE) – una delle tre istituzioni della ‘troika’ assieme alla Commissione Europea e al Fondo Monetario Internazionale – che impone austerità e riforme strutturali in Europa in cambio del salvataggio delle banche. Nel febbraio del 2012, ha rilasciato un’intervista al Wall Street Journal nella quale ha spiegato che, “non c’era alternativa al consolidamento fiscale“, cioè all’austerità, e che il contratto sociale europeo era “obsoleto” e il modello sociale era “già morto.“ Tuttavia, ha spiegato Draghi, era necessario ora promuovere la “crescita“, aggiungendo, “ed è per questo che le riforme strutturali sono così importanti.“
Oltre alla austerità e alle riforme strutturali, sono necessari nuovi mercati e, quindi, bisogna promuovere il “libero commercio“. Tutto questo fa parte della strada verso il “risanamento“. Il libero commercio ha anche una definizione tecnica: le sue politiche smantellano le tutele ambientali, del lavoro, e altre sociali, incrementano la privatizzazione, la deregolamentazione, e comprendono ampi sussidi e protezioni per le multinazionali. E gli attuali accordi di ‘libero scambio‘ concedono diritti senza precedenti alle aziende di citare in giudizio direttamente i governi che hanno leggi e regolamenti che le aziende vedono come “ostacoli agli investimenti.“
Il libero scambio promuove la concorrenza tra popolazioni – in una corsa verso il basso – e protezione per i potenti, multinazionali e banche. Ciò che noi chiamiamo accordi di libero commercio funzionano essenzialmente come un processo aziendale di colonialismo: consolidamento regionale e globale del potere finanziario, economico, politico e sociale nelle mani di aziende relativamente poche.
Con l’inizio della crisi economica mondiale, nel 2008, i paesi si sono rivolti a piani di salvataggio per salvare le grandi banche che hanno distrutto le loro economie.
Nel far questo, hanno accumulato ingenti debiti, consegnando il conto alle popolazioni. La gente paga i debiti attraverso austerità, e, quindi, povertà, che a sua volta necessita di riforme strutturali e, quindi, sfruttamento. Accordi di libero scambio come il Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), in fase di negoziazione tra i 12 paesi del versante Pacifico, facilitano il colonialismo transnazionale aziendale.
Un nuovo mondo aziendale sta emergendo, e il partenariato transatlantico è un elemento centrale nella costruzione di questo ‘nuovo ordine mondiale’. Mentre la crisi aveva inizialmente messo in fase di stallo il processo, esso è stato rimesso in moto al vertice euro-statunitense nel novembre del 2011, quando i leader politici ordinarono al Consiglio Economico Transatlantico (CET) di creare un Gruppo di Lavoro ad Alto Livello su Occupazione e Crescita, guidato dal rappresentante statunitense agli affari commerciali, Ron Kirk e dal commissario Ue al commercio, Karel De Gucht, “con il compito di individuare le politiche e le misure per aumentare il commercio e gli investimenti euro-americani per sostenere la creazione di occupazione, la crescita economica e la competitività internazionale a reciproco beneficio“, lavorando a stretto contatto con gruppi dei settori aziendali pubblici e privati.
La Complesso Aziendale Transatlantico
L’impulso al Parternariato di Investimento e Commercio Transatlantico è stato fornito da una pletora di organizzazioni del grande business e da think tank controllati dalle multinazionali, tra cui il Consiglio Atlantico, il Brookings Institution, il German Marshall Fund, BusinessEurope, Business Roundtable, la Camera di Commercio degli Stati Uniti, e la European Round Table degli industriali, tra molti altri. Queste istituzioni collettivamente formano un complesso aziendale transatlantico, che unisce le élite delle grandi aziende, banche, think tank, fondazioni, università e circoli politici con lo scopo di stabilire un consenso sulle agende dell’élite e di fornire le strategie e gli obiettivi da conseguire.
Il Consiglio Atlantico è stato fondato nel 1961 da un ex Segretario di Stato americano, Dean Acheson e da diversi altri eminenti cittadini degli Stati membri allo scopo di contribuire a consolidare il sostegno alla ‘Alleanza Atlantica‘. Il primo volume edito del Consiglio Atlantico, Costruire il Mercato Euro-Americano: Pianificazione per gli anni ’70, è stato pubblicato nel 1967, e il Consiglio ha continuato a pubblicare documenti politici, libri, monografie e altre relazioni per tutti gli anni ’70.
La leadership e la direzione del Consiglio Atlantico è nominata dai membri delle sue commissioni, che sono costituite dall’élite della politica estera degli Stati Uniti, così come delle grandi aziende cosmopolitiche, tra cui elementi del calibro di Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski e Madeleine Albright, insieme ai dirigenti di aziende come Deutsche Bank, BAE e Lockheed Martin. [Per uno sguardo ad alcuni degli altri nomi di amministratori e consulenti, vedi Appendice 1]
Il Consiglio Atlantico rappresenta quindi gli interessi di interessi corporativi e finanziari transatlantici e dell’élite della politica estera negli Stati Uniti. Così, i temi e le agende che promuovono, tendono ad esercitare dietro di loro un’influenza significativa, con ampio accesso a coloro che prendono decisioni politiche e ai processi. Già nel 2004 il Consiglio Atlantico pubblicò un rapporto, L’Economia Transatlantica nel 2020: un partenariato per il futuro? nel quale si raccomandava una sempre maggiore integrazione tra le due economie e regioni, la gestione congiunta dell’economia mondiale, e più “cooperazione transgovernativa.“
Il German Marshall Fund degli Stati Uniti fu fondato nel 1972 con una donazione da parte del governo tedesco alla Harvard University, nella quale 25 anni prima il Segretario di Stato statunitense George Marshall aveva annunciato il Piano Marshall per la ripresa economica dell’Europa dopo la Seconda Guerra Mondiale. Il German Marshall Fund (GMF) “è dedicato alla promozione di una maggiore comprensione e azione comune tra Europa e Stati Uniti“, e comprende un certo numero di dirigenti aziendali, commentatori e altre élite a capo dei loro consigli direttivi [Vedi Appendice 2].
La Business Roundtable (BRT) è un’organizzazione di amministratori delegati di grandi aziende statunitensi “con più di 7.300 miliardi dollari di fatturato annuo“, secondo il suo sito web. La BRT è stata fondata nel 1972 “con la convinzione che … le imprese debbano svolgere un ruolo attivo ed efficace nella formazione delle politiche pubbliche.” Il Presidente del Comitato Esecutivo della BRT è W. James McNerney, presidente e amministratore delegato di Boeing. Il Comitato Esecutivo comprende gli amministratori delegati di una serie di altre importanti società cosmopolitiche [vedi Appendice 3].
La European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT), fondata nel 1983, è un’organizzazione di diverse decine di amministratori delegati di grandi aziende europee. Come Bastiaan van Apeldoorn ha scritto sulla rivista New Political Economy (Vol. 5, No. 2, 2000), l’ERT “si è sviluppata entro una piattaforma d’élite per una classe capitalistica transnazionale europea emergente dalla quale può formulare una strategia comune e – sulla base di tale strategia – cercare di modellare la governance socio-economico europea attraverso il suo accesso privilegiato alle istituzioni europee.“ Wisse Dekker, ex presidente della ERT, una volta dichiarò: “Considererei la Tavola Rotonda più di un gruppo lobbistico in quanto aiuta a dar forma alle politiche. Il rapporto della Tavola Rotonda con Bruxelles [Unione Europea] è di forte cooperazione. E’ un dialogo che inizia spesso in una fase molto precoce dello sviluppo di politiche e direttive“.
L’ERT è stata un’istituzione centrale nel rilancio dell’integrazione europea dal 1980 in poi, e l’ex commissario europeo (ed ex membro ERT), Peter Sutherland ha dichiarato: “si può sostenere che l’intera realizzazione del progetto del mercato interno è stata avviata non dai governi ma dalla Tavola Rotonda e dai suoi membri… E penso che abbia giocato successivamente un ruolo piuttosto consistente nel dialogo con la Commissione in merito alle misure concrete per attuare la liberalizzazione del mercato“.
Sutherland ha anche spiegato che l’ERT e i suoi membri “devono stare ai massimi livelli delle compagnie e in pratica tutti loro hanno libero accesso ai capi di governo per via della posizione delle loro aziende… Quindi, per definizione, ogni membro dell’ERT ha accesso al più alto livello di governo“. [Per un elenco delle altre società rappresentate nel consiglio della ERT, vedi Appendice 4]
BusinessEurope è il principale gruppo europeo d’impresa, che rappresenta 41 federazioni commerciali in 35 paesi con “un essenziale compito” – secondo il suo sito web – che è quello “di garantire che gli interessi delle aziende siano rappresentati e difesi vis-à-vis nelle istituzioni europee, con l’obiettivo principale di preservare e rafforzare la competitività delle imprese.“ [Per uno sguardo ad alcune delle aziende che componevano il Corporate Advisory and Support Group, vedi Appendice 5]
La Camera di Commercio degli Stati Uniti è stata fondata nel 1912 come organizzazione ombrello che rappresenta la voce del business in tutti gli Stati Uniti. Secondo il suo sito web, la Camera “lavora con più di 1.500 volontari provenienti da aziende membri, da organizzazioni e da comunità accademiche che servono nelle commissioni, sottocommissioni, task force, e consigli allo scopo di sviluppare e attuare politiche sulle principali questioni che interessano gli affari.” La loro “missione globale” è quella di “rafforzare la competitività dell’economia degli Stati Uniti.“ [Per uno sguardo ad alcune delle aziende rappresentate nel consiglio di amministrazione della Camera, appendice 6]
Il Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) è stato costituito nel 1995 dal Ministero del Commercio Statunitense e dalla Commissione Europea, nel tentativo di “servire come dialogo ufficiale tra imprenditori americani ed europei e sottosegretari del Governo americano e commissari europei“, composto da amministratori delegati delle multinazionali europee e statunitensi.
Il Colonialismo Transatlantico Aziendale in azione: Orientare le priorità
Come per ogni accordo di “libero scambio” (leggi: accordo di consolidamento aziendale cosmopolitico), le società devono essere consultate durante l’intero processo per permettere loro di dar forma al programma e di incoraggiare politiche specifiche, allo scopo di garantire che i loro interessi siano soddisfatti. I think tank impiegano gli accademici e le élite della politica estera per intraprendere studi e produrre relazioni che sostengano le politiche favorevoli alla dominazione politica ed economica occidentale del mondo.
I grandi gruppi d’affari organizzano la comunità delle corporation intorno ad agende e forniscono una “voce” diretta con il mondo delle imprese.
I consigli dei think tank sono dominati dalle élite politiche e aziendali, e una volta che i think tank iniziano a creare consenso intorno alle agende, accademici e altri funzionari delle organizzazioni scrivono articoli o vengono intervistati spesso sui media (che sono di proprietà delle stesse aziende), per garantire che quel poco che venga detto in pubblico su tali accordi sia, di fatto, positivo e incoraggiante.
Quando il Consiglio Economico Transatlantico (CET) creò il Gruppo di Lavoro ad Alto Livello su Occupazione e Crescita nel mese di novembre del 2011, annunciò la sua intenzione di ‘consultarsi‘ con le organizzazioni del settore privato sul processo di integrazione transatlantica.
Il Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) è stato una delle prime grandi organizzazioni aziendali a supportare l’annuncio del Gruppo di Lavoro ad Alto Livello. Nel gennaio del 2012, il TABD si è incontrato con funzionari europei e americani di alto rango al World Economic Forum, il meeting annuale di Davos, in Svizzera. Hanno pubblicato un rapporto, Visione per il futuro delle relazioni economiche UE-USA, che ha istituito un consenso “volto a far pressione per un intervento urgente su un agenda lungimirante e ambiziosa“, così come per la creazione di una “Task Force di Amministratori Delegati“, che avrebbe “fornito un contributo diretto e avrebbe supportato il Gruppo di Lavoro di Alto Livello.“
Alla riunione hanno partecipato non solo i 21 membri del consiglio esecutivo del TABD (tutti dirigenti d’azienda), ma funzionari in rappresentanza del Consiglio Atlantico, del Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), della Camera di Commercio degli Stati Uniti, Pascal Lamy, Direttore generale dell’Organizzazione Mondiale del Commercio, Ron Kirk, Rappresentante del Commercio statunitense, Karel De Gucht, Commissario europeo per il Commercio, Joaquin Almunia, Commissario europeo per la Concorrenza, Jon Leibowitz, presidente della Federal Trade Commission, e Michael Froman, vice consigliere alla Sicurezza Nazionale per gli Affari Economici Internazionali di Obama.
Nello stesso mese, il TABD e la Business Roundtable (BRT), hanno rilasciato una dichiarazione congiunta che delinea la loro “visione” di un Partenariato Transatlantico (TAP) – modellato lungo linee simili a quelle del Partenariato TransPacifico (TPP) – che richiederebbe un ulteriore “apertura” del mercato transatlantico, che sia in grado di “competere” con le altre grandi economie (come la Cina), e “approfondisca l’impegno multilaterale ad aprire i mercati.” Come principali amministratori delegati e dirigenti, recitava la dichiarazione: “abbiamo bisogno niente meno” che di una “visione strategica e una struttura [che] dovrà servire da modello globale“.
Nel febbraio del 2012, il German Marshall Fund ha pubblicato un rapporto della Task Force Transatlantica per il Commercio e gli Investimenti dal titolo, Una nuova era per la leadership del commercio transatlantico. La task force è stata co-presieduta da Ewa Bjorling, ministro svedese del commercio, e da Jim Kolbe, ex membro del Congresso degli Stati Uniti e Senior Transatlantic Fellow presso il German Marshall Fund. [Per gli altri membri della Task Force, appendice 7]
La task force è stata avviata come sforzo di cooperazione tra il German Marshall Fund e il Centro Europeo per la Politica Economica Internazionale (ECIPE) nel maggio del 2011.
Il rapporto invita l’UE e gli Stati Uniti a perseguire “una più profonda integrazione economica transatlantica” come elemento “essenziale alla ripresa dall’attuale crisi economica.” Il rapporto ha chiesto “un’impegno di alto livello da parte dei leader politici di entrambe le sponde dell’Atlantico” e “richiederà il coinvolgimento attivo delle parti interessate del settore privato“, o in altre parole, delle multinazionali.
Nel marzo del 2012, BusinessEurope ha pubblicato un rapporto: Occupazione e Crescita: Attraverso un Partenariato Economico e Commerciale Transatlantico, a contributo del Gruppo di Lavoro ad Alto Livello euro-statunitense, denominato Occupazione e Crescita, nel quale si consigliava di eliminare tariffe e barriere, di commerciare nei servizi, di garantire l’accesso e la protezione degli investimenti, di “aprire i mercati“, di stabilire “standard globali” per i diritti di proprietà intellettuale, e di lavorare sul Consiglio Economico Transatlantico (CET) per la cooperazione normativa.
Nello stesso mese, la Camera di Commercio Statunitense ha inviato una lettera al Congresso, nella quale la Camera degli Stati Uniti, BusinessEurope, la Camera di Commercio Americana presso l’Unione Europea, il Business Roundtable Council, l’European-American Business, il Business Dialogue Trans-Atlantic, e diverse altre associazioni del grande business hanno chiamato i leader politici “a passare rapidamente ad approfondire il rapporto economico e commerciale transatlantico attraverso un ambizioso commercio, investimenti e iniziative di regolamentazione.” Così, nel bel mezzo di una crisi economica e sociale, creata da numerose multinazionali e banche che queste associazioni rappresentano, e con l’emergere di nuovi giganti economici come Cina e India, “crediamo che sia ora il momento di creare un mercato transatlantico libero da barriere per guidare alla creazione di occupazione e di crescita” di cui Europa e America hanno “urgente bisogno“.
Il Gruppo di Lavoro ad Alto Livello – presieduto dal Rappresentante del Commercio statunitense, Ron Kirk e dal commissario Ue al commercio, Karel De Gucht – [recitava la dichiarazione] – dovrebbe avere un ordine del giorno “di vasta portata“, che riguardi: “barriere con tariffe e non per gli scambi di beni e servizi, investimenti, cooperazione normativa, tutela della proprietà intellettuale e innovazione, appalti pubblici, flussi di dati transfrontalieri, e mobilità del business.“
La dichiarazione osservava che loro avevano ricevuto “il sostegno” di Angela Merkel, di David Cameron, e dell’allora presidente della Francia, Nicolas Sarkozy, oltre che del Consiglio Europeo (presieduto da Herman Van Rompuy). Da parte americana, il sostegno venne dato da Hillary Clinton.
Nel maggio del 2012, la Business Roundtable, la European Round Table of Industrialists e il Trans Atlantic Business Dialogue hanno inviato una lettera congiunta al presidente Obama, al presidente francese Francois Hollande, alla cancelliera tedesca Merkel, al premier italiano Mario Monti, al primo ministro britannico David Cameron, al presidente della Commissione Europea José Manuel Barroso, al presidente del Consiglio europeo Herman Van Rompuy, al commissario Ue al Commercio De Gucht e al Rappresentante del Commercio statunitense, Ron Kirk. La lettera osservava che tre organizzazioni di dirigenti aziendali provenienti da oltre Atlantico “si sono riunite per tracciare una visione strategica per un nuovo Partenariato Transatlantico (TAP),” e hanno prodotto insieme la relazione, Forgiare un Partenariato Transatlantico per il 21° secolo, allo scopo di creare proprio questo. La relazione chiamava i funzionari degli Stati Uniti e dell’Unione Europea ad avviare “trattative su commerci, investimenti e regolamentazioni transatlantiche ambiziose e globali, entro la fine di quest’anno.“
Quello stesso mese, giusto per premere sul messaggio, i presidenti della Camera del Commercio statunitense, la Business Roundtable, e l’Associazione Nazionale dei Costruttori hanno inviato una lettera congiunta a Obama chiedendogli di avviare dei negoziati perché “venisse tracciata una strada verso un autentico commercio, investimento, e iniziativa cooperativa di regolamentazione del 21° secolo” che oltre a un’ulteriore integrazione delle economie, “porterebbe anche benefici importanti nella difesa e nella cooperazione militare.“
Nel giugno del 2012, il Consiglio per l’Esportazione di Obama gli ha inviato una lettera che plaudiva al presidente per la creazione del Gruppo di Lavoro ad Alto Livello dell’anno precedente, ma lo esortava a “fare il prossimo cruciale passo, di concerto con il settore privato, per andare avanti velocemente nella definizione e nell’avvio di ampie e ambiziose trattative per un Partenariato Transatlantico (TAP).” Loro hanno consigliato, tra le varie cose, le solite protezioni per i diritti di proprietà intellettuale, la liberalizzazione dei servizi, “l’eliminazione delle tariffe sui beni industriali e agricoli“. La lettera è stata firmata dal presidente del Consiglio sull’Esportazione Jim McNerney, presidente e amministratore delegato della Boeing Company.
Il Consiglio sull’Esportazione del Presidente degli Stati Uniti (PEC) “è il principale comitato consultivo nazionale per il commercio internazionale“, fondato nel 1973, composto da 28 membri del settore privato, così come da membri del Congresso e da segretari di gabinetto. Il PEC riferisce al presidente, tramite il Segretario del Commercio degli Stati Uniti. [Per un elenco delle aziende rappresentate dal PEC, vedi appendice 8]
Senza perdere tempo, il Gruppo ad Alto Livello su Occupazione e Crescita ha emesso il suo rapporto intermedio ai propri leader, nel giugno del 2012 da parte dei co-presidenti, De Gucht e Kirk. Tra le altre cose, loro hanno consigliato l’”eliminazione” degli “ostacoli agli scambi” di beni, servizi e investimenti. Hanno consigliato un “accordo globale“, che “potrebbe promuovere un programma lungimirante per la liberalizzazione del commercio multilaterale.“ L’”obiettivo” dei negoziati, hanno scritto, sarebbe quello di “vincolare” Unione Europea e Stati Uniti”, attraverso “un più alto livello di liberalizzazione” e “il raggiungimento di nuovi mercati.” Stavano prendendo sul serio le raccomandazioni provenienti dai gruppi aziendali e spingevano affinché quelle parole si traducessero in politiche.
Paula Dobriansky, eminente accademico presso l’Istituto Atlantico, è stata co-autrice di un articolo per il Wall Street Journal nel quale chiedeva “un accordo di libero scambio transatlantico” tra UE e Stati Uniti, per “rafforzare la leadership americana ed europea per i decenni a venire.“ Frances Burwell, vice presidente del Consiglio Atlantico e direttore del Programma sulle Relazioni Transatlantiche ha pubblicato un articolo su US News & World Report, nel novembre del 2012, nel quale scriveva che “la creazione di un mercato unico transatlantico… rappresenta un grande affare di buon senso.“
Nel novembre del 2012, l’allora Segretario di Stato Hillary Clinton ha tenuto un discorso alla Brookings Institution intitolato, Stati Uniti ed Europa: un partenariato globale rivitalizzato, nel quale ha osservato: “dobbiamo realizzare il potenziale non sfruttato del mercato transatlantico … è tanto un imperativo strategico quanto economico.” Informando il pubblico che l’amministrazione Obama stava “discutendo su possibili trattative” con l’UE su tale accordo, la Clinton ha detto che “puntellerebbe la nostra competitività a livello mondiale per il prossimo secolo.“
Sempre a novembre, membro del direttivo del Consiglio Atlantico, James L. Jones (ex Consigliere per la Sicurezza Nazionale statunitense di Barack Obama) e Thomas J. Donohue (Presidente e Amministratore Delegato della Camera di Commercio degli Stati Uniti), sono stati co-autori di un articolo per Investor Business Daily nel quale suggerivano che le crisi economiche simultanee in Europa e negli Stati Uniti – che essi descrivevano come “fiacca competitività, insostenibile autorizzazione di spesa e bomba a orologeria di un debito sovrano oltre misura” – erano una minaccia per il futuro della capacità della NATO di “affrontare le pressanti minacce alla sicurezza” e che ciò rappresenta “la più grande sfida per il futuro della comunità transatlantica dopo la guerra fredda.“
La crescita sostenibile, essi hanno scritto, “proviene solamente da un luogo – dal settore privato.“ I governi hanno una “responsabilità… creare le condizioni nelle quali il settore privato possa guidare l’espansione economica, investimenti e creazione di occupazione.“
Un “ambizioso patto commerciale ed economico transatlantico” si adatterebbe certamente a questa necessità di “crescita” e “competitività“ crescente. Sarebbe ora, hanno scritto, “di passare con decisione al prossimo livello di integrazione economica trans-atlantica.“
A pochi giorni dalla vittoria di Obama alla sua rielezione, leader europei come David Cameron e Angela Merkel lo hanno esortato ad andare avanti con l’accordo, e perfino il New York Times sottolineava che “anche corporations e gruppi economici di entrambe le sponde dell’Atlantico stanno facendo una forte pressione per un accordo.” L’ex vice Rappresentante del Commercio degli Stati Uniti e attuale vice presidente della General Electric, Karan Bhatia, osservò: “Questo potrebbe essere di gran lunga il più grande, il più prezioso accordo di libero scambio, anche se producesse solo un aumento marginale nel commercio“.
Il Financial Times ha detto che una “partnership transatlantica” produrrebbe “vantaggi geostrategici,” dal momento che l’Unione Europea e gli Stati Uniti rappresentano la metà dell’economia mondiale e, quindi, “saranno in possesso della leva per impostare standard globali che altri, tra cui la Cina, probabilmente seguiranno.“
Dal momento che “l’Unione Europea e gli Stati Uniti sono alla disperata ricerca di nuova crescita“, ha scritto Edward Luce, “l’unica via realistica è attraverso una maggiore produttività“, che implica costi più bassi e maggiori profitti per le multinazionali. Sarebbe “un’agenda ambiziosa verso l’integrazione del mercato transatlantico“, che includa regolamenti per l’armonizzazione e standard di prodotto. In altre parole, ha scritto Luce: “se un farmaco fosse approvato dall’Agenzia Europea per i medicinali, pure la Food and Drug Administration dovrebbe accettarlo.“
Lo stesso varrebbe per il “regolamento finanziario” (o la sua assenza), così come per gli standard agricoli (OGM), una questione fondamentale, dal momento che l’UE ha un divieto su tali prodotti. L’UE ha recentemente mostrato il suo entusiasmo per un cambiamento, quando “ha abbassato le sue obiezioni verso le importazioni di carni statunitensi provenienti da macelli [mattatoi] decontaminati con acido lattico.“ Nella UE, “il clima di austerità dovrebbe funzionare a loro favore” per la riduzione delle protezioni che riguardano l’agricoltura.
Nel gennaio del 2013, la Brookings Institution ha inviato un ‘memorandum al presidente‘ Barack Obama dal titolo, Libero Scambio Cambio di Gioco, nel quale gli autori hanno raccomandato di perseguire sia Il Partenariato TransPacifico (TPP) che l’Accordo di Libero Scambio Trans-Atlantico (TAFTA ) come “il modo più realistico per rivendicare la leadership economica degli Stati Uniti.“ Gli accordi hanno “implicazioni strategiche profonde” in quanto fornirebbero agli Stati Uniti un importante “ruolo nel definire le regole globali del percorso.” Mentre il TPP “dovrebbe aiutare nella definizione dello standard per l’integrazione economica in Asia,” il TAFTA “fornirebbe alle imprese americane ed europee un vantaggio nel fissare gli standard industriali per l’economia globale del futuro.“
Mentre “l’erosione del sostegno per gli FTA [gli Accordi di Libero Scambio] nel Congresso e tra il pubblico è tale da ostacolare questo sforzo,” il memorandum ha ricordato ad Obama che l’opinione pubblica deve essere ignorata nell’interesse aziendale: “è giunto il momento di avviare nuove iniziative in questi ambiti“.
Nei primi mesi del 2013, il Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue si è fuso con il Business Council euro-americano per diventare il Consiglio Economico Transatlantico (TBC), un gruppo composto da dirigenti aziendali che tiene “incontri semestrali con i segretari di gabinetto degli Stati Uniti e dei Commissari europei (a Davos e altrove),” in qualità di “consulente aziendale presso il Consiglio Economico Transatlantico (CET)“. Rappresenta circa 70 grandi aziende, tra cui: AIG, AT & T, BASF, BP, Deutsche Bank, EADS, ENI, Ford, GE, IBM, Intel, Merck, Pfizer, Siemens, TOTALE, Verizon, e Xerox, tra le altre.
Nel gennaio del 2013, il Consiglio d’Affari Transatlantico (TBC) si è riunito a Davos, in Svizzera durante l’annuale World Economic Forum, tenendo un incontro con funzionari di alto livello statunitensi e dell’Unione Europea, con Michael Froman, vice Consigliere per la Sicurezza Nazionale per gli affari economici internazionali del presidente Obama, che ha parlato nel corso della riunione TBC, dichiarando che “l’economia transatlantica sta per diventare un punto di riferimento mondiale per gli standard in un mondo globalizzato“. Froman e i leader del Consiglio d’Affari Transatlantico (TBC) “hanno convenuto che il sostegno da parte delle corporation che operano su entrambe le sponde dell’Atlantico è fondamentale per promuovere il commercio transatlantico“.
Tim Bennett, il direttore generale del TBC, ha dichiarato che la struttura del Consiglio d’Affari Transatlantico (TBC) “tiene conto della combinazione di un forte messaggio affaristico per i responsabili delle politiche, nonché di un input sostanziale attraverso gruppi di lavoro“, riferendosi a incontri ad alto livello a Washington e Bruxelles. Altri partecipanti alla riunione del Consiglio d’Affari Transatlantico (TBC) comprendevano il Segretario Generale dell’OCSE, Angel Gurria, il primo ministro irlandese Enda Kenny, direttore generale per il commercio della Commissione europea, Jean-Luc Demarty, il funzionario della Commissione Europea per il commercio, Marc Vanheukelen, e un ex dirigente di Citigroup.
Sul sito web del Consiglio d’Affari Transnazionale (TBC), essi promuovono specifici think tank come fornitori di “risorse”: il Consiglio Atlantico, la Bertelsmann Foundation, il Brookings Institution, il Center for Transatlantic Relations, Chatham House, il German Marshall Fund, e l’Istituto Peterson per le Relazioni Internazionali.
Il report finale: è tempo di fare ciò che le corporations domandano!
In data 11 febbraio 2013, il Gruppo di Lavoro ad Alto Livello euro-statunitense (HLWG) su Crescita e Occupazione ha pubblicato il suo rapporto finale nel quale, in maniera prevedibile, raccomandava standard e regolamenti di armonizzazione entro “un accordo di commercio e investimento globale.“
Il rapporto raccomandava inoltre “di incrementare l’integrazione economica … per ottenere un pacchetto di accesso al mercato che vada al di là di quello che Stati Uniti ed Unione europea hanno conseguito nei precedenti accordi“. Il rapporto ha inoltre raccomandato l’aumento di “appalti governativi“, un eufemismo per privatizzazioni e sovvenzioni statali alle società, rilevando che: “l’obiettivo dei negoziati dovrebbe essere quello di migliorare le opportunità di business attraverso un accesso, notevolmente migliorato, alle opportunità di appalti pubblici a tutti i livelli di governo.“
Due giorni dopo la pubblicazione della presente relazione, il 13 febbraio 2013, fu rilasciata da Barack Obama, dal presidente del Consiglio Europeo Herman Van Rompuy e dal presidente della Commissione Europea José Manuel Barroso, una dichiarazione congiunta che affermava: “Noi, leader degli Stati Uniti e dell’Unione Europea, siamo lieti di annunciare che… gli Stati Uniti e l’Unione europea avvieranno le reciproche procedure interne necessarie ad avviare i negoziati su Commercio Transatlantico e Parternariato d’Investimento“.
All’annuncio del TTIP (EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) a febbraio, l’allora Rappresentante del Commercio Statunitense Ron Kirk dichiarò che, “per noi, tutto è sul tavolo, in tutti i settori, compreso tutto il settore agricolo, se si tratta su OGM o su altri problemi.” Ha spiegato che “dobbiamo essere ambiziosi e dovremmo occuparci di tutti questi problemi.“ João Vale de Almeida, ambasciatore dell’Unione Europea negli Stati Uniti, ha scritto in un articolo che “un accordo economico ambizioso tra noi avrebbe mandato un messaggio forte al resto del mondo riguardante la nostra leadership nel dare forma ad una governance economica globale, in linea con i nostri valori“, che equivale a dire, “valori aziendali“.
I media tedeschi – e i funzionari governativi – sono esplosi d’ammirazione per le potenzialità, per questa “NATO economica“, di creare “la più grande zona di libero scambio del mondo“. Un giornale tedesco osservava che “una nuova alleanza economica” tra le potenze della NATO era appropriata, dal momento che “le vecchie nazioni industrializzate temevano di cadere dietro la potenza economica emergente cinese.” Un’altra pubblicazione tedesca notava che non solo una “zona di libero scambio trans-atlantico” avrebbe importanti “benefici” e implicazioni economiche, “ma renderebbe anche evidente che solo un Occidente sempre più stretto può avere successo in modo decisivo nel contribuire a determinare la politica globale“.
Il mondo delle imprese ha espresso immediata ammirazione per i negoziati annunciati, attraverso il presidente e amministratore delegato di Caterpillar “che raccomandava” ai leader di Stati Uniti e Unione europea e al Gruppo di Lavoro d’Alto Livello “di promuovere la tanto necessaria crescita economica e la creazione di occupazione.” Il presidente della Business Roundtable (BRT), John Engler, ha osservato che la Tavola rotonda stessa “è stata uno dei primi sostenitori” di un tale accordo, e che “i negoziati dovrebbero essere avviati prima possibile.“
C. Boyden Gray, membro del consiglio direttivo del Consiglio Atlantico ed ex ambasciatore degli Stati Uniti presso l’Unione Europea, ha pubblicato un rapporto per il Consiglio Atlantico, nel febbraio del 2013 dal titolo, Una NATO Economica: una nuova alleanza per un nuovo ordine globale. Gray ha avvertito che a meno che le potenze atlantiche non “raccolgano insieme la sfida … dell’era post-recessione … rischiano di cedere alle potenze emergenti la loro influenza economica e politica.” Questo non deve essere semplicemente un “accordo di libero scambio“, ma deve piuttosto “porre la cooperazione economica” di Stati Uniti e Unione europea “sullo stesso solido piano della sicurezza militare … abbiamo bisogno di creare una ‘NATO economica’.”
Il Wall Street Journal ha osservato che l’annuncio “rappresenta l’abbassare la testa di Obama agli interessi economici,” notando che riguardava meno lo ‘scambio‘ e più come stabilire standard globali. Il Presidente della Commissione Europea Barroso si è espresso in modo simile quando ha detto, “questo sarà l’accordo di libero scambio più grande mai fatto, [e] avrà certamente un impatto sugli standard globali.“
Michael Froman, consulente sulla politica economica internazionale di Obama, ha osservato che l’accordo dovrebbe “integrare ulteriormente le nostre economie e contribuire a impostare regole globali“. Il commissario al Commercio della Ue, Karel de Gucht ha aggiunto: “Quello che vogliamo fare è creare un mercato interno tra Stati Uniti e Unione Europea.“
Il Financial Times ha sottolineato che, mentre era “luogo comune“ immaginare che il futuro appartenesse alle economie emergenti, “le vecchie potenze economiche possono ancora tenerlo in pugno.” L’accordo “promette un premio il cui valore politico è ancora più grande rispetto al suo considerevole beneficio economico“. Quindi, dobbiamo intendere questi “accordi di libero scambio“, come, in realtà, accordi di consolidamento aziendale cosmopolitico.
Mentre il segretario di Stato americano John Kerry si recava a Berlino a fine febbraio, appoggiava l’accordo, suggerendo che esso “può sollevare l’economia dell’Europa, rafforzare la nostra economia, creare occupazione per gli americani, per i tedeschi, per tutti i cittadini europei e creare uno dei mercati alleati più grandi nel mondo“.
La stampa tedesca ha avvertito che gli attivisti di internet, i gruppi ambientalisti, del lavoro e dei consumatori si stavano “preparando a combattere il trattato con tutti i mezzi a loro disposizione“, poiché temevano che “cattivi compromessi saranno effettuati a spese dei consumatori in negoziati segreti tra Comunità Europea e amministrazione Obama.“
L’applicazione di uguali standard per i prodotti alimentari preoccupa molti nell’UE in merito ai prodotti alimentari americani geneticamente modificati, come mais, soia e barbabietole, mentre le questioni sui diritti di proprietà intellettuale minacciano sempre più la libertà di Internet a beneficio di interessi aziendali e finanziari, come ad esempio nel caso del fallito Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), che è stato sopraffatto da ampie campagne e proteste su Internet.
Uno degli organizzatori per il movimento anti-ACTA, Jérémie Zimmermann, ha dichiarato: “Milioni di cittadini si possono mobilitare se le loro libertà sono minacciate“. Eppure, nonostante un’inquietudine e un’opposizione crescente verso un tale accordo, che sarebbe stato basato principalmente attorno a questioni altamente controverse invece che su un reale “scambio” o sulle tariffe, il cancelliere tedesco Angela Merkel ha definito l’accordo come “il nostro progetto di gran lunga più importante per il futuro.“
Baucus, il presidente della commissione Finanze del Senato degli Stati Uniti, ha scritto un articolo per il Financial Times in cui affermava che l’accordo era “un’intesa che deve essere fatta, deve essere fatta ora, e deve essere fatta bene … Come presidente del Comitato di Sorveglianza del Commercio degli Stati Uniti, sosterrò un accordo solo se darà ai produttori americani l’opportunità di competere nel più grande mercato del mondo“.
Parlando ad Harvard all’inizio di marzo, Karel de Gucht ha definito l’accordo come “il pacchetto di stimolo più a buon prezzo che si possa immaginare“, aggiungendo che era “il laboratorio politico per le nuove regole di commercio di cui abbiamo bisogno – su questioni come barriere normative, politiche di concorrenza, requisiti di localizzazione, materie prime ed energia.“
Barack Obama ha dichiarato di essere “moderatamente ottimista” in merito all’accordo, poichè gli Stati Uniti si muovevano “aggressivamente“, mentre l’Unione Europea era “più desiderosa di un accordo di quanto non lo sia stata in passato.“ Parlando al Consiglio sull’Esportazione del Presidente, composto da dirigenti di grandi aziende in veste di ‘consiglieri,’ Obama ha ribadito, “vogliamo che le nostre 500 compagnie di Fortune vendano il più possibile.“ John Kerry ha detto a un gruppo di imprenditori francesi che, “se ci muoviamo rapidamente … [l’accordo] può avere un profondo impatto sul resto del mondo“.
Robert Zoellick, ex presidente della Banca Mondiale, ha avallato l’accordo, sottolineando che potrebbe “creare un precedente” nella definizione di standard per l’economia globale, aggiungendo: “abbiamo bisogno di creare una nuova struttura per il sistema globale“, tuttavia, ha avvertito, l’agricoltura è stata e “sarà uno dei problemi più difficili“, a causa della preoccupazione per gli organismi geneticamente modificati. Barroso ha avvertito che, “solo l’UE andrà così lontano.“ Lori Wallach, direttore del Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch ha osservato: “Tutta questa trattativa riguarda l’eliminazione dei ‘contrasti commerciali’, ma nel movimento dei consumatori degli Stati Uniti ci invidiano e ammirano e cercano di emulare gli standard europei di sicurezza alimentare, mentre l’industria sta cercando di ucciderli“.
Nel mese di aprile del 2013, è stato avviata una “coalizione” per promuovere il Commercio Transatlantico e Partenariato d’Investimento chiamata Coalizione d’Affari per il Commercio Transatlantico (BCTT), che “mira a promuovere crescita, occupazione e competitività su entrambe le sponde dell’Atlantico attraverso un accordo ambizioso, globale e di alto livello per il commercio e gli investimenti”.
Il Comitato direttivo per la BCTT consta di un certo numero di società multinazionali e associazioni di imprese, e la segreteria è la Camera di Commercio degli Stati Uniti.
I co-presidenti aziendali per la coalizione comprendono Amway, Chrysler, Citi, Dow, Fedex, Ford, GE, IBM, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, MetLife, UPS e JPMorgan Chase. Le associazioni partner del BCTT includono la Business Roundtable, la Coalition of Service Industries, il Comitato di Emergenza per il Commercio americano, l’Associazione Nazionale dei Costruttori, il Consiglio Nazionale per il Commercio Estero, il Consiglio d’Affari Transatlantico (TBC), la Camera di Commercio degli Stati Uniti e il Consiglio per il Commercio Internazionale Statunitense. L’obiettivo iniziale del BCTT era quello di sollecitare l’avvio formale di negoziati entro giugno o luglio del 2013, così come “appoggiare un ampio sostegno bipartisan e fornire input dettagliati una volta che siano in corso le trattative.“
In occasione dell’avvio del BCTT, il vice presidente della Camera di Commercio Statunitense e Capo degli Affari Internazionali, Myron Brilliant, ha osservato che non vi era “grande sostegno” all’accordo, “sia nel governo che nel settore privato.” La comunità aziendale, ha spiegato, “è impegnata ad assistere la negoziazione di un accordo transatlantico … e continueremo i nostri sforzi per incoraggiare entrambi i governi per far sì che questo accordo sia fatto in fretta.“ La Business Roundtable, membro del BCTT, ha approvato la nuova coalizione in un comunicato di John Engler, che ha spiegato, “non vediamo l’ora di lavorare con il Congresso e l’Amministrazione per garantire un accordo globale e ambizioso.“
Mentre si parla di un gruppo d’affari americano, l’ambasciatore britannico per gli Stati Uniti, ha detto che anche i servizi finanziari sarebbero “coperti da questi negoziati“, notando che Stati Uniti e Regno Unito sono sede dei “due più significativi centri finanziari internazionali su entrambe le sponde dell’Atlantico“, Wall Street e la City di Londra.
Secondo un funzionario dell’amministrazione Obama coinvolto nei colloqui, l’accordo “avrebbe concesso alle corporation nuovo potere politico per sfidare una serie di regolamenti, sia in patria che all’estero.“ Ambientalisti, consumatori, e altri gruppi di interesse temono che l’accordo “porterà ad una riduzione di regole importanti e metterà le multinazionali sullo stesso piano politico delle nazioni sovrane.” Questo sarebbe facilitato da una “procedura” di risoluzione delle controversie tra stato e investitore, il che significa che le aziende potrebbero citare in giudizio direttamente i governi su ciò che percepiscono come “barriera agli investimenti“- possibilmente attraverso un tribunale internazionale (magari anche attraverso la Banca Mondiale). A tale tribunale “sarebbe stata data l’autorità di imporre sanzioni economiche contro qualsiasi paese che violasse il suo verdetto.“
Tali disposizioni, ha notato uno specialista di commercio con Sierra Club, “eleva le corporation al livello di Stati nazionali e consente loro di citare in giudizio i governi su quasi qualunque legge o politica che riduca i loro profitti futuri.” Questi meccanismi sono “terribilmente rischiosi per le comunità, l’ambiente e il clima.” Il “piccolo sporco segreto“, ha osservato Lori Wallach di Public Citizen, “è che non riguardano principalmente il commercio, ma piuttosto avrebbero come obiettivo l’eliminazione delle più forti politiche di interesse pubblico in merito a consumo, salute, sicurezza, privacy, ambiente e altre su entrambe le sponde atlantiche“.
Thomas Donohue, presidente della Camera di Commercio degli Stati Uniti, non poteva essere più felice. “Se facessero un accordo domani“, ha detto nel mese di aprile del 2013, “le aziende statunitensi ed europee sarebbero sedute su una barca di soldi e che farebbero avanzare questa cosa più velocemente di quanto sia possibile.“
Le aziende sarebbero in grado di realizzare un profitto più rapidamente del previsto, ha osservato: “Apri una porta e dici ci sono soldi dall’altra parte, c’è l’opportunità di espandersi, di esportare, di vendere i loro prodotti, di avviare partnership … Pensi che abbiano intenzione di aspettare fino al 2027? Passeranno attraverso la porta prima che si sappia.“
Donohue ha incoraggiato le trattative a iniziare il più presto possibile, “essi devono, ne hanno bisogno“, aggiungendo: “Non abbiamo bisogno di prendere altro tempo.“
Un agenda transatlantica su l’austerità, sfruttamento e consolidamento aziendale
Il 22 aprile 2013, c’è stata una conferenza, ospitata presso la Federal Reserve Bank di New York, in collaborazione con la Direzione Generale della Commissione Europea per gli Affari Economici e Finanziari, “che ha messo assieme ideatori delle politiche, funzionari di controllo, analisti di mercato e docenti universitari euro-statunitensi“. L’obiettivo della conferenza è stato quello di “valutare le prospettive di una crescita economica sostenibile e la stabilità finanziaria, e discutere le sfide per le relazioni economiche transatlantiche poste dai recenti episodi di crisi economica.” Tra gli oratori figuravano il presidente della Fed di New York William Dudley e il Vice Presidente della Commissione Europea, Olli Rehn. [Per un elenco degli altri partecipanti, vedi Appendice 9]
William Dudley è stato presidente della Fed di New York dal 2009, quando il precedente presidente – Timothy Geithner – è diventato Segretario del Tesoro di Obama. Prima della sua nuova posizione, Dudley era socio e amministratore delegato di Goldman Sachs, e attualmente presta servizio anche come presidente del Comitato sul Sistema Finanziario Globale presso la Banca dei Regolamenti Internazionali (BRI), ed è vice presidente del Club Economico di New York.
Dudley ha aperto l’evento “esclusivo” suggerendo, “in un’economia globale con un sistema finanziario globale … regolamentazione e vigilanza hanno un orientamento decisamente nazionale.” Così, ha spiegato, “noi [dobbiamo] cercare di bilanciare le nostre esigenze nazionali con i benefici di avere un sistema globale armonizzato e integrato“. Ciò che è necessario, ha detto Dudley, è la “crescita“. Ma non c’era “una buona nuova” negli Stati Uniti, il settore immobiliare si stava ri-gonfiando – cosa che si chiama “risanamento“, il “settore immobiliare” della classe media era alle prese con il pesante fardello del debito (denominato “riduzione del livello di indebitamento“), ma il settore bancario era “sano” (nel senso di più redditizio), e “il settore delle imprese è altamente redditizio e inondato di liquidità.” Questa è la “buona notizia“.
Un articolo di Bloomberg del 2010 si riferiva alla Federal Reserve Bank di New York come ad “un gruppo per black-ops della banca centrale della nazione“, notando che era in realtà un “ente semi-governativo“, la cui leadership viene nominata dalle principali banche di Wall Street per rappresentare i loro interessi, ed è stata “lo strumento preferito per molti dei programmi di salvataggio della Fed“. La Fed di New York è in realtà una banca privata con una grande quantità di funzioni pubbliche, ed è oggetto di una “cultura della segretezza” che è stata descritta come “pervasiva“. Nel consiglio di amministrazione della Fed di New York c’è Jamie Dimon, amministratore delegato di JPMorgan Chase, così come molti altri banchieri.
Nel suo discorso, Dudley ha spiegato di aver guidato la Fed di New York all’acquisto di titoli del Tesoro USA a lungo termine (il debito pubblico statunitense) e di titoli garantiti da ipoteca (gli stessi acquisti che hanno contribuito a creare la precedente bolla immobiliare), per la somma di 85 miliardi di dollari “ogni mese“. Notando che gli Stati Uniti iniziavano il percorso di austerità nazionale – “di consolidamento fiscale” – e dovevano continuare più a fondo, c’era “un braccio di ferro” tra l’avere una buona economia e avere austerità, che è un modo fine per dire che le misure di austerità distruggeranno l’economia (cosa che gli europei già conoscono molto bene).
Così, come ha spiegato Dudley, con immensi profitti aziendali e bancari, una bolla speculativa, e una pilotata austerità economica che sopraggiunge in picchiata “il livello di incertezza, riguardo le prospettive a breve termine negli Stati Uniti, resta molto elevata.” Ma gli Stati Uniti non sono orientati “ad un percorso di crescita” basato su “investimenti d’impresa” e “commercio“, poichè si sono invece concentrati solo su consumi basati sul debito.
In Europa, tuttavia, la prospettiva era “meno brillante.” Ma ancora una volta, vi erano “buone notizie“, dal momento che i “paesi periferici” come Grecia, Spagna, Italia, Portogallo, Irlanda, e altri, stavano imponendo con successo dure misure di austerità, nonostante l’opposizione della popolazione che ne veniva impoverita. Questi, Dudley li chiama, “sforzi notevoli per ridurre i loro disavanzi strutturali di bilancio.” C’è stato anche un progresso nel miglioramento della loro “competitività internazionale“, come a dire che si aprono allo sfruttamento e al saccheggio, sebbene ci fosse ancora “l’occasione per ulteriori riforme strutturali nel mercato del lavoro e dei prodotti.“ Anche se, naturalmente, questo non dovrebbe essere fatto “solo in periferia“, quel tipo di “opportunità” esiste ovunque, per rendere efficiente lo sfruttamento, e, quindi, per maggiori profitti: “per aumentare la produttività e rafforzare le prospettive di crescita a lungo termine.“
Purtroppo, ha osservato Dudley, c’erano anche “cattive notizie” nell’UE, dato che l’economia era “ancora in una fase di recessione” – o cosa che potrebbe essere più accuratamente descritta come una profonda depressione dei cosiddetti paesi “periferici” – dove diveniva sempre più difficile imporre misure di austerità e impoverire le popolazioni: “il sostegno politico per ulteriori giri di vite sul bilancio è nettamente diminuito“. Senza “crescita” poi – che significa senza profitti di aziende e banche – “il sostegno politico per un continuo aggiustamento fiscale e strutturale potrebbe ulteriormente erodersi.” L’Europa inoltre aveva la necessità di perseguire “una maggiore integrazione” a livello di governance, e lo sviluppo di una “unione bancaria pan-europea con la BCE [Banca Centrale Europea] come sorvegliante principale” era un “importante e cruciale prossimo passo”.
Questo ovviamente richiederà a ciascun paese dell’Unione Europea “la rinuncia a una piccola porzione di sovranità sulla supervisione bancaria” e la sua consegna alla BCE, che è irresponsabile e rimane una forza che spinge verso austerità e programmi di aggiustamento. Dudley si è riferito a questa con il concetto “una moneta, un mercato“.
Olli Rehn, vicepresidente della Commissione Europea e Commissario per gli Affari Economici e Monetari – motore trainante principale dell’austerità e dei programmi di aggiustamento – ha fatto il discorso di apertura alla conferenza della Federal Reserve di New York. Ha iniziato col salutare positivamente l’appena annunciato Parternariato d’Investimento e Commercio Transatlantico, spiegando che si deve lavorare sodo per renderlo “una realtà“. L’Europa, tuttavia, sta operando “una riduzione del debito“, – vale a dire che il continente viene schiacciato dal peso di un grave debito i cui creditori domandano ‘austerità’ e ‘aggiustamento’ in aggiunta ai salvataggi – e questo “processo di riduzione del debito sta prendendo tempo, e abbiamo bisogno di trovare nuove fonti di crescita per alleviare l’onere dell’aggiustamento.” In questo senso, ha spiegato Rehn, “l’apertura di nuove opportunità commerciali a livello mondiale è così importante“. Mentre molti paesi dell’Unione continuavano con dure misure di austerità, “riforme strutturali“, – che facilitano lo sfruttamento del lavoro e delle risorse – “esse sono la chiave per accrescere il potenziale di crescita dell’economia europea“.
Ha concluso il suo discorso, affermando: “dobbiamo mantenere la rotta delle riforme. Dobbiamo pronunciarci in termini di libero scambio, di riforma del settore finanziario, di riforme strutturali che aumentino il potenziale di crescita, e il consolidamento costante delle finanze pubbliche. Dobbiamo fare così per creare le basi per una crescita sostenibile e la creazione di occupazione. Di fronte a queste sfide, siamo di fatto partner su entrambe le sponde dell’Atlantico.“
Un appello per la Resistenza Transatlantica alla Tirannia Aziendale
L’Europa mangia sé stessa con l’austerità, cacciando la sua popolazione nella povertà e contemporaneamente intraprendendo “riforme strutturali” volte a facilitare lo sfruttamento senza ostacoli delle risorse, dei mercati e del lavoro da parte delle imprese transnazionali. Anche gli Stati Uniti stanno attuando misure di austerità, sebbene scegliendo, invece, di creare fallaci ‘drammi del debito‘ cosa che coinvolge una pomposa parata di parole senza senso – ‘dirupo fiscale‘ [fiscal cliff] e ‘sequestro‘ – allo scopo di evitare la palese promozione dell’austerità, che potrebbe incoraggiare la gente a pensare correttamente alla Grecia come esempio.
I cosiddetti accordi di “libero scambio” funzionano come trattati di austerità transnazionale e di ‘riforme strutturali‘: concedono alle corporation accesso illimitato ai mercati, li proteggono dalla concorrenza, li sovvenzionano pesantemente, privatizzano tutto e di più, deregolamentano il più possibile, distruggono l’ambiente, e facilitano il saccheggio senza ostacoli delle risorse e lo sfruttamento del lavoro.
Non commettere errori: il Parternariato d’Investimento e Commercio Transatlantico (TTIP) è poco più di un colpo di stato aziendale transatlantico. Le corporation hanno creato la domanda per l’accordo, hanno incitato e promosso l’agenda con le élite politiche, e dirigono l’intero processo, assicurando che i loro interessi siano soddisfatti.
Sembrerebbe, quindi, che sia il momento per gli attivisti, gli intellettuali, e le comunità e le organizzazioni di stendere le braccia attraverso l’Atlantico, nel tentativo di creare una resistenza organizzata alla tirannia aziendale transatlantica, alla fusione e alla colonizzazione.
Le corporation stanno intraprendendo spinte senza precedenti per l’accumulazione di profitto e di potere, per la promozione di programmi e progetti che ri-modellano il mondo a loro immagine, trattando i governi come giocattoli, l’ambiente come un nemico, e impoverendo le popolazioni di tutto il mondo. Siamo testimoni di un progetto transnazionale di ingegneria sociale, guidato da grandi aziende, volto ad agevolare una concentrazione economica, finanziaria, politica e sociale nelle loro mani.
Benvenuti nell’era della Colonizzazione e della Fusione Aziendale Cosmopolitica.
Volete accettare questa come una cosa legittima? Volete accettare un tale accordo? Chi l’ha stipulato? Voi l’avete fatto? Siete stati consultati? Ne avete mai sentito parlare prima?
La vera domanda è: staremo seduti passivamente mentre veniamo guidati alla Estinzione Inc., o resisteremo per davvero, ci organizzeremo e faremo qualcosa al riguardo?
Appendice 1: La leadership del Consiglio Atlantico
Tra le leadership nel consiglio di amministrazione del Consiglio Atlantico c’è Brent Scowcroft, l’ex consigliere per la sicurezza nazionale (per i presidenti Ford e Bush Sr.), Richard Armitage, James E. Cartwright, Wesley Clark, Paula Dobriansky, Christopher Dodd, Stephen Hadley, Michael Hayden, James L. Jones, Henry Kissinger, Thomas Pickering, Anne-Marie Slaughter, James Steinberg, John C. Whitehead, e con un gruppo di consiglieri onorari tra cui: Madeleine Albright, James Baker, Harold Brown, Frank Carlucci, Robert Gates, Michael Mullen, William Perry, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, James Schlesinger, George Shultz, e John Warner, tra gli altri.
A capo del Business and Economics Advisors Group al Consiglio Atlantico, ci sono dirigenti delle seguenti aziende e istituzioni: Deutsche Bank, Institute of International Finance, Center for Global Development, AIG, BNP-Paribas, Rock Creek Global Advisors, la Stern Gruppo, Harvard, e il Peterson Institute for International Economics. L’Advisory Board Internazional del Consiglio Atlantico comprende Josef Ackermann (Presidente di Zurich Insurance), Shaukat Aziz (ex primo ministro del Pakistan), Jose Maria Aznar (ex primo ministro della Spagna), Zbigniew Brzezinski (ex consiglire per la Sicurezza Nazionale Statunitense), e alti dirigenti della Occidental Petroleum, SAIC, Coca-Cola Company, PwC, News Corporation, Royal Bank of Canada, BAE Systems, del Gruppo Blackstone, Thomson Reuters, Lockheed Martin, Bertelsmann, Novartis, e Investor AB, tra gli altri.
Appendice 2: Leadership del Marshall Fund tedesco
Il consiglio di amministrazione della GMF include una serie di dirigenti aziendali e commentatori di notizie, e i loro fondi provengono anche da una consorteria di governi, grandi fondazioni, e multinazionali tra cui: Bank of America Foundation, BP, Daimler, Eli Lilly & Company, General Dynamics, IBM, la NATO, il Rockefeller Brothers Fund, e USAID, tra molti altri.
Appendice 3: Direzione del Business Roundtable
Gli altri membri del comitato esecutivo sono gli amministratori delegati di Honeywell, Dow Chemical, Procter & Gamble, MasterCard, Xerox, American Express, Eaton, JPMorgan Chase, Wal-Mart, General Electric, Caesars Entertainment, Caterpillar, McGraw-Hill, State Farm Insurance , AT & T, Frontier Communications, e ExxonMobil.
Appendice 4: La leadership del ERT
A partire dal 2013, i membri della ERT includevano gli amministratori delegati di Ericsson, Siemens, Telecom Italia, la BASF, la Nestlé, Repsol, ThyssenKrupp, TOTALE, Rio Tinto, Fiat, Nokia, EADS, ABB, Lafarge, GDF SUEZ, BMW, Eni, BP , Royal Dutch Shell e Investor AB, tra molti altri.
Appendice 5: Corporate Partner di BusinessEurope
BusinessEurope conta tra le sue “aziende partner” notevoli conglomerati multinazionali che compongono la Corporate Advisory e il Gruppo di sostegno che “godono di uno status importante all’interno di BusinessEurope”, tra cui: Accenture, Alcoa, BASF, Bayer, BMW, BP, Caterpillar, Diamler, DuPont , ExxonMobil, GDF Suez, GE, IBM, Microsoft, Pfizer, Shell, Siemens, Total, e Unilever, tra molti altri.
Appendice 6: Le aziende rappresentate in seno al consiglio della Camera di Commercio degli Stati Uniti
Il consiglio di amministrazione della Camera comprende dirigenti e rappresentanti delle seguenti istituzioni e aziende: Accenture, Allianz of America, AT & T, Pfizer, FedEx, The Charles Schwab Corporation, Xerox, Rolls-Royce Nord America, Dow Chemical, Alcoa, UPS , Caterpillar, New York Life Insurance Company, Deloitte, il Carlyle Group, 3M, Duke Energy, Siemens, Verizon, IBM, e Allstate Insurance, tra molti altri.
Appendice 7: Membri della Task Force
Altri membri della task force rappresentavano istituzioni come: Tufts University, la rivista Foreign Policy, Standard Chartered Bank, Comitato Consultivo per il Commercio e le Imprese per l’OCSE, Facebook, un ex ambasciatore UE degli Stati Uniti, un ex vicepresidente senior della Banca Mondiale, Deloitte Touche e Susan Schwab, un ex Rappresentante del Commercio Statunitense.
Appendice 8: Rappresentanti Aziendali nel PEC
Il PEC di Obama comprende gli amministratori delegati e dirigenti di Boeing, Xerox, Dow Chemical, UPS, Walt Disney Company, Warburg Pincus, Caesars Entertainment, Ford, Verizon, JPMorgan Chase, Ernst & Young, e Archer Daniels Midland, tra gli altri.
Appendice 9: I partecipanti a New York Fed Conference
Il programma della manifestazione prevedeva il discorso di apertura del presidente della Federal Reserve di New York, William Dudley, e includeva anche l’ambasciatore dell’UE negli Stati Uniti, Joao Vale de Almdeida; il direttore generale della Commissione Europea per gli Affari economici e finanziari, Marco Buti, e individui della Columbia University, la Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, il MIT, la Brookings Institution, l’Università di Cambridge, il think tank europeo Bruegel, Morgan Stanley, la European Banking Authority, l’ex presidente della Federal Reserve Paul Volcker che era presidente della tavola rotonda su “Dimensioni Transatlantiche della riforma finanziaria“, e Olli Rehn, vicepresidente della Commissione Europea e Commissario per gli Affari Economici e Monetari (una figura centrale della gerarchia dell’austerità’) come oratore ‘chiave’.
Andrew Gavin Marshall, 26 anni, è un ricercatore indipendente e scrittore con sede a Montreal, Canada. Egli è Project Manager del The People’s Book Project, capo della divisione geopolitica dell’Istituto Hampton, direttore di ricerca per Occupy.com s ‘Global Power Project e tiene una rassegna settimanale in podcast su BoilingFrogsPost.
Large Corporations Seek U.S.–European ‘Free Trade Agreement’ to Further Global Dominance
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is the latest plan of conglomerates to strengthen their grip over the planet.
By: Andrew Gavin Marshall
Originally posted at: AlterNet
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is the latest corporate-driven agenda in what is commonly called a “free trade agreement,” but which really amounts to ‘cosmopolitical corporate consolidation’: large corporations dictating and directing the policies of states – both nationally and internationally – into constructing structures which facilitate regional and global consolidation of financial, economic, and political power into the hands of relatively few large corporations.
Such agreements have little to do with actual ‘trade,’ and everything to do with expanding the rights and powers of large corporations. Corporations have become powerful economic and political entities – competing in size and wealth with the world’s largest national economies – and thus have taken on a distinctly ‘cosmopolitical’ nature. Acting through industry associations, lobby groups, think tanks and foundations, cosmopolitical corporations are engineering large projects aimed at transnational economic and political consolidation of power… into their hands. With the construction of “a European-American free-trade zone” as “an ambitious project,” we are witnessing the advancement of a new and unprecedented global project of transatlantic corporate colonization.
The Atlantic Fortress as “Grand Strategy”
In a 2006 article for Der Spiegel, Gabor Steingart suggested that, “to combat the rise of China and Asia,” the “role NATO played in an age of military threat could be played by a trans-Atlantic free-trade zone in today’s age of economic confrontation.” With the possible “addition of Canada,” the US and EU “could stem the dwindling of Western market power by joining forces… [which] would inevitably lead to a convergence of the two economic systems.” In a process that would likely take decades, “a mega-merger of markets” would send a “new message” to the East, to “serve as a fortress.”
During the worst of the initial financial and economic crisis in January of 2009, Henry Kissinger wrote an article for the New York Times in which he noted that America’s “prescription for a world financial order has generally been unchallenged,” though the crisis had changed this, as “disillusionment” became “widespread.” Nations now wanted to protect themselves from the global markets and thus, become more independent. Kissinger warned against this, proclaiming: “An international order will emerge if a system of compatible priorities comes into being. It will fragment disastrously if the various priorities cannot be reconciled… The alternative to a new international order is chaos.”
Kissinger noted that the economic world was “globalized,” yet the political world was not, and in the midst of “political crises around the world” accelerated by “instantaneous communication,” the political and economic systems had to become “harmonized in only one of two ways: by creating an international political regulatory system with the same reach as that of the economic world; or by shrinking the economic units to a size manageable by existing political structures, which is likely to lead to a new mercantilism, perhaps of regional units.” President Obama’s election victory was an “opportunity” in “shaping a new world order.” But that opportunity had to become “a policy” as manifested through “a grand strategy.” A central facet to that grand strategy would include the strengthening of the “Atlantic partnership,” which “will depend much more on common policies.”
Some four years later, former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski praised the “enormous promise” in the new transatlantic agreement, “It can shape a new balance between the Pacific and the Atlantic oceanic regions, while at the same time generating in the West a new vitality, more security and greater cohesion.” Not worth mentioning, apparently, was that this was all about “cohesion” of power interests. In the same speech where Brzezinski endorsed “greater cohesion” between the U.S. and the European Union, he criticized the EU for being “a Europe more of banks than of people, more of commercial convenience than an emotional commitment of the European peoples.”
It’s the type of “cohesion” that only bankers, corporations, and “grand strategists” like Kissinger and Brzezinski could like. So naturally, such an agreement has a great deal of support, encouragement, and organized planning. While the idea of ‘transatlantic integration’ has long been on the lips and in the documents of grand strategists and corporate-financed think tanks, it kept its distance from formal policy. In 2007, the EU-US summit meeting of leaders – US President Bush, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso – established the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) to promote economic cooperation between the two regions.
The economic crisis itself delayed any progress from taking place, as countries focused on rescuing their banks and imposing austerity measures in order to punish their populations into poverty, privatize society, and create the conditions ripe for unhindered plundering of resources and exploitation of labour. This is called “structural reform.” But structural reforms only show “success” when corporations begin profiting from them. That’s called an “economic recovery.” There is an entire language to the European debt crisis – and to political economy in general – which, when translated, helps to elucidate the rationality of policy choices.
Political Language: Words or Weapons?
As George Orwell once wrote: “Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
In a world undergoing radical transformations in political, economic, and social structures and relations – from the Arab Spring, the global economic crisis, food crisis and land grabs, to the global spread of protest movements – political language becomes weaponized. Hiding behind seemingly meaningless words, obscured by over-used rhetoric and abstract, undefined terms and concepts, political and economic language function by preventing the population from understanding the true meaning and implications of the policies pursued.
Take, for example, the word ‘austerity.’ It has been used endlessly – in rhetoric and policies – as the ‘solution’ to the economic, financial, and debt crises, but it’s meaning is obscured as an abstract notion of cutting public spending in order to decrease the debt, and thus, increase investor confidence in the country. This is supposed to lead to an economic “recovery.” The problem is that it doesn’t: it leads to a very deep depression. Yet, the policies continue to be promoted and pursued.
What can one deduct from this? If the rhetoric promotes specific policies for a desired effect, and the desired effect is never met, yet the rhetoric and policies continue to be promoted, we can assume one of two things: either, as Einstein defined it, the world’s decision-makers are all insane (“doing the same thing over again, expecting different results”); or, they are simply speaking a different language, and we lack an understanding of it. In such circumstances, it is helpful to attempt translating this language.
The policies of ‘austerity’ include firing public sector workers, cutting spending on health care, education, welfare, social services, pensions, increasing the retirement age, increasing taxes and decreasing wages. The results, inevitably, is impoverishment of the general population, increased unemployment, the elimination of health and social services when needed most, increased cost of living and decreased standards of living. Thus, we can loosely translate ‘austerity’ as impoverishment, since that is what the actual effects of the policies have.
In March 2010, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) suggested Europe undertake a program of austerity lasting for no less than six years from 2011 to 2017, which the Financial Times referred to as “highly sensible.” In April of 2010, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) – the central bank to the world’s central banks – called for European nations to begin implementing austerity measures. In June of 2010, the G20 finance ministers agreed: it was time to enter the age of austerity! German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the European midwife of austerity, set an example for the EU by imposing austerity measures at home in Germany. The G20 leaders met and agreed that the time for stimulus had come to an end, and the time for austerity poverty was at hand. This was of course endorsed by the unelected technocratic president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso.
The unelected president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, also agreed, explaining in his unrelenting economic wisdom that austerity “has no real effect on economic growth.” Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank (ECB), also hopped on the austerity train, writing in the Financial Times that, “now is the time to restore fiscal sustainability.” Jaime Caruana, General Manager of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) stated in June of 2011 that the need for austerity was “more urgent” than ever, while BIS chairman, Christian Noyer, also the governor of the Bank of France (and board member of the ECB), stated that apart from austerity, “there’s no solution possible” for Greece.
But of course, austerity is not complete without its sister-program of ‘structural reform’ (or ‘structural adjustment’), which includes policies aimed at privatizing all state-owned assets, resources, and services, the dismantling of labour and environmental protections and regulations, the opening of new ‘markets,’ and enormous subsidies and protections for multinational banks and corporations.
Why is this done? To promote investment, competition, and growth. Privatizing everything in sight – including airports, land, water management, roads and resources – encourages investment because corporations can come in and purchase national assets for pennies on the dollars. Indeed, most privatization programs include enormous subsidies and protections for corporations in order to provide an incentive for them to invest. And competition is best promoted by allowing just a handful of transnational conglomerates to cheaply acquire a nation’s wealth and resources, and then by promoting what’s called “labour flexibility.” These ‘reforms’ mean that workers’ rights are to be dismantled, cutting wages, benefits, protections, the ability to unionize and make demands, to make the labour force flexible to the demand of big business, who demand little more than a cheap labour force (as well as absolute control of the global economy). Thus, across markets – Europe for the EU, North America for NAFTA – and indeed, across the world, labour forces are put into competition with one another in a race to the bottom of who can be the best, and therefore, cheapest labour available – in order to attract investment and jobs.
Thus, the effect of ‘structural reforms’ is to facilitate the exploitation of resources and people and to consolidate economic and political power into corporate hands. Austerity thus serves the purpose of impoverishing the population to make them ready and willing to accept the structural reforms (or “adjustment”) which adjust them to a situation of social devastation by making them into an employable – and cheap – labour force. Unhindered corporate plundering is facilitated by dismantling all “barriers” to investment, and thus, control of the entire economy. Austerity and structural reform create the conditions for investment, competition, and growth. Investment essentially means subsidized acquisition/control over the economy by corporations, competition implies protection for corporate interests, and growth means that corporations are making massive profits. The effect of all these policies and programs is to consolidate regional and global economic and political power into the hands of cosmopolitical corporations.
Austerity is impoverishment for populations.
Structural reform is exploitation of people/resources, and consolidation of political power in corporate hands.
Investment is corporate control of the economy.
Competition is protectionism for corporations.
Growth is corporate profits.
Mario Draghi is the president of the European Central Bank (ECB) – one of the three institutions of the ‘Troika’ with the European Commission and IMF – imposing austerity and structural reform measures across Europe in return for bailing out bankers. In February of 2012, he gave an interview with the Wall Street Journalin which he explained that, “there was no alternative to fiscal consolidation,” meaning austerity, and that Europe’s social contract was “obsolete” and the social model was “already gone.” However, Draghi explained, it was now necessary to promote “growth,” adding, “and that’s why structural reforms are so important.”
In addition to austerity and structural reforms, new markets are required, and thus, “free trade” must be promoted. This is all part of the road to ‘recovery.’ Free trade also has a technical definition: its policies dismantle environmental, labour, and other social protections, increase privatization, deregulation, and include large subsidies and protections for corporations. And today’s ‘free trade’ agreements grant unprecedented rights to corporations to sue governments directly for having laws or regulations which corporations view as “barriers to investment.” Free trade thus promotes competition between populations – in a race to the bottom – and protection for the powerful, for corporations and banks. What we call free trade agreements essentially function as a process of corporate colonialism: the regional and global consolidation of financial, economic, political and social power into relatively few corporate hands.
With the onset of the global economic crisis in 2008, countries turned to bailouts to rescue the large banks that destroyed their economies. In doing this, they accumulated large debts, handing the bill to the populations. The people pay for the debts through austerity, and thus, poverty, which in turn necessitates structural reform, and thus, exploitation. Free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), being negotiated between 12 Pacific-rim countries, facilitate transnational corporate colonialism.
A new corporate world is emerging, and the transatlantic partnership is a centerpiece in constructing this ‘new world order.’ While the crisis had initially stalled the process, it was revived at the EU-US summit meeting in November of 2011, when political leaders ordered the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) to create a High-Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth, led by U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, “tasked to identify policies and measures to increase U.S.-E.U. trade and investment to support mutually beneficial job creation, economic growth, and international competitiveness,” by working closely with both public and private sector/corporate groups.
The Transatlantic Corporate Complex
The impetus for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership was provided by a plethora of corporate-dominated think tanks and big business organizations, including the Atlantic Council, Brookings Institution, the German Marshall Fund, BusinessEurope, the Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the European Round Table of Industrialists, among several others. These institutions collectively form a transatlantic corporate complex, uniting elites from major corporations, banks, think tanks, foundations, academia and policy circles in order to establish consensus on elite agendas and to provide the strategies and objectives to be implemented.
The Atlantic Council was founded in 1961 by former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson and several other prominent citizens in the United States in order to help consolidate support for the ‘Atlantic Alliance.’ The Atlantic Council’s first published volume, Building the American-European Market: Planning for the 1970s, was published in 1967, and the Council continued to publish policy papers, books, monographs and other reports throughout the 1970s.
The Atlantic Council’s leadership and direction is provided by the members of its boards, consisting of the foreign policy elite of the United States as well as major cosmopolitical corporations, including the likes of Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Madeleine Albright along with executives from corporations such as Deutsche Bank, BAE, and Lockheed Martin. [For a look at some of the other names of directors and advisors, see Appendix 1]
The Atlantic Council thus represents the interests of trans-Atlantic corporate and financial interests and the foreign policy elite within the United States. Thus, what issues and agendas they promote tend to wield significant influence behind them, with extensive access to policy-makers and processes. Back in 2004, the Atlantic Council published a report, The Transatlantic Economy in 2020: A Partnership for the Future? in which they recommended increasing integration between the two economies and regions, the joint management of the world economy, and more “transgovernmental cooperation.”
The German Marshall Fund of the United States was founded in 1972 with a donation from the German government to Harvard University, where 25-years prior U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall announced the Marshall Plan for Europe’s economic recovery after World War II. The German Marshall Fund (GMF) “is dedicated to the promotion of greater understanding and common action between Europe and the United States,” and includes a number of corporate executives, news commentators and other elites on its leadership boards [See Appendix 2].
The Business Roundtable (BRT) is an organization of CEOs from major U.S. corporations “with more than $7.3 trillion in annual revenues,” according to its website. The BRT was founded in 1972 “on the belief that… businesses should play an active and effective role in the formation of public policy.” The Chairman of the Executive Committee of the BRT is W. James McNerney, the president and CEO of Boeing. The Executive Committee includes the CEOs of a number of other major cosmopolitical corporations [see Appendix 3].
The European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT), founded in 1983, is an organization of several dozens CEOs of major European corporations. As Bastiaan van Apeldoorn wrote in the journal New Political Economy(Vol. 5, No. 2, 2000), the ERT “developed into an elite platform for an emergent European transnational capitalist class from which it can formulate a common strategy and – on the basis of that strategy – seek to shape European socioeconomic governance through its privileged access to the European institutions.” Wisse Dekker, former Chairman of the ERT, once stated: “I would consider the Round Table to be more than a lobby group as it helps to shape policies. The Round Table’s relationship with Brussels [the EU] is one of strong co-operation. It is a dialogue which often begins at a very early stage in the development of policies and directives.”
The ERT was a central institution in the re-launching of European integration from the 1980s onward, and as former European Commissioner (and former ERT member) Peter Sutherland stated, “one can argue that the whole completion of the internal market project was initiated not by governments but by the Round Table, and by members of it… And I think it played a fairly consistent role subsequently in dialoguing with the Commission on practical steps to implement market liberalization.” Sutherland also explained that the ERT and its members “have to be at the highest levels of companies and virtually all of them have unimpeded access to government leaders because of the position of their companies… So, by definition, each member of the ERT has access at the highest level to government.” [For a list of other corporations represented on the board of the ERT, see Appendix 4]
BusinessEurope is Europe’s main business group, representing 41 business federations in 35 countries with its “main task” – according to its website – being “to ensure that companies’ interests are represented and defended vis-à-vis the European institutions with the principal aim of preserving and strengthening corporate competitiveness.” [For a look at some of the companies that made up the Corporate Advisory and Support Group, see Appendix 5]
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1912 as an umbrella organization representing the voice of business throughout the United States. According to its website, the Chamber “works with more than 1,500 volunteers from member corporations, organizations, and the academic community who serve on committees, subcommittees, task forces, and councils to develop and implement policy on major issues affecting business.” Their “overarching mission” is “to strengthen the competitiveness of the U.S. economy.” [For a look at some of the companies represented on the board of directors of the Chamber, see Appendix 6]
The Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) was formed in 1995 by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the European Commission in an effort to “serve as the official dialogue between American and European business leaders and U.S. cabinet secretaries and EU commissioners,” composed of CEOs of U.S. and European transnational corporations.
Transatlantic Corporate Colonialism in Action: Shaping the Agenda
As with any “free trade” agreement (read: cosmopolitical corporate consolidation agreement), corporations must be consulted throughout the entire process to allow them to shape the agenda and encourage specific policies, to ensure that their interests are met. Think tanks employ academics and foreign policy elites to undertake studies and produce reports which advocate policies beneficial to western political and economic domination of the world. Big business groups organize the corporate community around agendas and provide a direct “voice” to the corporate world. The boards of think tanks are dominated by political and corporate elites, and once think tanks begin to establish consensus on agendas, academics and other officials from the organizations write articles or are interviewed frequently in the media (which is owned by the same corporations), to ensure that what little is said in public about such agreements is indeed, positive and encouraging.
When the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) created the High-Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth in November of 2011, it announced its intent to ‘consult’ with private sector organizations on the process of transatlantic integration.
The Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) was one of the first major corporate organizations to support the announcement of the High-Level Working Group. In January of 2012, the TABD met with high level EU and US officials at the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland. They released a report, Vision for the Future of EU-US Economic Relations, which established a consensus “to press for urgent action on an visionary and ambitious agenda,” as well as for the creation of a “CEO Task Force” which would “provide direct input and support the High Level Working Group.”
The meeting was attended not only by the 21 members of the executive board of the TABD (all corporate executives), but officials representing the Atlantic Council, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), the US Chamber of Commerce, World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht, European Commissioner for Competition, Joaquin Almunia; Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, and Michael Froman, Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs.
That same month, the TABD and the Business Roundtable (BRT) released a joint statement outlining their “vision” of a Transatlantic Partnership (TAP) – modeled along similar lines as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – which would require a further “opening” of the trans-Atlantic market, being able to “compete” with other major economies (such as China), and “deepening the multilateral commitment to open markets.” As major CEOs and executives, the statement wrote, “we need nothing less” than a “strategic vision and structure [which] will need to serve as a global template.”
In February of 2012, the German Marshall Fund released a report from the Transatlantic Task Force on Trade and Investment entitled, A New Era for Transatlantic Trade Leadership. The task force was co-chaired by Ewa Bjorling, the Swedish Minister for Trade, and Jim Kolbe, a former U.S. Congressman and Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the GMF. [For other members of the Task Force, see Appendix 7] The Task Force was launched as a cooperative effort between the German Marshall Fund and the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE) in May of 2011.
The report called for the EU and US to pursue “deeper transatlantic economic integration” as “essential for recovery from the current economic crisis.” The report called for “high-level commitment from political leaders on both sides of the Atlantic” and “it will require active involvement of private sector stakeholders,” or in other words, corporations.
In March of 2012, BusinessEurope released a report to contribute to the EU-US High Level Working Group entitled, Jobs and Growth: Through a Transatlantic Economic and Trade Partnership, in which it was recommended to eliminate tariffs and barriers, to trade in services, ensure access and protection for investments, “opening markets,” to establish “global standards” for intellectual property rights, and to build on the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) for regulatory cooperation.
That same month, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to Congress in which the U.S. Chamber, BusinessEurope, American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union, the Business Roundtable, European-American Business Council, the Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue, and several other big business associations called upon political leaders “to move swiftly to deepen the transatlantic economic and commercial relationship through ambitious trade, investment, and regulatory policy initiatives.” Thus, in the midst of an economic and social crisis created by the very corporations and banks these associations represent, and with the emergence of new economic giants like China and India, “we believe now is the time to create a barrier-free transatlantic market to drive the job creation and growth” that Europe and America “urgently need.”
The High Level Working Group – chaired by USTR Ron Kirk and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht – should have a “far-reaching” agenda, the statement wrote, which would cover: “tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade in goods and services, investment, regulatory cooperation, intellectual property protection and innovation, public procurement, cross-border data flows, and business mobility.” The statement noted that they had received “support” from Angela Merkel, David Cameron, and then-President of France Nicolas Sarkozy, as well as from the European Council (presided over by Herman van Rompuy). From the American side, support was given by Hillary Clinton.
In May of 2012, the Business Roundtable, European Round Table of Industrialists and the Trans Atlantic Business Dialogue sent a joint letter to President Obama, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Merkel, Italian PM Mario Monti, UK prime minister David Cameron, European Commission president José Manuel Barroso, European Council president Herman Van Rompuy, EU Trade Commissioner De Gucht and USTR Ron Kirk. The letter noted that the three organizations of corporate executives from across the Atlantic “have come together to lay out a strategic vision for a new Transatlantic Partnership (TAP),” and they together produced the report, Forging a Transatlantic Partnership for the 21st Century, to do just that. The report called for US and EU officials to launch “ambitious and comprehensive transatlantic trade, investment and regulatory negotiations by the end of this year.”
That same month, just to press the message, the presidents of the US Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, and the National Association of Manufacturers sent a joint letter to Obama urging him to launch negotiations to “trail blaze a true 21st century trade, investment, and regulatory cooperation initiative,” which apart from further integrating the economies, would also “have important benefits for defense and military cooperation as well.”
In June of 2012, Obama’s Export Council sent him a letter applauding the president for establishing the High Level Working Group the previous year, but urged him to “take the critical next step, in consultation with the private sector, to move forward quickly to define and launch a comprehensive and ambitious Transatlantic Partnership (TAP) negotiation.” They recommended the usual protections for intellectual property rights, liberalization of services, “elimination of industrial and agricultural goods tariffs,” among many things. The letter was signed by Export Council chairman Jim McNerney, the president and CEO of the Boeing Company.
The U.S. President’s Export Council (PEC) “is the principal national advisory committee on international trade,” founded in 1973, consisting of 28 private sector members, as well as Congress members and cabinet secretaries. The PEC reports to the president through the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. [For a list of corporations represented by the PEC, see Appendix 8]
Not wasting any time, the High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth released their interim report to their leaders in June of 2012 from the co-chairs, De Gucht and Kirk. Among other things, they recommended the “elimination” of “barriers to trade” in goods, services, and investment. They recommended a “comprehensive agreement” which “could promote a forward-looking agenda for multilateral trade liberalization.” The “aim” of the negotiations, they wrote, would be to “bind” the EU and US “at the highest level of liberalization” and “achieve new market access.” They were taking the recommendations from corporate groups seriously, and pushing those words into policies.
Paula Dobriansky, a prominent academic at the Atlantic Institute, co-authored an article for the Wall Street Journal in which she called for “a trans-Atlantic free-trade agreement” between the EU and US in order to “strengthen American and European leadership for decades to come.” Frances Burwell, Atlantic Council vice president and director of the Program on Transatlantic Relations published an article for US News & World Report in November of 2012 in which she wrote that “creating a single transatlantic market… makes a great deal of sense.”
In November of 2012, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a speech to the Brookings Institution entitled, U.S. and Europe: A Revitalized Global Partnership, in which she noted: “we have to realize the untapped potential of the transatlantic market… is as much a strategic imperative as an economic one.” Informing the audience that the Obama administration was “discussing possible negotiations” with the EU on such an agreement, Clinton said it “would shore up our global competitiveness for the next century.”
Also in November, Atlantic Council board member James L. Jones (former U.S. National Security Advisor to Barack Obama) and Thomas J. Donohue (President and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce) co-authored an article for Investor’s Business Dailyin which they suggested that the simultaneous economic crises in Europe and the U.S. – which they defined as “flagging competitiveness, unsustainable entitlement spending, and the ticking time bomb of oversize sovereign debt” – were a threat to the future of NATO’s ability to “tackle urgent security threats” and that this poses “the greatest challenge to the future of the trans-Atlantic community since the Cold War.”
Sustainable growth, they wrote, “only comes from one place – the private sector.” Governments have a “responsibility… to create conditions in which the private sector can drive economic expansion, investment and job creation.” An “ambitious trans-Atlantic economic and trade pact” would certainly fit this prescription of increasing “growth” and “competitiveness.” It was time, they wrote, “to move decisively to the next level of trans-Atlantic economic integration.”
Within days of Obama winning his re-election, European leaders such as David Cameron and Angela Merkel urged him to move forward with the agreement, and the New York Times even noted that “corporations and business groups on both sides of the Atlantic are also pushing hard for a pact.” Former deputy U.S. trade representative and current vice president at General Electric, Karan Bhatia, noted: “This could be the biggest, most valuable free-trade agreement by far, even if it produces only a marginal increase in trade.”
The Financial Times said that a “transatlantic partnership” would yield “geostrategic benefits,” since the EU and US account for half the world’s economy, and thus, they will “possess the leverage to set the global standards that others, including China, are likely to follow.” Since “both the EU and US are desperate for new growth,” wrote Edward Luce, the “only realistic route is via higher productivity,” implying cheaper costs and larger profits for corporations. It would be “an ambitious agenda for transatlantic market integration” including harmonizing regulations and product standards. In other words, wrote Luce: “if a drug were approved by the European Medicines Agency, the Food and Drug Administration would accept it too.” The same would apply for “financial regulation” (or lack thereof), as well as agricultural (GMO) standards, a key issue, since the EU has a ban on such products. The EU had recently shown its enthusiasm for change when it “dropped its objections to imports of US meat from abattoirs [slaughterhouses] decontaminated with lactic acid.” In the EU, “the climate of austerity ought to work in their favour” for reducing protections to do with agriculture.
In January of 2013, the Brookings Institution sent a ‘memorandum to the president’ to Barack Obama entitled, Free Trade Game Changer, in which the authors recommended pursuing both the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) as “the most realistic way to reclaim U.S. economic leadership.” The agreements have “deep strategic implications” since they would provide the US with a leading “role in setting the global rules of the road.” While the TPP “would help define the standard for economic integration in Asia,” the TAFTA “would give American and European businesses an edge in setting industrial standards for tomorrow’s global economy.” While “the erosion of support for FTAs [free trade agreements] in Congress and among the public is likely to hamper this effort,” the memo reminded Obama that public opinion must be disregarded in the corporate interest: “the time has come to launch new initiatives in these spheres.”
In early 2013, the Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue merged with the European-American Business Council to become the Transatlantic Business Council (TBC), a group consisting of corporate executives who hold “semi-annual meetings with U.S. Cabinet Secretaries and European Commissioners (in Davos and elsewhere),” acting as the “business advisor to the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC).” It represents some 70 major corporations, including: AIG, AT&T, BASF, BP, Deutsche Bank, EADS, ENI, Ford, GE, IBM, Intel, Merck, Pfizer, Siemens, TOTAL, Verizon, and Xerox, among others.
In January of 2013, the Transatlantic Business Council (TBC) met in Davos, Switzerland during the annual World Economic Forum, holding a meeting with high level officials in the U.S. and E.U. Michael Froman, President Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs, spoke at the TBC meeting, declaring that “the transatlantic economy is to become the global benchmark for standards in a globalized world.” Froman and the leaders of the TBC “agreed that support from corporations operating on both sides of the Atlantic is crucial to advance transatlantic trade.”
Tim Bennett, the Director General of the TBC, stated that the structure of the TBC “allows for a combination of strong business message to policy makers as well as substantive input through working groups,” referring to high level meetings in Washington and Brussels. Other participants at the TBC meeting included the Secretary General of the OECD, Angel Gurria, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, European Commission Director-General for Trade, Jean-Luc Demarty, European Commission for Trade official, Marc Vanheukelen, and a former Citigroup executive.
On the Transnational Business Council (TBC)’s website, they promote specific think tanks as providing “resources”: the Atlantic Council, Bertelsmann Foundation, Brookings Institution, Center for Transatlantic Relations, Chatham House, the German Marshall Fund, and the Peterson Institute for International Relations.
The Final Report: Time to Do What the Corporations Demand!
On February 11, 2013, the U.S.-EU High Level Working Group (HLWG) on Jobs and Growth released their final report in which they predictably recommended harmonizing standards and regulations in “a comprehensive trade and investment agreement.” The report recommended “a further deepening of economic integration… to achieve a market access package that goes beyond what the United States and the EU have achieve in previous agreements.” The report further recommended increasing “government procurement,” a euphemism for privatization and state subsidies for corporations, noting: “the goal of negotiations should be to enhance business opportunities through substantially improved access to government procurement opportunities at all levels of government.”
Two days following the publication of this report, on 13 February 2013, a joint statement was issued by Barack Obama, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, stating: “We, the Leaders of the United States and the European Union, are pleased to announce that… the United States and the European Union will each initiate the internal procedures necessary to launch negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.”
With the announcement of the TTIP in February, then-U.S. Trade representative Ron Kirk stated that, “[f]or us, everything is on the table, across all sectors, including across the agricultural sector, whether it is GMOs or other issues.” He explained that “we should be ambitious and we should deal with all of these issues.” João Vale de Almeida, the European Union ambassador to the United States, wrote in an article that “an ambitious economic agreement between us would send a powerful message to the rest of the world about our leadership in shaping global economic governance in line with our values,” which is to say, corporate “values.”
The German media – and government officials – erupted in admiration of the potential for this “economic NATO” in creating “the world’s largest free trade zone.” One German publication noted that “a new economic alliance” between NATO powers was appropriate, since “the old industrialized nations fear they are falling behind the emerging economic power of China.” Another German publication noted that not only would a “trans-Atlantic free-trade zone” have major economic “benefits” and implications, “but it also makes clear that only an ever-closer West can succeed in decisively helping to determine global policy.”
The corporate world expressed immediate admiration for the announced negotiations, with the chairman and CEO of Caterpillar “commending” US and EU leaders and the High-Level Working Group “for promoting much needed economic growth and job creation.” The president of the Business Roundtable (BRT), John Engler, noted that the Roundtable itself “was an early advocate” for such an agreement, and that “negotiations should launch as soon as possible.”
C. Boyden Gray, a member of the Atlantic Council’s board of directors and former U.S. ambassador to the European Union, published a report for the Atlantic Council in February of 2013 entitled, An Economic NATO: A New Alliance for a New Global Order. Gray warned that unless the Atlantic powers “rise to the challenge… of the post-recession era together… they risk ceding to rising powers their economic and political influence.” This must not be simply a “free trade agreement,” but rather, the US and EU “must put economic cooperation on the same robust footing as military security… we need to create an ‘economic NATO’.”
The Wall Street Journal noted that the announcement “represents a nod to business interests by Mr. Obama,” noting that it was less about ‘trade’ and more about establishing global standards. European Commission president Barroso expressed as much when he said, “this is going to be the biggest free-trade agreement ever done, [and] it will certainly have an impact on global standards.” Obama’s international economic policy adviser Michael Froman noted that the agreement would “further integrate our economies and help set global rules.” EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht added: “What we want to do is make an internal market between the US and EU.”
The Financial Times noted that while it was “commonplace” to imagine that the future belonged to the emerging economies, “the old economic powers can still pack a punch.” The agreement “promises a prize whose political value is even greater than its considerable economic benefits.” Hence, we must understand these “free trade agreements” as, in actuality, cosmopolitical corporate consolidation agreements.
While U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Berlin in late February, he endorsed the agreement, suggesting that it “can lift the economy of Europe, strengthen our economy, create jobs for Americans, for Germans, for all Europeans and create one of the largest allied markets in the world.”
The German press warned that Internet activists, environmental, labour and consumer groups were “preparing to fight the treaty with all means at their disposal,” as they feared that “bad compromises will be made at the expense of consumers in secret negotiations between the European Commission and the Obama administration.” Enforcing equal standards for food products worries many in the EU regarding American-produced genetically engineered food products, such as corn, soybeans and beets; while intellectual property rights issues increasingly threaten the freedom of the Internet for the benefit of corporate and financial interests, such as through the failed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which was overcome by a large Internet campaign and protests against it. One of the organizers for the anti-ACTA movement, Jérémie Zimmermann, stated: “Millions of citizens can be mobilized if their freedoms are threatened.” Still, despite the growing unease and opposition to such an agreement, which would be based primarily around these highly contentious issues as opposed to actual “trade” or tariffs, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared the deal as “by far our most important project for the future.”
Max Baucus, the chairman of the U.S. Senate finance committee, wrote an article for the Financial Times in which he stated that the agreement was “a deal that must be done, it must be done now, and it must be done right… As chairman of the committee overseeing US trade, I will support a deal only if it gives America’s producers the opportunity to compete in the world’s biggest market.”
Speaking at Harvard in early March, Karel de Gucht referred to the agreement as “the cheapest stimulus package you can imagine,” adding that it was “a policy laboratory for the new trade rules we need – on issues like regulatory barriers, competition policy, localization requirements, raw materials and energy.”
Barack Obama stated that he was “modestly optimistic” about the agreement, as the US was moving “aggressively” while the EU was “hungrier for a deal than they have been in the past.” Speaking to the President’s Export Council, composed of executives from major corporations acting as ‘advisors,’ Obama reaffirmed that, “we want our Fortune 500 companies to be selling as much as possible.” John Kerry told a group of French business leaders that, “if we move rapidly… [the agreement] can have a profound impact on the rest of the world.”
Robert Zoellick, former president of the World Bank, strongly endorsed the agreement, noting that it could “set a precedent” in setting standards for the global economy, adding: “We need to create a new structure for the global system.” However, he warned, agriculture was “going to be one of the most difficult issues,” due to the concern over genetically modified organisms. Barroso warned that, “the EU will only go so far.” Lori Wallach, the director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch observed: “This whole negotiation is about eliminating ‘trade irritants’ but in the US consumer movement we envy and admire and seek to emulate the European food safety standards, while industry is seeking to kill them.”
In April of 2013, a “coalition” was launched to promote the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership called the Business Coalition for Transatlantic Trade (BCTT), which “seeks to promote growth, jobs, and competitiveness on both sides of the Atlantic through an ambitious, comprehensive and high-standard trade and investment agreement.” The Steering Committee for the BCTT consists of a number of multinational corporations and business associations, and the secretariat is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The corporate co-chairs for the coalition include Amway, Chrysler, Citi, Dow, FedEx, Ford, GE, IBM, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, MetLife, UPS, and JPMorgan Chase. Partner associations of the BCTT include the Business Roundtable, Coalition of Service Industries, the Emergency Committee for American Trade, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Foreign Trade Council, the Transatlantic Business Council (TBC), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Council for International Business. The initial objective of the BCTT was to urge the formal launching of negotiations by June or July of 2013, as well as “sustaining broad bipartisan support and on providing detailed inputs once negotiations are underway.”
At the launch of the BCTT, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s vice president and head of international affairs, Myron Brilliant, noted that there was “vast support” for the agreement “both in the government and the private sector.” The business community, he explained, “is committed to assisting with the negotiation of a transatlantic agreement… and we will continue our efforts to encourage both governments to get this deal done quickly.” The Business Roundtable, a member of the BCTT, endorsed the new coalition in a statement from John Engler, who explained, “we look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to ensure a comprehensive and ambitious agreement.” While speaking to an American business group, the British ambassador to the United States said that financial services would also be “covered by these negotiations,” noting that the U.S. and U.K. are home to “the two most significant international financial centres, on either side of the Atlantic,” on Wall Street and the City of London.
According to an Obama administration official involved in the talks, the agreement “would grant corporations new political power to challenge an array of regulations both at home and abroad.” Environmental, consumer, and other interest groups fear that the agreement “will lead to a rollback of important rules and put multinational companies on the same political plane as sovereign nations.” This would be facilitated by an “investor-state dispute resolution” mechanism, which means that corporations could directly sue governments over what they perceive as “barriers to investment” – possibly through an international tribunal (perhaps even through the World Bank). Such a tribunal “would be given authority to impose economic sanctions against any country that violated its verdict.”
Such provisions, noted a trade specialist with the Sierra Club, “elevate corporations to the level of nation states and allow them to sue governments over nearly any law or policy which reduces their future profits.” These mechanisms are “terribly risky for communities, the environment, and our climate.” The “dirty little secret,” noted Public Citizen’s Lori Wallach, “is that it is not mainly about trade, but rather would target for elimination the strongest consumer, health, safety, privacy, environmental and other public interest policies on either side of the Atlantic.”
Thomas Donohue, the president of the US Chamber of Commerce, couldn’t be happier. “If they made a deal tomorrow,” he said in April of 2013, “US and European companies are sitting on a boatload of cash and they’d be moving this thing up as fast as they can move.” Corporations would be able to make a profit faster than anticipated, he noted: “You open a door and say there’s money on the other side, there’s opportunity to expand, to export, to sell their products, to make partnerships… You think they’re going to wait around till 2027? They’ll be through the door before you know it.” Donohue encouraged negotiations to begin as soon as possible, “they must, they need to,” adding: “We don’t need to take our time.”
A Transatlantic Agenda for Austerity, Exploitation and Corporate Consolidation
On April 22, 2013, there was a conference hosted at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in co-operation with the European Commission’s Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs, “bring[ing] together US-and Europe-based policy makers, regulators, market analysts and academics.” The aim of the conference was to “evaluate the prospects for sustainable economic growth and financial stability, and discuss challenges to transatlantic economic relations posed by the recent episodes of the economic crisis.” Speakers included New York Fed president William Dudley and Vice President of the European Commission, Olli Rehn. [For a list of other participants, see Appendix 9]
William Dudley has been president of the New York Fed since 2009, when the previous president – Timothy Geithner – became Obama’s Treasury Secretary. Prior to his new position, Dudley was a partner and managing director at Goldman Sachs; and currently he also serves as chairman of the Committee on the Global Financial System at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), and is vice chairman of the Economic Club of New York.
Dudley opened the ‘invitation only’ event by suggesting, “in a global economy with a global financial system… regulation and supervision have a decidedly national orientation.” Thus, he explained, “we [must] seek to balance our domestic needs against the benefits from having a harmonized and integrated global system.” What is needed, said Dudley, is “growth.” But there was “good news” in the U.S., the housing sector was re-inflating – what’s called “recovering,” the middle class “household sector” was struggling under a heavy debt burden (called “deleveraging”), but the banking sector was “healthier” (meaning more profitable), and “the corporate sector is highly profitable and awash in cash.” That’s the “good news.”
A Bloomberg article from 2010 referred to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as “a black-ops outfit for the nation’s central bank,” noting that it was in fact a “quasi-governmental institution,” whose leadership is appointed by the major banks of Wall Street to represent their interests, and was “the preferred vehicle for many of the Fed’s bailout programs.” The New York Fed is actually a private bank with a great deal of public authority, and is subject to a “culture of secrecy” which was described as “pervasive.” On the board of directors of the New York Fed is Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, as well as several other bankers.
In his speech, Dudley explained that he has guided the New York Fed to purchase long-term U.S. Treasuries (U.S. government debt) and mortgage-backed securities (the same purchases which helped create the previous housing bubble) to the tune of $85 billion “each month.” Noting that the United States has begun down the path of national austerity – “fiscal consolidation” – and must continue deeper, there was a “tug of war” between having a good economy and having austerity, which is a delicate way of saying that the austerity measures will destroy the economy (something the Europeans already know very well). Thus, as Dudley explained, with immense corporate and bank profits, an asset bubble, and a coming austerity-driven economic nose-dive, “the level of uncertainty about the near-term outlook in the United States remains quite high.” But the United States was not geared “toward a growth path” based upon “business investment” and “trade,” instead having only focused on debt-based consumption.
In Europe, however, the outlook was “less bright.” But again, there was “good news,” since the “peripheral countries” such as Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, and others, were successfully imposing harsh austerity measures, despite resistance from the population being impoverished. This, Dudley calls, “substantial efforts to bring down their structural budget deficits.” There was also progress on improving their “international competitiveness,” which is to say they are opening up to exploitation and plundering, though there was still “an opportunity for further structural reforms in labor and product markets.” Though of course this shouldn’t be done “just in the periphery,” that type of “opportunity” exists everywhere, in order to bring efficiency in exploitation, and thus, more profits: “to increase productivity and strengthen long term growth prospects.”
Sadly, noted Dudley, there was also “bad news” in the EU, since the economy was “still in a recession” – or what could more accurately be described as a deep depression in the so-called “periphery” countries – where it was becoming harder to impose austerity measures and impoverish populations: “the political support for further rounds of budget-tightening has clearly lessened.” Without “growth” – meaning, without corporate and financial profits – “then the political support for continued fiscal and structural adjustment could further erode.” Europe also needed to pursue “deeper integration” at the governance level, and the development of a “pan-European banking union with the ECB [European Central Bank] as the primary overseer” was a “critically important next step.” This will of course demand each country in the EU “to give up a small amount of sovereignty with respect to banking oversight,” and hand it to the ECB, which is unaccountable and remains a driving force behind the austerity and adjustment programs. Dudley referred to this as the “one money, one market” concept.
Olli Rehn, European Commission Vice President and Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs – a major driving force behind the austerity and adjustment programs – gave the keynote speech at the New York Fed conference. He began by welcoming the newly announced Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, explaining that they must work hard to make it “a reality.” Europe, however, is “deleveraging” – which is to say the continent is being crushed by a heavy debt burden whose owners demand ‘austerity’ and ‘adjustment’ in addition to bailouts – and this “deleveraging process is going to take time, and we need to find new sources of growth to ease the burden of adjustment.” Thus, Rehn explained, “opening up global trade opportunities is so very important.” While many EU countries were continuing with harsh austerity measures, “structural reforms” – which facilitate exploitation of labour and resources – “are the key to raising the growth potential of the European economy.”
He finished his speech, stating: “we must stay the reform course. We need to deliver in terms of free trade, financial sector reform, structural reforms that boost growth potential, and consistent consolidation of public finances. We must do so in order to create the foundations for sustainable growth and job creation. Facing these challenges, we are indeed partners on both sides of the Atlantic.”
A Call for Trans-Atlantic Resistance to Corporate Tyranny
Europe is eating itself through austerity, plunging its population into poverty while simultaneously undertaking “structural reforms” designed to facilitate the unhindered exploitation of resources, markets and labour by transnational corporations. The United States has also been implementing austerity measures, though opting instead to create fallacious ‘debt dramas’ involving the pompous parading of meaningless words – ‘fiscal cliff’ and ‘sequester’ – to avoid the blatant promotion of ‘austerity,’ which might encourage people to correctly think of Greece as an example.
So-called “free trade” agreements function as transnational austerity and ‘structural reform’ treaties: they grant corporations unlimited access to markets, protect them from competition, heavily subsidize them, privatize anything and everything, deregulate as much as possible, destroy the environment, and facilitate the unimpeded plundering of resources and exploitation of labour.
Make no mistake: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is little more than a transatlantic corporate coup. Corporations created the demand for the agreement, lobbied and promoted the agenda with political elites, and direct the entire process, ensuring that their interests are met.
It would seem, then, that it is time for activists, intellectuals, and communities and organizations of people to reach out across the Atlantic in an effort to create an organized resistance to transatlantic corporate tyranny, consolidation and colonization.
Corporations are undertaking unprecedented drives for the accumulation of profit and power, promoting agendas and projects which re-shape the world in their image, treating governments as toys, the environment as an enemy, and impoverishing populations around the world. We are witnessing a transnational social engineering project, driven by large corporations, aimed at facilitating economic, financial, political and social consolidation into their hands.
Welcome to the era of Cosmopolitical Corporate Consolidation and Colonization.
Will you accept that as legitimate? Will you accept such an agreement? Who agreed to it? Did you? Were you consulted? Have you even heard of it before?
The real question is: will we sit passively as we are led to Extinction Inc., or will we actually stand up, organize, and do something about it?
Appendix 1: Leadership of the Atlantic Council
Among the leadership on the board of directors of the Atlantic Council are Brent Scowcroft, former U.S. National Security Adviser (to presidents Ford and Bush, Sr.), Richard Armitage, James E. Cartwright, Wesley Clark, Paula Dobriansky, Christopher Dodd, Stephen Hadley, Michael Hayden, James L. Jones, Henry Kissinger, Thomas Pickering, Anne-Marie Slaughter, James Steinberg, John C. Whitehead, and with a group of honorary directors including: Madeleine Albright, James Baker, Harold Brown, Frank Carlucci, Robert Gates, Michael Mullen, William Perry, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, James Schlesinger, George Shultz, and John Warner, among others.
On the Business and Economics Advisors Group to the Atlantic Council, there are executives and management from the following companies and institutions: Deutsche Bank, Institute of International Finance, Center for Global Development, AIG, BNP-Paribas, Rock Creek Global Advisors, the Stern Group, Harvard, and the Peterson Institute for International Economics. The International Advisory Board of the Atlantic Council includes Josef Ackermann (Chairman of Zurich Insurance), Shaukat Aziz (former prime minister of Pakistan), Jose Maria Aznar (former PM of Spain), Zbigniew Brzezinski (former US National Security Advisor), and with top executives from: Occidental Petroleum, SAIC, the Coca-Cola Company, PwC, News Corporation, Royal Bank of Canada, BAE Systems, the Blackstone Group, Thomson Reuters, Lockheed Martin, Bertelsmann, Novartis, and Investor AB, among others.
Appendix 2: Leadership of the German Marshall Fund
The board of trustees of the GMF includes a host of corporate executives and news commentators, and their funding also comes from a coterie of governments, major foundations, and multinational corporations including: Bank of America Foundation, BP, Daimler, Eli Lilly & Company, General Dynamics, IBM, NATO, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and USAID, among many others.
Appendix 3: Leadership of the Business Roundtable
Other members of the executive committee include the CEOs of Honeywell, Dow Chemical, Procter & Gamble, MasterCard, Xerox, American Express, Eaton, JPMorgan Chase, Wal-Mart, General Electric, Caesars Entertainment, Caterpillar, McGraw-Hill, State Farm Insurance, AT&T, Frontier Communications, and ExxonMobil.
Appendix 4: Leadership of the ERT
As of 2013, members of the ERT included the CEOs of Ericsson, Siemens, Telecom Italia, BASF, Nestlé, Repsol, ThyssenKrupp, TOTAL, Rio Tinto, Fiat, Nokia, EADS, ABB, Lafarge, GDF SUEZ, BMW, Eni, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Investor AB, among many others.
Appendix 5: Corporate Partners of BusinessEurope
BusinessEurope counts among its “partner companies,” notable multinational conglomerates that make up the Corporate Advisory and Support Group who “enjoy an important status within BUSINESSEUROPE,” including: Accenture, Alcoa, BASF, Bayer, BMW, BP, Caterpillar, Diamler, DuPont, ExxonMobil, GDF Suez, GE, IBM, Microsoft, Pfizer, Shell, Siemens, Total, and Unilever, among many others.
Appendix 6: Companies Represented on the Board of the US Chamber of Commerce
The board of directors of the Chamber includes top executives and representatives from the following institutions and corporations: Accenture, Allianz of America, AT&T, Pfizer, FedEx, The Charles Schwab Corporation, Xerox, Rolls-Royce North America, Dow Chemical, Alcoa, UPS, Caterpillar, New York Life Insurance Company, Deloitte, the Carlyle Group, 3M, Duke Energy, Siemens, Verizon, IBM, and Allstate Insurance, among many others.
Appendix 7: Task Force Members
Other task force members represented such institutions as: Tufts University, Foreign Policy magazine, Standard Chartered Bank, the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD, Facebook, a former EU Ambassador to the US, a former senior VP of the World Bank, Deloitte Touche, and Susan Schwab, a former United States Trade Representative.
Appendix 8: Corporate Representatives on the PEC
Obama’s PEC includes CEOs and executives from Boeing, Xerox, Dow Chemical, UPS, Walt Disney Company, Warburg Pincus, Caesars Entertainment, Ford, Verizon, JPMorgan Chase, Ernst & Young, and Archer Daniels Midland, among others.
Appendix 9: Participants in New York Fed Conference
The program for the event was to include opening remarks from the president of the New York Fed, William Dudley, and would also include the EU’s ambassador to the United States, Joao Vale de Almdeida; the European Commission’s director-general for Economic and Financial Affairs, Marco Buti; and individuals from Columbia University, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, MIT, the Brookings Institution, University of Cambridge, the EU-based think tank Bruegel, Morgan Stanley, European Banking Authority, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker was chair of the panel on ‘Transatlantic Dimensions of Financial Reform,’ and with Olli Rehn, Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs (a central figure of the ‘austerity’ hierarchy) as the ‘keynote’ speaker.
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Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada. He is Project Manager of The People’s Book Project, head of the Geopolitics Division of the Hampton Institute, Research Director for Occupy.com’s Global Power Project and hosts a weekly podcast show at BoilingFrogsPost.
Welcome to the World Revolution in the Global Age of Rage
By: Andrew Gavin Marshall
I am currently writing a book on the global economic crisis and the global resistance, rebellious and revolutionary movements that have emerged in reaction to this crisis. Our world is in the midst of the greatest economic, social, and political crisis that humanity has ever collectively entered into. The scope is truly global in its context, and the effects are felt in every locality. The course of the global economic crisis is the direct and deliberate result of class warfare, waged by the political and economic elites against the people of the world. The objective is simple: all for them and none for you. At the moment, the crisis is particularly acute in Europe, as the European elites impose a coordinated strategy of class warfare against the people through “austerity” and “structural adjustment,” political euphemisms used to hide their true intention: poverty and exploitation.
The people of the world, however, are beginning to rise up, riot, resist, rebel and revolt. This brief article is an introduction to the protest movements and rebellions which have taken place around the world in the past few years against the entrenched systems and structures of power. This is but a small preview of the story that will be examined in my upcoming book. Please consider donating to The People’s Book Project in order to finance the completion of this volume.
Those who govern and rule over our world and its people have been aware of the structural and social changes which would result in bringing about social unrest and rebellion. In fact, they have been warning about the potential for such a circumstance of global revolutionary movements for a number of years. The elite are very worried, most especially at the prospect of revolutionary movements spreading beyond borders and the traditional confines of state structures. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s former National Security Adviser, co-founder with banker David Rockefeller of the Trilateral Commission, and an arch-elitist strategic thinker for the American empire, has been warning of what he terms the ‘Global Political Awakening’ as the central challenge for elites in a changing world.
In June of 2010, I published an article entitled, “The Global Political Awakening and the New World Order,” in which I examined this changing reality and in particular, the words of Zbigniew Brzezinski in identifying it. In December of 2008, Brzezinski published an article for the New York Times in which he wrote: “For the first time in history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive. Global activism is generating a surge in the quest for cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world scarred by memories of colonial or imperial domination.” This situation is made more precarious for elites as it takes place in a global transition in which the Atlantic powers – Western Europe and the United States – are experiencing a decline in their 500-year domination of the world. Brzezinski wrote that what is necessary to maintain control in this changing world is for the United States to spearhead “a collective effort for a more inclusive system of global management,” or in other words, more power for them. Brzezinski has suggested that, “the worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening.” In 2005, Brzezinski wrote:
It is no overstatement to assert that now in the 21st century the population of much of the developing world is politically stirring and in many places seething with unrest. It is a population acutely conscious of social injustice to an unprecedented degree, and often resentful of its perceived lack of political dignity. The nearly universal access to radio, television and increasingly the Internet is creating a community of shared perceptions and envy that can be galvanized and channeled by demagogic political or religious passions. These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy, on top of which America still perches…
The youth of the Third World are particularly restless and resentful. The demographic revolution they embody is thus a political time-bomb, as well. With the exception of Europe, Japan and America, the rapidly expanding demographic bulge in the 25-year-old-and-under age bracket is creating a huge mass of impatient young people. Their minds have been stirred by sounds and images that emanate from afar and which intensify their disaffection with what is at hand. Their potential revolutionary spearhead is likely to emerge from among the scores of millions of students concentrated in the often intellectually dubious “tertiary level” educational institutions of developing countries… Typically originating from the socially insecure lower middle class and inflamed by a sense of social outrage, these millions of students are revolutionaries-in-waiting, already semi-mobilized in large congregations, connected by the Internet and pre-positioned for a replay on a larger scale of what transpired years earlier in Mexico City or in Tiananmen Square. Their physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred.
Important to note is that Brzezinski has not simply been writing abstractly about this concept, but has been for years traveling to and speaking at various conferences and think tanks of national and international elites, who together form policy for the powerful nations of the world. Speaking to the elite American think tank, the Carnegie Council, Brzezinski warned of “the unprecedented global challenge arising out of the unique phenomenon of a truly massive global political awakening of mankind,” as we now live “in an age in which mankind writ large is becoming politically conscious and politically activated to an unprecedented degree, and it is this condition which is producing a great deal of international turmoil.” Brzezinski noted that much of the ‘awakening’ was being spurred on by America’s role in the world, and the reality of globalization (which America projects across the globe as the single global hegemon), and that this awakening “is beginning to create something altogether new: namely, some new ideological or doctrinal challenge which might fill the void created by the disappearance of communism.” He wrote that he sees “the beginnings, in writings and stirrings, of the making of a doctrine which combines anti-Americanism with anti-globalization, and the two could become a powerful force in a world that is very unequal and turbulent.”
In 2007, the British Ministry of Defence issued a report looking at global trends over the following three decades to better plan for the “future strategic context” of the British military. The report noted that: “The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx… The world’s middle classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest.” In my April 2010 article, “The Global Economic Crisis: Riots, Rebellion, and Revolution,” I quoted the official British Defence Ministry report, which read:
Absolute poverty and comparative disadvantage will fuel perceptions of injustice among those whose expectations are not met, increasing tension and instability, both within and between societies and resulting in expressions of violence such as disorder, criminality, terrorism and insurgency. They may also lead to the resurgence of not only anti-capitalist ideologies, possibly linked to religious, anarchist or nihilist movements, but also to populism and the revival of Marxism.
In December of 2008, the managing director of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn warned that the economic crisis could lead to “violent unrest on the streets.” He stated that if the elite were not able to instill an economic recovery by 2010, “then social unrest may happen in many countries – including advanced economies,” meaning the Western and industrialized world. In February of 2009, the head of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Pascal Lamy, warned that the economic crisis “could trigger political unrest equal to that seen during the 1930s.” In May of 2009, the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, stated that if the economic crisis did not come to an end, “there is a risk of a serious human and social crisis with very serious political implications.”
In early 2009, the top intelligence official in the United States, Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence (who oversees all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies), stated that the global economic crisis had become the primary threat to America’s “security” (meaning domination). He told the Senate Intelligence Committee: “I’d like to begin with the global economic crisis, because it already looms as the most serious one in decades, if not centuries… Economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they are prolonged for a one-or-two-year period… And instability can loosen the fragile hold that many developing countries have on law and order, which can spill out in dangerous ways into the international community.” He also noted that, “there could be a backlash against U.S. efforts to promote free markets because the crisis was triggered by the United States… We are generally held responsible for it.”
In December of 2008, police in Greece shot and killed a 15-year old student in Exarchia, a libertarian and anarchist stronghold in Athens. The murder resulted in thousands of protesters and riots erupting in the streets, in what the New York Times declared to be “the worst unrest in decades.” Triggered by the death of the young Greek student, the protests were the result of deeper, social and systemic issues, increasing poverty, economic stagnation and political corruption. Solidarity protests took place all over Europe, including Germany, France, and the U.K. But this was only a sample of what was to come over the following years.
In the early months of 2009, as the economic crisis was particularly blunt in the countries of Eastern Europe, with increased unemployment and inflation, the region was headed for a “spring of discontent,” as protests and riots took place in Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Latvia. In January of 2009, more than 10,000 people took to the streets in Latvia in one of the largest demonstrations since the end of Soviet rule. A demonstration of roughly 7,000 Lithuanians turned into a riot, and smaller clashes between police and protesters took place in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Hungary, while police in Iceland tear gassed a demonstration of roughly 2,000 people outside the parliament, leading to the resignation of the prime minister. The head of the IMF said that the economic crisis could cause more turmoil “almost everywhere,” adding: “The situation is really, really serious.” A mass strike took place in France, bringing hundreds of thousands of workers into the streets and pushing anti-capitalist activists and leaders to the front of a growing social movement.
May 1, 2009 – the labour activist day known as ‘May Day’ – saw protests and riots erupting across Europe, including Germany, Greece, Austria, Turkey and France. In Germany, banks were attacked by protesters, leading to many arrests; there were over 150,000 demonstrators in Ankara, Turkey; more than 10,000 people took to the streets in Madrid, Spain; thousands took to the streets in Italy and Russia and social unrest continued to spread through Eastern Europe. Results from a poll were released on early May 2009 reporting that in the United States, Italy, France, Spain, Britain and Germany, a majority of the populations felt that the economic crisis would lead to a rise in “political extremism.”
In April of 2009, the G20 met in London, and was met there with large protests, drawing tens of thousands of people into the streets. In London’s financial district, protesters smashed the windows of the Royal Bank of Scotland, which was the recipient of a massive government bailout during the early phases of the financial crisis. One man, Ian Tomlinson, dropped dead on the streets of London following an assault by a British police officer, who was later questioned under suspicion of manslaughter.
In November of 2011, a month of student protests and sit-ins erupted in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, triggered by budget cuts and tuition fees. The protests began in Austria, where students occupied the University of Vienna for over a month, quickly spreading to other cities and schools in Germany, where roughly 80,000 students took part in nationwide protests, with sit-ins taking place in 20 universities across the country, and the University of Basel in Switzerland was also occupied by students.
The small little island-country of Iceland has undergone what has been referred to as the “Kitchenware Revolution,” where the country had once been rated by the UN as the best country to live in as recently as 2007, and in late 2008, its banks collapsed and the government resigned amid the mass protests that took place. The banks were nationalized, Iceland got a new prime minister, a gay woman who brought into her cabinet a majority of women, fired bank CEOs; the constitution was re-written with significant citizen participation and the government took steps to write off debts and refused to bailout foreign investors. Now, the economy is doing much better, hence why no one is talking about Iceland in the media (woeful is power to the ‘tyranny’ of a good example). Iceland has even hired an ex-cop bounty hunter to track down and arrest the bankers that destroyed the country’s economy. As the debt burdens of a significant portion of the population of Iceland were eased, Iceland was projected in 2012 to have a faster growing economy than those in the euro area and the developed world. As reported by Bloomberg, the main difference between how Iceland has dealt with its massive economic crisis and how the rest of the ‘developed’ world has been dealing with it, is that Iceland “has put the needs of its population ahead of the markets at every turn.” Instead of rewarding bankers for causing the crisis, as we have done in Europe and North America, Icelanders have arrested them, and protected homeowners instead of evicting them.
As Greece came to dominate the news in early 2010, with talk of a bailout, protests began to erupt with more frequency in the small euro-zone country. In early May, a general strike was called in Greece against the austerity measures the government was imposing in order to get a bailout. Banks were set on fire, petrol bombs were thrown at riot police, who were pepper spraying, tear gassing, and beating protesters with batons, and three people died of suffocation in one of the bombed banks.
In May of 2010, British historian Simon Schama wrote an article for the Financial Times entitled, “The world teeters on the brink of a new age of rage,” in which he explained that historians “will tell you that there is often a time-lag between the onset of economic disaster and the accumulation of social fury.” In act one, he wrote, “the shock of a crisis initially triggers fearful disorientation” and a “rush for political saviours.” Act two witnesses “a dangerously alienated public” who “take stock of the brutal interruption of their rising expectations,” which leads to the grievance that someone “must have engineered the common misfortune,” which, I might add, is true (though Schama does not say so). To manage this situation, elites must engage in “damage-control” whereby perpetrators are brought to justice. Schama noted that, “the psychological impact of financial regulation is almost as critical as its institutional prophylactics,” or, in other words: the propaganda effect of so-called “financial regulation” on calming the angry plebs is as important (if not more so) as the financial regulations themselves. Thus, those who lobby against financial regulation, warned Scharma, “risk jeopardizing their own long-term interests.” If governments fail to “reassert the integrity of public stewardship,” then the public will come to perceive that “the perps and the new regime are cut from common cloth.” In the very least, wrote Scharma, elites attempting to implement austerity measures and other unpopular budget programs will need to “deliver a convincing story about the sharing of burdens,” for if they do not, it would “guarantee that a bad situation gets very ugly, very fast.”
As French President Nicolas Sarkozy began implementing austerity measures in France, particularly what is called “pension reform,” unions and supporters staged massive strikes in September of 2010, drawing up to three million people into the streets in over 230 demonstrations across the country. Soldiers armed with machine guns went on patrol at certain metro stations as government officials used the puffed up and conveniently-timed threat of a “terrorist attack” as being “high risk.” More strikes took place in October, with French students joining in the demonstrations, as students at roughly 400 high schools across the country built barricades of wheelie bins to prevent other students from attending classes, with reports of nearly 70% of French people supporting the strike. The reports of participants varied from the government figures of over 800,000 people to the union figures of 2-3 million people going out into the streets. The Wall Street Journal referred to the strikes as “an irrational answer” to Sarkozy’s “perfectly rational initiative” of reforms.
In November of 2010, Irish students in Dublin began protesting against university tuition increases, when peaceful sit-ins were met with violent riot police, and roughly 25,000 students took to the streets. This was the largest student protest in Ireland in a generation.
In Britain, where a new coalition government came to power – uniting the Conservatives (led by David Cameron, the Prime Minister) and the Liberal Democrats (led by Nick Clegg, Deputy PM) – tuition increases were announced, tripling the cost from 3 to 9,000 pounds. On November 10, as roughly 50,000 students took to the streets in London, the Conservative Party headquarters in central London had its windows smashed by students, who then entered the building and occupied it, even congregating up on the rooftop of the building. The police continued to ‘kettle’ protesters in the area, not allowing them to enter or leave a confined space, which of course results in violent reactions. Prime Minister David Cameron called the protest “unacceptable.” The Christian Science Monitor asked if British students were the “harbinger of future violence over austerity measures,” There were subsequent warnings that Britain was headed for a winter of unrest.
Tens of thousands again took to the streets in London in late November, including teenage students walking with university students, again erupting in riots, with the media putting in a great deal of focus on the role of young girls taking part in the protests and riots. The protests had taken place in several cities across the United Kingdom, largely peaceful save the ‘riot’ in London, and with students even occupying various schools, including Oxford. The student protests brought ‘class’ back into the political discourse. In November, several universities were occupied by students, including the School of Oriental and African Studies, UWE Bristol and Manchester Metropolitan. Several of the school occupations went for days or even weeks. Universities were then threatening to evict the students. The school occupations were the representation of a new potential grass-roots social movement building in the UK. Some commentators portrayed it as a “defining political moment for a generation.”
In early December of 2010, as the British Parliament voted in favour of the tripling of tuition, thousands of students protested outside, leading to violent confrontations with police, who stormed into crowds of students on horseback, firing tear gas, beating the youth with batons, as per usual. While the overtly aggressive tactics of police to ‘kettle’ protesters always creates violent reactions, David Cameron was able to thereafter portray the student reactions to police tactics as a “feral mob.” One student was twice pulled out from his wheelchair by police, and another student who was struck on the head with a baton was left with a brain injury. As the protests erupted into riots against the police into the night, one infamous incident included a moment where Prince Charles and his wife Camilla were attacked by rioters as their car drove through the crowd in what was called the “worst royal security breach in a generation,” as the royal couple were confronted directly by the angry plebs who attacked the Rolls-Royce and Camilla was even ‘prodded’ by a stick, as some protesters yelled, “off with their heads!” while others chanted, “Whose streets? Our streets!” As more student protests were set to take place in January of 2011, Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command contacted university officials requesting “intelligence” as students increased their protest activities, as more occupations were expected to take place.
In December of 2010, a Spanish air traffic controller strike took place, grounding flights for 330,000 people and resulting in the government declaring a state of emergency, threatening the strikers with imprisonment if they did not return to work.
Part way through December, an uprising began in the North African country of Tunisia, and by January of 2011, the 23-year long dictatorship of a French and American-supported puppet, Ben Ali, had come to an end. This marked the first major spark of what has come to be known as the Arab Spring. Protests were simultaneously erupting in Algeria, Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, and elsewhere. In late January of 2011, I wrote an article entitled, “Are we witnessing the start of a global revolution?,” noting that the protests in North Africa were beginning to boil up in Egypt most especially. Egypt entered its modern revolutionary period, resulting in ending the rule of the long-time dictator, Hosni Mubarak, and though the military has been attempting to stem the struggle of the people, the revolutionary struggle continues to this day, and yet the Obama administration continues to give $1.3 billion in military aid to support the violent repression of the democratic uprising. The small Arab Gulf island of Bahrain (which is home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet) also experienced a large democratic uprising, which has been consistently and brutally crushed by the local monarchy and Saudi Arabia, with U.S. support, including the selling of arms to the dictatorship.
In early 2011, the British student protests joined forces with a wider anti-austerity social protest against the government. As protests continued over the following months all across the country, banks became a common target, noting the government’s efforts to spend taxpayer money to bailout corrupt banks and cut health, social services, welfare, pensions, and increase tuition. Several bank branches were occupied and others had protests – often very creatively imagined – organized outside closed bank branches. On March 26, roughly 500,000 protesters took to the streets of London against austerity measures. As late as July 2011, a student occupation of a school continued at Leeds.
Throughout 2011, protests in Greece picked up in size and rage. In February, roughly 100,000 people took to the streets in Athens against the government’s austerity measures, leading to clashes with riot police that lasted for three hours, with police using tear gas and flash bombs and some protesters reacting with rocks and petrol bombs. In June of 2011, Greece experienced major clashes between protesters and police, or what are often called “riots.” During a general strike in late June, police went to war against protesters assembled in central Athens. Protests continued throughout the summer and into the fall, and in November, roughly 50,000 Greeks took to the streets in Athens.
In March of 2011, as Portugal plunged forward into its own major crisis and closer to a European Union bailout, roughly 300,000 Portuguese took to the streets of Lisbon and other cities protesting against the government’s austerity measures. Driven by the youth, calling themselves Portugal’s “desperate generation,” in part inspired by the youth uprisings in North Africa, the Financial Times referred to it as “an unexpected protest movement that has tapped into some of Portugal’s deepest social grievances.”
The Portuguese protests in turn inspired the Spanish “Indignados” or 15-M movement (named after the 15th of May, when the protests began), as youth – the indignant ones – or the “lost generation,” occupied Madrid’s famous Puerta del Sol on May 15, 2011, protesting against high unemployment, the political establishment, and the government’s handling of the economic crisis. The authorities responded in the usual way: they attempted to ban the protests and then sent in riot police. Thousands of Spaniards – primarily youth – occupied the central square, setting up tents and building a small community engaging in debate, discussion and activism. In a massive protest in June of 2011, over 250,000 Spaniards took the streets in one of the largest protests in recent Spanish history. Over the summer, as the encampment was torn down, the Indignados refined their tactics, and began to engage in direct action by assembling outside homes and preventing evictions from taking place, having stopped over 200 evictions since May of 2011, creating organic vegetable gardens in empty spaces, supporting immigrant workers in poor communities, and creating “a new social climate.”
The Indignados spurred solidarity and similar protests across Europe, including Greece, Belgium, France, Germany, the U.K., and beyond. In fact, the protests even spread to Israel, where in July of 2011, thousands of young Israelis established tent cities in protest against the rising cost of living and decreasing social spending, establishing itself on Rothschild Boulevard, a wealthy avenue in Tel Aviv named after the exceedingly wealthy banking dynasty. The protest, organized through social media, quickly spread through other cities across Israel. In late July, over 150,000 Israelis took to the streets in 12 cities across the country in the largest demonstration the country had seen in decades, demonstrating against the “rising house prices and rents, low salaries, [and] the high cost of raising children and other social issues.” In early August, another protest drew 320,000 people into the streets, leading some commentators to state that the movement marked “a revolution from a generation we thought was unable to make a revolution.” In early September, roughly 430,000 Israelis took to the streets in the largest demonstration in Israeli history.
In May and June of 2011, a student movement began to erupt in Chile, fighting against the increased privatization of their school system and the debt-load that comes with it. The state – the remnants of the Pinochet dictatorship – responded in the usual fashion: state violence, mass arrests, attempting to make protesting illegal. In clashes between students and riot police that took place in August, students managed to occupy a television station demanding a live broadcast to express their demands, with the city of Santiago being converted into “a state of siege” against the students. The “Chilean Winter” – as it came to be known – expanded into a wider social movement, including labour and environmental and indigenous groups, and continues to this very day.
The Indignados further inspired the emergence of the Occupy Movement, which began with occupy Wall Street in New York City on 17 September of 2011, bringing the dialectic of the “99% versus the 1%” into the popular and political culture. The Occupy movement, which reflected the initial tactics of the Indignados in setting up tents to occupy public spaces, quickly spread across the United States, Canada, Europe, and far beyond. There were Occupy protests that took place as far away as South Africa, in dozens of cities across Canada, in countries and cities all across Latin America, in Israel, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and in hundreds of cities across the United States.
On October 15, 2011, a day of global protests took place, inspired by the Arab Spring, the Indignados, and the Occupy movement, when over 950 cities in 82 countries around the world experienced a global day of action originally planned for by the Spanish Indignados as a European-wide day of protest. In Italy, over 400,000 took to the streets; in Spain there were over 350,000, roughly 50,000 in New York City, with over 100,000 in both Portugal and Chile.
The Occupy movement was subsequently met with violent police repression and evictions from the encampments. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was busy spying on various Occupy groups around the country, and reportedly was involved in coordinating the crack-downs and evictions against dozens of Occupy encampments, as was later confirmed by declassified documents showing White House involvement in the repression. The FBI has also undertaken a “war of entrapment” against Occupy groups, attempting to discredit the movement and frame its participants as potential terrorists. Following the example of tactical change in the Indignados, the Occupy groups began refurbishing foreclosed homes for the homeless, helping families reclaim their homes, disrupting home foreclosure auctions, and even take on local community issues, such as issues of racism through the group, Occupy the Hood.
In late November of 2011, a public sector workers’ strike took place in the U.K., with tens of thousands of people marching in the streets across the country, as roughly two-thirds of schools shut and thousands of hospital operations postponed, while unions estimated that up to two million people went on strike. The host of a popular British television show, Jeremy Clarkson, said in a live interview that the striking workers should be taken out and shot in front of their families.
In January of 2012, protests erupted in Romania against the government’s austerity measures, leading to violent clashes with police, exchanging tear gas and firebombs. As the month continued, the protests grew larger, demanding the ouster of the government. The Economist referred to it as Romania’s “Winter of Discontent.” In early February, the Romanian Prime Minister resigned in the face of the protests.
In February of 2012, a student strike began in the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec against the provincial government’s plan to nearly double the cost of tuition, bringing hundreds of thousands of students into the streets, who were in turn met with consistent state repression and violence, in what became known as the ‘Maple Spring.’ Dealing with issues of debt, repression, and media propaganda, the Maple Spring presented an example for student organizing elsewhere in Canada and North America. The government of Quebec opposes organized students but works with organized crime – representing what can be called a ‘Mafiocracy’ – and even passed a law attempting to criminalize student demonstrations. The student movement received support and solidarity from around the world, including the Chilean student movement and even a group of nearly 150 Greek academics who proclaimed their support in the struggle against austerity for the “largest student strike in the history of North America.”
In the spring of 2012, Mexican students mobilized behind the Yo Soy 132 movement – or the “Mexican Spring” – struggling against media propaganda and the political establishment in the lead-up to national elections, and tens of thousands continued to march through the streets decrying the presidential elections as rigged and fraudulent. The Economist noted that Mexican students were beginning to “revolt.”
In May of 2012, both the Indignados and the Occupy Movement undertook a resurgence of their street activism, while the occupy protests in Seattle and Oakland resulting in violent clashes and police repression. The protests drew Occupy and labour groups closer together, and police also repressed a resurgent Occupy protest in London.
In one of the most interesting developments in recent months, we have witnessed the Spanish miners strike in the province of Asturias, having roughly 8,000 miners strike against planned austerity measures, resorting to constructing barricades and directly fighting riot police who arrived in their towns to crush the resistance of the workers. The miners have even been employing unique tactics, such as constructing make-shift missiles which they fire at the advancing forces of police repression. For all the tear gas, rubber bullets and batons being used by police to crush the strike, the miners remain resolved to continue their struggle against the state. Interestingly, it was in the very region of Asturias where miners rebelled against the right-wing Spanish government in 1934 in one of the major sparks of the Spanish Civil War which pitted socialists and anarchists against Franco and the fascists. After weeks of clashes with police in mining towns, the striking workers planned a march to Madrid to raise attention to the growing struggle. The miners arrived in Madrid in early July to cheering crowds, but were soon met with repressive police, resulting in clashes between the people and the servants of the state. As the Spanish government continued with deeper austerity measures, over one million people marched in the streets of over 80 cities across Spain, with violent clashes resulting between protesters and police in Madrid.
This brief look at the resistance, rebellious and revolutionary movements emerging and erupting around the world is by no means an exhaustive list, nor is it meant to be. It is merely a brief glimpse at the movements with which I intend to delve into detail in researching and writing about in my upcoming book, and to raise the question once again: Are we witnessing the start of a global revolution?
I would argue that, yes, indeed, we are. How long it takes, how it manifests and evolves, its failures and successes, the setbacks and leaps forward, and all the other details will be for posterity to acknowledge and examine. What is clear at present, however, is that no matter how much the media, governments and other institutions of power attempt to ignore, repress, divide and even destroy revolutionary social movements, they are increasingly evolving and emerging, in often surprising ways and with different triggering events and issues. There is, however, a commonality: where there is austerity in the world, where there is repression, where there is state, financial and corporate power taking all for themselves and leaving nothing for the rest, the rest are now rising up.
Welcome to the World Revolution.
Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada, writing on a number of social, political, economic, and historical issues. He is also Project Manager of The People’s Book Project. He also hosts a weekly podcast show, “Empire, Power, and People,” on BoilingFrogsPost.com.
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