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World Economic Forum 2015: Global Governance In a World of Resistance
By: Andrew Gavin Marshall
26 January 2015
This article and its accompanying infographic have been jointly published by the Transnational Institute and Occupy.com.
The annual meetings of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, bring together thousands of the world’s top corporate executives, bankers and financiers with leading heads of state, finance and trade ministers, central bankers and policymakers from dozens of the world’s largest economies; the heads of all major international organizations including the IMF, World Bank, World Trade Organization, Bank for International Settlements, UN, OECD and others, as well as hundreds of academics, economists, political scientists, journalists, cultural elites and occasional celebrities.
The WEF states that it is “committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation,” collaborating with corporate, political, academic and other influential groups and sectors “to shape global, regional and industry agendas” and to “define challenges, solutions and actions.” Apart from the annual forum meeting in Davos, the WEF hosts regional and sometimes even country-specific meetings multiple times a year in Asia, Latin America, Africa and elsewhere. The Forum is host to dozens of different projects bringing together academics with corporate representatives and policy-makers to promote particular issues and positions on a wide array of subjects, from investment to the environment, employment, technology and inequality. From these projects and others, the Forum publishes dozens of reports annually, identifying key issues of importance, risks, opportunities, investments and reforms.
The WEF has survived by adapting to the times. Following the surge of so-called anti-globalization protests in 1999, the Forum began to invite non-governmental organizations representing constituencies that were more frequently found in the streets protesting against meetings of the WTO, IMF and Group of Seven. In the 2000 meeting at Davos, the Forum invited leaders from 15 NGOs to debate the heads of the WTO and the President of Mexico on the subject of globalization. The participation of NGOs and non-profit organizations has increased over time, and not without reason. According to a poll conducted on behalf of the WEF just prior to the 2011 meeting, while global trust in bankers, governments and business was significantly low, NGOs had the highest rate of trust among the public.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal last September, the founder and executive chairman of the WEF, Klaus Schwab, was asked about the prospects of “youth frustration over high levels of underemployment and unemployment” as expressed in the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movements, noting that the Forum was frequently criticized for promoting policies and ideologies that contribute to those very problems. Schwab replied that the Forum tries “to have everybody in the boat.” Davos, he explained, “is about heads of state and big corporations, but it’s also civil society – so all of the heads of the major NGOs are at the table in Davos.” In reaction to the Occupy Wall Street movement, Schwab said, “We also try… to put more emphasis on integrating the youth into what we are doing.”
So, what exactly has the World Economic Forum been doing, and how did it emerge in the first place?
It began in 1971 as the European Management Forum, inviting roughly 400 of Europe’s top CEOs to promote American forms of business management. Created by Schwab, a Swiss national who studied in the U.S. and who still heads the event today, the Forum changed its name in 1987 to the World Economic Forum after growing into an annual get together of global elites who promoted and profited off of the expansion of “global markets.” It is the gathering place for the titans of corporate and financial power.
Despite the globalizing economy, politics at the Forum have remained surprisingly national. The annual meetings are a means to promote social connections between key global power players and national leaders along with the plutocratic class of corporate and financial oligarchs. The WEF has been a consistent forum for advanced “networking” and deal-making between companies, occasional geopolitical announcements and agreements, and for the promotion of “global governance” in a world governed of global markets.
Writing in the Financial Times, Gideon Rachman noted that more than anything else, “the true significance of the World Economic Forum lies in the realm of ideas and ideology,” noting that it was where the world’s leaders gathered “to set aside their differences and to speak a common language… they restate their commitment to a single, global economy and to the capitalist values that underpin it.” This reflected the “globalization consensus” which was embraced not simply by the powerful Group of Seven nations, but by many of the prominent emerging markets such as China, Russia, India and Brazil.
Indeed, the World Economic Forum’s main purpose is to function as a socializing institution for the emerging global elite, globalization’s “Mafiocracy” of bankers, industrialists, oligarchs, technocrats and politicians. They promote common ideas, and serve common interests: their own.
Geopolitics, Global Governance and the Arrival of the “Davos Class”
The World Economic Forum has been shaped by – and has in turn, shaped – the course and changes in geopolitics, or “world order,” over the past several decades. Created amidst the rise of West Germany and Japan as prominent economic powers competing with the United States, the oil shocks of the 1970s also produced immense new powers for the Arab oil dictatorships and the large global banks that recycled that oil money, loaning it to Third World countries.
New forums for “global governance” began to emerge, such as the meetings of the Group of Seven: the heads of state, finance ministers and central bank governors of the seven leading industrial powers including the U.S., West Germany, Japan, U.K., France, Italy and Canada, starting in 1975. When the debt crisis of the 1980s hit, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank achieved immense new powers over entire economies and regions, reshaping the structure of societies to promote “market economies” and advance the interests of domestic and international corporate and financial oligarchs.
Between 1989 and 1991, the global power structure changed dramatically with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. With that came President George H.W. Bush’s announcement of a “New World Order” in which America claimed “victory” in the Cold War, and a unipolar world took shape under the hegemony of the United States. The ideological war between the West and the Soviet Union was declared victorious in favor of Western Capitalist Democracy. The “market system” was to become globalized as never before, especially under the presidency of Bill Clinton who led the U.S. during its largest ever economic expansion between 1993 and 2001.
During this time, the annual meetings of the World Economic Forum became more important than ever, and the role of the WEF in establishing a “Davos Class” became widely acknowledged. At the 1990 meeting, the focus was on Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union’s transition to “market-oriented economies.” Political leaders from Eastern Europe and Western Europe met in private meetings, with West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl articulating his desire to reunify Germany and cement Germany’s growing power within the European Community and NATO.
Helmut Kohl laid out his strategy for shaping the “security and economic structure of Europe” within a unified Germany. Kohl’s “grand design” for Europe envisioned a unified Germany as being “firmly anchored” in the expanding European Community, the main objective of which was to establish an “internal market” by 1992 and to advance toward an economic and monetary union, with potential to expand eastward. Kohl presented this as a peaceful way for German power to grow while assuaging fears of Eastern Europeans and others about the economically resurgent country at the heart of Europe.
At the 1992 WEF meeting, the United States and reunified Germany encouraged “drastic steps to insure a liberalization of world trade,” and furthered efforts to support the growth of market economies in Eastern Europe. The German Economics Minister called for the Group of Seven to meet and restart global trade talks through the 105-nation General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). At that same meeting, the Chinese delegation included Prime Minister Li Peng, who was the highest-level Chinese official to travel internationally since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.
Of great significance also was the attendance of Nelson Mandela, the new president of South Africa. When Mandela was released from prison in 1990, he declared the policy of the African National Congress (ANC) was to implement “the nationalization of the mines, banks and monopoly industries.” When Mandela attended the January 1992 meeting of the WEF just after becoming president, he changed his views and embraced “capitalism and globalization.” Mandela attended the meeting alongside the governor of the central bank of South Africa, Tito Mboweni, who explained that Mandela arrived with a speech written by ANC officials focusing on nationalization. As the week’s meetings continued, Mandela met with leaders from Communist Parties in China and Vietnam, who told him, “We are currently striving to privatize state enterprises and invite private enterprise into our economies. We are Communist Party governments, and you are a leader of a national liberation movement. Why are you talking about nationalization?”
As a result, Mandela changed his views, telling the Davos crowd that he would open South Africa up as a market economy and encourage investment. South Africa subsequently became the continent’s fastest growing economy, though inequality today is greater than it was during apartheid. As Mandela explained to his official biographer, he came home from the 1992 WEF meeting and told other top officials that they had to choose: “We either keep nationalization and get no investment, or we modify our own attitude and get investment.”
At the 1993 meeting, the main consensus that had emerged called for the U.S. to maintain its position as a global economic and military power, and for it to take the lead encouraging greater “co-operation” between powerful nations. The major fear among Davos participants was that while economies were becoming globalized, politics was turning inward and becoming “renationalized.”
Later that year, Anthony Lake, Bill Clinton’s National Security Adviser, articulated the “Clinton Doctrine” for the world, explaining: “The successor to a doctrine of containment must be a strategy of enlargement – enlargement of the world’s free community of market democracies.” Lake explained that the United States “must combine our broad goals of fostering democracy and markets with our more traditional geostrategic interests.” No doubt, the Davos crowd welcomed such news.
At the 1994 meeting, the director-general of GATT, Peter D. Sutherland, declared that world leaders needed to establish “a new high-level forum for international economic co-operation,” moving beyond the Group of Seven to become more inclusive of the major “emerging market” economies. Sutherland told the assembled plutocrats that “we cannot continue with the majority of the world’s people excluded from participation in global economic management.” Eventually, the organization Sutherland described was formed, as the Group of 20, bringing the leading 20 industrial and economic powers together in one setting. Formed in 1999, the G20 didn’t become a major forum for global governance until the 2008 financial crisis.
In 1995, the Financial Times noted that the new “buzzword” for international policymakers was “global governance,” articulating a desire and strategy for updating and expanding the institutions and efforts of international co-operation. The January 1995 World Economic Forum meeting was the venue for the presentation of an official UN report on global governance. President Clinton addressed the Davos crowd by satellite, stressing that he would continue to push for the construction of a new “economic architecture,” notably at meetings of the Group of Seven.
In 1997, the highly influential U.S. political scientist Samuel Huntington coined the term “Davos Man,” which he described as a group of elite individuals who “have little need for national loyalty, view national boundaries as obstacles that are thankfully vanishing, and see national governments as residues from the past whose only useful function is to facilitate the elite’s global operations.” An article that year in The Economist came to the defense of the “Davos Man,” declaring that he was replacing traditional diplomacy which was “more likely to bring peoples together than to force them apart,” noting that the WEF was “paid for by companies and run in their interests.”
Samuel Huntington presented a thesis, summarized in a 1997 Financial Times article, that outlined a world that “would be divided into spheres of influence,” within which “one or two core states would rule the roost.” Huntington noted that the “Davos culture people,” while extremely powerful, were only a tiny fraction of the world’s population, and the leaders of this faction “do not necessarily have a secure grip on power in their own societies.” The Financial Times, however, noted that while the “Davos culture people” did not constitute a “universal civilization” being such a tiny minority of the world’s population, “they could be the vanguard of one.”
Russian Oligarchs and the Rise of China
In fact, at the previous year’s meeting in Davos, the World Economic Forum functioned precisely as the vanguard for seven Russian oligarchs to take control of Russia and shape its future. At the 1996 meeting of the WEF, the Russian delegation was made up largely of the country’s new oligarchs who had amassed great fortunes in the transition to a market economy. Their great worry was that Russian President Boris Yeltsin would lose his re-election later that year to the resurgence of the Communists. At the WEF meeting, seven Russian oligarchs, led by Boris Berezovsky, formed an alliance during private meetings, where they decided to fund Yeltsin’s re-election and work together to “reshape their country’s future.” This alliance (or cartel, as some may refer to it), was the key to Yeltsin’s re-election victory later that year, as they held weekly meetings with Yeltsin’s chief of staff, Anatoly Chubais, the architect of Russia’s privatization program that made them all so rich.
Berezovsky explained that if the oligarchs did not work together to promote common ends, it would be impossible to have a transition to a market economy “automatically.” Instead, he explained, “We need to use all our power to realize this transformation.” As the Financial Times noted, the oligarchs “assembled a remarkable political machine to entrench and promote the market economy – as well as their own financial interests,” as the seven men collectively controlled roughly half the entire Russian economy.
Anatoly Chubais commented on this development and the role of the oligarchs, saying: “They steal and steal and steal. They are stealing absolutely everything and it is impossible to stop them… But let them steal and take their property. They will then become owners and decent administrators of this property.”
In the 1990s, with the spread of global markets came the spread of major financial crises: in Mexico, across Africa, East Asia, Russia and then back to Latin America. At the WEF meeting in 1999, the key issue was “reform of the international financial system.” As the economic crises spread, the Group of Seven nations, and the Davos Class, told the countries in crisis that in order “to restore confidence [of the markets], they should adopt politically unpopular policies of radical structural reform,” promoting further liberalization and deregulation of markets to open themselves up to Western corporate and financial interests and ‘investment.’
The major emerging markets have been frequent participants in annual Davos meetings, providing a forum in which national elites may become acquainted with the global ruling class, with whom they then cooperate and do business. China has been a major feature at Davos meetings. China started sending more high-level delegations to the WEF in the mid-1980s. During the 2009 meeting, two prominent speakers were President Putin of Russia and the Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. Both leaders painted a picture of the crisis as emanating from the centers of finance and globalization in the United States and elsewhere, with the “blind pursuit of profit” and “the failure of financial supervision” – in Wen’s words – and bringing about what Putin described as a “perfect storm.” Both Wen and Putin, however, declared their intentions to work with the major industrial powers “on solving common economic problems.”
In 2010, China’s presence at Davos was a significant one. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who attended the previous year, was not to return. In his stead, his chosen successor, Li Keqiang, attended. China’s economy was performing better than expected as its government was coming under increases pressure from major global corporations.
Kristin Forbes, a former member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers and an attendee at Davos, commented, “China is the West’s greatest hope and greatest fear… No one was quite ready for how fast China has emerged… Now everyone is trying to understand what sort of China they will be dealing with.” China sent its largest delegation to date to the World Economic Forum, with a total of 54 executives and government officials, many of whom were intending to “go shopping” for clients among the world’s elite.
Li Keqiang, the future Chinese prime minister, told the Davos audience that China was going to shift from its previous focus on exports and turn to “boosting domestic demand,” which would “not only drive growth in China but also provide greater markets for the world.” Li explained that China would “allow the market to play a primary role in the allocation of resources.”
In 2011, The New York Times declared that the World Economic Forum represented “the emergence of an international economic elite” that took place at the same time as unprecedented increases in inequality between the rich and poor, particularly in the powerful countries but also in the fast-emerging economies. Chrystia Freeland wrote that “the rise of government-connected plutocrats is not just a phenomenon in places like Russia, India and China,” but that the major Western bailouts reflected what the former chief economist at the IMF, Simon Johnson, referred to as a “quiet coup” by bankers in the United States and elsewhere.
Davos and the Financial Oligarchy
The power of global finance – and in particular, banks and oligarchs – has grown with each successive financial crisis. As the financial crisis tore through the world in 2008, the January 2009 meeting of the World Economic Forum featured less of the Wall Street titans and more top politicians. Schwab declared, “The pendulum has swung and power has moved back to governments,” adding that “this is the biggest economic crisis since Davos began.” Goldman Sachs, which in past years was “renowned for hosting one of the hottest parties at the World Economic Forum’s glittering annual meeting in Davos,” had cancelled its 2009 party. Nonetheless, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, decided to continue with his plans to host a Davos party.
In 2010, thousands of delegates assembled to discuss the “important’ issues of the day. And despite the reputation of banks and bankers being at all-time lows, top executives of the world’s largest financial institutions showed up in full force. The week before the meeting, President Obama called for the establishment of laws to deal with the “too big to fail” banks, and European leaders were responding to the anger of their domestic populations for having to pay for the massive bailouts of financial institutions during the financial crisis.
Britain and France were discussing the prospect of taxing banker bonuses, and Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, suggested the possibility of breaking up the big banks. Several panels at the WEF meeting were devoted to discussing the financial system and its possible regulation, as bankers like Josef Ackermann of Deutsche Bank suggested that they would agree to limited regulations (at least on “capital requirements”).
More important, however, were plans for a series of private meetings of government representatives and bank chiefs, who would meet separately, and then together, in Davos. Roughly 235 bankers were to attend the summit – a 23% increase from the previous year. Global bankers and other corporate leaders were worried, and warned the major governments in attendance against the financial repercussions of pursuing “a populist crackdown” against banks and financial markets. French President Nicolas Sarkozy spoke to the Forum’s guests about a need for a “revolution” in global financial regulation, and for “reform of the international monetary system.”
The heads of roughly 30 of the world’s largest banks held a private meeting at Davos “to plot how to reassert their influence with regulators and governments,” noted a report on Bloomberg. The “private meeting” was a precursor to a later meeting at Davos involving top policymakers and regulators. Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, said of the assembled bankers, “We’re trying to figure out ways that we can be more engaged.” According to Moynihan, a good deal of the closed-door discussion “was about tactics, such as who the executives should approach and when.” The CEO of UBS, a major Swiss bank, commented that “it was a positive meeting, we’re in consensus.” The bankers said they were aware that some new rules were inevitable, but they wanted to encourage regulators and countries to coordinate the rules through the Group of 20, revived in 2009 as the premier forum for international cooperation and “global governance.”
Josef Ackermann, CEO of Deutsche Bank, suggested that “we should stop the bank bashing,” and affirmed that banks had a “noble role” to play in managing the economic recovery. Christine Lagarde, France’s Finance Minister and current Managing Director of the IMF, encouraged a “dialogue” between governments and banks, saying, “That’s the only way we’re going to get out of it.” Later that week, the bankers met “behind closed doors with finance ministers, central bankers and regulators from major economies.”
The key message from finance ministers, regulators and central bankers was a political one: “They [the banks] should accept more stringent regulation, or face more draconian curbs from politicians responding to an angry public.” Guillermo Ortiz, who had just left his post as governor of the central bank of Mexico, said, “I think banks have misjudged the deep feelings of the public regarding the devastating effects of the crisis.” French President Sarkozy stated that “there is indecent behavior that will no longer be tolerated by public opinion in any country of the world,” and that bankers giving themselves excessive bonuses as they were “destroying jobs and wealth” was “morally indefensible.”
As the 2011 Davos meeting began, Edelman, a major communications consultancy, released a report that revealed a poll conducted among 5,000 wealthy and educated individuals in 23 countries, considered to be “well-informed.” The results of the poll showed there to be a massive decline in trust for major institutions, with banks taking the biggest hit. Prior to the financial crisis in 2007, 71% of those polled expressed trust in banks compared with a new low of 25 percent in 2011.
Despite the lack of public trust in banks and financial institutions, Davos remains devoted to protecting and expanding the interests of the financial elite. In fact, the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum (its top governing body) includes many representatives of the world of finance and global financial governance. Among them are Mukesh Ambani, who sits on advisory boards to Citigroup, Bank of America and the National Bank of Kuwait; and Herman Gref, the CEO of Sberbank, a large Russian bank. Ernesto Zedillo, the former President of Mexico who is also a member of the board, currently serves as a director on the boards of Rolls Royce and JPMorgan Chase, international advisory boards to BP and Credit Suisse, an adviser to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and is a member of the Group of Thirty and the Trilateral Commission as well as sitting on the board of one of the world’s most influential economic think tanks, the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
Also notable, Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, is a member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum. Carney started his career working for Goldman Sachs for 13 years, after which he was appointed as Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada. After a subsequent stint in Canada’s Ministry of Finance, Carney returned to the Bank of Canada as governor from 2008 to 2013, when he became the first non-Briton to be appointed as head of the Bank of England in its 330-year history. From 2011 to present, Carney has also been the Chairman of the Financial Stability Board, run out of the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland.
Apart from heading the FSB, Mark Carney is also a board member of the BIS, which serves as the central bank for the world’s major central banks. He is also a member of the Group of Thirty, a private and highly influential think tank and lobby group that brings together dozens of the most influential economists, central bankers, commercial bankers and finance ministers. Carney has also been a regular attendee at annual meetings of the Bilderberg Group, an even more-exclusive “invite only” global conference than the WEF.
Though there are few women among the WEF’s membership – let alone its leadership – Christine Lagarde has made the list, while simultaneously serving as the managing director of the IMF. She previously served as the French finance minister throughout the course of the financial crisis. Lagarde also attends occasional Bilderberg meetings, and is one of the most powerful technocrats in the world. Min Zhu, the deputy managing director of the IMF, also sits on the WEF’s board.
Further, the World Economic Forum has another governing body, the International Business Council, first established in 2002 and composed of 100 “highly respected and influential chief executives from all industries,” which “acts as an advisory body providing intellectual stewardship to the World Economic Forum and makes active contributions to the Annual Meeting agenda.”
The membership of the WEF is divided into three categories: Regional Partners, Industry Partner Groups, and the most esteemed, the Strategic Partners. Membership fees paid by corporations and industry groups finance the Forum and its activities and provide the member company with extra access to meet delegates, hold private meetings and set the agenda. In 2015, the cost of an annual Strategic Partner status with the WEF had increased to nearly $700,000. Among the WEF’s current strategic partners are Bank of America, Barclays, BlackRock, BP, Chevron, Citi, Coca-Cola, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Dow Chemical, Facebook, GE, Goldman Sachs, Google, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, PepsiCo, Siemens, Total, and UBS, among others.
Depending on its finances from these sources, as well as being governed by individuals from these and others institutions, it is no surprise that Davos promotes the interests of financial and corporate power above all else. This is further evident on matters related to trade.
Davos and “Trade”
Trade has been another consistent, major issue at Davos meetings – which is to say, the promotion of powerful corporate and financial interests has been central to the functions of the WEF. As the Wall Street Journal noted, “it is pretty much a tradition that trade ministers meet at Davos with an informal meeting.” At the 2013 meeting, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk explained at Davos that the Obama administration was “committed to reaching an agreement to smooth trade with the European Union,” saying in an interview that “we greatly value the trans-Atlantic relationship.” The week’s meetings suggested that there “were signs of progress toward a trade accord.” Thomas J. Donohue, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who was present at Davos, commented that “half a dozen senior leaders in Europe are ready to move forward.”
In fact, at the previous Davos meeting in January 2012, high level U.S. and EU officials met behind closed doors with the Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD), a major corporate grouping that promotes a U.S.-E.U. “free trade” agreement. The TABD was represented at the meeting by 21 top corporate executives, and was attended by U.S. Trade Representative Kirk, WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, the European Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht, other top technocrats, and Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs, Michael Froman (who is now the U.S. Trade Representative). The result of the meeting was the release of a report on a “Vision for the Future of EU-US Economic Relations,” which called “to press for urgent action on a visionary and ambitious agenda.” The meeting also recommended the establishment of a “CEO Task Force” to work directly with the “High Level Working Group” of trade ministers and technocrats to chart a way forward.
Just prior to the 2013 meeting in Davos, the TABD corporate group merged with another corporate network to form the Transatlantic Business Council (TBC), a group of top CEOs and chairmen of major corporations, representing roughly 70 major corporations. The purpose of the TBC was to hold “semi-annual meetings with U.S. Cabinet Secretaries and European Commissioners (in Davos and elsewhere).” At the Davos 2013 meeting, the TBC met behind closed doors with high level officials from the U.S. and EU. Michael Froman, who would replace Ron Kirk as the U.S. Trade Rep, spoke at the meeting, declaring that “the transatlantic economy is to become the global benchmark for standards in a globalized world.”
The following month, the U.S. and EU “High Level Working Group” released its final report in which it recommended “a comprehensive trade and investment agreement” between the two regions. Two days after the publication of this report, President Obama issued a joint statement with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, in which they announced 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,” or TTIP. At the announcement, Kirk declared the sectors that will fall under the proposed agreement, stating that, “for us, everything is on the table, across all sectors, including the agricultural sector.”
The World Economic Forum in a World of Unrest
Perhaps most interestingly, the World Economic Forum has been consistently interested in the prospects of social unrest, protests and resistance movements, particularly those that directly confront the interests of corporate and financial power. This became particularly true following the mass protests in 1999 against the World Trade Organization, which disrupted the major trade talks taking place in Seattle and marked the ascendency of what Davos called the “anti-globalization movement.”
These issues were foremost on the minds of the Davos Class as they met less than two months later in Switzerland for the annual WEF meeting in 2000. The New York Times noted that as President Clinton attempted to address the issue of restoring “confidence in trade and globalization” at the WEF, global leaders – particularly those assembled at Davos – were increasingly aware of the new reality that “popular impressions of globalization seem to have shifted” with growing numbers of people, including the protesters in Seattle, voicing criticism of the growing inequality between rich and poor, environmental degradation and financial instability. The head of the WTO declared that “globalism is the new ‘ism’ that everyone loves to hate… There is nothing that our critics will not blame on globalization and, yes, it is hurting us.”
The guests included President Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, along with the leaders of South Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia and Finland, among others. The head of the WTO and many of the world’s trade ministers were also set to attend, hoping to try to re-start negotiations, though protesters were also declaring their intention to disrupt the Forum’s meeting. With these worries in mind, the Swiss Army was deployed to protect the 2,000 members of the Davos Class from being confronted by protesters.
As the World Economic Forum met again in January of 2001 in Davos, “unprecedented security measures” were taken to prevent “hooligans” from disrupting the meeting. On the other side of the world, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, roughly 10,000 activists were expected to converge for the newly-formed World Social Forum, a counter-forum to Davos that represented the interests of activist groups and the Third World. As the Davos Class met quietly behind closed doors, comforted by the concrete blocks and razor wire that surrounded the small town, police on the other side of the fence beat back protesters.
In the wake of the financial crisis, the WEF meeting in 2009 drew hundreds of protesters to Davos and Geneva where they were met by riot police using tear gas and water cannons. Inside the Forum meeting, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde warned the assembled leaders, “We’re facing two major risks: one is social unrest and the second is protectionism.” She noted that the task before the Davos Class was “to restore confidence in the systems and confidence at large.” Protesters assembled outside held signs reading, “You are the Crisis.”
The January 2012 WEF meeting took place following a year of tumultuous and violent upheavals across the Arab world, large anti-austerity movements across much of Europe, notably with the Indignados in Spain, and the Occupy Wall Street movement just months prior in the United States and across much of the world. As the meeting approached, the WEF announced in a report that the top two risks facing business leaders and policy makers were “severe income disparity and chronic fiscal imbalances.” The report warned that if these issues were not addressed it could result in a “dystopian future for much of humanity.” The Occupy Movement had taken the issue of inequality directly to Davos, and there was even a small Occupy protest camp constructed at Davos.
As the Financial Times noted, “Until this year  the issue of inequality never appeared on the risk list at all, let alone topped it.” At the heart of it was “the question of social stability,” with many Davos attendees wondering “where else unrest might appear.” Beth Brooke, the global vice chair of Ernst & Young, noted that “countries which have disappearing middle classes face risks – history shows that.”
With citizens taking to city streets and protesting in public squares from Cairo to Athens and New York, the Financial Times noted that discontent was “rampant,” and that “the only consistent messages seem to be that leaders around the world are failing to deliver on their citizens’ expectations and that Facebook and Twitter allows crowds to coalesce in an instant to let them know it.” For the 40 government leaders assembling in Davos, “this is not a comforting picture.”
In Europe, democratically elected leaders in Italy and Greece had been removed and replaced with economists and central bankers in a technocratic coup only months earlier, largely at the behest of Germany. Mario Draghi, the head of the European Central Bank (ECB), was perhaps “the most powerful leader in Europe,” though an Occupy movement had sprung up at the headquarters of the ECB in Frankfurt as well.
During the Forum, Occupy protesters outside clashed with police. Stephen Roach, a member of the faculty at Yale University and a chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, wrote an article in the Financial Times describing his experiences as a panelist at the “Open Forum,” held on the last day of the Davos gathering, in which citizens from the local community could participate along with students and Occupy protesters. The topic he discussed was “remodeling capitalism,” which, Roach wrote, “was a chance to open up this debate to the seething masses.” But the results were “disturbing” as “chaos erupted immediately” with chants from Occupy protesters denouncing the forum and calling for more to join them. Roach wrote that it was “unruly and unsettling” and he “started thinking more about an escape route than opening comments.”
Once the discussions began, Roach found himself listening to the first panelist, a 24-year-old Occupy protester named Maria who expressed anger at “the system” and that there was a “need to construct a new one based on equality, dignity and respect.” Other panelists from the WEF included Ed Miliband from the U.K., a UN Commissioner, a Czech academic and a minister from the Jordanian dictatorship. Roach noted that compared to Maria from Occupy, “the rest of us on the panel spoke a different language.”
Having spent decades as a banker on Wall Street, Roach confessed that “it as unsettling to engage a hostile crowd whose main complaint is rooted in Occupy Wall Street,” explaining that he attempted to focus on his expertise as an economist, “speaking over hisses.” He explained that all of his “expert” insights on economics “hardly moved this crowd.” Maria from Occupy, Roach wrote, got the last word as she stated, “The aim of Occupy is to think for yourself. We don’t focus on solutions. We want to change the process of finding solutions.” As “the crowd roared its approval,” Roach “made a hasty exit through a secret door in the kitchen and out into the night.” Davos, he wrote, “will never again be the same for me. There can be no retreat in the battle for big ideas.”
In October of 2013, The Economist reported that “from anti-austerity movements to middle-class revolts, in rich countries and in poor, social unrest has been on the rise around the world.” A World Economic Forum report from November 2013 warned of the dangers of a “lost generation” that would “be more prone to populist politics,” and that “we will see an escalation in social unrest.” Over the course of 2013, major financial institutions such as JPMorgan Chase, UBS, HSBC, AXA and others were issuing reports warning of the dangers of social unrest and rebellion. JPMorgan Chase, in its May 2013 report, stated that Europe’s “adjustment” to its new economic order was only “halfway done on average,” warning of major challenges ahead. The report complained about laws hindering the advancement of its agenda, such as “constitutional protection of labor rights… and the right to protest if unwelcome changes are made to the political status quo.”
The 2014 meeting of the World Economic Forum drew more than 40 heads of state, including then-president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, as well as Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Brazilian Presient Dilma Rousseff, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and prominent central bankers such as Mario Draghi and Mark Carney also attended alongside IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and World Bank president Jim Yong Kim.
As the meeting began, a major report by the World Economic Forum was published, declaring that the “single biggest risk to the world in 2014” was the widening “gap between rich and poor.” Thus, income inequality and “social unrest are the issue[s] most likely to have a big impact on the world economy in the next decade.” The report warned that the world was witnessing the “lost generation” of youth around the world who lack jobs and opportunities, which “could easily boil over into social upheaval,” citing recent examples in Brazil and Thailand.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is due to attend the annual Davos meeting this week. But just prior to that meeting, violent protests erupted in the streets of Brazil in opposition to austerity measures imposed by President Rousseff, recalling “the beginnings of the mass street demonstrations that rocked Brazil in June 2013.” One wonders whether Rousseff will be attending next year’s meeting of the WEF, or whether she will still even be president.
Indeed, the growth and power of the Davos Class has grown with – and spurred – the development of global unrest, protests, resistance movements and revolution. As Davos welcomes the global plutocrats to 2015, no doubt they’ll be reminded of the repercussions of the “market system” as populations around the world remind their leaders of the power of people.
The West Marches East, Part 2: Georgia Starts a War, Russia Draws a Line
By: Andrew Gavin Marshall
Originally posted at The Hampton Institute
19 June 2014
In Part 1 of this series – ‘The West Marches East’ – I examined the circumstance that while Russia has received the majority of the blame for the more than six-month-crisis in Ukraine, these events did not take place in a vacuum, and, in fact, the Western powers and institutions – notably the United States, NATO and the European Union – have broke promises made at the end of the Cold War to expand NATO – a Western military alliance that was created in opposition to the Soviet Union – to Russia’s borders. Simultaneously, the European Union has expanded eastwards, bringing Eastern and Central European countries within its orbit and in adherence to its economic orthodoxy. Further, many NATO powers had worked together to promote ‘colour revolutions’ across much of Eastern Europe over the previous decade or so, helping to overthrow pro-Russian leaders and replace them with pro-Western leaders.
After nearly a quarter-century of Western expansion – militarily, politically, economically – to Russia’s borders, Russia has had enough. But Ukraine was not the first instance in which Russia has been provoked by the West into a response that the West subsequently declared as an act of imperial “aggression.” In 2008, the small Caucasus nation and former Soviet republic of Georgia started a war with Russia, leading to Russia’s invasion of the tiny country, effectively ending nearly two decades of NATO and Western expansion. This report examines the 2008 war in Georgia and the roles played by Russia and the NATO powers.
Setting the Stage
As documented in part 1, Georgia was – in 2003 – subjected to a NATO sponsored ‘Colour Revolution’ which removed the previous leader and replaced him with a pro-Western (and Western-educated) politician, Mikeil Saakashvili. In December of 2003, Georgian defense officials met with the U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to discuss enhancing military cooperation between the two countries. The US had sent roughly 60 military trainers to Georgia in 2002, but the Georgians had been lobbying for a US military base in their country.
Instead, the Pentagon decided to ” privatize its military presence in Georgia” through a security contractor, Cubic, which signed a three-year $15 million contract with the Pentagon to support the Georgian ministry of defense. The team from Cubic would engage in training and equipping the Georgian military, as well as protection for the oil pipeline that was to take oil from Baku, Azerbaijan, to Turkey through Georgia. Western diplomats suggested that the country could become a “forward operations area” for the US military, “similar to support structures in the Gulf.” In return for the program, Georgia agreed to send 500 soldiers to Iraq.
As the BBC reported in 2006, Georgia was discarding its ties with Moscow and instead, leading “westwards – towards NATO, and perhaps eventually the European Union.” US military instructors were in the country “to drive that change,” training Georgian soldiers to manage checkpoints in US-occupied Iraq. Georgia was largely uneasy with Russia due to the fact that Moscow provided – since the early 1990s – moral and material support to the country’s two breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. A Georgian corporal deployed in Iraq was quoted in the New York Times in 2007 saying, “As soldiers here [in Iraq], we help the American soldiers… Then America as a country will help our country.” This reflected the implicit thinking within Georgia up until the 2008 war.
In early April of 2008, U.S. President George W. Bush said he “strongly supported” Ukraine and Georgia’s bids to join NATO, despite the enormous objections from Russia, which would then see NATO powers located directly on its borders. Bush made the comments following a NATO meeting, where France, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg all opposed the U.S. position of fast-tracking Georgian and Ukrainian membership into NATO, seeing it as ” an unnecessary offense to Russia.” Shortly after Bush made his announcement, a former Russian armed forces chief of staff said that Russia would ” take military and other steps along its borders if ex-Soviet Ukraine and Georgia join NATO,” claiming that “such a move would pose a direct threat to its security and endanger the fragile balance of forces in Europe.”
Within Georgia and its separatist regions, which were home to Russian soldiers, tensions were increasingly flaring over the summer months of 2008. With both sides undertaking provocative measures, there was a growing awareness that war could break out. In July of 2008, following her visit to the Czech Republic where she signed an agreement to base part of a new U.S. missile defense system in the country, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice traveled to Georgia to meet with the country’s leadership. At that time, U.S. military forces in the region had begun joint exercises with soldiers from Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan. The exercises were taking place less than 100km from Russia’s border, with roughly 1,000 U.S. soldiers and an equal number of Georgian troops. As Rice arrived in Georgia, the Russian foreign ministry issued a statement accusing Georgia “of pushing the region towards war through actions openly supported by the United States.”
Then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev later explained that as tensions escalated into July of 2008, he was in contact with his Georgian counterparts. However, following Secretary Rice’s July 2008 visit to Georgia, he claimed, “my Georgian colleague simply dropped all communication with us. He simply stopped talking to us, he stopped writing letters and making phone calls. It was apparent that he had new plans now. And those plans were implemented later.”
Indeed, as the New York Times noted, when Rice went to Georgia, she had two different goals, one private, and one public. Privately, she reportedly told the Georgians “not to get into a military conflict with Russia that Georgia could not win.” However, in public, standing alongside the Georgian president, Rice spoke defiantly against Russia and in support of Georgia and its “territorial integrity” in the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Standing next to the president, Rice declared that Russia “needs to be a part of resolving the problem… and not contributing to it.” The NYT claimed that these public statements of support for Georgia – and antagonism toward Russia – not to mention the fact that the US was engaging in large-scale military exercises with Georgians, expanding military installations all across Eastern Europe and providing Georgia with military advisers, had the combined effect of sending the small country “mixed messages ” about U.S. support for a war with Russia.
No doubt contributing to these ‘mixed messages’ was when – at the very same news conference with President Saakashvili – Rice was asked a question about a potential conflict with Iran, to which she replied that, “We will defend our interests and defend our allies… We take very, very strongly our obligations to defend our allies and no one should be confused of that.” Apparently, Georgia was a little confused.
When the Soviet Union collapsed and Georgia declared independence, the two regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia gained de facto independence in the early 1990s following conflict between the breakaway regions and the central state. Following this brief period of fighting, tensions were largely reduced, though Russian ‘peacekeepers’ were on the ground monitoring the fragile balance. That balance was upset when Saakashvili became president in 2004, making one of his pledges “national unification.” By 2008, when tensions were reaching a breaking point, there were over 2,000 American civilians in Georgia, according to the Pentagon, with over 130 U.S. military trainers and 30 Defense Department civilians.
Another facet to the increased tensions was the fact that Georgia was an important conduit for a major pipeline, bringing oil from Baku in Azerbaijan through Georgia and to the Turkish port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean. When the pipeline was completed in 2006, it was the second-longest pipeline in the world, and its construction and use was specifically designed to “bypass Russia, denying Moscow leverage over a key resource and a potential source of pressure.” As Jonathan Steele wrote in the Guardian, the resulting war was about more than pipeline politics, however, as it represented “an attempt, sponsored largely by the United States but eagerly subscribed to by several of its new ex-Soviet allies, to reduce every aspect of Russian influence throughout the region, whether it be economic, political, diplomatic or military.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline was built by a consortium of major Western energy corporations, and was “the first pipeline on former Soviet territory that bypasse[d] Russia,” which “was strongly backed by the US as a way of loosening Moscow’s grip on the Caspian’s oil wealth.”
When War Broke Out
On August 7, 2008, war broke out. Georgia claimed that it was responding to an attack on the country by separatists in South Ossetia and Russian aggressors. However, independent military observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) who were deployed in the region refuted the Georgian government’s claim, and instead reported that, “Georgia’s inexperienced military attacked the isolated separatist [South Ossetian] capital of Tskhinvali on Aug. 7 with indiscriminate artillery and rocket fire, exposing civilians, Russian peacekeepers and unarmed monitors to harm.” While Georgian President Saakashvili presented the Georgian military actions as “defensive,” in response to separatist and Russian shelling of Georgian villages, the OSCE monitors were unable to confirm that such villages had been attacked, with no shelling heard in the villages prior to the Georgian bombardment of Tskhinvali. Two senior Western military officials who were stationed in Georgia, working with the Georgian military, told theNew York Times that, “whatever Russia’s behaviour or intentions for the enclave, once Georgia’s artillery or rockets struck Russian positions, conflict with Russia was all but inevitable.”
A year after the war, an EU-commissioned report which took nine months to compile concluded that despite much of the blame at the time of – and since – the war being directed at ‘Russian aggression,’ the conflict began “with a massive Georgian artillery attack.” The “damning indictment” of Georgia, however, blamed both Georgia and Russia for committing war crimes during the conflict, and noted that the conflict resulted from months and years of growing conflict. However, the report flatly stated: ” There was no ongoing armed attack by Russia before the start of the Georgian operation… Georgian claims of a large-scale presence of Russian armed forces in South Ossetia prior to the Georgian offensive could not be substantiated… It could also not be verified that Russia was on the verge of such a major attack.” However, Vladimir Putin stated in 2012 that Russia had drawn up plans to counter a Georgian attack as far back as 2006 and 2007, when he was president. Still, while the Russians were clearly aware – and preparing – for a war, it was ultimately Georgia that fired the first shots.
Months before the war broke out, according to documents and interviews obtained by the Financial Times, senior U.S. military officials and U.S. military contractors were inside Georgia training special forces commandos. The two contractors, MPRI and American Systems, both of which are based in Virginia, were responsible for training the Georgian special forces as part of a program run by the Pentagon. The Pentagon had previously hired MPRI to train the Croatian military in 1995, just prior to the Croatian military’s invasion of the ethnically-Serbian region of Krajina, “which led to the displacement of 200,000 refugees and was one of the worst incidents of ethnic cleansing in the Balkan wars.” MPRI, of course – in both cases – denied “any wrongdoing.” The first phase of the training in Georgia took place between January and April of 2008, and the second phase was due to begin on August 11, with the trainers arriving in Georgia on August 3, four days before the war broke out.
Just prior to the outbreak of war, as U.S. diplomatic cables showed, the U.S. Embassy in Georgia knew and reported about the fact that Georgian forces were concentrating their forces near South Ossetia, “either as part of a show of force or readiness, or both.” The U.S. ambassador reportedly told Georgian officials “to remain calm, not overreact, and to de-escalate the situation.” As the diplomatic cables from Georgia revealed, unlike in neighboring countries, U.S. diplomats in Georgia “relied heavily on the Saakashvili government’s accounts of its own behavior” and embraced the “Georgian versions of important and disputed events.” Whereas in other regional countries, U.S. diplomats would report to Washington on their “private misgivings” about their host countries’ claims, in Georgia, the Saakashvili government’s “versions of events were passed to Washington largely unchallenged.”
The five-day war between Russia and Georgia lasted from August 7 – 12, leading to a decisive Russian victory and a humiliating defeat for the US-puppet regime in Georgia. Months of ‘mixed messages’ and indecision and divisions within the Bush administration directly led to the conflict, inflaming internal confrontations within the Bush administration itself. A New York Times article tells this brief story based upon interviews with diplomats and senior officials in the US, EU, Russia and Georgia. Five months before Georgia started the war – in March of 2008 – President Saakashvili had gone to Washington to lobby for NATO membership at Congress, the State Department and the Pentagon. Bush promised the Georgian president ” to push hard for Georgia’s acceptance into NATO.”
In early April, President Bush flew to the Russian resort city of Sochi where he met with President Putin. Putin delivered Bush a message: “the push to offer Ukraine and Georgia NATO membership was crossing Russia’s ‘red lines’.” The United States, however, clearly underestimated Russia and Putin’s determination to adhere to those ‘red lines’. Meanwhile, Vice President Dick Cheney saw Georgia as a “model” for the administration’s “democracy promotion campaign,” and continued to push for selling Georgia more arms and military equipment “so that it could defend itself against possible Russian aggression.” Opposing Cheney were Secretary of State Rice, National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William J. Burns, who were arguing that ” such a sale would provoke Russia, which would see it as arrogant meddling in its turf.”
While the official line of the Bush administration after the war broke out was to blame Russia, quietly and internally, top U.S. officials noted that Georgia was largely to blame, and that U.S. officials had contributed to that process by sending confused messages. Indeed, as some administration officials reported, the Georgian military had created a “concept of operations” plan for a military operation in South Ossetia which “called for its army units to sweep across the region and rapidly establish such firm control that a Russian response could be pre-empted.” As early as January of 2008, Georgia’s Ministry of Defense laid out plans in a “strategic defense review” which “set out goals for the Georgian armed forces and refers specifically to the threat of conflict in the separatist regions.” U.S. officials had reportedly warned the Georgians that, ” the plan had little chance of success.”
Indeed, as the war was under way, debates were raging within the Bush administration regarding the possible US response. In particular, tensions started to erupt between Bush and Cheney, as Cheney’s office felt that when Bush had previously met Putin in April, his silent response to Putin’s warning “inadvertently gave Russia the all-clear to attack.” There was discussion within the administration (from Cheney’s side of the debate) of launching air strikes to halt the Russian invasion. After four days of talks with the National Security Council (NSC), George Bush “cut off the discussion,” siding with his somewhat more rational advisers, as there was “a clear sense around the table that any military steps could lead to a confrontation with Moscow.”
Putin had also spoken with Georgian president Saakashvili in February of 2008, where he warned the Georgian president: “You think you can trust the Americans, and they will rush to assist you?” Putin then reportedly claimed that, ” Nobody can be trusted! Except me.” Interestingly, in this respect, Putin happened to be correct.
European governments were not big fans of Saakashvili, either, seeing him as “an American-backed hothead who spelled trouble.” During the five-day war, French President Nicolas Sarkozy shuttled between Russia and Georgia attempting to negotiate a ceasefire. Sarkozy reportedly told the Georgians: “Where is Bush? Where are the Americans?… They are not coming to save you. No Europeans are coming, either. You are alone. If you don’t sign [the ceasefire], the Russian tanks will be here soon.”
The day after the war began, the Russians called an emergency session at the United Nations to find a resolution to the conflict. The Russian’s proposed a short, three-paragraph draft resolution calling on all parties to “renounce the use of force.” This phrase ran into opposition from the United States, France and Britain, who claimed the phrase was “unbalanced” because it “would have undermined Georgia’s ability to defend itself.” The US, British and French opposition to “renounce the use of force” led to a collapse of diplomatic attempts at the UN to end the fighting, according to the New York Times. When the French President eventually negotiated a ceasefire on August 12, at least one senior U.S. official (presumably Cheney) was reportedly ” appalled” by the ceasefire text.
Erosi Kitsmarishvili, a former Georgian diplomat and ambassador to Moscow (and confidante of President Saakashvili) caused controversy within Georgia when he testified at a parliamentary hearing in Georgia in November of 2008 that Georgian officials were responsible for starting the war. He said that he was told by Georgian officials in April of 2008 that they had “planned to start a war in Abkhazia,” saying that they “had received a green light from the United States government to do so.” However, he added, the officials later decided to start the war in South Ossetia instead, believing that ” United States officials had given their approval.” He discussed the July 2008 meeting between Georgian officials and Secretary of State Rice, saying, “Some people who attended the meeting between Condoleezza Rice and Saakashvili were saying that Condoleezza Rice gave them the green light for military action,” though U.S. and Georgian officials “categorically denied this information.”
When the war broke out, the United States military airlifted Georgian troops from Iraq back to Georgia to participate in the fighting against Russia. In the Pentagon, a 28-year-old junior staffer, Mark Simakovsky, “almost overnight… became a key policy adviser” to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and other top administration officials. Serving as the Pentagon’s country director for Georgia, he “used his expert knowledge and contacts throughout the government and in Georgia to quickly gather information about developments on the ground.” He was pivotal in shaping the Pentagon’s response to the crisis, including the coordination of airlifting 2,000 Georgian soldiers from Iraq back to Georgia.
Within a week of the Georgian war ending on August 12, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared that the United States “would not push for Georgia to be allowed into NATO” during an upcoming emergency meeting of the NATO countries in Brussels, in what the New York Times reported as, “a tacit admission that America and its European allies lack the stomach for a military fight with Russia.”
However, NATO foreign ministers were expected to reaffirm that they would eventually like to see both Georgia and Ukraine join NATO, but not to fast-track the process through the Membership Action Plan (MAP), for which Georgia and the US had previously been lobbying. In November of 2008, Rice affirmed that the US was no longer attempting to fast-track Georgian and Ukrainian membership into NATO, largely due to opposition from France and Germany . In 2011, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev stated that if Russia hadn’t invaded Georgia in 2008, NATO would have expanded already to include Georgia as a member.
In late August, Russian commanders were reportedly “growing alarmed at the number of NATO warships sailing into the Black Sea.” The U.S. said it was delivering “humanitarian aid on military transport planes and ships,” though the Russians suspected that the Pentagon was shipping in weapons and military equipment “under the guise” of humanitarian assistance.
Weeks following Georgia’s defeat, officials at the White House, Pentagon and State Department were “examining what would be required to rebuild Georgia’s military.” The U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, stated during a news conference that Georgia was ” a very important country to us” and that the U.S. would continue to pursue a “military-to-military relationship.” Both Democrats and Republicans proclaimed their unyielding support for Georgia, as both the John McCain and Barack Obama presidential campaigns had “cultivated close ties” to President Saakashvili. John McCain’s wife and Senator Joe Biden (who would become Obama’s Vice President) had gone to visit Georgia in August of 2008, just following the end of the war.
In early September, President Bush promised $1 billion in ” humanitarian and economic assistance” to help rebuild the country following the war, making Georgia one of the largest recipients of U.S. foreign aid, after Israel, Egypt and Iraq. Comparatively, in the previous 17 years, the United States had provided a total of $1.8 billion in aid to the country. The European Union also pledged to contribute funds to Georgia, as did the International Monetary Fund (IMF), declaring its intention to provide the country with a $750 million loan.
In September of 2008, Vice President Dick Cheney flew to Georgia “to deliver a forceful American pledge to rebuild Georgia and its economy, to preserve its sovereignty and its territory and to bring it into the NATO alliance in defiance of Russia.” Cheney, who arrived in Georgia a day after the U.S. announced a $1 billion rescue package to help the country, then flew to Ukraine to deliver a similar message. Russia, meanwhile, was entrenching its control over the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, recognizing their independence from Georgia and keeping military units stationed within them.
Cheney’s visit, which began in Azerbaijan, then to Georgia and Ukraine, was orchestrated to confirm that the U.S. had “a deep and abiding interest” in the region, and notably in terms of ensuring that these and neighboring countries remained “free from a new era of Russian domination.” Cheney was the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Azerbaijan since it gained independence in 1991. Underscoring the importance of the BP-led pipeline transporting oil from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey, Cheney’s first meetings in Azerbaijan were not with political officials, but with representatives from BP and Chevron.
In the last weeks of the Bush administration, Condoleezza Rice and the Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs signed the U.S.-Georgian Charter on Strategic Partnership. This was followed up by the Obama administration, holding the first meeting of the Strategic Partnership Commission meeting in Washington on June 22, 2009, marking the launch of four bilateral working groups on “democracy, defense and security, economic, trade and energy issues, and people-to-people cultural exchanges.” The Strategic Partnership reflected U.S. commitment “to deepening Georgia’s integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions and enhancing security cooperation,” including eventual membership into NATO.
The Obama administration sent Vice President Joe Biden to Georgia in July of 2009, with Saakashvili lobbying for the U.S. to sell the country weapons, which Russia strongly opposed, considering the rearmament of Georgia to be ” more serious than whether Georgia enters NATO.”
In 2010, Georgia began a “serious push” to lobby the U.S. for “defensive weapons,” notably air defense and anti-tank systems. To help achieve this objective, Georgia spent roughly $1.5 million at four top Washington, D.C. lobbying firms over the course of the year. Meanwhile, Russia had been “intimidating” many of Georgia’s past arms suppliers, including Israel and other Eastern European nations, not to resume arms sales to the country.
In 2010, the United States also resumed its military training exercises in Georgia, which have continued in recent years, much to Russia’s displeasure. However, Saakashvili lost the 2012 elections and was replaced with a billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, who had made his fortune in Russia, leading to slightly improved relations with Putin. In 2013, Russia accused the U.S. of ” putting peace at risk” by holding joint military exercises in Georgia.
Bidzina Ivanishvili was the Georgian Prime Minister from 2012 to 2013, during which time Saakashvili was still president. As the Economist reported in October of 2013, weeks before the Georgian presidential elections to replace him, Saakashvili, who came to power through the U.S.-sponsored ‘Rose Revolution’ in 2003, had, in the following decade, “fought and lost a war with Russia, cracked down on the opposition, dominated the media, interfered with justice and monopolized power .” No wonder Cheney saw him as an ideal representation of America’s “democracy promotion” project.
The billionaire oligarch prime minister, Ivanishvili, Georgia’s richest man, had put his weight behind a presidential candidate, Giorgi Margvelashvili, who subsequently won the October 2013 elections. Under reforms implemented by Saakashvili, the role of president would become “largely ceremonial, with the bulk of power resting with the prime minister.” Ivanishvili proclaimed his intention to turn Georgia into a ” perfect European democracy.”
In May of 2014, months into the Ukrainian conflict, NATO announced its intentions to find ways of bringing Georgia ” even closer” to the military alliance. Just days earlier, both France and Germany “assured Georgia that a deal bringing it closer to the European Union would be sealed soon.”
Georgian officials were holding “extensive discussions” with US and German and other NATO members seeking ways to accelerate the country’s membership into NATO. Whereas previously, the US and NATO powers had decided to put Georgia’s NATO membership on the backburner, the conflict in Ukraine had changed the situation. Georgia’s Defense Minister stated: “Clearly, what’s happening in Ukraine impacts the thinking in Europe… Now it’s very different.” The Defense Minister went to Washington in May 2014 to visit with Vice President Biden and U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
And so, in the more than ten years since Georgia’s U.S. and NATO-supported colour revolution, the West – particularly the United States – have increased Georgia’s military capabilities, armed and trained its forces, all the while aggravating Russia as NATO and Western military, political and economic influence spread ever-closer to its borders. This ultimately resulted in a war. Though, since then – and with the recent conflict in Ukraine – it is clear that rearming Georgia and further aggravating Russia is back on the agenda.
The hypocrisy and imperious expansionism of the West in Georgia is but a minor reflection of a similar process which has been taking place across much of Eastern Europe, and most especially in Ukraine. Thus, despite the never-ending proclamations of “Russian aggression,” it is once again the Western powers, NATO, the EU, the IMF and especially the United States that are the most to blame for the current conflict in Ukraine.
The 2008 war in Georgia had seemingly put an end – or a halt – on NATO’s eastward expansion. Russia had – after 18 years of NATO expansion – finally drawn a line in the sand over how much it was willing to put up with. It was clear, then, that a similar process with Ukraine, a much larger and more strategically significant country than Georgia, was sure to incur a military response from Russia. If anything, the only surprise is that Russia’s military response has been so minimal, comparatively speaking; at least, for the time being. But as this process continues in response to Ukraine’s crisis, and as NATO and the U.S. military, the EU and the IMF accelerate their advance eastward, future conflict is seemingly all but inevitable.
No doubt, when that conflict comes, we will once again hear the amnesic proclamations of “Russian aggression” and Western benevolence.
Andrew Gavin Marshall is a 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 the World of Resistance (WoR) Report, and hosts a weekly podcast show with BoilingFrogsPost.
The West Marches East, Part 1: The U.S.-NATO Strategy to Isolate Russia
By: Andrew Gavin Marshall
17 April 2014
Originally posted at The Hampton Institute
In early March of 2014, following Russia’s invasion of Crimea in Ukraine, the New York Times editorial board declared that Russian President Vladimir Putin had “stepped far outside the bounds of civilized behavior,” suggesting that Russia should be isolated politically and economically in the face of “continued aggression.”
John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, lashed out at Russia’s ” incredible act of aggression,” stating that: “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on [a] completely trumped up pre-text.” Indeed, invading foreign nations on “trumped up pre-texts” is something only the United States and its allies are allowed to do, not Russia! What audacity!
Even Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, proclaimed Russia’s actions in Ukraine to be “aggressive, militaristic and imperialistic ,” threatening “the peace and stability of the world.” This is, of course, despite the fact that Russia’s invasion and occupation of Crimea took place without a single shot fired, and “faced no real opposition and has been greeted with joy by many citizens in the only region of Ukraine with a clear majority of ethnic Russians.”
Indeed, Russia can only be said to be an “aggressive” and “imperial” power so long as one accepts the unrelenting hypocrisy of U.S. and Western leaders. After all, it was not Russia that invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq, killing millions. It is not Putin, but rather Barack Obama, who has waged a “global terror campaign,” compiling “kill lists” and using flying killer robots to bomb countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and even the Philippines, killing thousands of people around the world. It is not Putin, but rather, Barack Obama, who has been sending highly-trained killers into over 100 countries around the world at any given time, waging a “secret war” in most of the world’s nations. It was not Russia, but rather the United States, that has supported the creation of “death squads” in Iraq, contributing to the mass violence, civil war and genocide that resulted; or that has been destabilizing Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation, increasing the possibility of nuclear war.
All of these actions are considered to be a part of America’s strategy to secure ‘stability,’ to promote ‘peace’ and ‘democracy.’ It’s Russia that threatens “the peace and stability of the world,” not America or its NATO and Western allies. That is, of course, if you believe the verbal excretions from Western political leaders. The reality is that the West, with the United States as the uncontested global superpower, engages the rest of the world on the basis of ‘Mafia Principles’ of international relations: the United States is the global ‘Godfather’ of the Mafia crime family of Western industrial nations (the NATO powers). Countries like Russia and China are reasonably-sized crime families in their own right, but largely dependent upon the Godfather, with whom they both cooperate and compete for influence.
When the Mafia – and the Godfather – are disobeyed, whether by small nations (such as Iraq, Syria, Libya, et. al.), or by larger gangster states like China or Russia, the Godfather will seek to punish them. Disobedience cannot be tolerated. If a small country can defy the Godfather, then any country can. If a larger gangster state like Russia can defy the Godfather and get away with it, they might continue to challenge the authority of the Godfather.
For the U.S. and its NATO-capo Mafia allies, Ukraine and Russia have presented a complex challenge: how does one punish Russia and control Ukraine without pushing Russia too far outside the influence of the Mafia, itself? In other words, the West seeks to punish Russia for its “defiance” and “aggression,” but, if the West pushes too hard, it might find a Russia that pushes back even harder. That is, after all, how we got into this situation in the first place.
A little historical context helps elucidate the current clash of gangster states. Put aside the rhetoric of “democracy” and let’s deal with reality.
The Cold War Legacy
The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union between 1989 and 1991 witnessed the emergence of what was termed by President George H.W. Bush a ‘new world order’ in which the United States reigned as the world’s sole superpower, proclaiming ‘victory’ over the Soviet Union and ‘Communism’: the age of ‘free markets’ and ‘democracy’ was at hand.
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 prompted the negotiated withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Eastern Europe. The ‘old order’ of Europe was at an end, and a new one “needed to be established quickly,” noted Mary Elise Sarotte in the New York Times. This ‘new order’ was to begin with “the rapid reunification of Germany.” Negotiations took place in 1990 between Soviet president Gorbachev, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and President Bush’s Secretary of State, James A. Baker 3rd. The negotiations sought to have the Soviets remove their 380,000 troops from East Germany. In return, both James Baker and Helmut Kohl promised Gorbachev that the Western military alliance of NATO would not expand eastwards. West Germany’s foreign minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, promised Gorbachev that, ” NATO will not expand itself to the East.” Gorbachev agreed, though asked – and did not receive – the promise in writing, remaining a “gentlemen’s agreement.”
The U.S. Ambassador to the USSR from 1987 to 1991, John F. Matlock Jr., later noted that the end of the Cold War was not ‘won’ by the West, but was brought about “by negotiation to the advantage of both sides.” Yet, he noted, “the United States insisted on treating Russia as the loser .” The United States almost immediately violated the agreement established in 1990, and NATO began moving eastwards, much to the dismay of the Russians. The new Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, warned that NATO’s expansion to the East threatened a ‘cold peace’ and was a violation of the ” spirit of conversations ” that took place in February of 1990 between Soviet, West German and American leaders.
In 1990, President Bush’s National Security Strategy for the United States acknowledged that, “even as East-West tensions diminish, American strategic concerns remain,” noting that previous U.S. military interventions which were justified as a response to Soviet ‘threats’, were – in actuality – “in response to threats to U.S. interests that could not be laid at the Kremlin’s door,” and that, “the necessity to defend our interests will continue.” In other words, decades of justifications for war by the United States – blaming ‘Soviet imperialism’ and ‘Communism’ – were lies, and now that the Soviet Union no longer existed as a threat, American imperialism will still have to continue.
Former National Security Adviser – and arch-imperial strategist – Zbigniew Brzezinski noted in 1992 that the Cold War strategy of the United States in advocating “liberation” against the USSR and Communism (thus justifying military interventions all over the world), ” was a strategic sham, designed to a significant degree for domestic political reasons… the policy was basically rhetorical, at most tactical.”
The Pentagon drafted a strategy in 1992 for the United States to manage the post-Cold War world, where the primary mission of the U.S. was “to ensure that no rival superpower is allowed to emerge in Western Europe, Asia or the territories of the former Soviet Union.” As the New York Times noted, the document – largely drafted by Pentagon officials Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney – “makes the case fora 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.”
This strategy was further enshrined with the Clinton administration, whose National Security Adviser, Anthony Lake, articulated the ‘Clinton doctrine’ in 1993 when he stated that: “The successor to a doctrine of containment must be a strategy of enlargement – enlargement of the world’s free community of market democracies,” which “must combine our broad goals of fostering democracy and marketswith our more traditional geostrategic interests.”
Under Bill Clinton’s imperial presidency, the United States and NATO went to war against Serbia, ultimately tore Yugoslavia to pieces (itself representative of a ‘third way’ of organizing society, different than both the West and the USSR), and NATO commenced its Eastward expansion . In the late 1990s, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic entered the NATO alliance, and in 2004, seven former Soviet republics joined the alliance.
In 1991, roughly 80% of Russians had a ‘favorable’ view of the United States; by 1999, roughly 80% had an unfavorable view of America. Vladimir Putin, who was elected in 2000, initially followed a pro-Western strategy for Russia, supporting NATO’s invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, receiving only praise from President George W. Bush, who then proceeded to expand NATO further east .
The Color Revolutions
Throughout the 2000s, the United States and other NATO powers, allied with billionaires like George Soros and his foundations scattered throughout the world, worked together to fund and organize opposition groups in multiple countries across Eastern and Central Europe, promoting ‘democratic regime change’ which would ultimately bring to power more pro-Western leaders. It began in 2000 in Serbia with the removal of Slobodan Milosevic.
The United States had undertaken a $41 million “democracy-building campaign” in Serbia to remove Milosevic from power, which included funding polls, training thousands of opposition activists, which the Washington Post referred to as “the first poll-driven, focus group-tested revolution,” which was “a carefully researched strategy put together by Serbian democracy activists with the active assistance of Western advisers and pollsters.” Utilizing U.S.-government funded organizations aligned with major political parties, like the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) channeled money, assistance and training to activists (Michael Dobbs, Washington Post, 11 December 2000).
Mark Almond wrote in the Guardian in 2004 that, “throughout the 1980s, in the build-up to 1989’s velvet revolutions, a small army of volunteers – and, let’s be frank, spies – co-operated to promote what became People Power.” This was represented by “a network of interlocking foundations and charities [which] mushroomed to organize the logistics of transferring millions of dollars to dissidents.” The money itself ” came overwhelmingly from NATO states and covert allies such as ‘neutral’ Sweden,” as well as through the billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundation. Almond noted that these “modern market revolutionaries” would bring people into office “with the power to privatize.” Activists and populations are mobilized with “a multimedia vision of Euro-Atlantic prosperity by Western-funded ‘independent’ media to get them on the streets.” After successful Western-backed ‘revolutions’ comes the usual economic ‘shock therapy’ which brings with it “mass unemployment, rampant insider dealing, growth of organized crime, prostitution and soaring death rates.” Ah, democracy!
Following Serbia in 2000, the activists, Western ‘aid agencies’, foundations and funders moved their resources to the former Soviet republic of Georgia, where in 2003, the ‘Rose Revolution’ replaced the president with a more pro-Western (and Western-educated) leader, Mikheil Saakashvili, a protégé of George Soros, who played a significant role in funding so-called ‘pro-democracy’ groups in Georgia that the country has often been referred to as ‘Sorosistan’. In 2004, Ukraine became the next target of Western-backed ‘democratic’ regime change in what became known as the ‘Orange Revolution’. Russia viewed these ‘color revolutions’ as “U.S.-sponsored plots using local dupes to overthrow governments unfriendly to Washington and install American vassals.”
Mark MacKinnon, who was the Globe and Mail‘s Moscow bureau chief between 2002 and 2005, covered these Western-funded protests and has since written extensively on the subject of the ‘color revolutions.’ Reviewing a book of his on the subject, the Montreal Gazette noted that these so-called revolutions were not “spontaneous popular uprisings, but in fact were planned and financed either directly by American diplomats or through a collection of NGOs acting as fronts for the United States government,” and that while there was a great deal of dissatisfaction with the ruling, corrupt elites in each country, the ‘democratic opposition’ within these countries received their “marching orders and cash from American and European officials, whose intentions often had to do more with securing access to energy resources and pipeline routes than genuine interest in democracy.”
The ‘Orange Revolution’ in Ukraine in 2004 was – as Ian Traynor wrote in the Guardian – ” an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing,” with funding and organizing from the U.S. government, “deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-governmental organizations.”
In Ukraine, the contested elections which spurred the ‘Orange Revolution’ saw accusations of election fraud leveled against Viktor Yanukovich by his main opponent, Viktor Yuschenko. Despite claims of upholding democracy, Yuschenko had ties to the previous regime, having served as Prime Minister in the government of Leonid Kuchma, and with that, had close ties to the oligarchs who led and profited from the mass privatizations of the post-Soviet era. Yuschenko, however, “got the western nod, and floods of money poured into groups which support[ed] him.” As Jonathan Steele noted in the Guardian, “Ukraine has been turned into a geostrategic matter not by Moscow but by the US, which refuses to abandon its cold war policy of encircling Russia and seeking to pull every former Soviet republic to its side.”
As Mark McKinnon wrote in the Globe and Mail some years later, the uprisings in both Georgia and Ukraine “had many things in common, among them the fall of autocrats who ran semi-independent governments that deferred to Moscow when the chips were down,” as well as being “spurred by organizations that received funding from the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy,” reflecting a view held by Western governments that “promoting democracy” in places like the Middle East and Eastern Europe was in fact “a code word for supporting pro-Western politicians .” These Western-sponsored uprisings erupted alongside the ever-expanding march of NATO to Russia’s borders.
The following year – in 2005 – the Western-supported ‘colour revolutions’ hit the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan in what was known as the ‘Tulip Revolution’. Once again, contested elections saw the mobilization of Western-backed civil society groups, “independent” media, and NGOs – drawing in the usual funding sources of the National Endowment for Democracy, the NDI, IRI, Freedom House, and George Soros, among others. The New York Times reported that the “democratically inspired revolution” western governments were praising began to look ” more like a garden-variety coup .” Efforts not only by the U.S., but also Britain, Norway and the Netherlands were pivotal in preparing the way for the 2005 uprising in Kyrgyzstan. The then-President of Kyrgyzstan blamed the West for the unrest experienced in his country.
The U.S. NGOs that sponsored the ‘color revolutions’ were run by former top government and national security officials, including Freedom House, which was chaired by former CIA Director James Woolsey, and other “pro-democracy” groups funding these revolts were led by figures such as Senator John McCain or Bill Clinton’s former National Security Adviser Anthony Lake, who had articulated the national security strategy of the Clinton administration as being one of “enlargement of the world’s free community of market democracies.” These organizations effectively act as an extension of the U.S. government apparatus, advancing U.S. imperial interests under the veneer of “pro-democracy” work and institutionalized in purportedly “non”-governmental groups.
By 2010, however, most of the gains of the ‘color revolutions’ that spread across Eastern Europe and Central Asia had taken several steps back. While the “political center of gravity was tilting towards the West,” noted Time Magazine in April of 2010, “now that tend has reversed,” with the pro-Western leadership of both Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan both having once again been replaced with leaders ” far friendlier to Russia.” The “good guys” that the West supported in these countries, “proved to be as power hungry and greedy as their predecessors, disregarding democratic principles… in order to cling to power, and exploiting American diplomatic and economic support as part of [an] effort to contain domestic and outside threats and win financial assistance.” Typical behavior for vassal states to any empire.
The ‘Enlargement’ of the European Union: An Empire of Economics
The process of European integration and growth of the European Union has – over the past three decades – been largely driven by powerful European corporate and financial interests, notably by the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT), an influential group of roughly 50 of Europe’s top CEOs who lobby and work directly with Europe’s political elites to design the goals and methods of European integration and enlargement of the EU, advancing the EU to promote and institutionalize neoliberal economic reforms: austerity, privatizations, liberalization of markets and the destruction of labour power.
The enlargement of the European Union into Eastern Europe reflected a process of Eastern European nations having to implement neoliberal reforms in order to join the EU, including mass privatizations, deregulation, liberalization of markets and harsh austerity measures. The enlargement of the EU into Central and Eastern Europe advanced in 2004 and 2007, when new states were admitted into EU membership, including Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.
These new EU members were hit hard by the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, and subsequently forced to impose harsh austerity measures. They have been slower to ‘recover’ than other nations, increasingly having to deal with “political instability and mass unemployment and human suffering.” The exception to this is Poland, which did not implement austerity measures, which has left the Polish economy in a better position than the rest of the new EU members. The financial publication Forbeswarned in 2013 that “the prospect of endless economic stagnation in the newest EU members… will, sooner or later, bring extremely deleterious political consequences .”
In the words of a senior British diplomat, Robert Cooper, the European Union represents a type of “cooperative empire.” The expansion of the EU into Central and Eastern Europe brought increased corporate profits, with new investments and cheap labour to exploit. Further, the newer EU members were more explicitly pro-market than the older EU members that continued to promote a different social market economy than those promoted by the Americans and British. With these states joining the EU, noted the Financial Times in 2008, “the new member states have reinforced the ranks of the free marketeers and free traders,” as they increasingly “team up with northern states to vote for deregulation and liberalization of the market.”
The West Marches East
For the past quarter-century, Russia has stood and watched as the United States, NATO, and the European Union have advanced their borders and sphere of influence eastwards to Russia’s borders. As the West has marched East, Russia has consistently complained of encroachment and its views of this process as being a direct threat to Russia. The protests of the former superpower have largely gone ignored or dismissed. After all, in the view of the Americans, they “won” the Cold War, and therefore, Russia has no say in the post-Cold War global order being shaped by the West.
The West’s continued march East to Russia’s borders will continue to be examined in future parts of this series. For Russia, the problem is clear: the Godfather and its NATO-Mafia partners are ever-expanding to its borders, viewed (rightly so) as a threat to the Russian gangster state itself. Russia’s invasion of Crimea – much like its 2008 invasion of Georgia – are the first examples of Russia’s push back against the Western imperial expansion Eastwards. This, then, is not a case of “Russian aggression,” but rather, Russian reaction to the West’s ever-expanding imperialism and global aggression.
The West may think that it has domesticated and beaten down the bear, chained it up, make it dance and whip it into obedience. But every once in a while, the bear will take a swipe back at the one holding the whip. This is inevitable. And so long as the West continued with its current strategy, the reactions will only get worse in time.
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.
A New World War for a New World Order
The Origins of World War III: Part 3
Global Research, December 17, 2009
This article is Part 3 in the Series, “The Origins of World War III.”
In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, I have analyzed US and NATO geopolitical strategy since the fall of the Soviet Union, in expanding the American empire and preventing the rise of new powers, containing Russia and China. This Part examines the implications of this strategy in recent years; following the emergence of a New Cold War, as well as analyzing the war in Georgia, the attempts and methods of regime change in Iran, the coup in Honduras, the expansion of the Afghan-Pakistan war theatre, and spread of conflict in Central Africa. These processes of a New Cold War and major regional wars and conflicts take the world closer to a New World War. Peace is only be possible if the tools and engines of empires are dismantled.
Eastern Europe: Forefront of the New Cold War
In 2002, the Guardian reported that, “The US military build-up in the former Soviet republics of central Asia is raising fears in Moscow that Washington is exploiting the Afghan war to establish a permanent, armed foothold in the region.” Further, “The swift construction of US military bases is also likely to ring alarm bells in Beijing.”
In 2004, it was reported that US strategy “is to position U.S. forces along an “arc of instability” that runs through the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia and southern Asia. It is in these parts of the world –generally poor, insular and unstable –that military planners see the major future threats to U.S. interests.”
In 2005, it was reported that talks had been going on between the US and Poland since 2002, along with various other countries, “over the possibility of setting up a European base to intercept long-range missiles.” It was further reported that, “such a base would not have been conceivable before Poland joined Nato in 1999.”
In November of 2007 it was reported that, “Russia threatened to site short-range nuclear missiles in a second location on the European Union’s border yesterday if the United States refuses to abandon plans to erect a missile defence shield.” A senior Russian “army general said that Iskander missiles could be deployed in Belarus if US proposals to place 10 interceptor missiles and a radar in Poland and the Czech Republic go ahead.” Putin “also threatened to retrain Russia’s nuclear arsenal on targets within Europe.” However, “Washington claims that the shield is aimed not at Russia but at states such as Iran which it accuses of seeking to develop nuclear weapons that could one day strike the West.”
This is a patently absurd claim, as in May 2009, Russian and American scientists released a report saying “that it would take Iran at least another six to eight years to produce a missile with enough range to reach Southern Europe and that only illicit foreign assistance or a concerted and highly visible, decade-long effort might produce the breakthroughs needed for a nuclear-tipped missile to threaten the United States.” Even in December of 2007, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released by all 16 US intelligence agencies reported that, “Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains frozen.”
Russia has concerns not only about missile interceptors in Poland, which it claims are aimed at Russia, but is also concerned about “an advanced missile-tracking radar that the Pentagon wants to place in the Czech Republic.” Further, in 2007, the Guardian reported that, “Russia is preparing its own military response to the US’s controversial plans to build a new missile defence system in eastern Europe, according to Kremlin officials, in a move likely to increase fears of a cold war-style arms race.” A Kremlin spokesman said of the Polish missile defenses and the Czech radar system, that, “We were extremely concerned and disappointed. We were never informed in advance about these plans. It brings tremendous change to the strategic balance in Europe, and to the world’s strategic stability.”
In May of 2008, it was reported that, “President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia and President Hu Jintao of China met … to conclude a deal on nuclear cooperation and together condemn American proposals for a missile shield in Europe. Both countries called the plan a setback to international trust that was likely to upset the balance of power.”
In July of 2008, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that it “will be forced to make a military response if the U.S.-Czech missile defense agreement is ratified,” and that, “we will be forced to react not with diplomatic, but with military-technical methods.” In August of 2008, the US and Poland reached a deal “to place an American missile defense base on Polish territory.” Russia responded by “saying that the move would worsen relations with the United States.” Russia further said “the US had shown that Russia was the true target of the defensive shield, as tension between the two powers continued to rise over the conflict in Georgia.” The Deputy Head of Russia’s general staff “warned that Poland was making itself a target for Russia’s military.”
It was further reported that, “General Anatoly Nogovitsyn said that any new US assets in Europe could come under Russian nuclear attack with his forces targeting ‘the allies of countries having nuclear weapons’,” and that, “Such targets are destroyed as a first priority.”
In April of 2009, Obama said, “that the U.S. missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland will go forward.” In May of 2009, Russia said that it “could deploy its latest Iskander missiles close to Poland if plans to install U.S. Patriots on Polish soil go ahead.” In July of 2009, Russian President Medvedev said that, “Russia will still deploy missiles near Poland if the US pushes ahead with a missile shield in Eastern Europe.”
Iran and the China-Russia Alliance
The Bush regime used hostile rhetoric against Iran, threatening possible war against the country. However, Iran will not be in any way similar to the military adventurism seen in Iraq. A war against Iran will bring China and Russia to war with the west. Chinese and Russian investments with Iran, both in terms of military cooperation as well as nuclear proliferation and energy ties, have driven the interests of Iran together with those of China and Russia.
In 2007, both Russia and China warned against any attack on Iran by the west. From 2004 onwards, China became Iran’s top oil export market, and Iran is China’s third largest supplier of oil, following Angola and Saudi Arabia. China and Iran signed a gas deal in 2008 worth 100 billion dollars. Further, “Beijing is helping Tehran to build dams, shipyards and many other projects. More than 100 Chinese state companies are operating in Iran to develop ports and airports in the major Iranian cities, mine-development projects and oil and gas infrastructures.” Also, “China, Iran and Russia maintain identical foreign policy positions regarding Taiwan and Chechnya,” which only further strengthens their alliance.
In August of 2008, a senior Iranian defense official warned that any attack against Iran would trigger a world war. In February of 2009, Iran and Russia announced that, “Iran and Russia are to boost military cooperation.” Russia has also been selling arms and advanced weapons systems to both Iran and Venezuela. In 2008, OPEC warned against an attack on Iran, saying that, “oil prices would see an ‘unlimited’ increase in the case of a military conflict involving Iran, because the group’s members would be unable to make up the lost production.”
In 2001, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was founded as a mutual security organization between the nations of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Its main focus is on Central Asian security matters, such as “terrorism, separatism and extremism.” Nations with Observer status in the SCO are India, Mongolia, Pakistan and Iran. The SCO also emphasizes economic ties between the nations, and serves as a counter to American hegemony in Central Asia.
In October of 2007, the SCO, headed by China, signed an agreement with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), headed by Russia, in an effort to bolster and strengthen links in defense and security between the two major nations. The CSTO was formed in 2002 between Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. In 2007, it was suggested that Iran could join the CSTO. In April of 2009, it was reported that the CSTO is building up its cooperation with Iran, acting as a counterweight to NATO. In February of 2009, following a summit, the CSTO had “produced an agreement to set up a joint rapid-reaction force intended to respond to the ‘broadest range of threats and challenges’.” The rapid-reaction force “will comprise large military units from five countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan,” and is seen as a force to rival NATO.
In April of 2009, Russia and China “announced plans for an intensified programme of military cooperation yesterday as part of a burgeoning ‘strategic partnership’,” and that, “As many as 25 joint manoeuvres will be staged this year in a demonstration of strengthening ties between Moscow and Beijing.” Further, “Russia and China staged their first joint war games in 2005 after resolving outstanding border disputes between them. However, Moscow views Beijing as a lucrative market for defence exports and has sold billions of dollars of weaponry to China since the collapse of the Soviet Union ended their Communist rivalry.” Important to note is that, “Both states have a keen interest in keeping the United States and Europe out of Central Asia as competition intensifies for access to the region’s enormous oil and gas reserves.”
In June of 2009, “China and Russia signed a series of new agreements to broaden their collaborations in trade, investment and mining, including the framework on $700 million loan between Export-Import Bank of China and Russian Bank of Foreign Trade.” Of great importance, “Memorandums on bilateral gas and coal cooperation are likely to lead the two countries’ energy links to cover all the main sectors, from coal, oil, electricity, gas to nuclear power.” The leaders of both nations said that they “hoped the two countries will also increase their joint projects in science and technology, agriculture, telecommunications and border trade.”
In April of 2009, China and Russia signed a major oil pipeline deal to supply China with Russian oil. In July of 2009, China and Russia underwent a week-long war game exercise of land and air forces, “designed to counter a hypothetical threat from Islamist extremists or ethnic separatists that both countries insist look increasingly realistic.” In particular, “both are driven by a growing sense of urgency stemming from what they see as a deteriorating security picture in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan.”
The Georgian War: Spreading Conflict in the Caucasus
After the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia’s northern province of South Ossetia declared independence but failed to be internationally recognized. South Ossetia as well as Georgia’s other largely autonomous province, Abkhazia, had traditionally been allied with Russia. There had been long-standing tensions between South Ossetia and Georgia and a shaky ceasefire.
On August 1, 2008, six people were killed in South Ossetia when fighting broke out between Georgian and South Ossetian forces. Both sides blamed each other for opening fire first, with Russian peacekeepers blaming Georgia and the Georgians blaming Russian peacekeepers.
On August 5, Russia announced that it would “defend its citizens living in the conflict zone” if a conflict were to erupt in Georgia, and the South Ossetian President said Georgia was “attempting to spark a full-scale war.” Further, South Ossetian children were being evacuated out of the conflict zone, an act that was “condemned” by Georgia, saying that the separatists were “using their youngsters as political propaganda.”
On August 7, a ceasefire was announced between Georgia and South Ossetia, with Russia acting as a mediator between the two. On the night of August 7, five hours after the declared ceasefire, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili began a military operation against the capital city of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali. The Georgian attack targeted hospitals, the university and left the city without food, water, electricity and gas.
Georgian forces surrounded the city and their troops and tanks continued to assault the civilian targets. On the 8th of August, Russia called for an end to the military offensive. Reportedly, 2,000 civilians were killed by this point in South Ossetia, so Russia sent troops into the area. Russian Prime Minister Putin referred to Georgian actions as “genocide” and Russia also reportedly bombed a Georgian town. Immediately, the US called for “an end to the Russian bombings.” The Georgian President called it an “unprovoked brutal Russian invasion.” Much of Tskhinvali was left in ruins after the Georgian offensive, with 34,000 South Ossetian refugees in Russia.
Georgia, which had 2,000 troops deployed in Iraq, announced on August 9th that they would be pulling 1,000 troops out of Iraq to be deployed into South Ossetia, with the US providing the transportation for Georgian troops to get back to Georgia. However, the Russian advance pushed the Georgian troops back, recapturing the city and damaging much of Georgia’s military infrastructure. The Russian troops also entered the other breakaway province of Abkhazia and even occupied the Georgian city of Gori.
On August 12, the Russians announced an end to their military operations in Georgia and on August 13th, the last remaining Georgian troops pulled out of South Ossetia.
However, there is much more to this story than simply a conflict between a small Central Asian nation and Russia. It is important to remember the role played by American NGOs in putting the Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili into power through the Rose Revolution in 2003 [See: Colour-Coded Revolutions and the Origins of World War III]. The US then developed closer ties with Georgia. Even before the Rose Revolution, in 2002, US military advisers were in Georgia in an effort to open up a “new front” in the war on terror, with Americans there to “train the Georgian army in how to counter militant activity.” Also in 2002, hundreds of US Green Berets and 200 Special Forces arrived in Georgia to train Georgian forces “for anti-terrorism and counterinsurgency operations.” Russia warned against US involvement in Georgia, saying that it could “complicate” the situation.
US and Georgian troops even conducted war games and military exercises together. In July of 2008, it was reported that 1,000 US troops in Georgia began a military training exercise with Georgian troops called “Immediate Response 2008.” The same report stated that “Georgia and the Pentagon [cooperated] closely.” The training exercise came amidst growing tensions between Russia and Georgia, while the US was simultaneously supporting Georgia’s bid to become a NATO member.
Further, 1,200 US servicemen and 800 Georgians were to train for three weeks at a military base near the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. The exercise was being run in cooperation with NATO and was preceded by a visit to Georgia by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, where she met with the President and stated that, “the future of Georgia is in NATO.”
However, these exercises and increased military cooperation between the US and Georgia did not go unnoticed by Russia, which simultaneously began military exercises on the other side of the Caucasus mountains, involving up to 8,000 Russian servicemen. Clearly, Russia itself was aware of the potential for a military conflict in the region.
When the conflict with Russia began, there were US military instructors in Georgia, and Russia’s envoy to NATO also accused NATO of encouraging Georgia to take the offensive against South Ossetia.
The US was not the only western nation to aid Georgia, as the unofficial NATO member, Israel, also played a part in arming Georgia. The Georgian tanks and artillery that captured the South Ossetian capital were aided by Israeli military advisers. Further, for up to a year leading up to the conflict, the Georgian President had commissioned upwards of 1,000 military advisers from private Israeli security firms to train the Georgian armed forces, as well as offer instruction on military intelligence and security. Georgia also purchased military equipment from Israel.
The War in Georgia was designed to escalate tensions between NATO and Russia, using the region as a means to create a wider conflict. However, Russia’s decision to end the combat operations quickly worked to its benefit and had the effect of diminishing the international tensions. The issue of NATO membership for Georgia is very important, because had it been a NATO member, the Russian attack on Georgia would have been viewed as an attack on all NATO members. The war in Afghanistan was launched by NATO on the premises of ‘an attack against one is an attack against all.’
It also was significant that there was a large pipeline deal in the works, with Georgia sitting in a key strategic position. Georgia lies between Russia and Turkey, between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea, and above Iran and Iraq. The significance of Georgia as a strategic outpost cannot be underestimated. This is true, particularly when it comes to pipelines.
The Baku Tblisi Ceyhan (BTC) Pipeline, the second largest pipeline in the world, travels from Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, through Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, to Ceyhan, a Mediterranean port city in Turkey. This pipeline creates a route that bypasses both Iran and Russia, to bring Caspian Basin oil resources “to the United States, Israel and Western European markets.” The US company Bechtel, was the main contractor for construction, procurement and engineering, while British Petroleum (BP), is the leading shareholder in the project. Israel gets much of its oil via Turkey through the BTC pipeline route, which likely played a large part in Israel’s support for Georgia in the conflict, as a continual standoff between the West and the East (Russia/China) takes place for control of the world’s resources.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, co-founder, with David Rockefeller, of the Trilateral Commission, and Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser who played a key role in the creation of the Afghan Mujahideen, which became known as Al-Qaeda, wrote an op-ed for Time Magazine at the outbreak of the Russia-Georgia conflict. Brzezinski, being a Cold War kingpin of geopolitical strategy, naturally blamed Russia for the conflict. However, he also revealed the true nature of the conflict.
He started by blaming Russia’s “invasion of Georgia” on its “imperial aims.” Brzezinski blamed much of this on the “intense nationalistic mood that now permeates Russia’s political elite.” Brzezinski went on to explain Georgia’s strategic significance; stating that, “an independent Georgia is critical to the international flow of oil,” since the BTC pipeline “provides the West access to the energy resources of central Asia.” Brzezinski warned Russia of being “ostracized internationally,” in particular its business elite, calling them “vulnerable” because “Russia’s powerful oligarchs have hundreds of billions of dollars in Western bank accounts,” which would be subject to a possible “freezing” by the West in the event of a “Cold War-style standoff.” Brzezinski’s op-ed essentially amounted to geopolitical extortion.
Regime Change in Iran
There was, for many years, a split in the administration of George W. Bush in regards to US policy towards Iran. On the one hand, there was the hardliner neoconservative element, led by Dick Cheney, with Rumsfeld in the Pentagon; who were long pushing for a military confrontation with Iran. On the other hand, there was Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State, who was pushing for a more diplomatic, or “soft” approach to Iran.
In February of 2006, Condoleezza Rice introduced a new Iran strategy to the Senate, “emphasizing the tools of so-called soft diplomacy. She called for ramping up funding to assist pro-democracy groups, public diplomacy initiatives, and cultural and education fellowships, in addition to expanding U.S.-funded radio, television, and Internet and satellite-based broadcasting, which are increasingly popular among younger Iranians.” She added that, “we are going to work to support the aspirations of the Iranian people for freedom in their country.” There were three main facets to the program: “Expanding independent radio and television”; “Funding pro-democracy groups,” which “would lift bans on U.S. financing of Iran-based nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), trade unions, human rights groups, and opposition candidates”; and “Boosting cultural and education fellowships and exchanges,” which “would help pay Iranian students and scholars to enroll in U.S. universities.”
This marked a significant change in U.S. foreign policy with Iran, which would have the effect of making Iran’s domestic situation “more intense,” or as one expert put it, “this is the thing that can undo this regime.” Another expert stated that if the strategy failed, “we will have wasted the money, but worse than that, helped discredit legitimate opposition groups as traitors who receive money from the enemy to undermine Iran ‘s national interest.”
In March of 2006, the Iraq Study Group was assembled as a group of high level diplomats and strategic elites to reexamine US policy toward Iraq, and more broadly, to Iran as well. It proposed a softer stance towards Iran, and one of its members, Robert Gates, former CIA director, left the Group in November of 2006 to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. Cheney had fought to keep his ally in the Pentagon, but had failed in not only that, but also in preventing Robert Gates from being his replacement.
In February of 2006, the Guardian reported that the Bush administration received “a seven-fold increase in funding to mount the biggest ever propaganda campaign against the Tehran government,” and quoted Secretary Rice as saying, “we will work to support the aspirations of the Iranian people for freedom and democracy in their country.” The “US is to increase funds to Iranian non-governmental bodies that promote democracy, human rights and trade unionism,” which started in 2005 for the first time since 1980, and that, “the US would seek to help build new dissident networks.”
In April of 2006, the Financial Times reported that, “The US and UK are working on a strategy to promote democratic change in Iran,” as “Democracy promotion is a rubric to get the Europeans behind a more robust policy without calling it regime change.” Christian Science Monitor reported that the goal of the strategy was “regime change from within,” in the form of “a pro-democracy revolution.”
In July of 2007, it was reported that the White House had “shifted back in favour of military action,” at the insistence of Cheney. Josh Bolton, former US Ambassador to the United Nations, said in May of 2007, that US strategy consisted of three options: the first was economic sanctions, the second was regime change, and the third was military action. Bolton elaborated that, “we’ve got to go with regime change by bolstering opposition groups and the like, because that’s the circumstance most likely for an Iranian government to decide that it’s safer not to pursue nuclear weapons than to continue to do so. And if all else fails, if the choice is between a nuclear-capable Iran and the use of force, then I think we need to look at the use of force.” Ultimately, the aim would be “to foment a popular revolution.”
In September of 2007, it was reported that the Bush administration was pushing the US on the warpath with Iran, as “Pentagon planners have developed a list of up to 2,000 bombing targets in Iran.” It was even reported that Secretary Rice was “prepared to settle her differences with Vice-President Dick Cheney and sanction military action.” It was reported that Rice and Cheney were working together to present a more unified front, finding a middle ground between Rice’s soft diplomacy, and Cheney’s preference to use “bunker-busting tactical nuclear weapons” against Iran.
That same year, in 2007, the United States launched covert operations against Iran. ABC broke the story, reporting that, “The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert “black” operation to destabilize the Iranian government.” The President signed an order “that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran’s currency and international financial transactions.” The approval of these covert operations marked a temporary move away from pursuing overt military action.
As the Telegraph reported in May of 2007, “Bush has signed an official document endorsing CIA plans for a propaganda and disinformation campaign intended to destabilise, and eventually topple, the theocratic rule of the mullahs.” As part of the plan, “the CIA [has] the right to collect intelligence on home soil, an area that is usually the preserve of the FBI, from the many Iranian exiles and emigrés within the US,” as “Iranians in America have links with their families at home, and they are a good two-way source of information.” Further, “The CIA will also be allowed to supply communications equipment which would enable opposition groups in Iran to work together and bypass internet censorship by the clerical regime.”
“Soft” power became the favoured policy for promoting regime change in Iran. David Denehy, a senior adviser to the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, was “charged with overseeing the distribution of millions of dollars to advance the cause of a more democratic Iran.” He was responsible for disbursing the $75 million that Ms. Rice asked the Senate for in February of 2006. The appropriations included “$36.1 million into existing television and radio programs beaming into Iran,” and “$10 million would pay for public diplomacy and exchange programs, including helping Iranians who hope to study in America,” and “$20 million would support the efforts of civil-society groups — media, legal and human rights nongovernmental organizations — both outside and inside Iran.” The administration was requesting an additional $75 million for 2008.
In 2008, award-winning journalist Seymour Hersh revealed in the New Yorker that in late 2007, Congress approved “a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources.” While the Cheney hard-liners in the Bush administration were long pushing for a direct military confrontation with Iran, the military had to be reigned in from being controlled by the neo-conservatives. Robert Gates, a former CIA director, had replaced Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary, and while still saber rattling Iran, had to take a more strategic position, as many military leaders in the Pentagon felt “that bombing Iran is not a viable response to the nuclear-proliferation issue.”
The covert operations that were approved ran at a cost of approximately $400 million dollars, and “are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership. The covert activities involve support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations. They also include gathering intelligence about Iran’s suspected nuclear-weapons program.” The operations were to be expanded under both the CIA and JSOC (the Joint Special Operations Command). The focus was “on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” of which a major facet was “working with opposition groups and passing money.” Hersh elaborated:
Included in the strategy was to use ethnic tensions to undermine the government; however, this strategy is flawed. Unlike Pakistan, Lebanon, and Iraq, Iran is a much older country, “like France and Germany—and its citizens are just as nationalistic. The U.S. is overestimating ethnic tension in Iran.” This turned out to be an important point in regards to the elections in the summer of 2009.
Flashback to 1953
To understand the nature of American and British “democracy promotion” in Iran, it is important to examine their historical practices regarding “democracy” in Iran. Specifically, the events of 1953 present a very important picture, in which the United States orchestrated its first foreign coup, with guidance and direction from the British, who had extensive oil interests in Iran. The first democratically elected government of Mohommad Mossadeq in 1951 announced the nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (later to be re-named British Petroleum), which had an exclusive monopoly on Iranian oil. This naturally angered the British, who, in 1952, convinced the CIA to help in a plot to overthrow Iran’s government.
The idea to topple the Iranian government was born in Britain, but it didn’t take much to convince the CIA to launch a joint operation with the SIS. Government documents were made public which revealed that CIA “officers orchestrating the Iran coup worked directly with royalist Iranian military officers, handpicked the prime minister’s replacement, sent a stream of envoys to bolster the shah’s courage, directed a campaign of bombings by Iranians posing as members of the Communist Party, and planted articles and editorial cartoons in newspapers.” The strategy was aimed at supporting an Iranian General and the Shah through CIA assets and financing, which would overthrow Mossadeq, “particularly if this combination should be able to get the largest mobs in the streets.”
The Shah was to play a pivotal role, as he was “to stand fast as the C.I.A. stirred up popular unrest and then, as the country lurched toward chaos, to issue royal decrees dismissing Dr. Mossadegh and appointing General Zahedi prime minister.” CIA operatives stoked pressure by pretending to be Iranian Communists, threatening Muslim leaders with “savage punishment if they opposed Mossadegh,” in an effort to stir anti-Communist and anti-Mossadeq sentiments in the religious community. The CIA even bombed the house of a prominent Muslim. Further, the CIA was advancing a major propaganda campaign, as a major newspaper owner was paid $45,000 to support the efforts. The CIA, once the coup was underway, used American media as propaganda, in an attempt to legitimize the coup plotters, as the CIA sent The Associated Press a news release saying that, “unofficial reports are current to the effect that leaders of the plot are armed with two decrees of the shah, one dismissing Mossadegh and the other appointing General Zahedi to replace him.” The CIA also disseminated this propaganda through Iranian media.
Following the beginning of the coup, which began on August 15, Mossadeq suspended the Parliament, which ultimately played “into the C.I.A.’s hands.” After having several plotters arrested, he let his guard down. Then the American Embassy planned a counterattack for August 19, specifically using religious forces. At this time, the Communist Party blamed “Anglo-American intrigue” for the coup. However, just as the CIA thought it was a failure, Iranian papers began publishing en masse the Shah’s decrees, and suddenly large pro-Shah crowds were building in the streets. An Iranian journalist who was an important CIA agent, “led a crowd toward Parliament, inciting people to set fire to the offices of a newspaper owned by Dr. Mossadegh’s foreign minister. Another Iranian C.I.A. agent led a crowd to sack the offices of pro-Tudeh papers.”
Then coup supporters in the military began to enter the streets, and soon “the crowds began to receive direct leadership from a few officers involved in the plot and some who had switched sides. Within an hour the central telegraph office fell, and telegrams were sent to the provinces urging a pro-shah uprising. After a brief shootout, police headquarters and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs fell as well.” Interestingly, according to the declassified documents, the CIA “hoped to plant articles in American newspapers saying Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi’s return resulted from a homegrown revolt against a Communist-leaning government,” but that ultimately, “its operatives had only limited success in manipulating American reporters.” The CIA planted stories in US media, such as one instance where the State Department planted a CIA study in Newsweek.
One of the key lessons the CIA learned in this operation, was that it “exposed the agency’s shortcomings in manipulating the American press.” The CIA even manipulated a reporter with the New York Times to disseminate propaganda. While Soviet media was proclaiming the US responsible for the coup, American mentions of this in the media dismissed these accusations outright, and never “examined such charges seriously.”
By the end of Operation Ajax, as the CIA coup was codenamed, “some 300 people had died in firefights in the streets of Tehran,” largely due to the CIA “provoking street violence.” The coup resulted in “more than two decades of dictatorship under the Shah, who relied heavily on US aid and arms.”
The West Sponsors Terrorists in Iran
In 2005, Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector, reported that, “the Mujahadeen el-Khalq, or MEK, an Iranian opposition group, once run by Saddam Hussein’s dreaded intelligence services,” was now working for the CIA in terror bombings inside Iran. In February of 2007, the Telegraph reported that, “America is secretly funding militant ethnic separatist groups in Iran in an attempt to pile pressure on the Islamic regime to give up its nuclear programme.”
The CIA operations “involve dealing with movements that resort to terrorist methods,” and the article noted that, “there has been a wave of unrest in ethnic minority border areas of Iran, with bombing and assassination campaigns against soldiers and government officials,” and interestingly, the CIA operations are focused on “helping opposition militias among the numerous ethnic minority groups clustered in Iran’s border regions.” A former State Department counter-terrorism agent was quoted as saying, “The latest attacks inside Iran fall in line with US efforts to supply and train Iran’s ethnic minorities to destabilise the Iranian regime.”
ABC News reported in April of 2007 that, “A Pakistani tribal militant group responsible for a series of deadly guerrilla raids inside Iran has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials since 2005.” The group, named Jundullah, operates out of the Baluchistan province in Pakistan, on the boarder of Iran, and “has taken responsibility for the deaths and kidnappings of more than a dozen Iranian soldiers and officials.”
In 2008, Pakistan’s former Army Chief said that, “the US is supporting the outlawed Jundullah group to destabilize Iran,” and that, “the US is providing training facilities to Jundullah fighters–located in eastern areas of Iran–to create unrest in the area and affect the cordial ties between Iran and its neighbor Pakistan.”
The 2009 Election Protests
The events of 1953 presented a blueprint for the 2009 Iranian election protests, an attempted “soft revolution” in Iran, also drawing from the “colour revolutions” in the post-Soviet states of Eastern Europe [See: Colour-Coded Revolutions and the Origins of World War III]. It is the thesis of this author that the 2009 election riots in Iran were a covert US (and British) plot designed to orchestrate regime change in Iran. The aim was to put in place a US-friendly leader, and thus, exert political, economic and strategic hegemony over Iran. Following the stratagem of US-funded “colour revolutions” in the former Soviet bloc, but with heavy CIA influence, drawing parallels with the 1953 coup; the plot was ultimately unsuccessful.
While the 1953 coup revealed the failure of the CIA to greatly influence and manipulate US media, the 2009 riots revealed a great success in American media manipulation; however, ironically, it was the focus on this triumphant success that may have impeded the ultimate success of the plot. American popular perception of an illegitimate election and political oppression was enough to support regime change, but not to enact regime change. So, in a bitter irony for the US, the failure of the 1953 coup, became the success of the 2009 plot; while the success of the 1953 coup, became the failure of the 2009 plot. It just so happens that the success of the 1953 coup . . . was that it worked.
In November of 2008, Iranian media reported that, “the White House is making strenuous efforts to orchestrate a “Velvet Revolution” in Iran.” The former Iranian ambassador to the United Nations said that, “that Washington is conspiring to foment discord among Iranians in order to topple the Tehran government.”
Iranian media reported in April of 2009, two months prior to the Presidential elections, that Iran’s Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) had “uncovered a plot for a ‘soft overthrow’ of the country’s government,” and “accused the Netherlands of conspiring to foment a velvet revolution in the country by supporting the opposition through the media and different Internet sites.” In 2005, the Dutch parliament funded a 15 million euro “media polarization campaign” inside Iran, which was “Coupled with British assistance and secret US funding.”
In the lead-up to the elections, there were increasing attacks within Iran. Two weeks before the election, on May 28, 2009, in southeastern Iran, a Shi’a mosque bombing resulted in the deaths of 20 people. An Iranian official accused the United States of involvement in arming the terrorists, who committed the act in a Sunni area of Iran, a religious minority within the country. Jundullah, the terrorist organization armed and funded by the US through the CIA, claimed responsibility for the bombing. The following day, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election campaign office was attacked by gunmen in the same city as the bombing, resulting in several injuries. These attacks, aimed at stirring up religious tensions, are reminiscent of the attacks carried out by the CIA in Iran in the 1953 coup.
The day before the election, on June 11, 2009, it was reported that the National Endowment for Democracy, the main institution behind the “colour revolutions” in Eastern Europe (covered in Part 2 of this series), had spent a lot of money that made it into the hands of pro-Mousavi groups inside Iran, as Mousavi was the Western favoured candidate in the Iranian elections. It was even reported that there was talk of a “green revolution” in Iran, as the Mousavi campaign was full of green scarves and banners at the rallies.
On June 10, 2009, two days before the election, a New York Times blog reported that there was concern among many Ahmadinejad supporters in Iran that they fear “that what they are witnessing is a local version of the Orange Revolution, which swept an opposition government into power in Ukraine.”
On June 12, 2009, the Iranian election took place. Immediately, the propaganda machine went into effect and the plan for a colour revolution in Iran was underway. Iran’s state run news agency reported that Ahmadinejad had won in a landslide victory of 69%. Immediately, his main rival and the American-favoured candidate, Moussavi, claimed that he had won and that there were voting “irregularities,” and was quoted as saying, “I am the absolute winner of the election by a very large margin.”
Immediately, Western governments denounced the election as a fraud, and protests began in the streets of Tehran, where young people clad in the green of the Mousavi campaign declared “Death to the Dictator” referring to Ahmadinejad. Mousavi encouraged the protests to continue, and in the second day of protests, young people “broke the windows of city buses on several streets in central Tehran. They burned banks, rubbish bins and piles of tyres used as flaming barricades. Riot police hit some of the protesters with batons while dozens of others holding shields and motorcycles stood guard nearby.” Western governments then openly declared their solidarity with the protests and denounced the Iranian government for repressing them.
Despite all the claims of vote fraud and irregularities, those taking this position offered no actual evidence to support it. As Politico reported on June 15, the people proclaiming fraud “ignore the fact that Ahmadinejad’s 62.6 percent of the vote in this year’s election is essentially the same as the 61.69 percent he received in the final count of the 2005 presidential election.” These people also conveniently ignore many popular perceptions within Iran, such as the fact that most Iranians saw Ahmadinejad as having won the televised debates and that he can also be viewed as a populist campaigner. Ahmadinejad has the support of a large amount of Iranians, “including the religiously pious, lower-income groups, civil servants and pensioners.”
Some “evidence” for fraud was highly circumstantial, in that it claimed that because Mousavi comes from an Azeri background, “he was guaranteed to win Iran’s Azeri-majority provinces,” and so, when Ahmadinejad won in these provinces, “fraud is the only possible explanation.” However, Ahmadinejad also speaks Azeri quite fluently, had formerly served as an official in two Azeri areas, and the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khameini, is also Azeri.
This also ignores the class based voting of Iranians. While the West tends to portray the Middle East and Africa through an Orientalist lens, viewing them as “the Other,” and often portraying the people of these regions as backwards or barbaric, reality is a far cry from Western perception. People in the Middle East, including in Iran, vote with concerns about the economy and social conditions in mind just as much as voters in the west do. Voting in the Middle East is not simply based upon religious or ethnic differences, there is more to consider, and any analysis that forgets this is flawed. Even the Financial Times was quoted as saying, “Change for the poor means food and jobs, not a relaxed dress code or mixed recreation,” and that, “Politics in Iran is a lot more about class war than religion.”
As James Petras wrote, “The only group, which consistently favored Mousavi, was the university students and graduates, business owners and the upper middle class.” These also happened to be the highly Westernized Iranians. The Iranians protesting in the “green revolution” were holding signs written in English, and were giving interviews to western media all in English. Many were western educated and raised. The Iranian diaspora in the west was also largely supportive of the “green revolution,” as they are the sons and daughters of those who had emigrated out of Iran following the 1979 Iranian Revolution. They are the children of the exiled Iranian capitalist class, and do not represent a fair assessment of the internal Iranian population. After all, the poor and the masses do not have the means to emigrate to the west. Naturally, many westernized youth in Iran have legitimate concerns and social issues with the present way of governance within Iran; however, the majority of Iranians are more concerned with their daily meals than Islamic dress codes.
As Petras further pointed out, “The ‘youth vote’, which the Western media praised as ‘pro-reformist’, was a clear minority of less than 30% but came from a highly privileged, vocal and largely English speaking group with a monopoly on the Western media.” Even the Washington Post reported on June 15, about a major Western poll conducted in Iran three weeks prior to the election, in which it “showed Ahmadinejad leading by a more than 2 to 1 margin — greater than his actual apparent margin of victory,” and the “scientific sampling from across all 30 of Iran’s provinces showed Ahmadinejad well ahead.”
The Washington Post article further pointed out that, “Much commentary has portrayed Iranian youth and the Internet as harbingers of change in this election. But our poll found that only a third of Iranians even have access to the Internet, while 18-to-24-year-olds comprised the strongest voting bloc for Ahmadinejad of all age groups.” Further, the only demographic where Mousavi was “leading or competitive with Ahmadinejad were university students and graduates, and the highest-income Iranians.” The article ended by saying that, “The fact may simply be that the reelection of President Ahmadinejad is what the Iranian people wanted.”
The Internet played a very large role in the international perception of the Iranian elections, as social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook were used to advance the aims of the “green revolution,” often giving it the name the “Twitter Revolution.” Remember that in 2007, “a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation,” was put into effect, which were “intended to destabilise, and eventually topple, the theocratic rule of the mullahs.” As part of this, “The CIA will also be allowed to supply communications equipment which would enable opposition groups in Iran to work together and bypass internet censorship by the clerical regime.”
In the midst of the protests, the Iranian government cracked down on dissent, banning foreign reporters and blocking websites. As the Washington Times reported, “Well-developed Twitter lists showed a constant stream of situation updates and links to photos and videos, all of which painted a portrait of the developing turmoil. Digital photos and videos proliferated and were picked up and reported in countless external sources safe from the regime’s Net crackdown.” Naturally, all of this information came from the upper class Western students, who had access to this technology, which they were using in English.
On June 15, “a 27-year-old State Department official, Jared Cohen, e-mailed the social-networking site Twitter with an unusual request: delay scheduled maintenance of its global network, which would have cut off service while Iranians were using Twitter to swap information and inform the outside world about the mushrooming protests around Tehran.” Further, the New York Times reported that, “Mr. Cohen, a Stanford University graduate who is the youngest member of the State Department’s policy planning staff, has been working with Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and other services to harness their reach for diplomatic initiatives.”
It turned out only a small number of people in Iran actually used Twitter for organizational purposes; however, “Twitter did prove to be a crucial tool in the cat-and-mouse game between the opposition and the government over enlisting world opinion.” Twitter also took part in spreading disinformation during the protests, as the New York Times pointed out that, “some of the biggest errors on Twitter that were quickly repeated and amplified by bloggers: that three million protested in Tehran last weekend (more like a few hundred thousand); that the opposition candidate Mir Hussein Moussavi was under house arrest (he was being watched); that the president of the election monitoring committee declared the election invalid last Saturday (not so).”
On the 28th of June, the Iranian Intelligence Minister blamed western powers, specifically the United States and Britain, for the post-election protests and violence. Iran even arrested British embassy staff in Tehran. On July 3, the head of Iran’s Guardians Council said that, “British embassy staff would be put on trial for inciting violent protests.” Iran had arrested nine “British embassy employees it accused of playing a role in organising pro-democracy demonstrations,” but had released seven of them by July. However, one Embassy staff member had been accused of “a significant role” in the election riots.
Amidst all the British denials of any involvement, the Telegraph revealed in late July that two exiles, “Azadeh Assadi and Vahid Saderigh have been providing crucial support to opposition leaders in Tehran from their homes in London,” who “take their cue from Iran’s Green Movement which has been the rallying point for an unprecedented challenge to the leadership of the Islamic Republic.” They further organized the protests at the Iranian Embassy in London, which lasted for 31 days, longer than anywhere else.
Hossein Rassam, head of the security and political division of the British Embassy in Tehran, was arrested under suspicions that he played a key role in the protests “in providing guidance to diplomats and reporters of the British media.” Further, an Iranian-American scholar was arrested. In 2007, Iran arrested “Haleh Esfandiari, head of the Wilson Center’s Middle East program, and Kian Tajbakhsh, with links to the Soros institute, on suspicions of endangering the country’s national security.” They were released after three months detention.
Of great interest were the statements made my former high-level American strategic kingpins of the foreign policy establishment in the wake of the riots: among them, Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Brent Scowcroft. Former US National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, in an interview with Al-Jazeera shortly after the start of the protests, when asked if the US had intelligence agents on the ground in Iran, replied, without hesitation, “Of course we do.” The interviewer asked if they would help the protesters, to which Scowcroft replied, “They might be, who knows. But that’s a far cry from helping protesters against the combined might of the Revolutionary Guard, the militias, and so on, and the police, who are so far, completely unified.” He explained that he feels the “movement” for change is there in Iran, and that, “It’s going to change Iran, I think that is almost inevitable.”
Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Adviser in the Jimmy Carter administration, co-founder with David Rockefeller of the Trilateral Commission, and arch-hawk geopolitical strategist, was interviewed on CNN shortly after the protests began. When asked how the situation could be worked out to resemble Eastern Europe, as in, successful colour revolutions putting western puppets in power, Brzezinski responded, “Well, I think it will not work out the way Eastern Europe worked out, and hopefully it will not end the way Tiananmen Square ended. Eastern Europe became intensely pro-Western, pro-American, and so forth.” Further, he explained, “If there is a change of regime in Iran, there is a greater chance of accommodation, and I think that is to be fervently wished for. But that requires patience, intelligent manipulation, moral support, but no political interference.”
Henry Kissinger, former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State; was interviewed by BBC at the outbreak of the riots. He stated that, “Now if it turns out that it is not possible for a government to emerge in Iran that can deal with itself as a nation rather than as a cause, then we have a different situation. Then we may conclude that we must work for regime change in Iran from the outside.”
Clearly, there were extensive Western interests and involvement behind the Iranian “democracy” movement that resulted in the protests following the election. However, the ultimate goal of the attempted “colour revolution” failed, as it did not succeed in achieving regime change. Brzezinski’s strategy of “intelligent manipulation” ultimately failed, and so, as Henry Kissinger stated, “we may conclude that we must work for regime change in Iran from the outside.”
Latin America Is Not to Be Left Out: The Coup in Honduras
It is important to take a look at recent events in Latin America in an imperial context to understand how wide and vast American and NATO imperial strategy is. While the world’s eyes and media were fixated on events in Iran, another event was taking place in Latin America, which was conveniently ignored by international media.
On June 28, 2009, the Honduran military kidnapped the President of Honduras and flew him into exile. The official line was that the coup was prompted when Manuel Zelaya, the President of Honduras, was attempting to schedule a poll on holding a referendum about rewriting the constitution. The Supreme Court secretly issued an arrest warrant for Zelaya on June 26, “charging him with treason and abuse of power.” The military entered his house two days later, and put him on a military plane to Costa Rica, and the same day, the Honduran Congress voted to remove Zelaya and replace him with the Speaker of Congress Roberto Micheletti.
Zelaya happened to be a close ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, as well as Bolivian President Evo Morales; who represent the populist leaders of the new move to the left in Latin America, and pose a strong opposition force to the hegemony of US and Western interests in the region. Hugo Chavez alleged that the coup had the hands of the United States in it, and that the upper class in Honduras helped and “have turned Honduras into a ‘banana republic’, into a political, military and terror base for the North American empire.”
The New York Times reported that the Obama administration was “surprised” by the coup, “But they also said that they had been working for several weeks to try to head off a political crisis in Honduras as the confrontation between Mr. Zelaya and the military over his efforts to lift presidential term limits escalated.” Further, “The United States has long had strong ties to the Honduras military and helps train Honduran military forces.” It was further reported that Secretary of State Hilary Clinton visited Zelaya on June 2, and that the United States thought Zelaya’s plans for reforming the Constitution was a “bad idea.” The US Ambassador to Honduras had held discussions with military officials where “There was talk of how they might remove the president from office, how he could be arrested, on whose authority they could do that.”
As it turned out, the General in the Honduran Army who overthrew Zelaya “is a two-time graduate of the U.S. Army School of the Americas, an institution that has trained hundreds of coup leaders and human rights abusers in Latin America.” Past graduates have included Argentine Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri, Guatemalan dictator Gen. Efrain Rios Montt, “Panamanian dictators Gen. Omar Torrijos, who overthrew a civilian government in a 1968 coup, and Gen. Manuel Noriega, a five-time SOA graduate, who ruled the country and dealt in drugs while on the CIA payroll,” Ecuadoran dictator Gen. Guillermo Rodriguez, Bolivian dictators Gen. Hugo Banzer Suarez and Gen. Guido Vildoso Calderon, and Peruvian strongman Gen. Juan Velasco Alvarado.
As was reported the following day of the coup, over the previous ten years, “the United States has delivered $18.41 million in weapons and defense articles to Honduras through the foreign military sales program,” with Foreign Military Financing totaling $7.3 million between 2003 and today, and “International Military Education and Training funds in that same period came to $14.82 million.”
The Washington Post reported, two days following the coup, that when Clinton was asked if it was a US priority to see Zelaya reinstated, she responded, “We haven’t laid out any demands that we’re insisting on, because we’re working with others on behalf of our ultimate objectives.” Zelaya had fired Gen. Romeo Vasquez prior to the coup, and Air Force commander, Gen. Luis Javier Prince Suazo, along with many other military leaders resigned. Both Vasquez and Suazo were trained at the School of the Americas.
An article in the Guardian published a few days after the coup stated that, as countries around the world condemned the coup and called for the reinstatement of Zelaya, “Washington’s ambivalence has begun to raise suspicions about what the US government is really trying to accomplish in this situation.” One possibility for this is that “the Obama administration may want to extract concessions from Zelaya as part of a deal for his return to office.” Following the coup, oppression in Honduras was rampant: “political repression, the closing of TV and radio stations, the detention of journalists, detention and physical abuse of diplomats and what the Committee to Protect Journalists has called a “media blackout” have yet to draw a serious rebuke from Washington.” As the author astutely stated:
This harks back to 2002, when the United States had its hands involved in the attempted coup in Venezuela to oust President Hugo Chavez, which ultimately failed. In the months leading up to the attempted coup in April 2002, US officials held a series of meetings with “Venezuelan military officers and opposition activists.” Further, “a few weeks before the coup attempt, administration officials met Pedro Carmona, the business leader who took over the interim government after President Hugo Chavez was arrested.”
The Pentagon even “confirmed that the Venezuelan army’s chief of staff, General Lucas Romero Rincon, visited the Pentagon in December and met the assistant secretary of defence for western hemispheric affairs.” Further, when “Mr Carmona and other opposition leaders came to the US they met Otto Reich, the assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs.” Otto Reich was a veteran of the Reagan-era “dirty tricks” in Latin America, such as the contra operations, which involved the US funding drug-running terrorists and death squads, and Reich “was the head of the office of public diplomacy in the state department, which was later found to have been involved in covert pro-contra propaganda.”
The Observer reported that the coup attempt in 2002 “was closely tied to senior officials in the US government.” Among the officials involved, “Elliot Abrams, who gave a nod to the attempted Venezuelan coup, has a conviction for misleading Congress over the infamous Iran-Contra affair.” There was of course Otto Reich, who met with all the coup leaders in the months preceding the coup. Finally, there was John Negroponte, who was in 2002 “ambassador to the United Nations. He was Reagan’s ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985 when a US-trained death squad, Battalion 3-16, tortured and murdered scores of activists. A diplomatic source said Negroponte had been ‘informed that there might be some movement in Venezuela on Chavez’ at the beginning of the year.”
Two weeks following the coup in Honduras, Roberto Micheletti, the man who replaced Zelaya following the coup, showed up at the house of President Óscar Arias of Costa Rica, who was to mediate between the “interim government” and Zelaya. Micheletti however, was accompanied with an interesting cast of characters. He arrived with six advisers, among them, “an American public relations specialist who has done work for former President Bill Clinton and the American’s interpreter, and an official close to the talks said the team rarely made a move without consulting him.” International pressure for US sanctions on Honduras was building, however:
Clearly, whatever the end result, which has yet to be determined, the hand of the United States can be seen in the Honduran coup. The bias and ultimately the failure of the international media became quite evident as a result of the coup. While the global media, particularly the western corporate media, were devoting non-stop coverage to the Iranian elections, proclaiming fraud, while offering no evidence; a military coup ousting a democratically elected president and installing an oppressive dictatorship which immediately began its heavy handed repression received scant attention. The western media attacked an actual democratic process in action, while ignoring a military assault against democracy. Which story receives more coverage is determined by the interests involved: in Iran, the West wanted a new government, so the media pushed for one; in Honduras, the US wanted a new government, so the media turned a blind eye while they got one through non-democratic means.
The Afghanistan-Pakistan War Theatre
Within days of getting into office, President Obama authorized a missile strike in Pakistan, which killed several civilians. Obama continued with this strategy, after Bush, in July of 2008, “authorized the C.I.A. and the Joint Special Operations Command to make ground incursions into Pakistan.” This was to set the pace for US strategy in the region, particularly in relation to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In late March, Obama announced his plan for a new Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy, which are to be a combined strategy. As part of the strategy, known as the AfPak strategy, “More U.S. troops, civilian officials and money will be needed,” and “Obama pledged to tighten U.S. focus on Pakistan.” Further, Obama announced in late March that, “he would send 4,000 U.S. troops — beyond the additional 17,000 he authorized” in February, “to work as trainers and advisers to the Afghan army, and hundreds more civilian officials and diplomats to help improve governance and the country’s economy,” bringing the total number of US troops up to 60,000.
In May, a major event took place in military circles, as one of the few times in over 50 years an American wartime general was fired in the field. In May of 2009, Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired the top general in Afghanistan saying that what was needed was “fresh thinking” and “fresh eyes” on Afghanistan. Gates “recommended that President Obama replace McKiernan with a veteran Special Operations commander, Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal.” As the Washington Post reported, McKiernan, the general whom Gates fired, “was viewed as somewhat cautious and conventionally minded.” Could it be that McKiernan did not see the AfPak strategy as a viable option; that it went against “caution”?
His replacement, General McChrystal, was “the director of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff. From 2006 to August 2008, he was the forward commander of the U.S. military’s secretive Joint Special Operations Command, responsible for capturing or killing high-level leaders of the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq.” One expert summed up the new General as such: “McChrystal kills people.” One senior military official at the Pentagon asked; “what message are we sending when our high-value-target hunter is sent to lead in Afghanistan?”
However, there is another twist to this story. As Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Seymour Hersh revealed, Cheney created a special unit called the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which was to carry out high-level assassinations. This unit was kept a secret for many years, and Hersh referred to it as an “Executive assassination ring.” Hersh reported that they carried out many assassinations, “not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s in a lot of other countries, in the Middle East and in South Asia and North Africa and even central America.” The new General of the AfPak war theatre, Stanley McChrystal, used to run Cheney’s assassination squad.
At the end of November 2009, Obama announced a surge of an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, “bringing the total American force to about 100,000.” Further, in early December, it was reported that Obama “authorized an expansion of the C.I.A.’s drone program in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas, officials said this week, to parallel the president’s decision, announced Tuesday, to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.”
Clearly, the Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy will only further inflame the region in conflict and turmoil. Expanding the Afghan war into Pakistan is akin to playing with matches around a stick of dynamite. Perhaps this was the clarity of the previous general, McKiernan, in seeing this strategic insanity, and thus, the reason for his removal. The destabilization of this region threatens all of the neighboring countries, including India, China, Russia, Turkey and Iran. The possibility of creating a much wider war in the region, and even between the great powers, is ever increasing.
Africa and AFRICOM
During the Cold War, Africa was an imperial battleground between the USSR and the US-NATO powers, with the ultimate goal being the control over strategic resource-rich areas. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia’s influence in Africa largely dissipated, and with that, came the neo-imperial struggle among the western powers for control over key strategic points. Now, the great battle in Africa is between the NATO powers, primarily the United States, and China, which has had exponential growth and influence on the continent.
The 1990s saw the Rwandan genocide as a key event in Africa, which was, in actuality, a struggle between France and the United States over the key strategic location of Rwanda. The World Bank and IMF laid the groundwork for conflict, creating the economic conditions that exacerbated colonial-era ethnic tensions. Meanwhile, the United States, through its proxy state of Uganda, funded military operations and trained the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which conducted military operations from Uganda into Rwanda. The Civil War waged from 1990-1993, with the US funding all sides of the conflict. In 1994, the RPF shot down the plane carrying the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, which sparked the genocide. Following the genocide, the US-trained puppet, Paul Kagame, became President of Rwanda.
Following these events, the US had two protectorates in Central Africa, Uganda and Rwanda, both of which bordered the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This was the ultimate prize in the area. From both Rwanda and Uganda, military operations were funded and paramilitary forces were trained by the United States to venture into the DRC, which erupted in coups and Civil War. However, western, primarily American and Canadian corporations were plundering the resource-rich Congo, while millions of Congolese civilians died.
In April of 2001, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney held a hearing on Western involvement in the plunder of Africa, in which she stated, “at the heart of Africa’s suffering is the West’s, and most notably the United States’, desire to access Africa’s diamonds, oil, natural gas, and other precious resources . . . the West, and most notably the United States, has set in motion a policy of oppression, destabilization and tempered, not by moral principle, but by a ruthless desire to enrich itself on Africa’s fabulous wealth.”
In the New World Order, Africa has not lost its significance as a geopolitical prize for the great powers. While the Middle East, save Iran, is largely under the influence of the United States and its NATO allies, Africa is the main battleground between the US and China. Imperialism in Africa goes under many names: the “War on Terror”, military assistance, economic aid, and “humanitarian intervention” to name a few.
U.S. Strategy in Africa
In 2005, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the main policy-planning group of the US elite, published a Task Force Report on US strategy in Africa called, More Than Humanitarianism: A Strategic U.S. Approach Toward Africa. In the report, it was stated that:
The report stated that, “The United States is facing intense competition for energy and other natural resources in Africa,” identifying India and primarily China as its main competitors “in the search for these resources and for both economic and political influence on the continent.” In particular, “China presents a particularly important challenge to U.S. interests.”
Further, “To compete more effectively with China, the United States must provide more encouragement and support to well-performing African states, develop innovative means for U.S. companies to compete, give high-level attention to Africa, and engage China on those practices that conflict with U.S. interests.”
In analyzing the threat China poses to the US in Africa, the report hypocritically and misleadingly states that one of its main concerns is that China uses “its seat on the UN Security Council to protect some of Africa’s most egregious regimes from international sanction, in particular Sudan and Zimbabwe.” This conveniently ignores the United States doing the same thing in regards to Israel, as well as its tacit, overt and covert support for brutal regimes across the world, not simply in Africa.
The report explained that much of China’s growing influence is due to its “soft loans,” meaning that Chinese loans to African countries do not come attached with “conditions” as in World Bank and IMF loans, which make them much more attractive to African countries. China is also heavily invested in the oil of Sudan, specifically in Darfur, which the West does not have access to.
In analyzing how the War on Terror had been brought to Africa, the report stated:
As the Guardian reported in June of 2005, “A new ‘scramble for Africa’ is taking place among the world’s big powers, who are tapping into the continent for its oil and diamonds.” A key facet of this is that “corporations from the US, France, Britain and China are competing to profit from the rulers of often chaotic and corrupt regimes.”
In May of 2006, the Washington Post reported that the US has been “secretly supporting secular warlords who have been waging fierce battles against Islamic groups for control of the capital, Mogadishu.”
In December of 2006, Ethiopia, heavily backed and supported by the US, invaded and occupied Somalia, ousting the Islamist government. The US support for the operations was based upon the claims of Somalia being a breeding ground for terrorists and Al-Qaeda. However, this was has now turned into an insurgency. Wired Magazine reported in December of 2008 that, “For several years the U.S. military has fought a covert war in Somalia, using gunships, drones and Special Forces to break up suspected terror networks – and enlisting Ethiopia’s aid in propping up a pro-U.S. “transitional” government.”
However, there is naturally more to this than fighting “terrorists.” Civil war has raged in Somalia since 1991, creating destabilization and political instability. The UN intervened between 1992 and 1995, and the US sent in Special Forces in 1993. As the Los Angeles Times revealed in 1993, “four major U.S. oil companies are quietly sitting on a prospective fortune in exclusive concessions to explore and exploit tens of millions of acres of the Somali countryside.” According to the article, “nearly two-thirds of Somalia was allocated to the American oil giants Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips in the final years before Somalia’s pro-U.S. President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown and the nation plunged into chaos in January, 1991.”
The Ethiopian troops occupied Somalia for a couple years, and in January of 2009, the last Ethiopian troops left the capital city of Mogadishu. In 2007, the UN authorized an African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in Somalia. In March of 2007, Ugandan military officials landed in Somalia. Essentially, what this has done is that the more overt Ethiopian occupation of Somalia has been replaced with a UN-mandated African Union occupation of the country, in which Ugandan troops make up the majority. Since Uganda is a proxy military state for the US in the region, the more overt US supported Ethiopian troops have been replaced by a more covert US-supported Ugandan contingent.
In 2007, Newsweek reported that, “America is quietly expanding its fight against terror on the African front. Two years ago the United States set up the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership with nine countries in central and western Africa. There is no permanent presence, but the hope is to generate support and suppress radicalism by both sharing U.S. weapons and tactics with friendly regimes and winning friends through a vast humanitarian program assembled by USAID, including well building and vocational training.” The Pentagon announced the formation of a new military strategic command called “Africom” (Africa Command), which “will integrate existing diplomatic, economic and humanitarian programs into a single strategic vision for Africa, bring more attention to long-ignored American intelligence-gathering and energy concerns on the continent, and elevate African interests to the same level of importance as those of Asia and the Middle East.”
The article gave brief mention to critics, saying that, “Not surprisingly, the establishment of a major American base in Africa is inspiring new criticism from European and African critics of U.S. imperial overreach.” Some claim it represents a “militarization of U.S. Africa policy,” which is not a stretch of imaginations, as the article pointed out, “the United States has identified the Sahel, a region stretching west from Eritrea across the broadest part of Africa, as the next critical zone in the War on Terror and started working with repressive governments in Chad and Algeria, among others, to further American interests there.”
As Newsweek further reported:
Africom is the new American military command designed to control Africa, which currently sits as an important neo-colonial battleground between the US and China. Africa still remains a major front in the imperialist adventures of the dominant powers of the New World Order. Its rich wealth in resources makes it an important strategic location for the world powers to seek hegemony over.
The continuation of the Cold War stances of the West versus the East remain and are exacerbated, in what can be referred to as a “New Cold War.” At the same time, global regional conflicts continue to be waged and expanded, be it in the Middle East, Central Africa or Central Asia, with coups and regime change being furthered in Eastern Europe, South America and across the globe. However, these two major global issues: regional wars and conflict and the New Cold War, are not separate, but inherently linked. An exacerbation of conflict, in any and all regions, will only serve to strengthen the political-strategic conflict between the US-NATO alliance and the Russia-China alliance.
All that is required for a new major world war is just one spark: whether it comes in the form of a war between Pakistan and India, or a military strike on Iran, in which case China and Russia would not sit idly by as they did with Iraq. A strike on Iran, particularly with nuclear missiles, as is proposed, would result in World War III. So why does strategy on the part of the US and NATO continue to push in this direction?
As George Orwell once wrote:
A New World War would be a global war waged by a global ruling class against the citizens of the world, with the aim of maintaining and reshaping hierarchical society to serve their own interests. It would indeed symbolize a New World War for a New World Order. In a globalized world, all conflict has global implications; the task at hand is whether the people can realize that war is not waged against a “distant” or “foreign” enemy, but against all people of the world.
Herman Goering, Hitler’s second in command, explained the concept of war when he was standing trial at the Nuremberg Trials for war crimes, when he stated, “Why, of course, the people don’t want war,” and that, “Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.” When Goering was corrected that in a democracy, “the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives,” Goering responded:
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 Joshua Goodman and Blake Schmidt, Honduras Supreme Court Judge Defends President Ouster. Bloomberg: July 1, 2009: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601086&sid=axGENUiy9yKs
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Origins of the American Empire: Revolution, World Wars and World Order
Global Power and Global Government: Part 2
Global Research, July 28, 2009
This essay is Part 2 of “Global Power and Global Government.” Part 1, “The Evolution and Revolution of the Central Banking System” published by Global Research can be viewed here:
Russia, Oil and Revolution
By the 1870s, John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Empire had a virtual monopoly over the United States, and even many foreign countries. In 1890, the King of Holland gave his blessing for the creation of an international oil company called Royal Dutch Oil Company, which was mainly founded to refine and sell kerosene from Indonesia, a Dutch colony. Also in 1890, a British company was founded with the intended purpose of shipping oil, the Shell Transport and Trading Company, and it “began transporting Royal Dutch oil from Sumatra to destinations everywhere,” and eventually, “the two companies merged to become Royal Dutch Shell.”
Russia entered into the Industrial Revolution later than any other large country and empire of its time. By the 1870s, “Russia’s oil fields, including those in Baku, were challenging Standard Oil’s supremacy in Europe. Russia’s ascendancy in natural resources disrupted the strategic balance of power in Europe and troubled Britain.” Britain thus attempted to begin oil explorations in the Middle East, specifically in Persia (Iran), first through Baron Julius de Reuter, the founder of Reuters News Service, who gained exploration rights from the Shah of Iran. Reuter’s attempt at uncovering vast quantities of oil failed, and a man named William Knox D’Arcy took the lead in Persia.
By the middle of the 19th century, “the Rothschilds were the richest family in the world, perhaps in all of history. Their five international banking houses comprised one of the first multinational corporations.” Alfonse de Rothschild was “heavily invested in Russian oil at least forty years before William Knox D’Arcy began tying up Persian oil concessions for the British. Russian oil, which in the 1860s was already emerging as the European rival to the American monopoly Standard Oil, was the Baron [Rothschild]’s pet project.” In the early 1880s, “almost two hundred Rothschild refineries were at work in Baku,” Russia’s oil rich region.
By the mid-1880s, “the Rothschilds were poised to become the chief oil supplier, not only to Europe but to the Far East,” however, “the Baku-Batum railroad was already proving inadequate to transport the volume of oil being produced. Another route was needed, and came in the form of the recently opened Suez Canal, which shortened the journey to the Far East by four thousand miles. Palestine was suddenly of interest to the Rothschilds as it provided access to the Suez.” When the Egyptian government was bankrupt in 1874, British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli turned to his close friends, the Rothschilds, “for the colossal cash advance necessary” to buy shares in the Suez Canal Company. By this time, the Rothschilds were already principle shareholders in the Bank of France, and the Bank of England, sitting alongside other notable shareholders such as Baring Brothers, Morgan Grenfell and Lazard Brothers.
The Rothschilds “had long been involved in developing Czarist Russia’s nascent industry and banking system, while that country’s growing network of railroads was largely financed by Rothschild-managed loans.” When the Czar died, he was succeeded by his son, Czar Nicholas II, who instituted anti-Semitic pogroms, discriminating against Jews, which had the effect of stimulating a massive emigration of Jews out of Russia and Eastern Europe and into Western Europe. However, these East European and Russian Jewish émigrés grew up in a newly industrializing nation in which the tyranny of the government and collusion between it and powerful financial and industrial interests left the great majority of people dispossessed and incited more socialist tendencies in thought and action.
The English Rothschilds were very alarmed “when the socialist tendencies of the émigrés contributed to a massively disruptive tailors’ strike in the East End of London in 1888. A young Georgian communist who would become known to the world as Joseph Stalin was already organizing laborers to strike at the Rothschild oil interests in Batum.” The British Rothschilds were very concerned with this wave of Jewish immigrants into Western Europe and Britain, as they were intensely anti-Czarist and progressively socialist, and the Rothschilds were known for their heavy collaboration with the Czarist regimes of Russia. One potential solution considered to the problem of increased socialist-leaning Jewish immigrants in Britain was to institute restrictions on immigration. However, this would likely backlash, in the sense that it would be viewed as comparable to expulsion. So, Edmond Rothschild began his personal campaign to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine in order to create a release valve for Jewish émigrés to put their political action behind a new cause, and to promote them emigrating to Palestine, and out of Western Europe.
On top of this, as the pre-eminent Zionist in Britain, his proposal for the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine served major economic interests of the Rothschilds and of the British Empire, in that several years prior, Rothschild bought the Suez Canal for the British, and it was the primary transport route for Russian oil. Palestine, thus, would be a vital landmass as a protectorate for British and Rothschild imperial-economic interests.
The Rothschilds, despite their overtly pro-Zionist and pro-Jewish rhetoric, did not stop their support of the Russian regime and economic activities within anti-Semitic Russia. In 1895, the Rothschilds, then one of the world’s leading producers and distributors of oil, “had gone so far as to co-sign an agreement with rival producers – including America’s Standard Oil [of Rockefeller interests] – to divide up world markets. It never took effect, presumably because of the opposition of the Russian government.” In 1902, the Rothschilds “entered into a partnership with Royal Dutch and Shell (soon to become a single global company) to form the Asiatic Petroleum Company for exploiting the fields of Southern Russia.”
In the early 1900s, the Rothchilds were the primary oil interests in Russia, second in the world only to the Rockefellers. As industrialization was under way, conditions worsened for the great majority of Russian people. This spurred protests and riots, and a “young Stalin himself led the agitation against the Caucasian oil industry in general, [and] the Rothschilds in particular. Mass action by oil workers in Baku [the major oil fields in Russia] in 1903 was the spark that set off the first general strike across the Russian landmass.” Then with the Russian loss in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904, and further protests, came the Revolution of 1905. In the following years, the Rothschilds sold their Russian oil interests to Royal Dutch Shell, gaining significant shares in the international oil company.
The specter of political and social instability within Russia was high and did not go without notice from international banking, oil, and industrial interests. Naturally, the international banking houses were keeping a close eye on developments within Russia. The Rothschilds had to lessen their overt involvement with Russia, as they could not maintain such a relationship with the most anti-Jewish nation in the world at the time, while also claiming to be the primary advocates of Jewish aspirations for a homeland. This is why they sold their Russian oil interests to Royal Dutch Shell, but then gained significant shares in the company itself. So while publicly cutting their ties with Russia, they still held massive interests in its industrial capacity. Following the Russo-Japanese War, the Rothschilds “refused to participate in underwriting a major loan, this at a time when Russia desperately needed funds to stabilize the regime.”
So, in 1906, John D. Rockefeller stepped in to aid Czarist Russia, and offered $200,000,000, or “400,000,000 rubles for a concession for railroads from Tashkend to Tomsk and from Tehita to Polamoshna and a grant of land on both sides of the prospective lines.” These international financiers were still clearly intent upon maintaining their interests within Russia.
However, the Russian governments refusal to allow the deal between the Rockefellers and Rothschilds and other major oil monopolies to divide up the world’s oil reserves, may well have spurred discontent among these powerful interests. If Russia refused to allow them to control all the oil and have a right to all oil, did this mean that Russia was planning on building a domestic oil industry? If this were the case, it could pose a threat to all the entrenched economic and financial interests, particularly those of the Rockefellers and Rothschilds, as Russia’s significant oil reserves and resources would allow it to possibly even surpass the United States in industrialization. Further, Czarist Russia became an increasingly unstable investment environment, controlled by an increasingly unpredictable monarchy.
The 1917 October Revolution “inspired workers’ uprisings in the oil fields against low wages and harsh working conditions. In 1919, Azerbaijan took advantage of the political unrest to declare sovereignty over the Baku fields. That same year SONJ [Standard Oil of New Jersey] made an agreement with the Azerbaijani government to purchase undeveloped land for exploration in the Baku region. Amidst the chaos, foreign oil companies rushed into Russia hoping to collect concessions at reduced rates. The Nobel brothers sold much of their operations to SONJ (today ExxonMobil) to build an alliance in 1920.”
Antony C. Sutton, economist, historian and author, as well as research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, wrote in Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution, that both fascist and communist systems are “based on naked, unfettered political power and individual coercion. Both systems require monopoly control of society. While monopoly control of industries was once the objective of J.P. Morgan and J.D. Rockefeller, by the late nineteenth century the inner sanctums of Wall Street understood that the most efficient way to gain an unchallenged monopoly was to ‘go political’ and make society go to work for the monopolists,” and that, “the totalitarian socialist state is a perfect captive market for monopoly capitalists, if an alliance can be made with the socialist powerbrokers.” Thus, the major money powers of the west decided to put their money behind the creation of a totalitarian communist state in Russia, in order to create a captive economy, which they could exploit and remove from competititon.
When the Revolution began, Trotsky was in New York, and was immediately granted an American passport by President Wilson, and then given a Russian entry permit and a British transit visa, in order to return to Russia and “carry forward” the revolution. Trotsky, while traveling, was arrested in Canada, but was released as a result of British intervention.
Trotsky traveled on board a ship in 1917, leaving New York, along with an interesting cast of fellow passengers, including “other Trotskyite revolutionaries, Wall Street financiers, American Communists, and a man named Charles Crane. Charles Richard Crane, former chairman of the Democratic Party’s finance committee, whose son, Richard Crane, was an assistant to U.S. Secretary of State Robert Lansing, played a significant part in what occurred in Russia. Former U.S. Ambassador to Germany, William Dodd, said that Crane, “did much to bring on the [Alexander] Kerensky revolution which gave way to Communism.” Kerensky was the second Prime Minister in the Russian Provisional Government, which followed the collapse of the Czarist government, and preceded the Bolshevik. Crane also thought that the Kerensky government “is the revolution in its first phase only.”
The Revolution occurred in the midst of World War I, which broke out in 1914, and had all the major European powers at war. Morgan and Rockefeller interests, organized in Wall Street and centralized in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the most powerful of all the regional Federal Reserve Banks, used “the Red Cross Mission as its operational vehicle” in Russia at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. The Red Cross Mission in Russia got its endowment from wealthy people such as J.P. Morgan, Mrs. E. H. Harriman, Cleveland H. Dodge, and Mrs. Russell Sage, and “in World War I the Red Cross depended heavily on Wall Street, and specifically the Morgan firm.” When the American Red Cross set up a mission to Russia, “William Boyce Thompson, director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, had ‘offered to pay the entire expense of the commission’.” All expenses were paid for by William Boyce Thompson, who was a major stockholder in Chase National Bank, whose President had Thompson appointed head of the New York Fed.
The Mission was primarily made up of lawyers, financiers, their assistants, people affiliated with Standard Oil and the Rockefeller’s National City Bank. The Mission supported through a loan, the Provisional government of Alexander Kerensky, yet, William B. Thompson of the New York Fed “made a personal contribution of $1,000,000 to the Bolsheviki for the purpose of spreading their doctrine in Germany and Austria.” Interestingly, when the Bolsheviks took control, “The National City Bank branch in Petrograd had been exempted from the Bolshevik nationalization decree – the only foreign or domestic Russian bank to have been so exempted.” Ultimately, the Red Cross mission in Russia “was in fact a mission of Wall Street financiers to influence and pave the way for control, through either Kerensky or the Bolshevik revolutionaries, of the Russian market and resources.”
The American International Corporation (AIC), was “created in 1915 to develop domestic and foreign enterprises, to extend American activities abroad, and to promote the interests of American and foreign bankers, business and engineering.” It was created and controlled by Morgan, Stillman and Rockefeller interests, and its directors were affiliated with National City Bank (Rockefeller), the Carnegie Foundation, General Electric, the DuPont family, New York Life Insurance, American Bankers Association and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Members of its board financially supported the Bolsheviks and urged the US State Department to recognize the Bolshevik government.
In 1920, Russian gold was being siphoned through Sweden, where it was melted down and stamped with the Swedish mint, funneled through the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and into Kuhn, Loeb & Company and Guaranty Trust Company (Morgan), two of the primary banking interests behind the creation of the Federal Reserve System.  During the civil war in Russia between the Reds and the Whites, while Wall Street financiers were aiding the Bolsheviks quietly, they also began to finance Aleksandr Kolchak (of the Whites) with millions of dollars, in order to ensure that whoever emerged victorious in the war, Wall Street would win.
As Antony Sutton wrote, “Russia, then and now, constituted the greatest potential competitive threat to American industrial and financial supremacy,” and that, “The gigantic Russian market was to be converted into a captive market and a technical colony to be exploited by a few high-powered American financiers and the corporations under their control.”
Eventually, the Bolsheviks emerged victorious, and Wall Street won. Under Stalin’s Five-Year Plans in the early 1930s, Soviet industrialization “required Western technology and expertise,” and in a “frequently overlooked contribution” that came “from abroad,” American firms aided in the industrialization of the USSR, including Ford, General Electric and DuPont, with Standard Oil, General Electric, Austin Co., General Motors, International Harvester, and Caterpillar Tractor trading heavily with the Soviet Union.
Standard Oil bought “gargantuan quantities of Red Oil,” General Electric received a $100,000,000 contract from the Soviet Union to build “the four largest hydroelectric generators in the world,” Austin Co., got a $50,000,000 contract to erect the City of Austingrad, “complete with tractor and automobile factories involving an additional $30,000,000 contract for parts and technical assistance with Ford Motor Corp.” On top of this, “Other [Soviet] business friends are General Motors, DuPont de Nemours, International Harvester, John Deere Co., Caterpillar Tractor, Radio Corp. and the U. S. Shipping Board, which sold the Reds a fleet of 25 cargo steamers.” Banks with close ties to the Russian economy included Chase National, National City Bank and Equitable Trust, all of which are either Rockefeller or Morgan interests.
World War Restructures World Order
In the midst of World War I, a group of American scholars were tasked with briefing “Woodrow Wilson about options for the postwar world once the kaiser and imperial Germany fell to defeat.” This group was called, “The Inquiry.” The group advised Wilson mostly through his trusted aide, Col. Edward M. House, who was Wilson’s “unofficial envoy to Europe during the period between the outbreak of World War I in 1914 and the intervention by the United States in 1917,” and was the prime driving force in the Wilson administration behind the establishment of the Federal Reserve System.
“The Inquiry” laid the foundations for the creation of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the most powerful think tank in the US, and “The scholars of the Inquiry helped draw the borders of post World War I central Europe.” On May 30, 1919, a group of scholars and diplomats from Britain and the US met at the Hotel Majestic, where they “proposed a permanent Anglo-American Institute of International Affairs, with one branch in London, the other in New York.” When the scholars returned from Paris, they were met with open arms by New York lawyers and financiers, and together they formed the Council on Foreign Relations in 1921. The “British diplomats returning from Paris had made great headway in founding their Royal Institute of International Affairs.” The Anglo-American Institute envisioned in Paris, with two branches and combined membership was not feasible, so both the British and American branches retained national membership, however, they would cooperate closely with one another. They were referred to, and still are, as “Sister Institutes.”
The Milner Group, the secret society formed by Cecil Rhodes, “dominated the British delegation to the Peace Conference of 1919; it had a great deal to do with the formation and management of the League of Nations and of the system of mandates; it founded the Royal Institute of International Affairs in 1919 and still controls it.” There were other groups founded in many countries representing the same interests of the secret Milner Group, and they came to be known as the Round Table Groups, preeminent among them were the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), the Council on Foreign Relations in the United States, and parallel groups were set up in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India.
World War I had marked a monumental period in history in what can be understood as “transitional imperialism.” What I mean by this is that historically, periods of imperial decline and transition (that is, the rise or fall of an empire or empires), are often marked by increased international violence and war.
World War I was the result of the culmination of imperial ambitions by various powers. This was the natural result of the wave of “New Imperialism” that swept the industrialized world in the 1870s. In 1879, the German Empire and Austria-Hungary created the Dual Alliance to combat growing Russian influence in the Balkans with the decline of the Ottoman Empire. Italy joined in 1882, making it the Triple Alliance. In 1892, the Franco-Russia Alliance was made, which was a military alliance between France and the Russian Empire to counteract the German Empire’s supremacy over Europe. In 1904, the Entente Cordiale, a series of agreements between France and Britain, was agreed upon in order to maintain a balance of power in Europe. In 1907, the Anglo-Russia Entente was formed in an effort to end their long-running Great Game by setting the boundaries of their imperial control over Afghanistan, Persia and Tibet. It also acted as a balance to the growing German Empire’s might and influence in Europe. After the signing of the Anglo-Russian Entente, the Triple Entente was cemented between Britain, Russia and France as a significant counter to the Triple Alliance.
The decline of the Ottoman Empire had been a long and slow process. The Ottoman Empire dated back to 1299, and lasted until 1923. “From 1517 until the end of World War I, a period of 400 years, the Ottoman Empire was the ruling power in the central Middle East. Ottoman administrative institutions and practices shaped the peoples of the modern Middle East and left a legacy that endured after the empire’s disappearance.”
In the late 16th century, “Ottoman raw materials, normally channeled into internal consumption and industry, were increasingly exchanged for European manufactured products. This trade benefited Ottoman merchants but led to a decline in state revenues and a shortage of raw materials for domestic consumption. As the costs of scarce materials rose, the empire suffered from inflation, and the state was unable to procure sufficient revenues to meet its expenses. Without these revenues, the institutions that supported the Ottoman system, especially the armed forces, were undermined.” This was largely done through commercial treaties known as Capitulations. The first Capitulation “was negotiated with France in 1536; it allowed French merchants to trade freely in Ottoman ports, to be exempt from Ottoman taxes, and to import and export goods at low tariff rates. In addition, the treaty granted extraterritorial privileges to French merchants by permitting them to come under the legal jurisdiction of the French consul in Istanbul, thus making them subject to French rather than Ottoman-Islamic law. This first treaty was the model for subsequent agreements signed with other European states.”
The Ottoman state had been sufficiently weakened by the early 20th century, which happened to be the same time period that Europeans, particularly the British, were looking at Middle East oil to fuel their empires. The major European alliances sought to take advantage of this weakened Ottoman position. In 1909, Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina, inciting the anger of the Russia Empire. The First Balkan War was fought between 1912 and 1913, in which Serbia, Montenegro, Greece and Bulgaria fought the Ottoman Empire. The settlement that followed angered Bulgaria, which then began to engage in territorial disputes with Serbia and Romania. Bulgaria then attacked Greece and Serbia in 1913, followed by Romania and the Ottoman Empire declaring war against Bulgaria, which was the Second Balkan War.
This further destabilized the region, and Austria-Hungary grew wary of the growing influence of Serbia. When Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914, Austria delivered an ultimatum to Serbia, where the assassin was from, and then declared war. The Russian Empire mobilized for war the next day, with German mobilization following behind, and France behind it. Germany then declared war on Russia, and World War I was under way.
The end of the Great War saw the disillusion of the Ottoman Empire, breaking up its territory, which was carved up between France and Britain at the Paris Peace Conference. The German Empire and Austro-Hungarian Empires also officially ended as a result of the war, for which Germany was given the sole blame for the war and punished through the Versailles reparations. The Russian Empire ended with the Bolshevik Revolution, which resulted in Russia pulling out of the war in 1917, the same year the United States entered the war. The Great War turned the United States into a powerful nation in the world, becoming a leading creditor nation with significant international influence. The British and French maintained their empires, though they were in decline. However, they attempted to maintain significant control over the Middle East.
World War I was thus the culmination of a massive build-up of imperial nations seeking expanded influence and markets for their capital. Entering the War, there were many empires, leaving it, there were two dominant European Empires (France and Britain) and an emerging new force in the world, the United States.
The Great Depression
– Sir Josiah Stamp, Director of the Bank of England, 1927
Benjamin Strong, Governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and Montagu Norman, Governor of the Bank of England, who worked closely together throughout the 1920s, decided to “use the financial power of Britain and the United States to force all the major countries of the world to go on the gold standard and to operate it through central banks free from all political control, with all questions of international finance to be settled by agreements by such central banks without interference from governments.” These men were not working for the governments and nations of whom they purportedly represented, but “were the technicians and agents of the dominant investment bankers of their own countries, who had raised them up and were perfectly capable of throwing them down.”
In the 1920s, the United States experienced a stock market boom, which was a result of the commercial banks providing “funds for the purchase of stock and took the latter as collateral,” creating a massive wave of underwriting and purchasing of securities. The stock market speculation that followed was the result of the banks “borrowing substantially from the Federal Reserve. Thus the Federal Reserve System was helping to finance the great stock market boom.”
In 1927, a meeting took place in New York City between Montagu Norman of the Bank of England, Hjalmar Schacht, President of the Reichsbank, the German central bank of the Weimar Republic; Charles Rist, Deputy Governor of the Bank of France and Benjamin Strong of the New York Fed. The topic of the meeting was the “persistently weak reserve position of the Bank of England. This, the bankers thought, could be helped if the Federal Reserve System would ease interest rates to encourage lending. Holders of gold would then seek the higher returns from keeping their metal in London.” The Fed obliged.
The Bank of England had a weak reserve position because of Britain’s position as champion of the gold standard. Foreign central banks, including the Bank of France, were transferring their exchange holdings into gold, of which the Bank of England did not have enough to supply. So the Fed lowered its discount rate, and began buying securities to equal French gold purchases. Money in the US, then, “was going increasingly into stock-market speculation rather than into production of real wealth.”
In early 1929, the Federal Reserve board of governors “called upon the member banks to reduce their loans on stock-exchange collateral,” and took other actions with the publicly pronounced aim of reducing “the amount of credit available for speculation.” Yet, it had the reverse effect, as “the available credit went more and more to speculation and decreasingly to productive business.” On September 26, 1929, London was hit with a financial panic, and the Bank of England raised its bank rate, causing British money to leave Wall Street, “and the over inflated market commenced to sag,” leading to a panic by mid-October.
The longest-serving Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan, wrote that the Fed triggered the speculative boom through its pumping excess credit into the economy (sound familiar?), and eventually this resulted in the American and British economies collapsing due to the massive imbalances produced. Britain then “abandoned the gold standard completely in 1931, tearing asunder what remained of the fabric of confidence and inducing a world-wide series of bank failures. The world economies plunged into the Great Depression of the 1930’s.”
The Bank for International Settlements
In 1929, the Young Committee was formed to create a program for the settlement of German reparations payments that emerged out of the Versailles Treaty, written at the Paris Peace talks in 1919. The Committee was headed by Owen D. Young, founder of Radio Corporation of America (RCA), as a subsidiary of General Electric. He was also President and CEO of GE from 1922 until 1939, co-author of the 1924 Dawes Plan, was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation in 1928, and was also, in 1929, deputy chairman of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. When Young was sent to Europe in 1929 to form the program for German reparations payments he was accompanied by J.P Morgan, Jr.
What emerged from the Committee was the creation of the Young Plan, which “was assertedly a device to occupy Germany with American capital and pledge German real assets for a gigantic mortgage held in the United States.” Further, the Young Plan “increased unemployment more and more,” allowing Hitler to say he would “do away with unemployment,” which, “really was the reason of the enormous success Hitler had in the election.”
The Plan went into effect in 1930, following the stock market crash. Part of the Plan entailed the creation of an international settlement organization, which was formed in 1930, and known as the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). It was purportedly designed to facilitate and coordinate the reparations payments of Weimar Germany to the Allied powers. However, its secondary function, which is much more secretive, and much more important, was to act as “a coordinator of the operations of central banks around the world.” Described as “a bank for central banks,” the BIS “is a private institution with shareholders but it does operations for public agencies. Such operations are kept strictly confidential so that the public is usually unaware of most of the BIS operations.”
The BIS was established “to remedy the decline of London as the world’s financial center by providing a mechanism by which a world with three chief financial centers in London, New York, and Paris could still operate as one.” As Carroll Quigley explained:
The BIS was founded by “the central banks of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Japan, and the United Kingdom along with three leading commercial banks from the United States, including J.P. Morgan & Company, First National Bank of New York, and First National Bank of Chicago. Each central bank subscribed to 16,000 shares and the three U.S. banks also subscribed to this same number of shares.” However, “Only central banks have voting power.”
In a letter dated November 21, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt told Edward M. House, “The real truth .. is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the larger centers has owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson – and I am not wholly excepting the administration of W[oodrow]. W[ilson]. The country is going through a repetition of Jackson’s fight with the Bank of the United States – only on a far bigger and broader basis.”
Banking on Hitler
Throughout the 1930s, with the loans provided through the Dawes and Young Plans, Germany was able to create a few dominant industrial cartels, which were all financed by Wall Street bankers and industrialists. These cartels provided the basis for and main financial backing of the Nazi regime. Collaboration between the German Nazi industry and American industry and finance continued, specifically with Morgan and Rockefeller interests, as well as Ford and DuPont. The Morgan-Rockefeller international banks and companies associated with them “were intimately related to the growth of Nazi industry.” Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Empire “was of critical assistance in helping Nazi Germany prepare for World War II.” On top of this, the Rockefeller Foundation was also pivotal in not only funding the racist and elitist eugenics movement in the United States, but played a pivotal part in bringing the eugenics ideology to Nazi Germany, facilitating the beliefs that brought about the Holocaust.
Hjalmar Schacht, the President of the Reichsbank throughout Weimar Germany, stayed on as President of the German central bank from 1933 until 1939, and was thus a central figure in Nazi Germany, being a major driver being the German plans for reindustrialization, redevelopment and rearmament. Hitler, in 1934, made Schacht his Minister of Economics.
Central banks across Europe began to purchase Nazi gold, which was smuggled and melted down and re-stamped in Switzerland, (much like was done with Soviet gold). Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Turkey, France, Great Britain, Poland, Hungary, and the United States all “traded with the Nazis with gold transferred by the BIS.” This was done as a collaborative effort among central banks, as “the BIS did enter into gold and currency transactions with Nazi Germany through its participation with the Reichsbank.” Schacht wielded his significant influence and “had become instrumental in placing high-ranking Nazi officials and foreign collaborators on the BIS Board of Directors.”
Empire, War and the Rise of the New Global Hegemon
World War Two also marked a period of massive imperial transition. The build-up of the Third Reich led to Nazi imperialism throughout Europe and North Africa and the Japanese Empire expanded into China. At the end of the War, the British and French Empires were all but vanished, holding onto remaining colonies in Africa and Asia. The Soviet Union was devastated and Germany, with much of Europe, was in ruins. What emerged from this war that was most significant was the rise of a new empire, the American Empire. America’s intervention into the war and expansion into Europe as a liberating force allowed it to set up bases throughout Europe as well as in Japan on the Pacific. The Soviet Union, having taken Europe from the East, expanded its influence and dominance across Eastern Europe. Following Churchill’s speech that an “Iron Curtain” had fallen across Europe, the Cold War was underway. Thus, World War II ended the age of many European empires, even of those in decline, and created a bi-polar world, which was divided between the USSR and the USA.
Following World War II, the US, as the only major nation in the world whose industrial base survived the devastation of the war, assumed the position of global hegemon. It began to set up the infrastructure, both national and international, to assume the position of global superpower, exerting its hegemony across the globe. The crown had been passed from the British Empire to the American Empire. Ultimately, both were and are owned and controlled by the same interests, primarily represented through the central banks and the private banking interests that make up the dominant shareholders.
Before America had even entered the war in late 1941, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the American branch of the round table groups Carroll Quigley discussed as having originated from the secret society of Cecil Rhodes, was planning on America entering the war. The CFR had essentially captured US foreign policy firmly in the grips of the banking elite. The establishment of the Federal Reserve (1913) ensured that the United States would become indebted to and owned by international banking interests, and thus, act in their interest. The Fed financed the US role in World War I, provided the credit for speculation, which led to the Great Depression, and massive consolidation for the interests that own the Federal Reserve System. It then financed US entry into World War II.
The CFR, established six years after the Federal Reserve was created, worked to promote an internationalist agenda on behalf of the international banking elite. It was to alter America’s conceptualization of its place within the world – from isolationist industrial nation to an engine of empire working for international banking and corporate American interests. Where the Fed took control of money and debt, the CFR took control of the ideological foundations of such an empire – encompassing the corporate, banking, political, foreign policy, military, media, and academic elite of the nation into a generally cohesive overall world view. By altering one’s ideology to that of promoting such an internationalist agenda, the big money that was behind it would ensure one’s rise through government, industry, academia and media. The other major think tanks and policy institutions in the United States are also represented at the CFR. They are constitutive of divisions within the elite, however, such divisions are predicated on the basis of how to use American imperial power, where to use it, on what basis to justify it, and other various methodological differences. The divide amongst elites was never on the questions of: should we use American imperial power, why has America become an Empire, or should there even be an empire? If one takes such considerations to heart and questions these concepts, be it within the foreign policy establishment, intelligence, military, academia, finance, corporate world, or media; chances are, such a person is not a member of the CFR.
The CFR effectively undertook a policy coup d’état over American foreign policy with the Second World War. When war broke out, the Council began a “strictly confidential” project called the War and Peace Studies, in which top CFR members collaborated with the US State Department in determining US policy, and the project was entirely financed by the Rockefeller Foundation. The post-War world was already being designed by members of the Council, who would go into government in order to enact these designs.
The policy of “containment” towards the Soviet Union that would define American foreign policy for nearly half a century was envisaged in a 1947 edition of Foreign Affairs, the academic journal of the Council on Foreign Relations. So too were the ideological foundations for the Marshall Plan and NATO envisaged at the Council on Foreign Relations, with members of the Council recruited to enact, implement and lead these institutions. The Council also played a role in the establishment and promotion of the United Nations, which was subsequently built on land bought from John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
The Rise of the American Empire and Keynesian Political Economy
Within liberal political economy, a prominent individual and British economist, John Maynard Keynes, undertook the process of evolving liberal theory into what later became known as Keynesian economics. Following in the footsteps of the dominance of the liberal order, in which the economic and political realms were viewed as separate, and necessarily so, Keynes sought to re-imagine the political-economic relationship. His work was largely influenced by the events leading up to and following the Great Depression, which was largely seen as a failure of the liberal economic order. Keynes wanted to combine state and market forces, not rejecting the liberal notion of the “invisible hand,” however, relegated that to a more distinct area, and imagined a broader role for the state in the economy.
Keynes advocated for the state to act, or invest, when private individuals would not, in an effort to stave off financial or economic crises. Thus, Keynes would argue, the state strengthens the market. A Marxist theorist would likely point to this as an example of how the state, within a capitalist society, functions as an institutional organ which protects the interests of the capitalist class. Keynes advocated a liberal international order composed of free markets, however he recommended state intervention domestically, particularly to protect jobs and control inflation.
Keynesian political economic theory served in large part as a basis for the creation of the Bretton-Woods System, established in 1944, and his concept of embedded liberalism (promotion of liberal international economy, and state intervention in domestic economy), reigned supreme until the 1970s.
In 1944, representatives of the 44 Allied nations met for the Bretton Woods conference (the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference) in New Hampshire, in an effort to reorganize and regulate the international financial and monetary order following the war. The UK was represented by John Maynard Keynes; with the American contingent represented by Harry Dexter White, an American economist and senior US Treasury department official. It was out of this conference that the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), now part of the World Bank, and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), now institutionalized in the World Trade Organization (WTO), originated. They were designed to be the institutionalized economic foundations of exerting American hegemony across the globe; they were, in essence, engines of economic empire.
In 1947, President Harry Truman signed the National Security Act, which created the position of Secretary of Defense overseeing the entire military establishment, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff; as well as created the CIA modeled on its war time incarnation of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS); and the Act also created the National Security Council, headed by a National Security Adviser, and designed to give the President further advice on foreign affairs issues separate from the State Department. Essentially, the Act created the basis for the national security state apparatus for empire building.
The founding of the CIA was urged by the War and Peace Studies Project of the Council on Foreign Relations in the early 1940s, and the architects of the CIA, designing the shape and organization of the Agency, as well as its functions; were all Wall Street lawyers, largely made up of members of the Council on Foreign Relations. The Deputy Directors of the CIA for the first two decades were all “from the same New York legal and financial circles.”
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From Global Crisis to “Global Government”
US Intelligence: A Review of Global Trends 2025
Global Research, December 19, 2008
The United States’ National Intelligence Council has released a report, entitled “Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World“. This declassified document is the fourth report of the Global Trends 2025: The National Intelligence Council’s 2025 Project,
The report outlines the paths that current geopolitical and economic trends may reach by the year 2025, in order to guide strategic thinking over the next few decades. The National Intelligence Council describes itself as the US Intelligence Community’s “center for midterm and long-term strategic thinking,” with the tasks of supporting the Director of National Intelligence, reaching out to non-governmental experts in academia and the private sector and it leads in the effort of providing National Intelligence Estimates.
The report was written with the active participation of not only the US intelligence community, but also numerous think tanks, consulting firms, academic institutions and hundreds of other experts. Among the participating organizations were the Atlantic Council of the United States, the Wilson Center, RAND Corporation, the Brookings Institution, American Enterprise Institute, Texas A&M University, the Council on Foreign Relations and Chatham House in London, which is the British equivalent of the CFR.
Among the many things envisioned in this report to either be completed or under way by 2025 are the formation of a global multipolar international system, the possibility of a return of mercantilism by great powers in which they go to war over dwindling resources, the growth of China as a great world power, the position of India as a strong pole in the new multipolar system, a decline of capitalism in the form of more state-capitalism, exponential population growth in the developing world, continuing instability in Africa, a decline in food availability, partly due to climate change, continued terrorism, the possibility of nuclear war, the emergence of regionalism in the form of strong regional blocks in North America, Europe, and Asia, and the decline of US power and with that, the superiority of the dollar.
The Economics of Change
The discussion of global economics begins with analyzing the potential repercussions of the current global financial crisis. It states that the crisis “is accelerating the global economic rebalancing. Developing countries have been hurt; several, such as Pakistan with its large current account deficit, are at considerable risk. Even those with cash reserves—such as South Korea and Russia—have been severely buffeted; steep rises in unemployment and inflation could trigger widespread political instability and throw emerging powers off course.” However, it states, “if China, Russia, and Mideast oil exporters can avoid internal crises,” they may be able to buy foreign assets, provide financial assistance to struggling countries and “seed new regional initiatives.” It says that the biggest change for the West will be “the increase in state power. Western governments now own large swaths of their financial sectors and must manage them, potentially politicizing markets.” It continues in saying that there is a prospect for a new “Bretton Woods,” to “regulate the global economy,” however, “Failure to construct a new all-embracing architecture could lead countries to seek security through competitive monetary policies and new investment barriers, increasing the potential for market segmentation.”
The report states that as a result of the major financial disruptions under-way and those still to come, there is a need to rebalance the global economy. However, “this rebalancing will require long-term efforts to establish a new international system.” It states that major problem to overcome will be a possible backlash against foreign trade and investment by corporations, particularly in “emerging economies,” with the potential of fueling “protectionist forces” in the US; an increasing competition for resources between emerging economies such as Russia, China, India and even Gulf states; a decline in democratization, as the China-model for development becomes attractive to other emerging economies, authoritarian regimes and even “weak democracies frustrated by years of economic underperformance”; the role of Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) in providing more financial assistance to developing countries than the World Bank and IMF, which could lead to “diplomatic realignments and new relationships” between China, Russia, India and Gulf states with the developing world; the loss of the dollar as the “global reserve currency,” as “foreign policy actions might bring exposure to currency shock and higher interest rates for Americans,” and a “move away from the dollar” which would be precipitated by “uncertainties and instabilities in the international financial system.”
The dollar’s decline as a “global reserve currency” will be relegated to “something of a first among equals in a basket of currencies by 2025. This could occur suddenly in the wake of a crisis, or gradually with global rebalancing.”
It states that for the first time in history, the financial landscape will be “genuinely global and multipolar,” and that, “redirection toward regional financial centers could soon spill over into other areas of power.” It states that there is potential for a divide within the West between the US and EU, so long as they continue divergent economic policies, where Europe is more state-centric and with the US as more market-based. However, “the enhanced role of the state in Western economies may also lessen the contrast between the two models.” This enhanced role of the state in economic matters is largely due to the current financial crisis.
In outlining Latin America’s path for the next two decades, the report states that many countries will have become middle income powers, however, “those that have embraced populist policies, will lag behind—and some, such as Haiti, will have become even poorer and still less governable.” It says Brazil will become the major power of the region, but that, “efforts to promote South American integration will be realized only in part. Venezuela and Cuba will have some form of vestigial influence in the region in 2025, but their economic problems will limit their appeal.” However, it said that many parts of Latin America will remain among “the world’s most violent areas,” and that, “US influence in the region will diminish somewhat, in part because of Latin America’s broadening economic and commercial relations with Asia, Europe, and other blocs.”
In discussing the issue of Muslim immigration into the European Union, the report states that, “Countries with growing numbers of Muslims will experience a rapid shift in ethnic composition, particularly around urban areas, potentially complicating efforts to facilitate assimilation and integration.” Further, “the increasing concentration could lead to more tense and unstable situations, such as occurred with the 2005 Paris suburban riots.” This mass immigration and reactions of Europeans, among other factors, “are likely to confine many Muslims to low-status, low-wage jobs, deepening ethnic cleavages. Despite a sizeable stratum of integrated Muslims, a growing number—driven by a sense of alienation, grievance, and injustice—are increasingly likely to value separation in areas with Muslim-specific cultural and religious practices.”
The report also states that by 2025, Europe “will have made slow progress toward achieving the vision of current leaders and elites: a cohesive, integrated, and influential global actor able to employ independently a full spectrum of political, economic, and military tools in support of European and Western interests and universal ideals. The European Union would need to resolve a perceived democracy gap dividing Brussels from European voters and move past protracted debate about its institutional structures.” In other words, the move toward a European superstate will revolve around convincing the public that it is not a threat to democracy or sovereignty.
It further states that Europe should and likely will take in “new members in the Balkans, and perhaps Ukraine and Turkey. However, continued failure to convince skeptical publics of the benefits of deeper economic, political, and social integration and to grasp the nettle of a shrinking and aging population by enacting painful reforms could leave the EU a hobbled giant.”
Russia: Boom or Bust?
The report’s focus on Russia stresses two possible scenarios. One in which Russia triumphs as an international player in the new international system, with the “potential to be richer, more powerful, and more self-assured in 2025 if it invests in human capital, expands and diversifies its economy, and integrates with global markets. [Emphasis added]” However, Russia could also take another path, where “multiple constraints could limit Russia’s ability to achieve its full economic potential,” such as a shortfall in energy investment, an underdeveloped banking sector, and crime and corruption. It also points out that a “sustained plunge in global energy prices before Russia has the chance to develop a more diversified economy probably would constrain economic growth.” Could this be a veiled threat to Russia to either join into and merge with the international system, which is directed by Western elites, or face a possible economic backlash, perhaps in the form of manipulating oil prices? This strategy has not by any means been unheard of, as a look at the 1973 oil crisis and the lead up to the first Gulf War in 1991 have proven.
In contemplating Russia’s likely future, the report states that with a more “proactive and influential foreign policy” Russia could become an “important partner for Western, Asian, and Middle East capitals; and a leading force in opposition to US global dominance.” However, it states that, “shared perceptions regarding threats from terrorism and Islamic radicalism could align Russian and Western security policies more tightly.” In other words, perhaps increased incidents of terrorist activity in or near Russian territory can force it to align more closely with the West, if only at first in security integration. It also elaborates on the other potentiality for Russia, saying that it is “impossible to exclude alternative futures such as a nationalistic, authoritarian petro-state or even a full dictatorship.”
The report states that there are alternatives with Iran. In one instance, “political and economic reform in addition to a stable investment climate could fundamentally redraw both the way the world perceives the country and also the way in which Iranians view themselves.” This could move Iran away from “decades of being mired in the Arab conflicts of the Middle East.” Or the other option is Iran starts a nuclear arms race, continues to become the object of Western alienation, and may even become unstable and mired in conflict.
A Post-Petroleum World?
The report states that by 2025 there will likely be a “technological breakthrough that will provide an alternative to oil and gas, but implementation will lag because of the necessary infrastructure costs and need for longer replacement time.” In this instance, it states that “Saudi Arabia will absorb the biggest shock,” and “In Iran, the drop in oil and gas prices will undermine any populist economic policies,” and that, “Incentives to open up to the West in a bid for greater foreign investment, establishing or strengthening ties with Western partners – including the US – will increase.” The report also states that, “Outside the Middle East, Russia will potentially be the biggest loser, particularly if its economy remains heavily tied to energy exports, and could be reduced to middle power status. Venezuela, Bolivia, and other petro-populist regimes could unravel completely, if that has not occurred beforehand because of already growing discontent and decreasing production.” Again, this raises the issue of the manipulation or control of oil prices for political purposes, as the states all likely to be affected negatively by a plunge in oil prices also happen to be the states most at odds with the West, and specifically, the United States.
Africa: More of the Same
The report starts off by saying that “Sub-Saharan Africa will remain the most vulnerable region on Earth in terms of economic challenges, population stresses, civil conflict, and political instability. The weakness of states and troubled relations between states and societies probably will slow major improvements in the region’s prospects over the next 20 years unless there is sustained international engagement and, at times, intervention. Southern Africa will continue to be the most stable and promising sub-region politically and economically.” This seems to suggest that there will be many more cases of “humanitarian intervention,” likely under the auspices of a Western dominated international organization, such as the UN.
Further, the region will “continue to be a major supplier of oil, gas, and metals to world markets and increasingly will attract the attention of Asian states seeking access to commodities, including China and India.” However, “Poor economic policies—rooted in patrimonial interests and incomplete economic reform—will likely exacerbate ethnic and religious divides as well as crime and corruption in many countries.”
It also states that there will likely be a democratic “backslide” in the most populous African countries, and that, “the region will be vulnerable to civil conflict and complex forms of interstate conflict—with militaries fragmented along ethnic or other divides, limited control of border areas, and insurgents and criminal groups preying on unarmed civilians in neighboring countries. Central Africa contains the most troubling of these cases, including Congo-Kinshasa, Congo-Brazzaville, Central African Republic, and Chad.”
Resurgent Mercantilism and the “Arc of Instability”
The report states that there is a likely possibility of the resurgence on the world stage of mercantilist foreign policies of great powers, as access to resources becomes more limited. Perceptions of energy scarcity “could lead to interstate conflicts if government leaders deem assured access to energy resources to be essential to maintaining domestic stability and the survival of their regime.” In particular, “Central Asia has become an area of intense international competition for access to energy.”
The report also states that, “The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) will remain a geopolitically significant region in 2025, based on the importance of oil to the world economy and the threat of instability.” It gives a positive and negative scenario. In the positive, where economic growth becomes “rooted and sustained,” regional leaders will ensure stability both economic and political. However, “in a more negative scenario, leaders will fail to prepare their growing populations to participate productively in the global economy, authoritarian regimes will hold tightly to power and become more repressive, and regional conflicts will remain unresolved as population growth strains resources.”
The report elaborates that, “youth bulges, deeply rooted conflicts, and limited economic prospects are likely to keep Palestine, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and others in the high-risk category. Spillover from turmoil in these states and potentially others increases the chance that moves elsewhere in the region toward greater prosperity and political stability will be rocky. The success of efforts to manage and resolve regional conflicts and to develop security architectures that help stabilize the region will be a major determinant of the ability of states to grow their economies and pursue political reform.” In other words, expect continued destabilization of the region.
It states of Iran, that its “fractious regime, nationalist identity, and ambivalence toward the United States will make any transition from regional dissenter toward stakeholder perilous and uneven. Although Iran’s aims for regional leadership—including its nuclear ambitions—are unlikely to abate, its regional orientation will have difficulty discounting external and internal pressures for reform.”
In relation to Afghanistan, the report states that, “Western-driven infrastructure, economic assistance, and construction are likely to provide new stakes for local rivalries rather than the basis for a cohesive Western-style economic and social unity.” Further, as “Globalization has made opium Afghanistan’s major cash crop; the country will have difficulty developing alternatives, particularly as long as economic links for trade with Central Asia, Pakistan, and India are not further developed.” It states that sectarian conflicts will continue and increase.
The report describes Pakistan as a “wildcard,” especially in relation to conflict in Afghanistan. It states that its Northwest Frontier Province and tribal areas “will continue to be poorly governed and the source or supporter of cross-border instability.” It states that, “If Pakistan is unable to hold together until 2025, a broader coalescence of Pashtun tribes is likely to emerge and act together to erase the Durand Line,” and fractionalize Pakistan into ethnic divides. Essentially, expect Pakistan to be broken up into ethnically divided countries and territories.
It also stipulates that Iraq will continue to be plagued by sectarian and ethnic conflicts, which will spillover into other countries of the region, as “Iran, Syria, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia will have increasing difficulty staying aloof. An Iraq unable to maintain internal stability could continue to roil the region. If conflict there breaks into civil war, Iraq could continue to provide a strong demonstration of the adverse consequences of sectarianism to other countries in the region.” Put another way, Iraq will collapse into civil war, break up and become an example to the rest of the region regarding what happens to countries that pursue divergent policies from those of the West.
The report states that there is a likely increase in the risk of a nuclear war, or in the very least, the use of a nuclear weapon by 2025. “Ongoing low-intensity clashes between India and Pakistan continue to raise the specter that such events could escalate to a broader conflict between those nuclear powers.” Further, “The prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran spawning a nuclear arms race in the greater Middle East will bring new security challenges to an already conflict-prone region, particularly in conjunction with the proliferation of long-range missile systems.” The report also brings up the prospect of nuclear terrorism as an increased risk.
The report states that terrorism will by no means disappear from the international stage by 2025. It interestingly postulates that there is a possibility of Al-Qaeda’s influence as a terrorist group greatly diminishing, or all together disappearing, being replaced with new terrorist threats.
It discusses the actions that will likely be pursued by countries in reaction to terrorist threats, saying that many governments will be “expanding domestic security forces, surveillance capabilities, and the employment of special operations-type forces.” Counterterrorism measures will increasingly “involve urban operations as a result of greater urbanization,” and governments “may increasingly erect barricades and fences around their territories to inhibit access. Gated communities will continue to spring up within many societies as elites seek to insulate themselves from domestic threats.” Essentially, expect a continued move towards and internationalization of domestic police state measures to control populations.
The report states that there is a distinct possibility of a global pandemic emerging by 2025. In this case, “internal and cross-border tension and conflict will become more likely as nations struggle—with degraded capabilities—to control the movement of populations seeking to avoid infection or maintain access to resources.” It states that such a likely candidate for a pandemic would be the H5N1 avian flu.
It states that in the event of a global pandemic, likely originating in a country such as China, “tens to hundreds of millions of Americans within the US Homeland would become ill and deaths would mount into the tens of millions,” and “Outside the US, critical infrastructure degradation and economic loss on a global scale would result as approximately a third of the worldwide population became ill and hundreds of millions died.”
A New International System Is Formed
In discussing the structure and nature of a new international system, the report states that, “By 2025, nation-states will no longer be the only – and often not the most important – actors on the world stage and the ‘international system’ will have morphed to accommodate the new reality. But the transformation will be incomplete and uneven.”
The report states that under a situation in which there are many poles of power in the world, yet little coordination and cooperation between them all, it would be “unlikely to see an overarching, comprehensive, unitary approach to global governance. Current trends suggest that global governance in 2025 will be a patchwork of overlapping, often ad hoc and fragmented efforts, with shifting coalitions of member nations, international organizations, social movements, NGOs, philanthropic foundations, and companies.” In other words, by 2025, there won’t be an established global government, but rather an acceleration of the processes and mechanisms that have been and currently are underway in efforts to create a world government.
The report also interestingly points out that, “Most of the pressing transnational problems – including climate change, regulation of globalized financial markets, migration, failing states, crime networks, etc. – are unlikely to be effectively resolved by the actions of individual nation-states. The need for effective global governance will increase faster than existing mechanisms can respond [Emphasis added].” In other words, due to the growing threat of international problems, which are essentially the result of Western political-economic-intelligence activities and policies, the solution is a move toward international governance, which will be overseen and run by those same Western interests.
In discussing the rise of the emerging powers, particularly China and India, the report observes that their economic progress has been “achieved with an economic model that is at odds with the West’s traditional laissez faire recipe for economic development.” So the question is, “whether the new players – and their alternative approaches – can be melded with the traditional Western ones to form a cohesive international system able to tackle the increasing number of transnational issues.” It continues, saying that “the national interests of the emerging powers are diverse enough, and their dependence on globalization compelling enough, that there appears little chance of an alternative bloc forming among them to directly confront the more established Western order. The existing international organizations – such as the UN, WTO, IMF, and World Bank – may prove sufficiently responsive and adaptive to accommodate the views of emerging powers, but whether the emerging powers will be given – or will want – additional power and responsibilities is a separate question.” So, as the new powers emerge, as a result of Western elite-directed globalization, they will likely merge with the Western controlled world order as opposed to becoming an alternative or opposition force to it.
The report discusses the topic of regionalism in different areas of the world: “Greater Asian integration, if it occurs, could fill the vacuum left by a weakening multilaterally based international order but could also further undermine that order. In the aftermath of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, a remarkable series of pan-Asian ventures—the most significant being ASEAN + 3—began to take root. Although few would argue that an Asian counterpart to the EU is a likely outcome even by 2025, if 1997 is taken as a starting point, Asia arguably has evolved more rapidly over the last decade than the European integration did in its first decade(s).” It further states that, “movement over the next 15 years toward an Asian basket of currencies—if not an Asian currency unit as a third reserve—is more than a theoretical possibility.”
The report elaborates on the concept of regionalism, stating that, “Asian regionalism would have global implications, possibly sparking or reinforcing a trend toward three trade and financial clusters that could become quasi-blocs (North America, Europe, and East Asia).” Such blocs “would have implications for the ability to achieve future global World Trade Organization agreements and regional clusters could compete in the setting of trans-regional product standards for IT, biotech, nanotech, intellectual property rights, and other “new economy” products.” So these three main regional blocs will make up the initial structure of international governance by 2025, progressing toward the ultimate goal of a global government.
The Decline of Democracy
The report states that with democratization around the world, “advances are likely to slow and globalization will subject many recently democratized countries to increasing social and economic pressures that could undermine liberal institutions.” Part of this reasoning is that “the better economic performance of many authoritarian governments could sow doubts among some about democracy as the best form of government. The surveys we consulted indicated that many East Asians put greater emphasis on good management, including increasing standards of livings, than democracy.” Of great significance, the report also states that, “even in many well-established democracies, surveys show growing frustration with the current workings of democratic government and questioning among elites over the ability of democratic governments to take the bold actions necessary to deal rapidly and effectively with the growing number of transnational challenges.”
This is a very important point, as among many “well-established democracies” are the United States, which is already experiencing a massive shift away from democracy. China, which has been able to emerge rapidly as a result of Western-controlled globalization, and which remains authoritarian, can essentially be viewed as a model for the international system being shaped, as democracies take a turn toward authoritarianism and other rising powers choose to pursue development in the same manner. Essentially, the new international system will mark a move away from democracy and towards international authoritarianism.
It is important, when reviewing the above information provided by the report, to understand the perspective of the authors. The US intelligence community worked closely with businesses, prominent academic institutions and powerful think tanks, all of which play extremely significant roles in shaping our current world order. Thus, the perspectives outlined in the report come with an inherent bias, and so it is important to “read in between the lines.” The report does NOT state what the objectives of the US intelligence community, academic institutions, businesses or think tanks will be in this future 2025 scenario, but you can be assured that they will not play backseat roles and merely observe situations. These are among the most powerful players in the international arena, and this vision of 2025 is the world they are shaping.
So when the report suggests the likely fractionalization of Pakistan, they do not say that it is a US objective to do so, but rather that it is a likely possibility that such a scenario will occur. Thus, it is important to comprehend this information with an understanding that those who wrote the report, have been, are currently, and will in all likelihood, continue to be among the most powerful actors shaping the world order and the new international system. They have been behind the great “transnational issues” and are now proposing their “international solutions.”
 NIC, Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World. The National Intelligence Council’s 2025 Project: November, 2008: Acknowledgements
 NIC, Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World. The National Intelligence Council’s 2025 Project: November, 2008: 10
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