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Ghost Dog

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Hometown: Canary Islands Archipelago
Home country: Spain
Member since: Wed Apr 19, 2006, 12:59 PM
Number of posts: 16,330

About Me

A Brit many years in Spain, Catalunya, Baleares, Canarias. Cooperative member. Geography. Ecology. Cartography. Software. Sound Recording. Music Production. Languages & Literature. History.

Journal Archives

An American empire rendered reckless as its hegemony disintegrates

The following is a comment made this morning at the Guardian:

tempestteacup  Thestinger

Trump is merely the latest, most corrupt iteration of problems that long predated his successful exploitation of the political system for personal profit.

For understandable reasons, the problems that have received greatest attention are those that most directly impact the lives of voters: education, healthcare, social security, police oppression, a capitalist system in crisis. Bernie Sanders, for example, made a clear strategic decision to avoid serious engagement with American foreign policy. Looking to Britain or France and the media's treatment of Jeremy Corbyn and Jean-Luc Melenchon, perhaps he perceived that it is in this area that the establishment is most unanimous and therefore most likely to mobilise against anything that challenges their dogma.

(Even then, however, Bernie was on the receiving end of significant bile - he was criticised for being "soft" on America's most enduring boogeyman, Fidel Castro, as well as being forced to explain fake news reports that he had honeymooned in the Soviet Union.)

This is, in my opinion, a mistake. The increasingly dangerous positions adopted in foreign affairs by an American empire rendered reckless as its hegemony disintegrates, along with the inherent concern when any area of policy is subject to virtually no criticism or serious dissent is becoming obvious. The entanglement of corporate interests with defence spending, and therefore the ways America conducts itself abroad, have turned over the most deadly military power in the world to those whose aims are inimical to those of the nation's citizens. The long-term erosion of accountability and oversight that went into overdrive under George Bush Jnr and were institutionalised under Obama. Thus, despite overwhelming evidence that their policies do more to produce instability than contain it, they are subject to increasingly weak opposition.

From Syria to the Baltic, American-Russian relations are at their worst for a generation. NATO expansion is cheered on in the media while its consequences are completely unacknowledged. Aggression has become a default mode; disregard for long-term planning a sign of patriotism. And criticism is treated as a form of treason by everyone from the Trump Administration to the corporate leaders of the Democratic Party, all ably abetted by their stenographers in the press.

Trump's lack of grace or etiquette, along with his Bannon-inflected nationalism, may have repulsed the Washington DC establishment and their permanent state of war fever. But they've clearly brought him to heel with the help of war criminals (Fallujah, Afghan special operations) HR McMaster and Mad Dog Mattis. He, like Obama before him, has been taught, by flattery and intimidation, not to challenge the imperatives of American imperialism, to speak with the forked tongue of the world's policeman, and to bask in the praise it elicits from a media as corrupt as the state-controlled press under any one-party rule.

So there we have it. You may have noticed that in America's current bout of jingoism, the one thing almost totally absent has been any interest whatsoever in the wishes of American citizens. Do they want to bleed the federal budget dry in the pursuit of endless war while an axe is taken to every other aspect of government spending? Do they want to see their leaders wreak death and destruction on far-flung nations? Do they believe that American foreign policy should be at the behest of corporate interests and profit-seeking?

Nobody seems interested in asking, just in hectoring and conflating patriotism with the fetishising of a military that has been controlled, for decades, by warlords as bloodthirsty, as venal and as stupid as any that brought the empires of Rome or Byzantium to the point of collapse.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/24/north-korea-wont-bow-donald-trumps-threats-needs-assurances


Accurate, imo.

Defend Gibraltar? Better condemn it as a dodgy tax haven

In 1999, Vladimir Putin was angling to become president, a complex task considering the amount of money and violence in Russian politics at the time. He needed to talk to all the players and needed to do so somewhere unobtrusive, so he convened a meeting at an oligarch’s Mediterranean villa. This, however, caused a problem: how could he travel to southern Spain without alerting the Spanish, who might monitor the conversations and learn what was going on?

Fortunately, there was a solution: Gibraltar. The then-FSB chief flew into the British territory, hopped on a boat and entered Spain illegally, on perhaps as many as five occasions. Russian spooks are not the only thing Gibraltar has smuggled across the border. According to media reports quoting a confidential EU investigation, the Rock imported 117m packets of cigarettes in 2013, enough for every Gibraltarian to smoke almost 200 a day. The cigarettes didn’t stay there, however; they, like Putin, were passing through. This epic smuggling operation may have cost EU countries €700m in lost tax revenues over four years.

Britain’s response to Spain’s demand that it have a say over how Brexit affects Gibraltar has been one of almost universal fury, but it shouldn’t have been. If you imagine that, owing to some ancient treaty, Spain had a base in Dover, from which Russia’s chief spy had repeatedly sneaked into Kent, and smugglers had flooded the country with cheap fags, massively undermining our tax base, we would be pretty cross, too. It’s something of a wonder that Spain has put up with it for so long.

Gibraltar hasn’t always been this way. It used to be a naval garrison blockaded by Spain and with almost no links to its neighbours at all. Naval spending made up almost two-thirds of Gibraltar’s economy in the 1980s, but the money dried up with the end of the cold war and the Rock had to diversify. Like most of the other remaining British colonies, it did so by aggressively undercutting the rules and taxes of its neighbours. In time, it found a comfortable niche enabling business projects that were too dodgy for Jersey or the Isle of Man...

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/08/defend-gibraltar-condemn-it-as-dodgy-tax-haven

Israel sunk in 'incremental tyranny', say former Shin Bet chiefs

... Ami Ayalon and Carmi Gillon were speaking ahead of a public meeting at a Jerusalem gallery which is threatened with closure for hosting a meeting organised by the military whistleblowing group Breaking the Silence, one of the main targets of the rightwing government of Benjamin Netanyahu...

..."Incremental tyranny (is a process) which means you live in a democracy and suddenly you understand it is not a democracy any more,” Ayalon told a small group of journalists, including the Guardian, ahead of the event. “This is what we are seeing in Israel. The tragedy of this process is that you only know it when it is too late.”

Ayalon cited recent moves by ministers in the Netanyahu government to change the laws to hit groups such as Breaking the Silence by banning them from events in schools and targeting their funding, while also taking aim at the country’s supreme court and independence of the media. Issues of freedom of speech and expression have become one of the key faultlines in Israeli society – in everything from the arts to journalism – under the most rightwing government in the country’s history...

... “This country was established on the values of liberal democracy, values written in the only kind of constitution we have – which is our declaration of independence – values we don’t fulfil any more. You can analyse what happened to us in the last 50 years, but everything is under the shade of occupation. It has changed us (as) a society. It has made us an unpleasant society.”...

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/06/former-israeli-security-chiefs-warn-of-tyranny
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