Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Strained US China Relations: Chinas Crucial Role as America's Creditor

Strained US – China Relations: China’s Crucial Role as America's Creditor

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The Obama Administration has heightened tensions with China through a series of measures which can only be characterized as major provocations designed to undermine relations between the two countries. These provocations include political support for separatist movements, such as the US-funded theocratic-monk led Tibetan secessionists and the Washington-based Uyghur secessionists, as well as through the $6.4 billion-dollar advanced arms sales to Taiwan, a virtual protectorate of the US Navy. President Obama has publicly met with and openly backed these separatist and secessionists groups, flaunting Washington’s refusal to recognize China’s existing borders. This is part of the US strategy of encouraging the physical break-up of independent nations, which are viewed as ‘obstacles’ to its program of global military empire building.

In addition to continuing and escalating the hostile policies of his predecessor, the Obama Administration has exploited several other issues in order to rally American public opinion and mobilize overseas allies behind its confrontational posture. First, the Obama Administration claims that China’s currency (the Renminbi) is artificially undervalued to give Chinese exports an unfair price advantage, thus undercutting US manufacturing exports and costing “millions of American jobs”. And secondly, the Administration claims that, after the US had opened its domestic manufacturing market to Chinese firms, the Chinese would not ‘reciprocate’ and open their financial sectors to Wall Street investment banks.

In retaliation for growing Chinese exports, Washington has raised protective tariffs on steel pipes and automobile tires, and issued Congressional threats of further protectionist measures.

The US has insists that other nations support its aggressive policy toward Iran, including imposing trade, investment and financial sanctions, supporting the provocative US naval build-up in the Persian Gulf and backing Israel’s bellicose threats to bomb Teheran. In contrast, China rejects economic sanctions, in favor of negotiations, while increasing its trade and investments in strategic sectors of the Iranian economy. In the United Nations Security Council, the US has exerted diplomatic and mass media pressure to force China to vote for a Zionist-authored proposal of wide-reaching sanctions against Iran. Obama refuses to accept China’s rejection of the US military-driven policy of regime change and the Chinese pursuit of free trade with Iran.

The US Administration’s selective definition of “self-determination” includes giving support to secessionist ethno-religious regional movements in China, while, at the same time, invading and occupying independent states, like Iraq and Afghanistan, ordering missile attacks on other states, like Pakistan and Somalia, establishing over 700 military bases world-wide with extra-territorial jurisdiction and engaging in assassinations of its opponents abroad via the CIA and Special Forces.

In contrast, China is not at war and opposes military invasions of sovereign states. China does not have overseas military bases and is menaced by the US policy of encircling China’s frontiers with American bases in client states in Northeast, Southeast and Central Asia.

While US military occupation forces brutally violate human rights of millions of citizens in occupied or targeted countries, and threaten the civil rights of critical Americans with arbitrary rulings, secret trials and the suspension of habeas corpus, the Obama regime excoriates China for its prosecution of opposition activists.

The Obama regime has latched onto a conflict between a private US corporation, Google, and Chinese hackers, which it alleges are state sponsored, turning the issue into a major struggle for “internet freedom” at the level of state to state relations. Despite the expanding presence of scores of US-owned IT companies in China, the Obama regime has raised the issue of “internet censorship” to the level of a major ideological confrontation.

Climate change is another source of aggravation between the states. At the Copenhagen summit in December 2009, Obama rejected any formal agreement on the reduction of carbon emissions while deflecting criticism and blame on to China and other developing countries, which had agreed to informal substantive targets on CO2 reductions.

Of all these points of contention, the most serious is Washington’s financial, diplomatic and political support for ethnic secessionist groups in China, threatening the security and territorial integrity of the Chinese state. This paramount issue has re-awakened painful memories of earlier imperialist carving up of China, its rich port cities and territories and has forced the Chinese authorities to consider retaliatory measures.

Imperial Policies: At What Price?

The Obama regime’s political and diplomatic provocations against China in pursuit of its military-driven empire, come at a very high real and potential price. We cannot assume that China will remain a stoic punching bag for the US, absorbing territorial threats, economic pressures and gratuitous diplomatic insults without taking counter-measures especially in the economic sphere.

China’s Crucial Role as US Creditor

Obama’s provocative militarist posturing toward China endangers major US private and public economic interests, including China’s financing of the burgeoning US debt.

China is the world’s largest and fastest growing investor in US securities. According to a detailed study by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) (July 30, 2009), China holds a vast amount of long-term treasury debt, US agency debt, US corporate debt, US equities and short-term debt estimated at over $1.2 trillion. China’s investment in US Treasury securities were used to help finance the economic ‘recovery’ (such as it is). If the Obama regime persists in its provocations, China may decide to unload a large share of its US securities holdings, inducing other foreign investors to also sell off their holdings (CRS op cit). This would lead to a sharp depreciation of the dollar and force Washington to raise interest rates, which could drive the US into a deeper recession/depression. Economists, who claim Chinese economic interests would suffer from such a sell off, overlook the fact that for Beijing, national sovereignty is more important than short-term economic losses, especially in view of US support for secessionist movements. Moreover, the Chinese have a high rates of savings, huge foreign reserves and increasingly diverse markets and suppliers of essential commodities. China is in a better position to absorb the ‘shock’ of a decline in US economic relations resulting from American bellicosity than the debt-ridden, negative-saving, military-driven North American economy.

Foreign Direct Investments

Almost all of the 400 biggest US multi-national corporations, listed in Forbes, have major profitable investments in China, which are growing. The Obama regime’s increasingly confrontational position toward China puts these investments at risk.

US foreign investments in China far exceed the latter’s investments in the US, according to a report published by the UCLA Asian American Studies Center. In 2006, China’s foreign direct investment (FDI) in the US was $600 million, while US investments in China were $22.2 billion. The Report goes on to state “…the complaints by many American businesses and politicians that China can invest in US companies with relative ease while China still tightly restricts access to Chinese markets and companies appear not to be borne out by the numbers”. The US government has, in fact, blocked several large scale investments by Chinese companies, including the multi-billion dollar purchase of an oil company (UNOCAL), an appliance company (Maytag) and computer company (3Com Corp). Chinese investments in the US are not always profitable. The Sovereign Wealth Fund (a Chinese government-run investment fund) lost over 50% of its $8 billion-dollar investment in the finance groups, Blackstone Group and Morgan Stanley, in less than a year.

The Obama regime’s complaints about China’s “restrictive” treatment of US companies fly in the face of economic reality. The attacks are part of a political strategy of anti-Chinese propaganda to heighten the American public’s antagonism against China and rally domestic support for any military confrontation. Even as US companies in China reap profits a thousand times greater than Chinese investments in the US, and the leading investment houses swindle Chinese sovereign investors of billions, the White House claims foul play!.

China’s much-maligned policy of restricting financial takeovers by Wall Street firms was one of the reasons the US speculative collapse did not impact its economy. And still Washington continues to attack Beijing on the issue of “opening Chinese financial markets to Wall Street”.

US – China Trade

The Obama regime has repeatedly raised the issue of China’s ‘undervalued’ currency, conveniently ignoring the fact that China’s imports from the US are growing faster than its exports to the US. Between 2006 – 2008 US annual exports to China grew 32%, 18%, 9.5%, while its imports of Chinese goods grew 18.2%, 11.7%, 5.1%. Moreover top US exports included electrical machinery and equipment, power generation equipment, oil seeds and oleaginous fruits, aero-space products, optical equipment and iron and steel – a broad spectrum of American industrial products with high value-added, well-paying skilled employment and lucrative profits.

Moreover, the fact that US exports to China include a diverse array of manufacturing sectors and are competitive at the current exchange rate, suggests that the vast US trade deficit with China has less to do with China’s currency policy and more to do with US public and private investment policies and the relative strengths of the productive forces of each economy. In large part, the majority of exports from China to the US are the result of US multi-national corporate decisions to produce and sub-contract in China. In other words, the trade deficit with China is directly related to US corporate global investment strategy, which, in turn, flourished after the US government liberalized it rules and deregulated US corporate conduct. Liberal investment policies under the US government, and not Chinese “unfair trade rules”, are a major cause of the trade deficit.

The angry posture adopted by the Obama regime toward China’s “undervalued” currency is a political ploy to deflect attention from its disastrous liberal economic policies and its support for the investment conduct of large US corporations.

The US annual trade deficit with China has grown almost four fold between 1999 – 2008, from $68.7 billion to $266.3 billion. The growth of the trade deficit coincides with the massive shift of US investment from manufacturing to speculative financial, real estate and insurance activities. In other words, the US re-directed its investment strategies from producing useful, quality commodities for domestic consumption and export to importing manufactured goods from abroad at a greater profit for the corporations. The weakening of US productive capacity - its productive forces - was reflected in its declining competitive position and its deepening trade imbalances. Given the tight relations between the White House and Wall Street, policy makers sought to blame Chinese monetary officials for an undervalued currency, rather than confront the bubble economy stimulated by the policies of the Federal Reserve and generated by the Wall Street investment houses, whose executives go on to occupy key economic posts in the US government and who provide substantial funding for electoral campaigns.

In those economic sectors where US investment has led to increased efficiency, like agriculture, the US has competed successfully. China is the leading buyer of American soybeans and cotton – accounting for over half world sales of the former and between almost a third of the latter according to the U.S. International Trade Commission and the US Department of Commerce.

Trade, Credit, Investments versus Militarism and Speculation

China’s economic relations with the US have been extraordinarily lucrative and favorable to the big US capitalists and the American government. By purchasing low-interest US Treasury notes, China has financed US trade and budget deficits, which are the result of exorbitant military spending, multiple imperial wars and occupations, and unproductive speculative investments. The US multi-nationals have reaped high rates of profit from their investments in China, profits far in excess of what they would have gained in the US, and many times more than what a few Chinese firms earn in the more restrictive US climate. Important US economic sectors in aerospace, agro business, port facilities, transport and giant commercial retailers and importers depend on and profit from trade with China. US speculators have been able to rake in huge profits from the Chinese Sovereign Funds by pumping and dumping speculative US stocks.

As China’s dynamic growth and rate of consumer demand continue to race ahead of the US, American exports to China outpace its imports from China.

The growing political antagonism and reckless diplomatic actions against China taken by the White House and Congress serve to undermine the basic economic interests of a broad swath of US capitalist enterprises as well as the credibility of the US economy. What is even more striking is that many of the charges leveled against Beijing, including its ‘unfair treatment’ of investors and ‘closed economy’ – apply with greater force to Washington.

The Paradox of Economic Gain and Political Hostility

The key to understanding this paradox of economic gain and political hostility lies in the fundamentally different political and economic structures and global strategies of the two countries. The US economy has been driven by its financial and speculative capitalist classes, which in turn wield decisive political influence over state economic policy. At the same time, the commercial capitalist class is more attuned to importing manufactured goods, rather than in long-term investment in research, development in the American manufacturing sector. Neither commercial nor financial capital has a stake in stimulating US exports and in investing in the productive forces of the country. The design and implementation of US global strategy is controlled by the civilian militarists and imperial ideologues, (especially the Zionists) in government and their counterparts in sectors of the military high command.

In contrast to the Chinese market-driven quest for global power, US imperialism is built around military conquest and appropriation of economic wealth. The disproportionate influence exercised by the civilian militarists in the US government has resulted in a series of foreign wars, which have severely strained the US economy and led to a military definition of US global objectives. Faced with China’s growing economic relations and influence in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East and Beijing’s opposition to US military-driven imperial policies against Iran, the Washington has escalated its political provocations, diplomatic pressures and interference in Chinese internal affairs. As these external pressures increase, Chinese public opinion turns more nationalistic, which in turn serves as a basis for US mass media charges of “xenophobia” and “chauvinism” on the part of the Chinese. The irrational nature of the recent anti-China propaganda promoted by the US mass media is most evident in the shrill warnings of a Chinese military threat to Asian security, especially when the US continues to expand its chain of military bases encircling China from South Korea, Japan, Philippines, Australia, Afghanistan and Central Asia. China has neither military bases abroad nor naval fleets off the coasts of any US or allied territory.

The greater the US reliance on military force, brutal economic sanctions and outright blockades to overthrow regimes and extend its network of client regimes, the greater its hostility toward China, which is expanding its economic ties with US ‘adversaries’, such as Iran, Venezuela, Sudan, Nicaragua, etc.

The US has severely weakened its productive forces in the process of funding a global military machine. China, on the other hand, has sought to become a world power on the bases of the long-term, large-scale development of its productive forces, even in the face of US opposition. At each and every turn, Washington has passed up enormous opportunities for the US economy from China’s dynamic growth, booming market and overseas economic expansion, in favor of petty provocations.

Conclusion

Ultimately what we have is a conflict between two diametrically opposing political economic systems.

On the one hand, a United States military driven empire, which focuses on conquering Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran, backs the ambitions of a militarist Israel, seeks marginal client states in Latin America and militarizes Pakistan, Colombia and Mexico.

On the other hand, China deepens its economic ties with dynamic Asian countries; increases its oil links with Saudi Arabia, Iran, the Gulf States, Venezuela, Russia and Angola; displaces the US as the leading trading partner of Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Chile; and increases its trade and investment links with Southern Africa in minerals and related infrastructure projects. The contrast is striking.

China’s global economic expansion is confronted by US military encirclement, diplomatic provocations and a massive anti-Chinese propaganda campaign designed to deflect US public attention from the extreme imbalances in its domestic economy. Instead of looking inward to understand why the US is declining, the Obama regime encourages the public to blame China’s supposedly unfair trade policies, its ‘restrictive’ investment policies, its manipulated currency rate and its tough response to secessionist movements funded by the US.

In the end the US will not resolve its budget deficits and trade imbalances, not to mention its endless imperial wars, by pandering to self-described divine rulers, like the Dali Lama, and provoking a dynamic economic power such as China. Nor can Washington escape its profound economic imbalances by catering to Wall Street speculators and ignoring the decline of America’s productive forces. Drones, military surges and surrogate puppet armies engaged in endless wars are no match for the surging investments, robust developing markets and joint ventures linking China with the dynamic emerging economies of the world.

Bill Gates talks about ‘vaccines to reduce population

Bill Gates talks about ‘vaccines to reduce population’

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Microsoft founder and one of the world’s wealthiest men, Bill Gates, projects an image of a benign philanthropist using his billions via his (tax exempt) Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to tackle diseases, solve food shortages in Africa and alleviate poverty. In a recent conference in California, Gates reveals a less public agenda of his philanthropy: population reduction, otherwise known as eugenics.

Gates made his remarks to the invitation-only Long Beach, California TED2010 Conference, in a speech titled, “Innovating to Zero!.” Along with the scientifically absurd proposition of reducing manmade CO2 emissions worldwide to zero by 2050, approximately four and a half minutes into the talk, Gates declares, "First we got population. The world today has 6.8 billion people. That’s headed up to about 9 billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent." (author’s emphasis).

In plain English, one of the most powerful men in the world states clearly that he expects vaccines to be used to reduce population growth. When Bill Gates speaks about vaccines, he speaks with authority. In January 2010 at the elite Davos World Economic Forum, Gates announced his foundation would give $10 billion (circa €7.5 billion) over the next decade to develop and deliver new vaccines to children in the developing world. [1]

The primary focus of his multi-billion dollar Gates Foundation is vaccinations, especially in Africa and other underdeveloped countries. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a founding member of the GAVI Alliance (Global Alliance for Vaccinations and Immunization) in partnership with the World Bank, WHO and the vaccine industry. The goal of GAVI is to vaccinate every newborn child in the developing world.

Now that sounds like noble philanthropic work. The problem is that the vaccine industry has been repeatedly caught dumping dangerous—meaning unsafe because untested or proven harmful—vaccines onto unwitting Third World populations when they cannot get rid of the vaccines in the West. Louise Voller, Kristian Villesen, [2]. Some organizations have suggested that the true aim of the vaccinations is to make people sicker and even more susceptible to disease and premature death. [3]

Dumping toxins on the Third World

In the aftermath of the most recent unnecessary Pandemic declaration of a global H1N1 swine flu emergency, industrial countries were left sitting on hundreds of millions of doses of untested vaccines. They decided to get rid of the embarrassing leftover drugs by handing them over to the WHO which in turn plans to dump them for free on select poor countries. France has given 91 million of the 94 million doses the Sarkozy government bought from the pharma giants; Britain gave 55 million of its 60 million doses. The story for Germany and Norway is similar. [4]

As Dr. Thomas Jefferson, an epidemiologist with the Cochrane Research Center in Rome noted, “Why do they give the vaccines to the developing countries at all? The pandemic has been called off in most parts of the world. The greatest threat in poor countries right now is heart and circulatory diseases while the virus figures at the bottom of the list. What is the medical reason for donating 180 million doses?”. [5] As well, flu is a minor problem in countries with abundant sunshine, and it turned out that the feared H1N1 Pandemic “new great plague” was the mildest flu on record.

The pharmaceutical vaccine makers do not speak about the enormous health damage from infant vaccination including autism and numerous neuro-muscular deformities that have been traced back to the toxic adjuvants and preservatives used in most vaccines. Many vaccines, especially multi-dose vaccines that are made more cheaply for sale to the Third World, contain something called Thimerosal (Thiomersol in the EU), a compound (sodium ethylmercurithiosalicylate), containing some 50% mercury, used as a preservative.

In July 1999 the US’ National Vaccine Information Center declared in a press release that, "The cumulative effects of ingesting mercury can cause brain damage." The same month, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) alerted the public about the possible health effects associated with thimerosal-containing vaccines. They strongly recommended that thimerosal be removed from vaccines as soon as possible. Under the directive of the FDA Modernization Act of 1997, the Food and Drug Administration also determined that infants who received several thimerosal-containing vaccines may be receiving mercury exposure over and above the recommended federal guidelines. [6]

A new form of eugenics?

Gates’ interest in inducing population reduction among black and other minority populations is not new unfortunately. As I document in my book, Seeds of Destruction, [7] since the 1920’s the Rockefeller Foundation had funded the eugenics research in Germany through the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institutes in Berlin and Munich, including well into the Third Reich. They praised the forced sterilization of people by Hitler Germany, and the Nazi ideas on race “purity.” It was John D. Rockefeller III, a life-long advocate of eugenics, who used his “tax free” foundation money to initiate the population reduction neo-Malthusian movement through his private Population Council in New York beginning in the 1950’s.

The idea of using vaccines to covertly reduce births in the Third World is also not new. Bill Gates’ good friend, David Rockefeller and his Rockefeller Foundation were involved as early as 1972 in a major project together with WHO and others to perfect another “new vaccine.”

The results of the WHO-Rockefeller project were put into mass application on human guinea pigs in the early 1990’s. The WHO oversaw massive vaccination campaigns against tetanus in Nicaragua, Mexico and the Philippines. Comite Pro Vida de Mexico, a Roman Catholic lay organization, became suspicious of the motives behind the WHO program and decided to test numerous vials of the vaccine and found them to contain human Chorionic Gonadotrophin, or hCG. That was a curious component for a vaccine designed to protect people against lock-jaw arising from infection with rusty nail wounds or other contact with certain bacteria found in soil. The tetanus disease was indeed, also rather rare. It was also curious because hCG was a natural hormone needed to maintain a pregnancy. However, when combined with a tetanus toxoid carrier, it stimulated formation of antibodies against hCG, rendering a woman incapable of maintaining a pregnancy, a form of concealed abortion. Similar reports of vaccines laced with hCG hormones came from the Philippines and Nicaragua. [8]

Gates’ ‘Gene Revolution in Africa’

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with David Rockefeller’s Rockefeller Foundation, the creators of the GMO biotechnology, are also financing a project called The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) headed by former UN chief, Kofi Annan. Accepting the role as AGRA head in June 2007 Annan expressed his “gratitude to the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and all others who support our African campaign.” The AGRA board is dominated by people from both the Gates’ and Rockefeller foundations. [9]

Monsanto, DuPont, Dow, Syngenta and other major GMO agribusiness giants are reported at the heart of AGRA, using it as a back-door to spread their patented GMO seeds across Africa under the deceptive label, ‘bio-technology,’ a euphemism for genetically engineered patented seeds. The person from the Gates Foundation responsible for its work with AGRA is Dr. Robert Horsch, a 25-year Monsanto GMO veteran who was on the team that developed Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready GMO technologies. His job is reportedly to use Gates’ money to introduce GMO into Africa. [10]

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Kofi Annan, right, examines seed maize with Saleem Esmail of the Western Seed Company. (Photo courtesy AGRA)

To date South Africa is the only African country permitting legal planting of GMO crops. In 2003 Burkina Faso authorized GMO trials. In 2005 Kofi Annan’s Ghana drafted bio-safety legislation and key officials expressed their intentions to pursue research into GMO crops. AGRA is being used to create networks of “agro-dealers” across Africa, at first with no mention of GMO seeds or herbicides, in order to have the infrastructure in place to massively introduce GMO. [11]

GMO, glyphosate and population reduction

GMO crops have never been proven safe for human or animal consumption. Moreover, they are inherently genetically ‘unstable’ as they are an unnatural product of introducing a foreign bacteria such as Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) or other material into the DNA of a given seed to change its traits. Perhaps equally dangerous are the ‘paired’ chemical herbicides sold as a mandatory part of a GMO contract, such as Monsanto’s Roundup, the most widely used such herbicide in the world. [12] It contains highly toxic glyphosate compounds that have been independently tested and proven to exist in toxic concentrations in GMO applications far above that safe for humans or animals. Tests show that tiny amounts of glyphosate compounds would do damage to a human umbilical, embryonic and placental cells in a pregnant woman drinking the ground water near a GMO field. [13]

One long-standing project of the US Government has been to perfect a genetically-modified variety of corn, the diet staple in Mexico and many other Latin American countries. The corn has been field tested in tests financed by the US Department of Agriculture along with a small California bio-tech company named Epicyte. Announcing his success at a 2001 press conference, the president of Epicyte, Mitch Hein, pointing to his GMO corn plants, announced, “We have a hothouse filled with corn plants that make anti-sperm antibodies.” [14]

Hein explained that they had taken antibodies from women with a rare condition known as immune infertility, isolated the genes that regulated the manufacture of those infertility antibodies, and, using genetic engineering techniques, had inserted the genes into ordinary corn seeds used to produce corn plants. In this manner, in reality they produced a concealed contraceptive embedded in corn meant for human consumption. “Essentially, the antibodies are attracted to surface receptors on the sperm,” said Hein. “They latch on and make each sperm so heavy it cannot move forward. It just shakes about as if it was doing the lambada.” [15] Hein claimed it was a possible solution to world “over-population.” The moral and ethical issues of feeding it to humans in Third World poor countries without their knowing it countries he left out of his remarks.

Spermicides hidden in GMO corn provided to starving Third World populations through the generosity of the Gates’ foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and Kofi Annan’s AGRA or vaccines that contain undisclosed sterilization agents are just two documented cases of using vaccines or GMO seeds to “reduce population.”

And the ‘Good Club’

Gates’ TED2010 speech on zero emissions and population reduction is consistent with a report that appeared in New York City’s ethnic media, Irish.Central.com in May 2009. According to the report, a secret meeting took place on May 5, 2009 at the home of Sir Paul Nurse, President of Rockefeller University, among some of the wealthiest people in America. Investment guru Warren Buffett who in 2006 decided to pool his $30 billion Buffett Foundation into the Gates foundation to create the world’s largest private foundation with some $60 billions of tax-free dollars was present. Banker David Rockefeller was the host.

The exclusive letter of invitation was signed by Gates, Rockefeller and Buffett. They decided to call themselves the “Good Club.” Also present was media czar Ted Turner, billionaire founder of CNN who stated in a 1996 interview for the Audubon nature magazine, where he said that a 95% reduction of world population to between 225-300 million would be “ideal.” In a 2008 interview at Philadelphia’s Temple University, Turner fine-tuned the number to 2 billion, a cut of more than 70% from today’s population. Even less elegantly than Gates, Turner stated, “we have too many people. That’s why we have global warming. We need less people using less stuff (sic).” [16]

Others attending this first meeting of the Good Club reportedly were: Eli Broad real estate billionaire, New York’s billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Wall Street billionaire and Council on Foreign Relations former head, Peter G. Peterson.

In addition, Julian H. Robertson, Jr., hedge-fund billionaire who worked with Soros attacking the currencies of Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea and the Asian Tigen economies, precipitating the 1997-98 Asia Crisis. Also present at the first session of the Good Club was Patty Stonesifer, former chief executive of the Gates foundation, and John Morgridge of Cisco Systems. The group represented a combined fortune of more than $125 billion. [17]

According to reports apparently leaked by one of the attendees, the meeting was held in response to the global economic downturn and the numerous health and environmental crises that are plaguing the globe.

But the central theme and purpose of the secret Good Club meeting of the plutocrats was the priority concern posed by Bill Gates, namely, how to advance more effectively their agenda of birth control and global population reduction. In the talks a consensus reportedly emerged that they would “back a strategy in which population growth would be tackled as a potentially disastrous environmental, social and industrial threat.” [18].

Global Eugenics agenda

Gates and Buffett are major funders of global population reduction programs, as is Turner, whose UN Foundation was created to funnel $1 billion of his tax-free stock option earnings in AOL-Time-Warner into various birth reduction programs in the developing world. [19] The programs in Africa and elsewhere are masked as philanthropy and providing health services for poor Africans. In reality they involve involuntary population sterilization via vaccination and other medicines that make women of child-bearing age infertile. The Gates Foundation, where Buffett deposited the bulk of his wealth two years ago, is also backing introduction of GMO seeds into Africa under the cloak of the Kofi Annan-led ‘Second Green Revolution’ in Africa. The introduction of GMO patented seeds in Africa to date has met with enormous indigenous resistance.

Health experts point out that were the intent of Gates really to improve the health and well-being of black Africans, the same hundreds of millions of dollars the Gates Foundation has invested in untested and unsafe vaccines could be used in providing minimal sanitary water and sewage systems. Vaccinating a child who then goes to drink feces-polluted river water is hardly healthy in any respect. But of course cleaning up the water and sewage systems of Africa would revolutionize the health conditions of the Continent.

Gates’ TED2010 comments about having new vaccines to reduce global population were obviously no off-the-cuff remark. For those who doubt, the presentation Gates made at the TED2009 annual gathering said almost exactly the same thing about reducing population to cut global warming. For the mighty and powerful of the Good Club, human beings seem to be a form of pollution equal to CO2.

 F. William Engdahl

Author of Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation.. He also authored A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order (Pluto Press). His latest book is Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order (Third Millennium Press).


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[1] "Bill Gates makes $10 billion vaccine pledge", London Telegraph, January 29, 2010.

[2] "WHO Donates Millions of Doses of Surplus Medical Supplies to Developing countries", Danish Information, 22 December 2009.

[3] One is the Population Research Institute in Washington.

[4] Louise Voller et al, op. cit.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Noted in Vaccinations and Autism.

[7] F. William Engdahl, Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, Global Research, Montreal, 2007, pp. 79-84.

[8] James A. Miller, ["Are New Vaccines Laced With Birth-Control Drugs"?, HLI Reports, Human Life International, Gaithersburg, Maryland; June-July 1995.

[9] Cited in F. William Engdahl, "Doomsday Seed Vault" in the Arctic: Bill Gates, Rockefeller and the GMO giants know something we don’t, Voltaire Network, 19 October 2009.

[10] Mariam Mayet, "Africa’s Green Revolution rolls out the Gene Revolution, African Centre for Biosafety", ACB Briefing Paper No. 6/2009, Melville, South Africa, April 2009.

[11] Ibid.

[12] GMO Scandal: The Long Term Effects of Genetically Modified Food in Humans, by F. William Engdhal, Voltaire Network, 15 September 2009.

[13] Nora Benachour and Gilles-Eric Seralini, "Glyphosate Formulations Induce Apoptosis and Necrosis in Human Umbilical Embryonic, and Placental Cells", Chemical Research in Toxicology Journal, American Chemical Society, 2009, 22 (1), pp 97–105.

[14] Robin McKie, "GMO Corn Set to Stop Man Spreading His Seed", London, The Observer, 9 September 2001.

[15] Ibid. McKie writes, “The pregnancy prevention plants are the handiwork of the San Diego biotechnology company Epicyte, where researchers have discovered a rare class of human antibodies that attack sperm…the company has created tiny horticultural factories that make contraceptives…Essentially, the antibodies are attracted to surface receptors on the sperm,” said Hein. “They latch on and make each sperm so heavy it cannot move forward. It just shakes about as if it was doing the lambada.”

[16] Ted Turner, cited along with youTube video of Turner in Aaron Dykes, Ted Turner: "World Needs a ’Voluntary’ One-Child Policy for the Next Hundred Years", Jones Report.com, April 29, 2008.

[17] John Harlow, "Billionaire club in bid to curb overpopulation", London, The Sunday Times May 24, 2009.

[18] Ibid

[19] United Nations Foundation, Women and Population Program.

How Reagan's Propaganda Succeeded

How Reagan's Propaganda Succeeded

These recently discovered documents buttress previously disclosed evidence that Reagan’s CIA Director William J. Casey played a key behind-the-scenes role in pushing this political action initiative, which recruited well-heeled private-sector conservatives to subsidize the secretive government operations.

The documents show that Casey used a senior CIA propaganda and disinformation specialist named Walter Raymond Jr., who was placed inside the National Security Council in 1982, to oversee the project and to circumvent legal prohibitions against the CIA engaging in propaganda that might influence U.S. public opinion or politics.

Though Raymond formally quit the CIA after going to the NSC, documents from Raymond’s personal NSC files reveal that he often passed on recommendations regarding the propaganda initiative after meetings at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, or after conversations with Casey himself.

In one Nov. 4, 1982, “secret” memo, Raymond described Casey reaching out to right-wing mogul Richard Mellon Scaife, who was already working with other conservative foundation executives to fund right-wing publications, think tanks and activist groups seeking to shift U.S. politics to the Right.

Raymond told then NSC advisor William P. Clark that “Bill Casey asked me to pass on the following thought concerning your [scheduled] meeting with Dick Scaife, Dave Abshire [then a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board], and Co.

“Casey had lunch with them today and discussed the need to get moving in the general area of supporting our friends around the world.”

Besides a desire to “invigorate international media programs,” Casey wanted to help U.S.-based organizations, such as Freedom House, that could influence American attitudes about foreign challenges, Raymond said.

“The DCI [Director of Central Intelligence] is also concerned about strengthening public information organizations in the United States such as Freedom House,” Raymond told Clark. “To do this we have identified three overt tracks:

“--enhanced federal funding;

“--the Democracy Project study (although publicly funded this will be independently managed);

“--private funds.”

“A critical piece of the puzzle is a serious effort to raise private funds to generate momentum. Casey’s talk with Scaife and Co. suggests they would be very willing to cooperate.”

(In the following years, Freedom House emerged as a major critic of Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government, which Reagan and Casey were seeking to overthrow by covertly supporting contra rebels.)

Returning from Langley

A Dec. 2 note addressed to “Bud,” apparently senior NSC official Robert “Bud” McFarlane, described a request from Raymond for a brief meeting. “When he [Raymond] returned from Langley, he had a proposed draft letter … re $100 M democ[racy] proj[ect],” the note said.

While Raymond passed on Casey's instructions, the CIA director told White House officials to play down or conceal the CIA’s role.

“Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate,” Casey said in one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III, urging creation of a “National Endowment” that would support “free institutions throughout the world.”

On Jan. 21, 1983, Raymond updated Clark about the project, which also was reaching out to representatives from other conservative foundations, including Les Lenkowsky of Smith-Richardson, Michael Joyce of Olin and Dan McMichael of Mellon-Scaife.

“This is designed to develop a broader group of people who will support parallel initiatives consistent with Administration needs and desires,” Raymond wrote.

In the late 1970s and through the 1980s, those and other conservative foundations poured millions of dollars into right-wing think tanks, media outlets and anti-journalism attack groups that targeted American reporters who challenged the Reagan administration’s propaganda.

The early planning papers also indicated a desire to use this relatively overt system to funnel money to pro-U.S. trade unions in Asia, Africa and Latin America in support of a variety of political operations, including setting up television stations and funding print publications.

Some examples were $150,000 to a Bolivian trade union; $50,000 to Peru as a “direct counter to Soviet funding”; $50,000 to Grenada “to the only organized opposition to the Marxist government of Maurice Bishop (The Seaman and Waterfront Workers Union). A supplemental to support free TV activity outside Grenada”; $750,000 to Nicaragua “to support an array of independent trade union activity, agricultural cooperatives”; and $500,000 for “Central America labor publishing house and distribution center for printed materials – TV materials, cooperatives, land reform, etc. – to counter Marxist literature.”

The document’s reference to money being spent to counter Bishop’s government in Grenada adds weight to long-held suspicions that the Reagan administration engaged in propaganda and destabilization campaigns against Bishop, who was ousted by internal rivals and killed in October 1983, setting the stage for the U.S. invasion of the tiny Caribbean island.

The invasion of Grenada, though condemned by much of the world as an act of U.S. aggression, proved popular in the United States, an important step in readying the American people for larger military adventures ahead.

Taking Shape

Eventually, Casey’s concept of a global initiative led to the founding of the National Endowment for Democracy in 1983 ostensibly for the purpose of promoting foreign democratic institutions. But the NED also created a cover for the United States to funnel money to pro-U.S. groups in hostile countries. And it subsidized Washington’s growing community of neoconservatives who wrote op-ed articles in leading newspapers and went on TV news shows advocating an aggressive U.S. foreign policy.

Since 1983, NED has been involved in numerous controversies, including allegations that it helped buy the Nicaraguan election in 1990 by spending some $9 million, including $4 million poured into the campaign of U.S.-backed candidate Violeta Chamorro.

NED’s hand also has been detected in “velvet revolutions” staged in Ukraine, Georgia and other eastern European nations. NED has been active, too, in Iran, fueling government suspicions there that its opposition, which took to the streets after last June’s presidential election, represented another U.S.-backed scheme to achieve regime change.

Though many of Raymond’s documents at Reagan’s Library in Simi Valley, California, remain secret, the recently discovered material – and some of the previously released documents – offer a panorama of how the administration’s perception management campaigns evolved, from the early days of Casey prodding the process forward to later years when Raymond’s apparatus grew increasingly powerful and even paranoid.

According to a secret action proposal that Raymond submitted on Dec. 20, 1984, to then national security adviser McFarlane, Raymond wanted an even greater commitment of manpower.

“I have attempted to proceed forward with a whole range of political and information activities,” Raymond wrote. “There are a raft of ties to private organizations which are working in tandem with the government in a number of areas ranging from the American Security Council to the Atlantic Council, to the nascent idea of a ‘Peace Institute.’"

Among the examples of his "specific activities," Raymond listed “significant expansion of our ability to utilize book publication and distribution as a public diplomacy tool. (This is based on an integrated public-private strategy). … The development of an active PSYOP strategy. … Meetings (ad hoc) with selected CIA operational people to coordinate and clarify lines between overt/covert political operations on key areas. Examples: Afghanistan, Central America, USSR-EE [Eastern Europe] and Grenada.”

‘Active Measures’

Another part of Raymond’s domain was “the Soviet Political Action Working Group.” This group discussed what it regarded as “Soviet active measures” and worked on “themes” that soon resonated through Washington, such as the argument regarding “moral equivalents.”

Raymond reported that the “moral equivalents” theme was discussed at the working group’s Dec. 15, 1983, meeting. The idea of “moral equivalents” involved U.S. government officials upbraiding journalists and opinion leaders who tried to apply common moral standards to pro- and anti-U.S. groups.

Reagan administration officials would insist that human rights crimes by the pro-U.S. side of a conflict should not be criticized as severely as similar crimes by the anti-U.S. side because that would apply a “false moral equivalence,” suggesting that the United States was no better than its enemies. To take such a position was regarded as unpatriotic or disloyal.

Along those lines, one of Raymond’s sub-groups, “the Active Measures Working Group,” met “to develop an action plan to turn Soviet active measures back onto the Soviets, i.e. take the offensive.”

Attendees included Raymond and another CIA operations veteran, Ray Warren, a Casey favorite who was placed inside the Pentagon; Herb Romerstein, a former investigator for the House Committee on Un-American Activities; and Robert Kagan, a prominent neoconservative who was an aide to Elliott Abrams at the State Department and later led the Office of Public Diplomacy on Latin America.

The Active Measures Working Group brought in from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and U.S. Special Forces, personnel who specialized in psychological operations, such as a “Col. Paddock (OSD/PSYOP),” a “Mr. Hunter (1st PSYOP Bn)”; a “Colonel Dunbar (1st PYSOP Bn),” and “Lieutenant Colonel Jacobowitz (DOD/PSYOP).”

In previously disclosed documents, Lt. Col. Daniel "Jake" Jacobowitz was listed as the executive officer inside the State Department’s Office of Public Diplomacy on Latin America, where the White House also placed five psychological warfare specialists from the 4th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The main job of these psy-ops specialists was to pick out incidents in Central America that would rile the U.S. public. In a memo dated May 30, 1985, Jacobowitz explained that the military men were scouring embassy cables "looking for exploitable themes and trends, and [would] inform us of possible areas for our exploitation."

The June 19, 1986, minutes of the working group stated that “Colonel Paddock reported that OSD/PSYOP has been working on some unclassified publications, mainly on Central American issues, in cooperation with State’s Office of Latin American Public Diplomacy.”

At the working group meeting on July 31, 1986, Col. Paddock passed out copies of a joint Pentagon/State Department publication, “The Challenge to Democracy in Central America,” which was then being disseminated to members of Congress, the Washington press corps and the American public.

The publication sought to portray Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government as a state sponsor of terrorism, a major propaganda theme that the Reagan administration was using to justify its covert support of the contra rebels, who themselves were infamous for acts of terrorism, including extra-judicial executions and attacks on civilian targets.

Chastising the Enemy

Despite the evidence that it was the Reagan administration that was knee-deep in propaganda, the psyop official, “Mr. Hunter” – whose fuller identity remained classified in the meeting's minutes – briefed the group on what he described as anti-U.S. “disinformation campaigns,” including “charges of immoral conduct by US troops in Honduras.”

In the world of Raymond’s psyop meetings, nearly every negative piece of news about U.S. activities in the world was dismissed as “Soviet active measures,” presumably even the fact that some U.S. troops operating in Honduras engaged in what surely could be called “immoral conduct.”

Bureaucratic deception was also part of the secret operations inside the NSC. In the mid-1980s, I was told by one senior NSC official that a key early document laying the groundwork for raising money for the contra war in defiance of a congressional prohibition was marked as a “non-paper,” so it would not be regarded as an official document (even though it clearly was).

Similarly, Raymond sent one Nov. 28, 1986, memo to an unnamed CIA officer reminding him to attend what Raymond called “the next non-group meeting.” So it appears that Reagan’s NSC sought to get around requirements for safeguarding historical records by circulating “non-papers” and meeting in “non-groups.”

Raymond’s domestic propaganda activities were explored by congressional Iran-Contra investigators in 1987. However, their findings faced fierce internal opposition from House and Senate Republicans.

In a bid for bipartisanship, House Democratic committee chairman Lee Hamilton agreed to a compromise in which a chapter on Raymond’s operation was dropped while a few segments were inserted elsewhere in the final report.

That meant, however, that the American people never got to read the chapter’s stunning conclusion: that the Reagan administration had built a domestic covert propaganda apparatus managed by a CIA disinformation specialist working out of the National Security Council.

“One of the CIA’s most senior covert action operators was sent to the NSC in 1983 by CIA Director [William] Casey where he participated in the creation of an inter-agency public diplomacy mechanism that included the use of seasoned intelligence specialists,” the chapter’s conclusion stated.

“This public/private network set out to accomplish what a covert CIA operation in a foreign country might attempt – to sway the media, the Congress, and American public opinion in the direction of the Reagan administration’s policies.”

Tracing the Origins

The 84-page "lost" chapter, entitled “Launching the Private Network,” traced the origins of the propaganda network to President Reagan’s “National Security Decision Directive 77” in January 1983 as his administration sought to promote its foreign policy, especially its desire to oust Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government. [There appear to have been several versions of this “lost chapter.” This one I found in congressional files.]

The chapter also cited a Jan. 13, 1983, memo by then-NSC Advisor Clark regarding the need for non-governmental money to advance the cause. “We will develop a scenario for obtaining private funding,” Clark wrote.

However, what the newly discovered documents from Raymond’s files make clear is that the initiative dated back to 1982 and was pushed more by Casey and his CIA associates than by the NSC advisor.

The “lost chapter” does explain how Reagan administration officials soon began crossing lines that separated an overseas propaganda program from a domestic propaganda operation aimed at U.S. public opinion, the American press and congressional Democrats who opposed contra funding.

“An elaborate system of inter-agency committees was eventually formed and charged with the task of working closely with private groups and individuals involved in fundraising, lobbying campaigns and propagandistic activities aimed at influencing public opinion and governmental action,” the draft chapter said.

The draft chapter doesn’t initially use Raymond’s name – presumably because his work at the CIA remained classified – but its description of the CIA officer in charge of the NSC-run propaganda operation clearly refers to Raymond.

According to the draft report, the CIA officer [Raymond] had served as Director of the Covert Action Staff at the CIA from 1978 to 1982 and was a “specialist in propaganda and disinformation.”

“The CIA official discussed the transfer with [CIA Director] Casey and NSC Advisor William Clark that he be assigned to the NSC [in June 1982] and received approval for his involvement in setting up the public diplomacy program along with his intelligence responsibilities,” the chapter said.

“In the early part of 1983, documents obtained by the Select [Iran-Contra] Committees indicate that the Director of the Intelligence Staff of the NSC [Raymond] successfully recommended the establishment of an inter-governmental network to promote and manage a public diplomacy plan designed to create support for Reagan Administration policies at home and abroad.”

Raymond “helped to set up an elaborate system of inter-agency committees,” the draft chapter said, adding:

“In the Spring of 1983, the network began to turn its attention toward beefing up the Administration’s capacity to promote American support for the Democratic Resistance in Nicaragua [the contras] and the fledgling democracy in El Salvador.

“This effort resulted in the creation of the Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean in the Department of State (S/LPD), headed by Otto Reich,” a right-wing Cuban exile from Miami.

Stiffing Shultz

Though Secretary of State George Shultz wanted the office under his control, President Reagan insisted that Reich “report directly to the NSC,” where Raymond oversaw the operations as a special assistant to the President and the NSC’s director of international communications, the chapter said.

“At least for several months after he assumed this position, Raymond also worked on intelligence matters at the NSC, including drafting a Presidential Finding for Covert Action in Nicaragua in mid-September” 1983, the chapter said.

In other words, although Raymond was shifted to the NSC staff in part to evade prohibitions on the CIA influencing U.S. public opinion, his intelligence and propaganda duties overlapped for a time as he was in the process of retiring from the spy agency.

And despite Raymond’s formal separation from the CIA, he acted toward the U.S. public much like a CIA officer would in directing a propaganda operation in a hostile foreign country. He was the go-to guy to keep this political action operation on track.

“Reich relied heavily on Raymond to secure personnel transfers from other government agencies to beef up the limited resources made available to S/LPD by the Department of State,” the chapter said.

“Personnel made available to the new office included intelligence specialists from the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army. On one occasion, five intelligence experts from the Army’s 4th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, were assigned to work with Reich’s fast-growing operation. …

“White House documents also indicate that CIA Director Casey had more than a passing interest in the Central American public diplomacy campaign.”

The chapter cited an Aug. 9, 1983, memo written by Raymond describing Casey’s participation in a meeting with public relations specialists to brainstorm how “to sell a ‘new product’ – Central America – by generating interest across-the-spectrum.”

In an Aug. 29, 1983, memo, Raymond recounted a call from Casey pushing his P.R. ideas. Alarmed at a CIA director participating so brazenly in domestic propaganda, Raymond wrote that “I philosophized a bit with Bill Casey (in an effort to get him out of the loop)” but with little success.

The chapter added: “Casey’s involvement in the public diplomacy effort apparently continued throughout the period under investigation by the Committees,” including a 1985 role in pressuring Congress to renew contra aid and a 1986 hand in further shielding S/LPD from the oversight of Shultz.

Casey even monitored personnel changes. A Raymond-authored memo to Casey in August 1986 described the shift of S/LPD – then run by neoconservative theorist Kagan who had replaced Reich – to the control of the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, which was headed by Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, another prominent neoconservative.

Oliver North and Friends

Another important figure in the pro-contra propaganda was NSC staffer Oliver North, who spent a great deal of his time on the Nicaraguan public diplomacy operation even though he is better known for arranging secret arms shipments to the contras and to Iran’s radical Islamic government, leading to the Iran-Contra scandal.

The draft chapter cited a March 10, 1985, memo from North describing his assistance to CIA Director Casey in timing the disclosures of pro-contra news “aimed at securing Congressional approval for renewed support to the Nicaraguan Resistance Forces.”

However, the discarding of the draft chapter and the ultimate failure of the Iran-Contra report to fully explain the danger of CIA-style propaganda intruding into the U.S. political process had profound future consequences. Indeed, the evidence suggests that the Casey-Raymond media operations of the 1980s helped bring the Washington press corps to its knees, where it has remained most of the time through today.

To soften up the Washington press corps, Reich’s S/LPD targeted U.S. journalists who reported information that undermined the administration’s propaganda themes. Reich sent his teams out to lobby news executives to remove or punish out-of-step reporters – with a disturbing degree of success.

In March 1986, Reich reported that his office was taking "a very aggressive posture vis-à-vis a sometimes hostile press" and "did not give the critics of the policy any quarter in the debate." [For details, see Parry’s Lost History.]

Though Casey died in 1987 and Raymond in 2003, some U.S. officials implicated in the propaganda operations remain important Washington figures, bringing the lessons of the 1980s into the new century.

For instance, Elliott Abrams – though convicted of misleading Congress in the Iran-Contra Affair and later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush – returned as deputy advisor to George W. Bush’s NSC, where Abrams oversaw U.S.-Middle East policy.

Today, Kagan writes influential op-eds for the Washington Post and is a senior associate at the Carnegie Institute for International Peace. Oliver North landed a show on Fox News. Otto Reich was an adviser to John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008.

Beyond the individuals, the manipulative techniques that were refined in the 1980s – especially the skill of exaggerating foreign threats – have proved durable. Such scare tactics brought large segments of the American population into line behind the Iraq War in 2002-03.

It took years and many thousands of deaths before Americans realized they had been manipulated by deceptive propaganda, that their perceptions had been managed.

In his book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception, Bush’s former White House press secretary Scott McClellan described Iraq War propaganda tactics that would have been familiar to Casey and Raymond.

From his insider vantage point, McClellan cited the White House’s “carefully orchestrated campaign to shape and manipulate sources of public approval” – and he called the Washington press corps “complicit enablers.”

The newly discovered documents in Raymond’s files at the Reagan Library offer a glimpse at how these manipulative techniques took root.

Fiction of Marjah as City Was US Information War

Fiction of Marjah as City Was US Information War

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For weeks, the U.S. public followed the biggest offensive of the Afghanistan War against what it was told was a "city of 80,000 people" as well as the logistical hub of the Taliban in that part of Helmand. That idea was a central element in the overall impression built up in February that Marja was a major strategic objective, more important than other district centres in Helmand.

It turns out, however, that the picture of Marja presented by military officials and obediently reported by major news media is one of the clearest and most dramatic pieces of misinformation of the entire war, apparently aimed at hyping the offensive as a historic turning point in the conflict.

Marja is not a city or even a real town, but either a few clusters of farmers' homes or a large agricultural area covering much of the southern Helmand River Valley.

"It's not urban at all," an official of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), who asked not to be identified, admitted to IPS Sunday. He called Marja a "rural community".

"It's a collection of village farms, with typical family compounds," said the official, adding that the homes are reasonably prosperous by Afghan standards.

Richard B. Scott, who worked in Marja as an adviser on irrigation for the U.S. Agency for International Development as recently as 2005, agrees that Marja has nothing that could be mistaken as being urban. It is an "agricultural district" with a "scattered series of farmers' markets," Scott told IPS in a telephone interview.

The ISAF official said the only population numbering tens of thousands associated with Marja is spread across many villages and almost 200 square kilometres, or about 125 square miles.

Marja has never even been incorporated, according to the official, but there are now plans to formalise its status as an actual "district" of Helmand Province.

The official admitted that the confusion about Marja's population was facilitated by the fact that the name has been used both for the relatively large agricultural area and for a specific location where farmers have gathered for markets.

However, the name Marja "was most closely associated" with the more specific location, where there are also a mosque and a few shops.

That very limited area was the apparent objective of "Operation Moshtarak", to which 7,500 U.S., NATO and Afghan troops were committed amid the most intense publicity given any battle since the beginning of the war.

So how did the fiction that Marja is a city of 80,000 people get started?

The idea was passed on to the news media by the U.S. Marines in southern Helmand. The earliest references in news stories to Marja as a city with a large population have a common origin in a briefing given Feb. 2 by officials at Camp Leatherneck, the U.S. Marine base there.

The Associated Press published an article the same day quoting "Marine commanders" as saying that they expected 400 to 1,000 insurgents to be "holed up" in the "southern Afghan town of 80,000 people." That language evoked an image of house to house urban street fighting.

The same story said Marja was "the biggest town under Taliban control" and called it the "linchpin of the militants' logistical and opium-smuggling network". It gave the figure of 125,000 for the population living in "the town and surrounding villages". ABC news followed with a story the next day referring to the "city of Marja" and claiming that the city and the surrounding area "are more heavily populated, urban and dense than other places the Marines have so far been able to clear and hold."

The rest of the news media fell into line with that image of the bustling, urbanised Marja in subsequent stories, often using "town" and "city" interchangeably. Time magazine wrote about the "town of 80,000" Feb. 9, and the Washington Post did the same Feb. 11.

As "Operation Moshtarak" began, U.S. military spokesmen were portraying Marja as an urbanised population centre. On Feb. 14, on the second day of the offensive, Marine spokesman Lt. Josh Diddams said the Marines were "in the majority of the city at this point."

He also used language that conjured images of urban fighting, referring to the insurgents holding some "neighbourhoods".

A few days into the offensive, some reporters began to refer to a "region", but only created confusion rather than clearing the matter up. CNN managed to refer to Marja twice as a "region" and once as "the city" in the same Feb. 15 article, without any explanation for the apparent contradiction.

The Associated Press further confused the issue in a Feb. 21 story, referring to "three markets in town - which covers 80 square miles…."

A "town" with an area of 80 square miles would be bigger than such U.S. cities as Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh and Cleveland. But AP failed to notice that something was seriously wrong with that reference.

Long after other media had stopped characterising Marja as a city, the New York Times was still referring to Marja as "a city of 80,000", in a Feb. 26 dispatch with a Marja dateline.

The decision to hype up Marja as the objective of "Operation Moshtarak" by planting the false impression that it is a good-sized city would not have been made independently by the Marines at Camp Leatherneck.

A central task of "information operations" in counterinsurgency wars is "establishing the COIN [counterinsurgency] narrative", according to the Army Counterinsurgency Field Manual as revised under Gen. David Petraeus in 2006.

That task is usually done by "higher headquarters" rather than in the field, as the manual notes.

The COIN manual asserts that news media "directly influence the attitude of key audiences toward counterinsurgents, their operations and the opposing insurgency." The manual refers to "a war of perceptions…conducted continuously using the news media."

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of ISAF, was clearly preparing to wage such a war in advance of the Marja operation. In remarks made just before the offensive began, McChrystal invoked the language of the counterinsurgency manual, saying, "This is all a war of perceptions."

The Washington Post reported Feb. 22 that the decision to launch the offensive against Marja was intended largely to impress U.S. public opinion with the effectiveness of the U.S. military in Afghanistan by showing that it could achieve a "large and loud victory."

The false impression that Marja was a significant city was an essential part of that message.

The Fall of Greece Yes, It Really is a Capitalist Plot

The Fall of Greece Yes, It Really is a Capitalist Plot

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For Europe’s poorest countries, European Union membership has long held out the promise of tranquil prosperity. The current Greek financial crisis ought to dispel some of their illusions.

There are two strikingly significant levels to the current crisis. While primarily economic, the European Economic Community also claims to be a community, based on solidarity -- the sisterhood of nations and brotherhood of peoples. However, the economic deficit is nothing compared to the human deficit it exposes.

To put it simply, the Greek crisis shows what happens when a weak member of this Union is in trouble. It is the same as what happens on the world scale, where there is no such morally pretentious union perpetually congratulating itself on its devotion to human rights. The economically strong protect their own interests at the expense of the economically weak.

The crisis broke last autumn after George Papandreou’s PASOK party won elections, took office and discovered that the cupboard was bare. The Greek government had cheated to get into the EU’s euro zone in 2001 by cooking the books to cover deficits that would have disqualified it from membership in the common currency. The European Treaties capped the acceptable budget deficit at 3 per cent and public debt at 60 per cent of GDP respectively. In fact, this limit is being widely transgressed, quite openly by France. But major scandal arrived with revelations that Greece’s budget deficit reached 12.7 per cent in 2009, with a gross debt forecast for 2010 amounting to 125 per cent of GDP.

Of course, European leaders got together to declare solidarity. But their speeches were designed not so much to reassure the increasingly angry and desperate Greek people as to soothe “the markets” – the real hidden almighty gods of the European Union. The markets, like the ancient gods, have a great old time tormenting mere mortals in trouble, so their response to the Greek problem was naturally to rush to profit from it. For instance, when Greece is obliged to issue new bonds this year, the markets can blithely demand that Greece double its interest rates, on grounds of increased “risk” that Greece won’t pay, thus making it that much harder for Greece to pay. Such is the logic of the free market.

What the EU leaders meant by “solidarity” in their appeal to the gods was not that they were going to pour public money into Greece, as they poured it into their troubled banks, but that they intended to squeeze the money owed the banks out of the Greek people.

The squeezing is to take the forms made familiar over the past disastrous decades by the International Monetary Fund: the Greek state is enjoined to cut public expenses, which means firing public employees, cutting their overall earnings, delaying retirement, economizing on health care, raising taxes, and incidentally probably raising the jobless rate from 9.6 per cent to around 16 per cent, all with the glorious aim of bringing the deficit down to 8.7 per cent this year and thus appeasing the invisible gods of the market.

This just might propitiate both the gods and German leaders, who above all want to maintain the value of the euro. The financial markets will no doubt grab their pound of flesh in the form of increased interest rates, while the Greeks are bled by IMF-style “shock treatment”.

And what about that great theater of human rights and universal brotherhood, the European Parliament? In that forum everyone gets to speak for a carefully clocked 1, 2, or 3 minutes, but when it comes to the most serious matter, the budget, the authoritative voices are all German.

Thus the chairman of the EP’s special committee on the economic and financial crisis, Wolf Klinz, has called for sending a “high representative” of the EU to Greece, an “economies commissar” to make sure the Greeks carry out the austerity measures properly. The Greek crisis can allow the EU to put into practice for the first time its “Treaty instruments” concerning “supervision of budgetary and economic policy”. Interest rates may go up because of “risk”, but there is to be no risk. The pound of flesh will be delivered.

There was no such supervision of the financial fiddling which caused this mess. The EU statistics agency Eurostat recently discovered and revealed that in 2001, Goldman Sachs secretly (“but legally”, protest its executive officers) helped the right-wing Greek government meet EU membership criteria by using a complicated “currency swap” that masked the extent of public deficit and national debt. [See Andrew Cockburn and Marshall Auerback, on this site.] Who understands how that worked? I think it is fair to guess that not even Angela Merkel, who is trained as a scientist, understands clearly what went on, much less the incompetent Greek politicians who accepted the Goldman Sachs trickery. It allowed them to create an illusion of success – for a while. Success meant being a “member of the club” of the rich, and it can be argued that this notion of success has actually favored bad government at the national level. Belonging to the EU gave a false sense of security that contributed to the irresponsibility of incompetent political leaders.

Having euros to buy imported goods (notably from Germany) pleased rich consumers, while the euro priced Greek goods out of their previous markets. Now the debt trap is closing. The traditional way out for Greece would be to leave the euro and return to a devaluated drachma, in order to cut imports and favor exports. This way, the burden of necessary sacrifices would not be borne solely by the working class. But the embrace of EU “solidarity” is there to prevent this from happening. German authorities are preparing to lay down the law to the Greeks, after reducing the income of their own working class in order to benefit Germany’s export-oriented economy.

Austerity measures are the opposite of what is needed in a time of looming depression. Rather, what is needed are Keynesian measures to stimulate employment and strengthen the domestic market. But Germany is firmly attached to the export model, for itself and everyone else (“globalization”). For a country like Greece, which cannot compete successfully within the EU, exports outside the EU are crippled by its use of a strong currency, the euro. Bound to the euro, Greece can neither stimulate its domestic market nor export successfully. But it is not going to be allowed to extricate itself from the debt trap and return to its traditional currency, the drachma. Poverty appears to be the only solution.

There is discontent within the German working class at their country’s policies aimed at shrinking wages and social benefits for the sake of selling abroad. In an ideal “social Europe”, workers in Germany would come to the aid of workers in Greece by demanding a radical revision of economic policy, away from catering to the international financial markets toward building a solid social democracy. The reality is quite different.

The Greek financial crisis exposes the absence of any real community spirit in the EU. The “solidarity” declared by the country’s EU partners is a solidarity with their own investments. There is no popular solidarity between peoples. The EU has established a surrogate ideology of internationalism: rejection of the nation-state as source of all evil, a pompous pride in “Europe” as the center of human rights, giver of moral lessons to the world, which happens to fit in perfectly with its subservience to United States imperial foreign policy in the Middle East and beyond. The paradox is that European unification has coincided with decreasing curiosity in the larger EU states about what happens to their neighbors.

Despite a certain amount of specialized training needed to create a Eurocrat class, the general population of each EU member is only superficially acquainted with the others. They see them as teams in soccer matches. They go on holiday around the Mediterranean, but this mostly involves meeting fellow tourists, and study of foreign languages has declined, except for English (omnipresent, if mangled). Mass media news reports are turned inward, featuring missing children and pedophiles ahead of even major political events in other EU member states.

Northern European media portray Greece practically as a Third World country, peripheral and picturesque, where people speak an impossible language, dance in circles on islands, and live beyond their means in their carefree way. The crickets in the Aesop fable, scorned by the assiduous ants.

Media in Germany and the Netherlands imply that IMF-style shock treatment is almost too good for them. The widening polarization between rich and poor, between and within EU member states, is taken for granted.

The smaller indebted countries within the EU are amiably designated by the English-speaking financial priesthood as the PIGS – Portugal, Italy (perhaps Ireland), Greece, Spain – an appropriate designation for an animal farm where some are so much more equal than others.