Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Govt, Congress eye power to take 'extraordinary measures' in cyber attacks\

Govt, Congress eye greater power in cyber attacks

WASHINGTON — The government may have to take "extraordinary measures" in responding to a cyber attack that affects critical public or privately-run computer networks, a senior Homeland Security official said.

National Cyber Security Center director Phil Reitinger said Congress should work with the administration to determine if new presidential emergency powers are needed to govern how key industries such as power plants, the electrical grid and vital financial systems respond during a cyber crisis.

A key Senate committee is proposing the president have more specific authority over how major industries react. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. and chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said those powers could include the ability to require companies to install a computer patch or block particular Internet traffic.

U.S. officials are struggling to beef up the nation's cyber security, as federal computer networks are being scanned and attacked millions of times a day by hackers, cyber terrorists and criminals seeking to steal sensitive data or disrupt and destroy vital operations.

While no one argues with the severity of the threat, lawmakers are divided over how big a role the government should play, and which federal agency should be in charge. In the middle are industry leaders who argue that private companies can often do a better job than the federal government in protecting their systems and ensuring their staffs are qualified.

In testimony prepared for a hearing in front of the Homeland panel Tuesday, Reitinger said the president already has certain emergency powers, so any adjustments should not overlap with existing law. The testimony was obtained by The Associated Press.

The legislation, he said, "recognizes that Americans expect the federal government to anticipate, prevent, and respond to cyber threats." And, he said, the provisions relating to presidential powers "acknowledge that the government may need to take extraordinary measures to fulfill these responsibilities."

Financial Reform Makes Headway; Jobs and Social Security in Jeopardy

Financial Reform Makes Headway; Jobs and Social Security in Jeopardy

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Two critical Wall Street reforms, once declared dead by U.S. megabanks, are suddenly close to Congressional approval. As the House and Senate iron out the differences between their financial overhauls, it now appears that lawmakers are finally willing to ban banks from gambling with taxpayer money by implementing a strong Volcker Rule, and to end taxpayer subsidies for risky derivatives operations. These reforms will help stabilize the U.S. economy by clamping down on the naked speculation the drove financial markets off a cliff in 2008. But while lawmakers are finally waking up to the economic and political necessity of strong Wall Street reforms, conservatives have blocked key efforts to ease unemployment. President Barack Obama also appears ready to surrender to an assault on Social Security later this year.

Derivative of what?

Lawmakers now have the political momentum to end taxpayer subsidies for the trading of derivatives, as I emphasize for AlterNet. These risky businesses helped sink big banks and jeopardize the broader economy in 2008. These reforms would be a giant step towards reclaiming the U.S. economy for ordinary citizens, and they would fly in the face of opposition from both Wall Street and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Derivatives are the infamous financial weapons of mass destruction that brought down AIG and Enron. Many of the biggest scandals arising from the current financial crisis were derivatives operations, from Lehman Brothers' accounting gimmicks to the SEC's fraud suit against Goldman Sachs. By allowing traditional commercial banks to sell derivatives, the U.S. government actually subsidizes the entire market, encouraging speculation and ramping up risks across the economy. Wall Street's political clout stems from its derivatives machinations and its "proprietary trading," otherwise known as gambling for their own accounts. Both provide big, easy profits that banks convert to bonuses, lobbying and political contributions. Ending the subsidies for derivatives, and implementing a strong Volcker Rule to ban outright bank gambling would be the first major blow to Wall Street's total dominance on economic policy, one with lasting implications for the enforcement of other new regulations, including stronger protections for consumers.

Debtors' Prisons

Plenty of economic battles will remain after this year's Congressional contest over Wall Street. As Annie Lowrey emphasizes for The Washington Independent, authorities in several states are actually throwing people in jail for failing to pay off credit cards and other debts. Lowrey highlights a story and study by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune which reveals that, as the recession has deepened, judges have been ramping up arrest warrants for people who don't pay their debts. In Minnesota alone, 845 people were arrested for being in debt in 2009, up 60 percent from four years ago. As Lowrey notes, it's not a crime to be in debt or fail to pay it off. But debt collection agencies have still been able to persuade judges to put borrowers behind bars until they make minimum payments. This is a total abuse of the justice system and a waste of taxpayer dollars. Sometimes borrowers just can't pay—that's the dominant risk involved in banking, and being able to figure out who can pay and who can't is the job of a banker, not a police officer. Debt collectors, by contrast, purchase debts at a discount, precisely because it is unlikely that borrowers will be able to pony up. If they can't, that isn't the business of a criminal court. It's the risk inherent in a business model based on scavenging.

Slashing Social Security

Other items on the economic policy agenda are looking similarly ominous. As Robert Kuttner emphasizes for The American Prospect, Wall Street tycoon Pete Peterson appears to have found an ally in the Obama administration for his lifelong quest to slash Social Security. The plan is to pull back support for seniors in the name of balanced budgets. These cuts will be totally counterproductive economically, as would the corresponding middle-class tax hike and domestic spending freeze that Peterson is pushing for. The real fight over Social Security is still a few months away, but as GRITtv's Laura Flanders notes in an interview with Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), deficit hysteria has already infiltrated contemporary policies. Republicans and conservative Democrats are using the deficit as an excuse to deny people the most basic social services, like unemployment benefits and health care payment assistance for the unemployed.

More GRITtv

More on the deficit "problem"

As the editors of The Nation note, there is no short-term U.S. budget deficit problem. Interest rates on U.S. Treasury bonds are at record lows. Anybody who claims to be worried about the deficit is really worried about the longer-term implications, and those longer-term issues have big-picture, long-term solutions. The single most critical variable in budget calculations in the increasing rate of health care costs, but the bloated defense budget and low tax rates for big corporations and wealthy individuals are also a target. Skimping on unemployment benefits, or refusing federal aid to hire teachers and cops doesn't help those long-term issues one bit. Cutting government spending and social services during a recession seriously threatens economic recovery. When everybody is broke, the government is the only reliable source for the spending needed to support growth and employment, and it has to keep spending until things really turn around. Obama's 2009 stimulus kept the unemployment rate from reaching 12 percent or 13 percent, but it was just too small to really turn the economy around. With unemployment at 10 percent, we need more federal support for jobs, not less. The recent progress on Wall Street reform shows that Congress finally understands that they need votes more than campaign contributions. Lawmakers who leaves those citizens out to dry by refusing to back a jobs bill or allowing unemployment benefits to expire will be in trouble come November.

Gaza crossing points opened as Israel bows to international pressure

Gaza crossing points opened as Israel bows to international pressure

Israel bowed to international pressure yesterday when it agreed to reopen crossing points into Gaza for everyday goods.

The decision was prompted by criticism of its bloody interception of an aid flotilla two weeks ago and condemnation of the Gaza blockade by the Red Cross.

Tony Blair, Middle East peace envoy, hailed the move as significant after the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, agreed in principle to relax restrictions on goods entering Gaza. It will replace the current narrow list of permitted items with a list of specifically prohibited goods.

Mr Blair also welcomed the proposal from Mr Netanyahu for an Israeli inquiry into the flotilla raid, with Lord Trimble, the former First Minister of Northern Ireland, named as one of two international observers — despite him having started, coincidentally, a Friends of Israel Initiative on the day of the flotilla raid.

Turkey, however, immediately rejected the format of the inquiry, overseen by a senior Israeli judge. The United Nations had called for an independent, international investigation of the incident in which nine Turkish activists died.

“The Isreali inquiry is obviously a significant step forward,” said Mr Blair yesterday. “In respect of the closure policy, I hope very much that, in the next days, we will get the commitment (in principle) that we require but then also the steps beginning to be taken. Some of these issues, drawing up the negative list, will take some time. But we hope very much we can start getting stuff into Gaza, “There are also a whole series of UN projects which are ready to go. The UN has a specific way of getting material in — we are talking about repairing schools, the electricity, water, sanitation, housing — we can get that under way very quickly, I believe.”

The Red Cross, a neutral organisation that works in some of the most sensitive conflicts in the world, labelled the Israeli blockade of the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza illegal.

“The whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility,” it said in a statement yesterday.

“The closure therefore constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law.”

Israel’s blockade policy, which began shortly after Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, was intensified after Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007.

Gaza and aid groups will be wary of any Israeli attempt at a change it feels is designed merely to reduce international pressure. Hamas has refused the entry of some goods on offer, arguing that it does not want to depend on Israeli handouts of cookies and ketchup, but wants raw materials so that it can revive the Gazan economy and make its own products such as biscuits. Aid groups say that, at present, Israel allows in small, retail-sized packages of margarine, for example, but not industrial-size tubs that could be used by bakeries and in food manufacturing.

Building materials have been banned because of Israeli concerns that militants would use them to construct fortifications.

One EU diplomat said that, while no final decisions had been made, there were positive indications that Israel might be willing to open either the Karni or the Kerem Shalom border crossings for large-scale imports. The diplomat said that Israel had rejected a proposal for cargo to be delivered by ships which would be checked in a third location such as Cyprus.

A retired Israeli Supreme Court judge, Yaakov Turkel, will chair the raid inquiry, which will “investigate aspects related to the actions taken by the state of Israel to prevent vessels reaching the coast of Gaza on May 31,” the office of Mr Netanyahu said.

Lord Trimble, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in helping to secure the Good Friday agreement in Ulster, will be one of two foreign observers. The other is Ken Watkin, a former chief prosecutor of the Canadian armed forces and a retired brigadier-general.

The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said that while the United States believed that Israel could conduct a credible and impartial investigation, an “international component would buttress its credibility in the eyes of the international community”.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, defended Lord Trimble as a credible international figure. “The UN Secretary-General put forward a good proposal for an inquiry and of course there will be people who continue to say that was the best proposal. I am in no way saying this is the perfect answer by Israel.

“I think we would all have wanted more international representation but it is the inquiry they have established and that is why I say it is a welcome step forward and it does have international observers,” he said.

BP Hires Mercs to Block Oily Beaches

BP Hires Mercs to Block Oily Beaches

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Last week, we all voted here on who should buy Blackwater now that it’s up for sale. In addition to Steve Jobs and the Salvation Army, one of the top finalists was British Petroleum. “Somebody is gonna have to keep all those sunbathers away from the beach,” one commenter noted.

Well, today we can tell you: Danger Room gets results. Kinda.

BP, in a move destined to go down as one of the bestest public relations moves ever, has apparently hired a private security company to help to keep pesky reporters from covering the unfolding catastrophe on the beaches of the Gulf Coast. The report comes via New Orleans’ 6WDSU reporter Scott Walker, who last week ran into representatives of a “Talon Security” trying to block him from interviewing cleanup workers on a local beach. Just which of the various companies named “Talon Security” is storming the (public) beaches for BP, however, remains unclear.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time a private security firm made an appearance in a Gulf disaster. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the Department of Homeland Security and a number of private firms, fearful of reported widespread violence and chaos, turned to private security contractors like Blackwater and ArmorGroup International to protect their property.

So take heart, Blackwater. BP may have opted rent the services of a rival instead of purchasing you wholesale, but disasters are fairly regular occurrences and there seems to be no shortage of companies willing to make ill-considered PR moves in their midst.

Spotter: Paul McLeary; photo: Wikimedia

UPDATE: Merc-chronicler Jeremy Scahill reminds us that this isn’t the first time BP has enlisted the aid of a private security company. The company hired Wackenhut Services to guard the joint US government-BP Unified Incident Command for the Deepwater Horizon spill response, Scahill reported in May. If Wackenhut Services doesn’t ring a bell, you may remember the scandal surrounding their subsidiary, the 101st Tequila Brigade (a.k.a Armor Group), and its drunken bacchanalia at the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan. You stay classy, British Petroleum.

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The U.S. War Addiction: Funding Enemies to Maintain Trillion Dollar Racket

The U.S. War Addiction: Funding Enemies to Maintain Trillion Dollar Racket

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Editor's Note: With so many problems in the USA, it's no easy job to single out a handful of the most important, priority issues. But the enormous pile of wasted money spent on wars and the military-industrial complex has to be right at the top. Not only is the money spent an enormous destructive waste, but there's also the question of opportunity cost; just a fraction of war money could make major improvements to health care, schools and universities, and our decaying public infrastructure. The release of the Pentagon's Quadrennal Defense Review indicates that Obama intends to spend even more on war. David DeGraw's article below sheds some light on the madness of war spending and the serious attempts made by the racketeers to make our wars self-perpetuating to keep the cash rolling in; infuriating as it is sickening.


A few recent news items help expose the true drivers of current wars around the world.

#1) Wherever there is a war, look for CIA/IMF/private military war profiteers covertly funding and supporting BOTH sides in order to keep the wars raging and the profits rolling in. As former CIA Station Chief John Stockwell explained: “Enemies are necessary for the wheels of the US military machine to turn.”

Here’s an important glimpse of truth to seep through last week in the NY Times, via Raw Story:

US-backed ‘bribes’ in Afghanistan may be funding Taliban

On June 7, the day Afghanistan became America’s longest-ever war, the New York Times reported on an ongoing investigation poised to prove that private security companies “are using American money to bribe the Taliban” to fuel combat and thus enhance demand for their services. The news follows a “series of events last month that suggested all-out collusion with the insurgents,” the Times said.

“The American people are paying to prop up a corrupt government that may be using our money to pay private companies to drum up business by paying the insurgents to attack our troops,” [Kucinich] said…. The Times interviewed a NATO official in Kabul who “believed millions of dollars were making their way to the Taliban.” [read more]

#2) On top of that report, Sunday’s headlines read, “Pakistani spy agency supports Taliban:”

Pakistan’s main spy agency continues to arm and train the Taliban and is even represented on the group’s leadership council despite U.S. pressure to sever ties and billions in aid to combat the militants, said a research report released Sunday.

The findings could heighten tension between the two countries and raise further questions about U.S. success in Afghanistan since Pakistani cooperation is seen as key to defeating the Taliban, which seized power in Kabul in the 1990s with Islamabad’s support.

U.S. officials have suggested in the past that current or former members of Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, have maintained links to the Taliban despite the government’s decision to denounce the group in 2001 under U.S. pressure. [read more]

First off, these two reports are really not news at all. Reports of American tax dollars ending up in the hands of the Taliban have been coming out since the start of the war and the ISI, as the CIA has been well aware of for years now, has been playing both sides of this war and is pivotal in keeping the war going. Secondly, I have long wondered when the CIA / US military would start exposing all of this in the mainstream propaganda press as a pretext to further expand the war into Pakistan.

#3) As a result of all this, and not surprising at all to people who were paying close attention to Obama’s surge strategy, costs and death counts are quickly rising. Jim Lobe reports from Afghanistan that the “News is Bad.”

While U.S. officials insist they are making progress in reversing the momentum built up by the Taliban insurgency over the last several years, the latest news from Afghanistan suggests the opposite may be closer to the truth.

Even senior military officials are conceding privately that their much-touted new counterinsurgency strategy of “clear, hold and build” in contested areas of the Pashtun southern and eastern parts of the country are not working out as planned despite the “surge” of some 20,000 additional U.S. troops over the past six months.

Casualties among the nearly 130,000 U.S. and other NATO troops now deployed in Afghanistan are also mounting quickly. [read more]

#4) In a propaganda effort to spin away from all the latest bad news, the desperate US military has pulled this dusty old news report out of their back-pocket and launched a psychological operation in the NY Times to give a positive spin in hopes of further manipulating US public opinion:

U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan

The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves…. The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.

An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys. [read more]

In the process of this latest propaganda campaign, the Pentagon has unwittingly exposed two things that I will now jump on. A) The real reason why we are in this war to begin with: it’s all about natural resources. And B) All the BS statements about these “previously unknown deposits” clearly prove, yet again, that the NY Times is only too happy to play the role of a straight-up propaganda paper. For those of us paying attention, we’ve been reading reports about these minerals for the past decade! Roland Sheppard just sent this along:

“The New York Times, when it was beating the drums of war in 2002, failed to mention that the USGS published a report, at that time, Mines and Mineral Occurrences of Afghanistan Compiled by G.J. Orris and J.D. Bliss. Open-File Report 02-110. On page 16, they list as ‘Significant Minerals or Materials’ magnetite, hematite, chalcopyrite, covellite, chalcocite, cuprite, malachite, azurite, molybdenite, and native gold – lithium is mentioned on page 10 under ‘References.’”

So, from the very beginning, as I went into further detail in the past, the war in Afghanistan is all about resources. I’ll get back to the “Saudi Arabia of lithium” in a minute, here’s a brief excerpt from my prior report on another key resource in the region:


Up until 9/11, oil companies, with the help of the Bush administration, were desperately trying to work out a deal with the Taliban to build an oil pipeline through Afghanistan. One of the world’s richest oil fields is on the eastern shore of the Caspian sea just north of Afghanistan. The Caspian oil reserves are of top strategic importance in the quest to control the earth’s remaining oil supply. The US government developed a policy called “The Strategy of the Silk Route.”

The policy was designed to lock out Russia, China and Iran from the oil in this region. This called for U.S. corporations to construct an oil pipeline running through Afghanistan. Since the mid 1990s, a consortium of U.S. companies led by Unocal have been pursing this goal. A feasibility study of the Central Asian pipeline project was performed by Enron. Their study concluded that as long as the country was split among fighting warlords the pipeline could not be built. Stability was necessary for the $4.5 billion project and the U.S. believed that the Taliban would impose the necessary order. The U.S. State Department and Pakistan’s ISI, impressed by the Taliban movement to cut a pipeline deal, agreed to funnel arms and funding to the Taliban in their war for control of Afghanistan. [read more]

Then of course we have the war in Iraq, again from my previous report:


As an AlterNet report put it: “In January 2000, 10 days into President George W. Bush’s first term, representatives of the largest oil and energy companies joined the new administration to form the Cheney Energy Task Force.”

Secret Task Force documents that were dated March 2001, which were obtained by Judical Watch in 2003 after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, contained “a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as two charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects…” They also had: “… a series of lists titled ‘Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts‘ naming more than 60 companies from some 30 countries with contracts in various stages of negotiation.

None of contracts were with American nor major British companies, and none could take effect while the U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iraq remained in place. Three countries held the largest contracts: China, Russia and France — all members of the Security Council and all in a position to advocate for the end of sanctions.

Were Saddam to remain in power and the sanctions to be removed, these contracts would take effect, and the U.S. and its closest ally would be shut out of Iraq’s great oil bonanza.”

Project Censored highlighted a Judicial Watch report that stated: “Documented plans of occupation and exploitation predating September 11 confirm heightened suspicion that U.S. policy is driven by the dictates of the energy industry. According to Judicial Watch President, Tom Fitton, ‘These documents show the importance of the Energy Task Force and why its operations should be open to the public.’”

So that’s the oil angle of this resource war, now back to the lithium angle. This longest war in US history is very similar to the even longer wars raging in Northern Africa, another resource rich paradise of death and destruction. In the late 1990s, CIA-connected corporations like Bechtel worked with NASA to conduct infrared satellite studies to discover mineral rich regions throughout the world. Other than the discoveries in South-Central Asia (Af-Pak region), Northern Africa (Democratic Republic of Congo region), emerged as a key source for future resources. In particular, the mineral coltan, which like lithium, is vital to powering most computer technology. Since Bechtel and NASA made these discoveries, a report from The International Rescue Committee revealed that an astonishing 5.4 MILLION Africans have been killed in the region. For some background, here’s an excellent report from July 2001, in Dollars and Sense magazine:

The Business of War in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Dena Montague and Frida Berrigan

“This is all money,” says a Western mining executive, his hand sweeping over a geological map toward the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He is explaining why, in 1997, he and planeloads of other businessmen were flocking to the impoverished country and vying for the attention of then-rebel leader Laurent Kabila. The executive could just as accurately have said, ‘This is all war.’

The interplay among a seemingly endless supply of mineral resources, the greed of multinational corporations desperate to cash in on that wealth, and the provision of arms and military training to political tyrants has helped to produce the spiral of conflicts that have engulfed the continent – what many regard as “Africa’s First World War.” These minerals are vital to maintaining U.S. military dominance…” [read more]

For further detail, here’s Project Censored’s 2003 report:

American Companies Exploit the Congo:

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been labeled “the richest patch of earth on the planet.” The valuable abundance of minerals and resources in the DRC has made it the target of attacks from U.S.-supported neighboring African countries Uganda and Rwanda.

The DRC is mineral rich with millions of tons of diamonds, copper, cobalt, zinc, manganese, uranium, niobium, and tantalum also known as coltan. Coltan has become an increasingly valuable resource to American corporations. Coltan is used to make mobile phones, night vision goggles, fiber optics, and capacitators used to maintain the electrical charge in computer chips….

The DRC holds 80% of the world’s coltan reserves, more than 60% of the world’s cobalt and is the world’s largest supplier of high-grade copper. With these minerals playing a major part in maintaining US military dominance and economic growth, minerals in the Congo are deemed vital US interests.

Historically, the U.S. government identified sources of materials in Third World countries, and then encouraged U.S. corporations to invest in and facilitate their production. Dating back to the mid-1960s, the U.S. government literally installed the dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko, which gave U.S. corporations access to the Congo’s minerals for more than 30 years. However, over the years Mobutu began to limit access by Western corporations, and to control the distribution of resources. In 1998, U.S. military-trained leaders of Rwanda and Uganda invaded the mineral-rich areas of the Congo. The invaders installed illegal colonial-style governments which continue to receive millions of dollars in arms and military training from the United States. Our government and a $5 million Citibank loan maintains the rebel presence in the Congo. Their control of mineral rich areas allows western corporations, such as American Mineral Fields, to illegally mine. Rwandan and Ugandan control over this area is beneficial for both governments and for the corporations that continue to exploit the Congo’s natural wealth….

San Francisco based engineering firm Bechtel Inc. established strong ties in the rebel zones as well. Bechtel drew up an inventory of the Congo’s mineral resources free of charge, and also paid for NASA satellite studies of the country for infared maps of its minerals. Bechtel estimates that the DRC’s mineral ores alone are worth $157 billion dollars. Through coltan production, the Rwandans and their allies are bringing in $20 million revenue a month. Rwanda’s diamond exports went from 166 carats in 1998 to 30,500 in 2000. Uganda’s diamond exports jumped from approximately 1,500 carats to about 11,300. The final destination for many of these minerals is the U.S.” [read more]

And to close this out, let me return to “The Business of War” report by Dena Montague and Frida Berrigan. As you will see, you always have to follow the money, the bankers and our friends at the IMF are always at the root of global death and destruction, and are the true Masters of War:

“Today, the United States claims that it has no interest in the DRC other than a peaceful resolution to the current war. Yet U.S. businessmen and politicians are still going to extreme lengths to gain and preserve sole access to the DRC’s mineral resources. And to protect these economic interests, the U.S. government continues to provide millions of dollars in arms and military training to known human-rights abusers and undemocratic regimes. Thus, the DRC’s mineral wealth is both an impetus for war and an impediment to stopping it….

During his historic visit to Africa in 1998, President Clinton praised Presidents Kagame and Musevini as leaders of the ‘African Renaissance,’ just a few months before they launched their deadly invasion of the DRC with U.S. weapons and training….

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank have knowingly contributed to the war effort. The international lending institutions praised both Rwanda and Uganda for increasing their gross domestic product (GDP), which resulted from the illegal mining of DRC resources. Although the IMF and World Bank were aware that the rise in GDP coincided with the DRC war, and that it was derived from exports of natural resources that neither country normally produced, they nonetheless touted both nations as economic success stories….

In January 2000, Chevron – the corporation that named an oil tanker after National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice – announced a three-year, $75 million spending program in the DRC, thus challenging the notion that war discourages foreign investment…. As one investor put it, “It is a good moment to come: it is in difficult times that you can get the most advantage.”….

In April 2001, a scathing UN report argued that Presidents Kagame and Museveni are “on the verge of becoming the godfathers of the illegal exploitation of natural resources and the continuation of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.” The two leaders, the report alleged, have turned their armies into armies for business….

According to East African media reports, U.S. diplomats continue to view Rwanda and Uganda as “strategic allies in the Great Lakes region” and “would not want to upset relations with them at this time.” …. The IMF and World Bank have also indicated that their policies toward Rwanda and Uganda will remain unchanged….”

Famed two-time Congressional Medal of Honor recipient US Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler accurately summed up the situation when he said: “I spent 33 years in the Marines, most of my time being a high-class muscle man for big business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for Capitalism…. The general public shoulders the bill. This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones, Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.”

Timing of Leak of Afghan Mineral Wealth Evokes Scepticism

Timing of Leak of Afghan Mineral Wealth Evokes Scepticism

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WASHINGTON, 14 Jun (IPS) - The timing of the publication of a major New York Times story on the vast untapped mineral wealth that lies beneath Afghanistan's soil is raising major questions about the intent of the Pentagon, which released the information.

Given the increasingly negative news that has come out of Afghanistan - and of U.S. strategy there - some analysts believe the front-page article is designed to reverse growing public sentiment that the war is not worth the cost.

"What better way to remind people about the country's potential bright future - and by people I mean the Chinese, the Russians, the Pakistanis, and the Americans - than by publicising or re-publicising valid (but already public) information about the region's potential wealth?" wrote Marc AmBinder, the political editor of 'The Atlantic' magazine, on his blog.

"The way in which the story was presented - with on-the- record quotations from the Commander in Chief of CENTCOM [Gen. David Petraeus], no less - and the weird promotion of a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense to Undersecretary of Defense [Paul Brinkley] suggest a broad and deliberate information operation designed to influence public opinion on the course of the war," he added.

The nearly 1,500-word article, based almost entirely on Pentagon sources and featured as the lead story in Monday's 'Early Bird', a compilation of major national security stories that the Pentagon distributes each morning, asserted that Afghanistan may have close to one trillion dollars in untapped mineral deposits. These include "huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold, and critical industrial metals like lithium", the story said.

Afghanistan's total annual gross domestic product (GDP) last year came to about 13 billion dollars.

One "internal Pentagon memo" provided to the Times' author, James Risen predicted that Afghanistan could become "the 'Saudi Arabia of lithium,' a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and Blackberrys".

"There is stunning potential here," Petraeus told Risen in an interview Saturday. "There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant," he said of the conclusions of a study by a "small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists".

The government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whose recent efforts to begin a reconciliation process with the insurgent Taliban have been criticised by the Pentagon, quickly seized on the report.

In a hastily arranged press briefing Monday, Karzai's spokesman, Waheed Omar, said the report was "the best news we have had over many years in Afghanistan".

Other commentators, however, suggested the news about Afghanistan's underground wealth was not all that new.

As noted by Blake Hounshell, managing editor at 'Foreign Policy' magazine, the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) already published a comprehensive inventory of Afghanistan's non-oil mineral resources on the internet in 2007, as did the British Geological Survey. Much of their work was based on explorations and surveys undertaken by the Soviet Union during its occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980's.

The nearly trillion-dollar figure is based on a simple tabulation of the previous estimates for each mineral according to its current market price, according to Hounshell.

So, the question for many observers was why the article, which dominated much of the foreign news in the network and cable broadcast media during Monday's news cycle, was published now.

Risen himself suggested an answer in his story, noting "American and Afghan officials agreed to discuss the mineral discoveries at a difficult moment in the war in Afghanistan."

Indeed, U.S. and NATO casualties have risen sharply in recent weeks; a four-month-old counterinsurgency offensive to "clear, hold, and build" in the strategic region around Marja in Pashtun-dominated Helmand province appears to have stalled badly; and a planned campaign in and around the critical city of Kandahar has been delayed for at least two months.

The latest polling shows a noticeable erosion of support for Washington's commitment to the war compared to eight months ago, when President Barack Obama agreed to the Pentagon's recommendations to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan to bring the total U.S. military presence there to around 100,000 later this summer.

Moreover, what little support for the war remains among the publics of Washington's NATO allies - never as high as in the U.S. in any event - is also fading quickly. NATO and non-NATO countries, excluding the U.S., currently have about 34,000 troops deployed to Afghanistan.

On the eve of a NATO ministerial conference in Brussels last week, Secretary of Defence Robert Gates warned that Washington and its NATO allies had very little time to convince their publics that their strategy against the Taliban was working - a message that has since been strongly echoed the coalition's commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and by Petraeus himself.

Indeed, the administration is committed to a major review of its strategy in Afghanistan at the end of the year, and Obama himself has pledged to begin withdrawing U.S. troops in July 2011.

Obama is already coming under pressure from right-wing and neo-conservative media - some of which have been cultivated by Petraeus, in particular - and Republican lawmakers to delay that date.

That view was seconded last week by former Petraeus aide, Lt. Col. John Nagl (ret.), a counterinsurgency specialist who is now president of the influential Centre for a New American Security.

Nagl worked closely with Petraeus in authoring the much- lauded 2006 U.S. Counter-Insurgency Field Manual, which stressed the importance of efforts to influence media perceptions in any counterinsurgency campaign.

"The media directly influence the attitude of key audiences toward counter-insurgents, their operations, and the opposing insurgency," they wrote. "This situation creates a war of perceptions between insurgents and counter-insurgents conducted continuously using the news media."

In that respect, the appearance of the Times story Monday looked to many observers like part of an effort to strengthen the case for giving the counterinsurgency effort more time.

In an interview with Politico's Laura Rozen Monday, former Afghan finance minister Ashraf Ghani said he had commissioned the assessment of Afghanistan's mineral wealth. "As to why it came out today... I cannot explain," he said.

*Jim Lobe's blog on U.S. foreign policy can be read at

Surprises in Store for Economists

Surprises in store for economists

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Some analysts are shocked that US retail sales have declined. Have they lost their grasp of basic economic concepts?

The commerce department reported that retail sales in May were down by 1.2% from April. This surprised most economists who had expected a modest increase. The media were filled with accounts of economists trying to explain why consumers were still reluctant to open up their wallets and spend in a big way. It would have been much more interesting to hear accounts of why economists were surprised.

There is always a large random element in month-to-month movements in retail sales or any other economic variable. Therefore no one is ever going to be able to explain these changes with any precision. (The data are also subject to large revisions, so it is entirely possible that revised data will look very different from the report released last week (pdf).)

Nonetheless, there is little basis for the surprise shown by so many economic analysts. With few exceptions these analysts failed to see the $8tn housing bubble, the collapse of which sank the economy. Remarkably, even now they apparently cannot understand its importance.

To put it as simply as possible (so even an economist can understand it), the housing bubble was driving the economy in the period prior to its collapse, beginning in 2007. It drove the economy in two ways. The run up in house prices led to a building boom. Residential construction, which is typically less than 4% of GDP, rose to more than 6%, creating more than $300bn in additional annual demand. A bubble in non-residential real estate added perhaps another $150bn to annual demand.

The bubble also drove the economy through the effect of housing wealth on consumption. Economists usually estimate that $1 of additional housing wealth increases annual consumption by between 5-7 cents. This implies that the $8tn of housing bubble wealth would lead increase consumption by $400bn to $560bn a year.

With most of the bubble wealth eliminated by the collapse of house prices over the last three years, we should expect a sharp drop in consumption. Furthermore, stock prices have lost a bit less than a third of their value (around $6tn), which we should expect to cause a further decline in consumption. With the stock wealth effect estimated at 3-4 cents on the dollar, the decline in stock prices should have reduced annual consumption by $180bn to $240bn. In total we should expect to see annual consumption have dropped by between $600bn and $900bn as a result of the loss of housing and stock wealth.

This is all very simple arithmetic and basic economics. Consumption had been driven by the housing bubble prior to the recession. Now that the bubble has collapsed and trillions of dollars of wealth has disappeared we should expect much lower levels of consumption. To flip this around, the savings rate, which had averaged more than 8% in the decades prior to the 90s, fell to near zero in the years leading up to the recession. Now that the bubble has collapsed, we should expect consumption to fall and saving to return back to its normal level. In fact, it might even go higher since the huge cohort of baby boomers is now mostly in their 50s and most have almost nothing saved for retirement. This might lead savings rates to go above their long-term average.

There seems very little room for argument in this story. The existence and housing and stock wealth effects are among the least questioned propositions in economics. Nor is there too much dispute about their size. How could any economist see the collapse of an $8tn housing bubble and the destruction of more than $6tn in stock wealth and not expect to see a substantial decline in consumption?

Yet, we have dozens of economists being cited in newspapers and broadcast news, all saying that they are surprised by weak consumption. If anything the surprise should be that consumption is still as strong as it is. The saving rate is still near 4%, far below its historic average. Why on earth would any economist expect it to go still lower?

The reason that consumers are not spending more money has nothing to do with attitudes. The reason that most consumers aren't spending is the same reason that homeless people don't spend much money: they don't have any.

Economists used to be able to understand basic economic concepts. Apparently, most have lost this ability. As a result we are likely to see many more surprised economists and much proposed in the way of very bad economic policy.

Washington Releases Funds for Subversion Activities in Cuba

Washington Releases Funds for Subversion Activities in Cuba

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According to Granma newspaper, Senator John Kerry (D-Mass) and a member of the US House of Representatives had put a “hold’” on the money until they could get more information on the programs to be funded.

These kind of secret funds have been used to finance the so-called “Cuban dissidence” and they are distributed by the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

As part of this plan to destabilize the Cuban Revolution, the US Congress appropriated $20 million for the so-called Cuba Democracy Assistance, a euphemism to mask the subversive nature of this program.

However, the funds were not released as scandals hit the handling of the $20 million appropriated for the previous fiscal year.

The Obama administration took months before it appointed a new USAID chief and then it launched a review of the programs’ effectiveness.

Through piracy, Israel has revealed its true nature to the world

Through piracy, Israel has revealed its true nature to the world

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The extraordinary brutality of the army that abusively describes itself as “the most ethical army in the world” has ended up in exposing to everyone the true face of Israel. It must be noted that such brutality would never have been possible without the complicity of Western political circles and media. Hazem Jamjoum, 28, a Palestinian scholar who passed through Geneva on the same day as Israel’s deadly storming of the Freedom Flotilla, replies to the questions of Silvia Cattori.

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On 31 May 2010, Israeli pirates attacked civilian vessels in international waters.

Silvia Cattori: Were you surprised to learn that today, Monday, 31 May, the Israeli navy has attacked the humanitarian aid flotilla and shot at the people who were sailing to Gaza?

Hazem Jamjoum [1]: The attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla was somewhat expected; the Israeli government and the Israeli military had made it somewhat clear that they did not want to allow the activists to enter Gaza strip. I was shocked when I heard that they had actually killed so many people. I had expected them to steal the boats, anchor them and arrest the activists. But to use this violence was a big shock for me.

But I think it also makes some sense; it reveals how the Israeli military logic works, in the sense that Israel has shown for 62 years that it does not have problems with killing people [2], or with acts of piracy, or with violations of international law. And I think increasingly it becomes more and more clear that Israel feels it can literally get away with murder, regardless of whether it is against Palestinians or non-Palestinians. It is not the first time that it kills non-Palestinians.

Because quite simply, the international community has shown that it will not take any concrete measures to punish Israel or to render it accountable for the crimes that it commits.

Silvia Cattori: The Israeli navy’s attack against the flotilla in international waters has brought about a wave of reactions against Israel that have turned out to be larger in scale than during its massive bombardment of Gaza which in just eight minutes, on 27 December 2008, left about 300 people dead on the ground. Does this mean that Palestinian lives do not deserve the same attention?

Hazem Jamjoum: It is a big story. First of all, I think that unfortunately the media, like Israel, has really very little regard for Palestinian lives, and Arab lives in general. You see also killings on an almost daily basis in Irak since 2003 but all they get now is barely a few words on the bottom of the screen of most news channels. The same is true with Palestine: Israeli has been killing Palestinians for 62 years and in large numbers, particularly since 2000, with the launch of the second Intifada (uprising), and this is not news. The reason that it is now something that is very important for the media is because those 700 hundred people on those boats are all from outside Palestine: there are Europeans, Americans, Turks, and so this is maybe a little more relevant for the international media because it is international people who were killed and injured on those boats. In addition also thousands of people gave money for the supplies and for those boats. And maybe also after the massacres in Gaza strip, in 2008-2009, there has been growing a very strong movement in all strata of society that is finally beginning to criticize Israel. I think the fact that the media has given this massacre on Freedom Flotilla so much attention is itself an evidence of how successful and big this movement has grown.

Silvia Cattori: Are you surprised by the fact that the US has not condemned the act of piracy committed by Israel and has not demanded the lifting of the blockade on Gaza?

Hazem Jamjoum: Not really. It has become very clear that the States are not going to hold Israel accountable and this Freedom Flotilla was part of the movement to render Israel accountable. If States are not going to do it, this flotilla would do it and take the supplies to Gaza. This was the idea. The flotilla is neither charity nor humanitarian aid: it is a political statement. For the organizers of the Freedom Flotilla, this was one hundred percent a political act. The idea was that if governments of the world are not going to hold Israel accountable for this medieval siege – we have never seen a siege of a territory like this for 800 years – they would do it.

This is the idea of the flotilla and this is also the idea of the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) which was launched in 2005 by the Palestinian civil society, by all political parties, the unions, the refugee organizations, etc. This campaign began to grow much faster after the massacres in Gaza when people around the world began to see Israel for what it really is: a regime of apartheid, occupation and colonization. And I think that the growth of this movement has made even the media more sensitive to the reality that Israel is not a state that is protecting Jewish people, it is a state that is committing crimes on a daily basis.

Silvia Cattori: Do you think that this sea attack will make it possible to put an end to the impunity and protection that Israel had always enjoyed from our media?

Hazem Jamjoum: Yes, Israel has been very much protected until now by the media, by States, by all institutions having any kind of power. This has been especially so in a region like Europe where Jewish organizations have been very successful and have managed to exploit the guilt over the Holocaust in the Second World War, and to use lies like the allegation that Palestinians left their homes because Arab leaders had told them to leave. People were also afraid of being accused of anti-Jewish action if they criticized Israel.

But when you see Israel using F-16s and tanks, bombing a defenseless civilian population who have nowhere to go because the boarders are tightly closed, storming a ship filled with international people, including MPs, humanitarian aid workers, and shooting on them and their ships, it becomes harder to say that if you criticize it your are engaging in anti-Jewish action.

The second thing is that an increasing number of Jewish people, realizing that Israel has been doing this for 62 years allegedly in their name, have become aware that Israel is misusing and abusing their name to cover up these crimes. I think that a growing number of Jewish people are saying «You cannot do this in my name any more», and are opposing Zionism and the ongoing crimes of Israel, which is also a very important phenomenon.

Silvia Cattori: If Israel has been able during 62 years to pursue its policy of ethnic cleansing, based on hatred and dehumanization, isn’t it because its propaganda has always managed to reverse facts by portraying the Palestinian victims of its apartheid policy as terrorists and presenting Arabs and Muslims as being inferior, violent and fanatic?

Hazem Jamjoum: Definitely, and not just Israel of course. If you watch Hollywood movies, you will see that Arabs and Muslims are so portrayed, especially since the so-called «War on Terror» - but even before. Even popular culture is very dehumanizing and is completely racist and Israel has used it to its benefit for 62 years. That so-called West, the so-called « civilized world », sees Arabs and Muslims as part of a barbaric, savage, sub-human kind of people. If you watch the Israeli media as well, the same Palestinians and Arabs are portrayed again as savage, barbaric and inherently violent, crazy and irrational creatures. We still have a great deal of work to do all around the world to begin to fight back against these racist stereotypes, against this image of Arabs and Muslims as barbarians. Obviously, it goes without saying that this is not true. History tells us how much western civilization has actually borrowed from others.

Silvia Cattori: What renders the context still more difficult for outsiders to understand is that the authorities of Ramallah and their representatives abroad are playing the game of the Israeli occupation. On the same day of the attack against the flotilla, Elias Sambar, the Palestinian representative to UNESCO, who was hosted on the French France 2 TV channel, did not conceal the existing fracture. “You know what I think of Hamas”, he said, speaking to Daniel Shek, the Israeli ambassador to France, who couldn’t find words hard enough enough to incriminate Hamas. How can one understand such complacency vis-à-vis a colonial occupying power that is so cruelly tormenting the Palestinians and such contempt by a Palestinian diplomat of the democratically elected Hamas authorities?

Hazem Jamjoum: This Palestinian leadership has put all of its strategy into one failed basket, i.e. its belief that by talking with Israel and by convincing the international community, they can somehow achieve something, like regaining the rights of the Palestinian people. Over the past 13 - 14 years, it has become extremely and fully clear that these negotiations are only benefiting Israel which is using them as a method of stalling, and buying this time to consolidate its apartheid regime, its theft of Palestinian land and its construction of colonies.

The dehumanization of Hamas fits in with the general dehumanization of Islamic political groups and with the building for a war with Iran, as Hamas is being portrayed as part of an Iranian camp in the region. It should be clear also that Hamas is the popular choice, democratically elected in 2006, and we stand behind that election as a vote of no confidence in the negotiations. When Palestinians voted for Hamas in 2006, they were saying to Fatah that they did not accept the negotiations which have proven to be a failure. The fact that this leadership in Ramallah is continuing with the « proximity talks » and negotiations is just more proof that this strategy is failing.

Silvia Cattori: It seems that President Mahmoud Abbas has not really called for an end to the blockade. Isn’t it so?

Hazem Jamjoum: I don’t know. Actually I can’t remember. They have been critical of the siege in certain points. Whether they have tried in a consistent and systematic way to work through the United Nations and through their international contacts to break the siege, I am not sure.

It is perfectly clear that the leadership in Ramallah has taken a very strong position against Hamas and they see Hamas as a threat to their political monopoly. They use against Hamas the same line that Israel is using against it and this is extremely unfortunate. This is particularly so since sometimes they talk about reconciliation with Hamas and in the same breath completely oppose Hamas and demonize it.

I think that both sides need to go back to basics and to the fundamental demands of the people. They need to break their ties with the apartheid regime and to go back and call for the basic rights of the Palestinian people – the right of refugees to return, full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel who have completely been dropped from the Palestinian leadership agenda. There are about 6,4 millions Palestinian refugees in the world, and there are 1,5 million Palestinians who are citizens of Israel. They have a big share of Palestinians in the world. And they are completely neglected by both of these leaderships.

Silvia Cattori: In this context, the refusal of the United States to seize this opportunity to demand the lifting of the blockade was therefore not surprising?

Hazem Jamjoum: No, there is no surprise in the US position. The United States is very clear: Israel is one of its strategic allies and its number one ally in the region. It essentially considers Israel to be its extension in the Middle East. I think that US politicians believe in this position. Whether in fact Israel is in the interest of the US, is something that I think is extremely questionable. The US military - recently general Petraeus - made it very clear that American soldiers are losing their lives because of the US policy of supporting Israel. I think that is a very accurate assessment. People within the US State Department since 1948 have said that support for Israel is actually counter to the US economic and strategic interests. They are right.

Silvia Cattori: Will this not change?

Hazem Jamjoum: I think it will, it has to change because of the growth of social movements in the US which are calling for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The Green party for example, which is the third party in the US is in favor of BDS, as are an increasing number of US politicians, especially those who have visited Gaza Strip after the massacres and have had the courage to speak up. But in US politics, I think that Politicians can’t just oppose Israel for fear of the consequences. It requires that social movements in the US become stronger and the trend is in their favor. They are critical of Israel and are calling for an end to Israeli apartheid and an end to US support of Israel’s apartheid regime. And so I think we should be cautiously optimistic and really what it requires is just more work.

But it is not just the US support for Israel that allows Israel to continue in this way. It is European support too. Europe is the largest foreign importer of Israeli products in the world, larger than the US. The relationship between the US and Israel is more based on finance and investments. This is why divestment campaigns are so important in the United States. The European Union has a free trade agreement with Israel, and cultural exchanges are very important. All this represents a challenge.

Freedom Flotilla: The detail that escaped Netanyahu

Freedom Flotilla: The detail that escaped Netanyahu

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As is often the case when the stakes are high, the media distracts the public from the real issues. The handling of the Israeli attack against the Freedom Flotilla is another illustration of this. The mainstream media have been trying to distinguish between the good and the bad guys, instead of analysing what is being played out. In this article, Thierry Meyssan dissects both Tel Aviv’s and Ankara’s real motives, and discloses the «detail» that transformed Israel’s armed operation into a diplomatic debacle.

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the bedside of every wounded person at Atatürk hospital. Here, Turkish-Irish activist El Mehdi El Hamid El Hamdi kisses him to thank him for his action. The Turkish Prime Minister, whom Israel hoped to destabilize, is the victor of this first contest of strength.

One week after the attack by Israeli forces on the high seas against a humanitarian convoy, what are the new elements that have emerged and what initial conclusions can be drawn? Before answering these questions, we should start by sweeping aside the media babble clouding the issue.

In the first place, the aim of the Freedom Flotilla was not simply to transport material assistance to the people of Gaza, but also to break the blockade [1]. This fact, which was kept secret for two days, suddenly crept into the arguments of Israeli spokespersons. Hence they accused the humanitarian workers of being crypto-political activists, notwithstanding their consistent claim that their action was meant to compensate for the failure of States to enforce international and humanitarian law. The activists aboard the Flotilla were ordinary citizens from various parts of the world determined to enact the provisions of UN resolution 1860.

The Israeli spokespersons blamed the Flotilla passengers for opposing resistance, accusing them of having used weapons against the soldiers. This was purported to show that the people were actually « terrorists ». To corroborate this story, the Foreign Ministry disseminated various photos of knives and attack weapons confiscated on the Mavi Marmara [2]. Now, it just so happens that the photos’ EXIF data indicates that most are old and were taken in a different context [3].
This is a classic propaganda technique : while we are busy discussing the authenticity of the photos, they are conveniently masking the fact that, in the eyes of international law, not only is the continuation of the blockade illegal, but, as the occupying power, Israel has the duty to ensure the safe delivery of the humanitarian aid. In addition, the attack on the flotilla in international waters being illegal, the passengers had the legitimate right to rebel, provided they – the passengers – made use of « proportionate force », which was the case.

Secondly, in terms of security, Israel had no need to stop this fleet. It was not transporting weapons for the Palestinian resistance, only aid for the population. Indeed, Tel Aviv has imposed an embargo which, in the words of the United Nations Special Rapporteur, amounts to "collective punishment", but even in terms of this punishment inflicted on 1.5 million Gazans, 10,000 tons of goods do not represent a significant stake. It is not with less than 7 kg per capita that the people of Gaza will rebuild their houses and feed their families. Israel has already allowed ground and sea convoys to go through and, this week, it has pledged to deliver the aid arriving on the cargo vessel Rachel Corrie.
Israel’s goal, as I have stated from the beginning, was to "undercut the credibility of Turkey », at a time when it has been moving closer to Syria and Iran - or, clearly stated, to bring down the Erdogan government and "claim the leadership of the Zionist movement by showing that Tel Aviv decides and Washington complies [4].

The respective strategies

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Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu giving a press conference at the end of the UN Security Council meeting.

This ninth convoy composed of a group of associations was supported by Ankara to demonstrate the illegality of the blockade.

At his press conference in New York, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, said his government had intensified its contacts with his Israeli counterpart to inform him about the convoy and to request free passage.

As far as we can tell, Ankara had considered three scenarios:
- 1. Israel gives the convoy the green light, which is greeted triumphantly by the Gazans. In this case, Turkey can demonstrate that, unlike most Arab governments, it is independent and does not abide by the orders of Tel Aviv.
- 2. Israel diverts the convoy and directs it the port of Ashdod/Isdud. The goods and the humanitarian workers proceed to Gaza by road, where they are given a jubilant welcome. Tel Aviv can hold its head up high, and Ankara’s political gain is minimum.
- 3. Israel sabotages the convoy or boards it for inspection. In this case, Ankara internationalises the incident and seizes the opportunity to challenge the continuation of the blockade. Politically speaking, this is the best scenario.

The Israeli government believed it had another option: to show to the Turkish Army Chiefs of Staff that if the civilian government came to the aid of the Palestinians, Tel Aviv could in turn instigate the Kurdish separatists; and prove once again that, with the backing of the United States, Israel is above international law. In short, the Netanyahu government considered it possible to pressure the Turkish military to organise a fifth coup d’état.

With this in mind, the Netanyahu-Barak duo sponsored Kurdish mercenaries to launch a terrorist attack against the naval military base of Iskenderun in southern Turkey. It was carried out on 31 May shortly after midnight. Rockets were fired during the changing of the guard, killing 7 soldiers [5].

Moreover, the Israeli government made sure it had Washington’s endorsement [6]. As was pointed out by Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi [7], it is unthinkable that the Israeli forces could have launched a piracy operation in the Mediterranean Sea without first informing the VIth United States fleet, responsible for combating piracy and terrorism in this area and with whom they routinely collaborate. Israel’s idea was to seize the goods and forward them to Gaza to show its good faith, while arresting the activists and accuse them of having ties with the "jihadists" in order to compromise the democratic-Muslim government of the AKP (Justice and Development Party).

The storming of the flotilla could have taken place either at night in the high seas or by day in Palestinian waters. The Israeli government chose the first option so that the assault would not be commented live on satellite television networks by the sixty-odd journalists invited by the associations. The order was given once the attack against the Iskenderun naval base was over.

Israel was, in fact, well covered by the United States, which (together with France) struggled to avert any binding decision by the Security Council. After an interminable session, what finally came out was a miserly presidential statement [8]. It contains a litany of pious wishes on the liberation of prisoners, on humanitarian aid for the Gazans, and the creation of a Palestinian State.
In the wings, the Council was divided on a specific legal point, which we explain in greater detail below. It revealed its impotence to take direct responsibility for the elucidation of the facts: instead of creating an inquiry commission, it limited itself to calling for "a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation [possibly by Israel] conforming to international standards ».

While, on its part, the UN Commission on Human Rights has created a fact-finding mission, the fact remains that its area of authority is limited [9] As it happens, Israel couldn’t care less, as was the case vis-à-vis Desmond Tutu’s mission on the crimes perpetrated at Jenin, and that of Richard Goldstone on the Gaza bombardments.

Territorial confusion

Although news agencies were reporting that 16 had been killed, the actual death toll would appear to be 9, provided of course the seriously wounded do not succumb to their injuries. According to Turkish television, the Israeli squad had a list of people to be eliminated, but their plan was thwarted by the resistance of the passengers; only Raed Salah, one of the leaders of the Islamic Movement in Israel, was hit. It is probable that at the time it ordered the assault, the Netanyahu government already knew that the Mavi Marmara had been registered in the Comoros Islands. The commandos therefore believed they were acting on Comoran territory.

However, the organizers, who were politically supported by the Turkish authorities, had hoisted the Turkish flag, not the one from Comoros. In addition, they had displayed a huge Turkish flag on the side of the cargo. According to the jurisprudence at the International Court of Justice in The Hague [10], the boat was not Comorian territory, but Turkish. Besides, it had already changed its nationality when it joined the rest of the fleet and was denied mooring by the Republic of Cyprus precisely for that reason.

International debate on the failure of Israeli intelligence has been focusing exclusively on this one issue: how could the Mossad not have known about the boat’s change of nationality? All the awkward statements coming from the Foreign Ministries, in Washington, Paris and elsewhere, requesting that the facts be established before they can decide on the legal consequences, reflect the same concern : at the time of the assault, was the Mavi Marmara Comoran or Turkish territory ?

The answer to that question is of the utmost importance. Indeed, Turkey is member of the NATO and article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty stipulates that :
« The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.”

Just before the Atlantic Council meeting, Turkish Justice proceeded to a new crackdown to arrest people suspected of plotting against the constitutional government. Among the suspects is former Minister of Justice Seyfi Oktay. They allegedly belonged to the Ergenekon network, the current local version of Gladio, that is to say the secret services of NATO.

The symbolism of these arrests has been heightened by the campaign conducted for the last two years by the supporters of the AKP in the media. Through televised fiction and films, they have been popularizing the way in which NATO intelligence services organised four consecutive coups d’Etat in their country. They haven’t stopped explaining that the Anglo-Saxons play a double game; officially allied to Ankara, they have been stoking the Kurdish, Armenian and Cyprus problems with a view to destabilizing Turkey.

At the end of a long and trying meeting behind closed doors, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen pronounced a one-sentence declaration : "I request the immediate release of the detained civilians and ships held by Israel" [11].

Of course, no one ever considered seriously that NATO would coerce Israel, but therein lies the pressure lever : in order to preserve the Alliance, it was paramount for the United States to arrive at an amicable resolution of the conflict.

Exactly 24 hours after Rasmussen’s statement, the spokesman of the Israeli jailhouse administration announced the release of all foreign prisoners (Israeli nationals remained in detention) and their return to their countries of origin or to other host countries.

This new developmet brought an unexpected problem. The Atlantic Alliance was created by the United States and the United Kingdom together with the states belonging to their post-Yalta sphere of influence. They were the masters and the other members were under their command. Apart from the DeGaulle interlude, no member has ever dared to question this set up. Until now: as a sign of its ascending power, Turkey has just used the North Atlantic Treaty to force the hand of the United States.

The Erdoğan-Peres tête-à-tête continues

While handcuffing and beating up their prisoners, the Israeli commando squads were shouting " One minute! ", "One minute! ", in mocking reference to the altercation between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli president Shimon Peres, during the 2009 Davos Economic Forum.

[Voltaire Network is not responsible for the random publicity inserted by Google in this video.]

This verbal affront has incensed Turkish public opinion who considers itself insulted through its Prime Minister. Not only does it approve of Mr. Erdogan’s reaction, it wants him to play a more assertive role on the international scene, as indicated by the lastest polls.

This explains why the Turkish Parliament adopted a very aggressive resolution, urging the Government to «reconsider ... political, military and economic relations with Israel and take the most effective measures necessary.» [12]

The Ministry of Justice has constituted a working group to examine all legal recourses contemplated in domestic as well as international law. It is essentially drawing on a memorandum by a London lawyers’ association, that we have published in full. [13]

An investigation has been opened by the Prosecutor’s office in Istanbul-Bakirköy [14] which has already arranged for a forensic autopsy of the victims plus a hearing of the Turkish witnesses. It could swiftly indict Benjanmin Netanyahu and Generals Ehud Barack and Gabi Ashkenasi for piracy, aggravated assault, murder, kidnapping and arbitrary detention. _ However, according to the available evidence, the prosecutor could reclassify the charges as crimes against humanity. In that event, the accused could no longer travel abroad without risking being taken in for questioning.

Asserting the leadership of the Zionist movement

If one goes by the White House press releases and briefings relating to the successive phone conversations between president Obama and Prime Minister Natanyahu, the Israelis were initially proud of their operation. The first call was placed by Mr Netanyahu, apologizing to President Obama for being unable to honour his invitation given the events that forced him to return immediately in Tel Aviv. In the course of the second conversation, Mr. Netanyahu gave his version of the events, putting President Obama before a fait accompli. While the United States authorized the inspection of the boats, it did not anticipate the slaughter. The third conversation centered on how the Security Council meeting should be torpedoed, in other words the Israeli imposed their road map to the United States.

The tone changes when it comes to referring the matter to the Atlantic Council. Mr Netanyahu becomes difficult to reach, while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has to confront her Turkish counterpart who came to harass her. She looks for a scapegoat and asks General Ehud Barack to find a solution by pinning the responsibility on a subordinate, but Barack refuses to go along. Not only did he not dissociate himself from the commando squad involved in the raid, but he stood up for the soldiers and even paid them a personal visit.

Ultimately, the Israelis were obliged to release the prisoners. They imposed the situation but finally the solution was imposed on them. An additional problem arises from the killing of Furkan Dogan, a young man of dual Turkish-U.S. nationality, whose family may sue the State of Israel for murder in a U.S. court.

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Furkan Doğan’s funeral. The posters say "Our honour, our martyr".

Initial conclusions

In the end, the Israeli government failed to reach its two objectives.

Turkey has come out strengthened from the confrontation, reinforcing as well the triangle it has formed with her Syrian and Iranian allies. At the same time,Turkey has acquired several new cards. Turkish Justice will judge in absentia the Israeli Ministers and generals for the crimes committed. The fact-finding mission set up by the UN Commission on Human Rights will tarnish Israel’s image even further.

Above all, Turkey is in a position to play a second game. According to our information, Ankara. According to our information, Ankara has told the State Department that Mr Erdogan was planning to personally break the blockade of Gaza, as François Mitterrand did with the siege of Sarajevo [15]. He could embark on a fleet chartered by humanitarian associations and politically supported by governments, including Iran, Syria and Venezuela. Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah Secretary General, has already called on all the Lebanese to take part in future initiatives. A appeal could also be made to sailors in the Mediterranean Sea, so that hundreds of pleasure boats could join in. The whole operation would be escorted by the Turkish navy, a member of NATO.
This prospect has alarmed Washington which more enthusiastically than ever is trying to convince Tel Aviv to lift the blockade.

Furthermore, the prestige acquired by Turkey during this operation spotlights the collaboration of certain Arab governments with Israel, particularly that of Hosni Moubarak.
The Egyptian President has indeed actively contributed to the siege of Gaza to prevent any contact between the Palestinian Hamas and the Egyptian Moslem Brothers. Cairo had no qualms about building a steel wall with money from the U.S. and French know-how to immure 1,5 million Gazans [16]. And one stills remember Foreign Secretary Ali Aboul Gheit’s reply when asked what he would do about the starving women and children who tried to cross the border: "Let them try and we will break their legs!".
As a result, the blood of the Marmara victims has spilled on the Mubarak Government and Alexandria is on the brink of an uprising. To release the tension, the Egyptial government has decided to partially open the border temporarily.

Before playing in the big leagues, Turkey had most probably secured its rear. Based on diplomatic sources, our hypothesis is that Turkey received guarantees from Russia during President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to the Middle East. This scenario is corroborated by the sudden announcement of the arrival in Ankara, on 8 June, of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to attend a summit which was not on his agenda. There, he will meet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (who is not yet a member of this forum, but has all of a sudden been invited as an observer). The Israeli delegation that is on the list will most probably not turn up: any high-level official would be at the mercy of the Istanbul-Bakırköy Prosecutor. The Turkish justice official may unexpectedly decide to qualify the atrocities committed as crimes against humanity and proceed to arrest the suspects.

€uro: the worst case scenario

€uro: the worst case scenario

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The Greek budgetary crisis, which has become a crisis of the euro, is not the inevitable result of market self-regulation, but rather the consequence of a deliberate attack. According to Jean-Michel Vernochet, the crisis was provoked by an economic offensive directed from Washington and London that followed similar principles to those of contemporary military warfare, employing game theory and a strategy of ‘constructive chaos’. The ultimate aim is to oblige the Europeans to enter into an Atlantic bloc, i.e. an empire where Anglo-American budgetary deficits would be automatically financed through the expedient of a dollarised euro. The agreement concluded between the European Union and the IMF, giving the Fund partial oversight of Union economic policies, is a first step in this direction.

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The director of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. Prevented from returning to the Deutsche Mark, Germany must consent to a European loan from the IMF.

The financial attack launched against Greece because of its sovereign debt and its potential insolvency soon proved to be an offensive against the Euro and to have only a distant relationship with the flaws and structural deficits of the Greek economy itself. These ‘vices’, incidentally, are largely shared by the bulk of post-industrial countries which have acquired the bad habit of living beyond their means and on credit, hence the soaring quantum of debt, a bubble (as any other) doomed to burst.

Everything seems to indicate that behind the brutality of the attack and beyond a simple stampede to pillage some European economies loom other objectives, notably of a geopolitical character, carefully thought out. In any case, the appetites of anonymous financial predators - as sharp as they might be - cannot account for the sustained intensity of the offensive which, in the short term, threatens to shatter the Euro zone, the European Union itself, indeed even beyond …

With the proliferation of crises over the last two decades, a quick reading of the pawn movements on the Grand Eurasian Chessboard is enough to suggest that Europe is actually one battle ground within a geo-economic war (war in the proper sense), a battle that it has besides already potentially lost.

Indeed, the adoption of a European plan – at the insistence of the White House – for the bailing out of heavily indebted EU member states not only does not constitute a panacea, a durable remedy to the structural budgetary crisis that has been rapidly affecting all Western states, but points in the direction desired by the U.S. of a rapid integration of the EU, a necessary prerequisite for the constitution of a united Western bloc.

This European plan responds to a crisis of confidence and solvency (largely artificial at the outset, but which became contagious and is now snowballing) by the recapitalisation of states as if it were a matter of a simple liquidity crisis. A European plan of 750 billion euros, even greater than the 700 billion-dollar Paulson plan designed to bail out the American financial establishment with public funds after the debacle of September 2008. The deviant consequences of that solution can be seen at present in the heavy expansion of the public debt on both sides of the Atlantic.

Thus, the U.S.-born crisis, after having triggered the recession which de-activated the economic pump, has since dried up the fiscal resources of states rendering it more difficult to service an ever expanding debt. Now, the EU has just increased the existing debt by an additional 750 billion euros, which further strain member states’ national budgets (the average indebtedness of the euro zone being actually 78% of GDP), all this with the illusory plan of ‘re-establishing market confidence’.

To this end, the EU has voluntarily placed itself under the thumb of the IMF which has consented to have up to 250 billion euros at the ready. This is the same IMF, whose calling until now has been to support tottering Third World economies through crippling recipes in the guise of so-called structural adjustment plans. It is thus a supranational entity, formally ‘globalist’, which will head, indeed supervise more or less directly, the structures of economic governance which the EU will most certainly adopt if the euro zone does not spontaneously break up beforehand.

Such integrative measures have been vigourously called for by Paul Volcker, Chairman of the White House Economic Recovery Advisory Board, who, while recently in London, lambasted European leaders demanding a boosting of the euro which the Americans and British need to keep their own economies afloat.

Let us note, in passing, that it is probably with a heavy heart that the German Chancellor accepted to subscribe to this mindboggling support plan for the faltering Euro zone countries since her French counterpart – according to persistent rumours – was threatening to return to France if she did not conform. But, while it is true that ‘the worker ant is not altruistic’, a return to the Deutsche Mark would be equivalent to signing the death warrant of the German economy as a strong currency would restrain its industrial exports, at the base of its economy. Like it or not, the situation forces Berlin, under duress, to navigate the strictures drawn up by the Obama Administration.

American ukases that lead to a big open trap: capital borrowed from the markets or lent by the IMF to save the ‘PIIGS’ (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) – threatened with cessation of repayment - must rely on structures guaranteeing long term solvency of the euro. A currency whose soundness cannot be assured, however, by the type of federal institutions which Jacques Attali has been promoting in calling for “… the creation of a European Treasury, immediately authorised to borrow in the name of the EU, and of a European Budgetary Fund, given immediate mandate to control the budget expenditures of any country whose debt exceeds the 80% of the GDP.”

It essentially boils down to subjecting States to economic tutelage under the guise of saving the Euro zone from an allegedly inevitable collapse ... since the abandonment of the Euro is an inviolable taboo that nobody apparently dreams of touching.

Certain projects go even further, by prescribing that the budgets of member states should be entirely controlled and decided on by a triumvirate comprising the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the Eurogroup (the member states’ Finance Ministers). What about the popular will and the European Parliament in Strasbourg?

No one cares about denouncing the sophistry or the fallacy of equating economic integration with a return to market confidence. First of all, why should markets, and markets alone, impose their own laws? Besides, is it not time to revisit stock market capitalism, anonymous and volatile, and capable of ruining countries on a whim or from self-interest?

On this account, centralised economic control from Brussels is no more the panacea than is a flood of liquidity the solution to the current crisis. The additional indebtedness generated by the ‘plan’ is without doubt a false solution imposed from outside with the end goal of further enslaving us Europeans to capital markets and their unspeakable dictatorship.

The idea of centralised control proceeds from the same stance for it is literally a non-sense in that it ignores all the societal differences operating across all layers of the European construct: types or models of economic growth, fiscal and social systems, etc. It is basically a “non-idea”, one which is fundamentally ideological by its nature … a smokescreen concealing a whole range of ulterior motives, all in fact foreign to the economic prosperity and well being of the peoples of the EU.

Some have rightly seen that this crisis was only the means and the pretext to precipitate the introduction of a hard-core federal system [1] encompassing all twenty seven member states despite and in contempt of the popular will over which the Treaty of Lisbon has been imposed in the most underhanded fashion. A crisis which is and remains – a cardinal fact to be borne in mind – artificial, fabricated; in a word, it is the opposite of an inherent ‘inevitability’ implied by a self-regulating and disembodied market environment, supposedly steered by an ‘invisible hand’. A reputedly ‘mechanical’ process, which, despite its anonymity, is none the less constituted by corporate executives and traders made of flesh and blood that call the shots and manipulate the market.

It is for this reason that the U.S speaks with a forked tongue through two separate voices, that of its ‘market’ representatives and President Obama himself. The latter intervened to berate the Europeans and press them to stabilise their currency, or, in other words, the European economic policies, good or otherwise, which are inextricably linked to the health of their own currency. Now, don’t start imagining for one second that some kind of meddling in the affairs of Continental Europe could be involved here! Can you picture Madame Merkel and Monsieur Sarkozy asking the White House to clean up Manhattan?

The other voice belongs to those who call the shots … in short, the managers of the self-regulating order, anonymous even to the governments themselves, as French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde shamefully confessed; those who play yo-yo with the markets like a cat plays with a mouse, anticipating the lows and highs that they themselves intentionally provoke. In practice, these people are promoting a very different discourse.

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For Paul Volcker, chair of the White House Economic Recovery Advisory Board, Europe must accept external control of economic policy and put the euro at parity with the dollar.

Indeed, how else to explain the evident contradiction between the concerns expressed by President Obama – legitimate by the way, for the EU needs a strong euro that penalises European exporters, but is advantageous to American industry, a useful bonus given the record US fiscal deficit ($1400 billion for 2008-09) and above all necessary to support the ongoing war effort in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan – and the radical destablisation of Western economies by the persistent attacks by the markets against the euro?

No matter how voracious, inconsistent or irrational, the ‘operators’ are nevertheless aware that the pursuit of the offensive against the euro jeopardises the system in its totality and risks plunging the global economy into a new phase of chaos. Then why this dance on the edge of the abyss? Nobody will have us believe this nonsense that the markets have a life of their own, that they are uncontrollable and that all this is simply the result of the economic machine gone awry … In short, that it’s ‘nobody’s fault’, but the simple consequence of the impossibility of managing the agents and the irrational faux pas of the markets?

Clearly said, the risk of systemic collapse is at the very heart of the game currently being played. The big players, the cold calculators, are obvious disciples of the theory of games (since von Neumann & Morgenstern), probabilistic edifice on the foundations of which has been constructed the doctrine of nuclear deterrence … The winners are those who push the lethal bids the highest. A scenario that corresponds line for line to that which is unfolding before our eyes: increasing destabilisation of the European economies, with non-negligible effects for the U.S.

Let’s add that the financial chaos, monetary and economic, on both sides of the Atlantic is an undeniable windfall, for those who prosper in the backwash of the market’s trajectory, provoking and anticipating the cycles of panic and euphoria to play indiscriminately with the rising and falling currents of the hysterically erratic markets.

At the beginning of the Twentieth Century, the economist Werner Sombart conceived an embryonic theory of ‘creative destruction’ (subsequently taken up by Joseph Schumpeter). Since then this theory has been developed by, among others, the mathematical theory of the frenchman René Thom (‘catastrophe theory’). Amended by Benoît Mandelbrot, the theory was applied via fractal geometry to market behaviour, perceived already at that time to fall within the province of a theory of chaos, decidedly fashionable.

In the meantime, the economist Friedrich von Hayek, one of the theorists of neoliberalism, claimed to have raised the free-market economy to the status of an exact science. According to his hagiographer Guy Sorman, “… liberalism converges with the most recent theories of physics, chemistry and biology, in particular the science of chaos formalised by Ilya Prigogine. In the market economy as in nature, order is born out of chaos: the spontaneous agency of millions of decisions and pieces of information leads not to disorder, but to a superior order” … One could not say it any better, for a priori we hold there the keys to understanding the crisis.

At the end of the 1990s, the Neo-conservative disciples of Leo Strauss have carried to its logical limits the new dogma of greater disorder in making themselves the bards of ‘constructive chaos’ as a legitimation a priori for all the wars of conquest of the Twenty First Century. From this viewpoint, each is able to see this chaos at work in the Greater Middle East as s/he is able to see it at work today in Europe.

We can wager that the new regional order that the great organisers of chaos intend to see emerge from the crisis itself will be a unified Europe, centralised and federal, placed under the direct influence of the US with the aid of the Federal Reserve of which the European Central Bank will be only a branch, and under the vigilant watch of the IMF, representative or product of an emergent global power, deterritorialised yet omnipresent.

One understands quickly enough that the deification of the market associated with the idea of ‘constructive chaos’, itself complemented by an intensive application of game theory in the hands of the disciples of demolition, constitutes a mixture that promises to blow up in one’s face. An observation immediately comes to mind: ‘chaos’ (intentional) is these days a mode of government, of socio-economic transformation and of unopposed conquest. A heavy duty version of ‘divide and conquer’ even if it means nations will perish and the people with them.

For it’s a risk worth taking if in the end Europe finds itself on its knees. Greece – certainly at the soft underbelly of the euro zone but no more so than Italy, Spain, Ireland or Portugal – has been until now a sort of free electron frustrating a full integration of the Balkans in the American geostrategic orbit.

By way of a provisionary conclusion, if the EU, facing crisis, advances at forced march towards central economic control, a stage will be reached whereby quasi-discretionary power will be granted to the European Commission - for the most part composed of non-elected technocrats and recruits - for a stainless Atlanticist allegiance. To put it plainly, this will signify the obliteration of the European nation states.

In reality, nothing can prevent the integration of Europe within a trans-Atlantic Bloc. In the end, the merging of the euro with the dollar will accelerate the union of the old world and the new world. This conclusion is evidently not a matter of pure speculation but a simple projection of the architectonic tendencies visibly at work in the framework of a process of redistribution or of geopolitical recomposition of the global map. Sufficient to say that if the euro zone does not break apart, the fate of the European peoples seems definitely sealed, tied for better or worse to the manifest destiny of the United States. And this irrespective of a ‘reform’ of the global economic system.

The financiers will perhaps get their fingers burnt if the international community agrees to curb their appetites in regulating the markets, but the fact remains that the promoters of constructive chaos will have won this hand as they set out to recreate the conditions for new conflagrations.

The worse case scenario, often evoked in France by such influential men as Bernard Kouchner and Jacque Attali, happens to be the least improbable at a time when governments, backs to the wall, see themselves condemned to fleeing headlong into the unknown. In Kuwait in 1991, in Iraq in 2003 among the thinly disguised objectives of war, the boosting of the economic machinery through plans of reconstruction was high on the list. Not to mention other more flagrant and immediate interests such as fossil fuels, arms sales and all the related industries.

Whatever the accords between Turkey and Iran on uranium enrichment for medical purposes, whatever the related diplomatic annoyance for the State Department, it suffices to re-read the fabulist Jean de la Fontaine to know that the rhetoric of the wolf always prevails over that of the lamb! In a situation of extreme fragility of the global economy, one must await an end to the crisis at the harrowing door of the chaos constructor.