by James Petras
Numerous writers, journalists, public officials and academics on the Right and Left have noted changes in relations between the US and Latin America. Those on the Right bemoan the â€˜end of US hegemonyâ€™, the growth of a â€˜New Leftâ€™, the â€˜revival of populismâ€™ and the â€˜loss of US influenceâ€™. Those on the Left herald the purported changes as a moment of progressive regional realignment. The Right speaks pessimistically of the threats to â€˜national security and democracyâ€™, and access to energy and other resources. One sector on the Left claims to perceive a new regional â€˜axis of counter hegemonyâ€™ led by Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia sweeping the continent. While other prudent conservative observers argue that a broad â€˜center-leftâ€™ alternative headed by â€˜social democraticâ€™ regimes like Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Peru and Uruguay are replacing traditional US allies and challenging both the Leftist regimes and past US policies.Inside the US Government, policymakers focus on isolating and destabilizing the Left, downplaying the challenges from the center-left and emphasizing political continuities and economic opportunities with neo-liberal regimes.
Faced with radically different assessments of the strength and weakness of US influence in Latin America, an independent analysis of the historic context for measuring the rise or fall of US power is required. This requires a serious assessment, which avoids overblown generalizations, and examines specific issues, areas and particular conjunctures in which agreements or disagreements between the US and Latin America occur. This includes looking at how differences are resolved as well as the structural convergences and divergences.
by Stephen Lendman
On December 3, 2006 voters in Venezuela will again get
to choose who'll lead them as President for the next
six years. There's no doubt who that will be as the
people's choice is the same man they first elected
their leader in December, 1998 with 56% of the vote
and reelected him in July, 2000 after the adoption of
the Bolivarian Republic's new Constitution with a 60%
total. They then saw him survive three failed
US-directed and funded attempts to unseat him
beginning with the aborted two-day coup in April,
2002, followed by the 2002-03 crippling oil strike,
and then the failed August, 2004 recall referendum.
Chavistas must believe the man they revere has at
least more six lives and will use one of them in a few
weeks to continue in the job the Venezuelan people
won't entrust to anyone else as long as he wants the
They may also hope he has as much good fortune and as
many lives as his friend and ally Fidel Castro who in
nearly 48 years as Cuba's leader survived over 5,700
US-directed terror attacks against his country and
about 600 US attempts to kill him - an astonishing
survival record against a powerful and determined foe
still trying to remove him to reinstate oligarchic
rule over the island state. The Bush administration
has the same fate in mind for Hugo Chavez Frias and
won't sit by quietly allowing Bolivarianism to
flourish and spread which it's doing as more people
in the region and beyond are fed up with the old order
and want the same benefits Venezuelans have. It's
playing out now in Bolivia, on the streets of Mexico
and in the run-up to the December 3 Venezuelan
presidential election where the people show up in
massive numbers most every time Chavez makes a public
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Via sources unknown and by
methods unclear ("Stuff happens" â€“ the Hon. Donald R. Rumsfeld),
Atlantic Free Press has come into possession of a recording of a
psychoanalytic session between Dr. Jungen Freudant and one of this
patients, a certain G.W. Bush. Our senior writer, Paul William Roberts, has been so good as to provide the yeoman service of transcribing the tape for our readers.
SESSION 237 FRIDAY NOV 3
Dr Freudant: Good to see you, George. How are you?
George W. Bush: Been havinâ€™ problems, Docâ€¦
JF : Yes?
GWB: Big fuckinâ€™ problemsâ€¦
JF : Tell meâ€¦
GWB: My Dad wont take my callsâ€¦My wifeâ€™s foolinâ€™ around on meâ€¦my senior advisers just admitted theyâ€™ve been lyinâ€™ to meâ€¦and my best friend brought me a present back from Englandâ€¦
JF : A Tony Blair voodoo doll?
GWB: No, I already got oneâ€¦It was a T-shirt that says, â€œBush is just another word for cunâ€”erâ€¦for vaginaâ€¦but in Englishâ€¦â€
JF : And how does that make you feel?
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"The past is never dead; it's not even past." -- William Faulkner
WATERTOWN, Tennessee â€“ The 20th century was well into its seventh decade, but he still came to the back door every time he needed to see "Mister Edsel" about some business or other. No amount of cajoling would induce him to knock on the front door. Finally, one day, in exasperation, my father told him: "Jim, if you don't come around to the front next time, I'm not going to talk to you. This just won't do." Jim shook his head, perplexed; it seemed a concept too radical to grasp or accept: knocking on a white man's front door.
The past lives longer in the South, as Faulkner, that great bard of race and sex, knew well. Habits of subservience from the days of slavery more than a century before were still lingering here and there, as I could see on my own back porch that day, watching Jim and my father.
It was like a scene from To Kill a Mockingbird; and indeed, "Mister Edsel" had come to play the role of Atticus Finch in the town: an advocate and mediator for people like Jim â€“ a black man from the country, deprived of education, shunted into stoop labor, living in the margins, forever under arbitrary threat from an uncaring officialdom or from sudden outbursts of the deeply-ingrained racial enmity that lurked beneath the placid surface of the white faces all around him.
It was an unsought role that came to my father simply because he was one of the few white men who treated black people like they were ordinary, fully-fledged human beings, not lepers or clowns or dangerous trash. It was a rare attribute in those days â€“ and it is still much rarer than most would care to admit, even in the "New South," where Tennessee congressman Harold Ford Jr. stands within reach of becoming the first African-American senator from the old Confederacy since Reconstruction (or as some still like to call it, "the Yankee Occupation").
Ford's surprisingly strong campaign has exposed fault lines long buried beneath Tennessee's creeping â€“ or rather, galloping â€“ suburbanization, where old ways, both good and bad, are rapidly being submerged in the undifferentiated glop of modern American franchise culture. But when money and power are on the line, atavism is the order of the day: ancient fears and hatreds re-emerge â€“ or are mightily encouraged to re-emerge, with all the subtle and not-so-subtle arts of high-tech mass persuasion stoking the flames.
For the stakes in the battle for Tennessee's Senate seat â€“ once considered a lock for the Republicans â€“ have suddenly grown exceedingly high. A Ford win could wrest control of the chamber away from the GOP, putting a serious crimp in the party's bacchanal of greed and graft. What's more, it opens up the possibility of investigations, subpoenas â€“ and worse â€“ for an Administration that is not only suppurating with massive corruption, incompetence, extremism and deceit, but has also openly acknowledged several criminal actions, including torture and warrantless surveillance. The Bush Faction simply cannot afford to face accountability for its monumental failures and misdeeds.
And so in late October, with Ford rising rapidly in the polls, even overtaking his opponent â€“ Bob Corker, a typical tycoon-politician with a bland manner masking sharp practice in his murky business dealings â€“ the Bush Party got serious and whipped out a barn-burning theme from days of yore: the "hot black buck with nothing but white women on his mind."
(more after the jump; plus an MP3 on a related theme at the end.)
by Phil Rockstroh
"I can't go on. I'll go on.
One's actions grow out of one's beliefs. Beliefs grow out of the ecosystem of our collective lives known as culture. In this way, cultures are organic: they germinate, sprout, grow, bloom, bear fruit, then fade in accordance with the climes and terrain of the times.
America now grows: paranoid delusions and wishful thinking. These are our national plant and staple crop, respectively.
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A strange genus of the former has overgrown the land. It began as a small hybrid, a member of the Bush family, growing mostly in southern and western states. Some theories hold that its origins were in Connecticut; although, when it was transplanted to Texas, it spread, unchecked, due to the fact that there are few herbivores in the region to limit its pernicious growth. There, in the dry Texas soil, it grew dense and thorny, and thrived when watered with blood and oil.
Left unpruned and unregulated, it grew thicker than an ancient oak, larger than a redwood: It became a Paranoia Sequoia, growing ever larger in the hot greenhouse gases of global climate change; its massive branches spread across the world, casting a shadow of fear and revulsion beneath it.
And it has bore strange and terrible fruit, indeed â€“ as well as proliferate assorted nuts.
by Rod Amis
Three years ago, I began an outline for a foreign policy article, the major thesis of which was that it seemed inevitable at the time that Europe, Africa and South America â€“ if not Australia, for reasons I'll elucidate below â€“ would have to tilt toward the Peoples' Republic of China (PRC,) if for no other reason than to counterbalance the growing economic and military will-to-hegemony of the United States. It was meant to be a reasoned, long-form, foreign policy article to which I could refer back in future considerations.
The impetus for the article was that I believed not enough serious foreign-policy consideration was being made from a dissident and (far) leftist perspective at the time.
Looking back on that outline today, for an article never completed, it's easy to pat oneself on the back for being prophetic. But, as Conan Doyle wrote, it was "elementary." There was nowhere else for the world to go. There were two reasons for that conclusion three years ago and those same two reasons obtain today:
Nature abhors a vacuum. The very notion of a unipolar world contradicts everything we know about the dynamics of power in international relations. Even during the Roman empire, let alone the British, there were constant threats and challenges from the community of nations which undercut the will-to-hegemony of the then-dominant power.
In the case of Britain, there was always Austria-Hungary and intermittently France and Spain. In the case of the Romans, there was Carthage, Egypt and those forces that the victor's historians characterized as "barbarians" or "pirates" since they represented no formalized nation states. There was also the formidable and tragic Jewish rebellion. That is was no small matter is evidenced by the fact that Jerusalem was the second city, after Carthage, to be completely razed and sown with salt.
Nonetheless, all of these actors put brakes on the hegemonic impulses of the Great Power of their age to far greater degrees than did internal and domestic political influences. There is a paradigm here worth consideration.
Other (and more astute) students and commentators on history and geopolitics have noted that nation-states, per se, are not the only dominant actors in the world we face in the twenty-first century.
There are now corporate "states," so to speak, with budgets that exceed those of most nations and influence that is genuinely transnational. Thus, it is not a stretch to suggest that Microsoft Corporation, Wal-Mart â€“ the world's largest corporate entity â€“ or certain Non-governmental Organizations â€“ such as those founded by Soros or Gates â€“have as much potential impact on geopolitical development as do the nation-states still clinging to their atavistic and nationalistic sense of self-importance and "destiny."
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U.S. Drops Bid Over Royalties From Chevron
The "War for Oil" is not just being fought in Iraq, you know. For as the Warmonger-in-Chief never tires of telling us, the "Homeland" itself is a major front in his never-ending war on â€“ not terror, because his policies are fomenting and exacerbating terrorism around the world â€“ but on anything and everything that might impinge in the slightest degree on the profits, power and privilege of the tiny clique of predatory elites that he represents.
The NYT story, an excellent piece of explanatory journalism by Edmund Andrews, lays out the details of the scam â€“ just one of many by which Big Oil uses its hired hands in Washington to cheat the American people out of billions of dollars in fees and royalties from the use of public land for corporate profit. As Andrews makes clear, the entire system is honeycombed with sweetheart clauses and deliberate ambiguities that allow the oil barons to take vast rake-offs â€“ some of which they obligingly return in various forms of baksheesh to their political servants.
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The struggle within the US power structure between the economic empire builders (EEB) and the civilian militarists/Zioncons over US Middle East and global policy is now out in the open and intensifying. The EEB now have a politically powerful organizational expression, the Baker Commission (known officially as the Iraq Study Group) led by the formidable former Secretary of State, James Baker. The EEB are backed by a group of bipartisan congressional leaders, sectors of the traditional military elite, a powerful coalition of Texas-based oil and gas groups and sectors of Wall Street financial houses and potentially a large majority of public opinion. Against them are the civilian militarists in the Pentagon, State Department and White House (Rumsfelt, Chaney, Rice, Bolton and Bush), a declining majority of Congressional Democrats and Republicans, the Presidents of the Major Jewish Organizations headed by the America-Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and their influential apparatchiks in the mass media and their numerous â€˜grass rootsâ€™ political fronts (political action committees).
What is at stake is of fundamental importance to the future of US politics; not only in the Middle East, which is the immediate catalyst for the drawing up of sides, but the entire way in which US policy is formulated and equally important how the US will engage in defending and expanding its global empire.
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by James Kunstler
My travels last week took me to small college town in Georgia and into the heart of Vermont, and the contrasts were instructive. To protect some sensibilities, I call the Georgia town "Peachville." There are lots of places like it down in Dixie, and they all suffer from similar problems. Peachville's surrender to the tyranny of the automobile is total. For a region whose people like to yap about "defending freedom," their own capitulation to the car is complete. Practically every street in this town of 40,000 has been turned into a multi-lane mini-freeway. If you wanted to walk, or needed to walk -- and a number of faculty members at the college where I spoke said they did -- then your experience would be frightening and miserable because there are so few sidewalks, and the distances between things is scaled to cars, not people.
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The quality of the buildings was another striking thing. The remnants of Peachville's little main street downtown was composed mostly of one-story buildings so ugly that they seemed to be missing some essential DNA. They were mean little brick boxes lacking any ornament, denoting an utter disregard for the public realm of the street. Along a couple of blocks, the town officials had recently carried out a "street upgrade program," meaning they added a center median with trees in a few places, but the buildings themselves are so weak and homely that no amount of tarting up the streetscape will make much difference.
In an article concerned with the rapid urbanization of India and China, Victor Mallet of London's Financial Times (August 5/6, 2006) points out that Bangalore "has become a byword for a catastrophic failure of urban planning."
Interestingly, he attributes this lapse to "Indian sentimentalism about the supposed benefits of village life, and the consequent incompetence in managing cities" which "contrasts starkly with the ruthless pragmatism of the central and local authorities in China."
Let us not bring up that bugbear of the absence of democracy in China just yet, no matter that the Anglo-Americans are all so keen to bomb us all to "freedom" these days, China being that fearsome and much envied exception.
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by Mickey Z.
In the midst of our current, perpetual war against evil, America is yet again reflecting upon the "good war." If Clint Eastwood is allowed to recycle those images in Â³Flags of Our Fathers,Â² as the author of an alternative history of WWII, why shouldn't I state my case yet again?
The U.S. fought that war against racism with a segregated army.
It fought that war to end atrocities by participating in the shooting of surrendering soldiers, the starvation of POWs, the deliberate bombing of civilians, wiping out hospitals, strafing lifeboats, and in the Pacific boiling flesh off enemy skulls to make table ornaments for sweethearts.
FDR, the leader of this anti-racist, anti-atrocity force, signed Executive Order 9066, interning over 100,000 Japanese-Americans without due process.
Thus, a war fought in the name of taking on the architects of German prison camps became the architect of American prison camps.
Before, during, and after the Good War, the American business class traded with the enemy. Among the U.S. corporations that invested in the Nazis were Ford, GE, Standard Oil, Texaco, ITT, IBM, and GM (top man William Knudsen called Nazi Germany "the miracle of the 20th century").
And while the U.S. regularly turned away Jewish refugees to face certain death in Europe, another group of refugees was welcomed with open arms after the war: fleeing Nazi war criminals who were used to help create the CIA and advance America's nuclear program.
The enduring Good War fable goes well beyond Memorial Day barbecues and flickering black-and-white movies on late night TV. WWII is America's most popular war. According to accepted history, it was an inevitable war forced upon a peaceful people thanks to a surprise attack by a sneaky enemy. This war, then and now, has been carefully and consciously sold to us as a life-and-death battle against pure evil. For most Americans, WWII was nothing less than good and bad going toe-to-toe in khaki fatigues.
But, Hollywood aside, neither Ryan Phillippe nor John Wayne ever set foot on Iwo Jima. Despite the former president's dim recollections, Ronald Reagan did not liberate any concentration camps. And, contrary to popular belief, FDR never actually got around to sending our boys "over there" to take on Hitler's Germany until after the Nazis had already declared war on the U.S. first.
Films like "Flags of Our Fathers" and Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan" teach us that even if war is hell and the good guys sometimes lose their way, there is still no reason to question either the morality of the mission or the stature of that particular generation.
Revolutionary pacifist A.J. Muste said in 1941, "The problem after war is with the victor. He thinks he has just proved that war and violence pay. Who will now teach him a lesson?" Precisely how and when such a lesson will be taught is not known, but it can be safely assumed that this lesson will never be learned from a standard college textbook, an insipid bestseller, or a manipulative box office smash. The past six decades have also shown that without such a lesson, there will be many more wars and many more lies told to obscure the truth about them.
by Manuel Valenzuela
Only by understanding ourselves and the parameters of our existence can a better humanity arise. Only through deep introspections of history past and humanity present can resistance commence and renaissance be born. We must mold who and what we are into a higher being, forming from the clays of Earth a better, more evolved human species, learning from our mistakes, advancing through our triumphs, understanding ourselves and those unknown, joining our strengths and eliminating our weaknesses, in the end working in concert towards the betterment of six billion, not simply 300 million.Add a comment
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