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The World Must Support Ireland Against U.S. Wars

David Swanson

A Letter to Ireland from World Beyond War

By David Swanson http://worldbeyondwar.org/the-world-must-support-ireland-against-u-s-wars/

Those of us outside Ireland, and in particular those of us in the United States, have a pressing and urgent responsibility to lend all the support we can to our brothers and sisters in Ireland who are resisting U.S. wars.

Despite Ireland’s officially neutral status and its claim to have not gone to war since its founding in 1922, Ireland allowed the United States to use Shannon Airport during the Gulf War and, as part of the so-called coalition of the willing, during the wars that began in 2001. Between 2002 and the present date, over 2.5 million U.S. troops have passed through Shannon Airport, along with many weapons, and CIA airplanes used to transfer prisoners to places of torture. Casement Aerodrome has also been used. And, despite not being a member of NATO, Ireland has sent troops to participate in the illegal war on Afghanistan.

Under Hague Convention V in force since 1910, and to which the United States has been a party from the start, and which under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution is part of the supreme law of the United States, “Belligerents are forbidden to move troops or convoys of either munitions of war or supplies across the territory of a neutral Power.” Under the United Nations Convention Against Torture, to which both the United States and Ireland are parties, and which has been incorporated into very selectively enforced felonies in the U.S. Code since before George W. Bush left Texas for Washington, D.C., any complicity in torture must be investigated and prosecuted. Under both the U.N. Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact, to both of which the United States and Ireland have been parties since their creation, the war in Afghanistan and all the other U.S. wars since 2001 have been illegal.

The people of Ireland have a strong tradition of resisting imperialism, dating back even before the 1916 revolution of which this year is the centenary, and they aspire to representative or democratic government. In a 2007 poll, by 58% to 19% they opposed allowing the U.S. military to use Shannon Airport. In a 2013 poll, over 75% supported neutrality. In 2011, a new government of Ireland announced that it would support neutrality, but it did not. Instead it has continued to allow the U.S. military to keep planes and personnel at Shannon Airport, and to bring troops and weapons through on a regular basis, including over 20,000 troops already this year.

The United States military has no need for Shannon Airport. Its planes could reach other destinations without running out of fuel. One of the purposes of regularly using Shannon Airport, perhaps the main purpose, is very likely simply to keep Ireland within the coalition of the killing. On U.S. television, announcers thank “the troops” for watching this or that major sporting event from 175 countries. The U.S. military and its profiteers would hardly notice if that number dropped to 174, but their goal, perhaps their main purpose and driving objective, is to increase that number to 200. Total global dominance is the explicitly stated objective of the U.S. military. Once a nation is added to the list, all steps will be taken, by the State Department, by the military, by the CIA, and by any possible collaborators, to keep that nation on the list. The United States government fears an Ireland free of U.S. militarism more than we probably can imagine. The global peace movement should desire it more than we probably do, including for the example it would set to Scotland, Wales, England, and the rest of the world.

How do we, outside of Ireland, know anything at all about what the U.S. military does in Ireland? We certainly don’t learn it from the U.S. government or U.S. journalism. And the Irish government takes no active steps to reveal what it knows, which is likely not everything. We know what we know because of brave and dedicated peace activists in Ireland, representing majority opinion, upholding the rule of law, exercising creative nonviolence, and working through numerous organizations, most prominently Shannonwatch.org. These heroes have pried loose information, elected and lobbied members of the Irish legislature, entered the grounds of Shannon Airport to ask question and draw attention and face criminal prosecution for the cause of peace. If not for them, citizens of the United States — a nation that literally bombs other countries in the name of democracy — would have no idea what was happening whatsoever. Even now, most people in the United States have no idea. We have to help tell them. Even U.S. supporters of war don’t support a mandatory draft, at least not until they themselves are too old to qualify. Many should be willing to oppose forcing Ireland to take part in wars it wants no part in.

If U.S. military transport continues to make use of Shannon Airport, a disaster will inevitably occur there. Of course the moral disaster of participating in the mass killing of people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, etc., is ongoing. The cultural disaster of insidiously creating the impression that war is normal is underway. The financial cost to Ireland, the environmental and noise pollution, the heightened “security” that erodes civil liberties: all of those things are part of the package, along with the racism that finds a target in the refugees fleeing the wars. But if Shannon Airport survives routine U.S. military use without a major accident, spill, explosion, crash, or mass-killing, it will be the first. The U.S. military has poisoned and polluted some of the most beautiful spots in the United States and around the world. The unsurpassed beauty of Ireland is not immune.

And then there is the blowback. By participating in counterproductive wars that generate international terrorism, Ireland makes itself a target. When Spain became a target it pulled out of the war on Iraq, making itself safer. When Britain and France became targets, they doubled down on their own participation in terrorism-too-large-to-carry-that-name, generating more blowback and deepening the vicious cycle of violence. Which path would Ireland choose? We cannot know. But we do know that it would be wisest for Ireland to pull out of its criminal participation in the barbaric institution of war before the war comes home. Sign here. And please share: Twitter. Facebook.

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David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

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Hillary Clinton and Her Hawks

Gareth Porter

By Gareth Porter. This article was first published on Consortium News.

Focusing on domestic issues, Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech sidestepped the deep concerns anti-war Democrats have about her hawkish foreign policy, which is already taking shape in the shadows, reports Gareth Porter.

As Hillary Clinton begins her final charge for the White House, her advisers are already recommending air strikes and other new military measures against the Assad regime in Syria.

The clear signals of Clinton’s readiness to go to war appears to be aimed at influencing the course of the war in Syria as well as U.S. policy over the remaining six months of the Obama administration. (She also may be hoping to corral the votes of Republican neoconservatives concerned about Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy.)

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at NATO conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 4 (Official Defense Department photo)

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at NATO conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 4 (Official Defense Department photo)

Last month, the think tank run by Michele Flournoy, the former Defense Department official considered to be most likely to be Clinton’s choice to be Secretary of Defense, explicitly called for “limited military strikes” against the Assad regime.

And earlier this month Leon Panetta, former Defense Secretary and CIA Director, who has been advising candidate Clinton, declared in an interview that the next president would have to increase the number of Special Forces and carry out air strikes to help “moderate” groups against President Bashal al-Assad. (When Panetta gave a belligerent speech at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night, he was interrupted by chants from the delegates on the floor of “no more war!”

Flournoy co-founded the Center for New American Security (CNAS) in 2007 to promote support for U.S. war policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and then became Under Secretary of Defense for Policy in the Obama administration in 2009.

Flournoy left her Pentagon position in 2012 and returned to CNAS as Chief Executive Officer.  She has been described by ultimate insider journalist David Ignatius of the Washington Post, as being on a “short, short list” for the job Secretary of Defense in a Clinton administration.

Last month, CNAS published a report of a “Study Group” on military policy in Syria on the eve of the organization’s annual conference.  Ostensibly focused on how to defeat the Islamic State, the report recommends new U.S. military actions against the Assad regime.

Flournoy chaired the task force, along with CNAS president Richard Fontaine, and publicly embraced its main policy recommendation in remarks at the conference.

She called for “using limited military coercion” to help support the forces seeking to force President Assad from power, in part by creating a “no bombing” zone over those areas in which the opposition groups backed by the United States could operate safely.

In an interview with Defense One, Flournoy described the no-bomb zone as saying to the Russian and Syrian governments, “If you bomb the folks we support, we will retaliate using standoff means to destroy [Russian] proxy forces, or, in this case, Syrian assets.”  That would “stop the bombing of certain civilian populations,” Flournoy said.

In a letter to the editor of Defense One, Flournoy denied having advocated “putting U.S. combat troops on the ground to take territory from Assad’s forces or remove Assad from power,” which she said the title and content of the article had suggested.

But she confirmed that she had argued that “the U.S. should under some circumstances consider using limited military coercion – primarily trikes using standoff weapons – to retaliate against Syrian military targets” for attacks on civilian or opposition groups “and to set more favorable conditions on the ground for a negotiated political settlement.”

Renaming a ‘No-Fly’ Zone

The proposal for a “no bombing zone” has clearly replaced the “no fly zone,” which Clinton has repeatedly supported in the past as the slogan to cover a much broader U.S. military role in Syria.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Panetta served as Defense Secretary and CIA Director in the Obama administration when Clinton was Secretary of State, and was Clinton’s ally on Syria policy. On July 17, he gave an interview to CBS News in which he called for steps that partly complemented and partly paralleled the recommendations in the CNAS paper.

“I think the likelihood is that the next president is gonna have to consider adding additional special forces on the ground,” Panetta said, “to try to assist those moderate forces that are taking on ISIS and that are taking on Assad’s forces.”

Panetta was deliberately conflating two different issues in supporting more U.S. Special Forces in Syria. The existing military mission for those forces is to support the anti-ISIS forces made up overwhelmingly of the Kurdish YPG and a few opposition groups.

Neither the Kurds nor the opposition groups the Special Forces are supporting are fighting against the Assad regime.  What Panetta presented as a need only for additional personnel is in fact a completely new U.S. mission for Special Forces of putting military pressure on the Assad regime.

He also called for increasing “strikes” in order to “put increasing pressure on ISIS but also on Assad.” That wording, which jibes with the Flournoy-CNAS recommendation, again conflates two entirely different strategic programs as a single program.

The Panetta ploys in confusing two separate policy issues reflects the reality that the majority of the American public strongly supports doing more militarily to defeat ISIS but has been opposed to U.S. war against the government in Syria.

poll taken last spring showed 57 percent in favor of a more aggressive U.S. military force against ISIS. The last time public opinion was surveyed on the issue of war against the Assad regime, however, was in September 2013, just as Congress was about to vote on authorizing such a strike.

At that time, 55 percent to 77 percent of those surveyed opposed the use of military force against the Syrian regime, depending on whether Congress voted to authorize such a strike or to oppose it.

Shaping the Debate

It is highly unusual, if not unprecedented, for figures known to be close to a presidential candidate to make public recommendations for new and broader war abroad. The fact that such explicit plans for military strikes against the Assad regime were aired so openly soon after Clinton had clinched the Democratic nomination suggests that Clinton had encouraged Flournoy and Panetta to do so.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. (Photo by Lorie Shaull, Wikipedia)

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. (Photo by Lorie Shaull, Wikipedia)

The rationale for doing so is evidently not to strengthen her public support at home but to shape the policy decisions made by the Obama administration and the coalition of external supporters of the armed opposition to Assad.

Obama’s refusal to threaten to use military force on behalf of the anti-Assad forces or to step up military assistance to them has provoked a series of leaks to the news media by unnamed officials – primarily from the Defense Department – criticizing Obama’s willingness to cooperate with Russia in seeking a Syrian ceasefire and political settlement as “naïve.”

The news of Clinton’s advisers calling openly for military measures signals to those critics in the administration to continue to push for a more aggressive policy on the premise that she will do just that as president.

Even more important to Clinton and close associates, however, is the hope of encouraging Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which have been supporting the armed opposition to Assad, to persist in and even intensify their efforts in the face of the prospect of U.S.-Russian cooperation in Syria.

Even before the recommendations were revealed, specialists on Syria in Washington think tanks were already observing signs that Saudi and Qatari policymakers were waiting for the Obama administration to end in the hope that Clinton would be elected and take a more activist role in the war against Assad.

The new Prime Minister of Turkey, Binali Yildirim, however, made a statement on July 13 suggesting that Turkish President Recep Yayyip Erdogan may be considering a deal with Russia and the Assad regime at the expense of both Syrian Kurds and the anti-Assad opposition.

That certainly would have alarmed Clinton’s advisers, and four days later, Panetta made his comments on network television about what “the next president” would have to do in Syria.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. He is the author of the newly published Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

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Turkey: Atlanticism versus Rabiism

Sungur Savran

By Sungur Savran. This article was first published on Socialist Project.

The dramatic events that unfolded in Turkey on the night of 15 to 16 July have been excessively confined to the internecine struggle of two different Islamic currents, that of the AKP under the iron fist of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and its latter day nemesis the Gulen fraternity. This is misleading in two senses. On the one hand, it hides from view the distinct possibility or even more and more certitude that other tendencies within the Turkish armed forces (the TSK in its Turkish acronym) were involved in the planning if not the final execution of the failed putsch. On the other, it prevents us from seeing the more fundamental contradiction that besets Turkey today – a contradiction that relates to the country's position in the world system.

Rabia - 'four' in Arabic.

Rabia - the official symbol of the movement (right hand with the thumb turned inside), “four” in Arabic.

We have already taken up the first question in an earlier article titled “Turkey: A War of Two Coups” (originally posted on the web site RedMed, but also published at mrzine.monthlyreview.org). We held there that, in addition to the Gulenists, the coup organizers included “a whole gamut of sensibilities in the armed forces which could be called pro-NATO and pro-U.S. for that is the common denominator that brings them together.” We also added that, hence, “it is an alliance of the pro-U.S. seculars and the adepts of a religious fraternity under the protection of the U.S. that led the putsch. There is evidence to show that the defeat of the coup owes, partially, to the seeds of dissension within this alliance contre nature.”

Additional evidence that has since surfaced not only confirms this observation, but in effect sheds new light on the coup that radically alters the earlier impression that the coup was organized outside the chain of command. In effect, both the intelligence agency (the MIT) and the top brass hid for hours on end intelligence regarding the coup that had reached the MIT by 4 p.m. and both also refused to respond to the phone calls made by Erdogan. The latter claims he learned about the coup around 8 p.m. from his “brother-in-law,” probably short-hand for the intelligence agency of a friendly power, say Qatar. Erdogan's prime minister has also said that he learned of the coup from “friends and relatives.” The commander of the air force, for that matter, claims he was alerted by his wife!

Harsh State of Emergency

This obviously changes the whole nature of the failed coup. If, as seems to be the case, the chief of the general staff and at least some of the commanders of the principal services (army, navy, air force and the gendarmerie) were involved in the planning of the coup, but retracted their support at the last moment, and additionally, if the all powerful leader of the MIT, Hakan Fidan, were also involved, then Erdogan and the AKP government would today be standing in thin air, with no army or intelligence backing behind them. In effect, their whole policy stance since the coup goes to confirm this. Although a very harsh state of emergency was declared and ratified by parliament and torture and other breaches of the law are rampant, this is directed exclusively to the coup plotters, at least for the time being. And Erdogan personally has gone out of his way to establish a warm relationship with the opposition, a stunning turnabout when considered in the light of his perennial style of constant feud with his opponents. Moreover, he now, all of a sudden, seems to have developed a liking for Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the republic (of whom more below): the headquarters of the AKP are now adorned with a gigantic poster of Ataturk!

We will have to wait and see how the bewildering anomalies that have surfaced will be explained. However, there is no excuse any more for believing credulously the original AKP version of the unfolding of events presenting the Gulenists as the only culprit. This they continue to do, for reasons we have already explained in our previous article: “to ostracize the Gulenists and to hide from view that a much wider array of forces within the army have taken up arms.” It is now incumbent on everyone who interpreted the coup in the light of this crass AKP propaganda to rethink the nature of the coup.

All this really strengthens our second point: that the coup is the expression of the more fundamental contradiction that has been tearing Turkish society and politics asunder in recent years. To put it succinctly, this is a war between the traditional Atlanticism of the Turkish ruling classes and what we would call the Rabiism of Erdogan and his cohort. Turkey has stood out in the Muslim world as the only such member of NATO for the entire historical period since World War II. However, under Erdogan and the AKP, the country has for the first time turned its face toward Muslim unity, to be reconstituted under Turkish leadership. This is what we call Rabiism for reasons that will become clear in a moment. It is this new orientation that is coming more and more into a clash with Turkey's entrenched Atlanticism.

What is Rabiism?

The despotic drift of Erdogan and the AKP is there for all to see. In effect, the provocative title of our earlier piece, “Turkey: A War of Two Coups,” was intended to draw attention to any misplaced conception that what was salvaged from the failed coup of the military was “democracy” in any meaningful sense of the term. Erdogan has ridden roughshod over the Turkish constitution by arrogating to himself powers that the constitution does not give the president, this being a largely ceremonious position. His whole politics is obsessively concentrated on converting the parliamentary system into a supposedly presidential one, a euphemism in effect for autocracy. He has destroyed any semblance of independence for the judiciary, trampled unabashedly on the freedom of the press, practically banned the right to strike and almost entirely denied the freedom of assembly in protest. The wholesale destruction of Kurdish cities since last summer under conditions of round-the-clock curfews that last for months on end has left speechless all those who have witnessed the resulting rubble of whole neighbourhoods or even entire towns. Thus Erdogan's despotism is an incontrovertible fact.

The left in Turkey has been quick to label this “fascism” and Erdogan a “dictator.” Photoshop images of Erdogan with a Hitler moustache abound on social media. To call the current (i.e. pre-coup) Turkish regime “fascist” would be a travesty since it still has many features of bourgeois democracy alive. Such a label would also hide from view the fact that Erdogan and the AKP have to go a long way to achieve the establishment of the kind of regime they aspire to and thus would prevent us from seeing the concrete contradictions of the near future. However, in our opinion, it is not useful to call “fascist” even the accomplished form of that regime, if ever established fully. Leaving aside the complex question of the distinctive characteristics of fascist regimes, which would take us too far away from the topic at hand, we think that what is called for is a category peculiar to the Islamic world, since the whole political agenda pursued by Erdogan is clearly focused on that world. What facilitates the job for us is that Erdogan and the AKP themselves offer a solution for us. The official symbol of the movement is now the rising of the right hand with the thumb turned inside, thus yielding the number four, in remembrance of the victims of the Cairo neighbourhood of Rabia al-Adawiyya, where the forces of General al Sisi gunned down reportedly hundreds of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood protesting against the ouster of the elected Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi during the Bonapartist coup of July 2013. (For details concerning the coup itself, see our “Bonapartist coup in Egypt.”) Erdogan's regime has thus found its symbol. It remains for us to create the label Rabiism out of the name Rabia, which means “four” in Arabic.

This symbol and name are appropriate for Erdogan's movement, for the whole idea behind the movement is revanchism that feeds on a kind of feeling of victimization in the Muslim world in general and Turkey in particular. We cannot but be schematic when explaining what lies behind this victimization. (Some of the ideas here explained are elaborated upon in a longer piece of ours: “Class, State and Religion in Turkey” in Neşecan Balkan/Erol Balkan/Ahmet Öncü (eds), The Neoliberal Landscape and the Rise of Islamist Capital in Turkey, NewYork. Berghahn Books, 2015.) The Islamic world, in particular in its heartland that has always been the societies of the Middle East, experienced the rise of industrial capitalism in Western Europe and the subordination Islam suffered as a result in a manner quite different from many parts of the world. From the 7th century on, Islam had dealt with the Christian Western world, Europe for all practical purposes, on an equal to equal footing and even nibbled away at some of its territory for a time, Spain in the west and the Byzantine territory of Asia Minor and the Balkans in the east. From the 19th century onwards, if not somewhat earlier, Islamic civilization fell under the domination of the West, mostly in the form of colonies established by Western powers, though, in the case of the Ottomans (Turks), Iran and Afghanistan, this took the form of semi-colonial oppression. This colonial or semi-colonial subjugation was experienced in differential manner by the various social classes. The cultural-religious humiliation was, of course, shared. Otherwise, the peasant, the humble artisan and tradesman, and later, the proletarian masses lived in abject poverty and experienced Western domination as straightforward plunder, while the ruling classes, even when they were made junior partners in the pillage of the wealth of these countries and the labour of working classes, grudgingly remembered their days of glory and splendour and yearned for a nostalgic return to those times when they themselves were the plunderers. The Islamic religion, as in many other similar cases of the oppression of a people by another, remained the common medium of these very different grievances and very often acted as the vehicle of domination used by the ruling classes in Muslim societies in holding the labouring classes at bay, while at the same time being presented as the repository of a holy cause that binds the whole society in solidarity. This is, beyond all conjunctural factors, what explains the extremely strong appeal of Islam to the masses in this part of the world.

For historical reasons, Turkey has had a unique experience within this overall development. First, it is the only country in the whole Islamic world to have made a great leap toward secularism in undisguised manner. Even today, the word “secular” is taboo in the Arab world, the closest term used being “civil state.” Even Erdogan had to learn this aversion at his own expense when he, exceptionally, lauded secularism on his visit to Egypt under Morsi (those were the days!). Turkey's secularism is not without its inner contradictions that really offset many of the gains this principle would normally bring, but, nonetheless, secularism has been a mainstay of the regime, at least nominally.

Secondly, however, early republican Turkey under Kemal Ataturk did not only resort to secularism but launched a full-scale attack on the mores, values, practices and cultural forms of Islamic-oriental society, adopting wholesale alternative ones imported from the West, called “contemporary civilization” by the unrivalled leader. It was a kind of civilizational cleansing. To the mind of the whole society, it appeared that secularism and the civilizational shift were Siamese twins, inseparably linked to each other. Thus, the profound dislike that the popular masses developed toward the civilizational shift also marked their attitude to secularism. The masses, peasants, the humble petty-bourgeoisie of the cities and later the proletariat regarded the Western ways of the bourgeoisie as the cultural outward appearance of the class divide. Class and culture were identified and anything smacking of Western manners was suspicious in the eyes of (a majority of) the popular masses. The rise of a new fraction of the bourgeoisie from the 1970s on expressed itself in opposition to the firmly entrenched original fraction of the bourgeoisie resolutely tied to Western institutions, mores and ideas. For this reason, Islamism was to be its ideology. Erdogan, of humble origins although later turned capitalist merchant, seemed to the masses to be “one of us.” This confluence of social (class) and cultural (religious) factors is what explains the enduring charismatic influence of Erdogan on the popular masses. Need it be added that this is no doubt a kind of deception on the part of the masses for classwise Erdogan is not “one of them,” but is firmly anchored in the new wing of the bourgeoisie.

Thirdly, and most importantly for our discussion on what we have named Rabiism, being the heirs to the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish ruling classes also had the advantage of holding the Caliphate as a weapon. However, Kemal Ataturk did not only put an end to empire and declared a republic in 1923, but on the heels of this, abolished the Caliphate itself in 1924. A part of the ruling classes of Turkey have never forgiven this. In their eyes, the Caliphate was not only the personification of the unity of the umma, the worldwide community of believers, but also the key to Turkish glory and splendour in the bosom of the Muslim world. This is why Turkish Islamism has always also been very nationalistic, despite the overriding importance of the umma as the religious community.

Rabiism is the ideological movement that strives to unify the Sunni-Muslim world around the leadership of Erdogan.

It is now this Turkish glory and splendour that Tayyip Erdogan wishes to revive and re-establish. He has posed his candidacy to being the “Rais” (leader, chief) of the whole Sunni-Arab world to begin with, although he also has claims on the Muslims of the rest of the world, starting with the Balkans and Transcaucasia. Rabiism is the ideological movement that strives to unify the Sunni-Muslim world around the leadership of Erdogan. Whether he will go so far as to take upon his shoulders the mantle of Caliph if given a chance is a moot point, though not unimaginable by any means. His most staunch followers have of late certainly started to treat him in reverential awe bordering on religious sanctification.

Objective Bases and Subjective Conditions

Predictably, this kind of a socio-political programme is neither the product of one man's fantasies nor even the awakening of a long-dormant political idea. It has its material basis in the growing of the Turkish bourgeoisie into a force capable and in need of opening to the rest of the world for markets and investment. This does not yet mean that Turkey is becoming an imperialist power in its own right. It has rather joined that league of countries in the international system that occupies a midway position between imperialist countries and those that are still anchored in the underdevelopment of their productive forces and dependent on imperialism in the classical sense of the term. We are here talking of countries such as Brazil, India or South Africa, which despite themselves being still beholden to many of the scourges of underdevelopment and dependency, nonetheless have started to distinguish themselves from what was once known, as a single totality, the “Third World.” This is a process that is continuing, whose outcome is difficult to gauge. We should, however, beware taking a dogmatic approach that freezes countries into the categories of imperialist and dependent, without any intermediate shades and, even more importantly, without the prospect of countries moving up and down in the imperialistic hierarchy.

Turkish capitalism reached this important phase with the consolidation of the domination of finance capital (in Lenin's sense) under the military dictatorship of the early 1980s. This development coincided with the crisis and then the final demise of the experience of socialist construction in Eastern and Central Europe and the Soviet Union, to be accompanied by the internal decomposition of the Maoist experiment in China. Turkish capital turned its face to the new geography arising from the ashes of this experience and the Turkish bourgeoisie adopted a wholesale programme of extending its influence economically, politically and culturally to the new countries. Turgut Ozal and Suleyman Demirel, both leaders of the traditional centre-right serving successively as presidents of the republic from 1989 to 2000, turned their gaze to the Turkic world that was emerging in Central Asia and the Caucasus as a result of the decomposition of the Soviet Union, not neglecting the Balkans. Necmettin Erbakan, the historic leader of the Islamist movement made a different attempt, during his brief premiership in the mid-nineties, at forming an alternative to the G-8 group in the form of a self-styled D-8 (D for “Developing”), composed exclusively of Muslim countries. So by the time the AKP of Erdogan, successor to Erbakan as leader of the Islamist movement, came to power in 2002, Turkey already had at least 15 years of experience in practical attempts to extend its sphere of influence. It may be added that, ironically, the system of educational institutions that Fethullah Gulen, who allegedly masterminded the military coup of 15 July single-handedly, has established around the world, including many poor African countries, was conceived in exactly the same spirit and was eulogised by the very people, starting with Erdogan himself, who now compete in vilifying the imam!

So in a very well-defined sense, Erdogan's Rabiism is a policy that caters to the needs of the Turkish bourgeoisie in gaining new spheres of influence in the less developed parts of the world in Asia, the Caucasus, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans (in particular Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania). However, it is also a divisive policy for the Turkish bourgeoisie, based as it is on a clearly revanchist orientation vis-à-vis Kemalism. As we have been emphasising over the years, the traditional and well-entrenched fraction of the Turkish bourgeoisie is entirely committed to the Western alliance, i.e. it is Atlanticist through and through. For the very same reason, it is an ardent partisan of the principle of secularism that is a hallmark of the state founded by Kemal Ataturk. Thus, the two fractions of the bourgeoisie, besides their struggle over resources, loans, markets, state procurements, public tenders etc. are also at loggerheads as to where the country will be heading in the 21st century. This, in its entirety, is what we have called the “political (bloodless) civil war of the bourgeoisie” that has dominated the scene throughout the 14 years during which Erdogan has been in power.

In this struggle between the two fractions, the closest allies of the Westernizing-secular wing are the United States and the European Union. Since the Turkish armed forces (the TSK) have been such a bulwark of NATO first against the Soviet Union and now against resurgent fundamentalist Islam, NATO is of pivotal importance in this struggle between the two fractions. As we have already pointed out on more than one occasion, the idea of Turkey's Pakistanization, i.e. the TSK becoming, as in the case of Pakistan, a vehicle for the promotion of Islamist politics, is premature, to say the least, simply because the TSK is a NATO army through and through. So the drive to establish a despotic regime in Turkey under the specific traits of Rabiism has to come into clash with this definite characteristic aspect of the TSK. The failed coup of 15 July was, in our opinion, a first showdown between these two contradictory forces. It was, as we said in the introduction to this article, in all probability, not the making of the Gulenist faction alone, but a product of the contradictory alliance between the secular pro-NATO forces in the TSK and the adepts of the Gulen fraternity.

Whither Turkey?

We said “a first showdown.” Now that the putschists have been defeated, it may legitimately be asked why the qualifier “first” is used. The trouble is that evidence implicates almost the whole officer corps, including the majority of the top brass, and the intelligence agency as the planners of the coup. There are innumerable questions that are waiting to be answered and contradictions to be explained with respect to the behaviour of the top brass that night. So unless Erdogan and the AKP do not proceed smoothly and skilfully to eliminate the still existing risks, there remains the danger of a new attempt at the ouster of the government. Should that happen and the new putsch succeed where the first one has failed, the “success” will only be relative, since the resistance put up by the followers of the government has shown that the most likely outcome is a civil war. A first mini-civil war broke out on the night of 15 to 16 July. This will in all likelihood form the model of the more durable civil war that will break out if the country faces another attempt.

Turkey is a powder keg. This is where what we have called the (bloodless) political civil war of the bourgeoisie has brought the country. That political civil war now threatens to break out into the open, growing into the military form. Articulated as it is to the progressive Syrianization of Turkey as a result of the government's complicity with ISIL and Erdogan's all-out war on the Kurds ever since he lost the June 2015 elections, this war threatens to immerse Turkey in a tragedy next to which the Syrian drama will pale into insignificance. And that is a lot to say.

Atlanticism and Rabiism are both reactionary by their very nature. Atlanticism has made the Turkish capitalist state the bulwark of the defence of imperialist interests in the Middle East. Rabiism, on the other hand, is no anti-imperialism. It is the political programme of a class (or class fraction) that wishes to restore its right to plunder a part of the world on the basis of a reactionary ideology and it is despotic through and through. Nonetheless, should war break out between the masters of NATO and Turkey, Marxists in our opinion are duty-bound to come out against imperialism, without a shred of political support to Rabiism and Erdogan and through independent military means of their own, if this is achievable.

So we are now facing two reactionary alternatives. Up until recently, there was certainly another alternative emerging on the horizon. Turkey was shaken by three momentous social movements in the space of two years: the people's uprising of June-September 2013, the Kurdish serhildan (revolt in Kurdish) connected to the defence of Kobanê in Syria against the forces of ISIL between 6-12 October 2014, and the metalworkers’ wildcat strike that gripped tens of thousands of workers in May-June 2015. However, the deep divisions between these movements, the misplaced policies of the Kurdish movement and the deplorable lack of leadership of the working class movement have combined to lead to a situation where despite these remarkable episodes of social struggle, the exploited and oppressed masses have not been able to form an alternative organizational pole and an alternative programme.

Yet it is too early to say if the potential that burst forth in those memorable episodes is totally spent. Surely, the only way to save the country from internecine slaughter is to count on that potential and tirelessly build a third alternative to the twin dangers of Atlanticism and Rabiism. •

Sungur Savran is based in Istanbul and is one of the editors of the newspaper Gercek (Truth) and the theoretical journal Devrimci Marksizm (Revolutionary Marxism), both published in Turkish, and of the web site RedMed.

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Democratic National Convention opens without Wasserman Schultz

Sun Sentinel

Published on the Sun Sentinel.

After a tumultuous two days, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston sought Monday to refocus the political spotlight on Hillary Clinton — and away from herself — by relinquishing Democratic National Convention gavel.

Her move came on the second day she was at the center of a hurricane-force controversy over leaked emails that show the national Democratic Party under Wasserman Schultz was helping Clinton's campaign while Bernie Sanders was still a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.

On Sunday, Wasserman Schultz announced her resignation as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee — effective at the end of the convention this week in Philadelphia.

She still planned, as of Sunday evening, to gavel the convention to order and speak to the delegates.

On Monday that all changed.

In the morning, she was greeted by protesters at a Florida delegation breakfast, which turned her speech there into a chaotic scene that was widely shared in internet videos, resulted in a fresh round of negative news coverage, and provided fresh fodder for cable TV talking heads.

Photos: Democratic National Convention

The Democrats gather in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention to officially nominate Hillary Clinton for president. The event begins July 25, 2016, and ends July 28.

Later Monday morning, a news conference by Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook was dominated by questions about the emails and Wasserman Schultz.

Less than three hours before she was supposed to gavel the convention to order, Wasserman Schultz said she was ceding that role to the national party's secretary, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the mayor of Baltimore.

"I have decided that in the interest of making sure that we can start the Democratic convention on a high note that I am not going to gavel in the convention," Wasserman Schultz said in an brief telephone conversation with the Sun Sentinel.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz through the years

 

(Anthony Man)

"I stepped down [as DNC chairwoman] the other day because I wanted to make sure that having brought us to this momentous day and to Philadelphia and planned the convention that is going to be the best one that we've ever had in our party's history that this needs to be all about making sure that everyone knows that Hillary Clinton would make the best president," she said.

Wasserman Schultz declined to answer further questions.

Her move didn't silence the criticism:

• In South Florida, Wasserman Schultz's challenger in the Aug. 30 congressional primary, Tim Canova, said she should resign from her Broward/Miami-Dade County congressional seat.

"She should step down. I think what we see with her stewardship of the DNC is somebody who exercised terrible judgment. And I think it raises questions about her character," Canova said, citing Wasserman Schultz's claims of presidential primary neutrality when people at the DNC were trying to help Clinton.

Canova also said he may file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, citing leaked emails that show national Democratic Party staffers were used to monitor his campaign and develop strategy. "My lawyers tell me this is not a technical matter. It's real violation. We're looking into it. I haven't given the green light to file the complaint, but it's in the works."

Wasserman Schultz's campaign spokesman Ryan Banfill declined to comment.

• In Roanoke, Va., Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump used the DNC emails and Wasserman Schultz to undermine Clinton.

Trump said the end of Wasserman Schultz's tenure was a "vicious firing" that showed "Hillary Clinton's total disloyalty" when Clinton "threw her under the bus."

"For months now I've been saying, I'll take Reince [Priebus, the Republican chairman] over Debbie. And everyone said, 'Oh, but Debbie's a superstar,' and I said 'So is Reince.' And then turned out Debbie flamed out and she's gone," he said. "Honestly, whether you like her or not she worked very hard to rig the system so that Hillary [Clinton got the Democratic nomination.]"

• In Philadelphia, protesters nearly drowned out her speech to the Florida delegation breakfast, crowding the stage and screaming, "You're ruining our democracy!"

"It is so wonderful to be able to be here with my home state," Wasserman Schultz said, as a cascade of boos and heckling began. "All right, everybody. Now, settle down."

She also acknowledged the unusual attention to her. "I can see there's a little bit of interest in my being here," she said. "I appreciate that interest. And a little bit of interest from the press. But that really shows you that Florida is the most significant battleground state that will make sure that Hillary Clinton is elected president of the United States."

A row of police officers stood between the stage and the protesters as Wasserman Schultz finished her speech. Several of her supporters stood on chairs and waved T-shirts bearing her name, while some yelled at the Sanders' supporters to step back or sit down.

The Sanders supporters held paper signs that said "E-mails" on one side and "Thanks for the 'help' Debbie," on the other.

"I was shocked that Congresswoman Schultz showed up," said Miguel Valdez, a Sanders delegate from Gainesville. "I had thought that she would have thought better of it, but she did not."

Some Sanders supporters said they were upset that Clinton gave Wasserman Schultz a title as honorary chair of he campaign's "50-state program."

"For the Clinton campaign to reward her with a job in 32 minutes after she stepped down is just like, 'We don't need you Bernie supporters; we're good. We've got this wrapped up. Why are you even here?' It's very disrespectful," said Shane Harris, a Sanders delegate from Orlando.

But Wasserman Schultz supporters argued that what was disrespectful was the treatment of the party chairwoman at the breakfast.

"I thought they were rude and obnoxious and that we need a discourse," said state Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, a Clinton delegate.

In an interview three weeks ago, Sobel said Wasserman Schultz wouldn't have any problem defeating Canova in the primary. On Monday, she was less certain. "I hope not," she said when asked if Wasserman Schultz is in danger of losing.

"I don't know. I think there are people just like myself who believe that Debbie has done so much for our community. She's a known entity. We know what she can do. And she will continue fighting," Sobel said.

Canova renewed his long standing call for Wasserman Schultz to debate him before the primary, something she has so far declined to do.

"It's probably dawned on her, your guess is as good as mine, that she's going to have to fight for her seat. I hope that means that she's not going to run away from debates. She's been saying she's too busy with party business to debate," Canova said, adding "that excuse" is no longer tenable. "She owes it to the voters to defend her record in an unscripted forum like a debate."

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Obama said Hillary will Continue his Legacy – and Indeed She Will!

William Black

By William Black.

Leading up to Monday’s Democratic Party convention, Hillary chose Blue Dog Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia as her VP. This was followed by the Wikileaks release of Democratic National Committee (DNC) e-mail files showing it acting as the Clinton Campaign Committee even to the point of using the same lawyers as her own campaign to oppose Bernie Sanders.

The response across the Democratic neocon spectrum, from Anne Applebaum at the Washington Post to red-baiting Paul Krugman and the Sunday talk shows it was suggested that behind the Wikileaks to release DNC e-mails was a Russian plot to help elect Trump as their agent. Former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul lent his tattered reputation to claim that Putin must have sponsored the hackers who exposed the DNC dirty tricks against Bernie.

The attack on Trump was of course aimed at Sanders. At first it didn’t take off. Enough delegates threatened to boo DNC head (and payday-loan lobbyist) Debbie Wasserman Schultz off stage if she showed her face at the podium to gavel the convention to order. The down-note would have threatened the “United Together” theme, so she was forced to resign. But Hillary rewarded her loyalty by naming her honorary chairman of her own presidential campaign! If you’re loyal, you get a pay-off. The DNC was doing what it was supposed to do. No reform seems likely.

The Democratic machine orchestrated a media campaign to distract attention by attributing the leaks were to a Russian plot to undermine American democracy (as if the e-mails did not show how undemocratic the DNC had operated in stacking the primaries). A vote against Hillary would be a vote for Trump – and a vote for Trump would really be for Putin. And as Hillary had explained earlier, Putin = Hitler. The media let it be known that attacking Wasserman Schultz – and by extension, Hillary’s neocon policies – makes one a Russian dupe. This theme colored the entire convention week.

Endorsing Hillary’s presidential bid on Monday evening, Sanders joined in the chorus that this November will pit Good against Evil – or as Ray McGovern put it on RT’s Cross Talk, at least proxies for Netanyahu vs. Putin. Wall Street Senator Chuck Schumer went on TV to heave a sigh of relief that the party was indeed united together.

Many Sanders’ supporters felt no obligation to follow his obeisance. Many walked out after he closed Tuesday’s state-by-state roll call by throwing his support behind Clinton. Others chanted “Lock Her Up”.

 

VP Kaine as Hillary’s stand-in if she’s indicted or seems unelectable

The potential “Hillary Republicans” who are turning away from Trump – whose ranks include Mike Bloomberg, the neocon Kagan family (Robert and Victoria Nuland) and William Kristol – far outnumber the Sanders supporters who may stay home or vote for Jill Stein on the Green Party ticket. Hillary sees more votes (and certainly more campaign contributions and future “speaking fees”) from the Koch Brothers, George Soros, Wall Street, Saudi Arabia and the corporatist Chamber of Commerce.

Kaine recently has fought to “free” small and medium-sized banks from being subject to the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. He has long supported the TPP, deregulation of Wall Street, and most everything that Sanders opposes. Appointed as DNC head by President Obama in 2008, he dismantled Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy, not bothering to fight Republicans in the South and other solid Republican states. His move let them elect governors who gerrymandered their voting districts after the 2010 census.

The DNC designated these “neglected” states to come first in the presidential primaries. They were the ones that Hillary won. Sanders won most of the swing states and those likely to vote Democratic. That made him the party’s strongest nominee – obliging the DNC to maneuver to sideline him. His criticism of big donors and Citizens United threatens to dry up the source of funding not only for Hillary but also for the DNC. They are going after the money – whose chief providers are Wall Street, neoliberal corporatists and New Cold War neocons.

Bernie’s campaign targeted Wall Street and corporate deregulation (the essence of TTP and TTIP) as the key to the One Percent’s monopolization of income and wealth since Obama’s post-2008 sacrifice of the economy on the altar of rescuing banks and their bondholders. That is why the Wall Street’s Donor Class that controls the Democratic Party machine want to discourage new voter enrollment and turnout. The last thing they want is an influx of new voters advocating real reform. Millennial newcomers are more progressive, born into a generation that has no opportunity to obtain jobs and housing as easily as their parents. So it’s best to keep out independents in favor of the old-time voters with brand loyalty to Democrats.

Demonizing Trump for saying what Bernie Sanders has been saying

Trump made his quip about Russia in what actually was an eloquent and funny press conference.[1] The media took this out of context to depict him as urging the Russians to hack into our e-mails. What he actually said was that if Russia – or China, or somebody “sitting in his bed” – did indeed read Hillary’s State Department and Clinton Foundation dealings, they should do the world a favor and release them to reveal her self-dealing.

Trump is right in saying that there has not really been a recovery for the Rust Belt or for the 99 Percent. Hillary brazens it out by claiming that Obama’s neoliberal economics have helped wage-earners, despite the debt deflation blocking recovery. She promises to continue his policies (backed by his same campaign funders).

That would seem to be a losing strategy for this year’s election – unless the Democrats gain control of the electronic voting machines, especially in Ohio. But the Republicans may decide to throw the election to Hillary, who is fortunate to have Donald Trump as her opponent. Demonized as Putin’s “Siberian candidate,” he has become the Democrats’ unifying force: “Hillary isn’t Trump.”

That’s what voting for the “lesser evil” means. Hillary’s message is: “Even though we support TPP and a New Cold War, at least you’ll have a woman at the helm. Anyway, you have nowhere else to go, because the other side is even more evil!” Her logic is that (1) if you criticize Hillary, you’re supporting Trump; (2) Trump is the Siberian candidate; hence (3) Criticism of Hillary, NATO’s New Cold War escalation or the TPP’s anti-labor treaty and financial deregulation is pro-Russian and hence anti-American.

All that strategists for the One Percent need to do is fund an even worse party platform to the right of the Democrats. So the choice will be between Evil A (economic evil with ethnic and sexual tolerance) and Evil B (without such tolerance).

It doesn’t have to be this way. But Sanders gave up, not feeling up to the task. Having mocked him as a socialist, Hillary is acting as the Joe McCarthy of the 2010s, mobilizing a wave of commie bashing against her Republican opponent.

On Monday leading up to the convention, the Democratic Party’s cable channel MSNBC kept juxtaposing pictures of Trump and Putin. Criticizing Hillary’s neocon stance supporting Ukraine’s military coup is depicted as support of Russia – while other commentators followed President Obama claiming that criticism of TPP means making China the new leader of Asia. The message is that criticizing NATO’s adventurism risks being called a Soviet – I mean, Russian – puppet.

 

Bernie’s dilemma – and that of other would-be reformers of the Democratic Party

Back in the 1950s and ‘60s I heard labor leaders ask whether there really was nowhere to go except the Democratic Party. Most who joined got co-opted. Instead of moving the Democratic Party to the left, its leadership machine corrupted labor, and in due course the anti-war movement and socialists who joined hoping to move it to the left.

What then is Bernie’s plan to save his followers from being forced to make one compromise after another? The party machine demonizes policies with which Hillary’s neocons disagree, and demand support of NATO escalation and Obama’s (and Hillary’s and Kaine’s) underlying support of the TPP on the pretense that this will help rather than hurt labor. Hillary has denounced Bernie’s socialized medicine on the ground that it is utopian (as if Canada and the eurozone are anti-capitalist utopias).

While Trump sent out tweets and gave interviews about how Hillary and Debbie have screwed Bernie’s supporters, Sanders made no parallel attempt to ask why progressive Democrats didn’t applaud Trump’s assertions that he would wind down confrontation with Russia, that NATO is obsolete and needs restructuring, and his opposition to the TPP. Bernie didn’t seize the opportunity to mobilize non-partisan support for their critique of neoliberal economic policies. He cast his lot with Hillary, contradicting his claim during the primaries that she was not qualified to be president.

After Sanders ended Monday evening’s opening by endorsing Hillary Clinton, the MSNBC camera crew went down to talk to his supporters. They eagerly asked the first one who she would vote for, after hearing Bernie’s endorsement. “For Jill Stein,” the lady said, explaining that there was no way she would vote for Hillary.

The next interview produced a similar result. “I just don’t trust her,” the Bernie supporter said. A third said the same thing. The MSNBC booth tried to save face by assuring viewers that everyone they talked to had said they were going to vote for Hillary. But it sounded hollow. I suspect that viewers didn’t trust the TV media any more than they trusted Hillary.

The problem facing Hillary’s rivals is that she has wrapped herself in the legacy of President Obama. Having shied from criticizing the president, Sanders and his supporters are facilitating what may be a Lame Duck session sellout after the November election. My fear is that Obama will try to “save his legacy” by joining with the Republicans to drive through the TPP, and also may escalate the New Cold War with Russia and China so as to make it easier for Hillary to sign onto these moves.

Selecting Tim Kaine as her running mate means neoliberal, pro-TPP business as usual. Hillary didn’t oppose TPP. She just said she would put in rhetoric saying that its “purpose” was to raise wages – whereas most voters have shown themselves to be smart enough to realize that the effect will be just the opposite.

Yet Sanders endorsed her. Evidently he hopes to keep his position within the Party chairing the Senate Minority Budget Committee, while simultaneously trying to promote a revolution outside the Democrats. I was reminded of a Chinese proverb: When there is a fork in the road, a man who tries to take two roads at once gets a broken hip joint.

This straddle may have led Sanders to miss his big chance to make a difference. He is trying to take two roads at once, continuing to run as an Independent senator while caucusing with the Democrats without being able to block TPP and new Wall Street giveaways and more favoritism to the One Percent he has so eloquently denounced. Revolutions are a matter of timing. As a former YPSL he might have recalled what happened when Trotsky shied from breaking from Stalin after Lenin died early in 1924. Soon it was too late, and all Stalin’s opponents were purged. The moment was not seized.

Bernie has been an effective catalyst in this year’s election campaign. But as in chemistry, a catalyst is not really part of the equation. It merely helps the equation take place. Sanders didn’t say, “Thank god for Wikileaks. It shows that I was right and the DNC needs radical reform.” He left it to his supporters to hold up anti-TPP signs. His new message was “trust Hillary.” But even so, she will not forgive him for being against her before he was for her. He may still end up being marginalized in 2017.

I had hoped that in addressing the convention, Sanders would have said that its aim was not only to elect a president but congresspersons and officials all down the line. He could have mentioned the people he is supporting, starting with Wasserman Schultz’s opponent in Florida’s House race (supported by Obama as well as Hillary).

Bernie’s supporters who walked out on Tuesday have been duly radicalized. But he himself seems akin to be an American Alex Tsipras. Tsipras thought withdrawal from the eurozone was even worse than capitulating to austerity, while Sanders believes that withdrawing from the Democrats and backing a political realignment – perhaps electing Trump in the interim is even worse than Hillary’s pro-Wall street Obama-like agenda.

Matters were not improved when Bill Clinton gave a hagiographic biography of Hillary emphasizing her legal aid work to protect children, without mentioning how the 1994 welfare “reform” drastically cut back aid to dependent children. Madeline Albright said that Hillary would keep America safe, without mentioning Hillary’s promotion of destabilizing Libya and backing Al Quaeda against Syria’s government, driving millions of refugees to Europe and wherever they might be safer.

The many anti-TPP signs waved by Sanders delegates on Wednesday saw Hillary say that she would oppose TPP “as currently written.” This suggests that a modest sop thrown to labor – a rhetorical paste-on saying that the TPP’s aim was to raise living standards. This simply showed once again her sophist trickery at lawyering, giving her an out that she and long-time TPP supporter Tim Kaine were sure to take.

Obama’s brilliant demagogy left many eyes glazed over in admiration. Nobody is better at false sincerity while misrepresenting reality so shamelessly. Probably few caught the threatening hint he dropped about Hillary’s plan for corporations to share their profits with their workers. This sounds to me like the Pinochet plan to privatize Social Security by turning it into exploitative ESOPs (Employee Stock Ownership Programs). The idea is that wage withholding would be steered to buy into the company’s stock – bidding it up in the process. Employees then would end up holding an empty bag, as occurred recently with the Chicago Tribune. That seems to be the great “reform” to “save” Social Security that her Wall Street patrons are thinking up.

One might think that the Democrats would see the Obama administration as an albatross around their neck, much as Gore had Bill Clinton around his neck in 2000. Gore didn’t want him showing his face in the campaign. Yet Hillary presents herself as continuing the Obama policies with “business as usual,” as if she will act as his third term.

Voters know that Obama bailed out the banks, not the economy, and that Hillary’s campaign backers are on Wall Street. So this year would seem to have been a propitious time to start a real alternative. Hillary is mistrusted, and that mistrust is spreading to the Democratic Party machine – especially as the Koch Brothers and kindred backers of failed Republican candidates find neoliberal religion with Hillary. A third party Green/Socialist run might indeed have taken off – with Sanders stealing Trump’s thunder by pre-empting his critique of TPP, free trade and NATO, adding Wall Street and Citizens United campaign financing.

 

This fall’s presidential debates

Hillary and even Bernie assured the Democratic convention again and again how much President Obama has revived the economy from the “mess” that Bush left. While Trump centers his disdain on the TPP (much as he knocked Jeb Bush out by saying that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake), he can reply, “What recovery? Have you voters really recovered from 2008?”

Hillary and other speechmakers at the Democratic convention criticized Trump for saying that “things are bad.” But according to the July 13 NBC/WSJ poll, 73% of voters believe that the country is going “off on the wrong track.” If Trump shifts his epithet from simply “Crooked Hillary” to the more nuanced “Crooked Wall Street and their candidate, Crooked Hillary,” he’ll score a ratings spurt.

Debt deflation and shrinking markets over the next two years do not provide much hope for increasing the minimum wage – which wouldn’t help much if one can’t find a job in the first place! By 2018 the continued stagnation of the 99 Percent may lead to a midterm wipeout of Democrats (assuming that Hillary wins this year against Trump), catalyzing an alternative party (assuming that she does not blow up the world in her neocon military escalation on the borders of Russia and China).

The problem with Trump is not mistrust; it is that nobody knows what policies he will back. The media are giving him the same silent treatment they did with Bernie, while accusing him of being in Putin’s pocket. He did admit selling some real estate to Russian nationals. Perhaps some of these gains fueled his presidential campaign …

The solution is not to save the Democratic Party, but to replace it. The debate reminds me of that about the Soviet Union in the 1950s: Is it a degenerated workers’ state, or a Stalinist bureaucratic mutation going the opposite direction from real socialism?

I wonder how many years it will take for Hillary to end up booed so loudly that she has to leave hotels and other speaking venues via their back alleys, much as Lyndon Johnson had to sneak out to avoid the anti-war booers leading up to the 1968 election.

 


[1] Available on https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HGHWou0h1kk). This should be seen as an antidote to most media coverage. For a run-down on Russia-Trump accusations see Lambert Strether, “Hoisted from Comments: Can We Even Know Who Hacked the DNC Emails?Naked Capitalism, July 28, 2016.

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