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Demystifying US and Israeli Power

Susan Cain and Mark Mason

By Susan Cain and Mark Mason

Government is the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex. ~ Frank Zappa

Introduction

If paying attention to the mass media, one would think that politicians have power, that the President of the USA has power, or even that AIPAC has power -- They don't. He doesn't. AIPAC doesn't. Few people understand American imperial power because it's difficult to comprehend the unprecedented concentration of vast wealth in the hands of a few dozen individuals, and the ramifications for the rest of the world. Never before have so few people possessed so much wealth, and thus so much power over everything, including the US government, Israel, AIPAC, and --- everything within the imperial American sphere of corporate influence. The Earth is under the control of a few hundred corporations, and a few thousand capitalists. The apparent power of AIPAC to influence US policy is based upon the intense media presence AIPAC does have while real power remains present but pushed into the media background. In this paper, we examine the power relationship between the USA and Israel. We present evidence supporting the claim that state power is subordinate to corporate power, and corporate power is driven by the rewards of expanding profits through manipulating state policies. US transnational corporations, particularly those assigned to the military-industrial complex (MIC: arms manufacturers and others engaged in military and police-state support) join banks and other corporations at the top of USA political power. We remind ourselves that in the USA and Israel, money is political power, not religion or the people.

The US corporate-state is an imperial system comprised of and dependent upon multiple public-relations illusions, hardly none more accepted than the frequent claim that Israel controls US foreign policy. Proponents of this claim include, among others, Grant F. Smith of the Institute for Middle Eastern Policy and more generally the BDS movement (boycott, divest, and sanction), two which apply attention to AIPAC ascribing to AIPAC the power to control the USA Congress. [1]


The Israel-controls-the-US argument asserts that manipulation of the US Congress is achieved by the force of rhetoric, controlling US media, and through lobbying monies funneled through AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, pro-Israel lobbyists in Washington who work to strengthen ties between the two countries in support of Israel). We entertain the question, does Israel control US Middle East policy? The illusion of Israeli political power ------- that it is believed by most of the actors who present this stage show to us such as members of Congress, the White House and its cabinet members, department heads, and the Israeli government itself from the top down -- the Prime Minister, President, and members of the Knesset. Not only do mainstream media journalists pander to and spread this myth, but also many of our best investigative journalists in alternative media never question this claim. All states serve the interests of a privileged class. When we examine the service Israel and AIPAC provide to US corporate imperialist goals, the value of creating a mythical robust independent Israeli state is revealed.

As pointed clarification, it is useful to present an overt disclaimer, that Jews and Judaism are religious doctrines which demand the respect and protection of free speech and freedom of religious belief. Our concerns are directed toward the policies and actions of the state of Israel, a political institution fully open to examination and criticism, as is a universal truth. All states are subject to policy evaluation. Debate regarding state policies are the core of Western democratic politics. Zionism attracted the US wealthy ruling class to the “Israel Project.” Zionism is a combination of Euro-American classic military settler-colonialism and modern corporate neocolonialism. It goes like this: kill and kick out the native peoples, blame the victims, label them savages or barbarians or terrorists, steal the land and the natural resources, claim religious justification, truth, justice, and democracy, use as a base for boundless imperial expansion and interference into neighboring countries in the name of national security. Zionism compliments Western European and American capitalist imperialism, and poses as a useful ideological cover for corporate invasion. Understanding US power dynamics is instructive. If Israel were not such a profitable enterprise and excellent cover for US actions, US support for the client state would end. This illusion has nothing to do with religion or anti-Semitism. US foreign policy toward Israel is not substantially different from that of US policy towards Saudi Arabia or Egypt. The US government is looking for power and profits, through the force of a corporate invasion, following on the heels of military invasion. Invasion by force can be direct, as in the Iraq invasion of 2003, or by proxy army, such as is the case for Israel, Egypt, and far-flung South Korea. One can assemble the power pieces first, with the recognition that US government foreign policy is crafted, not by the US State Department, but by Wall Street banks, military arms manufacturers, high tech firms, pharmaceuticals, oil conglomerates, and other ancillary players in the US domestic corporate power system.

Israel is operating in many ways at the expense of Israeli taxpayers. Wages, building expenses and maintenance, and all the usual overhead costs associated with business/military operations are paid by Israeli taxpayers. US aid, grants, and gifts are used for equipment, munitions, and technologies, not operating expenses. Funds provided by the US are primarily for US corporate sales and net profits. Israeli taxpayers foot the bill for the overhead costs of their military.

Israel is a subsidiary, a brand-name logo to disguise US corporate imperialism. Israel is a neo-colonial outpost of the American Empire, operating as the US did when first establishing itself as a country on the North American continent -- killing and kicking out the indigenous peoples, stealing their land and resources, and profiting from the takeover. Israel is an outpost of US banking and other corporations, and it serves as a land-based aircraft carrier for thinly-disguised US imperial expansion.

 

$trategic Benefits of a 51st State

When Israel bombs Palestinians and maintains a police state in both the West Bank and Gaza, the US reaps two benefits: 1) US elites and their corporations reap huge profits, and 2) the violence of the Israeli state acts as the local Mafia boss for the Middle East, maintaining obedience to Israeli power, and thus indirectly (because the USA is funding the Israeli violence) by association, what Israel says is what the USA says, without the US having to take direct responsibility for the war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by Israel.

International power dynamics sets the US as near-global imperial power, funding client states such as Israel for the purpose of colonial expansion. It’s useful to conceive of Israel as the 51st state, united with the other 50 states comprising the USA. The Sun never sets on the American Empire. Israel is a covert branch of the US government, functioning as a massive military outpost but operating as a sovereign state in the Middle East, committing acts that would not be possible if they were “officially” committed by the US government. Per a July 2014 article in Haaretz, the “U.S. stores munitions in a classified location in Israel to which the Israeli army can request access - if Obama (or any current president)  approves…”
“The War Reserves Stock Allies-Israel program (WRSA-I, sometimes referred to as the War Reserve Stock Ammunition-Israel program), which is capped at $1.2 billion, has a stockpile of missiles, armored vehicles and artillery ammunition...”
These are US owned and managed weapons and equipment stockpiles not only for use by the US army if a need for them arises in the region, but also by the Israeli army in cases of emergency. [2]

In September 2014, a bipartisan bill passed Congress which upgraded Israel’s status to a “major strategic partner” and allowed for a $200 million increase in the weapons stored in Israel. They must either reimburse the US for the cost of weapons used or replace them by buying new supplies. Whether the US is reimbursed or the weapons replaced, it is the US arms manufacturers who benefit from the requirements. [3] A brief but more detailed summary about the origins and uses of this program can be found in an August 2014 article of Politico. [4] Although this program initially required Israel to obtain US presidential approval before accessing this “Fort Knox of Weaponry,” the Politico article explains how a mid-level Pentagon bureaucrat, Keith Rowe, repurposed the WRSA-I, fashioning it more for the benefit of the Israelis and circumventing presidential approval. It is more accurate to say that the WRSA-I was tweaked so that it better-served US MIC interests. Israel more regularly depletes the supplies which equates to higher sales and profits for US missile manufacturers like Raytheon and other corporations that supply a wide variety of military and technical equipment which makes up the stockpiles of the WRSA-I. One should also note that Israel is not alone in having a WRSA-I program. A similar arrangement exists between the US and South Korea.

 

Iron Dome Dollars

Another cash cow for the MIC is our client state’s Iron Dome project, a missile defense system allegedly capable of destroying incoming missiles targeting Israel. Whether or not it is truly effective is not important. It’s an opportunity for US arms manufacturers and technology corporations to make billions of dollars in profit. According to a Times of Israel article in May, 2015,
“Earlier this month, the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee approved $474 million for Israel’s anti-missile systems. Included in the US-Israel cooperative missile defense funds is $41.4 million for the short-range Iron Dome rocket defense system, $165 million for David’s Sling, another short-range system, and the longer-range Arrow-3 missile defense programs, as well as $267.6 million in research and development funds.” That same article also states that the US State Department is set to approve a $1.9 billion arms sale package to Israel. It is important to note that “Israel receives $3 billion per year in US military aid, most of which must be spent on American-made arms.” [5] An earlier article appearing in Bloomberg’s business section confirms “The Israeli government has agreed to spend more than half the funds the Pentagon provides for its Iron Dome system in the U.S., bolstering the political appeal of the missile-defense system in America.” US corporation Raytheon, the world’s biggest missile manufacturer, is “under contract with Iron Dome’s Israeli maker, government-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, to find suitable U.S. suppliers.” [6]

It is obvious that the primary purpose of our 51st state is to provide a huge market for the various industries of the MIC. The message to the public from mainstream media and Congress is that the US “gives” Israel billions of dollars of aid to benefit the Israeli state; their security and safety depend upon it. The truth is that the US gives taxpayer dollars to Israel which immediately return to the US in the form of corporate sales and profit, and the primary beneficiaries of this “aid” are US corporations of the MIC.

 

Making the 51st State Tow the Line

As more proof that it is US corporate interests controlling US foreign policy in Israel, eleven years ago Israel agreed to sell the Chinese technology to upgrade their drone aircraft. Page 21 of a Congressional Research Service study of US foreign aid to Israel tells what became of those sales, “As previously mentioned, Israel has become a global leader in arms exports and, over the last two decades, the United States and Israel have periodically disagreed over Israeli sales of sensitive U.S. and Israeli technologies to third party countries, most notably China. In 2005, the United States suspended Israel from participating in the development of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and imposed other restrictions in defense ties because of Israeli plans to upgrade Chinese Harpy Killer drone aircraft. Israel ultimately canceled the sale.” [7]

The following cannot be stated too often because it is not a message that is found in any media: the message of US corporate media to the public is that we must help Israel to defend itself, that US and Israeli interests are connected, that we must defend the real (only?) democracy in the MIddle East. However after examining who benefits from this relationship, one must conclude that what we “must” do is to support sales and profits for the US MIC at all costs. One must also conclude that it is not the Israelis who are in charge of the US/Israel relationship.

 

Follow the Money

Israel and AIPAC haven’t any real power although no one thinks to question how it could be possible for a country of 8.3 million to control 312+ million in the world’s dominant military and economic powerhouse, the US. Believers in this illusion of control cite money as the means by which the Israelis exert their “power” over the US. Per the Open Secrets Organization, AIPAC spent $3.1 million on lobbying Congress in 2014. [8] Very few candidates directly receive campaign contributions from AIPAC, less than $5,500 in 2014. However, the US defense industry contributed over $144 million to candidates in 2014 per Follow the Money Organization. [9] Lockheed Martin (manufacturer of the problem-plagued F-35 fighter jet) alone gave over $4 million directly to congressional candidates in 2014. [10] That is one million more than AIPAC spent lobbying Congress in the whole of 2014, and Lockheed Martin is only one of dozens of US military contractors lining the campaign coffers of our congressional “representatives.” General Electric coughed up $3.9 million for various candidates. [11] Honeywell International is known for its heating products but has a huge business in the aerospace and military industries, spreading out $5.2 million among various candidates. [12] Northrop Grumman, a military contractor specializing in “unmanned defense and surveillance systems” (drones), gave congressional candidates over $4 million in 2014. [13] AIPAC serves in deflecting attention away from the real centers of power. No one notices the vast amounts of money pouring into campaign coffers from US military corporate partners because AIPAC and its stage shows are guaranteed top billing in media.

Yes, it is indeed money that controls the US Congress, but not the paltry low millions of AIPAC. The US corporate sector, specifically US military contractors, gives 50 times more to Congress members than the campaign contributions and lobbying expenses combined of AIPAC.

However, it is true that AIPAC exerts a limited degree of control over the US Congress functioning as a cheap means to establish members’ obedience. They serve as a corporate sargeant-at-arms for the ruling class, ensuring that Congress keeps the MIC well-funded and highly profitable. AIPAC has been known to slander politicians during political campaigns, revealing inappropriate sexual liaisons and habits of candidates not fully supportive of the Zionist cause or branding them as either anti-American or anti-Semitic when possible. AIPAC campaigns against political candidates can be effective in securing their losses at the polls. The money that AIPAC spends in these endeavors is money that the corporate ruling class does not have to fork over to every individual candidate. It’s a cheap method to ensure a strong backing in Congress for US expenditures benefitting the client state and US military contractors.

The Primary Profiteers
It is the various corporations of the US Military-Industrial Complex that profit most from the client state. In Israel, the MIC has one of the most effective corporate trade shows in existence. Their latest arms, munitions, and technologies are dramatically demonstrated in very real combat expositions as Israel intermittently attacks Palestine in the Gaza Strip. After every Israeli military assault on Gaza, orders to US weapons manufacturers soar from dozens of interested buyers in governments worldwide. What better means of advertising than real-life demonstrations of the latest bombs or mortar rounds and launchers, the latest communications and surveillance technologies, the latest on-ground robots capable of searching around the corners of buildings for the “enemy?”

What Israel is doing to the Palestinians is not different substantively from how the US related to native Americans, Filipinos, Vietnamese, and too many other victims of US imperial aggression for profits. State power. Corporate profits.

It’s not only US corporations who profit from these arms sales, but also the arms manufacturers and military industries of many US allies in Europe and around the world. Even tiny Poland has military corporate interests along with the Netherlands. War and conflict is one of the biggest businesses in the world, and Israel supplies many of the profits for this enterprise.

Lockheed Martin  is one of the biggest, but only one of dozens of such major US corporations benefitting from the client state. Others include Raytheon, Hewlett-Packard, Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, IBM, Caterpillar. For example, high tech Hewlett-Packard supplies computer software to the Israeli security forces, providing the development, maintenance, and installation of biometric technology used at dozens of Israeli checkpoints in the Gaza Strip and West Bank . [14]

Internationally, Accenture Ltd. of Ireland is a US military contractor servicing the US Defense Department’s needs for Electronic Health Records as a configuration specialist. [15] Fabrique Nationale d'Herstal (French for: National Factory of Herstal) in Belgium is a leading firearms manufacturer. They produce an array of hand guns, rifles, machine guns, and helicopter and aircraft weapon systems. Fabrique Nationale is a subsidiary of the Belgian Herstal Group, which also owns US Repeating Arms Company (Winchester) and Browning Arms Company. [16] There are plenty of “war bucks” to be made nationally as well as internationally. That fact probably accounts for the weak international response regarding the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

 

Bankers Will Be Bankers

The banking industry also profits from Israel, supplying countless loans to various US military contractors for expansion, research and development, and product materials. Investment bankers compile investment portfolios for their wealthy clients consisting of shares in businesses that service the US military. The banking industry in Israel made huge sums of money servicing American clients who wished to evade income taxes, hide property, and launder money back to the US for their clients’ use. Israel, the unknown offshore banking facility for many wealthy Americans. Israel’s second largest bank, Bank Leumi, was a preferred facility for many of them. Sam Antar was the CFO of an electronics corporation in the US called Crazy Eddie. He was prosecuted for and convicted of securities fraud during 1991 - 1992. In exchange for a cushy sentence, he testified against family members. He also informed both the SEC and FBI about the offshore banking business flourishing in Israel. He gave those agencies this information in 1989, but they did not act upon it until late 2014, allowing this criminality to continue another twenty-five years.
Bank Leumi paid $400 million in fines, a mere slap on the wrist from a corporate standpoint, and has agreed to assist in investigating other Israeli banks. It will be interesting to see how or even if this investigation will be reported in US corporate media. [17, 18]

 

Israel, Corporate Money-Launderer

Israel is not only an investment bonanza for the wealthy ruling class, but also serves as a money-launderer for US taxpayer funds into corporate hands. The US government “gives” the client state X amount of foreign aid for military purposes. That aid is then immediately passed back to the US into corporate hands to purchase military equipment. US taxpayer dollars “indirectly” become sales and profit figures for US corporations using this method of laundering taxpayer money. The same is true when the US simply supplies such equipment to the client state. Taxpayer dollars are used to purchase the arms and munitions “given” by the US government to Israel. The billions that the US “gives” to Israel return to the US as corporate profit at the taxpayers’ expense. Corporations do not “give away” their merchandise. Someone pays for it, and in this case, it is the US government using taxpayer dollars to purchase military hardware and boosting corporate profits to unimaginable amounts.


Discipline For the Israelis

The Israeli government believes in its power over the US government and sometimes acts contrary to US dictates. It is said that no US president has ever defied the Israeli lobby, but that is not true. When the arrogance and “bad behavior” of the Israeli government become unacceptable to the real powers that be, the US government gives the Israelis a public spanking to remind them who is really in control of whom. George H.W. Bush withheld loan guarantees for three months from the Israeli government in 1991 due to their expansion of settlements in Palestinian territories, successfully forcing Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to attend the Madrid Peace Conference. George W. Bush, in 2003, threatened to withhold loan guarantees from the Israelis due to the expansion of their “security fence” into Palestinian territory. [19]

Prior to both Bush’s actions, Ronald Reagan punished the Israeli government several times. He withheld a few US vetoes at the UN Security Council, allowing resolutions against Israel to be passed condemning it, placing their nuclear facilities under international supervision, and demanding that they pay reparations for the damage they had wrought. He also placed an embargo against US sales of F-16 fighter jets to Israel because they had used them for something other than self-defense. Later, the embargo was lifted, but the message that the Israelis had stepped beyond the boundaries allowed to the client state had been delivered and gruffly received. Reagan also sold a large amount of military hardware to Saudi Arabia to which the Israelis strongly objected at the time. [20]

 

Policy Must Benefit Corporate Over Israeli Interests

There are times that US policy goes against Israeli interests, times which are not related to a US need to chastise the client state, but instead are based on US corporate interests. During the Reagan administration from 1985 - 1987, Dov Zakheim served as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Planning and Resources in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Policy). For those believing the “Israel Controls the US myth,” it is important to reveal that Zakheim is an Orthodox Jew and an ordained rabbi. In early 1980, the Israeli government approved plans for an Israeli designed and manufactured fighter jet called the IAI Lavi (IAI being the corporation behind the fighter jet, Israel Aerospace Industries). IAI had decided to use engines made by the US corporation, Pratt and Whitney, because they had a working relationship with Bet Shemesh engine plant in Israel. Pratt and Whitney had agreed to co-produce the engines enabling much of the production to be done domestically in Israel. The first prototype of the plane was successfully tested in December 1986. Three months later, an improved second prototype was also successfully tested. However, soon after these test flights, Dov Zakheim began pushing for Israel to cancel plans for the Lavi and arguing that they should not produce an aircraft that would compete with the US F-16 fighter jet. He also claimed that buying jets from the US would be more efficient and less costly for the Israeli government. He was so convincing that many of the top command in the Israeli Defense Forces agreed, leading to a vote in the Israeli cabinet to decide whether or not to cancel the project. It was cancelled in favor of buying F-16s. Part of the problem with the Lavi project was a lack of financing. Unlike US military aid, the Israeli government was footing the bill for the cost of the jets instead of getting a free ride at US taxpayers’ expense. But worse, from the US corporate point of view, was the fact that General Dynamics (later bought by Lockheed in 1993 which merged with Martin in 1995, thus the current Lockheed Martin Corporation) would be excluded from profiting off of its F-16 were the Israelis to manufacture their own fighter planes in large quantities. The Israeli Air Force was due for an upgrade in 1987, and US corporations wanted to service their needs. Pratt and Whitney certainly wasn’t upset by the cancellation of the Lavi even though they were set to profit by co-producing the engines with Bet Shemesh. Pratt and Whitney made and still makes the engines for the F-16. Not having to co-produce them with another business meant all the profit remained in their hands. Shortly after the Lavi project was cancelled, the Israeli government ordered ninety F-16Cs. Today, the only country with more F-16s than Israel is the US.

Dov Zakheim was reviled by the Israeli press and government and much of the public in Israel. Israeli media had been touting the IAI Lavi as an icon of national pride. Yitzhak Shamir, much of the Knesset, and the IDF command who supported the Lavi felt humiliated when the Israeli cabinet voted (12-11) to discontinue the project. The vote to cancel the Lavi is evidence that US corporate interests control the Israelis: they can get enough support in the Israeli government to cancel an icon of national pride. But instead of placing the blame on the real corporate culprits, the Israelis used Dov Zakheim as their scapegoat and allowed the real source of US corporate power to remain concealed. By blaming one man instead of the US corporate government, the Israelis could cling to the illusion that they controlled the US government. They had simply been betrayed by own of their own; they were victims of Dov Zakheim.

Zakheim is a glaring example of the revolving door between government and industry. He began his career in the Defense Department in 1981 serving in various positions before being tapped as Reagan’s Deputy Under Secretary of Defense. He left government in late 1987 (unknown if it was related to his being declared an enemy by the Israelis) and promptly became CEO of SPC International, a subsidiary of Systems Planning Corporation, a high-tech analytical business. While being their CEO, he also served as a consultant to the Secretary of Defense’s office, sat on many Department of Defense panels, was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the US Naval Institute. He was also an adjunct scholar for the Heritage Foundation. Zakheim has also been a consultant for McDonnell Douglas Corporation, on the advisory board of Northrop Grumman, and a former vice-president at Booz Allen Hamilton, all major US military contractors. One might think the US government is controlled by group of corporations serving the MIC rather than the Israelis when examining the evidence. [21]

The public US presidential spankings of Israel make headlines for a day or two, then quietly fade from view and the collective memory of media and the general public. To remember such incidents would create cracks in the Israeli Illusion that the plutocrats will not allow. Instances such as the cancellation of the Lavi fighter jet are rare. Although the story was reported in US media, it was not a headline and did not linger in the news. That, too, was instrumental in keeping corporate power concealed from the public. The subject briefly appeared in US media on the 25th anniversary of the cancellation, but gained no notice by the public.

 

The Distraction of Scripted Stage Shows

The incidents the public is encouraged to remember are the endless stage shows titillatingly presented to us by the media outlets of the wealthy US ruling class. Uniform plots and performances are easy to achieve because six corporations control 90% of US media. [22, 23] The same illusions are repeated in all sources. The assumption of the public is that if all sources are reporting the same stories or more appropriately, broadcasting the same show, then what is being viewed is real. The performances of the various politician-actors are highly convincing and realistic because so many of them believe the roles they play. Netanyahu believes he, acting as Prime Minister of Israel, controls the US government because this is the message presented by US corporate media as well as alternative and international media.

The US-Iran nuclear agreement has provided the basic plot for the current TV-like dramas unfolding weekly before our eyes. One of the strangest performances was recently given by John Kerry, US Secretary of State. If one watched his two opposing performances, on one day, 2 March 2015, he appeared to be afflicted by either a split personality or bipolar disorder. He was the quintessential American Good Cop/Bad Cop - a police interrogation/intimidation tactic normally carried out by two policemen, one playing the role of the “good cop” who feigns empathy with the suspect being questioned and presents himself as a friend, and the other playing the role of the “bad cop” who threatens and sometimes physically attacks the suspect. John Kerry played both roles in the drama presented to us in March. He first held a news conference in which he uttered thinly-veiled threats against Netanyahu if he dared to leak details concerning the specifics of the US/Iran nuclear negotiations. Later the same day, he appeared before the UN where he ardently defended Israel against what he called biased attacks against them in UN reports critical of Netanyahu’s military excursions against Palestine. [24, 25]
These shows made for excellent drama, but the good cop/bad cop performance was ignored by media. There were no political analyses of the verbal attacks against Israel versus the praise heaped upon them by John Kerry.

President Obama has also been center stage for many recent performances. Numerous articles in US and Israeli press have lamented the “tension” between Obama and Netanyahu, many speculating that Netanyahu’s blatant interference in US politics could be cause for many US congressmen to be labeled as treasonous, supporting the needs of a foreign government over the needs and safety of the USA. Some sources warned that this tension would result in the Democratic Party abandoning the Israeli cause. All of this political posturing is obvious fakery if one understands the real US/Israel relationship. There is no possibility of a weakening of support for Israel in the US Congress because such real tension would negatively affect the profit margins of too many US corporations doing business with the MIC. It’s also important to note the real reason behind AIPAC’s media show against a US/Iranian nuclear agreement. The highly hyped script was centered on Israel’s safety, what a danger an agreement would present to the people of Israel. AIPAC’s real concern was about losing their biggest lobbying and fundraising tool - fear of “the bomb” from Iran. [26]

 

The Israelis Made Us Do It
Israel, the client state, is not solely a financial pot of gold for the wealthy and their corporations. Israel is cover for the US government. Israel is a Euro-American colonial project existing only because it is a front for US imperialism. It is an effective imperial tool using the Israeli government as a proxy agent for US imperialism. This strategic ploy gives political cover for US imperial expansion, allowing the US to deny responsibility for Israeli war crimes. “The Israelis made us do it” is an illusion bought by all media and spread throughout the world and accepted as fact. However, when one dares to follow the money -- the vast sums of at play in this illusion, that “fact” becomes an intentionally manufactured fiction by the wealthy plutocrats who really control the US government and desire to keep Israel’s client state status hidden. The whole facade allows the rich and their influence to hide behind the Israeli Illusion.

The US benefits from the illusion by presenting Israel as an independent state. The US avoids taking responsibility for Israeli war crimes and illegal territorial expansion, and the US benefits by the cover provided by Israel as US corporations rush in to expand operations inside illegally occupied territories.

 

Israel and Syria: Policy & Power Playgrounds

In examining a portion of Israeli/Syrian history, one can see how Israel is used by the US to accomplish small feats that could not be done openly under the banner of the US government. The high plateau region of the Golan Heights offered much better protection for our client state than the UN designated border with Syria. The Six Day War launched by Israel in 1967 saw the Israelis capturing the Golan Heights from Syria. Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981. To date, this territory is not internationally recognized as being part of Israel although it is occupied by them, and Israeli law is administered there. Tens of thousands of Syrian Druze have been displaced by Israeli “settlers.” [27]

In 1982, Hafez al-Assad, president of Syria from 1971 - 2000 and father of the current president Bashar al-Assad, “assisted” the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) and the Phalange (a predominantly Lebanese Christian right-wing party in the Sabra neighborhood and the adjacent Palestinian Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon) by blocking the Syrian border so that the refugees under attack could not escape. Estimates vary between 750 - 3500 Palestinian refugees and Lebanese Shiites were massacred during this attack. Prior to this tragedy, Hafez al-Assad had also “assisted” in Palestinian deaths during Jordan’s “Black September.” [28]

More recently, in September 2007, Israel bombed and destroyed a suspected Syrian nuclear facility, suffering no consequences. Bashar al-Assad even helped the Israelis cover up the attack, claiming it never happened. Most Syrians believed al-Assad’s denials broadcast by state media. [29]

Seizure of foreign territory by force and its eventual annexation, the massacre of thousands of Palestinian refugees and Shiites, destruction of a foreign nuclear facility - these are all things that could never have been accomplished under the banner of the US government, but easily carried out by the client state.

 

The Golan Heights Oil and Water Bonanza

Currently, the Golan Heights is set to bring big rewards to both Israeli and US corporate energy interests. In April 2013, Afek Oil obtained a drilling license in the Golan Heights. To date, they have three drilling sites (Ness-3, Ness-5, Ness-6). The three-year drilling program allows Afek Oil to explore and drill for oil at up to ten sites in the Golan. Due to delays by protests from environmental groups, the actual drilling did not begin until February 2015. The presence of a huge supply of oil was just confirmed October 7, 2015. [30]

Afek Oil and Gas (as well as a second Israeli energy company IEI, Israeli Energy Initiatives) both have as their parent company Genie Israel. Per The Times of Israel, “Genie Energy, which is chaired by Howard Jonas, has some heavyweight investors. Former US vice president Dick Cheney, Michael Steinhardt, Jacob Rothschild, and Rupert Murdoch are all reportedly connected to the company. It also has connections within the Israeli political establishment: The chairman of Genie Israel is Effie Eitam, a former member of the Knesset who also served as the minister of national infrastructures in 2002-2003.” [31]

Not only does the discovery of billions of barrels of oil in the Golan Heights probably guarantee the Israelis a source for their oil needs (they consume 270,000 barrels a day per the above referenced Globes article), but also the Golan Heights is a major natural resource for fresh water that feeds the Jordan River, providing a third of Israel’s water needs. Fresh water sources are scarce in this arid region. It would be difficult for the Israelis to survive without control of this freshwater source in this occupied territory. Water is the new oil, a rapidly diminishing resource as it becomes a source of privatized, corporate profit. The near future will bring further human conflicts over water. [32, 33, 34]

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement
Until such time that the Us-Israeli relationship no longer benefits the wealthy elite of the US, it will remain unchanged. The BDS Movement began in Palestine in 2005. The movement seeks to encourage boycotts of corporations that benefit from the illegal occupation of Palestine, divestment from investments in such companies, and sanctions against the state of Israel. The BDS movement has succeeded at various colleges, resulting in some of these institutions removing prominent companies from their investment portfolios. Soda Stream closed its factory in the West Bank, and Veolia, a multinational infrastructure company, has pulled out of Israel completely. [35, 36]

Foreign investments in Israel dropped 15% in 2014 as compared to 2013. The BDS Movement and Israel’s latest assault on Gaza, Operation Protective Edge, are credited as the main reasons for this drop. [37] Decreasing investment in Israel plus boycotts of many corporations seen as aiding the illegal occupation hold out the possibility that ties with Israel will hurt corporate profits of many US and international businesses. Hewlett-Packard, Volvo, Caterpillar, Hyundai, Ahava Cosmetics, and Eden Springs bottled water are only a few corporations being targeted by BDS supporters. Academic and cultural boycotts have also been called for, resulting in several popular bands and musicians cancelling shows in Israel.[38] As Israel steadily becomes an international pariah, association with our client state will become a negative instead of a positive for the wealthy elite who profit from Israel today.

 

Conclusion

The material presented in this paper is offered as partial evidence for the following claims:

●     Money is power. Religion, human rights, law, ethics, state sovereignty, and the will of the people are all subordinate to the power of the gun. The rich own and control most of the guns. The state, and the corporations the state protects, exist only by violence and the constant threat of violence.

●     Money rents parliamentary government offices for politicians who represent the interests of the people  providing the rent money. This process is called a democratic election, but the electoral system is normalized, legalized bribery.

●     Money rents government policies through legalized lobbying and election campaign funding, otherwise known as unethical influence peddling by elected officials.

●     Money buys ownership of the mass media, and thus the rich implement social controls, controlling public opinion by controlling the messages emanating from the mass media. The mass media function under a business model, dependent upon advertising for existence. Media do not publish facts or opinions which offend the people and corporations paying the media bills. [39] The state is a neutral agent bent toward obedience to the narrow interests of the rich because of the money-political power of the rich. Parliamentary governments are open to power struggles among factions of the ruling class as they engage in pitched battles over state policy. The people have minimal power to influence state policy.

●     All this is well known, but too often, the corporate media intentionally get lost in petty personality conflicts and celebrity cults, with emphasis on speculating upon what elected officials might be thinking. What elected officials are thinking doesn’t matter although media create the illusion that it does matter so that we don’t ask about what is important. What the managers of Lockheed-Martin and Hewlett-Packard are thinking does matter, but rarely reported. The individual politician has only tangential power to influence government policies. The wealthy individual has only tangential influence on how the money-chasing social system works. All substantive state and corporate policies and actions serve the interests of the money system, as wealthy individuals choose to opportunistically participate in the money system, or choose not to do so. Neither the political class, the ruling-class rich, nor does the educated class of professional servants of power, act as individuals. The socio-economic system shapes the men and women to meet the constraints of the institutions and their power hierarchies based upon the illusion of money. -- The rules of the game reward the winners of the money-chasing game. Others are either passive losers, or actively choose to not participate, relegated to the margins of formal society.  Increased power and profits are the tokens of cultural success distributed by the rules of the socio-economic game.

The money-power system operates globally. For example,

what happens to Syria will not likely be decided by Syrians, but more likely decided by the complex power struggle for profits and control of natural resources by a few capitalists.

Then it follows that the state of Israel has little or no power because they have little or no independent money. We show the money-power relationships between the USA and Israel in the following chart at the end of this essay. All the personal drama we witness in the mass media are empty theatrics.

To grasp the value of the drama is to observe that the arm-waving, flailing about on camera, and the boasting is mere scripted bluff and bluster. The actual actions of the Israeli government serve the US imperial neocolonial control. The Israeli government, as is often claimed, does not harm US interests. US interests are the expansion of state power for the purpose of expanding the profits of US transnational corporations, as we have documented here.

With respect to the claim that AIPAC tells the US government what to do, the evidence presented above indicates that AIPAC serves the interests of the state of Israel, and that furthermore, the state of Israel serves the colonial interests of the USA Empire. As the Israeli state kills Palestinians and steals their land, all of this violence is consistent with USA government interests, often mislabeled, US national interests. USA government interests are dictated by USA corporate interests; not representing the interests of the people. AIPAC is a cheerleader for Team USA as the USA explicitly intends to act as an agent of US-based transnational oil companies in their quest to control Middle East oil. The state of Israel functions as a heavily-armed colonial outpost of the US corporate empire. AIPAC is put there to function as a magnet deflecting attention away from the centers of real power which set US foreign policy: transnational corporations.

The US government tolerates much verbal abuse from the agents of the Israeli government because the drama provides a convenient public cover presented in the mass media, presenting the Israeli government as if it were controlling the US Congress and President. Allowing the Israeli government to act, in the mass media, as if it were controlling US foreign policy creates a clever cover for the brutality of US corporate theft of natural resources and labor from within neocolonial states which possess some local autonomy. Murder and theft are the tools of imperial expansion. When all eyes are on the Prime Minister of Israel, a convenient distraction is employed to divert attention away from the flow of huge fortunes traversing the circuitous path from American taxpayer’s pocket, through the US government treasury, through US military-industrial contracting corporations, to the pockets of the rich investors. USA foreign policy and foreign aid are labels for taxpayer subsidies for the rich, combined with imperial expansions of US economic domination of, and theft from, distant peoples. The so-called “US national interest” is state domination of the planet for the purpose of US corporate domination of labor and natural resources, for the purpose of winning the game of accumulation of wealth: astounding profits for the few; unspeakable human suffering for the many.

Behind the dramatic scripted TV acting of elected officials are deadly armaments, including nuclear weapons, but the US government doesn’t care. If we hold on to any single truth about contemporary international affairs is that the talking heads on TV have little connection to the realities of either the potential for global nuclear war, or global ecosystem collapse. Corporations are driven by quarterly profits. States are driven by the melding of the command from the corporations to increase quarterly profits, and the interest of the state itself in imperial powers, which are means to increase quarterly profits. What happens to the working class or the planet is given much rhetorical attention, but no substance. All states are failed states. The global chase for dollars is a social fiction we could discard by consensus, but the global chase for oil is an existential crisis resulting in the tragedy of the deaths of individuals fighting over pipelines, and the planet dying from the deadly atmospheric poisoning, the product of the capitalist economic engines of industrial production for profit, not need.

Politicians, and the mass media direct our attention towards the personalities of heads-of-states and the diplomatic corps. Yet, a cursory examination of history indicates that people come and go--- presidents, prime ministers, priests, and potentates are here today, gone tomorrow-- while the power system remains stable for centuries. USA foreign policy today is no different than it was 200 years ago, with the notation that the names and localities of imperial aggression have changed. These verifiable conditions lead us to examine the dynamics of hierarchical power and the money system.  Replacing the sociopaths occupying the slots at the top of the corporate-state system will achieve nothing. Hoping for more humane heads-of-state and corporate management will get us nowhere. We humans are functional units of cultural systems; few of us challenging the system of dollar-rewards. If we are to have any chance of surviving this century, it will be because we address the reward system inherent in the money-chasing game which utilizes a mystifying fiction called money. The mystification of US and Israeli relations is a product of the tangle of mutually-convenient myths of corporate, state, client state, and colonial power.

Power is displayed variably. The center of power in a monarchy is prominently on public display as manifested in the highly-visible king [40]. The center of power in a parliamentary democracy is hidden, made invisible by the dutiful servants of power. School teachers, journalists, academics, writers, pundits, entertainers, and religious authorities are unified in their functional commonality. They tacitly agree to a unified silence. David Graeber offers an accurate condensation: “Indeed, the most powerful way to represent power has always been to refuse to represent it. […] the way to show that something is truly powerful is to hide it, to render it invisible, ineffable, unknowable, utterly featureless and abstract.”

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We thank Dominique Ford for skillful graphic assistance with the single figure accompanying this article.

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References Cited

[1] http://www.israellobby.org/default.asp

[2]http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.605445

[3]http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/21874/us-senate-upgrades-israels-status-major-strategic-partner/

[4]http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/08/best-friends-dont-have-to-ask-110036

[5]http://www.timesofisrael.com/pentagon-approves-massive-1-9-billion-arms-sale-to-israel/

[6]http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2014-07-16/why-more-of-israels-iron-dome-will-be-made-in-the-u-dot-s-dot-a

[7]http://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf

[8]http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2015/03/aipac-posts-biggest-lobbying-year-in-2014-as-netanyahu-goes-to-congress/

[9]http://www.followthemoney.org/industry-influence

[10]http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=d000000104

[11]http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?cycle=2014&id=D000000125

[12]http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?cycle=2014&type=P&id=D000000334

[13]http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/lookup2.php?strID=C00088591&cycle=2014

[14]http://www.whoprofits.org/company/hewlett-packard-hp

[15]http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20150729/NEWS/150729824

[16]http://www.fnherstal.com/index.php?id=652

[17]http://www.cnbc.com/2015/02/19/finally-the-us-is-busting-israeli-banks-commentary.html

[18]http://www.marketwatch.com/story/sam-antar-the-cfo-behind-the-crazy-eddies-fraud-2014-07-29

[19]http://thinkprogress.org/security/2010/01/11/76731/mitchell-israel-loan-guarentee/

[20]http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/west-of-eden/if-obama-treated-israel-like-reagan-did-he-d-be-impeached-1.400542

[21]http://rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/Zakheim_Dov

[22]http://www.businessinsider.com/these-6-corporations-control-90-of-the-media-in-america-2012-6

[23]http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/26/business/a-21st-century-fox-time-warner-merger-would-narrow-already-dwindling-competition.html?_r=1

[24]http://www.cbsnews.com/news/kerry-warns-against-details-iran-nuclear-deal-netanyahu-speech-congress/

[25]http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.644960

[26]http://lobelog.com/former-aipac-official-on-irans-importance-to-aipac/

[27]http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/1214.html#article

[28]https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2000/06/assa-j16.html

[29]http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/09/17/the-silent-strike

[30]http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-huge-oil-discovery-on-golan-heights-1001071698

[31]http://www.timesofisrael.com/israels-oil-wars-shift-to-the-golan-heights/

[32]http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-14724842

[33]http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/blogs/earthmatters/2014/11/05/earths-disapearing-groundwater/

[34]http://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/jul/27/water-nestle-drink-charge-privatize-companies-stocks

[35]http://www.mintpressnews.com/10-years-later-israel-under-pressure-from-successful-boycott-movement/207332/

[36]http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=14605

[37]http://europe.newsweek.com/foreign-investment-israel-slashed-by-half-329269

[38]http://www.bdsmovement.net/activecamps/consumer-boycott

[39] Herman, Edward S., and Noam Chomsky. 1988. “Manufacturing consent: the political economy of the mass media.” New York: Pantheon Books.

[40] David Graeber, and Foucault quoted therein. David Graeber. 2015. “Dickheads: The paradox of the necktie resolved.” The Baffler number 27.

 

(See diagram below)

1. The USA military-industrial complex profit machine, international version

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Bernie’s Tragic Flaw: Too Soft on Clinton

Andrew Levine

By Andrew Levine. This article was first published on Counterpunch.

From Day One, Bernie Sanders said that he would support the eventual Democratic nominee – Hillary Clinton. It looks like he will make good on his word.

The near certainty that he would jump on the Hillary bandwagon eventually has always been one of the best arguments for being wary of his campaign.

But while there was still a hope and a prayer that maybe, just maybe, Bernie would defeat the Clinton juggernaut, it didn’t seem to matter. That was always wishful thinking, however; Bernie never had a chance. The Democratic Party was against him; corporate media were against him too; and the system was rigged.

And so, Hillary is now the Democrats’ “presumptive nominee,” their Donald Trump. It was bound to happen; deep down, everybody always knew it would. Even so, in the immortal words of Chester A. Riley: “what a revolting development this turned out to be!”

If Sanders now does what he has all along said he would, it will diminish all that he has accomplished.

But at least he won’t be a “spoiler” in the eyes of liberal pundits – like, horror of horrors, Ralph Nader. The idea that Nader was a spoiler is nonsense, of course; Al Gore was a piss poor candidate who ran a piss poor campaign and an even worse post-election recount battle in Florida. Even so, sixteen years later, Democrats still won’t let it go.

Conjuring up Bush v. Gore memories is the least of it; liberal scribblers and talking heads are pulling out all the stops trying to get Sanders to go away. If he doesn’t, they caution, he will have hell to pay; if he does, he can count on them regaling him, Hillary-style, with condescending praise for getting young people involved in the electoral process. Yippee!

He has other options, though; thanks to all the supporters he has. Were he to lead some large portion of them out of the rotting hulk that the Democratic Party has become, joining forces with the Greens or starting a new, genuinely progressive party from the ground up, he could become one of the great heroes of American history. That is more than can be said of any American President in living memory.

Chances are that he will succumb instead.

Whatever he does, it will take a protracted struggle and a mass movement to rid the body politic of “Clintonism,” that distinctive constellation of economic, foreign and military policies that has afflicted the United States and the world for the past quarter century,

Clintonism exacerbates inequality, encourages murder and mayhem abroad and terrorism at home, and renders the country dependent on a perpetual war regime that undermines First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections along with other traditional rights and liberties.

The Clintons didn’t think it all up themselves; they aren’t clever enough. But through happenstance and design, they did help put those policies in place, and they have been working assiduously to sustain them throughout their too many years in public life. For these reasons, and because they have been in the public eye for so long, the name is appropriate, notwithstanding the fact that it gives the two of them more credit than they deserve.

It is unfortunate that Clintonism is, by now, too deeply entrenched to be easily expunged — because it constitutes a clear and present danger to world peace, and because it undermines environmental sanity and the material well being of ninety-nine percent of the population.   The general problem is made worse by the fact that, compared to other Clintonites, Hillary’s neoconservative leanings and bellicose inclinations are extreme, and because she is Wall Street’s Girl Friday.

The pundits who go on about the harm Bernie could do as a “spoiler” don’t talk about that. Instead, they stir up fear of an imminent fascist takeover by Donald Trump. Their confabulations serve Hillary well.

Trump is as awful as they say he is, maybe worse. But the Trump menace is a red herring that diverts attention away from the plain fact that the struggle against Clintonism is the paramount struggle of our time.

Hillary’s defeat at Bernie’s hands would have handed the Clintonites a defeat; if only for that reason, it would have done a world of good. But awareness of this simple truth seldom registers. Hillary’s flacks have done an outstanding job keeping the dangers of Clintonism generally, and of Hillary in particular, out of the public mind.

Instead, the conventional wisdom has it that the Madam Secretary is a progressive, like Bernie, who, unlike him, knows how to get things done. The term of art her defenders use is “progressive pragmatist.”

It hardly matters that in all the many months that they have been promoting this mythology, no one has come up with a single example of anything worthwhile, much less progressive, that Hillary has actually accomplished.

Meanwhile, the landscape is littered with her failures: from Hillarycare to the dismemberment of Yugoslavia and the destruction of Iraq, and then to everything she touched in her tenure as Secretary of State. Libya and Syria are the most conspicuous examples, but there are many others.

Now that Hillary no longer needs to worry about those huge rallies full of people “feeling the Bern,” she and her handlers are letting the “progressive pragmatist” jibber jabber of recent months lapse. It is easier for them to make the nefarious Donald the one and only issue.

There is an abundance of polling data suggesting that Bernie would do a lot better than Hillary running against Trump. Even so, Team Hillary managed, not without success, to use anti-Trump hysteria against Sanders’ candidacy.

Now, that Clinton is the presumptive nominee, they are repurposing their fear mongering – directing it, more plausibly, against Trump himself. From their point of view, this is a no-brainer. Trump really is one scary son of a bitch, and Hillary could hardly campaign on her merits or on the merits of her ideas.

***

With or without Bernie on board, the insurgency his campaign got going is, for the time being, leading the fight against the Clintonite menace.

To that end, Bernie could be a big help in the short run, were he to resist demands for his surrender. In the long run, what he does in the coming weeks and months will hardly matter, but, for the time being, his acquiescence would dishearten his many supporters, causing some of them to retreat back into their private lives.

It would also diminish Sanders’ legacy. For what? Not to be called a “spoiler” the way that Nader still is? For helping to elect a corporate Democrat whose neoconservative inclinations and bellicose disposition all but guarantee that, before long, she will become the most detested President in the history of the United States?

These questions answer themselves. Even so, the likelihood is that Sanders will indeed acquiesce – perhaps not overtly, and perhaps not before Philadelphia – but nevertheless. To save face, he’ll probably take the bait – declaring that his first duty is to do all that he can to keep the Donald at bay.

Tragically, then, he will have fallen victim to the occupational hazard that politicians who try to repair the Clintonite rot from within the Democratic Party face: the rot overpowers them or gets into their heads, or both.

Witness the case of Elizabeth Warren, another rare opponent of the Democratic Party’s neoliberal turn. She has acquiesced already.

Perhaps she is more cowardly than Sanders or more self-serving. More likely, she is just a little ahead of him in demonstrating what a politician has to do, if she or he wants “to stay viable within the system,” as Hillary’s better half once put it.

Team Hillary has enlisted her to take the lead in making Trump the issue. She is good at it; she knows how to get under his skin. And so, for now, Warren’s signature issues, protecting consumers from banksters and regulating corporate predators, are on the back burner; chez Elizabeth, it’s all Trump all the time.

Talk about being used! Clinton’s flacks are even letting rumors fly about Warren and the Vice Presidency. Everybody knows this isn’t going to happen, but the thought that it might is enough to get more than a few Sanders supporters intrigued.

Were Hillary to pick Warren, she would be defying more than two hundred years of accumulated wisdom about the advantages of “balancing” presidential tickets — unless pairing a Wall Street flunky with someone whom Wall Street detests counts as balancing.

And if Clinton and her crew really do think that Trump has a chance, why would they waste the Vice Presidential slot on someone from a state that Hillary already has sewn up?

Naïve liberals should therefore forget about the Senator from Massachusetts becoming Hillary’s running mate. The rumor is a public relations ploy, good only for keeping gullible progressives from grasping the implications of Bernie’s defeat.

Public relations ploys that promote the idea that Hillary is a progressive at heart have lately become useful for Clinton — because anti-Trump hysteria may not be enough to turn most Sanders supporters into grudging lesser evil Clinton voters. She is therefore holding out a straw for those Sanders supporters to grasp. If enough do and therefore stay on board a while longer, it will damage the chances of getting a real alternative to Clinton and Clintonism going in time to do any good.

Thanks to Bernie, Hillary has been faking left for some time now. But, of course, it is all a charade, portending nothing whatsoever about any real change of heart. Once the election is over, she and Bill will revert back to their old neoliberal ways in less time than it will take their entourage to pack up their personal effects for the move back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

By then too, Warren will be yesterday’s lunch. If she wants to let herself be used now to make Trump, not Hillary, the issue, she can go to hell. If there isn’t already “a special place” there for Hillary-boosters like her, there ought to be.

Clintonites take progressive constituencies for granted, confident that workers and people of color have nowhere else to go. To be on the safe side, though, they sometimes do pander to labor leaders and to black and brown notables.

No doubt, they would prefer to hobnob with Wall Street predators and Hollywood celebrities, but they can hardly ignore the major poobahs of their most loyal voters – not when they get so much bang for the buck by throwing a little attention their way.

The beneficiaries of their efforts are so grateful to be acknowledged at all that coopting them is child’s play.   On the other hand, rank-and-file workers and politically unconnected persons of color are on their own as far as the Clintons are concerned – except, of course, when they find it expedient to feel their pain.

In their hearts, the Clintons regard everyone to their left – that is to say, nearly everyone with any significant chance of voting Democratic — with contempt. If they pretend otherwise, as they are doing now in order to entice Sanders supporters into the Clintonite fold, it is because they feel that they have no choice; and because they believe that, before long, the need will pass and normalcy will return.

***

If Bernie ends up following Warren down the path of acquiescence, he will be doing those constituencies, along with the rest of the ninety-nine percent, no good at all. Must we therefore conclude that there is a special place in hell for him too?

I would say emphatically No. A just God, if one existed, would realize that he deserves better than that.

Not only did he get an insurgency going: he also brought talk of “socialism” back into the mainstream, defied the Israel lobby (barely, but enough to shatter a longstanding taboo), proved that presidential campaigns don’t need to sell out to money interests, and reinforced the idea that another world is possible.

He also demonstrated — inadvertently, but undeniably — that another Democratic Party is not possible; that the idea that Democrats could become good for anything more than keeping Republicans at bay is a pipedream at best.

When the dust settles, these achievements will stand out, even if Sanders ends up doing the wrong thing. He used his time in the spotlight to make history in ways that put his country and the world in his debt. If that doesn’t merit a “get out of hell free” card, nothing does.

Going forward now without his support will be difficult for those who were drawn to the Sanders campaign by the force of his “democratic socialist” ideas — his twenty-first century version of New Deal-Great Society liberalism or, what comes to the same thing for him, his take on Scandinavian-style social democracy, modified for American conditions.

There is nothing especially innovative in Sanders’ politics: nearly everything he has proposed has been commonplace throughout the “developed” world for more than half a century. Aspiring democratic socialists should therefore be able to find their way without his guidance. Their path would be easier right now, however, if he would take the lead.

Clintonites have tried, with great success, to avoid talking about Sanders’ politics, and “conservatives” have been too busy hating Hillary – for all the wrong reasons – to pick up the slack. Sanders’ critics have therefore mostly come from his left. From that quarter, he has been faulted mainly, but not only, for his positions on foreign and military affairs.

Those criticisms are generally spot on. But Sanders’ view even on issues where he ought to be reproached, are, for the most part, slightly better than the average Democrat’s, and a lot better than Hillary’s. His views on domestic politics, trade, the environment, and civil liberties are better by many orders of magnitude.

This is why those who accentuate the negative about Bernie can seem doctrinaire in ways that corroborate the old saw about the best being the enemy of the good.  The sectarian spirit lives on in the views of some of Bernie’s leftwing critics.

This is also why voting for Sanders in the primaries was not a vote for a lesser evil in the way that voting for Clinton over Trump in November will be for many liberals.

It was an honorable way to express disdain for Clinton and Clintonism. It was also a way to signal support for a different, more progressive kind of politics, attuned to conditions in our time and place.

There is still a (small) chance that Sanders will decide that it is more important to make history than to make nice with Democrats and their pundits. But whether he does or not, the task for the rest of us is to keep the spirit of his campaign alive, and to carry its achievements forward.

To that end, the time is past due to break, clearly and decisively, with Clinton and Clintonism.

With Trump for a “presumptive” counterpart to Hillary, this ought to be easy. Trump’s candidacy is a non-starter because, barring an act of God or an eruption of mass insanity, Hillary will be the next President of the United States.

In fact, though, it will be hard to get left-leaning voters to mobilize against Hillary – in part because corporate media are united in supporting her case and in promoting anti-Trump hysteria, and in part because the Clintons are adept at the arts of deception. If they can get otherwise reasonable people to believe that Hillary is a progressive pragmatist who is, as Barack Obama claims, more qualified than anyone in American history to assume the role of President and Commander-in-Chief, they can get people to believe anything.

In the fullness of time, the truth about Hillary will prevail; the truth usually does. She will make every other President and Commander-in-Chief in American history, even George W. Bush, look good in comparison; and there will be no way to put a happy face on that.

It will also seem obvious in retrospect that there never was any need to worry about Trump — because he was bound to undermine himself, and because there were limits to how low even the American electorate of 2016 could sink.

But these understandings are unlikely to emerge in time for the coming election; and, even if they did, it would make no difference. There is no way that the Greens or some yet to be established “third” party would be able to elect a President this November.

But what is impossible now, can become eminently feasible in the not too distant future, as our future President’s ineptitude and war mongering cause awareness of her shortcomings and of the evils of Clintonism to deepen and expand.

The movement that the Sanders campaign set in motion can help with that; Bernie can help too, if he chooses.

So far, though, Trump is the hero of the day. By breaking the GOP, he has already done more than anyone else to undermine the status quo. How ironic that it should fall to a billionaire buffoon, with a gift for drawing out the inner fascist in the basest among us, to mortally wound a pillar of modern America’s ancien régime.

Our duopolistic political culture has become a major impediment in the way of real democracy and justice. Now, thanks to Trump, one of our two semi-established political parties is on the ropes. The chances that it will ever recover are slight.

However, breaking free from the duopoly’s grip is too important a task to leave to a non-electable Caudillo wannabe, a narcissist with bad judgment, poor impulse control, and a taste for over-the-top displays of his own power and wealth.

Now is therefore the time for the “good guys” to do their part too. For that, the indispensible first step is breaking free from any and all Clintonite illusions. If this doesn’t happen soon, the “political revolution” Sanders claimed to be fomenting will end stillborn.

Sanders wasn’t just blowing air. But, by being soft on Clinton and therefore on Clintonism, his political revolution was bound to founder. The time for him to have realized this, and to have reacted accordingly, was weeks or months ago. But it is never too late – not for Sanders’ supporters anyway, and, for at least a few weeks more, not even for Sanders himself.

ANDREW LEVINE is a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, the author most recently of THE AMERICAN IDEOLOGY (Routledge) and POLITICAL KEY WORDS (Blackwell) as well as of many other books and articles in political philosophy. His most recent book is In Bad Faith: What’s Wrong With the Opium of the People. He was a Professor (philosophy) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Research Professor (philosophy) at the University of Maryland-College Park.  He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

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Spanish Left: 50 Steps to Govern Together

Socialist Project

The coalition between Podemos and IU (called “Unidos Podemos” – Together We Can) is the only one that, on 26 June, could overturn the situation created by the 20 December Spanish election. In order to do that, Podemos and IU have agreed on a 50-point programme to end austerity and bring democracy to the country. Here we present a translation posted on the transform! website. Here's the original Spanish version.

The upcoming general election will not simply be another election like those that have preceded it. Given their political importance, we will participate with a comprehensive agreement. The political forces taking part in this agreement will keep for June 26th election their own manifestos as proclaimed for December 20th, 2015. Nevertheless, we have produced a common document communicating to Spanish society the main points of common ground found between the various manifestos and, above all, the main lines of action for the Government of progress and change that we hope to lead as a result of the June 26th election. The document is a roadmap comprised of fifty steps that we will use to respond to the major challenges our society is facing in the short- and medium-term.

50 Steps to Govern Together

The text is entitled “50 Steps to Govern Together,” and it is organized around five main topics: economy, society, politics and institutions, the environment, and international affairs.

Today, nothing is more urgent than putting a Government in place that is able to build a new future for our country; a new future for the millions of low-paid workers and the hundreds of thousands of young people that have been forced to look abroad because of a lack of opportunities here at home. Nothing is more urgent than helping the families that have lost their home, those that have been forced to close their businesses, and those that have lost everything during this financial crisis. Nothing is more urgent than protecting workers that put in extra, unpaid hours for a miserable wage, those that want to start their own family but have no resources to do so, the sick that can barely pay for their medications, and the retired that have gone back to supporting their families - this time with their pensions. Nothing is more urgent than reinstating the investment taken away from public health care and public education, from social services and dependants, from research and development, from infrastructure, culture, and sport. Nothing is more urgent that putting an end to the systematic theft of public funds that the corrupt political elite have been practising for decades with total impunity.

Today, nothing is more urgent that putting a Government in place that works to defend dignified living and working conditions for the vast majority of our nation, and guarantees that those who are corrupt will come to be tried before a judge, and not sit on the Board of Directors for Spain's large, strategic companies.

These are our goals, and this is what we propose:

50 Steps to Govern Together

I. Economic Democracy

1. The National Energy Transition Plan (PNTE - Plan Nacional de Transición Energética)

In accordance with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the goal of the PNTE is to modernize the economy, make business efficient, and have a fully decarbonised energy system by 2050. It must move toward improving the energy efficiency of our production and consumption models, and reducing total overall consumption, energy costs for businesses and households, CO2 emissions, and our imported fossil fuel bills. It should be structured around two main concepts:

  1. National Energy Saving Plan: aimed at improving energy efficiency and reducing energy consumption in buildings, as well as transport, industry, and power distribution systems. The backbone of this plan will be the energy renovation of the Administration's buildings and housing, which should allow for a portion of the unemployed from the construction sector to be reassigned.
  2. National Renewable Energy Plan: centred on technologies such as solar and thermal energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, small hydroelectric energy, and low emission biomass energy. This plan must include all links of the research, development, manufacturing, and installation chain.

The PNTE will be accompanied by sweeping reforms of the power system, which will include:

  • An audit of the debt accumulated due to the tariff deficit, and a cost audit of the entire system (in addition, the excess amount charged by power companies due to costs associated with transfer to competitors will be demanded in court).
  • The establishment of effective controls to impede oligopolistic practices, specifically vertical integration.
  • The modification of the regulatory framework and the electricity market so that all power generation sources receive compensation based on the real cost of production.
  • The approval of personal consumption legislation so that: a) energy for personal use that is instantly consumed is free from any kind of taxation, b) energy fed back into the power system is duly compensated by the supply company, c) administrative paperwork is flexible and, d) shared installations are allowed.
  • The adoption of measures to reduce the price of energy for industry (especially power-intensive ones), in accordance with the principles of energy transition defended (renewable energy, savings and efficiency, co-generation) and tariff transparency (cost audit).
  • The progressive substitution of the use of fossil fuels in favour or renewable energy, while guaranteeing a fair employee transition toward new, non-polluting sectors in all cases.
  • The definitive closure of the Santa María de Garoña nuclear power plant, and the refusal to extend operating permits for all other nuclear power plants in operation so that they will all be closed by 2024.
  • The State's recovery of hydroelectric power plants following the expiration of concessions to private companies.
  • The use of fracking and hydrocarbon prospecting off the coast will be banned.

2. New path toward deficit reduction

The next Government must come to an agreement with the European authorities and present a new path toward public deficit reduction that is in line with the priorities of our economy: underpinning economic recovery, increasing the rhythm of job creation, encouraging public investment to change the pattern of industrial specialization, and strengthening social services and welfare in order to fight inequalities.

This requires a pace of deficit reduction that is significantly more gradual than that proposed by the European Commission, and in any case is produced as a consequence of improved State financing and not new cuts in public spending. The deficit reduction pace must delay compliance with the deficit thresholds established by the European Union (EU) Stability and Growth Pact to the end of the legislative term, given that a faster pace could easily translate into more economic strangulation making the strengthening of social cohesion in our country impossible.

Likewise, a substantial amendment to those aspects of the Budgetary Stability Law that most complicate the application of fiscal policies appropriate for the cyclic position of the economy and the need to strengthen the welfare state, must be agreed upon. Also, the reform of article 135 of the Spanish Constitution must be reversed.

In addition, a Government of change will promote a sweeping reform of the Stability and Growth Pact, and Eurozone's fiscal rules, relaxing the goal of budgetary balance in the terms set forth by this agreement in the section entitled “International democracy,” thus adapting to the needs of the various national economies.

3. Reinforce the welfare state, strengthen public services, and reform article 135 of the Constitution

The economic, employment, and social situation requires a change in the budgetary policy for the next term. No social agenda nor investment policy can exist without a sufficient budget. Without driving economic activity, more employment will not be created. For this reason, we propose increasing the public income/gross domestic product (GDP) ratio to ensure the expenditure/GDP ratio remains at its current level (43.3%). We believe that the goal of raising the public income/GDP ratio by 3% by the end of the term can be reached through the measures proposed below.

  • The largest part of the fiscal expansion package would be earmarked for education and healthcare, so that in the first two years of the term, the nominal expenditure level prior to the budget cuts is recovered (4.6%). In turn, 2009's weight on GDP would be reached by the end of the term in office (6.8%).
  • The social protection expenditure would remain at 1.1% above that set forth by the policy designed by the Partido Popular (PP, People's Party). This would allow the Plan de Renta Garantizada (Guaranteed Income Plan) to be implemented, care for dependants to be extended, and upgrading pensions.
  • Public investment would be centred on financing the energy transition linked to the change in the production model.
  • The remaining difference from the Programa de Estabilidad (Stability Programme) would be earmarked for environmental, housing, community services, and cultural policies.
  • All other items (general public services, defence, public order, and economic affairs) would maintain the reduction set forth in the current Stability Programme.

This means that the weight on GDP would be as follows:

Functional classification (% GDP)20152019

Stability
Programme
Proposal
Total 43.3% 40.1% 43.3%
General public services 6.5% 5.7% 5.5%
Defence 1.0% 0.9% 0.8%
Public order and security 2.0% 1.9% 1.7%
Economic affairs 4.2% 4.0% 3.7%
Environmental protection 0.8% 0.8% 1.1%
Community services and housing 0.5% 0.5% 0.7%
Health 6.2% 5.7% 6.8%
Culture, leisure, and religion 1.1% 1.1% 1.4%
Education 4.0% 3.8% 4.6%
Social protection 17.0% 15.9% 17.0%

4. The plan to fight tax fraud

Specialists from the Tax Agency continuously reiterate that the majority of tax fraud in our country is concentrated among the nation's biggest companies and largest fortunes. We need a plan to fight against fraud that takes this reality into consideration and, among others, includes the following measures:

  • Approving a package of measures against tax havens that address the following aspects: measures to know the identities of account holders in tax havens, measures on financial transparency, and measures on supervision, control, and punitive measures. These measures will be developed with special attention paid to multi-national groups.
  • Eliminating tax shelters. The taxation of SICAV (open-ended collective investment fund), REIT, venture capital companies, and entities holding foreign securities (ETVE) will be reviewed in order to ensure productive investment and tax equity. The wording of double-taxation agreements will be reviewed to incorporate anti-circumvention standards.
  • Approving an annual taxation law.
  • Gradually increasing Tax Agency personnel.
  • Producing a basic Tax Agency statute in order to guarantee its autonomy, professional management, and the eradication of partisan use of the institution. The development of this basic statute will include a provision where, in the future, the Parliament will name the Tax Agency's director.

5. Progressive tax reform

The goal of this tax reform is to enhance the Spanish Treasury's ability to collect, as its collections to GDP ratio is currently found to be eight points below the EU average.

Ambitious tax reform should increase the income/GDP ratio by 3% over the course of the following term. The fundamental mechanism for achieving this increase in collection must be, in addition to fighting tax fraud, the expansion of the tax base. Furthermore, the effective rates must move toward the nominal rates through the elimination of the most regressive deductions; a minimum effective rate must be established for large companies (15%), a tax on financial transactions must be developed, taxes on wealth, estate, and donations must be reinstated and reinforced (and, in addition, the untaxed threshold of the wealth tax must be changed). In addition, the duality in the rate between labour income and savings must be reduced. Lastly, a one-off solidarity tax on private financial institutions must be established with the purpose of recovering a portion of the public aid the sector has received.

In addition, this reform must be carried out by progressively reinforcing our system. To do this, a super-reduced rate of 4% VAT will be applied to a greater number of basic need health products and foodstuffs, and the rate will be reduced to 10% for all basic provisions that currently do not have reduced rate (heating, gas, electricity).

6. New labour relations framework and the fight against job insecurity

Over the course of the financial crisis, Spanish society has become even more unequal. It is necessary to counter this strong tendency toward inequality, and the number one area where this must and can be done involves labour.

To do this, it is necessary to repeal the 2010 and 2012 labour reforms and move forward in the development of a new labour framework that guarantees the creation of quality employment. In order to guarantee this, we think that the Government of change must support the following measures, among others:

  • Approving a SMI (minimum inter-professional salary) increase schedule that would allow for an 800 Euro monthly wage distributed in 14 payments annually to be achieved in the first two years of the term. In 2019 this would increase to 900 Euro.
  • A new Estatuto de los Trabajadores (Worker's Statute) will be produced with the following goals: 1) reducing job insecurity; 2) rebalancing the asymmetry of collective bargaining; 3) promoting worker participation in company management, and; 4) eliminating gender discrimination. Among other paths, these goals will be solidified in the following way:
    • Part-time and temporary contract reform: a) the various kinds of temporary contracts will be unified in a single legal form, and the economic causality associated with said temporary status would be reinforced to avoid the extension of current fraud; b) temporary contracts linked to a determined project or service will be automatically converted into permanent contracts when their duration is greater than one year, or when a succession of said contracts is concatenated during this period; c) part-time contracts must incorporate the principle of causality referring to the workday necessary to carry out the contracted task, and the workday's calculation must be set with a weekly baseline.
    • Reinforcing the fight against labour fraud, mainly with temporary contracts, by better equipping the labour inspectorate with means and capabilities, and with worker representation bodies enjoying a greater level of involvement. Promoting a regulation on overtime in order to avoid this becoming an instrument to irregularly distribute the workday and be a fraudulent prolongation thereof.
    • Amending the current dismissal regulation: a) in the case of wrongful dismissal, the worker will have the choice of opting for compensation or reinstatement in the company; b) the principle of unlawful null and void dismissal will be reinstated; c) the causality of dismissal for economic, productive, technical, and organizational reasons will be reinforced; d) the 2012 labour reform's lowering of dismissal costs will be reverted; e) required governmental authorization for Redundancy Dismissal Procedures (ERE) will be obligatory.
    • Reforming collective bargaining: a) sector agreements will take pre-eminence over those of the company when recognising basic rights, and the collective agreement opt-out regulation will be amended; b) business groups will be recognised as a bargaining unit; c) a new automatically extended and effective system will be approved for collective bargaining agreements; d) with the purpose of improving the efficiency of company representation systems, the sphere of worker representation will be expanded to cover all companies and work centres that lack unitary representation; e) unilateral ability by the company to set working conditions, salary amounts, and structure will be eliminated; f) guarantees to exercise the right to strike under the self-protection principle will be reinforced.
    • Strengthening the information, participation, and consultation procedures through the implementation of a system similar to the supervisory boards established in Germany.

7. Restructuring home mortgage debt

Private debt continues to weigh heavy in our country, particularly home mortgage debt. A drop in housing prices led to the great disproportion between the nominal value of many mortgages and the true value of real estate assets. In addition, the high level of indebtedness ballasts private demand and hinders economic recovery.

For this reason, it is necessary to encourage mortgage debt restructuring for households through a reduction in the nominal value of first-home mortgages in the case of families that meet certain social criteria (those with all members of the household unemployed, and those with no other source of income, or households with income less than three times the IPREM – Public Income Index). On the other hand, a simplified debt restructuring and cancellation procedure must be encouraged (conciliation phase / court hearing phase) within a new second-chance system that truly erases past debts once bankruptcy takes effect.

8. New model for production, industrial policy, and R&D+i

The transformation of a new model for production and the use of resources and individuals are needed. This model would move toward sustainable development centred on the search for the prosperity and the well-being of society as a whole, which is able to create stable, quality employment and also ensures a more fair redistribution of wealth and greater social inclusion. A transition plan for the economy will be designed that generates sustainable employment and responds to the social and environmental needs of the country. For this reason, we support:

  • An industrial policy that, through efficiency and sustainability (of energy and raw materials), strategically defines the sectoral and industrial specifications that allow for our business structure to extend toward branches with greater added value, taking into account the international market for industrial products.
  • A green employment plan that helps develop a sustainable business sector, and which implements active training and insertion policies in new niches of production. This plan will prioritize areas affected by de-industrialization and plans to divert employment associated with sectors in crisis toward others that are more sustainable and necessary.
  • The goal is set for national R&D+i investment to stand at 2% of the GDP.

In addition, investment in public infrastructure will be redirected from residential construction and motorway transport to productive and technological infrastructure that makes the economy's digitalization and transition toward a new production model possible (public transport and energy infrastructure, but also telecommunications and water supply, among others).

The new Government of change will promote the creation of strategic sector committees in which companies and unions participate, with the goal of guaranteeing the sector's future, defining large-scale strategic and technological guidelines, and specifying needs for modernization.

9. Public banking

This new industrial policy places greater importance on public financial instruments to create synergies among the innovative and financial capacities of the public and private sectors. In order to carry out these policies, and with the purpose of Spain also enjoying a large public banking network, the Government will renegotiate the terms the memorandum of understanding between Spain and the EU in order to implement powerful and efficient public banking through the Official Credit Institute (ICO) and nationalized entities (Bankia and Banco Mare Nostrum), which will not be re-privatized.

10. SMEs, the self-employed, and social economy entities

SMEs and the self-employed account for more than 98% of companies in Spain. In our country, SMEs are of special importance when it comes to creating employment, as they absorb nearly two-thirds of the total workforce. It is important to recognise the strength and initiative of these small- and medium-sized companies, self-employed individuals, and social economy entities. To do this, we will promote:

  • The development of a true Ley de Segunda Oportunidad (Second Chance Law) through the introduction of a simplified debt cancellation and restructuring process for individuals and legal entities.
  • The establishment of Social Security fees that are progressive and are set at a certain percentage of net income for the self-employed that earn more than the minimum salary, and free membership for those that earn less than the minimum salary.
  • The encouragement of the social economy, with an assistance plan for cooperative projects that meet requirements for equality, sustainability, and innovation.
  • Entrepreneurship in innovative sectors, specifically in the digital economy.
  • Developing a study on the principle of limited responsibility for the self-employed, so that all self-employed individuals only assume responsibility for possible debts with professional resources that they have decided to associate with their activity, and not their entire estate.

II. Social Democracy

11. Guaranteed Income

A guaranteed income programme will be created to complement the income of all households below the poverty line through access to complementary income that covers the difference between existing income and the income threshold established. The initial sum will be 600 Euro monthly for households with a single member, and will increase progressively depending on the number of members (an additional 35% for the second member, and 20% for each additional member) up to a maximum of 1,290 Euro.

12. Basic services and housing

Evictions provoked by proven economic reasons will be stopped. The right to retroactive non-recourse debt and mortgage debt restructuring will be given in the terms indicated in point 7 of the chapter entitled “Economic democracy.” SAREB (“bad bank”) will become the management instrument for a pool of public rental housing. The concept of social rent will be regulated by law, and will not be allowed to surpass 30% of family income (including supply costs). The social function of housing would be regulated so that asset management companies and financial institutions holding unoccupied housing will be sanctioned.

On one hand, a socially adjusted tariff will be established to prevent cuts of water and electric power supply currently affecting 1.4 million households. On the other hand, a guaranteed minimum basic supply of energy will be established, whose cost will be fixed depending on individual income. The minimum for water provision is 60 litres per day according to the World Health Organization. Furthermore, free vouchers for all individuals that do not have any income, or at a super-reduced rate for those in a situation of poverty or social exclusion, will be created.

13. New Law on Education

The Organic Law for the Improvement of Educational Quality (LOMCE) will be repealed, and a new Education Law will be developed that is based on the text entitled Documento de bases para una nueva Ley de Educación Acuerdo social y político educativo (Baseline Document for the new Education Law. Social Agreement and Education Policy), written in collaboration with the education community. Education will be public, free, secular, and inclusive through the expansion of public school centres to cover all childhood education needs (from 0 to 6 years of age). The investment in education will be reinstated during the first two years of the term until it reaches a rate of 4.6% of GDP, and will progressively be expanded until it reaches the European average (6.2%). A moratorium on educational accords will be approved, together with a plan to progressively suppress them through the voluntary integration of private-associated schools into the public school network.

Together with the university community, a Public Research and University Law will be agreed upon to serve society, which includes improved financing, and ensures that free university education is the goal. In the meantime, minimum fees and a scholarship-grant system will guarantee universal access. The “3+2” will be rejected, and a democratic government will be proposed in universities. The development of the National Introduction to Research Programme will be encouraged, which is aimed at strengthening research careers in their initial phases.

14. Healthcare

Universal access will be given to the health insurance card, including immigrants and individuals of Spanish nationality residing in other countries who lose access to universal healthcare coverage ninety days after leaving the country. The portfolio of medications financed by the healthcare system will be studied and assessed for its later expansion. The implementation of co-payments for pharmaceuticals will be rejected. The public health budget will be increased until reaching a rate of 6.8% of GDP in 2019. Primary Care will be strengthened as an alternative to budget cuts in order to emerge from the financial crisis, and its resources will be increased with the purpose of improving its diagnostic and therapeutic ability. The public nature of the national healthcare system will be defended.

15. Pensions

Pensions will be indexed at the CPI. The pension reform approved by the PSOE government in 2010 and the PP government in 2014 will be repealed. We promise to guarantee the sustainability of the pension system with the progressive introduction of financing through taxation. Special contribution regimes for new membership will be reviewed and eliminated progressively. Tax benefits for individual complementary schemes, as is the case for private pension plans, will be eliminated. The upper limit for contributions will be eliminated, without the need to proportionally increase the maximum pension. The minimum pension will be reassessed in the following terms: personal retirement or non-dependant spouse retirement pensions will be equal to the annual SMI, while retirement pensions with a dependant spouse will be equal to 110% of the annual SMI. All company contribution reduction measures applied in recent years will be reviewed, as they have not served to generate employment, and have instead gravely deteriorated Social Security balances.

16. Care for dependants

True maximum priority will be given to the subjective right: review of the Dependency Law with new articles and substantial changes coupled with a 100% public model where possible. If this is not possible, agreements and arrangements with collaborative economy, social, and common good entities will be given priority. We propose a Plan para la Recuperación del Sistema de Autonomía Personal y Atención a la Dependencia (Dependant Care and Individual Autonomy System Recovery Plan) which includes the following measures:

  • The recovery of financing levels per dependant prior to the budget cuts made following decrees in 2012 and 2013, and family caregiver Social Security contributions.
  • The establishment of an urgent schedule for the care of 385,000 dependants which are eligible for this benefit, but are currently on a waiting list.
  • An increase in the percentage of dependants cared for by professional services, and progressively implementing the universal right to dependant care public services that provide them with full functional autonomy.
  • The production of a Social Services Law.

17. Gender inequality and sexual diversity

A system of adoption or birth permits will be reformed to create a calendar for the current paternal leave to be extended until it is equal to maternal leave. In order to guarantee effective equal rights, the permit will be: equal for each parent; non-transferable, as with all other labour and social rights; paid at 100% of the parent's salary, and with equal job protection while exercising the right to maternal or paternal leave. The powers of the Labour Inspectorate and Social Security will be increased in terms of prohibiting discrimination in hiring, promotion, and compensation, with the goal of making working conditions equal for men and women. A state company equality plan control and monitoring committee will be created with the capacity to make proposals to eliminate discrimination. Means of special attention for single-parent families (largely women) will be implemented so that childcare is not incompatible with a professional career. An employment plan for women of over forty-five years of age found at risk of social exclusion will be created. The Gender Violence Law will be amended to include women as active subjects and not victims, which will include all forms of male violence: forced marriage, honour crimes, the treatment of women and girls, and female genital mutilation.

We oppose any form of LGBT-phobia, institutionalized or not, and therefore appropriate measures and actions will be put into place so that the rights of LGBT persons are guaranteed in all areas. We will promote the review of the Gender Identity Law for the depathologization of transsexual identities. Educational protocols will be created for professors and education professionals regarding gender and sexual diversity.

18. Childhood

A State pact for childhood will be proposed to protect the rights of infants and adolescents, guaranteeing equal opportunities between girls, boys, and adolescents (given their condition of vulnerability) and reducing child poverty. As proposed by UNICEF, the sums and coverage of economic provisions per child under the care of Social Security will be increased (from the current 291 Euro to 1,200 Euro per year) for girls and boys with limited resources, taking into account official poverty risk measurements to determine the levels of income eligible for the provision.

19. Culture

We will develop the Estatuto del Artista y del Profesional de la Cultura (Artist and Culture Professional Statute) as a means of stimulating cultural activity, with the purpose of doing away with professional insecurity, and with a range of legal standards that are adapted to the intermittent nature of the sector. Said statute will include the particularity of irregular income for cultural professionals, and will promote a new taxation system that is adapted to their needs. This will result in fair taxation, without overlooking the guaranteed social protection rights of the sector and their union representation.

We will reduce the rate applicable to cultural and scholarly products in order to return to the situation prior to PP's reforms.

III. Political Democracy

20. Effective transparency of the public sector and the fight against corruption

A constitutional end to the “revolving door” practice will be proposed. The scope and specifics of professional incompatibilities once service is complete will be made clear for individuals holding political and senior management positions within the administration. Ex-elected officials will be blocked from joining the board of trustees of companies that operate in strategic sectors. The privileges of elected officials will be eliminated. Compensation for elected members of the Court will be reduced, and their salaries will be put on par with the State's civil service officials. The “golden pensions” will be eliminated. The number of senior officials will be reduced.

A new Ley de Financiación de los Partidos Políticos (Law on Political Party Financing) will be proposed. Bank financing to political parties will be drastically limited. Auditing for political foundations will be put on par with political parties.

The Public Contracts Law will be considered. A database of open and accessible tenders and contracts will be created. Citizen audits of public management will be implemented. The Company Registry website will be renovated. The social and environmental criteria and criteria for encouraging the local economy will be materialized in the public tender's contract specifications. Illegal and unjust enrichment will be criminalized. The crime of improper bribery will be included in the Criminal Code.

The “Berlusconi Law” will be repealed (Organic Law 13/2015 dated 5 October on the amendment to the Criminal Prosecution Law). Article 324 of the Criminal Prosecution Law will be repealed, which guarantees impunity for all complex crimes, including corruption, through a path of early dismissal for large judicial processes.

The insufficient and inadequate Transparency Law in effect will be reformed, working from the idea that access to information produced by institutions is a right. Public institutions must be included without exception, so its area of application will be expanded beyond administrative information to all information contained in all public institutions, the three State powers, as well as public companies and private companies that manage public services, and the exclusionary mention that makes reference to auxiliary information contained in article 18 of the Law will be repealed. Exceptions to the right of access to information that are covered by vague or unreasonable motives such as “economic and commercial interests” must be eliminated, and positively awarded requests not responded to so that their fulfilment can be claimed.

Carolina Bescansa, Pablo Iglesias, Íñigo Errejón, Irene Montero

21. Citizen referendum on the Government's dismissal in case of non-compliance with the electoral programme

Two years following the mandate, citizens will have the possibility of opening a Government dismissal process due to non-compliance with the electoral programme. With an initiative from 158 representatives and 15% of the voter registration's signatures, a binding referendum will be able to be carried out in which citizens will be asked if new elections should be held due to the Government's non-compliance with their programme. If the referendum's response is positive, the Government's president must hold general elections within a maximum period of 30 days. The regulation of similar procedures in the autonomous communities and city councils will be promoted.

22. Electoral system reform

The factors that provoke disproportionate and unequal voting in Spain (constituency, magnitude, barriers, and formulas) will be corrected in order to guarantee the true equality of each individual's vote.

23. Freedom of expression, association, and demonstration

The “Gag Law” will be repealed (Organic Law 4/2015 dated 30 March on the protection of public safety). A new legislative framework will be produced related to the free exercise of the fundamental rights of expression, association, and demonstration. A Freedom of Consciousness Law will be approved to guarantee the State's secularity, and agreements with the Vatican will be repealed.

24. The right to decide

A greater public debate will be opened up on the recognition and ways of exercising the right to decide within the framework of constitutional change. The multi-national nature of Spain will be constitutionally recognised. Constitutional guarantee will be given to the right of autonomous Governments to hold public referendums on the territorial extension of the nation when it is intensely demanded by the majority. Under article 92 of the Spanish Constitution, a referendum with guarantees will be held in Catalonia so that its citizens may decide on the type of territorial relationship it wishes to establish with the rest of Spain. Improving the current democratic framework is fundamentally important to encouraging citizen participation in political activity. To do this, we will promote a collection of reforms that will be able to be carried out through public policies, new legislation, and through strengthening mechanisms such as referendums and popular legislative initiatives.

25. Municipalism

Local administrations will be reformed. The “Montoro Law” will be repealed (Law 27/2013 dated 27 December, on the rationalization and sustainability of local administration). Likewise, a new legal framework will be promoted that harmonises the municipal, autonomous, and state levels of government with the expansion and updating of municipal proposals and competencies. On the other hand, the necessary reform to the budget stability law will take social services truly assumed by municipalities into consideration.

26. New model for financing

A new financing model will be created that is built on the principles of equality, territorial justice, and inter-territorial solidarity. Support will be given to a financing model that guarantees the sufficiency of the local responsibility through the collection of taxes ceded to autonomous communities and the participation in State taxes. Financing will not be an obstacle to the development of the individual responsibility framework.

27. Constitutional change

A public debate will be opened up, which is oriented toward discussing the beginning of a process of constitutional change capable of modifying the economic, social, political, territorial, and institutional framework defined by the 1978 text. Under article 92.1 of the Spanish Constitution, a collective referendum will be held to begin this process.

28. True justice and the recognition of the right to effective legal counsel

A regulatory text will be created and agreed upon by collegiate bodies and associations of counsel to provide public defenders, which are meant to guarantee improved free and dignified public counsel assistance. Court fees will be repealed.

29. Administrative sanctions and fines that are proportional to individual income

A system of administrative sanctions and fines that are proportional to sanctioned individual's income will be created. Correction criteria will be added to the sanctioning process, which incorporate the accountability of the offender, equity, and the sanction's proportionality depending on the levels of income, as well as a flexible and limited system of calculation based on basic rates and fixed thresholds.

30. Democratic memory, truth, and justice

An active public policy for the recovery of our democratic memory will be promoted.

Three main types of measures will be implemented: policies for exercising the right to memory, policies for exercising the right to the truth, and policies for exercising access to justice and reparation for victims of Franco's regime.

Legal recognition for all victims of Franco's regime will be granted, and legal, political, and social recognition will be granted to those who defended the legality of the Republic, and those who fought against Franco's regime, fascism, and Nazism. Franco's regime will be institutionally condemned in the terms declared by the United Nations (UN).

The universal justice reform will be repealed.

IV. Environmental Democracy

31. The fight against climate change

A Climate Change Law will be passed, which will be oriented toward meeting the goals set by the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and will transversely regulate all policies involved in a planned, coherent, and stable manner. This law will incorporate ambitious goals for 2030 to reduce greenhouse effect gas emissions by a minimum of 55%, produce at least 45% renewable energy, and reduce energy consumption by 40% with regard to 1990 figures. The Plan de Transición Energética (Energy Transition Plan) included in the “Economic democracy” section would guarantee that renewable sources produce 100% of energy consumption by 2050. A green taxation system will be promoted to discourage consumption from sources with a higher level of pollution. Likewise, climate change mitigation and adaptation criteria will also be introduced across all policies, with actions to increase the resilience of cities and ecosystems. A reforestation policy will be enhanced, with native species and the development of the carbon sink effect. Law 11/2014 and Royal Decree 183/2015 will be immediately repealed, which amend Law 26/2007 on environmental responsibility, so that the governing principles of caution and prevention are restored, along with the principles of “those who pollute pay” and “polluting is not profitable.”

32. Water Law

We will draft a new Water Law which will guarantee access to clean drinking water as a fundamental right, along with the conservation of aquifers and ecological flows. Said law will ensure that water remains in public hands and, as a common asset, it will guarantee participatory decision-making on matters of water management and distribution. Measures will be promoted to eradicate water poverty, and water will be recognised as a human right, thus guaranteeing a minimum provision of this resource to all citizens. We will examine the construction of large water infrastructure.

33. Ecological Rescue Plan

We will promote a Plan de Rescate Ecológico (Ecological Rescue Plan) with the goal of restoring a collection of degraded areas and achieving environmental recovery. This will entail the creation of sustainable employment. This rescue plan will include a Plan de Conservación de la Biodiversidad (Biodiversity Conservation Plan) in our country, which will involve taking an inventory of natural systems, the creation of green corridors, and the incorporation of ecosystems not represented in the Red de Parques Nacionales (National Park Network), but which also require protection.

We will create the Agencia del Patrimonio Natural y la Biodiversidad (Biodiversity and Natural Heritage Agency) and promote a Inventario Nacional de la Biodiversidad (National Biodiversity Inventory), as well as a Plan Nacional de Restauración Ecosistémica (National Ecosystem Restoration Plan) and strategic sector plans for biodiversity and natural heritage. We support a review of the Ley de Caza (Hunting Law) and its development regulations in order to adapt them to the reality of the situation and the conservation of native wildlife and the ecosystem. We will promote a Plan Nacional de Restauración Ecosistémica (National Ecosystem Restoration Plan) to properly manage, protect, and restore natural habitats, including the recovery of species now lost. We propose strict protection for endangered species throughout Spain, especially native species (wolves, lynxes, bears), and the inclusion of these species in the Spanish Autonomous Communities' catalogues of endangered species.

34. Sustainable cities

An urban ecosystem transformation policy will be carried out for more sustainable and habitable locations for citizens. An urban planning model will be encouraged that is oriented toward renovation and the energy efficiency of current buildings and facilities, in accordance with that set forth in the section entitled “Democratic economy.”

35. Right to the environment

An adequate right to the environment will be promoted as one of the fundamental rights of citizens in our country. In this sense, an Estrategia Integral de Participación y Educación Ambiental (Integral Environmental Education and Participation Strategy) will be developed to involve citizens in ecological aspects that affect our lives and well-being.

36. Protection of coasts and marine environments

The coast, marine environments, and their surroundings will be protected. Amendments to the Coastal Law will be repealed. A new coastal protection model will be promoted, which takes geomorphological and landscape criteria into account. Fishing quotas will be distributed in an economically and socially fair manner that is also environmentally sustainable.

37. Circular economy

A circular economy will be encouraged with the goal of producing zero waste. The Waste Framework Directive's implementation into Spanish Law will be examined, guaranteeing the principles of caution and prevention. A circular economy aimed at guaranteeing a reduction in the use of natural resources will be promoted, along with effective management that seeks to eliminate waste.

38. Rural development and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

Law 45/2007 on sustainable rural development will be updated, developed, and applied, with the purpose of improving the design framework and action planning of the various territorial administrations involved in sustainable rural development, participating in the fight against depopulation, productive investment, economic development, infrastructure, education, healthcare, protection of culture, society, and biodiversity, with special emphasis on priority and mountainous rural areas.

The sustainable social and family agriculture and livestock model will be defended with a new orientation by applying the CAP, and there will be new management of pillars 1 and 2, with the intention of guiding future negotiations with the CAP in 2020.

We will encourage the “territorial agriculture contract” in order to provide special and integrated support to farmers, unifying aid to facilitate its management and processing. Ecological agriculture will be supported in a clear manner thanks to a plan of concerted actions. Operational improvements to the agrifood chain will be promoted with the determined application and signing of Law 12/2013 dated 2 August to avoid dominant positions and defend the production sector throughout the entire chain. Compensation prices that cover production costs and avoid crises such as the one experienced by the dairy sector will be favoured, and the development of short distribution channels will be supported.

A new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) based on agroecology, food sovereignty, and common goods will be encouraged so that small farmers can be defended, the environment protected, and an end can be put to large multi-national agrifood chain control. The CAP must include instruments that put an end to food speculation.

39. Animal well-being and the protection of biodiversity

We oppose the use of public resources and subsidies for leisure, entertainment, celebratory, or sporting activities that are incompatible with the well-being of animals. We will defend the removal of the Asset of Cultural Interest or Asset of Tourist Interest claims of any performance in which animals are mistreated. Initiatives will be encouraged to promote the respect of the dignity of animals.

V. European and International Democracy

40. EU economic governance reform

A reform of European institutions that democratizes political and economic decision-making will be promoted. Likewise, a reform of the European Central Bank (ECB) bylaws will be promoted in order to include a proper level of economic activity and employment growth being maintained as one of its goals. This is to be integrated throughout the collection of institutions that apply economic policy, in a way that is coordinated and under true democratic control, so that it may act as a lender of last resort for fiscal authorities.

41. Stability and Growth Pact and Fiscal Pact reform

The Government of Change will encourage European institutions to profoundly reform the Stability and Growth Pact and the Fiscal Pact, eliminating the goal of a structurally balanced budget, and allowing for flexibility with the deficit so that it is better adapted to each country's needs. The consideration of an appropriate level of public investment will be encouraged, introducing a “golden rule” that excludes them from deficit calculations.

A true European fiscal policy will be promoted: a common budget with significant weight, a mechanism for transferring resources between countries depending on their cyclical position, the issuance of Eurobonds, and a greater degree of harmonization between some taxes, particularly those on corporations. This European fiscal policy must serve a trans-European plan for investment in the infrastructure necessary for the energy transition and the creation of sustainable employment.

42. European Debt Conference

Holding a European Debt Conference will be encouraged, putting on the agenda the EU-coordinated restructuring of public debt in the Euro zone. We are proposing a modification to the maturity date of European debt in circulation through a bond swap that facilitates old bonds being substituted for new bonds while maintaining their perpetuity. The ECB would be the institution to acquire the old bonds at the nominal value and swap them for new ones at a 0% interest rate with the goal of keeping them on the books. Furthermore, the ECB should restructure public debt in Euro zone economies that exceed 60% of GDP, and develop this public debt elimination transaction for all Euro zone countries, thereby sharing the debt.

43. No to TTIP and CETA

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a threat to our sovereignty, our democracy, and our economy, as it perceives social and environmental regulations as obstacles to commerce. We oppose its ratification, and will establish a dialogue with other European governments to act in the same manner. We also oppose the ratification of CETA, a commerce and investment agreement between the EU and Canada.

44. Effective access to the right to vote for Spaniards residing abroad

The “expatriate vote” will be repealed, and the Electoral Regime Law will be reformed to facilitate the right to vote for Spaniards living abroad.

45. The Return Plan

We will create a Return Plan that facilitates unemployment subsidies and access to housing for those returning, and which recognises economic provisions derived from Social Security contributions for Spanish workers that have been working abroad. We will guarantee the European health insurance card for all Spanish citizens residing on the European continent.

46. Right to asylum and dignity for migrants

The foreigner internment centres, CIEs (centros de internamiento para extranjeros), will be closed, and the legal amendments necessary to guarantee the right to asylum will be redacted. These amendments will stipulate safe and legal channels for entry by reinstating the possibility of requesting diplomatic asylum at Spanish embassies and consulates in third countries, along with the concession of humanitarian visas, the elimination of transit visas for those fleeing from conflict-stricken nations, and the simplification of the family reunification process.

47. Human rights at the borders

Measures will be adopted to guarantee the respect of human rights at border controls and impede the loss of human life in the process. We will guarantee that illegal deportations are stopped, and we will ensure respect for the principle of not deporting to countries where the lives of those emigrating are at risk. To do this, we will facilitate the refugee procedure. On an international, European, and state level, work will be done to recognise and protect environment- and climate-induced migration.

48. Western Sahara

We defend Western Sahara's self-determination.

49. Palestinian State

We will promote Spanish and EU recognition of the Palestinian State.

50. Developmental aid

We are committed to increasing the budget for Official Development Aid to 0.7% of the Gross National Income. •

For more information on Unidos Podemos, visit their website at lasonrisadeunpais.es.

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Don’t Sell Out, shill for Clinton, or worse!

Michael Albert

By Michael Albert

Many say, faced with Trump and Clinton we should vote for whoever will do less harm. Many others reply that lesser evil voting ”selling out,” ”shilling for Clinton,” or worse. The critics offer at least seven reasons.

1. Clinton is not the lesser evil.

Even if we consider just Trump and Clinton, not their full teams and campaigns, their differences are too glaring to justify this claim. But we should consider factors beyond the candidates, as these are just as important as the candidates themselves.

Elected President, Trump's newly empowered voters would demand that Trump pursue what he promised - unrestrained military and police power, white resurgence, male dominance, immigration fascism, new judges in Scalia’s image, and an end to the Paris climate deal.

At the same time, Trump's corporate sponsors and even his corporate opponents would no longer worry about Trump subverting their agendas by losing in a landslide. They would gleefully expect Oval Office Trump to pursue their most aggressive profit maximizing and power centralizing desires.

In contrast, Clinton would take office supported by a hopeful electorate expecting and perhaps even demanding serious gains for working people, women, minorities, and the ecology. Clinton's financiers would favor corporate priorities, of course, but they would feel way less aggressive than if Trump was their Commander in Chief.

For those reasons, even if we ignore that Trump and his allies literally laugh at the prospect of frying the world, I find it hard to believe many leftists sincerely think that blacks, latinos/as, women, gays, lesbians, trans, and working people of all backgrounds, as well as repressed, colonized, uprooted, starving, and bombed folks world-wide would suffer less under Boss Trump than Boss Clinton.

2. The worse things get, the faster they will get better. If Trump wins, progressives will multiply and win big gains. If Clinton wins we will hibernate.

First, even those who proclaim "worse is better,” don't seem to believe it. Do "worse is better" proponents ever suggest that unions should urge employers to pay less and cut vacation days because worse policies will help unions organize? Do "worse is better" proponents ever urge the Pentagon to bomb more countries, courts to imprison more innocents, police to kill more bystanders, and corporations to spew more pollution because oppressive outcomes will help us win faster? The only time anyone argues "worse is better" is election time. The claim is too tortured and callous to arise in other contexts.

Second, regardless how few people sincerely believe "worse is better," does the view make sense for this election? A boorish thug like Trump will certainly generate considerable resistance. But a boorish thug like Trump will also use his office to generate debilitating conditions for organizing. In turn, more difficult organizing conditions sometimes reduce activism more than more extreme provocations enlarge it. Beyond that, even if repression fails to deter activism, when the right wreaks havoc, hating the havoc mostly leads to trying to stem the new bleeding and get a liberal back in the saddle. The worse those holding power are, the better the lesser evil looks as an antidote.

In contrast, when a liberal is in office, resistance will more likely seek positive gains. Black Lives Matter, Occupy, and Sanders arose during the Obama administration, not during Bush. When people rage at liberal hypocrisy, their plausible path toward improvement leads further left. When people rage at conservative vulgarity, their plausible path toward improvement leads to liberals.

For these reasons, electing the greater evil not only callously disregards those who will suffer the consequences, it also leaps backward, creating additional distance to travel before significant progress again becomes possible.

Trump winning would anger many and aggressively escalate repression, racism, sexism, ecological dissolution, interventionism, and neoliberalism, as well as make the top agenda task of most dissidents to get some Democrat into office. If some things get worse, like climate change, we may not come back from it. Clinton winning would anger many but at most continue current repression, racism, sexism, ecological dissolution, and neoliberalism. It would make the top agenda task of most dissidents to pursue the Sanders platform and go still further left.

3. Who you vote for defines who you are. Voting for Clinton makes you liberal which is a slippery slope to becoming part of society’s problems.

I understand fear of this scenario causing someone in a contested state to vote Green or to not vote at all, rather than to vote Clinton and risk losing their integrity. But this scenario is easily avoidable. We know in the past people have remained as radical as they were earlier despite their voting for a lesser evil. Becoming a liberal is indeed a slippery slope to becoming part of society's problems. However, voting for Clinton in contested states need not make a progressive or radical into a liberal.

Another indicator that the diminishing integrity scenario of lesser evilism is avoidable is to realize we opt for lesser evils all the time. We do it when we take a low paying job for a capitalist owner, when we abide the authoritarian arrogance of managers, when we obey racist laws, and when we purchase medicine from profit sucking disease abetting pharmaceutical companies. We make such choices not because they express our optimal desires but because they are less harmful than being unemployed, getting fired for being too uppity, getting shot for disobeying police, or suffering for boycotting needed medicine. But we don’t thereby necessarily become system supporters. And the same holds for voting for a lesser evil. If we do it with our eyes open, if we proclaim our horror at having to settle for evil at all, and if we relentlessly oppose all the evil, then we won't become evil's ally.

Where the slippery slope becomes a serious danger is when someone decides to celebrate lesser evil as if it was greater good. Even if someone does this as a mere tactic, just to be more rhetorically effective when combatting the greater evil, its dishonesty greatly elevates the risk of slip sliding away. The antidote is honesty.

I think Clinton is a horrendous agent of corporate and imperial power. I should say so. I think Trump is much worse. I should say that too. When needed in contested states, I will oppose Trump by voting for Clinton, but before and after I vote I will seek progressive gains that steadily improve prospects for winning fundamental changes in society. I should say that too, and I should do it.

4. If who you vote for becomes President, it will weaken your resolve to battle that person's administration.

People rightly say that elections are largely a side show yet the same people often say who we spend ten minutes voting for, regardless of our reasons and our understanding of ramifications, and even regardless of what we publicly say about our beliefs and commitments, will define our future actions. I see no reason why that should be true.

Perhaps if most progressives say that voting for Clinton will preclude later opposing Clinton and do nothing to prevent that tendency from emerging, the belief could become a self fulfilling prophecy for some people. But to think weakened opposition is inevitable, is, as noted above, unwarranted. It could happen for some, but it doesn’t have to happen for anyone. We should not proclaim that it must happen. We should instead determine what steps can prevent it from happening. Indeed, we should determine what steps can ensure, as well, that the strongest possible opposition emerges from this election season, unlike from so many in the past.

5. Not voting your true preference, your conscience, jettisons real democracy for realpolitik. It tells us to game the system, not engage with it.

This view implies that what makes our vote true is that it tells directly who we really like. Our vote's implications for all people’s lives is secondary. Suppose you believe that taking account of effects on others is unworthy realpolitik whereas expressing inner preferences without reference to effects on others is worthy democracy. Even so, when deciding how to vote or even what to say to others about how to vote, why would saying “I am voting Green because the Green candidate has views I prefer," or "I am not voting at all because I don’t like either main candidate,” be a truer expression of self than saying "I can’t stand Clinton or Trump, but I believe Trump is worse and to help ward off his winning I will vote for Clinton in places that are closely contested, but I will also organize against Clinton’s administration on behalf of the changes I believe in”?

People say we must "vote our conscience.” I tend to agree. They add that to vote my conscience, since I despise Clinton, I have to not vote or vote for a candidate I like who cannot win even if it may make possible a great evil. I don't understand that. Why coouldn't to vote your conscience mean voting to have the best possible effect on people's current lives and future prospects? Why shouldn’t it mean that?

6. Voting Green, even in contested states, will contribute more to desirable post election outcomes than voting Clinton.

This possibility depends on many variables. One way it would be valid is if the Green candidate could win. Another way would be if a massive Green vote, though falling short of victory, would evolve into such effective and sustained new relations, otherwise absent, that Trump facing the new conditions would do less harm than Clinton would do not facing that opposition.

However, for the upcoming election we know the foundation for effective future opposition extends vastly further than Green support. Why should any part of that potential opposition dissipate due to fewer votes cast for Greens in contested states? And why should someone who prefers Greens be less committed and radical after the election due to having voted or not voted Green?

Movements confronting a Clinton administration would operate on better terrain and would not be restrained by the public wanting a liberal to take her place. Movements confronting a Trump administration would operate on worse terrain, and face a public wanting a liberal to take his place. Worse, if Greens reject lesser evil voting, movements confronting Trump would also face intense hostility for having aided Trump, which could cripple their credibility.

Why wouldn’t informed opposition exist regardless of lowered Green tallies in contested states? Large vote totals for dissident candidates in safe states, including even for Sanders running in those states should he decide to do that as a Green or as an Independent, could bolster radical momentum even while all voters who were needed for the purpose of fighting off Trump in contested states did just that in the overall election.

7. The threat of progressives not voting for Clinton may get her to take better stands during the campaign.

What matters most, of course, is not rescindable campaign rhetoric offered by Clinton to attract votes, but post campaign policy undertaken due to pressure from non elites. Clinton moderating her rhetoric in the campaign has little impact unless movements can later compel the duplicitously offered campaign rhetoric to be implemented. I agree that progressives and leftists need to compel much better outcomes from Clinton, from the Democrats, and from elites, than each would otherwise implement. But the way to do this is to amass effective organizational power and wide popular support, both during and more so after the campaign.

For that reason, I believe we now mainly need suggestions for ways Sanders and all progressives can together help defeat Trump while simultaneously continuing to build a powerful, informed opposition prepared to fight in after the election. That is what Sanders has said he wants to achieve, and it is what activists convening and meeting nationally, as in Chicago these past few days, seek. Here are five suggestions for Sanders and all of us.


* Sanders and the campaign could develop their own comprehensive platform. They fight for it at the Democratic convention, after the convention, and then after the election and into the future. Optimally, the program is continually updated by local and national discussion and exploration.

* Sanders and the campaign could opt to create a shadow government. Sanders could be its President…and diverse activists could serve as Cabinet Secretaries, Senators, and so on, perhaps even growing to set up shadow state governments, as well. The shadow government could use assemblies, teach ins, demonstrations, grass roots organizing, and media to galvanize popular support while revealing by its proclamations what a government for the people would do about every important government policy and situation.

* Sanders and the campaign could shift the campaign’s fund raising from supporting his run, and then supporting the run of Sanders allies, to supporting a shadow government and then also supporting a political revolution. His post election calls could say please give $x to support the people's shadow government and give $y for this or that worthy movement or activist organization, moving from one supported recipient organization to another over the ensuing months.

* Sanders and the campaign could broaden and enrich his heretofore weak internationalism by traveling abroad to meet with worthy allies in other countries and express solidarity with victims of U.S. supported imperial policies. Imagine Sanders joining demonstrations against U.S. Military bases and drones or addressing immigration issues or demands for peace at major international demonstrations. Imagine Sanders and other shadow government officials speaking about the needs of soldiers and of local communities near their military bases, and proposing that such bases begin to benefit rather than diminish social good. Imagine them demanding the bases turn their energies to building inexpensive housing and sources of renewable energy for their hosts and for ex soldiers, rather than squandering energy in corporation-serving military bloat much less murderous mayhem.

* Sanders, the campaign, and then the shadow government could not only spread analysis and vision, but also a detonate activism. Sanders tirelessly repeats that neither he nor any other president could enact the political revolution he favors without millions of people organizing in streets and workplaces nationwide. Consistent with that, Sanders and the shadow government could call for national and international campaigns for higher minimum wages, shorter workdays, more paid vacation, debt cancellation, new social infrastructure, free health care, free daycare, free higher education, desirable affordable housing, nuclear disarmament, military reduction and retooling, inequality reduction, a war on global warming, and on and on.

These progressive steps could could accompany lesser evil voting. In that case, each would strengthen the other. Indeed, imagine millions of people going to the polls on Election Day to vote against Trump in contested states, all wearing a shadow government shirt to exhibit their true desires even as they ward off the threat of Trump.

Neither the above types of organizing or lesser evil voting would in any way compromise the other. Both Trump and Clinton and certainly their financiers would dread this combination strategy.

Trump would lose. Goodbye.

Clinton would wake up in early November as a lesser evil President. She would face unrelenting opposition. Hello.

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Brain-Dead Diplomats: Why Did 51 American State Dept. Officials 'Dissent' Against Obama and Call for Bombing Syria?

Vijay Prashad

A troubling internal cable signed by a host of U.S. diplomats blames Obama for not striking Syria earlier.

By Vijay Prashad / AlterNet

Kurdish people observe smoke rising from the Syrian town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, following an explosion as seen from the southeastern Turkish village of Mursitpinar in the Sanliurfa province on October 20, 2014

Close to half a million people are dead in Syria, as the country falls further and further into oblivion. Data on the suffering of the Syrians is bewildering, but most startling is that the Syrian life expectancy has declined by over 15 years since the civil war started. On the one side, ISIS holds territory, while on the other a fratricidal war pits the Assad government against a motley crew of rebels that run from small pockets of socialists to large swathes of Al Qaeda-backed extremists. No easy exit to this situation seems possible. Trust is in short supply. The peace process is weak. Brutality is the mood.

What should America do? In the eyes of 51 U.S. diplomats who still haven’t grasped the negative outcomes of the disastrous wars launched since 2002, the solution is to bomb the world into America's image. In an internal dissent cable addressed to Barack Obama, seasoned diplomats have urged airstrikes on the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Chas Freeman, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War, told me he found the cable “unusual” in two respects. First, it garnered a large number of signatures. Most of those who signed the cable, a State Department official told me, were “rank and file” diplomats, such as a deputy to U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford and a secretary in the Near East Bureau. They had a good understanding of the current situation in the region. The second reason this cable is unusual, said Ambassador Freeman, is that the signatories “are arguing for rather than against the use of force.” Over the past 40 years, diplomats have used the “dissent channel” to caution against a rush to war. Now these diplomats are asking for an intensification of war.

Push Obama, Elevate Clinton

Why did the diplomats write their dissent now, and why was it leaked to the press? A former ambassador, with deep experience in the Middle East, told me it was an error to leak the cable.

“Someone decided to leak it,” he said, “for whatever irrational reason, an action as blatantly incorrect as it is most certainly politically and diplomatically counterproductive.”

Why is it counterproductive? The cable will not produce the outcome desired by the diplomats. But even so, it serves to bring U.S. politics into the domain of diplomatic procedures.

Do the diplomats expect that President Obama would read their cable and rush to a bombing raid, which he has resisted? No one assumes that Obama would hastily send in the jets to bomb Damascus. He has been cautious because he seems to recognize that the outcomes of such interventions could be worse than the reasons for them. It is now well established that in 2011 Obama was loathe to enter the Libyan conflict. It was the French who were most eager, and it was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who carried the French message to Obama. She and U.S Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power convinced Obama to endorse the NATO move into Libya. There is little indication that Obama wants to expand the chaos in Syria by bombing the Syrian Arab Army and the institutions of state in Damascus.

A former ambassador told me that many of the diplomats have great fealty to Hillary Clinton. Could they have leaked this cable to boost Clinton’s narrative that she wanted a more robust attack on Damascus as early as 2012? Is this a campaign advertisement for Clinton, and a preparation for her likely Middle East policy when she takes power in 2017? Clinton certainly advocated tougher military action in Syria. She joined CIA chief David Petraeus to push for a U.S.-backed rebel army in 2012, and she argued for air strikes when there was no appetite for this in the White House. Last year, Clinton called for the creation of a no-fly zone, a seemingly innocuous term that would have provided the pretext for Syria to hit either U.S. or Turkish aircraft and then escalate the conflict into full-scale war. If anyone carries the torch for these diplomats, it is Hillary Clinton. Her sensibility toward regime change seems shared by these people. War, for them, is not the breakdown of diplomacy; it is an instrument of diplomacy.

Multi-polarity

Ambassador Freeman says that the diplomats, in their cable, “embrace the use of force without linking it to any diplomatic strategy and accept the oft-disproven assumption that regime change will produce peace rather than additional political complexity or anarchy.” This is the most curious part of the cable, which does not have a detailed assessment of what would come after Assad.

Where are the Syrian liberals, the preferred instrument of American regime change? They are not in the picture. The Muslim Brotherhood and the Saudi-backed proxies dominate the Syrian opposition leadership in Istanbul. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey back them to the hilt. They are not amenable to the niceties of American liberalism. The most ferocious rebel fighters in Syria are under the ambit of Al Qaeda and its many offshoots. The U.S.-backed rebels are weak, while the Kurdish-backed Syrian Democratic Forces has less commitment to the United States than to its own Kurdish ambitions. To believe that the small bands of fighters from towns like Kafranbel would be able to control the dynamic after U.S. jets strike Damascus is naive. The beneficiary of such strikes would most likely be the most bilious of the forces in the rebel camp.

What is most astounding about the cable is that it mistakes objective shifts in geopolitical relations for subjective errors. This is an elementary error for observers of international relations. The cable blames Obama for not striking Syria earlier and asks that he do so now. But Obama did not strike Syria in 2013 because he recognized, correctly, that the Russians, Chinese and most of the major countries of the Global South (including India) deeply opposed regime change. It was to finally stop any consideration of regime change that the Russians directly intervened in 2015. The deployment of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missiles would put any U.S. bombing raid into direct confrontation with the Russians. This is a very dangerous situation. Older habits of U.S. uni-polarity, developed from Gulf War 1 in 1990, no longer apply to an increasingly multi-polar world. It is not Obama’s timidity that led to the failure of aerial bombardment in Syria, as the diplomats contend, but it has been the rising confidence of certain world powers to confront U.S. preponderance. That this is not evident to the diplomats suggests they have a poor understanding of the world.

Ambassador Freeman suggests that the diplomats are making a “moral case,” which would mean that they are simply washing their own hands off of the disaster in Syria. They perhaps want to say, we are not responsible for the destruction of Syria, and if you had bombed Syria earlier, the situation would not be so dire. Since the diplomats “put forward no argument for why their approach would yield a particular outcome,” says Freeman, it is hard to take them seriously. There is nothing wrong with a cry from the heart, but it is dangerous to make policy based entirely on frustration and anger.

Dissent Channel

The most important internal criticism of U.S. policy came in 1971 from Dhaka, when the U.S. Consul General Archer Blood sent a telegram to Washington critical of U.S. backing of Pakistan over its massacres in (what was then) East Pakistan. “Our government has evidenced what many will consider moral bankruptcy,” he wrote on behalf of 19 other diplomats in what would later be called the Blood Telegram. It was an indictment of U.S. power. The Blood Telegram suggested that the U.S. backing for Pakistan gave it confidence to continue with its massacres in its eastern province. It called upon the U.S. to put pressure on Pakistan not to act in this way. Secretary of State Kissinger was furious. Blood was recalled to Washington and sidelined. It was more important to cultivate Pakistan as the doorway to China, which is indeed what happened in 1972. Those who died in East Bengal had to be sacrificed for a large goal—the U.S. rapprochement with China against the Soviet Union.

Blood understood that the U.S. government had leverage over Pakistan. The U.S. 7th Fleet sailed up the Bay of Bengal to put pressure on India, with Soviet backing, not to intervene. (I was a young boy in Calcutta at the time, putting up black paper on our windows, waiting for the U.S. ships to come within range.) India nonetheless intervened and helped to end the massacres. Blood had been correct, as he wistfully told me on the telephone from his home in Fort Collins, Colorado, a year or so before his death. It was in response to the Blood Telegram that the State Department created the “dissent channel” (not in response to the Vietnam War, as Mark Landler says in the New York Times).

The “dissent channel,” said the former ambassador who worked in the Middle East, should work as “an internal means of presenting ideas and opinions to the leadership.” But this action, with the move to publicity, will not help the aims of U.S. diplomacy. Nor will it help the Syrian people.

Vijay Prashad is professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He is the author of 18 books, including Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (AK Press, 2012), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013) and the forthcoming The Death of a Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016). His columns appear at AlterNet every Wednesday.

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