Best of Pepe Escobar

Bill sells Barack

October 30, 2008

In a late night rally in Kissimmee, Central Florida – a strategic area in the Sunshine State, in the so-called I-4 corridor, filled with still undecided voters – former President Bill Clinton, extremely popular in Florida, forcefully exposed the merits of Barack Obama as the best candidate for the Presidency. Obama returned the compliment, showering praise on the 42nd President and making the huge crowd dream of the golden years of the 1990s. Obama’s stump speech though does not take any chances, less than a week before the election. Obama equates McCain with Bush and does not get into details on how he will implement most of his promises.

Obama’s got a brand new bag

October 29, 2008

The Godfather of Soul James Brown, who sprang up to legend from Augusta, Georgia, was a staunch Republican but also an icon of the civil rights movement. The fact that Senator Barack Obama is gaining ground even in red Georgia – where early voting favors him – would not have displeased the Godfather; Pepe Escobar argues that James Brown would have found many points in common with a black man with historical consciousness and fighting for social justice. Republicans, meanwhile, prefer to depict Obama as a dangerous marxist.

Obama and the Americas

October 22, 2008

Will a probable Obama presidency herald the birth of an Obama doctrine replacing the Monroe doctrine – in terms of a new, more equitable relationship between the US and Latin America? Economist Mark Weisbrot is not so sure. He tells Pepe Escobar, Obama in his foreign policy will be mostly absorbed by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and by intractable Middle East problems. Although the Obama camp seems to understand slightly better than the McCain camp some ground breaking transformations that took place in Latin America during the Bush years, Weisbrot argues they will have to be really creative to restore US credibility in the region. That means, among other things, a stop to the demonization of Venezuela and an understanding that Latin America is becoming more united than at any point in history.

Powell and Palin

October 20, 2008

Elder statesman Colin Powell, a Republican, former head of the Joint Chiefs (under Bush father) and former Secretary of State (under George W. Bush) made a stunning announcement in Washington, endorsing Senator Barack Obama for President. He said one of the key reasons that prompted his choice was the selection of Sarah Palin by Senator John McCain as his running mate. Meanwhile, Palin herself took a break from the campaign not to conduct her first press conference, but to make an appearance on Saturday Night Live, where her world view was mercilessly mocked. Pepe Escobar argues that in a race where all the lines are blurred between what’s real and what’s fake, this is hyper reality gone mad.

McColombia

October 17, 2008

In the third and last presidential debate Senator John McCain defended a free trade agreement between Colombia and the US as a "no brainer" and once again derided Senator Obama for never having traveled south of the border. Obama, to McCain’s amazement, actually showed he knew one or two things about the situation on the ground. But journalist and author Forrest Hylton, an expert on Colombia and Bolivia, argues neither candidate is really aware of crucial political, economic and social processes developing in South America for a few years now, and he is pessimistic on the US under a new presidency making up for lost time.

Game over?

October 16, 2008

Senator John McCain needed a game changer in the last presidential debate with Senator Barack Obama. Independent voters say it didn’t happen – and once again awarded the debate to Obama. Although McCain came out swinging, Obama’s strategy stayed the same: coolly and calmly explain each of his plans. Pepe Escobar argues this was pure theater; in the real world, the financial crisis rages, and none of the candidates really bothered to address in depth the seriousness of it all.

McCain takes the Rocky road

October 14, 2008

After a long stretch of ultra-negative campaigning, with his numbers still slipping in any number of polls, Senator John McCain has made another U-turn in a rally in Virginia Beach, and now fashions himself as a Rocky character fighting against Washington, Wall Street and an inexperienced tax-and-spend liberal, Senator Barack Obama. Still McCain blames the media for his problems, and still he has to announce his new economic proposals – which seemed to be the initial idea before Obama leapfrogged him early this week.

Goldman Sachs’ socialism

October 13, 2008

World markets on the verge of panic continue to dismiss the Bush/Paulson Wall Street bailout plan – despite White House rhetoric and supposedly concerted action by the G-7, the group of leading industrialized economies. Top economists criticize the mechanics of the plan, which concentrates too much power on Secretary Paulson and his Goldman Sachs’ colleagues; warn of an incoming systemic crisis; and point out the taboo topics nobody is talking about: the US budget deficit and the US military budget.

McCain and The Evil Empire

October 10, 2008

At the second US presidential debate, Senator John McCain once again raised the specter of a renewed Cold War, displaying a very confrontational position towards Russia. Even Senator Barack Obama accused Russia of promoting "mischief around the world". McCain doesn’t seem to be listening to his own heroes – certified Cold Warrior Henry Kissinger, who advises him, and counterinsurgency ace Gen. David Petraeus.

"That one" moment reveals McCain’s dark side

October 8, 2008

Senior Editor Paul Jay spoke to Real News Analyst Pepe Escobar after the debate to get his reaction. Pepe believes that the election is all but over and he identifies the "that one" moment as the defining moment of the debate and a clear illustration of the contempt which McCain harbors for Obama.

The People’s Republic of Wall Street

October 2, 2008

The financial crisis may be the number one issue on US voters’ minds, but there seems to be no leadership at work in Washington, comments Pepe Escobar. The Wall Street bailout rejected by Congress and then approved by the Senate may not be the solution. It’s up to foreign analysts and economists to tell it like it really is. What is in fact being saved – capitalism or a banking oligopoly?

The UN, cash for trash and the multipolar world

September 25, 2008

McCain’s straight mess express

September 22, 2008

Pak army protected bin Laden and Taliban

September 20, 2008

In part 4 of this series, Pakistan analyst Khawar Mehdi tells Pepe Escobar about the repercussions of Musharraf’s crucial policy switch after 9/11, abandoning the Taliban and embracing the Bush-declared "war on terror." Mehdi recalls the visit by a Pakistani delegation to Afghanistan that allegedly asked Taliban emir Mulah Omar to hand over Osama bin Laden. Mehdi argues that the true story was that the head of the delegation, Pakistani ISI chief Lt. Gen. Mahmud Ahmed, convinced the Taliban to implement a new Pakistani plan, advising the Taliban to retreat instead of facing overwhelming US military power. Mehdi also discusses how Musharraf’s radical U-turn has been extremely confusing for the Pakistani armed forces and for the ISI – which had nurtured the Taliban since the mid-1990s.

Who’s in US line of fire in Pak tribal areas

September 18, 2008

In the second part of this series, Pakistan analyst Khawar Mehdi explains to Pepe Escobar how US forces crossed from Afghanistan to Pakistan in hot pursuit, in their raid on the tribal areas on September 2. Mehdi identifies the key tribal leaders the US is after, from fabled Mujahideen Jalaluddin Haqqani, a veteran of the jihad in the 1980s, to Baitullah Mahsud, the leader of the Tehrik-e-Taliban, the top Taliban group in the Pakistani tribal areas. The aims and strategies of different groups are also discussed. Included is rare, recent footage shot in North and South Waziristan.

The revamped war on terror exposed

September 17, 2008

This is the first part of a series on the new face of the "war on terror" in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region. This follows the latest US Special Forces operations inside Pakistan in the last few days. Journalist and analyst Khawar Mehdi tells Pepe Escobar about the main political players involved; the strain the new US strategy puts over the Pakistani military and government; the ways Pakistani public opinion and tribal area Pashtuns are angrily reacting to it; and the consequences of renewed anti-US sentiment spreading to most sectors of Pakistani society.

The "lipstick pit bull" goes to war

September 13, 2008

In her long-awaited first prime-time interview – to ABC News’ Charles Gibson – since appointed as running mate to Senator John McCain in the Republican presidential ticket, Alaska governor Sarah Palin was able to display her foreign policy knowledge – which does not include understanding the meaning of the Bush doctrine of preemptive war. Adding to the chorus of Americans who suspect Palin is not prepared to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency in case McCain wins the election, the neoconservatives who gave her a crash course in international relations before she sat for the interview did not fail to commit a series of blunders.

The war on terror targets Pakistan Pt 2

September 12, 2008

In the second part of this series, investigative historian Gareth Porter tells Pepe Escobar about the efforts by both the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the CIA clandestine operations not to depend on "special approvals" to launch Special Forces ops inside Pakistani territory in the hunt for Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders. Gen. David Petraeus, about to take over as head of Central Command, is firmly in favor. Although the National Intelligence Council is firmly against it, arguing these ops will dangerously destabilize the Pakistani Army and even the Pakistani government, the Bush administration has authorized US Special Forces to operate inside Pakistan even without the approval of the Pakistani government – in a dangerous escalation of the "war on terror."

Al-Qaeda blames Iran, US targets inside Pakistan

September 11, 2008

In the first part of this series, investigative military historian Gareth Porter analyzes al- Qaeda’s demonization of Shi’ites; the rationale behind US special commandos conducting attacks against alleged al-Qaeda and neo-Taliban operatives deep inside the Pakistani tribal areas; the overall counterinsurgency strategy of Gen. David Petraeus; and the surge in Iraq compared with what is now a surge in Pashtun-dominated lands inside Pakistan. Part Two of series published on Friday.