Overview: As The Third World Continues To Fight Against Western Economic
Exploitation, Obama's A Mixed Bag, The Right Still 100% Wrong
hyperlinked to sources. For all
sources, see the data
Your sources today include: the New
York Times, the British newspapers The Guardian, The Telegraph and he Financial
Times, commondreams.org, msnbc.com, McClatchy Newspapers, the Miami Herald, Time
Magazine and CNN.
In recent podcasts you've heard about
the hottest issues du jour, such as health care reform and the Sotomayor Supreme
Court appointment. This show
will address issues not, for the most part, as immediately applicable to the
water cooler wars.
There's a whole world of strife,
struggle, bloodshed and sometimes progressive victory out there.
It's all about the Third World's centuries-long attempt to throw off
Western economic exploitation. That
struggle is my real passion. Here
you'll get a whirlwind review -- things that caught my eye, and that I think you
might want to be aware of, pay attention to over the coming months.
The linchpin to understanding all
this is my Four Pillars concept, my
analysis of the ways the First World
economically exploits the Third World. The Four Pillars are how the right
effectuates the supreme right-wing directive: transfer wealth from everyone else
to the already rich.
I go over these Four Pillars in
detail in podcast 137.
That's a seminal podcast that I urge you to listen to if you haven't.
In short, the Four Pillars are:
1 - sweetheart contracts for natural
2 - unfair conditions of
3 - dubious loans that ensnare Third
World countries on a debt treadmill, and
4 - imposition of so-called
"structural adjustment programs"
Woe to any nation that challenges any
of the Four Pillars. The Four
Pillars will pop up again and again as we go through the day.
Let's start by going over some
Globally by one measure things have
gotten better. Since 1960, the
number of children dying before the age of 5 has been cut
in half. But it's still about
10,000,000 per year. Still a moral
Right now more than a billion
people around the world are urgently hungry.
Four million more are added per week.
The global financial crisis is making things much worse.
Foreign aid may drop,
remittances home are already down. There
could be an additional 200,00-400,000
child deaths per year. If you'll
recall, there have already been food riots
in over 30 countries. See podcast 121.
Talk about a life and death issue!
Behind these numbers is an intense
struggle, often off
the corporate media radar:
Barely reported in the international press, there have been major protests
around mines, oil, logging and mineral exploitation in Africa, Latin America,
Asia and North America. Hydro electric dams, biofuel plantations as well as
coal, copper, gold and bauxite mines are all at the centre of major land rights
This often involves indigenous
communities. Here's Victoria
Tauli-Corpus, chair of the UN's Permanent Forum on Indigenous issues:
An aggressive drive is
taking place to extract the last remaining resources from indigenous
territories. There is a crisis of human rights. There are more and more arrests,
killings and abuses.
This is happening in
Russia, Canada, the Philippines, Cambodia, Mongolia, Nigeria, the Amazon, all
over Latin America, Papua New Guinea and Africa. It is global.
You may have read recently about
violence in Peru over oil and timber riches in the Amazon.
Were you taught as I was in high
school, that the purpose of colonialism was to transfer wealth from the colony
to the mother country?
Such a transfer of wealth is still
the goal of Western foreign policy, the Four Pillars are the method of
the colonial era, of course, plantation economies were established in Africa,
Asia and Latin America to export food to the mother countries.
present-day scale is massive:
The acquisition of
farmland from the world's poor by rich countries and international corporations
is accelerating at an alarming rate, with an area half the size of Europe's
farmland targeted in the last six months.
The conservative Financial Times editorialized
was ever a soft policy issue before, it now rivals oil as a basis of power and
can live without oil. Not without
most of the nations which are the subject of land grabs for food, large portions
of their citizenry don't have enough to eat.
Even the recent G8 meeting had this
land grabbing on the agenda.
Progressive activists warn that
production will ensure food security for investing countries but would leave
behind a trail of hunger, starvation and food scarcities for local populations
The result will be civil unrest.
This may well have been a factor in the overthrow
of the government of Madagascar.
At that recent G8 meeting, Obama got
the other leaders to pledge $20 billion for direct aid to Third World farmers,
to enable them to grow more. This is
a big change in policy, since most prior U.S. efforts were shipping emergency
U.S.-grown food aid.
It remains to be seen whether this
$20 billion is new funds, or just shifting from other programs.
And of course, if the land grab I
spoke about just before continues, many of these farmers won't have land to grow
food on anyways.
It always comes down to economic and
Finally on this initial global
overview, if there's one thing you can't do without even more urgently than
food, it's water.
So, it should come as no surprise to
you, that the multinationals are seeking to privatize, commercialize, and make a
huge profit from, water
all over the globe.
A while back, a Bolivian city kicked
out multinational Bechtel which had been running the privatized water system in
that city, and such unrest was a factor in the election of Bolivia's first
indigenous president, progressive Evo Morales.
Venezuela under Hugo Chavez has
forbid multinational control of that nation's water supplies.
This past spring delegates from 182
countries met to
address the problem.
As with food, there is the charity
route to providing clean water to those without in the Third World.
But also as with food, social and
economic justice and the ending of multinational corporate looting, is what is
Speaking of economic justice and
control of multinationals, we'll next start looking at individual countries
around the world. Stay tuned.
What's going on in Iraq?
One interesting development relates
to oil, one of the major reasons, many believe, we went to war.
Check out podcast 86
for evidence of that. Also podcasts 126
about U.S. attempts to control Iraq's oil.
The multinational energy companies
strongly prefer oil contracts called production sharing agreements, or PSA's.
PSA's give the multinationals higher profits and more control.
But the Iraqi government said no
PSA's, and then asked for bids on some oil fields.
Only one company bid high enough to be accepted.
The country's oil minister bragged
that "I sent them a message that there are people in Iraq who are
protecting Iraq’s wealth.”
Is this for real, or a dog-and-pony
show on the Iraqi government and the multinational's part for domestic Iraqi
consumption? Only time will tell.
What seems clear now about Iraq, is
that Obama's plans for Iraq don't fulfill any of the conditions
for a true U.S. withdrawal. They
--withdrawal of all troops
--withdrawal of all foreign
mercenaries and contractors
--closing of all military bases and
turning them over to the Iraqis
--abandoning efforts to control
We're not going any where.
One progressive analyst argues
that the U.S. posture in Iraq fulfills the three classic elements of
--the U.S., not the indigenous
government, is the ultimate decision maker
--U.S. citizens in Iraq are subject
to different laws and institutions than the Iraqi population, and
--the Iraqi economy is shaped to
serve U.S. interests, not that of the local population
The analyst's conclusion:
All the features of
classic colonialism took shape in the Bush years in Iraq and are now, as far as
we can tell, being continued, in some cases even strengthened, in the early
months of the Obama era.
I don't disagree.
For example, getting back to oil,
Iraqi oil revenues don't even flow directly to Iraq.
95% of them go to a UN fund and are then disbursed to Iraq by a
U.S.-appointed panel of experts.
And the U.S. has been pressuring
behind the scenes for Iraq to sign the unfavorable PSA-type oil agreements.
An anonymous senior State Department
official described what has been called the Obama Doctrine for Iraq:
One of the challenges…is
how the U.S. can continue to wield influence on key decisions without being seen
to do so.
Let's move over to Afghanistan.
You undoubtedly know that Obama has sent thousands
of additional troops there.
Also not good.
Many progressives worry, Afghanistan
will become Obama's Vietnam.
One intelligent and lifesaving
measure the Obama administration has taken, is a change
in bombing strategy.
The new U.S. commander in
Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, admitted that civilian
deaths from U.S. bombing were turning the Afghan population against us.
Of course, we progressives have been
yelling and screaming about this since the first days of the Afghan war.
From now on, air strikes during
firefights will for the most part only be allowed if American or other allied
troops are at risk of being overrun.
McChrystal apparently plans to go
ordering that, as Time Magazine put it, "soldiers should hold their fire if
there is even the slightest risk of a civilian presence in the target
Are these plans for real?
Will they work?
On the latter, not yet, at least.
Just last week Afghans said
5 civilians were killed and 13 wounded from a U.S. air strike called in by an
American patrol that was attacked.
Continuing right along to Pakistan,
you'll see a similar pattern.
Obama has expanded
drone missile strikes inside Pakistan. Beyond
The same thinking as in Afghanistan
should apply: civilian casualties from these strikes are going to turn the
population against us.
In fact, a top advisor to the U.S.
army in Afghanistan recently argued
that the drone strikes in Pakistan were creating more enemies than they were
killing, and should be called off.
And -- shades of Bill Maher -- this
advisor also opined that "using robots from the air looks both cowardly and
ultimate problem in Pakistan is -- like around the world -- that we're on the
wrong side in the class struggle in that country.
There's massive wealth inequality
because Pakistan has
maintained a narrow landed
upper class that kept its vast holdings while its workers remained
subservient…Successive Pakistani governments have…failed to provide land
reform and even the most basic forms of education and health care. Avenues to
advancement for the vast majority of rural poor do not exist.
Taliban have used this fact to make vast inroads among the rural Pakistani poor,
taking their side against exploitative landlords.
unfortunate classic feature of U.S. foreign policy is siding with small wealthy
elites against the poor majority.
never augurs well.
these lines, in a deja view all over again scenario, the U.S. has announced
plans to build a
Baghdad-sized super-embassy in Islamabad.
member of a Pakistani religious party didn't miss the connection:
This is a replay of Baghdad. This…is more…than they should need. It's
for the micro and macro management of Pakistan, and using Pakistan for pushing
the American agenda in Central Asia.
just like Iraq has been making a big show of not giving in to multinational
demands on Iraqi oil, the Pakistani government has been publicly complaining
about the U.S. drone air strikes.
U.S. claims, however, that in private, the Pakistani government welcomes these
wouldn't be surprised.
Ok, in a minute,
I'll spin the globe around for you and let you know what's happening in
our own hemisphere. Stick around.
Focusing now on the Western
Hemisphere, the Obama administration
did something pretty good in El Salvador. The
leftist party, the FMLN, was poised
to win the presidential elections. Right-wingers
in the U.S. started making
threats that if the FMLN won, the U.S. would
retaliate by changes in immigration and cash remittance policies.
Salvadorans in the U.S. currently send back $4 billion a year to their
The Obama State Department issued
clear declarations that neither those nor any other retaliatory actions would be
taken if the FMLN won. And the
FMLN did win. A great progressive
In bad news from El Salvador, a
multinational mining company is trying to use a free trade agreement to force
that country to allow it to mine gold there.
One of the Four Pillars at work.
Obama's good policy in El Salvador is
not the pattern, unfortunately.
Despite a forceful progressive
campaign not to, Obama cancelled
a multi-million dollar aid package to Nicaragua, supposedly because of election
President Daniel Ortega said of Obama
that "He expresses good will, but in practice, he has the same policies as
Not that bad, at least not yet.
In Bolivia, progressive President Evo
Morales' constitutional reform easily passed
early this year, giving more political power to the indigenous community there.
You can listen to podcasts 22,
about the amazing situation in Bolivia.
But even though Morales has majority
support in his country, he doesn't enjoy Obama's good will.
Obama just cut
off trade benefits for Bolivia, ostensibly because of a lack of effort to
stop coca growing. Morales, like
Chavez and others, has successfully fought back against multinational
exploitation of his country's natural resources.
Better not fight against the Four
And that coca growing excuse?
Colombia's the biggest cocaine exporter of all, but a huge recipient of
And in more bad news, Obama has
decided to station
several hundred American troops there.
The empire does need to be
continuously expanding its overseas bases.
Speaking of projecting military
power, George W. Bush, before he left office, re-activated the Fourth Fleet
after 50 years to patrol Latin American waters.
Hugo Chavez conducted
joint naval exercises with the Russian Navy in those seas.
Chavez also easily won
a referendum ending presidential term limits.
The right is apoplectic, because it
knows Chavez may well be elected over and over again, given all the good he's
done by redirecting
Venezuela's oil wealth from the multinationals and the Venezuelan elite, to the
That, of course, is a cardinal sin to
the right, and a prime violation of the Four Pillars.
Obama has blown hot and cold with
Chavez, engaging in a war of words with him early
in his presidency, and recently
being much more buddy buddy
with him at the Summit of the Americas. Their
handshake, and Obama's accepting a book as a gift from Chavez, really sent the
right into a tizzy.
Finally in Latin America, what's most
in the news now, Honduras.
of Hondurans live in poverty, the children-die-from-lack-of-food-and-medicine
kind of poverty.
Wealthy rancher Manuel Zelaya was
elected president and swung way left, doing great stuff like raising the minimum
wage, and spending far more on health care, education, elderly assistance and
Uh-oh, you know what's coming from
the right. And they got their
Zelaya wanted to conduct
a non-binding, merely advisory referendum asking Hondurans if they wanted a
measure on the ballot okaying a constitutional assembly to study amending the
constitution. The Honduran Congress
and Supreme Court said it was illegal to hold such a referendum, he couldn't.
Zelaya pressed ahead anyway.
I'm no expert in Honduran law, so I
don't know who's correct about the legality.
What I do know, is that when that
country's Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant and the Honduran military raided
Zelaya's house in the middle of the night, kidnapped him at gunpoint, shoved him
onto an airplane, and dumped him still in his pajamas at a Costa Rican airport,
well, that wasn't legal.
The coup-installed government claims
constitutional procedures were followed. There's
a "kidnap in pajamas and exile" clause in their Constitution?
The coup-installed government
purported to accept a phony letter of resignation from Zelaya.
Need more be said?
Condemnation of the coup has been near-unanimous
The right claims Zelaya was trying to
extend his term. He denies it, and
given the timing of the referendum, at most
he could have run for a non-consecutive second term after the next presidential
The right claims Zelaya was too
friendly with Hugo Chavez, that his goal was a Venezuelan-style socialist
Kidnap Zelaya in his pajamas at gunpoint as a solution.
How has Obama done here?
The U.S. -- surprise, surprise -- has
a history of
supporting brutal military dictatorships in Honduras.
The New York Times reported
American officials were working for days to head off the Honduran coup.
Huh? And they didn't warn
Zelaya about it?
The U.S. military and Honduran
military are very close.
Honduran officers trained in the U.S. were coup leaders.
They wouldn't have moved without a U.S. ok.
The current U.S. ambassador to
Honduras was a top advisor
to George W. Bush on Venezuela at the time of the 2002 coup against Chavez
there. Another kidnapping
If Obama had really wanted to end the
Honduran coup, he could have immediately cut off all aid to Honduras, like he's
supposed to do under the law, instead of just threatening to do so.
He could freeze
bank accounts of coup leaders.
And why hasn't Obama forcefully
condemned the coup-installed government's violence
against those protesting their power grab?
I'm not all that happy with Obama on
this. Are you?
wrap this all up.
has some foreign policy positives, as you've heard.
He's also moved
the U.S. closer to banning cluster bombs, and by restoring
funding for the UN Population Fund, will save the lives of many Third World
you've also heard, on issues of empire, Obama is playing his assigned role of
Emperor. Not as fully as Bush did,
or McCain would have, but still nowhere near where he needs to be.
something immediate, you can call and ask your representative to co-sponsor the
Delahunt-McGovern House Resolution on Honduras which demands the immediate
reinstatement of Manuel Zelaya as President of Honduras.
The Capitol Hill switchboard is 202-224-3121.
that, be aware and pay attention.
the words of Adela, the Base Christian Community organizer my travel study group
met with in Mexico over two decades ago. Her
words grow ever more powerful to me as the years pass by.
Listen. She said:
God gave the earth to
everyone equally, and if some have too much and some too little, the ones with
too much must have stolen it some way.
Remember you have justice on your
side when you take the correct side in the world revolution, as one of the
greatest Americans exhorted
us to do:
Martin Luther King, Jr.
In 1957 a sensitive
American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the
wrong side of a world revolution…
Increasingly, by choice or
by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make
peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the
pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments…
These are revolutionary
times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation
and oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world, new systems of justice
and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are
rising up as never before. The people who sat in darkness have seen a great
light. We in the West must support these revolutions.