By Karla Fetrow
The Appeal to Responsibility
Three months into the Occupy movement, and the mainstream media still view this collaboration of global citizens a protest basically aimed at the banks and economic disparity. Finances are certainly a driving force. The man who is adequately clothed, fed, sheltered and has a good job is far less likely to voice adamant discontent, regardless of political affiliations, than the man who has suddenly lost his life savings through bank foreclosure or a terminal disease. The countries that still have some of their economic stability will be less likely to erupt in violent demonstration than the countries that have found themselves completely bankrupt. Taken strictly from the angle of financial responsibility, it would seem a movement to force individual governments to close tax loopholes for the wealthy, to stimulate the job market, and pass measures of fair wages to keep up with the costs of inflated living expenses.
What the Occupiers are saying is far different than changing the favoritism of government policies, far more out-reaching than individual demographic well-being. They want a sense of responsibility to return to the corporate industry that has destabilized the global economy, endangered the world’s environment and conducted invasive wars. They want the Corporate manifest to quit harming the global citizens.
Emergence of the New Economy
Economically, the Western World is in grave danger. While businesses in Europe and the United States stagger under their economic debt, China is out bargain hunting. A recent acquisition was the purchase of a well known Italian fashion brand, Cerruti, by luxury clothing retailer owned by the Hong Kong-based trading group Li & Fung.
“The interest of China is to invest in Italy and European countries in general. I suppose it’s a good opportunity to catch,” says Tiberio Graziani, analyst from the “Eurasia, Rivista di Studi Geopolitici” quarterly magazine.
It’s not just China cashing in on the faltering economies of Europe. Three other giants stand beside it as newly developing economies; Russia, India and Brazil. The acronym for these countries; BRIC; has come into widespread use as a symbol of the shift in global economic power away from the developed G7 economies towards the developing world. It is estimated that BRIC economies will overtake G7 economies by 2027.
The potential of these rising powers is not lost on the analysts for Goldman Sachs. An article in a May 2010 publication of Goldman Sachs Investment Research stated, “Our baseline projections envisage the BRICs, as an aggregate, overtaking the US by 2018. In terms of size, Brazil’s economy will be larger than Italy’s by 2020; India and Russia will individually be larger than Spain, Canada or Italy.
In the coming decade, the more striking story will be the rise of the new BRICs middle class. In the last decade alone, the number of people with incomes greater than $6,000 and less than $30,000 has grown by hundreds of millions, and this number is set to rise even further in the next 10 years. These trends imply an acceleration in demand potential that will affect the types of products the BRICs import—the import share of low value added goods is likely to fall and imports of high value added goods, such as cars, office equipment and technology, will rise.
Building Another Cold War
More disturbing than the economic bankruptcy of the Western World is the apparent inability of its elective officials to accept it. Instead of struggling for a solution that would recreate a self-sustaining work force, consequently an ability to contend in the global medium of exchange, the tactic has been to bully its way through, and build a massive military complex with the aid of NATO.
It was a very frustrating day for President Barrack Obama when he attended the APEC (Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit held in Honolulu late November. His hope was to lobby for what he called a growing concern in Iran’s development as a nuclear armed nation. According to the Huffington Post, “The United States’ vast worries about Iran grew starker with a report this week by the U.N. atomic agency that asserted in the strongest terms yet Iran is conducting secret work with the sole intent of developing nuclear arms. The U.S. claims a nuclear-armed Iran could set off an arms race among rival states and directly threaten Israel.”
Russia and China, both countries with strong veto powers within the U.N. were clearly not impressed. In fact, they perceived Obama’s stand more as one of intrusion into a global monetary system that is slowly shifting to the Chinese Yuan as the leading currency.
CEO of Country Risk Solutions Daniel Wagner is quoted in Russian Times as saying that each passing APEC forum and other events on the global stage clearly show that China is really in the driver’s seat in many respects.
“This is coming at an awkward times for the U.S., because it is clearly a declining power at the same time it is having trouble adjusting to what that means,” he told RT. “At the same time China is having a bit of a challenge adjusting to what it means to be a truly global player. And it had in the past not really lived up to some of the expectations of some other of the world powers and it is finding its own footing in that regard.”
Nor has Latin America been very impressed with US performance. Thirty-three Latin American leaders have come together and formed a new regional bloc, pledging closer economic and political ties. The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) pointedly excludes the US and Canada.
On the second day of a summit in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, all Latin American leaders, both right and left, officially signed into effect the formation of the CELAC bloc. The foundation of the bloc has been praised as the realization of the two-centuries-old idea of Latin American “independence” envisioned by Simon Bolivar.
Analysts view CELAC as an alternative to the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS) and as an attempt by Latin American countries to reduce US influence in the region.
“As the years go by, CELAC is going to leave behind the old and worn-out OAS,” Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said at the inauguration of the bloc on Friday.
“It’s the death sentence for the Monroe Doctrine,” Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega said.
Fifty-four percent of US taxes go to the military budget and its perceived war on terror. Three billion of this $965 billion budget goes to military housing, nine billion to NASA, nine billion to International security, and $35 billion to homeland security. Operation and maintenance gets the largest cut at $241 billion, and procurement at $143 billion. The United States may go down as an economic failure, but it will go down kicking and snapping its jaws.
The Arms Race is on
Which brings us back around to the question of responsibility. For decades, the United States has wielded its power as an economically stable nation, protecting the interests of capital gain. The capitalistic ideal has morphed into a corporate ideal and the corporations have sold us out. Their interests will not be in helping the Western World get back on its feet, but in following the money. What it leaves us with is a military complex just itching to wage war.
Before the flag wavers of patriotic loyalty leap to their feet, let’s consider the global scenario we are facing. What started as peaceful negotiations with Russia for a missile defense plan that would protect both Eastern and Western Europe has deteriorated into a squabble over Russia’s inability to participate.
According to an article by Andreas Umland, Russia’s failure to become more closely involved with the Eastern Partnership initiative is largely its own fault. The EU and some of its most important member countries, such as Germany, France and Italy, are strongly interested in substantially deepening and widening European cooperation with Russia. If Russia is ready to become “more European” with regard to both its internal and foreign policies, the entire West would be most happy to upgrade Russian-Western cooperation (if necessary, against Central-Eastern European resistance). For that, however, Russia will need to put more efforts into becoming part of the community of Western values in its domestic affairs, especially as regards genuine political pluralism and substantive rule of law. Currently, Russia is faking a multiparty system, and has again installed a de facto one-party state. Vladimir Putin’s “dictatorship of the law,” announced earlier, has so far remained unimplemented, or at least has not become reality in the way it was once hoped.”
However, Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, sees things differently. According to him, NATO has rejected every defense proposal offered by Russia. Permanent Representative to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said in an interview with Radio Russia, “Washington has said “no” to the Russian idea of a common missile defense network. More telling as to the true purpose of the project, perhaps, the US also refused to give legally binding guarantees that the system would not be aimed at Russia’s strategic nuclear defenses under any circumstances.”
While Western Europe debates the legitimacy of a non-NATO member having a say in a missile defense plan along Eastern Europe’s borders, Russia has taken things in its own hands. Announcing that it would no longer wait to join the European missile defense system, but rather take defensive and offensive initiatives to protect its citizens and preserve its sovereignty, Medvedev outlined his own measures to counter-act NATO’s my way or the highway military strategy.
One of its steps has been to launch a military partnership with its Cold War ally, Cuba. Russian contractors have agreed to supply production equipment for manufacturing 7.62-mm rifle rounds, Kommersant daily reports. Cuban arms plant called Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara will also receive a license and technology for recycling used ammo.
The daily cites its sources as saying that Havana officials decided to purchase the equipment after visiting a similar production line in Venezuela. The insider did not reveal any details on the financial terms of the future deal, but said it was close to being sealed.
The BRIC nations; Russia, China, India and Brazil; the countries rising to the forefront as the new economy; have basically told the United States and the Western world to butt out of their affairs. The Western countries are not only torn apart economically, but simmer with civil upheaval. Certainly, the easiest solution is to quell discontent, to pour money into the military budget and focus the Western World on eminent war. Is it the responsible thing to do?
Here is the moment of great decision; possibly the moment that will divide brother against brother, family against neighbor. Will we strap on a defense budget that with certainty will lead us into a war we can’t win, into the complete destruction of our society, or will we find peaceful resolution to the problems we face? In the interest of Homeland Security, we have erected a fence against neighbors who could have been potential allies in our struggle to regain sovereign footing. In the interest of a European defense system that would protect Western and Eastern Europe, we have set the stage for a new weapons build up between the West and the Eastern Nations. In the interest of promoting a false democracy at work, independent civil rights movements have been invaded with unwanted military actions, protestors have been beaten and jailed, free press has been vilified, innocent citizens simply exercising their rights have been abused, ostracized and criminalized.
The corporations, who are people by law, are not going to take responsibility for their actions, because by all other definition, they are not people. They have no conscience to appeal to, no single entity to be held accountable for credit card scams, real estate foreclosures, pharmaceutical malpractice, environmental pollution. There is nobody standing up and saying, “the buck stops here.” The governments that shield corporate interests through a militant show of power, are not going to take responsibility for the wasted use of our resources, inciting civil discord or sending our youth to war and returning them in body bags. It’s up to the people; each and every one of us, to realize our only chance of freedom lies within ourselves. Our only chance of rising up out of our economic ruin is through each other. Our only chance of peace is to open the doors between the East and the West, develop communications, forget for once, it’s important to be a winner and learn what it takes to become a world citizen.