Wed. Jul 24th, 2024
Russian Convoy in Georgia

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.”

Obama has an Uncomfortable Moment with Medvedev

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.

BRIC representatives shake hands

“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.

By karlsie

Some great perversity of nature decided to give me a tune completely out of keeping with the general symphony; possibly from the moment of conception. I learned to read and speak almost simultaneously. The blurred and muffled world I heard through my first five years of random nerve loss deafness suddenly came alive with the clarity of how those words sounded on paper. I had been liberated for communications. I decided there was nothing more wonderful than writing. It was easier to write than carefully modulate my speech for correct pronunciation, and it was easier to read than patiently follow the movements of people’s lips to learn what they were saying. It was during that dawning time period, while I slowly made the connection that there weren’t that many other people who heard the way I did, halfway between sound and music, half in deafness, that I began to understand that the tune I was following wasn’t quite the same as that of my classmates. I was just a little different. General education taught me not only was I just a little isolated from my classmates, my home was just a little isolated from the outside world. I was born in Alaska, making me part of one of the smallest, quietest minorities on earth. I decided I could live with this. What I couldn’t live with was discovering a few years later, in the opening up of the pipeline, which coincided with my first year of junior college, that there were entire communities of people; more than I could possibly imagine; living impossibly one on top of another in vast cities. It wasn’t even the magnitude of this vision that inspired me so much as the visitors who came from these populous regions and seemed to possess a knowledge so great and secretive I could never learn it in any book. I became at once, very conscious of how rural I was and how little I knew beyond the scope of my environment. I decided it was time to travel. The rest is history; or at least, the content of my stories. I traveled... often to college campuses, dropping in and out of school until one fine day by chance I’d fashioned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. I’ve worked a couple of newspapers, had a few poems and stories tossed around in various small presses, never receiving a great deal of money, which I’m assured is the norm for a writer. I spent ten years in Mexico, watching the peso crash. There is some obscure reason why I did this, tightening up my belt and facing hunger, but I believe at the time I said it was for love. Here I am, back home, in my beloved Alaska. I’ve learned somewhat of a worldly viewpoint; at least I like to flatter myself that way. I’ve also learned my rural roots aren’t so bad after all. I work in a small, country store. Every day I greet the same group of local customers, but make no mistake. My store isn’t a scene out of Andy Griffith. The people who enter the establishment, which also includes showers, laundry and movie rentals, are miners, oil workers, truck drivers, construction engineers, dog sled racers and carpenters. Sometimes, on the liquor side, the conversations became adult only in vocabulary. It’s a good thing, on the opposite side of the store is a candy aisle filled with the most astonishing collection, it will keep a kid occupied with just wishing for hours. If you tell your kids they can have just one, you have an instant baby sitter; better than television; as they agonize over their choice while you catch up on the gossip with your neighbor. We also receive a lot of tourists, a lot of foreign visitors. They are usually amazed at this first sign of Alaskan rural life style beyond the insulating hub of the Anchorage bowl. Many of them like to hang around and chat. They gawk at our thieves wanted posters. They laugh at our jokes and camaraderie with our customers. I’ve learned another lesson while working there. You don’t have to go out and find the world. If you wait long enough, it comes to you.

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11 thoughts on “The Economic March Toward World War III”
  1. “…it’s important to be a winner and learn what it takes to become a world citizen.”

    This is the crux of the matter, really – according to the far Right, America is ‘exceptional’; we can do what we want because we have the ‘secret-sauce’ of work ethic/resilience/’can do’ – and the help of an Imaginary Friend.

    Because of this we can do no wrong.

    We’re about to learn a very, very serious lesson – or not, depending upon the outcome of the war.

    We could wind up turning large parts of Asia and the Middle East into smoking, iridescent slag, becoming the Undisputed Ruler of What’s Left – or (more likely) we’ll get our asses handed to us by a planet which is (apart from Israel) well-and-truly sick and tired of us – leaving a hundred million Fundies wondering what happened.

    The good thing about what’s behind Door Number Two is that it’ll blow a hole in the collective racial, religious and social-memories of Fundies of all stripes (whether Christian or Islamic), that we won’t have to deal with them again – it may well spell the end of both religions entirely.

    That’s a heavy price to pay, but I’d consider it an even trade if that’s what happened.

    At this point, a peaceful resolution to things is looking like a matter of luck. As I said earlier this week, the time is past for us to work within the system to achieve anything like an orderly transition here in America – the government is bought-and-paid-for; the only thing that’s left is to take a side.

    I’ll keep working within the Occupy movements to achieve a peaceful change – but that said, I’ve already taken my side. Whether everyone else in America realizes this or not, they’re going to have to do the same thing. One is either a revolutionary at this point, or a tacit supporter of the criminals in charge.

    You are either a rebel or a slave, to quote Chris Hedges.

    We are both right.


  2. Will, my hope is that NATO backed America will not turn “large parts of Asia and the Middle East into smoking, iridescent slag”. If it does, we all lose. The earth can not withstand any more environmental impact on such a large scale.

    I see Occupy as our best hope. I don’t believe the BRIC Nations want to go to war against us. They are looking at more vigorous economic development and know that war is costly and defeating to their citizens. However, i also believe the emerging nations are drawing their lines and saying, “no more”. They want no more interference into their affairs. They want Western media to quit spreading lies about them and covering the truth. They don’t wish to march to the drummers, they want their own drums. Russia blames an aggressive propaganda machine instigated by the Western alliance for the current civil unrest within its own country. We won’t really know the truth until we allow Russia to be heard.

    The Latin American countries are taking huge steps in alternative energy, water conservation and crop management. Their expertise could be incorporated into our own resource management program if we could just pry it loose from the profit making greedy.

    If the Western World would just get its head out of the sand, it doesn’t really have to get left behind as a modern day Germany that had it all but blew it behind its military complex. In the Goldman Sachs appraisal, they stated, “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.”

    The West still has some of the highest technology in the world. The manufacturing that was outsourced by cheap labor can still be revived. Instead of an arms race, if we placed our natural and human resources into re-building our infrastructure and utilizing our knowledge of environmental low impact development, we could become an example instead of a villain.

    The Occupy movement is the one chance that this could happen. Without intervention, chances are the corporatists will simply shift their pandering to the BRIC countries, hoping for a (major) piece of the action, the West will bankrupt itself completely with war, and all our best scientists will move to the countries that are offering the highest bids for their services.

  3. The war is already in the works Karla – there is already legislation in the works to create the “legal” justification for declaring “batlefield authority” and indefinitely detain U.S. citizens here at home: essentially, the state is declaring its own home soil a war zone and dissenters as enemy combatants that can be treated as prisoners of war! (see full story here – )

    It’s time to shit or get off the pot – the state is going to make war against anyone who says no to it. The question here is whether you will be prepared to resist it or not…

  4. That’s a very well rounded discussion, K. I think you touched on issues that are very important, and perhaps a lot of the perspective that we’re missing from the “big picture.” You also answered some pertinent questions about what the Occupy protests are about. What I gathered from your viewpoint is: the fact that the US is not actively looking for a solution to the 99% suffering IS the problem, the demand is that they turn over a new leaf.

    That said, I think there is only two ways to create a successful negotiation. (A) Violence, which isn’t really negotiating per say, but it does really move to action, doesn’t it? And (B) the 99% has to formulate specific demands that the government can follow. The course of least resistance…the government and the corporations, i suppose, want “10 easy steps to cure the debt without losing their own money.” They don’t want to figure things out. They expect the 99% to offer perfect solutions for the mess they’ve made. I think we are capable of creating direct actions, especially if we have a strong leader that can speak for us.

    But as you stated very well, it’s not simply a US issue anymore, but a global perspective. The US has to fall into line, and follow the lead of smarter nations. Fat chance right?

    Overall, very good analysis of a complex issue, and I applaud your research.

    Personally, I don’t see any idealistic situation happening. The US government is very corrupt and most Americans are selfish and more than a little touched in the head. It will take an apocalypse or a war to reach them. I see the protesters vs. the government feud becoming much worse…very bloody, very desperate. the best we can hope for is that this ugly scenario won’t happen in our life time.

  5. Mitch, as Azazel pointed out, the war has already begun; now. In our life time. The guns are pointing inward, at our own populations as well as outward at the Eastern world. For Alaskans, this is very disappointing. We’ve been enjoying our vigorous open-door trade with Russia, and don’t wish to see it slammed shut. We don’t want armaments in our Arctic Rim. In all likelihood, if push comes to shove, Alaska will declare its independence, which would definitely cause an internal revolution. Hawaii, i suspect, is finding its own allies among the Asian Pacific nations.

    How do we fix the problem without bloodshed? How do you keep from killing a man who pushes down your door, takes your children hostage and steals all your belongings, then declares in court he was entitled? This is what we are up against. The irony is, as Jane pointed out, climate change is already going to do its share of massive destruction. What will be our answer to mass flooding, polluted waterways, increasing desert areas? While the existing governments are making war on us, nature is inflicting war on everyone. The only answers lay in first putting down our arms, then in talking about the real problems that are facing our global citizens.

  6. Maybe the beginning of the war has begun, but the peak is far from us. I’m thinking End of the World, mass rioting, post apocalyptic stuff. I certainly hope I don’t live long enough to see it at its worst.

  7. Um, lol, you may want to check the flag on that Russian made BMP in that picture showing a convoy of Russian made vehicles that you have labeled as a NATO convoy. Unless I’m mistaken and Russia entered NATO without me knowing or NATO has stolen the Russian flag.

  8. Lolwat, I went back and checked my source, and you are right. I picked the photo from one among several that went with an article concerning NATO troops in Eastern Europe; specifically Poland and Czechoslovakia; so that the article, instead of the photo title was uppermost in my mind. I almost used a photo that showed a solid block of Russian troops in front of the Kremlin. The purpose of the article was a reminder that if we pick a war with the Eastern countries, they are not without their defenses. They are not without their abilities.

    Anyone under thirty would not really know what it was like to be raised under the shadow of the Cold War, to go to bed each night and wake each morning filled with fear that the bomb might drop. I can’t think of anything more wasteful right now than building another Cold War or in further agitating the Eastern Countries. It’s time to start rebuilding the damage we’ve caused, not continue with our destruction until there is absolutely no possibility of salvaging anything.

    It wouldn’t hurt us to listen to Eastern Europe instead of pretending it has no voice. It wouldn’t hurt us to try and understand Russia instead of always turning it into the villain. It wouldn’t hurt us to be more neighborly with the South American countries instead of waging hostilities against them. If we did that, we would not have the need for a huge military complex and we would not have to worry about military arms build up at our borders.

  9. Now Goldman Sachs is the goto fact check even for Occupy?

    “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.”

    This “analysis” is based on the good ol’ idiots’ prognosticator, the straight line extrapolation. Not one of the BRICs has an internally stable economy: they’re all totally export dependent. A quick look at China’s numbers, for example, would require them to maintain 10%+ growth for another decade (they’re already faltering) to achieve the No.1 spot. Not going to happen.

    Latin America, like Africa, and Russia for that matter, are not long term “winners”. They are horribly unbalanced economic spastics hostage to the whims of the global commodities market (we may moan about high gas prices in the US, but every dollar drop in oil prices bleeds billions from these countries economies). China is a step ahead, with more manufacturing, but that just puts the problem at one remove, and the Chinese demographic problem makes the American Medicare issues look like a tussle over the profits from a lemonade stand.

    “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” Give those tards at least this credit: they recognize this is an impossibility. There’s too many people competing for too few resources, and everybody wants to move ahead, not voluntarily move down the food chain. It’s difficult to argue this point of view is in error, and you sure as hell won’t be able to sell low growth models to those in the “developing” nations. They want their damn cars.

    As a wise man once said “It’s difficult to hold a proper wake when everyone is unsure of the identity of the corpse.” This article is trying to analyze the current problem using the wrong numbers, the wrong assumptions, and finally drawing the wrong conclusion.

    And those “Occupy” idiots don’t have a clue either.

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