Category Archives: International Politics

The Crisis in Greece: The Collision of Two World Models

The question of how to proceed on the Greek crisis, for pro-austerity European Union leaders, is not about helping Greece’s economy recover, but about enforcing discipline and ensuring obedience to the pro-bank global neoliberal agenda they envision for Europe and the rest of the world. The landslide Greek rejection of further austerity is nothing short of a direct challenge to that agenda, which seeks to marginalize the will of people and their democratically elected governments in the bank-dominated world order they’re fighting so hard to impose. But too harsh a punishment could backfire on the EU leaders and their bank lords; a middle ground solution seems to be the only choice if they want to prevent the collapse of their pro-bank global agenda.

When the Tsipras government turned to the Greek people to decide the way forward, the European bank lords saw an existential threat to their austerity- and privatization-driven vision, which is causing serious problems in other European nations struggling with similar harsh austerity measures, such as Spain, Portugal, Italy and France. The Syriza government’s audacity to let people decide how to move forward was a direct challenge to that failing vision, and one that gives hope to other left-wing movements and parties throughout Europe. The way forward for the pro-bank European elite, led by Germany, seems very clear on the surface: punish the Tsipra’s government, and turn Greece into a horror show whose example no one will want to follow.

The problem for the EU and the banks they represent, is that even if Greece had obeyed their dictates down to a T, the austerity model they are pushing for seems to only work for the banks themselves. In the long-term such model is simply unsustainable. Further, a punitive expulsion of Greece from the Eurozone could also have serious consequences for the entire European Union, especially if China and Russia help Greece recover without the harsh austerity measures imposed by the EU. Such a Grexit, followed by financial recovery, could be the catalyst for other European nations to choose left-wing solutions to their problems, and could usher the end of the pro-bank neoliberal vision, starting in Europe, but with ripple effects throughout the rest of the world.

Pro-bank European Union leaders hoping to continue their march towards a unified, federalized EU, envisioned as both a financial and a military superpower, will have to curb their aspirations of a privatized Europe in which the will of people is ignored, and the rule of banks runs wild and unquestioned.

The austerity measures the EU and their bank lords are so bent on imposing on working people throughout Europe, alongside their blatant efforts to silence the populations on the receiving end of those measures, are only emboldening those who stand in direct opposition to their agenda. The only way to prevent a collapse of the European Union and their currency zone is to start embracing a financial model that places the needs of people over the financial profits of their banking institutions.

Whatever the outcome of the crisis in Greece, however, one thing that has been made perfectly clear is that the current neoliberal world order is not interested in the well-being of working people, much less in governments who dare to heed the guidance and directives of those who elect them. And while the elites of the neoliberal world order might do well to find a common ground solution in Greece, one can always hope for a solution entirely outside of that order; a solution driven by a vision of international solidarity in which the will of banks is overruled by the will of working people… May it be so.

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Greeks Vote “No” to Austerity… and to the Global Neoliberal Agenda

Known as the cradle of western democracy, Greece, today more than ever, gave the world a glimpse of what real democracy looks like, delivering a blow to the global neoliberal agenda with a whooping 61 percent of voters saying ‘No’ to harsh austerity measures demanded by EU and IMF lenders in exchange for more bailout loans.

The EU and IMF creditors, who did not receive a payment of some €1.6 billion due on June 30, had demanded that Greece further tighten the grip on several social lifelines by cutting pensions, healthcare services, education, and by increasing taxes on the poor. Much to his credit, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras left the decision up to Greek voters, instead of capitulating to the draconian demands. His bold move was highly discouraged by top banking officials and European leaders, who warned that the referendum would herald the exit of Greece from the Eurozone, and prevent the Mediterranean nation from gaining more credits needed to save its collapsed economy.

While today’s referendum on austerity bailout measures was hugely significant to the Greek people, its significance to the world was even bigger, as it provided a model to follow by countless nations whose struggling economies have fallen pray to similar “bailout” packages and harsh economic conditions.

The dramatic events unfolding in Greece represent an indictment not on the Greek government’s ability to pay its creditors, as the banks would have us believe, but on the global neoliberal agenda, which will always seek to impose irrational economic demands to further advance its savage brand of capitalism. Such agenda would have people the world over believe that in order to survive, nations must sacrifice their peoples’ safety nets – pensions, education, healthcare, salaries, labor protections, and other life-sustaining programs and services – to create friendly business environments that welcome investment and create prosperity. But today, 61 percent of Greek voters told EU and IMF creditors, and the entire world, that there is another way.

While it is hard to predict precisely what the immediate future holds for Greece, it is safe to assume the audacity of practicing real democracy will be harshly punished. Fear not! The neoliberal agenda, with its banks, wealthy governments, and its vast militaries, is very strong. But the world, today more than ever, stands with the Greek nation, which has given birth to the almighty creature of real democracy, in a way it never had before.

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La Copa Mundial y la Masacre Israelí en Gaza: Un Dilema Moral

Hago la pregunta de si es o no un acto de negligencia moral el invertir tanta energía emocional en la copa mundial mientras el ejercito israelí bombardea despiadadamente al pueblo palestino en Gaza.

Es una pregunta que me hice este pasado miércoles, mientras en compañía de amigos y de mi hija Samantha, veíamos con gran ansiedad el partido entre Holanda y Argentina. El restaurante en el que nos hallábamos estaba repleto de la hinchada albiceleste, la cual, entre sorbos de cerveza Quilmes, tamborazos, y canciones populares, palidecía con genuino terror cada vez que los holandeses se acercaban a la portería argentina, a pesar de que no se esperaba que hubiese ningún muerto, independientemente del resultado.

Los palestinos también aman el fútbol.

Mientras observábamos absortos el partido, el gobierno israelí bombardeaba a Gaza. Un grupo de palestinos, en medio del horror del bombardeo y unidos al resto de nosotros en su amor al deporte, fue atacado mientras veían el mismo partido en un café; nueve de ellos murieron; quince fueron heridos.

Sé que algunas personas sancionan la ofensiva israelí, que empezó este pasado martes, alegando como justificación el secuestro y asesinato de los tres jóvenes judíos desaparecidos, y aduciendo que Israel solamente se está defendiendo. Pero la verdad es que los recientes acontecimientos representan apenas un capitulo más en una larga historia de desplazamiento y exterminación de palestinos por el gobierno israelí. Consideren el marcador macabro de esta barbarie desde que empezó el bombardeo: 0 muertos israelíes; 88 muertos palestinos.

Seguramente algunas personas harán la pregunta de si los mismos palestinos están siguiendo el mundial ¿Por qué no nosotros? Es una pregunta válida. Creo que no tiene nada de malo ver los partidos, o incluso enmudecer y palidecer con pánico cuando nuestro equipo favorito se ve en peligro, saltar de alegría ante la victoria, llorar por la derrota, en fin, tomar un descanso de nuestro quehacer cotidiano para sumergirnos en el frenesí de la copa.

Creo que lo importante es recordar que mientras millones de nosotros hacemos pausa para ver el mundial, una lluvia de fuego y hierro cae sobre Gaza, aniquilando a decenas de palestinos, entre ellos niños, y en su mayoría civiles. La pregunta entonces es ¿Qué hacer al respecto? Creo que es importante no callar; no ignorar la masacre; asegurarnos de que la pausa que tomemos de nuestra vida cotidiana no nos prohiba condenar esta infamia israelí en contra del pueblo palestino.

Es probable que entre muchas personas que están siguiendo el mundial, y que también están siguiendo la situación en Palestina, prevalezca la frustración, la sensación impotente de “no poder hacer nada desde donde estamos.” Sugiero que es mucho lo que podemos hacer. Podemos pronunciarnos en contra de la masacre. Podemos usar parte del tiempo que usamos para escribir comentarios sobre la copa escribiendo comentarios sobre las atrocidades en Gaza, compartiendo información, o escribiendo cartas a periódicos, a políticos, o marchando, o de alguna manera, desde donde estamos, haciendo clara nuestra indignación y condena.

Consideren la siguiente pregunta: ¿Qué podemos hacer desde donde nos encontramos para que gane nuestro equipo favorito? ¿Podemos cambiar el resultado final de un partido? No ¿Podemos hacer que un referí cambie de parecer con nuestros gritos de indignación? No, tampoco. ¿Podemos hacer que uno de nuestros jugadores haga mejores pases a sus compañeros? No, no creo.

Entonces ¿Por qué lo hacemos!?

Lo hacemos porque tiene un gran valor el vernos unidos por un deseo común, y angustiarnos, y llorar, y patear, y gritar, y reírnos o enfurecernos ante una gran victoria o injusticia. Y es lindo hacer eso ante un duelo entre países que luchan con todo su cuerpo y alma. Y es lindo ser partícipes de esa rivalidad entre naciones, ser testigos de esa guerra mundial que ocurre cada cuatro años y que termina sin la destrucción de ciudades ni la masacre de millones de personas.

Voy a llorar lágrimas amargas si pierde Argentina este domingo… Dios quiera que eso no ocurra! Pero antes, durante, y después de ese partido crucial, voy a pronunciar mi condena ante el crimen israelí en contra del pueblo palestino… Voy a gritar, patear, marchar, escribir, y llorar por mi pueblo palestino! Porque aunque no podamos detener las bombas desde aquí, sí tiene un gran valor el condenar la barbarie, y unirnos y solidarizarnos con nuestros hermanos y hermanas palestinas, y enfurecernos ante la injusticia y la masacre.

Voy a pronunciarme porque quiero que algún día Palestina se enfrenten a Argentina, a Alemania, a Irán, a Chile, o a cualquier país, en una cancha, sin bombas. Porque es importante soñar con ese día en el que podamos protestar los excesos y la corrupta codicia de la FIFA ante la miseria de los pueblos, sin tener que protestar la matanza del pueblo palestino ni de ningún otro pueblo. Es importante soñar con poder protestar en contra de estadios, sin tener que protestar en contra de bombardeos. Es importante exigir y luchar por un mundo en el cual las naciones peleen a muerte, pero sin que nadie muera.

 Digo basta al silencio, y exijo un alto a la masacre… y pase lo que pase este domingo, estoy con vos, Palestina!

 

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Chaos in Iraq: The Untold Story

The reports we have been hearing from U.S. officials and members of the American media about the situation in Iraq are quite alarming. They tell us a group of Muslim extremists known as the Islamist State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, an al Qaeda split-off, has been murdering Shiite families and government collaborators in the most brutal way as they take city after city in Iraq; Their goal? To overthrow the government of Nouri al Maliki in order to establish a strict Islamist government run by Sharia Law. The barbarians, we are told, have already taken several cities in the north of Iraq, including Mosul and Tikrit, the country’s second biggest city and the home of the late Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, respectively. They continue to push towards Baghdad, spreading death and destruction in their path.

What we are not being told is that ISIS is only one element of several that have risen to fight against the government of Nouri al Maliki, which has been unpopular from the beginning, and is said to have used fraud and intimidation to stay in power after losing parliamentary elections in 2010. As reports become available from various different sources, a different picture unfolds before our eyes, a picture of not only a sectarian government that, while established by the United States, seems to answer to the government in Iran, but also of a movement of armed resistance that includes members of the former Awakening Councils, Tribal Leaders, and former members of Saddam’s military. ISIS, it seems, is able to move easily through the country because of the pacifying effect of the other elements of the rebellion, which are said to have resorted to nonviolent means in the past, but to no avail.

According to a group of prominent European politicians the conflict taking place in Iraq is a movement of armed popular resistance in response to the al Maliki government, which they said has resorted to the indiscriminate killing of civilians and missile strikes against members of the resistance to crush political dissent, all under the guidance of elite Iranian military forces. They portray the al Maliki government as sectarian and violent, and hold it responsible for the crisis. The group of politicians is called the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA), and it is chaired by the President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq.

Meanwhile the United States government finds itself in an interesting position. On one hand, Washington has recently financed ISIS in their efforts to overthrow the Assad government in Syria, but the group itself is so extreme and brutal that even al Qaeda wants nothing to do with it! On the other hand, the al Maliki government, which is calling for U.S. airstrikes against the rebels, is being strongly supported by Teheran, and it is part of an oil pipeline an alliance with Iran, Syria and Russia. The Persian pipeline would bypass and rival an Arab pipeline financed by U.S. allies, prominently Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Which means that at this moment any strong response by the White House could lead to charges of aiding the enemy, therefore the response has so far been to limit involvement to the protection of American interests in Iraq.

Perhaps the Obama administration has gotten this one right, at least for the moment, as it seems that the best response is to wait until there is more clarity around who might end up arising as the leader of Iraq. Once a clear leader emerges, a great opportunity might also emerge: the opportunity to work with Iran in order to support a political solution to a crisis that Washington created and Teheran exacerbated; Such solution would only work if the end objective is to allow the Iraqi people to establish an inclusive government by and for Iraqis. Supporting such a solution would require both the United States and Iran to set their differences aside, and to work together for a new, democratic and inclusive Iraq, a goal above and beyond their own individual interests.

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