The War Crimes of Bill Clinton

The Weight of Chains

Boris Malagurski (2010)

Film Review

The deliberate demonization of the Serbian people by the Clinton administration has been a special interest ever since I cared for Serbian PTSD victims in the mid-nineties. At the time there were rumors the US was after oil in the Caspian basin. Until I saw this documentary, I was unaware of the bloodthirsty ruthlessness of US policy in Yugoslavia. Nor that Clinton, like his successors George W Bush and Barack Obama, was guilty of war crimes. The film also sheds important light on current US policy in Ukraine.

The Weight of Chains is about the deliberate break-up of Yugoslavia in the 80s and 90s to enable its transformation into a US colony, like Iraq and Afghanistan. The cover story blaming Serbian barbarism for the conflagration in Bosnia and Kosovo was pure fabrication by the Clinton administration and US media.

Under Marshall Tito (1943-1980), Yugoslavia enjoyed an ethnically diverse society in which Muslim Turks, Croatians, Serbians, Hungarians, Albanians and other ethnic minorities lived side by side and intermarried. It was a very prosperous nation, thanks to a mixed economy that combined central economic planning with private enterprise, worker cooperatives and a generous welfare state. Tito, who stubbornly resisted Russian pressure to join the Soviet bloc, was one of the founders of the non-aligned movement.*

Enter the NED

Shortly after Tito’s death in 1980, President Reagan signed a secret memorandum declaring his intention to transform Yugoslavia into a “market economy” (translation: US colony for Wall Street investors). The first salvo in this campaign was to send in the CIA-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), to finance pro-US opposition groups, journalists, trade unionists and the G17. The latter was a group of World Bank economists who seized control of the Yugoslavian economy by inducing corrupt officials to enter into unpayable loans. By the late 1980s, the G17 had imposed deep cuts on all social services and forced 1,100 industries into bankruptcy. Those that weren’t totally wiped out were sold to foreign investors at rock bottom prices.

Thanks to these austerity cuts, by 1990 Yugoslavia’s unemployment rate had soared to 20%. When the government appealed to the US for debt relief, Bush senior cut off all aid to Yugoslavia. Under US pressure, the IMF only agreed to fund right wing ultranationalist groups in six autonomous regions (Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bosnia) – provided they declared independence from Yugoslavia. The Bush senior administration also illegally supplied arms to Croatian fascists who would seize control of Croatia and the Muslim Bosniaks who controlled Bosnia.

Accordingly Slovenia and Croatia declared independence in 1992 and Bosnia in 1992.

US-Inspired Ethnic Cleansing

Despite constant denunciation of the Serbian people (as fascist thugs) by the Clinton administration and Senator Joe Biden, the real culprits were fascist American thugs. In 1995, the Clinton administration financed and armed the Croatian government to carry out the largest act of ethnic cleansing in history in the Serbian enclave of Krajinia. Thanks to the American-inspired Operation Storm, 2,000 Serbs were killed and 250,000 were driven from their homes over a period of 84 hours. One of my patients, whose sister was massacred during Operation Storm, only survived because his Muslim neighbors hid him and his children from the Croatian army.

The Weight of Chains also deconstructs the alleged Serb atrocities committed at Srebrenica (where equal numbers of Serbs and Muslims died), which the US would use to justify NATO intervention.

Enter Osama bin Laden

Following Serbian independence, Clinton armed and trained the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army,** with the assistance of Osama bin Laden and heroin-trafficking Mujahideen from Afghanistan. The President’s chief motivation was to further destabilize Serbia to open it up to US investment.

When Slobodan Milosevic refused to sign a peace agreement accepting US occupation of Serbia, Clinton committed further violations of international law by using NATO aircraft to bomb Serbian civilians and deliberately target civilian infrastructure that included power grids, schools, hospitals and water filtration plants.

Enter George Soros

Following Milosevic’s surrender in June 1999, the World Bank immediately sent in an army of World Bank lawyers to privatize Serbia’s most valuable state-owned assets. Soros and his cronies were particularly keen on getting the Trercha mining interest into western hands, with its rich coal, copper, zinc, cadmium, gold and silver resources.

The film concludes by examining the dire economic consequences (ie massive debt, industry closure and joblessness) for Eastern European countries whose business elites opt to join the EU and NATO. For example, the EU forced the Czech Republic to close their sugar industry because it was more profitable to import Cuban sugar. While the French destroyed the Hungarian vineyards by dumping cheap wine into their market, forcing Hungarian wine growers to sell their vineyards to English investors at bargain basement prices. After Slovenia joined the EU in 2004, they experienced massive layoffs after most of their factories were privatized and moved overseas. In 2009, Croatia (like Greece) was forced to start selling their islands to pay off their debt.

*The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states which aren’t formally aligned with or against any specific power bloc.
**Kosovo is a disputed territory within Serbia in which ethnic Albanians make up 80-90% of the population.

Obama’s Setback in Beijing

itsourfuture

 

Did China Just Scupper the TPPA?

The Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a secret free trade treaty Obama is negotiating with eleven other Asian Pacific countries (US, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Japan, Chile, Peru, Canada, Mexico, Vietnam, Singapore and Brunei). The President had hoped to seal the deal at the recent Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing. Instead all 21 Pacific Rim countries have agreed to develop a roadmap for a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) treaty. The FTAAP would include China and Russia, whereas the TPPA excludes them.

China Deliberately Excluded

The TPPA is viewed as a centerpiece of Obama’s “strategic rebalancing” towards Asia. Also known as the “Asian pivot,” Obama’s intention is to counter China’s growing economic strength by isolating them economically and militarily.

The US has required the twelve countries participating in TPPA negotiations to sign a secrecy clause. Only corporations (i.e. the 600 corporations that helped write it) are allowed to see the text of the treaty. Not even Congress is permitted access. If Wikileaks hadn’t leaked large sections of the draft agreement, we wouldn’t even know it existed.

Is TPPA Really a Trade Treaty?

Scheduled to coincide with the APEC summit, November 8 was an International Day of Action against the TPPA, with major protests in New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and the US. From the sections which have been leaked, it seems the TPPA isn’t a trade treaty at all. It’s really an investor protection treaty, granting corporations the right to sue countries for laws that potentially hurt their ability to make a profit. These lawsuits, involving hundreds of millions of dollars, would be heard by secret tribunals run by corporate lawyers. There would be no right of appeal.

In other words, the intent of the TPPA is to allow corporations to overturn the environmental, labor and healthy and safety laws and regulations of member countries. There’s even a special “transparency” clause inserted by the pharmaceutical industry that would allow them to challenge formularies (in the US this would include Medicaid and the VA) that promote cheaper generic medications.

If finalized, the TPPA would also allow oil and gas companies to overturn fracking bans, Monsanto to overturn GMO labeling laws, investment banks to overturn banking regulations and the telecommunications industry to overturn Net Neutrality laws.

Why the Secrecy?

It’s pretty obvious why Obama is trying to negotiate the TPPA in secret. Prior investor protection treaties (e.g. the Free Trade of the Americas Agreement) have gone down in flames thanks to massive public lashback, both in the US and in treaty partner countries.

Congress isn’t too happy, either, about being denied access to the draft TPPA treaty. In November 2013 Congress voted down Obama’s request for “fast track” authority on the TPPA. Fast track, otherwise known as Trade Promotion Authority, would require Congress to accept the final TPPA deal or reject it. No debate would be allowed on specific provisions.

There are rumors Obama plans to reintroduce TPPA fast track authority before Christmas, hoping for a better outcome with a new, pro-business Republican congress.

The POTUS also had hopes of ramming through an agreement on the TPPA treaty in Beijing, at a side meeting in the US embassy. It appears he did try and failed, as Pepe Escobar describes in a recent RT article Lame Duck Out of the Silk Trade Caravan.

The Effect on Australia and New Zealand

A trade deal that excludes China, their major trading partner, makes absolutely no sense for Australia and New Zealand. Kiwi and Aussie environmental and labor activists are also deeply concerned about signing an international agreement that allows multinational corporations to sue their governments in a secret corporate tribunal. They’ve worked damned hard to win laws and regulations guaranteeing minimal environmental, labor and health safety standards. If the TPPA goes through, these could all be wiped out with the stroke of a pen.

China Aims to Suppress US Influence in Asia

In an interview with Chinese media, Obama denies he was trying to isolate China by pressuring Asian Pacific countries to sign a secret trade deal that excludes them. Yet it’s pretty obvious to all concerned that’s exactly what he’s trying to do.

It’s also pretty clear that Chinese president Xi Jinping outmaneuvered him. In addition to getting all 21 APEC nations to sign onto an FTAAP feasibility study, China signed other trade deals geared towards reducing US dominance in the region.

On Monday the Chinese and Malaysian central banks signed a deal to establish a yuan clearing bank (to facilitate energy and other trade deals in local currencies rather than US dollars).

Russia and China signed a  similar deal to conduct oil trades in rubles and yuan, rather than US dollars. According to Russian president Vladimir Putin, the new agreement will significantly reduce US influence over world energy markets.
Back in October,

Back in October, China launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank a rival to the US-dominated World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

 

photo credit: rawEarth via photopin cc

Also published in Veterans Today

The 161 Bankers Who Run the World

In following video, Peter Phillips from Project Censored lays out exactly how the richest one-thousandth of 1% maintain iron control over all world governments.

He cites a study Project Censored published in their Top 25 Censored Stories of 2012-2013 edition of the world’s most “integrated”* corporations and those with the largest financial asset concentration.

Unsurprisingly, there’s considerable overlap between the two groups.

The 161 board members of the top 13 companies control $28 trillion of wealth. They also help the 1% hide another $30 trillion offshore so it can’t be taxed.

They’re 88% white (and nearly all male) and 63% come from the US or Europe.

They work with secret (and not so secret) groups, such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group, the Bohemian Grove, the World Economic Forum, the G7, the G20, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to ensure that the domestic and foreign policy of all western governments benefits themselves and the capitalist investors they represent.

They also ensure that the national security state, busy killing people in 130 countries, acts in the exclusive interest of transnational capital. The fascist coup they engineered in Ukraine is only the most recent example.

They regularly engage in illegal conspiracies but are always too big and powerful to jail.

Here are the top 13 companies identified in the study:

1 BlackRock US $3.560 trillion
2 UBS Switzerland $2.280 trillion
3 Allianz Germany $2.213 trillion
4 Vanguard Group US $2.080 trillion
5 State Street Global Advisors (SSgA) US $1.908
6 PIMCO (Pacific Investment Management Company) US $1.820 trillion
7 Fidelity Investments US $1.576 trillion
8 AXA Group France $1.393 trillion
9 JPMorgan Asset Management US $1.347 trillion
10 Credit Suisse Switzerland $1.279 trillion
11 BNY Mellon Asset Management US $1.299 trillion
12 HSBC UK $1.230 trillion
13 Deutsche Bank Germany $1.227 trillion

*The researchers use the term “integrated” to describe financial corporations with major holdings in key  non-financial sectors (i.e. energy, defense and mass media).

Speculating with our Food

In 2011, “food derivative” speculation replaced financial derivatives as the hot new investment promoted by major investment banks like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. According to numerous studies, food speculation rather than shortages, are the main reason for skyrocketing food costs.

The really scary news is that in addition to speculating heavily on food commodities, these same private equity funds are also buying up huge tracts of land in the third world.

The Great Land Grab

A 2009 research project by the Oakland Institute (The Great Land Grab) reveals startling facts about the corporate land grab in the third world – another major factor in skyrocketing food prices.

According to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), foreign investors have secured more than 50 million acres of African farmland to develop factory farms for export crops. In addition to investment banks and private equity funds, multilateral agencies, such as the International Financial Corporation (the private sector branch of the World Bank), are also major players in the “corporatization” of global agriculture.

The IFC plays a dual role in increasing private investment in the third world – via direct investment and by pressuring developing countries to create “business enabling environments.” Another World Bank agency, The Foreign Investment Advisory Service (FIAS ), also plays a role by pressuring third world governments to improve their “investment climate,” by relaxing environmental, tenant rights and food security laws and abolishing tax and duties on foreign investments.

Africa is the major target, both for western investment banks and booming Asian economies, driving tens of thousands of subsistence farmers off land they have farmed for generations.

Corporatizing the Global Food Supply

A UK company started in 1997, called  Emergent Asset Management, claims to be the largest speculative fund investing in African industrial agriculture. It uses private equity to take control of large tracts of African farm land. Their prospectus attracts investors by predicting a armed conflict between the West and China will trigger mass food shortages – accompanied by price spikes that guarantee a handsome return to investors. Emergent’s founders, Susan Payne and David Murrin are former high level traders for Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan – well-known as the architects of food derivative speculation.

Emergent’s direct control of large amounts of agricultural land – combined with its ability to attract investors through its equity fund – puts unprecedented control of the global food supply in private hands. It does so by creating a new type of vertical integration, in which a single company controls vast amounts of land, food production and processing — while simultaneously inflating global food prices due to the speculative nature of the fund. As you can see in the video Emergent uses in their pitch to investors:

The Perp Walk – the 1% Have Names

In 2011, the Oakland Institute fingered other millionaires and billionaires grabbing African land via unscrupulous deals with corrupt village leaders (who sign away communal land rights without community consultation) – and by helping to orchestrate armed attacks on families who refuse to leave their land. At the top of the list are

Bruce Rastetter — CEO of Pharos Ag, which has bought more than 300,000 hectares in Tanzania for large-scale food crop, beef, poultry, and biofuel production. This project will displace tens of thousands of civil war refugees awaiting Tanzanian citizenship.

Leonard Henry Thatcher and David Neiman — runs Nile Trading and Development (NTD), which has bought 600,000 hectares in South Sudan through a secret agreement with influential locals who went behind the backs of other community members.

Kevin Godlington — (close associate of former prime minister Tony Blair) CEO of Crad-l and Director of Sierra Leone Agriculture (SLA) and its parent company, the UK-based CAPARO Renewable Agriculture Developments. SLA has bought 43,000 hectares in Sierra Leone to plant palm oil plantations.

Enter the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The March 31 Guardian reports that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (along with USAID and the Dutch and Danish governments) are backing a new World Bank scheme to further industrial agriculture at the expense of the smallholder farmers who produce 80% of the food consumed in the developing world. The new program is a ranking system called the Benchmarking the Business of Agriculture (BBA).

Here’s what the Our Land is Our Business campaign, organized by the Oakland Institute and like-minded food rights groups, has to say about the BBA:

“Despite a language that claims concerns for small farmers, the goal of this new agriculture-focused ranking system is far too clear: [to] further open up countries’ agriculture sectors to foreign corporations. The doing business [rankings] give points to countries when they act in favor of ‘ease of doing business’. This consists of smoothing the way for corporations’ activity in the country by, for instance, cutting administrative procedures, lowering corporate taxes, removing environmental and social regulations or suppressing trade barriers.”

People can sign on at Our Land is Our Business to send a message to the World Bank about looking after people rather than corporations.

 

American Ambivalence Towards Empire

soldiers

(The 3rd of 8 posts about my decision to emigrate to New Zealand)

I had to move overseas before it sank in that Americans owe their high standard of living to US military domination of third world resources. The concept of economic imperialism isn’t new to me. I have known for years that the US maintains a monopoly on cheap third world labor and resources via military support of puppet dictators, CIA destabilization campaigns, currency manipulation and Wall Street and IMF/World Bank debt slavery schemes.

Yet for some reason, I placed the entire blame on the bloated US military-industrial complex and the immense power defense contractors wield via their campaign contributions and ownership of US media outlets. I conveniently overlooked the financial advantages ordinary Americans enjoy as a result of world military domination – namely low priced consumer goods. It took the physical reality of living in a smaller, poorer, non military nation and paying higher prices for for gasoline, books, meat, fish and other products – on a much lower income.

Americans Love Cheap Gasoline, Coffee, Sugar and Chocolate

I think most Americans are profoundly ambivalent about the concept of empire. In public opinion polls, Americans consistently oppose foreign wars, except where “US interests” are at stake. And policy makers and the mainstream media are deliberately vague in defining “US interests.” Prior to 1980, a threat to American interests meant a clear threat to America’s democratic system of government or the lives of individual Americans. When Ronald Reagan invaded Grenada in 1984, the official pretext was to evacuate American students at the medical school at St George University (the real reason was to oust pro-Cuban prime minister Bernard Coard).

With the current wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere, “US interests” have expanded to include the millions of barrels of cheap foreign oil required for the health of the US economy. Americans love their cheap gasoline, coffee, sugar and chocolate. Few are consciously aware that they owe these cheap luxuries to covert and overt military operations. If they did know, I believe the percentages supporting war would rise significantly.

What Americans Sacrifice for a Bloated Military

I like to think I would be willing to make the sacrifice. In essence I have, by moving to a much smaller, poorer country where tax dollars are used to fund universal health care, subsidized child care and housing and long term unemployment benefits. Because New Zealand feels no compulsion to invade and occupy other countries, they still provide a fairly generous safety net for unemployed, disabled and elderly Kiwis.

Social services were never quite so robust in the US. However prior to Reagan’ election in 1980 and the ballooning of US military expenditures, I could rely on federally funded jobs, vocational rehabilitation and subsidized housing to assist my clients into employment. By 1990 this was no longer possible. The great majority were desperate to get jobs, which would have been far more cost effective for taxpayers. However in the absence of any state or federal support, prospective employers refused to take a chance on hiring them. Thus most remained trapped on Social Security disability.

The systematic dismantling of the American safety net began under Reagan and Bush, as they cut taxes on the rich and redirected tax revenues  toward military priorities – a phenomenally expensive missile defense system (aka the Strategic Defense Initiative or Star Wars) and military interventions in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Grenada, Panama, the Philippines, Somalia and Iraq.

Instead of restoring the social safety net programs his Republican predecessors abolished, Clinton continued to shred the safety net by ending the welfare entitlement for single mothers Franklyn Roosevelt introduced in 1935. Meanwhile he cut taxes even further, continued the SDI and declared war against Serbia – presumably to assist US oil companies to access oil and gas in the Caspian Sea basin.

(To be continued)

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