Category Archives: Geopolitics

Quote of the day Ted Cruz in a nutshell [Nut’s hell?]

From journalist and author Gary Leech, writing for Counterpunch:

Perhaps nothing captures the imperialist arrogance of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz more succinctly than his campaign’s statement declaring, “What is best for America is best for the world.” In addition to the obvious fact that billions of people around the world might disagree with Cruz on this point is the fact that it is not at all clear that the Republican presidential candidate’s proposed policies are even best for most Americans. But given his victory this past week in the Iowa caucus, Cruz’s ultra-conservative views can no longer be ignored while mainstream and progressive pundits busy themselves dissecting the bombastic rhetoric of the far less scary Donald Trump.

In contrast to most candidates that run for president, Ted Cruz has a clear vision for the future of the country. The problem for many Americans is that it is a terrifying vision. It is a vision that is imperialist, racist, sexist, classist and homophobic. For instance, Cruz proposes building a giant wall across the US-Mexico border in addition to using high-tech measures to keep out “illegal” immigrants while allowing corporate labor needs to dictate the flow of “legal” immigrants into the country. In addition to strengthening the military to ensure US hegemony around the globe, he also vows to boost US military support for Israel and to withhold funding from the United Nations if it “continues its anti-Israel bias.”

On the domestic front, Cruz is calling for a flat tax that will benefit the rich and gut government social spending. He has also vowed to curtail women’s rights by stating that he will order the attorney general to investigate Planned Parenthood on his first day as president. And he opposes same-sex marriage, declaring that “marriage is a sacrament between one man and one woman.” Finally, Cruz would not only fail to address climate change, which he views as a hoax, he would promote expanded oil and gas production. Given that these policy proposals make Cruz one of the most conservative presidential contenders in decades, it would behoove us to take a closer at them.

The Empire Files: Bloodshed on the border

In the second part [first part here] of “The Empire’s Border,” her report on the bloody politics of the United States’ southern border, The Empire Files‘ Abby Martin examines the origins of that boundary line in bloody conflict, America’s first imperial war against another American nation state.

Her focus then shifts to the first border wall, erected after a fierce street battle in the border town of Nogales, Arizona/Juarez, Mexico 98 years ago.

Adding immensely to the border tensions was the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement [and do watch Hillary’s spouse preaching its virtues on signing the treaty into law].

Then came 9/11, and the subsequent paranoia-enabled national security spending binge, in which fears of boundary leakage proved centers of immense profits and bureaucratic binging. . .

Increased deaths became inevitable, especially given a media fueled campaign of paranoia direction against brown-skinned people.

Well, we’ll leave the rest for you.

From teleSUR English:

The Empire Files: The Empire’s Border Part II – A Hidden War

Program notes:

In the second installment of this two-part episode, Abby Martin continues her investigation of the hidden war on the U.S.-Mexico border, looking at the root causes of the epidemic of migrant deaths. The Empire Files documents an inflated, paramilitary Border Patrol, the devastating impacts of NAFTA, how the U.S. Empire benefits from immigrant labor and what can change the equation.

Featuring interviews with Todd Miller, author of ‘Border Patrol Nation’, and Araceli Rodriguez, mother of Jose Antonio, a 16-year-old boy murdered by Border Patrol.

Viggo Mortensen on American militarism, art

Viggo Mortensen is one of Hollywood’s most interesting actors, a commanding and often sympathetic screen presence.

But he’s much more than a screen presence. Born in New York, he was raised in Latin America, and holds citizenship in both the U.S. and Denmark. Among his other talents are gifts for painting, photography, writing, and poetry. Oh, he speaks four languages fluently and can converse in several others. And he’s also a recording artist and founded his own book publishing house, Perceval Press.

Give his credentials as a talented polymath, it should come as no surprise that he’s also a man of considered political opinions, and it is these that are the focus of the latest edition of TeleSUR English’s The Laura Flanders Show:

Viggo Mortensen: Empires and Justice in the Middle East

Program notes:

This week Laura and Viggo Mortensen discuss heroes, outlaws, empires and justice in the Middle East. Academy Award-nominated actor Viggo Mortensen has appeared in scores of movies, including The Lord of The Rings, one of the highest grossing film series of all time. What you may not know is he’s also a poet, photographer, musician and painter. He speaks four languages, and he is the founder and publisher of an independent publishing house, Perceval Press. The twelfth anniversary edition of Perceval’s collection of essays in response to the Iraq occupation: Twilight of Empire — was released this winter with essays by Mike Davis, Amy Goodman, Jodie Evans and Dennis Kucinich among others – and a forward by Howard Zinn. This episode also features a few words from Laura on Hillary Clinton – her warmth and her wars.

His Twitter feed is here, and his Facebook arts page is here.

Chart of the day: Transcontinental stock-taking

From Eurostat [PDF] a look at stocks held by Europe by investors in other continents, and which other continents hold Europe’s stocks:

North America, and in particular the United States, represented the main partner of the EU for FDI. At the end of 2014, the United States (€1 985 bn, or 35% of total stocks held by the EU in the rest of the world) was the leading location of EU FDI stocks, followed by Switzerland (€632 bn or 11%), Brazil (€344 bn or 6%) and Canada (€275 bn or 5%). The United States was also by far the main investor in the EU (€1 811 bn, or 40% of total FDI stocks held by the  rest of the world in the EU),  ahead of Switzerland (€509 bn or 11%). Together, these two countries accounted for slightly over half of FDI stocks held by the rest of the world in the EU at the end of 2014.

North America, and in particular the United States, represented the main partner of the EU for FDI [foreign direct investment]. At the end of 2014, the United States (€1 985 bn, or 35% of total stocks held by the EU in the rest of the world) was the leading location of EU FDI stocks, followed by Switzerland (€632 bn or 11%), Brazil (€344 bn or 6%) and Canada (€275 bn or 5%). The United States was also by far the main investor in the EU (€1 811 bn, or 40% of total FDI stocks held by the rest of the world in the EU), ahead of Switzerland (€509 bn or 11%). Together, these two countries accounted for slightly over half of FDI stocks held by the rest of the world in the EU at the end of 2014.

The Empire Files: The U.S. role in birthing ISIS

Our respect for Abby Martin continues to grow as she matures as a journalist, first moving from hosting a show on Berkeley’s community access cable station to RT America, where she hosted Braking the Set, and then, after a brief hiatus, moving on to teleSur where she now hosts The Empire Files.

Each step of the way she has matured as a journalist, attaining a sense of gravitas that is the antithesis of what it takes to survive on this country’s corporate media.

In this latest edition of The Empire Files, she conducts what is probably the best interview we’ve seen on the troubles now afflicting the Middle East and North Africa, and lays the blame squarely at the doorstep of those most responsible, the U.S. Department of State and successive presidential administrations, and their use of oil as a weapon to bring down governments.

Her guest is Vijay Prasad, George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and Professor of International Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and he dissects the U.S. role in the violence now unfolding in Libya and Syria.

One of his most trenchant statement brilliantly sums up the nexus of crises across the globe: “The rich have gone on strike and are refusing to pay taxes.”

And so, from teleSUR English:

The Empire Files: Examining the Syria War Chessboard

Program notes:

The war in Syria is an unparalleled crisis. It has gone far beyond an internal political struggle, and is marked by a complex array of forces that the U.S. Empire hopes to command: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kurdistan, Iran, Lebanon, Iraq and more. To simplify this web of enemies and friends, Abby Martin interviews Dr. Vijay Prashad, professor of International Studies at Trinity College and author of several books.

Chomsky takes aim at Al Jazeera’s owners

Al Jazeera is owned by the ruling family of Qatar, and in an interview by Mehdi Hasan of Al Jazeera English, Chomsky talks — or tries to talk — about a wide range of issues, most notably the current violence in Syria and elsewhere spawned by the rise of ISIS, or, as Hasan designates it, ISIL.

Chomsky, typically, pulls no punches, and Hasan repeatedly interrupts whenever the MIT linguist treads on turf inimical to Hasan’s employers, but Chomsky manages to get in a shot at Qatar for funding some of the most violent of the forces now fighting in Syria.

Hasan is clearly overmatched and nervous as all get out, while Chomsky maintains his characteristic cool throughout.

From Al Jazeera English:

UpFront – Headliner: Noam Chomsky on ISIL, Turkey and Ukraine

Program notes:

Noam Chomsky has been described as “arguably the most important intellectual alive”. And as one of the world’s most celebrated academics, he has published more than 100 books and is a leading critic on US foreign policy. In the first of a special two-part interview, Chomsky sits down with Mehdi Hasan to discuss the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group, Ukraine and Turkey.

Quote of the day: Banksters recognize reality

Having done so much to destabilize the world with the banking policies, Citbank now confronts reconfigured terrain, as evidenced in GLOBAL POLITICAL RISK: The New Convergence Between Geopolitical and Vox Populi Risks, and Why It Matters, a new report [PDF] prepared under the director of Citibank Global Chief Political Analyst Tina M. Fordham:

The post-Cold War environment, with the consolidation of the Washington Consensus and constellation of pro-globalization trends — from the rise in the number of democracies to the adherence to free trade and other global norms by an increasing number of countries — strengthened hopes that political risk would decline in frequency and significance. After all, leading theorists observed that democracies do not tend to go to war with one another, while new middle classes with enhanced purchasing power and greater economic opportunity would ensure more countries would prioritize growth and stability over the shabby clientelism, power-mongering and sheer unpredictability of the 20th century (the most violent century in human history) through the Cold War era.

Instead, the sense that political risks have actually increased in a more globalized and inter-connected world — in number if not in terms of scale — is hard to escape. Once largely confined to less-transparent emerging market countries, the post-global financial crisis saw the return of political risks to advanced economies as well, from the drama around raising the US debt ceiling and the “fiscal cliff”, to the timing of German regional elections as a key indicator for Eurozone bailout votes. In Citi Research’s Political Analysis unit, we now spend at least as much time monitoring non-mainstream party politics in advanced economies as we do emerging market-based geopolitical risks, for the first time in 20 years.

What’s more, we see little sign of this trend of political risk cutting across advanced and emerging economies reversing. We think it’s unlikely that the moderate global growth that Citi’s economists forecast as their central scenario will dampen these risks. If anything, the data we have analyzed for this report, combined with our combined expertise in comparative political science and international relations and security and defense analysis, underscores how, by many measures, these risks are on the rise and indeed could endanger even the already modest prospects for global growth.