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Archive for April, 2010

President Obama’s weekly address: “Holding Wall Street Accountable”. 4-17-2010


In the continuous saga of the failure of neo-liberalism, president Obama is doing his best in trying to save the U.S. version of capitalism from its demise. Truth be told, reduced government regulation of the economy is what led the U.S. to be in the dire economic state that it is today. So, when president Obama calls for serious regulation of the banks, he should be supported.

Robert Reich,(former Secretary of Labor) is on point when he writes: “The only way to avoid another bailout of Wall Street is to cap the size of Wall Street’s big banks”. “The only sure way to ensure that no bank becomes too big to fail is to make sure no bank is too big”.

The neo-liberal mantra that unregulated market benefits everyone as long as “private” enterprise is free of any “bonds” imposed on it by government is a sham. What deregulation has created is economic anarchy that benefits the rich at the expense of the poor.

Professor Mekonen Haddis

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Afghanistan, color revolutions and the critical role of the Voice Of America.

It is obvious that a huge political crack is appearing between Washington and Kabul. After the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the world knows that Hamid Karzai was installed as the President of Afghanistan by the U.S. So, when I heard President Karzai accusing the U.N. and the international community of “interfering with the outcome of last year’s presidential elections and attempting to weaken his authority”, and just so we would have clarity, when he stated to the BBC that the “U.S. and others played a role in perpetrating the fraud”, I thought this is the time to think in terms of a “color revolution”. But, Why?

It seems that the U.S. was not too happy with Karzai’s re-election, since then, it has become U.S. policy to blame Karzai’s government of corruption and incompetence. In pursuing the agenda of sidelining Karzai, the U.S. has started dealing directly with Afghan provinces (e.g.Kandahar,Helmand) bypassing the central government. Regardless of the wishes of the U.S. it has no choice but to stick with Karzai for the time being.

President Karzai also knows that the U.S. is not going to be involved in the affairs of Afghanistan for the long haul. At least, in terms of military involvement. Therefore, he does not want to be seen as an agent of a foreign power by Afghanis who have always been suspicious of foreigners through out their history. Moreover, he must think that the time is ripe for him to make amends with certain war lords and threaten the U.S. According to The Wall Street Journal, Karzai said: “that the U.S. was interfering with Afghan affairs and that the Taliban would become a legitimate resistance movement if it did not stop.” Interesting.

As stated already, despite a serious U.S. aversion towards its original friend, Hamid Karzai, America has no choice but to call him a partner and plan a meeting with him in May,2010. This state of affairs between Washington and Kabul, leads one to think in terms of The Rose Revolution in Georgia, The Orange in Ukraine, The Tulip in Kyrgyzstan, The Cedar in Lebanon, The Grape in Moldova, The Green in Iran, and some unnamed ones, like in Ethiopia, (2005)etc. give credence to some when they raise the issue of U.S. government and certain NGO’s support and even planning in order to serve the interests of the west.

Sreeram Chaulia wrote, “ transitional actors, comprising of international Ngo’s at the hub of advocacy networks capitalize on opportunity structures offered by internationalism, acting as vectors of influence and maintaining constant criticism of vulnerable target states.” Chaulia continues, “Transitional actors penetrate target states by harping on issue areas like human rights that enable coalitions with powerful state actors who favor such norms.” He concludes,” rarely has the US promoted human rights and democracy in a region when it did not suit its grander foreign-policy objectives”.

According to The Guardian, USAID, National Endowment For Democracy, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and Freedom House are directly involved with supporting the color revolutions. One can add to this list, The Soros Foundation, Open Society Institute in which a number of Central Asian nations were forced to shut down OSI regional offices after the Orange revolution in Ukraine and, the U.S. based Albert Einstein Institution that activists from Serbia and Ukraine have claimed to be trained by in the formation of their strategies.

Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant secretary of the U.S. treasury writing on Iran, said “according to Kenneth Timmerman head of the Foundation for Democracy, it was the U.S. money that funded Mousavi’s claims that Ahmadinejad stole the last Iranian election.” Moreover,”during President George W. Bush’s regime, it became public knowledge that American money is used to purchase Iranians to work against their own country. In 2007 The Washington Post reported that Bush authorized spending more than $ 400 million U.S. dollars for activities that included supporting rebel groups opposed to the country’s ruling clerics.”

A number of people who have closely followed the successes of color revolutions concur, that the key to victory rests with the able work of The Voice Of America, (VOA). Without its positive coverage of the works of International NGO’s and its local agents, and its continuous denunciations of the policies of target countries, nothing would have been accomplished.

The VOA which got its start in 1942 when it broadcast via shortwave to Nazi Germany is primarily a propaganda outlet for the U.S. government, which uses it to further its global political, military and economic interests. As a U.S. government propaganda outlet, the VOA is barred from broadcasting in the U.S. by the U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948. “Information produced by VOA for audiences outside the United States shall not be disseminated within the United States”.

The U.S. understands how potent the VOA is as a propaganda tool. No wonder, it lashes out rudely on countries that try to limit or control VOA’s dissemination of what they consider to be irresponsible propaganda that leads to incitements. Now, consider H.R. 2278 which was introduced by Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL). The bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, by an overwhelming vote of 395 to 3 with 36 abstentions.

The Bill entitled “Anti-American Incitement To Violence In The Middle East” States in its findings section:

“(1) Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are the foundations of free and prosperous societies worldwide, and with the freedom of the press and freedom of expression comes the responsibility to repudiate purveyors of incitement to violence.”

In the definitions section of the bill it defines Anti-American Incitement To Violence.

“(1) ANTI-AMERICAN INCITEMENT TO VIOLENCE.–The term “anti-American incitement to violence” means the act of persuading, encouraging, instigating, advocating, pressuring, or threatening so as to cause another to commit a violent act against any person, agent, instrumentality, or official of, is affiliated with, or is serving as a representative of the United States.”

In the Bill’s section of Statement of policy, it states,

It shall be the policy of the United States to—

“designate as Specially Designated Global Terrorists satellite providers that knowingly and willingly contract with entities designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under Executive Order 13224, to broadcast their channels, or to consider implementing other punitive measures against satellite providers.”

Finally, the report section of the Bill directs the President of the United States to do the following:

(1)” REQUIREMENT FOR REPORTS.–Beginning 6 months after the date of the enactment of this Act and annually thereafter, the President shall transmit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on anti-American incitement to violence in the Middle East.”

(2) “CONTENT.–The reports required under paragraph (1) shall include—“

(A)” a country-by-country list and description of media outlets that engage in anti-American incitement to violence; and”

(B)” a list of satellite companies that carry mediums described in subparagraph (A) or designated under Executive Order 13224.”

I am a firm believer in national sovereignty for all independent countries of the world (irrespective of where they are located, or their GNP). In this case, America’s supreme and independent authority to rule, and make laws that it deems is in the interest of its people is unquestionable. It only becomes the mother of all hypocrisies when the U.S. denies other sovereign nations not to do, what it believes is the right thing to do for itself.

Professor Mekonen Haddis

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