An Essay by Ralph T. Niemeyer, former editor-in-chief of EU Chronicle
on 1st September 2014, 100 years after the beginning of WW I and 75 years after WW II
Human dignity dies when a person’s each and every action has to be efficient, economically justifiable and sustainable. Where only profit maximisation rules, there is no room for democracy. The “survival of the fittest – credo” is the opposite of freedom and equality.
In order to explain why I still believe in Peace and Democracy while I am convinced that we might never see any of the two become true and co-exist with capitalistic structures I have to borrow a line from Plato who said in Phaidon (66c/d) that “over the possession of land, gold and goods all wars are being fought.”
Like a catholic worshipper who believes in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, son of God, who is said to have fathered Jesus, although his logic tells him that it is more likely that the holy Ms. Maria had received him after unsafe sexual conduct with her fiancé, Mr Joseph, I still believe in ideals such as Humanism, Freedom, Peace, Democracy.
But, like the catholic worshipper, who has to differ between a metaphysical Jesus Christ and a historic one, a rebel human being from flesh and blood with communistic ideas, I understood that we also have to look at our ideals in a similar way: it is good to believe in and fight for them, but we should not expect to be given a free ride.
Since ancient times greed and profligacy have dominated mankind’s history and form an ongoing self-feeding cycle of Plato’s five regimes: monarchy and aristocracy because of internal rivalry (Timocracy)and desire to own ever more (Oligarchy) are overthrown by democracy and mass-empowerment in which also the poor become rich (Ochlocracy) producing demagogues that lead to Tyranny, ultimate and maximal power that becomes destructive and again to aristocracy.
Good examples for these cycles are not only the Roman Empire but also the US, China, Russia and the EU. Reason for the destructive powers of oligarchy and aristocracy, one can clearly see in the history of the United States of America, is the economic model that demands ever higher growth rates and to sustain it’s profit rate while inflationary accumulated wealth that is not distributed equally requires destruction, i.e. war. Here it becomes obvious that we got the priorities wrong: Destruction should not be recorded as ‘Growth’ and likewise should ‘Wealth’ not be based on exploitation and exclusion. That’s why capitalism always leads to wars.
A recent example proving this axiom can be seen in poor Ukraine. Poor? Hang on a minute, what about all these oligarchs? Remember: “Maidan protests” began with social unrest of the masses that were impoverished under oligarch rule, but after fascists took power with the active support by US & EU the opposite happened of what the Ukrainian people wanted: IMF dictated privatisations, fiscal austerity, brutal social cuts, doubling of energy tariffs, protection of oligarch criminals such as Tymoshenko.
Now, soldiers of oligarch-financed private armies fight against civilians and the Russian minority executing fascist – style of ethnic cleansing under the eyes of Western free democracies. If one really had wanted to avoid the civil war in EUkraine one should have confiscated the illegitimately accumulated wealth of the oligarchs and given it to the people of Ukraine.
According to Plato the worst catastrophe for a people is the ‘Stasis’ (civil war), much more than the war with enemies, ‘Polemos’.
One can say that the Germans in Berlin have understood after 1945 that direct military confrontation is ending in catastrophe, but the ‘Germans’ across the Atlantic still market war as a growth enhancing business model.
It is very hard to withstand their logic of everlasting growth through destruction and wealth creation by exploitation as they garnish the brutal side-effects with ideals such as freedom and democracy, and make civilised nations bomb supposedly less civilised countries in order to fight for ‘human rights’.
Whoever is such a dreamer who wants to introduce real democracy is being ridiculed and played by the powers to be, “ultra-high net-worth individuals” as investment bank Merrill Lynch refers to the few hundred multi-billionaires who control most of this planet’s economic output.
I learnt it straight from one of those ‘dreamers’, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev when I interviewed him in 1991 at the G7 summit in London. It was obvious that Gorbachev was not taken serious when he offered to end the cold war and introduce democracy. Western world just took advantage and demanded to open the Soviet market unconditionally and immediately. I asked him what he was about to do over it and he said that this would bring down the economy, lead to huge unemployment, social unrest and maybe civil wars.
And, I asked, what will happen if he does not comply with the West’s demands. The president shrug his shoulders and replied: “Then they will support Yelzin.” Half a year later, on Friday 13th December 1991, twelve days before the Soviet Union dissolved I interviewed Mr Gorbachev another time and he said openly that democracy was a myth, perestroika and glasnost a failure because western free democracies were not ready for it to accept a democratic, self determined Soviet Union.
Then, Jeffrey Sachs, chief advisor of Yelzin and ex IMF manager took over, privatised and sold off the silver cutlery to oligarchs, both, from East and West. Russia lost overnight 70,000 industries, millions of jobs while life expectancy for men fell to 58 years and vodka consumption doubled.
Meanwhile ‘mainstream’ conspiracy theorists are eager to make us believe the most unlikely version of truth assuming that we ordinary consumers are more stupid than those propagandists who use journalism as cover for geopolitical strategies. Nothing new, really, as the Agit-Prop – “Journalists” use the same old lies over and over again.
In 1986 I was among the journalists who discovered that the Reagan administration sent weapons in defiance of a congressional ban to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua where I had interviewed President Daniel Ortega, thus clearing funds that were paid by Iran for M65 tow missile systems sent by Reagan & Bush in operation “October surprise”, a secret agreement between future Vice-President Bush and Bani Sadr, the Iranian president, under which Iran would be rewarded by the Reagan administration for keeping the US Embassy hostages longer, over election day, in order to make President Carter appear weak.
Then, in summer 1988 I happened to be in Basra at the Shat el Arab where Iran and Iraq were concluding their war. One day I witnessed how a M65 tow missile rocket brought down an American F16 that was patrolling the gulf area. When I was back in Washington D.C. a month later I asked President Reagan at a press conference how come that American weapons were turned against them and whether he regretted now to have delivered those weapons to the Ayatollah. It was that silent in the room that one could hear a mosquito from the Potomac fly around the desk where it sat down when Reagan with trembling voice said that “a democratic state could not be blackmailed.” – “So would it be better to have an undemocratic state, then?” I snapped back but the president ignored me and only said “next question please.”
In 1998 I interviewed Zbigniew Brzeziński, national security advisor in the Carter-Administration and until today a fierce strategist (currently advising President Obama) proclaiming any Anti-Russian initiative one could possibly think of. Born in western Ukraine during NAZI-time he feared the Bolshevik more than Ukrainian nationalists, he told me in an interview in 1998, in which he also justified the anti-Soviet intrigue he developed on 4th July 1979 by drafting a National Security Directive for President Carter calling for a 5 billion US-Dollar support for the Mujahedin provoking war with the Soviets in Afghanistan. He could not hide his joy over this coup as he claimed that “the trap we laid out brought down the Soviet Union” and he didn’t like my question whether this could have laid the seed for terrorism. That was before 9-11.
A few years later, in 2004, well after the “terror” attacks in New York and Washington that were said to be conducted by al Qaida fighters being harbored by Taliban turned Mujahedin in Afghanistan, I spoke with Mr Carter over dinner in Caracas where he was trying to broker an agreement between President Chávez and the anti-Cuban-supported opposition and confronted the old president with the fact that his former security advisor had admitted to have triggered the Soviet invasion of December 1979, and asked how he felt about it that the Mujahedin he had supported with 5 billion Dollars per year had obviously turned their weapons against the US now leading to 9-11 but Carter did not want to comment, reiterating that one could never know when a strategy would come around like a Boomerang. Good comparison.
Today ISIS, formerly supported by US agents, is now serving as the perfect excuse to set a foot into Syria and also bomb Iraq again.
Another man who stood up for democracy and human rights was President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías of Venezuela. I interviewed him during the darkest hours of his presidency and even went with him when he got arrested by a Washington-supported gang.
The coup d’état against the Chávez government had a catalysing effect like September 11 in the US dominated world had it. The president told me in an interview shortly before the coup evolved that he would now get his hands on the oil business and finish with the complex structure of offshore oil enterprises that were operated by the white upper class Venezuelans that pocketed the profits through transfer pricing methods I had revealed in my book and which I consecrated the president with days before the coup.
We did not know at that time that the coup d’état was a trap laid out by pro – Chávez generals in order to get rid off dissenting generals and managers in the oil industry. All I can say is that the president himself has been genuinely surprised and really feared for his life.
During our interview President Fidel Castro rang and said to President Chávez that he should not make the same mistake as Salvador Allende did and die with a weapon in his hand, but should also not resign. The only option would be to go with the putschists and say that he was a president under arrest. As President Chávez asked for witnesses to accompany him I volunteered and we went to the elevator and were driven to Fuerte Tiuna, the military hq in Caracas from where we were flown to La Orchila, an island used by the military. There, we had very philosophical discussions amid the fear that the putschists were really planning executions as cardinal Velazquez, who also happened to be on the island warned us about during those two and a half days.
After the coup d’état the president reflected on the past 72 hours that we had spent with each other and took a quite philosophical approach, so we found common ground, even me, an anti-militaristic person, started to admire a military leader for his wisdom, because he did not retaliate, did not use force, did not shoot back.
Any conflict, I have learnt in the three decades that I had served as a war reporter, correspondent, editor, analyst and now commentator, is covered up by a smokescreen behind which geopolitical strategies are being applied for which there is only one reason, as Plato rightly said: gold and land, or in today’s terms, economic advantages and resources.
Whatever war is being scrutinised, it is usually not very hard to discover the geostrategic aspects of it. Gaza, Palestine, Israel for instance are about the Tamar and Levianthan gas fields offshore of Gaza and Palestine bearing an estimated 450 billion cubic meters of natural gas that according to international law would belong to the Palestinians as these gas fields are 130 miles off Haifa and 30miles off Gaza. According to the Oslo accord Presidents Rabin and Arafat had signed in 1993 all resources would be split between two sovereign states: Israel and Palestine.
That is probably the reason why both noble peace laureates were assassinated. And, this is the reason for the continued insurgence by the Israeli military. Israel does not want to have a sovereign and peaceful neighbour but wants to eat all of the cake alone. That’s what the war is about and nothing else, the rest of the minutiae is a smokescreen initiated for naive people on both sides.
And, back to EUkraine: of course Crimea was always Russian, except for the past 23 years as one had forgotten to return the peninsula to Russia at the end of the Soviet Union. But, other than correcting this historic mistake, one should also ask why USA wanted Ukraine to become a NATO member and insisted on Crimea to be part of it.
Closer scrutiny reveals that off the coast of Crimea, within the 230 miles-zone, that under international law makes resources be owned by the state, huge oil and gas reserves like a second North Sea were detected. Exxon already invested 780 million US-Dollars in exploration but now this is Russian territory and that is the reason why the Americans are so upset:
Putin took advantage after the fascist coup d’état the US’ “Endowment for Democracy (NED)” had initiated in Kiev and made it even look democratic by having a referendum be held.
Now, there was no other way but a proxy war between the US and Russia in which both sides are playing on the piano of misinformation and propaganda with the Russian side having one bid advantage: unlike the Americans they can justify their involvement as the ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine were given any reason to call for help against the fascist “prava sector” that with US-financed private soldiers are fighting a dirty war against civilians.
And, no war without a false flag operation. In WWI it was the Lusitania that the US took as an excuse to enter the war, later it was Tonkin, this summer it was MH17 of which many analysts think it was in reality the flight MH 370 that “disappeared”. Yet another smokescreen that shall engage ordinary observers in minutiae like in 2001 the 9-11 conspiracy leaving many questions open while the obvious reasons for war are covered up eloquently, namely the collapse, for the fifth time in 300 years of the capitalistic world order.
At a time when the financial capitalism has ultimately replaced the profit-oriented creative destruction by the destruction of creativity, productivity and wealth alternatives have to be explored.
Truth be told: we are all caught by consumerism and that’s why there won’t be any uprisings unless ‘smart’phones, LED screens and SUVs are taken from us while secret services cut the lines of so called ‘social’ media, like John Lennon put it: “If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.”
Instead we are hearing from Germany’s political elite that 100 years after WW I and 75 years after beginning of WW II time has come for the nation to find back to “normality” by giving up it’s self-restrictive foreign policy and start engaging in military conflicts worldwide again. That is terrifying. I had thought, that it should be normal for us not to shoot at all.