Democratic public opinion is ambivalent about how to treat the Pinochet affair. Professional warners point to the explosive nature of the matter and the unwanted diplomatic complications it involves. They also raise the fundamental question of what would happen if a precedent was set. On the other hand, the less commentators are guided by diplomatic calculations, the further away they are from governments when discussing the politico-moral dimension of the case, the more pleased and satisfied they tend to be. Regardless of any ideological differences between "liberal," "left," or "right," they largely agree that Pinochet's arrest was the "right signal" and the "unmistakable message" for the world community to aim at all present or future "dictators" or "criminals" as a deterrent.
The Japanese national economy is sliding into recession. It is shrinking instead of growing.
The facts of the case are rather banal, since recession is a periodically recurring "phenomenon" of a capitalistic economy. Capitalistic entrepreneurs, with their investment strategies, extend social production beyond the extent to which their commodity can be profitably sold, attempting to win the competition for revenue and profits. Investment is financed by credit in expectation of future returns. At some point, sales slump and traders and producers run out of cash. Capital advanced no longer yields a profit, credit granted and taken is no longer converted into capital, and debtors go bust, hurting creditors as well. By and large, financial difficulties increasingly occur among firms as well as between firms and banks, raising demand for credit, which is decreasingly met for exactly the same reason, so that difficulties to make payments become general. Production plants, which have been flourishing and expanding up to now, are closed down and the employees depending on them are laid off, because profit can no longer be realized.
The current flurry about the increasingly miserable food situation is kind of odd. After all, hunger has its permanent place in the modern world, is regularly brought into the headlines by humanitarian organizations on public holidays, is entrusted to private charity, and just as regularly taken off the agenda in favor of other topics. Nor has this particular conflict, which is centered on the price of food and arouses the current indignation, come into the world in the year 2008. Millions of people — redundant figures of the global market economy — have long since had trouble paying for their food. Statistical data exist aplenty, and are pulled out again in view of current events, as to how many millions of “households” in how many countries spend their “income” for the most part on food. Even the insight that “anyone who survives on less than a dollar can hardly feed himself, even in the face of smaller price increases” could have been had earlier.
Political powers and the business people empowered by them “grab land” — this is hardly news. Tapping natural resources in any part of the world is a matter of fact. Developing and exploiting mineral resources requires land rights, on which claims are laid. The cultivation of crops in regions privileged by nature characterizes the modern form of agriculture practiced and propagated by North American and European multinationals. Running plantations requires a sufficient supply of water and extensive land, roads, and ports at one’s disposal. The transportation of liquid and gaseous energy resources to the centers of capitalism, which uses and markets them, requires a global system of pipelines, for which entire states are defined and treated as transit territories. “Land grabbing” takes place all the time for all these cross-border politico-economic needs. And as a further rule, money is paid whenever land under foreign dominion is acquired — proof of a ‘fair deal.’ The current “battle over the Arctic” and over sea beds that have a rich potential in natural resources but no owners also shows that intentions to annex territory politically are not dying out at all — they still belong to the national rights that states both claim and deny each other.
Having fought two unproductive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and being in a disastrous economic condition amid the financial and the sovereign debt crises, America seeks to restore and re-assert its global leadership role. For this purpose and in this sense, the Obama administration has proclaimed the 21st century as “America’s Pacific century.”
In Mesopotamia, irregular militias have managed to become a regional power factor and proclaimed an “Islamic state.” They wage their war in order to consolidate their existence and extend their reach. In the West, the new power, which rules over parts of Syria and Iraq, is perceived exclusively by the bloodthirsty ways they enforce their rule: mass executions of overpowered enemies, soldiers and civilians alike; brutal expulsion of ethnic groups with the wrong beliefs or wrong loyalty; but especially by the demonstrative beheading of people the jihadists consider to be representatives of the West. The Islamic state and its objectives are fully subsumed under these barbaric practices — and because they admit no justification, no good reason for it, politicians and public opinion in the West deny the unwelcome upstart absolutely any political motive and purpose. President Obama grants “neither religion nor state!” to the ravages of these warriors. They are the pure evil that wants nothing more than the destruction of the good: violence for the sake of violence, murder for the sake of murder. The Islamic state is declared to be an enemy of mankind that must be destroyed in order to save civilization. All violence against it is legitimate and the help of all countries is due.
In the spring of last year, the professional observers of world affairs reported bad news from the Far East: “China’s new development bank divides the West” (Die Zeit, Hamburg, March 17, 2015); “US isolates itself: China stirs up the world order” (Die Presse, Vienna, March 30, 2015); “The latest in de-dollarization: US forfeits credit” (telebörse.de, March 25, 2015); “The past month will be remembered as that moment when the United States lost its role as guarantor of the global economic system” (Die Zeit, April 15, 2015). The dollar’s dominance at an end, American power losing its allure as guarantor for the global economy, the unity of the West destroyed by China — all because of the founding of a bank. How come?
The modern world needs oil. The way it does business with it shows how progressively and rationally the world is set up.
Not a week goes by without someone accusing somebody of some human-rights violation. The accusers are politicians, journalists, and speakers from organizations committed to improving moral conduct in the world of states; generally they reside in the free West. The accused are generally politicians somewhere else, foreign governments, and “self-appointed” rulers. The court expected to take up the charge is primarily the international democratic public, i.e., more of an imagined judge, whose penal power consists in defaming the accused. When state powers capable of asserting themselves worldwide act as prosecutor, they not infrequently go ahead and declare themselves to be both judge and executor of their verdicts, which include quite harsh penalties. The club of European sovereigns and the U.N. in New York have additionally set up special courts that take up many an official action for human-rights violations in perfect legal form. The substance of the accusations is the great variety of more or less brutal acts that a ruling power commits against its subjects.
So how to judge such cases?
The United States, together with Great Britain, is at war with Iraq. Their declared goal is the removal of Iraq’s ruling regime. With that, they present the rest of the world with what are largely faits accomplis, demanding agreement by everyone and assistance from allies without allowing any other state any influence on their plans and proceedings, and thereby vexing these same allies quite a bit.