When the German foreign minister regrets the loss of moral leadership on the part of the United States of America, and demands that it be immediately reinstituted; when Italian politicians from the opposition call for a withdrawal of their troops in view of the published cases of abuse; when Polish members of government contemplate the same, and when in the eyes of Bush’s rival for the presidency, the honor of the military is impaired by the wrong leaders, then it is quite obvious that a moral scandal is being turned into a political means.
“This unprecedented assault brought us face to face with a new enemy, and demanded that we think anew and act anew in order to protect our citizens and our values.” (Attorney General John Ashcroft before the U.S. Senate, Committee on the Judiciary, “Oversight of the Department of Justice,” May 25, 2002)
After 9/11, the U.S. government decreed the necessity of “thinking anew” the nation’s domestic security.
What goes for all the important institutions of the capitalist world goes for the World Trade Organization (WTO) too: hardly anybody wants to praise it. Those who wish to radiate global economic expertise like to rebuke it for its ‘conceptual weakness,’ its sorry willingness to compromise, its biased and wrong decisions, and the like. They worry about the excessive ‘influence of national egoism,’ and reproach it for its ‘failure.’ In all this, they are really only confirming their indestructible good faith in the WTO as an organization that actually exists to put the brakes on the ruinous competition between states, to bring about consensus in global trade and fairly distribute its blessings; in any case as a definite achievement. The expert commentary on the WTO conference in Seattle conformed to this line of thinking, a conference that was supposed to initiate a new ‘round’ of ‘liberalized’ cross-border business and yet didn’t even manage to create an agenda. Consistent with this, they reproached the — for whatever reasons — hostile demonstrators in Seattle for their ignorance of the true humanitarian mission of the organization; they feared narrow-minded national resistance to the perfectly good purpose of the conference; and they regretted the failure of the conference while expressing the hope that the flagging process of beneficent ‘deregulation’ of global business might continue as soon as possible under the aegis of the WTO as a kind of supranational regulatory authority. A quasi-legal authority over states for supervising the liberality of worldwide moneymaking just doesn’t seem at all paradoxical, or at least suspect, to global economic experts. They consider something like that in principle to be perfectly reasonable, even if its troubles — in this case the failed result of the conference — conspicuously reveal this organization to be about nothing but power struggles over trade policy — even with the drawing up of an agenda for future conferences — and show the widely welcomed “liberalization of world trade” to be nothing other than a pseudonym for the protection provided by the strongest economic powers for their national interests.
"The nation is at war. This war has two fronts: one is abroad, in Afghanistan; the second is here, defending the homeland." (White House spokesman, press conference October 24, 2001)
During his state visit to Russia last June, Bill Clinton became the first American president to address the Duma. The guest made use of this noble invitation to inform the assembled representatives of the Russian state how Washington would like Russian domestic and foreign policy to be. The majority of the deputies didn’t want to side with Vladimir Shirinovsky’s vociferous protests, however. Shirinovsky, an "extreme nationalist," objected to Clinton’s making the Russian nation’s decisions.
Whom NATO fought against during its Balkan War is more or less undisputed. Whether called 'Serbia,' 'the former Yugoslavia' or simply 'Milosevic,' the target was a sovereign power ruling over part of the Balkan peninsula. The power of this state was reduced through extensive damage to its means of power and to its resources, human and otherwise. At least one thing can be disputed, however. The official explanation of the civilian human damage --- that it was 'collateral,' a side-effect of military strategy --- is nonsense.
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.