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The “New Turkey”: Fetishizing Growth with Fatal Results

Turkey’s ruling party has turned the country, which it calls “the new Turkey,” into a capitalist nightmare: a triad of neoliberal economics, political despotism, and Islamist conservatism. This article provides an overview of neoliberalism in Turkey, then looks at the government’s extraction policies, highlighting the Soma mine massacre as one tragic example of the destructive policies of the governing party, the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP, Justice and Development Party). It also examines the extreme authoritarianism of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (formerly prime minister), and the growing cultural-relgious conservatism, which the AKP has interlaced with Islamist rhetoric. This hegemonic triad of neoliberalism, despotism, and conservatism is an especially dangerous one. However, it is being increasingly criticized, and resistance movements against neoliberal policies are growing. All of this gives some hope for Turkey’s future.

Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions at Ten Years

Reflections on a Movement on the Rise

Rich Wiles, editor, Generation Palestine (London: Pluto Press, 2013), 256 pages, $24, paperback.

When in March 2012, Barack Obama paused briefly from approving orders for drone killings of Pakistani and Yemeni villagers, in order to reassure the attendees at the annual gala of the AIPAC (American-Israel Public Affairs Committee) that, “when there are efforts to boycott or divest from Israel, we will stand against them,” the real target of his declaration was elsewhere: the myriad grassroots organizers across the world who have made the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns unignorable. Their mounting influence has provoked efforts to declare them anti-Semitic or illegal from London to Long Beach. In fact, the series of victories across the University of California system has so annoyed its managers that they have hauled in the Caesar of domestic repression, Janet Napolitano, to deal with campus activists. Obama’s declaration of support for Israeli colonialism had a simple message to those many activists: back down, because Washington will not.

A Defining Moment: The Historical Legacy of the 1953 Iran Coup

Ervand Abrahamian, The Coup: 1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations (New York: New Press, 2012), 304 pages, $26.95, hardback.

The Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States began in earnest as soon as the Second World War ended, shaping most of the remainder of the twentieth century. The U.S. doctrine of “containment” required confronting the Soviets at every point of contact, accompanied by the claim that lasting peace could be reached only through the establishment of an international order based on national states which enjoyed a U.S.-defined political liberty and a capitalist economic order. The Soviets bolstered their security through providing support to countries seen as friendly and close to their borders. Therefore, maintaining influence in Iran was a goal of Soviet foreign policy in the Middle East. U.S. foreign policy was shaped by its own state interests and ideology and driven by the American postwar, worldwide systems of military bases.… It is this turbulent period of geopolitical maneuvering that Ervand Abrahamian’s The Coup revisits. Yet, unlike other books on the 1953 events in Iran, Abrahamian locates the U.S.-backed coup less in the Cold War ideological confrontation between East and West than in the conflicts which opposed imperialism and nationalism; between the center of world capitalism and the underdeveloped economies heavily dependent on exporting raw natural resources.

“We’re Profiteers”

How Military Contractors Reap Billions from U.S. Military Bases Overseas

“You whore it out to a contractor,” Major Tim Elliott said bluntly. It was April 2012, and I was at a swank hotel in downtown London attending “Forward Operating Bases 2012,” a conference for contractors building, supplying, and maintaining military bases around the world. IPQC, the private company running the conference, promised the conference would “bring together buyers and suppliers in one location” and “be an excellent platform to initiate new business relationships” through “face-to-face contact that overcrowded trade shows cannot deliver.” Companies sending representatives included major contractors like General Dynamics and the food services company Supreme Group, which has won billions in Afghan war contracts, as well as smaller companies like QinetiQ, which produces acoustic sensors and other monitoring devices used on bases. “We’re profiteers,” one contractor representative said to the audience in passing, with only a touch of irony.

Wake Up and Smell the Oil

The Grass-Roots Struggle Against the Oil Plunder in Iraq

Greg Muttitt quotes an Iraqi friend who pointed out that there would be two phases to the war in Iraq: first the U.S. invasion and occupation, and second the struggle over the gas and oil. Ten years after tanks rolled across the border from Kuwait, the second phase continues.… There is still no oil law, which the United States has pushed hard to get passed since 2007 and the Iraqi Parliament has no desire to pass soon. This means that the oil rush by the multinational oil companies goes on in a legal vacuum. While the international press blames sectarian strife for holding up the law, it is, in fact, due to a broad people’s struggle for sovereignty.

Prashad at Large

Vijay Prashad, The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (New York: Verso, 2012), 280 pages, $26.95, paperback.

Former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali sets the tone in his introduction to The Poorer Nations, arguing that the moment has arrived for scholars from the underdeveloped world of plundered resources and impoverished people to make the necessary statements themselves, rather than leaving that work to the first world left. Boutros-Ghali makes one other important point: that Prashad is hard at work rediscovering the hopes of earlier decades, the moment of anti-colonialist hopes, of common feeling among various nationalities and nations freeing themselves and looking forward to a kind of communitarian developmental process that was, often enough, called “socialism.”

Zionism, Imperialism, and Socialism

Moshé Machover, Israelis and Palestinians: Conflict and Resolution (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2012), 327 pages, $24.00, paperback.

Moshé Machover is a mathematician and political activist who was born in Tel Aviv in 1936 and has lived in London since 1968. He is a co-founder of the radical left Israeli Socialist Organization (ISO), which is better known by the name of its journal Matzpen (compass). The book under review is a collection of thirty-five essays written by Machover, sometimes in collaboration with other members of ISO, and dealing with the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The earliest essay in the collection appeared in 1966 while the most recent one was published in 2011. Perhaps the best known article is “The Class Nature of Israeli Society,” which appeared in New Left Review in 1971. Taken together, these essays provide an original and often compelling Marxist analysis of Zionism and its relationship to the Arab world. The ideas contained in this book, Machover says, are a collective product of the ISO. He is merely the carrier.

The Fall of Libya

Maximilian Forte, Slouching Towards Sirte (Montreal: Baraka Books, 2012), 341 pages, $27.95, paperback.

Perhaps no war in recent memory has so thoroughly flummoxed the Euro-Atlantic left as the recent NATO war on Libya. Presaging what would occur as U.S. proxies carried out an assault on Syria, both a pro-war left and an anti-anti-war left [gave] endless explanations and tortuous justifications for why a small invasion, perhaps just a “no-fly-zone,” would be okay—so long as it didn’t grow into a larger intervention. They cracked open the door to imperialism, with the understanding that it would be watched very carefully so as to make sure that no more of it would be allowed in than was necessary to carry out its mission. The absurdity of this posture became clear when NATO immediately expanded its mandate and bombed much of Libya to smithereens, with the help of on-the-ground militia, embraced as revolutionaries by those who should have known better—and according to Maximilian Forte, could have known better, had they only looked.

Seeds of Revolts

When the Arab peoples took to the street, they were not only shouting “The people want the downfall of the regime!” but also—and most of all—”Liberty, Dignity, and Social Justice.” The absence of dignity and social justice points to the larger question of the neoliberal economic world order and the post-colonial states, which are integrated into the world-system, not as peers to the developed countries of the capitalist center, but as dependent peripheral subordinates. The desperate act of self-immolation by the young Tunisian produce vendor Mohamed Bouazizi poignantly illustrates the inequity of this global system. Zurayk’s book is a severe indictment of how the cruel economic order affects agriculture and food sovereignty in the Arab world.

Faux Internationalism and Really Existing Imperialism

If truth is the first casualty of war, military intervention in the name of humanitarian ideals should likewise be the subject of skepticism. Such an approach is called for as the discourse of the Responsibility to Protect civilian populations is becoming a doctrinal principle in the West’s foreign policy toolbox. The notion that these big powers have the right to intervene in other (weak) countries’ internal affairs threatens to transform the foundation, if not the praxis, of international law.… Simultaneously, the ideology of “humanitarian interventionism,” which stands almost uncontested, can be interpreted as legitimizing a hidden political agenda. It has the potential of blurring existing ideological and political differences between neoconservatives, liberal internationalists in the United States and Europe, and a large section of left-wing forces around the world. All these currents have found common grounds in vindicating NATO’s military violations of the principle of national sovereignty.

Monthly Review Volume 63, Number 7 (December 2011)

December 2011 (Volume 63, Number 7)

» Notes from the Editors

The last month (late September to late October 2011) was to all appearances a historical turning point. The Arab Spring gave way to the New York/World Fall as protesters occupied Wall Street (basing themselves in Zuccotti Park), and the movement of the 99% spread across the entire globe.… MR authors and friends have participated in the Occupy movement from the start, sometimes playing prominent roles. We have heard from friends directly involved in Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Boston, Occupy Chicago, Occupy Eugene, Occupy Oakland, and from people associated with Occupy movements throughout the world.

Genocidal Cynicism (Part 2)

TO give some idea of the potential of the USSR in its efforts to maintain parity with the United States in this sphere, suffice it to note that when its disintegration came about in 1991, there were 81 nuclear warheads in Byelorussia, 1,400 in Kazakhstan, and approximately 5,000 in Ukraine, which were passed on to the Russian Federation, the only state capable of sustaining their immense cost in order to maintain its independence.

By virtue of the START and SORT treaties related to the reduction of offensive weapons between the two major nuclear powers, the number of those warheads was reduced to several thousand.

In 2010 a new treaty of this type was signed between the two powers.

Since then the greatest efforts have been dedicated to improving the direction, reach, precision of nuclear missiles and their deception of the enemy defense. Vast sums are invested in the military sphere.

Very few people in the world, except for a handful of thinkers and scientists, have realized and are warning that the explosion of 100 strategic nuclear weapons would be enough to end human existence on the planet. The vast majority would have an end as inexorable as it would be horrific, as a consequence of the nuclear winter which would be generated.

The number of countries which possess nuclear weapons at this moment has risen to eight. Five of them are members of the Security Council: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China. India and Pakistan acquired the nature of countries possessing nuclear weapons in 1974 and 1998, respectively. The seven countries mentioned acknowledge that nature.

On the other hand, Israel has never acknowledged its nature as a nuclear country. Nevertheless, it is calculated that it possesses 200 to 500 weapons of this type, without that being acknowledged at a time when the world is concerned about the extremely grave problems that would be provoked by the outbreak of a war in the region where a large part of the energy which moves the planet’s industry and agriculture is produced.

It is thanks to the possession of weapons of mass destruction that Israel has been able to fulfill its role as the instrument of imperialism and colonialism in that region of the Middle East.

It is not about the legitimate right of the Israeli people to live and work in peace and freedom; it is precisely about the right of the other peoples in the region to freedom and peace.

While Israel was rapidly creating a nuclear arsenal, it attacked and destroyed, in 1981, the Iraqi nuclear reactor in Osirak. It did exactly the same to the Syrian reactor in Dayr az-Zawr in 2007, an action of which world opinion was strangely not informed. The United Nations and the IAEA were fully aware of what had occurred. Such actions had the support of the United States and the Atlantic Alliance.

There is nothing at all strange about Israel’s highest authorities now announcing their intention to do the same to Iran. This country, immensely rich in oil and gas, had been the victim of the conspiracies of Britain and the United States, whose oil companies were plundering its resources. Its armed forces were equipped with the most modern armaments from the United States’ military industry.

Shah Reza Pahlevi also aspired to acquiring nuclear weapons. Nobody attacked his research centers. The Israeli war was against the Muslim Arabs. It was not against those of Iran, because they had become a NATO bulwark pointing at the heart of the USSR.

Under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini, the masses of that nation, profoundly religious and defying the power of those weapons, removed the Shah from the throne and disarmed one of the best equipped armies in the world without firing a shot.

Given its fighting capacity, number of inhabitants and the country’s extension, an aggression against Iran would bear no resemblance to Israel’s military adventures in Iraq and Syria. A bloody war would invariably be unleashed. There should be absolutely no doubt about that.

Israel has a large number of nuclear weapons with the capacity to reach any point in Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania. I ask myself: Does the IAEA have the moral right to sanction and asphyxiate a country if it attempts to do in its own defense what Israel did in the heart of the Middle East?

What I really think is that no country in the world should possess nuclear weapons, and that this energy should be placed at the service of the human species. Without that spirit of cooperation, humanity is inexorably advancing toward its own destruction. Among Israeli citizens themselves, doubtless a hardworking and intelligent people, many will not be in agreement with this crazy and absurd politics which is also taking them to total disaster.

What is being said today in the world about the economic situation?

The international news agencies report that U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, presented divergent commercial agendas […] highlighting the growing tensions between the two largest economies in the world.

Obama used an address – Reuters affirms – to threaten punitive economic steps against China unless it started ‘playing by the rules…’

These rules are evidently the interests of the United States.

Obama faces a tough 2012 re-election battle, in which Republican opponents accuse him of not being tough enough on China,” the agency states.

News published on Thursday and Friday reflected the realities which we are experiencing much better.

AP, the best informed U.S. news agency communicated, “Iran’s supreme leader warned Israel and the U.S. that Tehran’s response will be tough should its arch-enemies choose a military strike against Iran…”

The German news agency reported that China had stated that, as always, it believed that dialogue and cooperation were the only form of active rapprochement to solve the problem.

Russia was equally opposed to the punitive measures against Iran.

Germany rejected the military option but was in favor of strong sanctions against Iran.

The United Kingdom and France advocated strong and energetic sanctions.

The Russian Federation assured that it would do everything possible to avert a military operation against Iran and criticized the IAEA report.

‘A military operation against Iran could lead to very grave consequences and Russia will have to invest all its efforts in appeasing spirits,'” stated Konstantin Kosachov, head of the Duma’s Foreign Committee,” and, according to EFE, “He criticized ‘affirmations by the United States, France and Israel as to the possible use of force and the fact that the launch of a military operation against Iran is constantly closer.’

Edward Spannaus, editor of the U.S. EIR magazine, stated that an attack on Iran would end in World War III.

After traveling to Israel a few days ago, the United States Defense Secretary himself acknowledged that he could not obtain a commitment from the Israeli government to consult with the United States prior to an attack on Iran. Things have reached this extreme.

The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs crudely revealed the empire’s dark intentions:

Israel and the U.S. will embark on ‘the largest and most significant joint exercise in the allies’ history,’ said Andrew Shapiro, U.S. assistant secretary for political-military affairs, on Saturday.

…in the […] Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Shapiro spoke about the 5,000 US and Israeli forces who will participate in the exercise to simulate Israel’s ballistic missile defense system.

‘Israeli technology is proving critical to improving our Homeland Security and protecting our troops,’ he added…

Shapiro emphasized the Obama administration’s support for Israel, despite comments by a senior U.S. official on Friday, who expressed concern that Israel would not warn the U.S. before taking military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

‘Our security relationship with Israel is broader, deeper and more intense than ever before.’

‘We support Israel because it is in our national interests to do so […] It is the very strength of Israel’s military which deters potential aggressors and helps foster peace and stability.’

Today, November 13, Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the UN, told the BBC network that the possibility of a military intervention in Iran was not only not off the table, but is a real option which is growing on account of Iran’s behavior.

She insisted that the U.S. administration is reaching the conclusion that it will become necessary to end the current Iranian regime in order to avoid it creating a nuclear arsenal. “I am convinced that regime change is going to be our only option here,” Rice acknowledged.

Not one more word is necessary.

castro signature

Fidel Castro Ruz

November 13, 2011

8:17 p.m.