October 6, 2004

Pro-Capitalist, Pro-Investment and Fiscally Conservative:
What Brazil Is And The Two Remaining Members Of The Axis Of Evil Aren't

By Stephen Gowans

Funny how hypocrisy can be as conspicuous as a pile of steaming shit sitting in the middle of a living room which everyone manages to step gingerly around pretending not to notice.

This happens so frequently (not steaming piles of shit showing up in living rooms, but bold hypocrisy meriting nary a comment) as to be a sort of law of everyday life. So it comes as no surprise that Colin Powell can dismiss as a matter of no consequence Brazil's refusal to allow international inspectors greater access to one of its nuclear reactors, while treating Iran's plans to develop nuclear energy as close to tantamount to a declaration of war on thousands of years of Western civilization, and nobody falls from his chair in stunned silence. Instead, they go about their business, as if the steaming pile of shit isn't there.

(When I happened upon a recent Washington Post headline, "Iran's Missiles Can Now Hit Europe," I wondered whether I had mistakenly picked up the National Star in the supermarket check-out line and why the headline hadn't been punctuated with a closing !. Maybe policy on the use of exclamation marks is all that distinguishes the two newspapers anymore.)

"I don't think Brazil can be talked about in the same vein or put in the same category as Iran or North Korea," said the secretary of state.

Well, no, they can't.

First of all, Brazil isn't on Washington's hit list. Iran and north Korea are. The latter have a survival interest in developing nuclear weapons to make Uncle Sam think twice about bombing them. As dark people who "resent US power" i.e., haven't a yen to become economic subjects of the US ruling class, they're just the kind of people US supremos like to wage war on.

Second, Brazil, under the tutelage of Lula da Silva, isn't threatening "the balance of power," New York Times-speak for challenging US military supremacy or saying no thanks to becoming a hyper-exploited annex to the US economy.

Indeed, Lula, the kind of non-threatening, pointless, progressive that US liberals and "democratic socialists" can warm up to as one of their own, has "hewed to a pro-capitalist, pro-investment and fiscally conservative line," as the New York Times puts it. Which means to members of the US ruling class, he's their kind of progressive, which, it must be added, he is also to the US progressives who are backing (no, forgive me: are voting for) a pro-capitalist, pro-investment and fiscally conservative John Kerry in the upcoming US presidential election.

Is that pro-gressive as in pro-capitalist, pro-investment and pro-US (ruling class)?

IRAQ REDUX?

"While none of the aid workers and officials…denied there was a crisis in Darfur," remarked The Observer on October 3rd,  "many were puzzled that it had become the focus of such hyperbolic warnings when there were crises of similar magnitude in both northern Uganda and eastern Congo."

The difference is that the crisis in Darfur hands the US (or to be more precise, those who own and therefore run the place) an opportunity to strengthen their position and weaken that of a major rival, while those in northern Uganda and eastern Congo do not.

A betting person would put his money on the US eventually pressing for regime change in Khartoum, followed by the "international community" installing a pro-US, pro-capitalist, pro-investment, fiscally conservative puppet government, (the accustomed practice in these cases), and the eventual eviction of Chinese oil interests from Darfur and their replacement by US oil majors. This would allow the US ruling class to extend its domination to another important oil producing region of the world, deny China access, and so strengthen US oil security at the expense of a major competitor's.

That's not to deny there's a crisis of very grave proportions in Darfur. But there's an important principle illustrated here. There are humanitarian crises happening all over the world, but not all of them – in fact, very few of them – become issues to be debated before the UN Security Council or to be editorialized on in newspapers.

Why some and not others?

If you look at this in an unprejudiced way you'll find that those that are brought to the world's attention serve the interests of those who brought them to our attention, while those that are not, either don't serve those interests, or harm them.

For example, there is a humanitarian crisis of greater magnitude in Kosovo today than the one NATO used as a pretext to bomb Yugoslavia, yet most people – including the human rights liberals who demanded NATO go to war against the Yugoslavs – are ignorant of the province's currently grim humanitarian situation. With Yugoslavia, after years of resistance, joining the ranks of former Communist countries colonized by Western capital, Kosovo has become a crisis that no longer serves NATO's interests, and therefore, no longer needs to be in the spotlight.

Darfur, by contrast, has sprung, as these things usually do, out of nowhere, to become the all-consuming, urgently pressing crisis of the moment, another opportunity for human rights liberals to make Pharisaical displays of their humanitarian piety, while remaining ignorant of crises of equal or greater magnitude elsewhere in the world, that don't serve the interests of their country's ruling class.

MIDDLE NORTH AMERICA OR THE USA?

I'm often struck by how some of the most astonishing pronouncements go unnoticed, or at least, unremarked upon, but I've learned that little of what US officials say that falls into the category of being arrogant, imperious, bullying, or aggressive passes without some trenchant comment by north Korea's official news agency.

For instance, just the other day, the KCNA commented upon George W. Bush's "stating without hesitation that the U.S. would have attacked Iraq even if it had known that the latter had no weapons of mass destruction."

Bush, in the news agency's estimation, is "a fascist tyrant steeped in war, murder and plunder," which strikes close to the truth, though "fascist tyrant" may be a tad hyperbolic, and what's left out is that Bush's Democratic predecessor, and a possible Democratic successor, could just as easily be described in the same terms. After all, Clinton was no stranger to war, murder and plunder, and nothing in Kerry's history, campaign statements or class allegiance would lead anyone of unprejudiced mind to believe he's a sui generis. Warlord, murderer and plunderer are parts of the job description.

The north Koreans got closer to the mark when they observed that Bush's admission that he would have attacked Iraq, WMDs or not "revealed the aggressive and predatory nature of the United States," but then so too does a string of aggressions from the Indian wars through the war on the Philippines at the turn of 20th century through Korea, Vietnam, Iraq (1991), Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, and a number of minor aggressions in between.

And that's to say nothing of Uncle Sam's vigorous saber rattling, something north Koreans needn't be reminded of. The din of rattling sabers, which the US under successive administrations has managed to keep up for over half a century, has, in recent years, risen to a deafening pitch.

Which brings me to this: Since the country may soon become a theater in which the United States' ruling class will yet again reveal its aggressive and predatory nature, Americans may as well learn its name: DPRK, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Calling it North Korea is kind of like calling the United States Middle North America.

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