Switzerland: the political system and the cold arrogance

by Paul Schmutz Schaller for the Saker Blog

Switzerland: the political system and the cold arrogance

Since more than 125 years, Switzerland has a very interesting tradition of popular votes. There are three situations which lead to a popular vote:

a) (Small) changes of the constitution, proposed by the government and approved by the parliament.

b) (Small) changes of the constitution, proposed by a popular initiative, which needs to collect 100’000 signatures (not online!); actually, there are 5.44 millions who are entitled to vote so that 100’000 are about 1.84% of all.

c) New laws or changes of existing laws, proposed by the government and approved by the parliament, if there is a popular referendum, which needs 50’000 signatures.

In the last 10 years, there were 85 popular votes, with very diverse subjects, for example: social and economical questions; questions of immigration and asylum; questions of environment, energy, and nutrition; taxes; transport (roads, railways); medical questions; security and army. Of the 85 popular votes, 16 were of category a) (13 of them were approved in the vote), 46 of category b) (6 of them were approved, against the recommendation of the government), and 23 of category c) (in 16 cases, the proposal of the government and the parliament was approved). Hence, in 16 of the 85 votes, the government did not win. The participation was quite variable; usually, it is between 40% and 50%.

Please do not think that these votes are something like “people” against “elite” or “working class” against “monopoly capital”. Such votes do not exist in reality, at least not in Switzerland. Nearly each vote is the result of some divisions among the ruling classes. Each side tries to convince the population that it supports the real interests of the people while the other side defends only egoistic, particular interests. Of course, in most cases, there are huge differences concerning the financial resources of the two sides. Moreover, the press is in the hands of very few people (as usually in Western countries), which gives them a big advantage. Nevertheless, they are not omnipotent and it arrives that their money and their propaganda is not well targeted.

By the way, the results are usually not overwhelming clear. Only sometimes for subjects of category a) since in these cases, a popular vote is necessary even if there is no serious political opposition. Aside from such cases, there was only one popular vote in the last 10 years, where the losing side got less than 20%. The subject was a popular initiative of a small political party, which demanded a radical change of the tax system without being able to simply explain how the new tax system would work. They got only 8%. On the other hand, close results occur regularly.

Some examples of popular votes

Let me now discuss some examples. As in many other countries, the financing of the retirement is a problem in Switzerland, due to important changes in the age structure of the population. Generally speaking, I think that the Swiss population is quite aware of the problem. However, obviously, right wing parties and left wing parties greatly differ on the method how to solve this problem. In this situation, a quite creative idea emerged in the parliament. In 2017, the government had lost three popular votes, two concerning the retirement and one concerning tax relief for commercial enterprises. The first two were lost mainly due to the opposition of right wing parties while the third was opposed by left wing parties. So, the parliament proposed a combination of the two subjects, considering that both sides would have some advantages as well as disadvantages. This proposition was clearly accepted in a popular vote in 2019.

The immigration question has occupied the Swiss population since at least 50 years. In 2014, a popular initiative for the limitation of the immigration was accepted in a popular vote by 50,3% against 49,7%. This was almost a political sensation, which had some immediate consequences. Since the result was close and very unexpected, some people quite quickly proposed to repeat the popular vote. However, one must underline that these were rather amateurish people, politically speaking. No important political party, which was among the losers of the vote, gave support to this proposition and a second popular vote will not happen. On the other hand, popular initiatives are usually formulated quite generally and it is up to the parliament to elaborate the precise laws. In this case, the winners of the vote were not satisfied with the elaboration of the parliament.

Switzerland has the reputation of being a beautiful country and I shall not say the contrary. Protection of the environment has a long popular tradition in this country. In 2012, a popular initiative was accepted with 50.6% against 49.4%. It demanded the restriction of the construction of secondary residences, which was mainly a problem in the touristic regions of the Alps. This result also was a huge surprise. In this case, there were no demands for repeating the vote; however, again, the winners were not completely satisfied with the successive elaboration of the laws by the parliament.

In a popular vote in 2014, it was rejected that Switzerland buys new fighter jets. This also was an important defeat for the government. Many Swiss think that fighter jets are expensive prestige objects. Clearly, the subject is not closed and more popular votes will come. I wonder whether the recent experiences with Yemen and Saudi Arabia will have some influence.

My last example is from 2013 where a popular initiative – called fat cat initiative – was accepted with 68,0%. In the history of Switzerland, this was the highest score for a popular initiative which was not supported by the government. The subject turned around the excessive salaries of top managers. The vote was a kind of protest against the parallel world in Switzerland, formed by the top managers of big enterprises and their sponsors. Ordinary Swiss people have no access to this world, which functions in its own way. I would think that few people have the illusion that the acceptance of this popular initiative will change much. But it was a warning to this parallel world, indicating that the population is not completely defenceless against them.

In the light of the Swiss experiences, let me make some comments about the most famous popular vote in the world of the last years, namely the vote on Brexit of June 2016. Recall that the participation was 72.2% and the result was 51.9% to 48.1%. In the international press, this was characterized as a close vote. Moreover, prominent politicians, for example former prime minister Blair, almost immediately demanded a repetition of the vote, based among other things on online petitions. From my point of view, this all is nonsense. A difference of 3.8% cannot be judged as close, considering also the high participation and the fact that the British government was against Brexit. The actual prime minister Johnson may be what he is, but for me, his main argument – that one has to respect the popular vote on Brexit – is completely legitimate.

A government of national unity

The Swiss government consists of seven members, called federal council. In principle, each one has the same power; the president changes each year by a rotation principle. Federal councils are elected by the parliament. As a consequence of the system of popular votes, the Swiss government is a government of national unity, not by law, but by tradition. Important political forces are integrated in this way. In the last 80 years, there are three essential examples. Beginning in 1943, the worker and trade union movement was integrated and has – since 1959 – two members of the government. Since 1971, Swiss women are entitled to vote and now, a Swiss government without women is unthinkable (actually 3 of the 7 are women). In connexion with the problems of immigration, the Swiss party with the clearest position against exaggerated immigration became the most important party. As a consequence, this party has now 2 members of the government.

Again from a Swiss point of view, the political system in France is not effective. It systematically excludes large parts of the population, in particular the parties of Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélenchon. It is obvious for me that the protest movement of the “Gilets Jaunes” is a consequence of this exclusion, provoked by the political system.

The next elections for the Swiss parliament will be on 20 October 2019. In December 2019, the new parliament will elect or re-elect the 7 federal councils. Concerning the parliament elections, everybody expects important gains for the green and ecological parties. This will then raise the question whether one of the federal councils should be from an ecological party. Such questions are among the most discussed and most interesting in Swiss politics.

Generally speaking, the Swiss population is very content with the political system. Usually, the approval rating of the government is much higher in Switzerland than in other Western countries.

Relations with the European Union (EU)

Switzerland is not a member of the EU, but is surrounded by countries of the EU. Therefore, the relations with the EU are crucial. Some 25 years ago, the EU was quite popular in Switzerland. But this has very much changed. Today, it is merely seen as a necessary evil to have good relations with the EU. Paradoxically, the majority in Switzerland seems however to be opposed that other countries leave the EU.

Recently, the Swiss government has negotiated a new bundle of treatises with the EU. For the EU, the subject seems to be settled. However, in Switzerland, the result of the negotiations will have no chance in a popular vote (which necessarily will be held). The Swiss government is aware of this situation and looks for some improvements. I must say that I am looking forward to a confrontation between the Swiss population and the EU concerning these new treatises.

Why are there dissidents in Switzerland?

One cannot say that the Swiss political system is bad. As I said, the country is quite beautiful and, moreover, quite rich, modern, and open to the world. So, why are we not all happy? Why are there dissidents like me? Of course, I can only give my own explications. By the way, if you read “About the Saker” on this website, you will easily conclude that the Saker is a Swiss citizen, but not particularly happy about his experiences in Switzerland – to say the least.

From an abstract point of view, you can say that Switzerland is a typical Western country. Take as an example the fact that the “approval rating” in the Swiss population of countries like Russia, Iran, or Syria is very small. And since the case of the Occident in the world is utterly unfair, it is only logical that you become a dissident if you live in a Western country. Ok, this is a simple formula, which moreover is not wrong. However, in some sense, it completely misses the point. I claim that nobody becomes a dissident just by rational reflection. What really matter are life experience and a protracted confrontation with the society.

I would say that a dissident is somebody who expects nothing more from his or her country. Who no longer looks for being integrated. Not because of revenge, but because of he or she has tried hard for some reasonable time, but did not find any possible way. Accordingly, I completely lost my faith in Switzerland. I would not longer appreciate being identified with Switzerland. I owe nothing to this country. Ok, I admit that I was disappointed when Roger Federer lost the Wimbledon final despite having match points. And I would support Swiss football team (soccer, for Americans) against most other countries, including China and Russia (but not against Syria, Iran, or Venezuela). But this is more nostalgia, than anything else.

In fact, I consider Switzerland as a boring country. No positive dreams, no ideals, no engagement, no ideas, not even serious discussions. Only chilling defence of the achievements – which, in principle, is not wrong, but the problem is the “only”. And above all, an intolerable arrogance against all that is not glorifying Western hegemony.

“But you have the right of expressing all this criticism.” I hear this argument since 50 years. But only recently, I understood what is thoroughly wrong with it. It suggests that criticism is the aim. But no, I was not born for criticizing. Looking for critics was never my first reaction, except maybe very occasionally in my youth. Ok, I had my own ideas – but for constructive reasons. What I was looking for was the opportunity to contribute to the society as well as possible. But again and again, I was frustrated. The society did not at all care about my contributions. They wanted just my subordination to the existing order. So, finally, I lost interest and became a dissident. Obviously, this made me more calm and easy-going. And as the Saker says: “The deserts are filled with submarines.”

Are Democracy and Despotic Racism Compatible

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Are Democracy and Despotic Racism Compatible? An Analysis (12 April 2019) by Lawrence Davidson

Part I—The Israeli Model and Its American Supporters

On 25 February 2019, the Jewish American publication Forward, printed a remarkable opinion piece by Joshua Leifer. Leifer, who had worked in Israel for the anti-establishment +972 Magazine, is currently an associate editor ofDissent. His piece in the Forward was entitled “Wake Up, American Jews: You’ve Enabled Israel’s Racism for Years.”

Leifer begins by saying that the Israeli rightwing political parties have always been racist, though there was a time, back in the 1980s, when they objected to being too upfront about this. Thus, for the sake of public relations, they held their violent and despotic fringe—the Kahanists—at arm’s length. As Leifer puts it, what was frowned upon was the style rather than the substance of “explicit, violent racism.” That objection is now gone. The goal of a “Jewish supremacist state” is out in the open—an explicit political goal. And the Palestinians, including those who are Israeli citizens, are to be condemned to “forever live subjugated under military occupation, confined to isolated Bantustans, or … expelled.” Those Jews, both Israelis and diaspora Jews, who object to this process will be labeled as “traitors.”

Having established these facts on the ground, Leifer asks “how has the American Jewish establishment responded?” His answer is, they have either been silent or, more often, have actively sought to enable the power of Israel’s despotic racism. They have cooperated with, lobbied for, and raised money to underpin Israel’s racist policies. Of course, a Zionist is sure to assert that the lobbying and money are pursued for the sake of Israeli security. Yet, today’s Israeli leaders don’t define security, with the possible exceptions of Gaza and the Lebanese frontier, in terms of borders. Instead security is defined in terms of achieving and maintaining Jewish supremacy in all territory under Zionist control. This is why all of Israel’s Zionist parties have pledged never to include the token number of Arabs in the Knesset in a governing coalition.

In their effort to support Zionist Israel, America’s establishment Jewish leaders have proven themselves willing to undermine the constitutional freedoms of their own native country, as has been the case with their relentless attacks on the right of free speech as practiced in the boycott Israel movement—BDS. In the end, there can be no more convincing proof that these organizations serve as de facto agents of a foreign power, than to see how their leadership willingly discards the modern principles of civil and human rights found in the U.S. Constitution—to say nothing of international law—in order to support a state that openly pursues apartheid ends.

Leifer offers two possible reasons for why establishment Jewish organizations in the U.S. have chosen this path. The first possibility is “willful ignorance,” that is, a psychological inability to face the truth about a state that they, as American Jewish leaders, have always seen as an ultimate haven if a new Holocaust threat arises. The second possibility is that the leadership of the American Jewish organizations are themselves conscious racists when it comes to a Jewish supremacist state. According to Leifer, “No one exemplifies this better than Ambassador David Friedman, whose rhetoric—calling JStreet “worse than kapos”—mirrors the kind of rhetoric popular on the Israeli right.”

Part II—Racism Beyond the Israeli Right

This is a strong, and quite searing, condemnation of Israeli society and its American Jewish allies. Still, things can and do get worse. On 4 April 2019 the British anti-Zionist Jewish writer Tony Greenstein posted an essay entitled “There Is Nothing That Netanyahu Has Done That Labour Zionism Didn’t Do Before Him.” Greenstein begins by citing an 11 March 2019 piecein Haaretz written by Amira Haas, one of the few prominent non-Zionist Jewish journalists still working in Israel. Haas draws attention to the fact that “when Israeli governments in the 1960s and 1970s worked hard to steal Palestinian land while quoting God’s promises to atheists, they paved the way for parties promoting Jewish supremacy.” Thus, as Greenstein puts it: “It is often forgotten that it wasn’t Likud but the Israeli Labour Alignment which helped to launch the settler movement.” The remorseless absorption of Palestinian land and the oppressive treatment of its native population is not the work solely of the Israeli right wing. From the beginning, all of the major Zionist political parties, left and right, supported these policies as a way of fulfilling Zionist destiny.

Haas is unflinching in her characterization of their actions. For her, this “racist messianism” smacks of the policy of “Lebensraum” or “the urge to create living space.” Haas goes on to lament the fact that “we thought that in the end, the heads of the Labour movement would learn from the expansionist impulses of other nations. After all, they were the sons and brothers of the victims of Lebensraum.” In other words, at least in this policy of expansion and expulsion, all Israeli governing coalitions have adopted behaviors toward the Palestinians reminiscent of those practiced by the persecutors of Europe’s Jews.

Part III—The Question Answered

Considering that Israel and its supporters often proclaim that it is a Western-style democracy, and given the bit of history laid out above, we can ask if democracy and racist despotism can in fact be compatible. And, while the example of Israel serves as our backdrop for this query, we can consider the question generically. Can any democracy prove compatible with racist despotism?

Historically, the answer is an obvious yes. All that needs to happen is that a powerful group within the nation identifies itself as a privileged elite and reserves democratic procedures and privileges for itself, while condemning others to discrimination, segregation, or worse. Again, this posture has nothing to do with Jewishness. Any ethnicity or self-identified group can adopt it—based on color, religion, gender, or something else. The much-idealized ancient democracy of Athens did it based on gender and citizenship linked to birth.The United States ran as a selective democracy/racist despotism that practiced slavery until the middle of the 19th century while statutory discrimination persisted until the 1960s. Recent events indicate a revival of virulent white supremacism.

If there is a remedy to this it is in the rule of law functioning as an enforced regulatory process—one linked to a tenets of human rights. The U.S. Bill of Rights and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights are good, if incomplete models. Politics, including democratic politics, has to be constitutionally regulated to assure equity (much like economies), and the regulations have to be applied consistently until they become ingrained as natural expectations within the consciousness of the citizenry. This probably requires generations of equalitarian practice. And, even then, what you achieve is the minimizing of the infiltration of corruptive bias, and other such variants corrosive of genuine democracy, into the system. The truth is that you probably cannot eliminate the threat altogether.

Getting back to Israel: under the present circumstances, there is no reason to believe that the outcome of the recent 9 April 2019 Israeli elections would have changed the fate of either the the country’s Jews or the Palestinians. And, now that we know that Benjamin Netanyahu and his rightwing Likud Party will lead the next coalition government, it is certain that the illegal Zionist colonization of the West Bank, and its accompanying oppression, will continue apace. This, by the way, is simply the maintenance of a long-standing status quo—a conscious policy in its own right. And, it is a policy that reflects the fact that “for years, most Israelis have passively or actively allowed values of equality, justice, and yes, peace, to go by the wayside.”

So what is the legacy of Zionism? Is it the establishment of a genuine democracy in the Middle East? Is it even the realization of a haven for the world’s Jews against the next Holocaust? No, it is neither of these. It is rather the melding of an elitist pseudo-democracy with racist despotism—the realization of an elitist fortress from which Israel maintains distinctly undemocratic control of a hinterland full of conquered people. To paraphrase the odious Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked, this whole setup smells nothing like democracy. It smells to me like fascism.

About Lawrence Davidson

Lawrence Davidson is professor of history emeritus at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He has been publishing his analyses of topics in U.S. domestic and foreign policy, international and humanitarian law and Israel/Zionist practices and policies since 2010.

Bouteflika warns of ‘chaos’ as protests continue against his candidacy الحراك الشعبي في الجزائر… ما مصيره؟ بوتفليقة يحذر من اختراق الحراك الشعبي

In this file photo taken on May 04, 2017, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is seen on a wheelchair as he casts his vote at a polling station in Algiers during parliamentary elections. (Photo by AFP)
In this file photo taken on May 04, 2017, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is seen on a wheelchair as he casts his vote at a polling station in Algiers during parliamentary elections. (Photo by AFP)

Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who is facing protests against his bid for a fifth term in office, has called for vigilance, saying foreign or domestic groups may seek to stoke chaos in the North African country.

Demonstrations have been staged almost daily in Algeria since February 22, with Bouteflika cautioning protesters not to allow their peaceful rallies to be manipulated as he invoked the country’s decades-long civil war.

“Breaking this peaceful expression by any treacherous internal or foreign group may lead to sedition and chaos and resulting crises and woes,” the 82-year-old leader wrote in a letter on Thursday on the eve of a major rally.

The elections are due to be held on April 18 but protesters are unlikely to give up demanding the resignation of Bouteflika, who uses a wheelchair and has rarely been seen in public since he suffered a stroke in 2013.

He has been in Switzerland since February 24 for what his office has described as “routine medical tests,” without giving an exact fate for his return home.

In the letter, Bouteflika urged protesters to exercise “vigilance and caution” and warned of a return to the “national tragedy” of the country’s decade-long civil war and of the “crises and tragedies caused by terrorism” in neighboring countries.

Algerian lawyers and journalists take part in a protest against their ailing president’s bid for a fifth term in power, in Algiers on March 7, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Bouteflika’s letter came as some 1,000 lawyers took to the streets of the capital Algiers on Thursday, saying his ill health should disqualify him from the upcoming elections.

“We are asking the Constitutional Council to assume its responsibilities … This candidacy is inadmissible,” protester Ahmed Dahim, a member of the Bar Association of Algiers, said as his fellow demonstrators chanted “No to the fifth mandate.”

The Constitutional Council must decide on the candidates by March 14.

Opponents also cite what they call chronic corruption and a lack of economic reform to tackle unemployment.

On Sunday, Bouteflika promised that if re-elected, he would order a referendum on a new constitution and call an early election where he would not run.

The compromise came nearly three weeks after he announced that he would once again participate in the presidential race, infuriating his opponents and unleashing major protests in the country.

Algeria’s divided opposition and civic groups have called for more protests against Bouteflika’s 20-year rule if he proceeds to seek another term.

الحراك الشعبي في الجزائر… ما مصيره؟ 

مارس 7, 2019

كمال حميدة

كنت أتوقع أن يمضي الرئيس عبد العزيز بوتفليقة في تقديم ملف ترشحه لولاية خامسة، رغم الاحتجاجات العارمة التي شهدتها معظم المدن الجزائرية، الرافضة لتوليه ولاية جديدة. هذا التوقع أتى نتيجة أنّ الرئيس بوتفليقة يستمدّ ترشيحه من طرف جبهة التحرير الوطني، وهي الحزب الحاكم منذ الاستقلال وبعض الأحزاب والحركات الموالية له، هذا الحزب هو الآخر يستمدّ حضوره من المشروعية الثورية التي نالت الحرية وانتزعتها بفضل تضحياتها ونضالاتها ضدّ المحتلّ الفرنسي، وهي بدورها تسلّمت مقاليد السلطة لكونها اعتقدت اعتقاداً جازماً أنّ السلطة هي مكسب لها ومشروع محق للحفاظ والدفاع عن المبادئ الثورية وأهدافها.

هذا الترشح أتى بالوكالة عبر رئيس حملته الانتخابية عبد الغني زعلان، الذي عيّن خلفاً لرئيس الحكومة السابق عبد المالك سلال، هذا الأخير تجنّب معارضته للاحتجاجات الشعبية لأسباب صحية من الدرجة الأولى للرئيس بوتفليقة. وعقب تقديم ملف ترشح الرئيس الحالي تلا رسالته الوزير السابق بالنيابة عنه، التي نصّت في أهمّ بنودها على أنّ الرئيس الجزائري وعد بانتخابات رئاسية مبكرة في حال انتخابه للدورة الخامسة، وعقد ندوة وطنية تجمع كافة الأطياف والمكوّنات الحزبية لإجراء تعديلات دستورية، وتأسيس لجنة مستقلة تشرف على الانتخابات.

فبعض المراقبين اعتبروا أنّ هذه الخطوة استفزازية وتؤدّي بالبلاد نحو المجهول وهي مناورة لكسب الوقت من أجل تجديد النظام من رحم ذاته، مضيفين أنّ ثمة رجالاً في الخفاء يديرون الدولة من أعلى الهرم السلطوي، بالأخصّ في الظروف الصحية الحالية لرئيس الجمهورية. ومنهم رأى أنّ الصراع القائم بين الحرس القديم والحرس الحالي، هو من فجر هذا الحراك الشعبي في الشوارع العامة، ويعمّق الفجوة بين الهرم السلطوي والقاعدة الشعبية، ورأي آخر يرى أنّ رجال المال الفاسد أو ما يعرفون بـ «باترونة المال» أو «المجموعة النافذة» بما يتمتعون به من نفوذ وعلاقات داخل مفاصل الدولة لا يروق لهم أن تتنازل السلطة عن مركزية قرارتها وأن تعيد النظر في تقديم وجه آخر لمرشحها.

كما أنّ هذه الرسالة اعترضت عليها منابر إعلامية وحزبية بأنّ هذه الوعود أتت متأخرة، حيث سبق أن قدّمت أحزاب المعارضة قبل سنوات هذه المقترحات، عندما كان الرئيس يتمتع بكامل صحته، فأقدمت السلطة على الأخذ بعين الاعتبار بجزء منها، وتجاهلت المقترحات المتبقية، وهنا بدت الأحزاب غير الموالية للسلطة أنها فقدت ثقتها بنظام الحكم، خصوصاً عندما تفجّر الحراك الشعبي في معظم المدن، التي باتت تعتمد على أصوات زخم المسيرات من أيّ وقت مضى، وتدعم مطالبه بكلّ ما أوتي من قوة، وتنظر إليه أنه أتى في الفرصة المواتية ليكون هو المحرك الحقيقي لإرغام السلطة الحاكمة للنزول عند شعاراته وهتافاته وتقبل ما يريده من المسؤولين الحاكمين.

الإنجازات التي تحققت في حقبة طوال الحكم تفتخر بها الأحزاب الموالية، كشبكة الطرق والسكك الحديدية، والسدود، وزيادة في عدد الجامعات، ومنح حوالي ثلاثة ملايين مسكن للمواطنين بصفة مجانية، إلى جانب الدور الأساسي لرئيس قصر المرادية في استتباب الأمن وترسيخ الاستقرار الداخلي. إلا أنّ المعارضة تقضي عليها بأنها إنجازات نسبية، والأموال التي أنفقت في جميع المشروعات هي أموال الشعب، فضلاً أنّ رجالاً من داخل النظام والمقرّبين منهم هم الذين انتفعوا من الأموال التي استثمرت فيها. واستاءت المعارضة من مستوى الفقر المستشري في المجتمع الجزائري بحيث وصلت نسبتها إلى 38 بالمئة من خلال تقارير الأمم المتحدة.

مطلب المتظاهرين على منع الولاية الخامسة دون تحديد سقف معيّن للتجاوب معها، قد يحمل في طياته نتائج لا تصبّ في خانة المحتجّين. فمضاعفة الاحتجاجات دون الالتقاء والتقاطع مع تنازلات السلطة بالحدّ المعقول من وجهة نظر دوائر الحكم، من المحتمل أنه سيصطدم بمواجهات في الشارع، لأنّ نظام الحكم له مناصروه ومؤيدوه سيدافعون عن نظام الدولة ويرفضون رفضاً قاطعاً اللجوء إلى الانقلاب عليه بين عشية وضحاها ودفع السلم الأهلي نحو حافة الهاوية، لا سيما أنّ الأسرة الحاكمة قدّمت مقترحاً واعداً بتنفيذه في أجل قصير المدى، وهو مبرّر قد يضيفها رصيداً لإقناع الشارع بأنّ الدولة في خدمة المصلحة العامة للشعب، والحفاظ على أمنها واستقرارها بدلاً من جرّ البلاد نحو المجهول أو الفراغ الدستوري. وفي حال إصرار الشارع الرافض لرئاسة خامسة على المضيّ قدماً في تجاوز مطالبه وفي طليعتها تغيير جذري للنظام القائم، واعتراضه من جانب شارع المؤيدين والموالين قد سيؤدّي إلى اندلاع صدامات واشتباكات وأعمال شغب وعنف، حينها ستتدخل الأجهزة الأمنية والعسكرية وتفرض حالة الطوارئ داخل البلاد لأجل قصير أو طويل المدى، بطبيعة الحال ستصبح فرض منطق الغالب هو الأقوى على الأرض. وفي هذه الحالة ستعمل السلطة على إعادة النظر في تصحيح أوراقها وترتيب بيتها ومعالجة ما يمكن معالجته وعلى رأسها تقديم مرشح رئاسي مستقبلاً يحظى بإجماع وطني لإقناع شريحة واسعة من الشعب الجزائري بأنها الجهة الوحيدة القادرة على إنقاذ البلاد من دوامة الخلافات الخانقة والانقسامات الحادة التي تهدّد الوحدة الوطنية، والحامية الكفيلة بالتصدي وردع كلّ صوت أو حراك يستهدف زعزعة الأمن الداخلي والاستقرار السلمي.

كاتب سياسي

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بوتفليقة يحذر من اختراق الحراك الشعبي ضد الولاية الخامسة من أطراف داخلية وخارجية

الميادين نت

الرئيس الجزائري عبد العزيز بوتفليقة يحذر من اختراق الحراك الشعبي ضد الولاية الخامسة من أطراف داخلية وخارجية، ومدير حملته الانتخابية ينفي ما تضمّنته تقارير إعلامية عن تدهور صحته، والمحامون يبدأون التجمع في إطار تحركات باتجاه المجلس الدستوريّ.

مدير الحملة الانتخابية عبد الغني زعلان، يؤكد أنّ "التصريحات الرسمية الجزائرية عن صحة بوتفليقة مطابقة للواقع"

مدير الحملة الانتخابية عبد الغني زعلان، يؤكد أنّ “التصريحات الرسمية الجزائرية عن صحة بوتفليقة مطابقة للواقع”

حذر الرئيس الجزائري عبد العزيز بوتفليقة من اختراق الحراك الشعبي ضد الولاية الخامسة من أطراف داخلية وخارجية.

كما حذر بوتفليقة من “إثارة الفتنة وإشاعة الفوضى وما ينتج عنها من أزمات وويلات”، مشيداً بالطابع السلمي للمسيرات الشعبية في الجزائر.

وأكد بوتفليقة على ضرورة الحفاظ على الاستقرار للتفرغ للاستمرار في معركة البناء.

وكان مدير الحملة الانتخابية لبوتفليقة نفى ما تضمّنته تقارير إعلامية عن تدهور صحته.

وأكد مدير الحملة الانتخابية عبد الغني زعلان، أنّ “التصريحات الرسمية الجزائرية عن صحة بوتفليقة مطابقة للواقع”.

في هذه الأثناء، بدأ المحامون في الجزائر التجمع في إطار تحركات باتجاه المجلس الدستوريّ.

كما قرر اتحاد المحامين تجميد العمل على مستوى المحاكم والمجالس القضائية، ويطالب المحامون السلطات بـ”إرجاء الانتخابات المقررةِ في الثامن عشر من نيسان/أبريل المقبل، وبتأليف حكومة انتقالية”.

هذا وأعلن حزب جبهة القوى الاشتراكية في الجزائر، “سحب نوابه من المجلس الشعبيّ الوطنيّ ومجلس الأمة”، موضحاً في بيانه أنّ “الانسحاب جاء من أجل النضال مع الشعب في الميدان”.

كما أعلنت جمعية قدماء وزراء التسليح والاتصالات العامّة، دعمها الاحتجاجات ضد الولاية الخامسة للرئيس بوتفليقة.

الى ذلك، أكد رئيس أركان الجيش الجزائري الفريق أحمد قايد صالح، “استعداد الجيش لتوفير الظروف الآمنة التي تكفل للشعب حقّه في الانتخاب”.

ومن ناحيته، أشار النائب في البرلمان الجزائريّ عن حزب العمال يوسف تعزيبت للميادين، “رفض أي تدخّل في شؤون الجزائر من قبل القوى الإمبريالية”.

France’s Yellow Vests: Proving cops are indeed part of the 1%

Source

France’s Yellow Vests: Proving cops are indeed part of the 1%

March 04, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

The demonstration for “Acte 16”, on March 2nd, was designed as a sight-seeing tour which passed by bastions of rich, traitorous criminals (the OECD, a school of luxury marketing, etc.) and so it concluded at a small roundabout in a ritzy area, Denfert-Rochereau.

As protesters amassed and cops loaded up, and with time in between my on-air interviews for PressTV, I headed for a florist shop. I needed some poles to train my sagging office plant, George W. Bouchra, named after a former boss who departed ignominiously (she was never employed by PressTV nor my boss – it’s a shared office).

As I began talking to the female shopkeeper, who seemed to be deciding whether or not to lock up and flee, a member of France’s riot police barged in and interrupted our conversation. He was thirsty. I can see why – French riot cops wear more armour than an American football player, and carry more attacking equipment than Batman. With his huge size thus rendered even huger, he quite intimidated the petite young florist.

The florist, of course, expected to pass her day among delicate flowers. She probably had no idea the Yellow Vest demonstration was designed to combust literally at her doorstep.

My hand to God, he asked her for bottled water not once, but 6 to 9 times. Was he convinced that florists also sell bottled water? More likely is: because he was a cop he knew that all he had to do was apply pressure to this lady/citizen, and she would hand over her own bottled water. Of course, because he was a French cop, he also knew that there would be zero repercussions if what he was doing was not forthright.

The intimidated young lady kept insisting she had no bottled water to give, and the cop finally gave up. When she turned to back to me I asked, “And do you have anything for me to eat?”

With the same look of fear still in her eyes, she answered quite earnestly, “No, I don’t. I’m sorry.” She honestly believed me, poor lady! It was only after I smiled and pressed her again, in the manner of the cop, that she finally relaxed back to her former self. She gave me the plant poles for free.

What this story relates is just how elitist Western cops are in 2019. Truly, only 1% of society feels they can act so above-the-law and so humiliatingly disrespectful to others.

“The 1%” can be only economic, but not necessarily. The slogan of the US Occupy Movement was, “We are the 99%.” Whether we say that, “Cops are part of the 1%”, or, “Cops aren’t part of the 99%”, the effect is the same – and it’s time to start saying it openly.

Everybody, in every Western country, hates the police

Here’s something never reported in any Mainstream Media: at any French demonstration where riot cops are deployed one will hear the chant, “Everybody hates the cops” (Tout… le monde… déteste la police!).

Now because the Yellow Vests are totally composed of White Power, anti-Semitic fascists such a chant would never be heard, right? The Yellow Vests – because they are a class-ignorant, intolerant, Islamophobia-focused movement calling for Joan of Arc’s exhumed skeleton to replace Emmanuel Macron as president – obviously love the cops. That’s also why leftist-rightish French intellectuals like Alain Soral are convinced that the cops are secretly wearing Yellow Vests under their blue uniforms, and are breathlessly waiting for the moment when France’s cops do what is never, ever done in any political revolution – join the protesters. Cops never switch sides – they have too much to lose.

Oh wait – the Yellow Vests were chanting it as well! The reason for that is, well, everybody hates the cops in France. They hate them with same force as they hate the 1% because cops are part of the 1%.

Let’s look at history: the rude demands for provisions and quarter (if not bottled water) was always made by soldiers and cops in ancient times. The banning of quartering soldiers – i.e., theft and parasitism – is the 3rd amendment in the US Bill of Rights for good reason. From the point of view of citizens: the idea that the Praetorian Guard, or anyone with a sword and a license to stab, was not part of the 1% could only be made by an absurd dogmatist.

Let’s look at 2019: go to any blue-collar community in the US and talk to women – they view cops and firemen as the biggest catches. Why? Because they have everything a conservative woman could want: social status, guaranteed jobs, early retirement and great pensions.

Social status: For those who have not lived in a small town – and I have lived in multiple and reported from them, as well – cops absolutely are social stars. Everybody knows who they are and the power they have; everybody kisses up to them, because they fear them and their power.

Guaranteed jobs: Ah, but our boys in blue are such heroes for working such dangerous jobs, right? Wrong. It’s not even in the top 10 of most dangerous professions – being a baseball umpire is almost as deadly. And check that list of the top 25 – cops are among the highest-paid on the list (median salary: $59,680).

It is almost unheard of for French policemen to go to jail, and certainly not if they commit a crime against a Muslim or Black person. In French law the testimony of a cop is always valid and cannot be questioned, only disproved via evidence. This is why so many innocent protesters are going to prison – because the cops say so.

Early retirement and great pensions: Indeed, the only time I have seen a French protest lead to immediate capitulation by the government is when cops marched – reforms were promised that very day. Politicians know how vital Praetorian Guards are. The usual method for cop pensions in the US is retirement after just 20 years with half your pay… that’s not just spectacular for those in small towns – who wouldn’t want that?

Add all these things up: Cops are not part of the 99%.

Yellow Vests throwing excrement on cops via ‘poo bombs’ – it’s the ultimate form of rejection

As someone who sides with non-dog cultures, I find it tremendously degrading for a person to fill a plastic bag (or a “projectile”) with excrement, but getting hit by it – wow. That’s disrespect on an almost unthinkable level. (I assume it was dog excrement, LOL!)

The policemen were deeply humiliated,” reads the report. Well, turnabout is fair play, no? That’s what cops do to regular citizens day in and day out; that’s what the cop did to the florist.

Yellow Vests are doing what their American cousins in New Orleans did during the US Civil War – they are dumping their chamber pots on the heads of an army they have no connection with and whom they despise.

Westerners should, but do not, make a clear distinction between police and the army. Soldiers deserve infinitely more respect than cops, who in capitalist-imperialist societies are drawn from the most reactionary parts of the population. Cops in the West are not at all like the Revolutionary Guards in Cuba or Iran – Western cops violently guard against any progressive revolution, and their citizens all know that but can do nothing about it.

Nor can they stop the appalling deification of police in Western societies since 9/11. Despite all the bullets in the backs of minorities, all the secret torture sites and all the smartphone videos of shootings, cops are culturally, legally and fiscally untouchable because they ARE part of the 1%. The Western Mainstream Media defies cops, and Western mainstream politicians protect their salaries and pensions while cutting those of other public servants, because they are all in it together against the 99%.

Westerners know that I could go on and on with examples of glorification of cops which have become so extreme as to become disgustingly servile. The treatment of cops in capitalist-imperialist societies is, just like most Western problems, so ingrained that it can only be labelled as “total socio-political dysfunction”, and could only be remedied by something like a Chinese or Iranian Cultural Revolution. And that is what the Yellow Vests are essentially calling for.

Until that occurs, I will continue to report honestly: mass arrests, mass trials and mass jailings are an everyday part of French life now.

More blunt language, which is rarely heard in the Mainstream Media: Every Saturday the numbers of people hurtand arrested simply for protesting governmental policies rises by the scores or the hundreds.

Numbers: 8,000+ arrested, 500 major injuries, 2,000+ imprisoned (as of Feb. 14), 1,500+ awaiting trials (Feb. 14), 12 deaths, 20+ blindings, 6 hands lost, 10,000+ rubber bullets fired. If Venezuela reaches 1% of these figures the UN will authorise military intervention.

Rather than make concessions, change policy, or reflect the popular will, the government is using legal repression on top of physical repression to scare people from joining the Yellow Vests – every day newspapers big and small have stories of sentenced Yellow Vesters.

What’s sad is that the majority of those arrested are first-time protesters – they simply didn’t know how to deal with cops, how to avoid cops, and how to demand their rights from bullying cops. It’s not the longtime activists who are in prison, but truly the most innocent and the most desperate. Normally in France a sentence of less than 2 years leads to no prison time – a “suspended sentence” – but not for Yellow Vesters.

France is not a modern democratic nation but a “rubber bullet republic” led by a “liberal strongman”; it’s not new – Yellow Vests are experiencing what Muslims did during the 2-year State of Emergency.

I have only barely discussed the appalling violence, arrests, mass trails and and mass imprisonment of France’s Yellow Vests – these are inflicted by the very cops who Western media repeatedly insist are the greatest heroes of the nation. But only a reactionary believes that – everyone hates the police; only a reactionary hates the Yellow Vests.

The media is to blame: rubber bullets are euphemistically called “flash balls”. They are fired from “defense ball launchers”, which automatically makes protesters the aggressors. Injuries to cops are treated as being equivalent to the injuries of protesters, even though I have never read of a blinded cop, a cop in a coma, a cop killed, 200+ cops with serious head injuries – surely the media would have relayed such stories on a loop. Of course, the protesters are rampaging berserkers, who commit violence with no rhyme or reason, with demands “so varied” that it’s not even worth examining them, and who are not the victims of 8 years of austerity but the “losers” of neoliberal globalisation who lost in a 100% fair fight. Every poll is dissected in a way to show that the Yellow Vests are actually dwindling in popularity, and not that they actually (still) have unprecedented popularity for a protest movement in France. Every defense of the Yellow Vests must begin with a condemnation of “their” violence. Etc.

Act 16 was the tamest one yet… in Paris, that is. Rubber bullets, water cannons, tear gas, mass arrests were still used in the smaller cities more accessible to rural inhabitants. The florist had no cause for alarm that day – except from the riot police.

An article like this will be gleefully put in front of me by border cops the next time I fly into the United States, perhaps. Such an article is not just career suicide for a Mainstream journalist, but it would never get past any editor. However, it’s not like Western cops ever needed justification for their acts of intimidation, humiliation and violence. And maybe the 1% will get me before then – either via a rich person’s decree or their heavily-armed proxies.

This was an article about the horrific police and judicial violence against the Yellow Vests, but it barely touched on it – France’s problems run much deeper than just the past 3+ months.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

The Curse of Free Elections

By Hussein Samawarchi

The US assumes it has the right to interfere in elections around the world, accepting results for some countries and refusing others. Any presidential nominee who leads a campaign on the grounds of true political sovereignty becomes the subject of hate speech on Fox News and that has proved to be the first step towards loading jet fighters with depleted uranium ordinance.

They did not like the popular vote in Iran that took the form of a spontaneous street movement about 40 years ago but the Persian nation is no easy game. In those four decades, neither did the subsequently elected governments show signs of subordination nor did the people who elected them show readiness to lose national pride. The Americans have been battering the Iranian people with one embargo after another, attempting to deprive them of medicine, food, electricity, clean water, defensive weapons, and anything else that could spark a popular movement against a political system that refuses to condone colonialism.

Syria has proved to be the master of its own politics. President Bashar al-Assad stood firmly by his people’s beliefs in independent choices regarding the rights of Arabs. He voiced out, as President Hafez did before him, the need to maintain the right to dignity regardless of which self-proclaimed superpower gets furious. And, furious it became.

After years of harsh embargos, rendered unsuccessful due to the resilience of the people, aimed at the Syrian society’s very basis, Washington gave its regional agents the green light to introduce terrorism with budgets in the billions. Qatar, alone, is said to have spent three billion dollars in arms and payoffs to those aiming mortar shells at morning markets, hospitals, and schools.

This was all because Syria held its own elections and refused foreign intervention in the people’s choice.

In January 2006, the Palestinian people chose Hamas representatives as majority seat holders in the parliament. That didn’t sit well with the American administration. A punishment was therefore administered to teach the children of Abraham a lesson in “democratic” elections. Not that they haven’t been subjected to the true meaning of the word Holocaust for the past 80 years or so, but now  their systematic annihilation is being supported by regional powers as well.

The majority in Bahrain dared to ask for proportionate representation in the government and the Saudi women began questioning their status quo. As a result, minors were executed and women were tortured. The governments who administered those crimes are not elected. The White House says those governments are friends. It seems that George Washington’s beliefs do not apply to the humans living on that side of Earth.

Nicaragua and Cuba are deemed to be in desperate need of American intervention in the people’s choice according to recent statements and last but not least, Venezuela.

The American government has finally decided that years of economic warfare against the Venezuelans are not yielding the desired results in controlling their freedom of choice when ballots are set. Last August, Former President Obama’s favorite toys were dispatched to get rid of their majority’s choice. When that did not work, they had a public figure go openly against the constitution and proclaim himself a president who could, with the help of Trump, relief the country from famine, medicine shortages, independence, and free elections.

So, despite Russian denial and lack of credible proof, President Putin interfered in the 2016 US presidential elections! The same media sources who are not letting us hear the end of this are glorifying pilots of US aerial refueling aircraft extending the range of Saudi bombers that target Yemeni civilians who chose a government out of free will.

What is the new world order going to look like if we give up our rights to form our own governments according to our social beliefs? Should we just send the voting booths to the US where Americans can do the voting for us? Perhaps, this way they can choose the puppets they have trained to govern us without cruise missiles armed with democracy warheads falling on our children.

How America’s Dictatorship Works

How America’s Dictatorship Works

ERIC ZUESSE | 16.02.2019 | WORLD / AMERICAS

How America’s Dictatorship Works

Trump could not have become America’s President if he had not won the “vote” of his nation’s second-largest political donor in 2016, casinos-owner Sheldon Adelson.

In publicly recorded donations, as of 25 December 2018, Adelson and his wife donated $82,522,800 to Republican candidates in 2016, and this amount doesn’t include any of the secret money. Of that sum, it’s virtually impossible to find out how much went specifically to Trump’s campaign for President, but, as of 9 May 2017, the Adelsons were publicly recorded as having donated $20.4 million to Trump’s campaign. Their impact on the Presidential contest was actually much bigger than that, however, because even the Adelsons’ non-Trump-campaign donations went to the Republican Party, and the rest went to Republican pro-Trump candidates, and the rest went to Republican PACS — and, so, a large percentage (if not all) of that approximately $60 million non-Trump-campaign political expenditure by the Adelsons was boosting Trump’s Presidential vote.

The second-largest Republican donor in 2016 was the hedge fund manager Paul Singer, at $26,114,653. It was less than a third, 31.6%, as large as the Adelsons’ contribution. Singer is the libertarian who proudly invests in weak entities that have been sucked dry by the aristocracy and who almost always extracts thereby, in the courts, far larger returns-on-investment than do other investors, who have simply settled to take a haircut on their failing high-interest-rate loans to that given weak entity. Singer hires the rest of his family to run his asset-stripping firm, which is named after his own middle name, “Elliott Advisors,” and he despises any wealthy person who won’t (like he does) fight tooth-and-nail to extract, from any weak entity, everything that can possibly be stripped from it. His Elliott Advisors is called a “vulture fund,” but that’s an insult to vultures, who instead eat corpses. They don’t actually attack and rip apart vulnerable struggling animals, like Singer’s operation does.

So, that’s the top two, on the Republican Party side.

On the Democratic Party side, the largest 2016 donor was the largest of all political donors in 2016, the hedge fund manager Thomas Steyer, $91,069,795. The second-largest was hedge fund manager Donald S. Sussman, $41,841,000. Both of them supported Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders, and then against Donald Trump.

As of 23 January 2019, the record shows that Trump received $46,873,083 in donations larger than $200, and $86,749,927 in donations smaller than $200. Plus, he got $144,764 in PAC contributions. Hillary Clinton received $300,111,643 in over-$200 donations, and $105,552,584 in under-$200 donations. Plus, she got $1,785,190 in PAC donations. She received 6.4 times as much in $200+ donations as Trump did. She received 1.2 times as much in under-$200 donations as he did. Clearly, billionaires strongly preferred Hillary. So, it’s understandable why not only America’s Democratic Party billionaires but also many of America’s Republican Party billionaires want President Trump to become replaced ASAP by his V.P., President Pence, who has a solid record of doing only whatever his big donors want him to do. For them, the wet dream would be a 2020 contest between Mike Pence or a clone, versus Hillary Clinton or a clone (such as Joe Biden or Beto O’Rourke). That would be their standard fixed game, America’s heads-I-win-tails-you-lose ‘democracy’.

On 18 January 2018 was reported that, “Trump pulled in $107 million in individual contributions, nearly doubling President Barack Obama’s 2009 record of $53 million.” However, in both of those cases, the figures which were being compared were actually donations to fund the inaugural festivities, not the actual campaigns. But Adelson led there, too: “Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson was [the] most generous [donor], giving $5 million to the inaugural committee.” The second-biggest donor to that was Hushang Ansary of Stewart & Stevenson, at $2 million. He had previously been the CEO of the National Iranian Oil Company until the CIA-appointed dictator, the brutal and widely hated Shah, was overthrown in 1979 and replaced by Iran’s now theocratically overseen limited democracy. The US aristocracy, whose CIA had overthrown Iran’s popular and democratically elected Prime Minister in 1953, installed the Shah to replace that elected head-of-state, and they then denationalized and privatized Iran’s oil company, so as to cut America’s aristocrats in on Iran’s oil. Basically, America’s aristocracy stole Iran in 1953, and Iranians grabbed their country back in 1979, and USbillionaires have been trying to get it back ever since. Ansary’s net worth is estimated at “over $2 billion,” and, “By the 1970s, the CIA considered Ansary to be one of seventeen members of ‘the Shah’s Inner Circle’ and he was one of the Shah’s top two choices to succeed Amir Abbas Hoveyda as Prime Minister.” But, that just happened to be the time when the Shah became replaced in an authentic revolution against America’s dictatorship. Iran’s revolution produced the country’s current partially democratic Government. So, this would-be US stooge Ansary fled to America, which had been Iran’s master during 1953-79, and he was welcomed with open arms by Amerca’s and allied aristocracies.

Other than the Adelsons, the chief proponents of regime-change in Iran since 1979 are the US-billionaires-controlled CIA, and ‘news’-media, and Government, and the Shah’s family, and the Saud family, and Israel’s apartheid regime headed by the Adelsons’ protégé in Israel, Netanyahu. America’s billionaires want Iran back, and the CIA represents them (the Deep State) — not the American public — precisely as it did in 1953, when the CIA seized Iran for America’s billionaires.

In the current election-cycle, 2018, the Adelsons have thus far invested $123,208,200, all in Republicans, and this tops the entire field. The second-largest political investor, for this cycle, is the former Republican Mayor of NYC, Michael Bloomberg, at $90,282,515, all to Democrats. Is he a Republican, or is he a Democrat? Does it actually make any difference? He is consistently a promoter of Wall Street. The third-largest donor now is Tom Steyer, at $70,743,864, all to Democrats. The fourth-largest is a Wisconsin libertarian-conservative billionaire, Richard Uihlein, at $39,756,996. Back on 19 March 2018, Politico reported that “Uihlein and his wife, Elizabeth, are currently the biggest Republican donors of the 2018 midterm elections, having given $21 million to candidates for federal office and super PACs that will support them. And that doesn’t include their funding of state candidates.” On 1 October 2016, International Business Times had listed the top ten donors to each of the two Parties, and the Uihleins at that time were #4 on the Republican side, at $21.5 million.

Of course, all of the top donors are among the 585 US billionaires, and therefore they can afford to spend lots on the Republican and/or Democratic nominees. Open Secrets reported on 31 March 2017 that “Of the world’s 100 richest billionaires, 36 are US citizens and thus eligible to donate to candidates and other political committees here. OpenSecrets Blog found that 30 of those [36] [or five sixths of the total 36 wealthiest Americans] actually did so, contributing a total of $184.4 million — with 58 percent [of their money] going to Republican efforts.” Democratic Party nominees thus got 42%; and, though it’s not as much as Republican ones get, it’s usually enough so that if a Democrat becomes elected, that person too will be controlled by billionaires.

For example, in the West Virginia Democratic Presidential primary in 2016, Bernie Sanders won all 55 counties in the state but that state’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention handed 19 of the state’s 37 votes at the Convention to his opponent, Hillary Clinton, who got more money from billionaires than all other US Presidential candidates combined. The millions of Democrats who voted for Hillary Clinton were voting for the billionaires’ favorite, and she and her DNC stole the Party’s nomination from Sanders, who was the nation’s most-preferred Presidential candidate in 2016; and, yet, most of those voters still happily voted, yet again, for her, in the general election — as if she hadn’t practically destroyed the Party by prostituting it to its billionaires even more than Obama had already done. Of course, she ran against Trump, and, for once, the billionaires were shocked to find that their enormous investment in a candidate had been for naught. That’s how incompetent she was. But they still kept control over both of the political Parties, and the Sanders choice to head the DNC (the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Party itself) lost out to the Obama-Clinton choice, so that today’s Democratic Party is still the same: winning is less important to them than serving their top donors is.

This means that America’s winners of federal elections represent almost entirely America’s 585 billionaires, and not the 328,335,647Americans (as of noon on 23 January 2019). Of course, there is a slight crossover of interests between those two economic classes, since 0.000002 of those 328,335,647, or 0.0002% of them, are billionaires. However, if 0.0002% of federal office-holders represent the public, and the remaining 99.9998% represent the billionaires, then is that actually a bipartisan Government? If instead 99.9998% represented 328,335,062 Americans, and 0.0002% represented the 585 billionaires; then, that, too, wouldn’t be bipartisan, but would it be a democratic (small “d”) government? So, America is not a democracy (regardless of whether it’s bipartisan); it is instead an aristocracy, just like ancient France was, and the British empire, etc. The rest of America’s population (the 328,335,062 other Americans) are mere subjects, though we are officially called ‘citizens’, of this actual aristocracy.

The same is true in Israel, the land that the Adelsons (the individuals who largely control America) are so especially devoted to. On 8 November 2016, Israel’s pro-Hillary-Clinton and anti-Netanyahu Ha’aretz newspaper headlined “The Collapsing Political Triangle Linking Adelson, Netanyahu and Trump”, and reported that Ha’aretz’s bane and top competitor was the freely distributed daily Israeli newspaper, Israel Hayom, and:

Israel Hayom was founded by Adelson nine years ago, in order to give Netanyahu – who has been rather harshly treated by the Israeli media throughout his political career – a friendly newspaper. Under Israeli law, the total sum an individual can donate to a politician or party is very limited, and corporate donations are not allowed. Israel Hayom has been a convenient loophole, allowing Adelson to invest the sort of money he normally gives American politicians on Netanyahu’s behalf. It has no business model and carries far fewer ads than most daily newspapers. While the privately owned company does not publish financial reports, industry insiders estimate that Adelson must spend around $50 million annually on the large team of journalists and the printing and distribution operations.

Distributed for free, in hundreds of thousands of copies the length and breadth of the country, Israel Hayom … clings slavishly to the line from Netanyahu’s office – praising him and his family to the heavens while smearing his political rivals, both on the left and the right.

A billionaire can afford to use his or her ‘news’-media in lieu of political campaign donations. Lots of billionaires do that. They don’t need to make direct political donations. And ‘making money’ by owning a ‘news’-medium can even be irrelevant, for them. Instead, owning an important ’news’-medium can be, for them, just another way, or sometimes their only way, to buy control over the government. It certainly works. It’s very effective in Israel.

Adelson is #14 on the 2018 Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans, all having net worths of $2.1 billion or more, his being $38.4 billion, just one-third as large as that of Jeff Bezos. Bezos is the owner of around 15% of Amazon Corporation, whose profits are derived almost entirely from the Amazon Web Services that are supplied to the US Pentagon, NSA, and CIA. So, he’s basically a ‘defense’ contractor. Bezos’s directly owned Washington Post is one of America’s leading neoconservative and neoliberal, or pro-invasion and pro-Democratic Party, media; and, so, his personal ownership of that newspaper is much like his owning a one-person national political PAC to promote whatever national policies will increase his fortune. The more that goes to the military and the less that goes to everything else, the wealthier he will become. His newspaper pumps the ‘national security threats’ to America.

Adelson controls Israel’s Government. Whereas he might be a major force in America’s Government, that’s actually much more controlled by the world’s wealthiest person, the only trillionaire, the King of Saudi Arabia. He has enough wealth so that he can buy almost anybody he wants — and he does, through his numerous agents. But, of course, both Israel’s Government and Saudi Arabia’s Government hate Iran’s Government at least as much as America’s Government does. In fact, if Russia’s Government weren’t likely to defend Iran’s Government from an invasion, then probably Iran would already have been invaded. Supporters of America’s Government are supporters of a world government by America’s billionaires, because that’s what the US Government, in all of its international functions (military, diplomatic, etc.) actually represents: it’s America’s global dictatorship. They throw crumbs to America’s poor so as to make it a ‘two-party’ and not merely a ‘one-party’ government and so that one of the Parties can call itself ‘the Democratic Party’, but America’s is actually a one-party government, and it represents only the very wealthiest, in both Parties. The aristocracy’s two separate party-organizations compete against each other. But their real audience is the aristocracy’s dollars, not the public’s voters. This “two-Party” dictatorship (by the aristocracy) is a different governing model than in China and some other countries.

The great investigative journalist Wayne Madsen headlined on January 24th “Trump Recognition of Rival Venezuelan Government Will Set Off a Diplomatic Avalanche” and he reported the possibility of a war developing between the US and Russia over America’s aggression against Venezuela. US media even have pretended that the US Government isn’t the one that customarily perpetrates coups in Latin America, and pretended that Russia’s and Cuba’s Governments are simply blocking ‘democracy’ from blossoming in Venezuela. On January 24th, Middle East Eye reported that Morgan Stanley’s CEO James Gorman had just told the World Economic Forum, in Davos, that the torture-murder of Saudi Crown Prince Salman’s critic and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was “unacceptable,” “But what do you do? What part do you play in the process of economic and social change?” and the report continued: “Gorman said he did not judge any country’s attempts to root out corruption,” and Gorman and a French tycoon joined in throwing their “weight behind Riyadh’s economic and social direction, by saying, ‘it is quite difficult and brave what the kingdom is doing’,” by its ‘reforms’. It was all being done to ‘root out corruption, and to spread democracy’. Sure. There’s “a sucker born every minute,” except now it’s every second. That seems to be the main way to win votes.

On January 26th, Trump appointed the fascist Elliott Abrams to lead this ‘democratization of Venezuela’, by overthrowing and replacing the elected President by the second-in-line-of succession (comparable in Venezuela to removing Trump and skipping over the Vice President and appointing Nancy Pelosi as America’s President, and also violating the Venezuelan Constitution’s requirement that the Supreme Judicial Trbunal must first approve before there can be ANY change of the President without an election by the voters). It’s clearly another US coup that is being attempted here. Trump, by international dictat, says that this Venezuelan traitor whom the US claims to be installing is now officially recognized by the US Government to be the President of Venezuela. Bloomberg News reported that Abrams would join Trump’s neocon Secretary of State on January 26that the UN to lobby there for the UN to authorize Trump’s intended Venezuelan coup. The EU seemed strongly inclined to follow America’s lead. On the decisive UN body, the Permanent Security Council, of China, France, Russia, UK, and US, the US position was backed by three: US, France, and UK. Russia and China were opposed. In the EU, only France, Germany, Spain, and UK, came out immediately backing the US position. On January 25th, Russia’s Tass news agency was the first to report on the delicate strategic situation inside Venezuela. It sounded like the buildup to Obama’s successful coup in Ukraine in February 2014, but in Venezuela and under Trump. In fact, at least two commentaors other than I have noted the apparent similarities: Whitney Webb at “Washington Follows Ukraine, Syria Roadmap in Push for Venezuela Regime Change” and RT at “‘Venezuela gets its Maidan’: Ukrainian minister makes connection between regime change ops”.

Abrams’s career has been devoted to “regime-change,” and is as unapologetic about it as is John Bolton. Also like Bolton, he’s an impassioned supporter of Jewish apartheid. He wrote in his 1997 book Faith or Fear, that “Outside the land of Israel, there can be no doubt that Jews, faithful to the covenant between God and Abraham, are to stand apart from the nation in which they live. It is the very nature of being Jewish to be apart — except in Israel — from the rest of the population.” Israel is, in this and the view of many billionaires, the whole world’s ghetto, and ‘real’ Jews don’t belong anywhere else than there. And, according to that, nobody else does belong there, except people who accept being ruled by Jewish Law — the Torah. So, on 25 June 2001, George W. Bush, as the main representative of America’s billionaires, made Abrams the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Democracy, Human Rights, and International Operations at the National Security Council. Of course, Abrams was gung-ho for Americans to conquer Iraq, because Iraqis didn’t like Israel. And the current US President hires that same agent of Israel, Abrams, now to sell internationally America’s current coup to grab Venezuela for America’s billionaires. Abrams, for years, had been courting Trump’s favor by having declined to include himself among the many Republican neoconservatives, both Jewish and non-Jewish, who endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. He thereby has now won his new job, on the real-world sequel to The Apprentice, which is known as President Trump’s Administration. Another such winner, of course, is John Bolton, who likewise had declined to endorse Hillary.

Perhaps the US regime thinks that testing the resolve of Russia’s Government, regarding Venezuela, would be less dangerous than testing it over the issue of Iran. But Big Brother says that this imposition of America’s corruption is instead merely a part of rooting out corruption and spreading democracy and human rights, throughout the world.

The US has managed to get Venezuela in play, to control again. Some American billionaires think it’s a big prize, which must be retaken. The largest oil-and-gas producers — and with the highest reserves of oil-and-gas in the ground — right now, happen to be Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar, Russia, Venezuela, and US So, for example, Venezuela is a much bigger prize than Brazil.

All of those countries have an interest in denying the existence of human-produced global warming, and in selling as much of their product as quickly as possible before the world turns away from fossil fuels altogether. High-tech doesn’t drive today’s big-power competition nearly so much as does the fossil-fuels competition — to sell as much of it as they can, as fast as they can. The result of this competition could turn out to be a nuclear winter that produces a lifeless planet and thus prevents the planet from becoming lifeless more slowly from global burnout — the alternative outcome, which would be produced by the burnt fossil fuels themselves. Either way, the future looks bleak, no matter what high-tech produces (unless high-tech produces quickly a total replacement of fossil fuels, and, in the process, bankrupts many of the billionaires who are so active in the current desperate and psychopathic global competition).

This is what happens when wealth worldwide is so unequally distributed that the “World’s Richest 0.7% Own 13.67 Times as Much as World’s Poorest 68.7%”. According to economic theory (which has always been written by agents for the aristocracy), the distribution of wealth is irrelevant. This belief was formalized by a key founder of today’s mathematized economic theory, Vilfredo Pareto, who, for example, in his main work, the 1912 Trattato di Sociologia Generale, wrote (# 2135), that, though “the lover of equality will assign a high coefficient to the utility of the lower classes and get a point of equilibrium very close to the equalitarian condition, there is no criterion save sentiment for choosing between the one [such equality of wealth] and the other [a single person — whom he called “superman” — owning everything].” The article on Pareto in the CIA’s Wikipedia doesn’t even so much as mention this central feature of Pareto’s thinking, the feature that’s foundational in all of the theory of “welfare” in economics. Pareto was also the main theoretician of fascism, and the teacher of Mussolini. This belief is at the foundation of capitalism as we know it, and as it has been in economic theory ever since, actually, the 1760s. Pareto didn’t invent it; he merely mathematized it.

So, we’ve long been in 1984, or at least building toward it. But US-allied billionaires wrote this particular version of it; George Orwell didn’t. And it’s not a novel. It’s the real thing. And it is now becoming increasingly desperate.

If, in recognizing this, you feel like a hog on a factory-farm, then you’ve got the general idea of this reality. It’s the problem that the public faces. But the publics in the US and its allied regimes are far less miserable than the publics in the countries that the US and its allied regimes are trying to take over — the targeted countries (such as Syria). To describe any realistic solution to this systematic global exploitation would require an entire book, at the very least — no mere article, such as here. The aristocracy anywhere wouldn’t publish such a book. Nobody would likely derive any significant income from writing it. That’s part of the reality, which such a book would be describing.

However, a key part of this reality is that for the billionaires — the people who control international corporations or corporations that even are aspiring to grow beyond their national market — their nation’s international policies are even more important to them than its domestic affairs (such as the toxic water in Flint, Michigan; or single-payer health insurance — matters that are relatively unimportant to billionaires), and, therefore, the most-censored and least-honestly reported realities on the part of the aristocracy’s ‘news’-media are the international ones. And, so, this is the field where there is the most lying, such as about “Saddam’s WMD,” and about all foreign countries. However, when a person is in an aristocracy’s military, deception of that person is even more essential, especially in the lower ranks, the troops, because killing and dying for one’s aristocracy is far less attractive than killing or dying in order honestly to serve and protect an authentic democracy. Propagandizing for the myth that the nation is a democracy is therefore extremely important in any aristocracy. Perhaps this is the reason why, in the United States, the military is consistently the institution that leads above all others in the public’s respect. It’s especially necessary to do that, in the nation that President Barack Obama repeatedly said is “the one indispensable nation”. This, of course, means that every other nation is “dispensable.” Any imperial nation, at least since ancient Rome, claimed the same thing, and invaded more nations than any other in the world when it was the leading imperial nation, because this is what it means to be an empire, or even to aspire to being one: imposing that given nation’s will upon other nations — colonies, vassal states, or whatever they are called. When soldiers know that they are the invaders, not the actual defenders, their motivation to kill and die is enormously reduced. This is the main reason why the ‘news’-media in an imperial nation need to lie constantly to their public. If a news-reporting organization doesn’t do that, no aristocrat will even buy it. And virtually none will advertise in it or otherwise donate to it. It will be doomed to remain very small and unprofitable in every way (because the “World’s Richest 0.7% Own 13.67 Times as Much as World’s Poorest 68.7%”). Billionaires donate to ‘news’-organizations that might report accurately about domestic US problems, but not to ones that report accurately about international affairs, especially about important international affairs. Even liberal ‘news’-media are neoconservative, or favorable toward American invasions and coups. In order to be a significant player in the ‘news’-business in the United States, one has to be.

So: this is how America’s dictatorship works. This is not America’s exceptionalism: it is America’s ordinariness. America’s Founders had wanted to produce something not just exceptional but unique in its time: a democratic republic. But what now exists here is instead a dictatorial global empire, and it constitutes the biggest threat to the very existence of the United Nations ever since that body’s founding in 1945. If that body accepts as constituting the leader of Venezuela the person that America’s President declares to be Venezuela’s leader, then the UN is effectively dead. This would be an immense breakthrough for all of the US regime’s billionaires, both domestically and throughout its allied countries (such as in France, Germany, Spain, and UK). It would be historic, if they win. It would be extremely grim, and then the UN would immediately need to be replaced. The US and its allies would refuse to join the replacement organization. That organization would then authorize economic sanctions against the US and its allies. These will be reciprocated. The world would break clearly into two trading-blocs. In a sense, the UN’s capitulation to the US on this matter would create another world war, WW III. It would be even worse than when Neville Chamberlain accepted Hitler’s offer regarding the Sudetenland. We’d be back to the start of WW II, with no lessons learned since then. And with nuclear weapons.

Photo: Flickr

Is Democracy Consistent with Islam?

Global Research, February 16, 2019

Most people are under the impression that democracy and Islam are somehow incompatible. However, I don’t see any contradiction between democracy and Islam, as such. Although, I admit, there is some friction between Islam and liberalism.

When we say there is a contradiction between Islam and democracy, we make a category mistake which is a serious logical fallacy. There is a fundamental difference between democracy and liberalism. Democracy falls in the category of politics and governance, whereas liberalism falls in the category of culture. We must be precise about the definitions of terms that we employ in political science.

Democracy is simply a representative political system that ensures representation, accountability and the right of electorate to vote governments in and to vote governments out. In this sense, when we use the term democracy, we mean a multi-party, representative political system that confers legitimacy upon a government which comes to power through an election process which is a contest between more than one political parties in order to ensure that it is voluntary. Thus, democracy is nothing more than a multi-party, representative political system.

Some normative scientists, however, get carried away in their enthusiasm and ascribe meanings to technical terminology which are quite subjective and fallacious. Some will use the adjective liberal to describe the essence of democracy as liberal democracy while others will arbitrarily call it informed or enlightened democracy. In my opinion, the only correct adjective that can be used to describe the essence of democracy is representative democracy.

After settling on theoretical aspect, let us now apply these concepts to the reality of practical world, and particularly to the phenomena of nascent democratic movements of the Arab Spring. It’s a fact that the ground realities of the Arab and Islamic worlds fall well short of the ideal liberal democratic model of the developed Western world.

However, there is a lot to be optimistic about. When the Arab Spring revolutions occurred in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen, and before the Arab Spring turned into an abysmal winter in Libya and Syria, some utopian dreamers were not too hopeful about the outcome of those movements.

Unlike the socialist revolutions of 1960s and 1970s, when the visionaries of yore used to have a magic wand of bringing about a fundamental structural change that would culminate into equitable distribution of wealth overnight, the neoliberal democratic movements of the present times are merely a step in the right direction that will usher the Arab and Islamic worlds into an era of relative peace and progress.

The Arab Spring movements are not led by the likes of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Jawahar Lal Nehru and other such charismatic messiahs that socialist thinkers are so fond of. But these revolutions are the grassroots movements of a society in transition from an abject stagnant state toward a dynamic and representative future.

Let us be clear about one thing first and foremost: any government – whether democratic or autocratic – would follow the same economic model under the contemporary global political and economic dispensation. It’s a growth-based neoliberal model as opposed to an equality-based socialist model. It’s a fact that the developing, Third World economies with large populations and meager resources cannot be compared with the social democracies of Scandinavian countries where per capita incomes are more than $40,000.

A question would naturally arise that what would the Arab Spring movements accomplish if the resultant democratic governments would follow the same old neoliberal and growth-centered economic policies? It should be kept in mind here that democracy is not the best of systems because it is the most efficient system of governance. Top-down autocracies are more efficient than democracies.

But democracy is a representative political system. It brings about a grassroots social change. Enfranchisement, representation, transparency, accountability, checks and balances, rule of law and consequent institution-building, nation-building and consistent long term policies; political stability and social prosperity are the rewards of representative democracy.

Immanuel Kant sagaciously posited that moral autonomy produces moral responsibility and social maturity. This social axiom can also be applied to politics and governance. Political autonomy and self-governance engender political responsibility and social maturity.

A top-down political system is dependent on the artificial external force that keeps it going. The moment that external force is removed, the society reverts back to its previous state and the system collapses. But a grassroots and bottom-up political system evolves naturally and intrinsically. We must not expect from the Arab Spring movements to produce results immediately. Bear in mind that the evolution of the Western culture and politics happened over a course of many centuries.

More to the point, the superficially “socialist” Arab revolutions of 1960s and 1970s only mobilized the elite classes. Some working classes might have been involved, but the tone and tenor of those revolutions was elitist and that’s the reason why those revolutions failed to produce desirable long-term results. The Arab Spring movements, by contrast, have mobilized the urban middle class of the Arab societies in the age of electronic media and information technology.

In the nutshell, if the Arab Spring movements are not about radical redistribution of wealth, or about creating a liberal utopia in the Middle East overnight, what is the goal of these movements then? Let me try to explain the objectives of the Arab Spring movements by way of an allegory.

Democracy is like a school and people are like children. We only have two choices: one, to keep people under paternalistic dictatorships; two, to admit them in the school of representative democracy and let them experience democracy as a lived reality rather than some stale and sterile theory. The first option will only breed stunted bigots, but the second option will engender an educated human resource that doesn’t just consume resources but also creates new resources.

Finally, I would like to clarify that the militant phenomena in Libya and Syria has been distinct and separate from the political and democratic phenomena of the Arab Spring movements as in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen.

A question arises that when political movements for enfranchisement turn violent, do their objectives cease to be legitimate? No, the objectives remain the same, but from a pacifist standpoint, we ought to make a distinction between political movements for democratic reforms, to which we should lend our moral support; and the militant phenomena, which must be avoided at any cost due to immense human suffering that proxy wars and military interventions anywhere in the world inevitably entail.

In legal jurisprudence, a distinction is generally drawn between lawful and unlawful assembly. It is the inalienable right of the people to peacefully assemble to press their demands for political reform. But the moment such protests become militarized and violent, they cease to be lawful.

Expecting from heavily armed militants, as in Libya and Syria, who have been described by the Western mainstream media as “moderate rebels,” to bring about political reform and positive social change is not only naïve but is bordering on insanity.*

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Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from Kodak Agfa

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