Joe Biden: America’s lesser of two evils?

It uncovers much about the many issues affecting the US and indeed Donald Trump’s tenure when the bulk of the population are collectively comforted by the appointment of a centre-right corporatist as the President of the United States. It’s has been interesting to witness many desperate people relishing the idea of a return to normalcy, albeit a massively unequal and destructive one. The nation has spoken, therefore, we should notice a sharp return to business as usual, with all it’s dirty dealings, disdain for the poor and arrogance on the world stage soon back securely behind closed doors. No more inane Twitter ramblings of a cartoonish, narcissistic man-child in the guise of the POTUS. “Ahh great”, you may declare, but who has the US just voted for?

Is America about to embark on a period of transformative systematic change, improving the lives of the impoverished, defeating climate change, ushering in universal healthcare, reducing US led wars around the globe, all while beating COVID? Errr no, not really, not if Joe’s political track record is anything to go by. “Hey, but at least he won’t be a dick on Twitter like the orange psychopath”, you may utter. Sadly, if you are awaiting discernible change in the 21st century, you’ve definitely got the wrong guy. Biden signals a return to centre-right governance at a time when the US and the rest of the world need so much more.

Joe Biden is political lifer, having joined the senate in 1973 he has been a strong proponent of big business and corporate America his entire career. Biden has unwaveringly served Wall Street over his many decades, voting for much of the legislation which paved the way to the Great Recession of 2008. This includes; the 1994 Reagle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act and the 1999 Financial Services Modernisation Act, which led to the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act. Interestingly one of Biden’s biggest donors MBNA lobbied extensively for the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act and Biden did not fail them. This important Act signed by FDR effectively kept commercial banks and investment banks separate. Thus, preventing them transferring federally guaranteed deposits to their investment banking operations, which dealt in high risk and speculative investments. The scrapping of this Act contributed to the banking industry’s creative gambling addiction, providing some of the groundwork for the 2008 financial disaster.

FDR signing the Glass-Steagall Act

In 2005, Biden supported the Bankruptcy Act, which again championed corporate America over the people. It was legislation designed to make it notably more difficult for individuals and businesses to eliminate part or all of their debt and a chance to start again. This bill effectively eliminated the option of bankruptcy for many families as a way to wipe the slate clean(ish). This was heartily supported by the new POTUS and his MBNA backers, with only 3 other Democrat Party Senators voting in favour of this. Moreover, Joe Biden made it easier for students to acquire more student loans, while the previously mentioned legislation made it harder to declare bankruptcy. The combination of the two unsurprisingly led to a surge in student loans and defaults.

Of course, these are merely examples of Joe Biden’s commitment to Wall Street and his backers, alongside his support of NAFTA and TPP. Let’s be clear, Uncle Joe does not have your back as a citizen. In fact, over his 40 plus years he has repeatedly sought to reduce social security and government social services in an effort to decrease federal debt. This reaches as far back as the 1980’s by supporting Reagan’s Tax cuts, while proposing limiting social spending and Social Security to reduce deficits. More recently in 2007 during the 2008 presidential campaign, he stated that he considered cutting Social Security benefits by raising the retirement age. All this, therefore, makes it laughable when people within the media describe Joe Biden as “left leaning”.

Has he changed over the years? Well, Biden’s recent presidential campaign has been heavily backed by lobbyists from the weapons industry, private healthcare and of course financial institutions. It would surely be naïve to suggest businesses wouldn’t want a return on their big investments. So OK, you may concede that he is obviously no lefty, but what about foreign policy? Is the US going take part in less systematic destruction of other sovereign nations either via covert or overt means? The short answer is, probably not.

Biden prides himself on his foreign policy acumen as the former chair of the United States Senate Committee for Foreign Relations, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to good decision making. Republican and Democrats have generally pursued a similar ideology with regards to foreign policy, which can be defined as the “liberal international order“. An ideology which encompasses a selection of economic and political views, plus a set of values that major ‘democratic’ countries believe benefit the world. This has never been an altruistic endeavour for the US, rather it provided a market in which to sell goods and allies to help stave off potential adversaries. Subsequently, this strategy maintained the US as the predominant power in the world.

No doubt, Biden and the US will continue with an interventionist foreign policy which has contributed to major destruction all over the world in order to maintain control. A strategy which has involved; US supported coups, economic sanctions, corporate espionage, war from the comfort of an office chair (via drones) or indeed a “boots on the ground” type of war. The problem being, despite Biden’s experience in this area, he often backs the wrong horse. Of course, Biden may choose different allies and opponents than his predecessor, such as becoming more confrontational with China and less punitive regarding Iran, but the general theme will undoubtedly remain the same.

OK, so he’s backed by big business, he supports corporations over people, he will continue with an interventionist foreign policy strategy, but what about domestic policy? Well, the President Elect has a seriously questionable political history such as; opposing school busing for desegregation in 1970, voting against gay marriage in the 1990’s and the infamous 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act which he drafted. Although some these issues go back decades, I think it’s fair to say his record doesn’t age well. Of course, we have to put this into some sort of historical context, but his views although mainstream ideas for the Democrats at the time were hardly progressive.

The good news is, Biden will likely reinsert the US into the Iran nuclear treaty and the Global Climate Agreement. Furthermore, there is more chance of a cohesive strategy towards subduing COVID, undoubtedly these would be a positive moves. We should also expect to witness a distinct lack of incoherent messages on Twitter by one of the world’s most powerful people, also a plus. But, what citizens are generally celebrating is a return to a pre Trump era, that under Obama continued to bomb 7 countries around the world. A rich country that still couldn’t muster the political will to create universal healthcare and a nation that possesses obscene income inequality. This is simply back to the future for America.

Now, for the growing amount of people out there who seem to struggle with grey areas, nuance, complex ideas and independent thought, this is for you. Just because I have criticised Biden, doesn’t mean I’m a Trump supporter. I shouldn’t have to spell this out, but in the age of the internet it would appear a large group of people fail to process political information adequately and would rather pick a side that encompasses a whole bolus of ideas, which is easy to digest and prevents one from having to think too much. So, to summarise for these people in particular; Uncle Joe is not very good, but the orange man is worse. Hope that helps.

The US, UK, Saudi Arabia and Israel, the unholy alliance. Is this a pathway to war with Iran?

In the last week, two Saudi oil facilities have been attacked by what is thought to be Houthi rebels in. These reprisals are considered to be a response to Saudi Arabia’s continuous attacks of Yemen. To confuse matters further the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused Iran of conducting the drone attacks, which has been strongly denied by Iran. Meanwhile in Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu continues with his “Greater Israel” quest, talking about illegally annexing Palestine’s Jordan Valley. This has been discussed under the guise of establishing the future eastern border of Israel, however, the area has been illegally occupied since 1967.

Netanyahu has proposed this annexe as a sound political strategy. He has an election on 17th September and is under considerable pressure. Criticism of him isn’t necessarily coming from a rejuvenated left or centrist dissent, but rather claims of a failure on the right. This includes both the far right and the ultra-nationalists inability to concoct a united agenda. To put this in perspective, Netanyahu’s main contender to the crown is Benjamin Gantz, from the supposedly centrist Blue and White Party. Gantz like Netanyahu strongly supports settlers, proposing an expansion throughout Palestine. Netanyahu, therefore, has no option tactically other than to trump this strategy, calling for the annexation of the West Bank.

In recent years Netanyahu has felt emboldened due to the support from Donald Trump, which has been highlighted by the US government moving their embassy to Jerusalem. A move which can be seen as the US legitmising the colonisation of Jerusalem. As the rich and powerful celebrated this move, just miles away in Gaza violence filled the air. Israel casually refers to the repeated attacks there as mowing the lawn. A tactic designed to keep Gaza’s economy on the “brink of collapse, with the last major campaign in 2014 claiming the lives of 2,300 Palestinians, 70% of which being civilians.

Gaza bombed.jpg

The US’s support of Israel, exemplified by US ambassador David Friedman’s comment that “Israel has the right to some of the West Bank”, plus cross party support in Israel for ‘settlers’ has led to recent violence across the region. Crowds of 1,200 settlers backed by Israeli soldiers were witnessed harassing Palestinians and international activists in Hebron. While in East Jerusalem 1,700 settlers stormed the Al-Asqa Mosque enabled by the Israeli police. As usual the international community have been conspicuous by their absence. In truth, all that Israel requires to proceed with this bullying behaviour is the continued support of the US.

By supplying weapons, the US and UK have pledged their support to the Saudi regime’s systematic destruction of Yemen, who claim the Houthis are backed economically and militarily by Iran. In this context this can be seen as a conflict between Sunni ruled Saudi Arabia and Shia ruled Iran. What is worth noting is that Yemen is strategically important, sitting on the strait that links the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and is a primary passing point for most of the world’s oil shipments.

Since 2015 in Yemen 7,025 civilians have been killed, with 65% of these linked to Saudi led coalition air strikes. Approximately 80% of the country’s population of 24 million need humanitarian aid and assistance, yet we rarely ever hear about this crisis in the media. It is clear that the hands of the US and the UK are bloody, with both nations heavily involved in the selling of arms to Saudi Arabia.

Between 1999 and 2017 the US had sold $115bn worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, with Trump signing off on another order reportedly worth $110bn (US) over the next 10 years. The UK has also capitalised on the war as they account for 23% of all arms imported to Saudi Arabia. Since 2015 the UK have sold weapons to the value of $6.4bn (US) effectively supporting the Saudi led campaign in Yemen.

Another interesting aspect regarding these allies is the emergence of a Saudi-Israeli alliance. To be blunt, the two nations have one thing in common and that is Iran. In 2003 the removal of Saddam Hussein’s Sunni Muslim regime altered the balance of power in the region, with the now Shia dominated Iraqi government establishing closer links with Iran. The increasing influence of Iran in the region has been troubling for both of these nations, who fear an Iranian corridor running from Tehran all the way through to the Mediterranean. This is probably the main reason why relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia have changed over the last 10-15 years.

muslim map

As well as strategical reasons for Saudi Arabia to team up with Israel, there is of course a religious element to all this. Saudi Arabia sees itself as the primary Sunni Muslim nation and for many years the leader of the Muslim world. This was challenged following the Islamic revolution of Iran in 1979, which gave birth to a theocratic state. Since 2011 both sides have exploited the Arab uprisings, predominently in Yemen, Bahrain and Syria in an attempt to influence the region.

Up until this point both Saudi Arabia and Iran have resorted to proxy wars such as the war in Syria, however, the recent attack on Saudi soil could indeed alter how this power struggle continues. It’s distinctly possible that Saudi Arabia feels more vulnerable following these fresh events and of course to complicate matters we always need to include the Trump factor.

It could be argued that segments of the US government and the deep state have been spoiling for a fight with Iran for decades. Even Hillary Clinton (do you remember her?) stated that if she was president she would attack Iran. Relations with Iran are clearly not helped by Trump’s recent rhetoric suggesting the US is “locked and loaded”. What is meant by this, metaphorically or otherwise who knows. Aside from all the posturing, however, the US government’s bold claims that the recent attacks on Saudi Arabia were planned and executed by Iran have as yet not been supported by any evidence.

Like many other countries in the world Iran have a history with the US, which generally starts from the lead up to events in 1953, culminating in the CIA and UK intelligence overthrow of democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. It’s of no surprise that tensions rose when Mossadegh revealed that he wanted to Nationalise Iran’s oil industry, which occurred in 1951. Previous to this, Iran’s oil was controlled by the British owned Anglo Iranian Oil Company. Following the coup and the instalment of the Shah who went on to brutally rule for the next 26 years, the US secured themselves a share in Iran’s oil wealth.

This isn’t all, in 1979 the US backed Shah of Iran was forced to leave the country, paving the way for the return of exiled Ayatollah Khomeini. The Islamic Republic of Iran was declared on April 1st 1979 following a referendum. In November 1979 the US embassy in Tehran was seized and American hostages were held for 444 days, the last 52 being freed in 1981. While in England, London saw their own hostage crisis in 1980, when six gunmen opposing Ayatollah Khomeini’s regime took control of the embassy demanding the release of 91 political prisoners. This all came to an abrupt end following the now famous raid by the SAS, killing 5 of the 6 gunmen.

By 1985-86 the Iran-Contra scandal surfaced, whereby, the US shipped weapons to Iran, in return Tehran would help to free US hostages held by Hezbollah in Lebanon. The profits from these transactions were used to support the anti-government Contras in Nicaragua to fight against the socialist Sandinistas. In 1988 an Iranian jetliner was shot down by a US warship in the Gulf killing all 290 people on board. It was claimed by the skipper of the USS Vincennes that the Airbus A300 was mistaken for a jet fighter.

Relations in the 90’s were relatively peaceful, however, tensions returned in the 2000’s when President George W Bush described Iran as part of an “axis of evil”. Great diplomatic relations George! Never have so many lies been told in one speech. Orwellian doesn’t even begin to describe this overt act of sabre rattling, egged on by members from the House of Representatives and the Senate in 2002.

Following allegations of Iran developing nuclear weapons, a period of sanctions ensued imposed by the US, UN and the EU. As a consequence of this Iran’s currency lost two thirds of its value in 2 years. But during Obama’s leadership ties between the two nations started to improve. In 2015 Iran agreed to a long term deal to limit its sensitive nuclear activities, allowing international inspectors to observe in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Any tentative goodwill created by Obama was scrapped in 2018 when President Trump abandoned the nuclear deal reinstating sanctions on Iran. Since then 6 oil tankers have been struck by explosions in the Gulf of Oman in June 2019, with the US accusing Iran of carrying out the act. The most recent events in Saudi Arabia occurred just a few days ago disrupting 5% of the worlds oil production, this too has been pinned on Iran despite nothing to support the claim. All of this goes to show that even without the war-monger-in-chief John Bolton the US government is still more than capable of foreign policy brain farts. The UN Yemen envoy has told the Security Council that it is not entirely sure who is responsible, but stated that the strike would increase the chances of regional conflict and instability.

GULF-SHIPPING-OIL-US-IRAN-JAPAN-NORWAY-DIPLOMACY

So what this have to do with us? These are major events and any escalation could affect even some of the least offensive nations on the planet. In my home country of New Zealand, like many things such as sport this small country punches well above it’s weight and diplomacy is no exception. But foreign policy is a tricky discipline as we clearly don’t live in vacuum. If this was the case it would be easy for Prime Minister Ardern to condemn Netanyahu’s wet dream of annexing the Jordan Valley. It would also be an elementary decision to distance New Zealand from Trump’s posturing on affairs in the Middle East, including his recent unfounded accusations towards Iran.

There are, however, two problems. Despite New Zealand having a proud history of condemning Israel’s humanitarian violations against the Palestinian people, Israel are the undisputed champions of propaganda and misinformation, known as Hasbara (meaning ‘explanation’ in Hebrew). This can be highlighted by the repeated baseless anti-Semitic claims against the UK Labour leader and supporter of Palestinian human rights Jeremy Corbyn. Israel has utilised every anti Corbyn back bencher, mouth piece and pro Jerusalem organisation in order to discredit and destroy a socialist inspired Labour Party led by Mr Corbyn. If NZ are going to stand up to Israel and by proxy the US, they need to do this with their eyes wide open.

A second issue is New Zealand is a member of the 5 eyes, which is under the UKUSA agreement going back over 70 years. This brings together Canada, US, Australia, UK and NZ, which is generally regarded as the world’s most comprehensive intelligence alliance. Under Trump it is not inconceivable that he would threaten expulsion from ‘five eyes’ if New Zealand didn’t toe the line. There has been a taste of this over the 5G Huawei saga, whereby the company was to be allowed into New Zealand’s 5G network via Spark. In response, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in 2018 that “the US will not share any information with a country which allows the Chinese company into ‘critical information systems'”.

Maybe all this is too “big picture” for some and I’m sure people will say “well there’s nothing we can do about it anyway”. I notice a similar response when writing about climate change or poverty, it seems to overawe people into some catatonic state. In contrast, if something is written about Brexit then all hell breaks loose on all sides. Or worse still, more people are likely to tune into claims of sexist remarks made by Donald Trump 10 years previous, but global instability? Not so much. The truth of the matter is, all of this affects the security of the planet and proves why democracy needs to change rapidly. Collectively we need to stop the US and co from dominating with their usual interventionist style of foreign policy for the good of our home.         

 

 

 

Neoliberalism: Why does this persist and do we have a choice?

This blog is designed to open people minds, to encourage you not to accept everything your national government tells you and to employ a certain amount of critical thinking when reading or watching information in the mainstream media. I appreciate some things that will be discussed here will be hard for some people to accept. This is understandable, as questioning the validity of your government feels uncomfortable at first and puts your very understanding of democracy in the spotlight. I also understand that there is a lot of political apathy right now, but this not the time to bury our collective heads in the sand. This is a moment when we need to understand what is happening in the world, why and who benefits. It’s time to arm ourselves with the knowledge to uncover the ruling elites thinly veiled lies, to look outside of the mainstream media to get a good grasp of the situation. To enable further investigation, or to simply fill in the blanks, I have added varying links to prominent people or events, hopefully this will be useful to the reader who may be relatively new to some of these issues.

In this blog I have generally called the system of power in most western countries as neoliberalism, as described by David Harvey in his book of the same name. This system of ‘governance’ or in my opinion of control is generally referred to as capitalism in the mainstream, however, it bares no resemblance to the capitalism talked about by Adam Smith back in 1776. The current financial system we have in place is a system primarily credited to Milton Friedman and other economics Professors from the University of Chicago in the 50’s. It is this doctrine that I refer to as neoliberalism and it is this very system that we need to dismantle.

It is very noticeable that mainstream politics in western nations particularly in countries such as; the UK, US, New Zealand, Australia and Canada have all lurched to the right in the last two decades. However, it is recognised that recent events in the UK, such as Jeremy Corbyn being elected as Labour leader and Justin Trudeau becoming the Canadian Prime Minister may have a leftist effect on these countries, but this remains to be seen. In general, however, most politics which is defined by the main parties as centrist are generally well to the right. Even more alarming is the situation in the US, where there really isn’t anything tangible to choose between the two parties and both being heavily backed by corporations intent on having their ‘special interests’ met.

This system is primarily the cause of massive levels of inequality, that haven’t been seen in the western world since the great depression of the US in the 1930’s. Neoliberalism only works for the much publicised 1% and in reality it’s probably 0.1% of the population that benefit the most. This should come as no surprise as it’s this group that drives government policy and who are the most active in rigging the game in their favour. Figures from a Guardian article in 2014 stated that the wealth of the 0.1% has risen from 7% in the mid to late 70’s to 22% of total wealth in the present day. Another depressing fact is in the US the aforementioned 0.1% have more wealth than the bottom 90% of society. Is it me or does just feel fundamentally wrong? Furthermore, when you start to dig a little deeper, you begin to realise how far the ‘ruling class’ is prepared to go to seize control of as much power as possible.

Undoubtedly, the ruling elite have always looked after their own interests any way they can, clearly this is not a new phenomenon. From an US perspective a good example of the beginnings of the current plutocracy would be , John D Rockefeller who founded Standard Oil and managed to turn his business into a monopoly. Rockefeller broke the backs of any union activity, most notably during the ‘Ludlow massacre’ in 1914. The National Guard supported Rockefeller, in particular, protecting the miners continuing to work during the strike, killing 15 women and children in a union organized tent city, assembled when striking miners lost their company homes. Rockefeller continued to amass his fortune whilst running roughshod over anyone who got in his way. In an attempt by the US government to dismantle his monopoly, Standard Oil was split up into 34 separate companies in 1911. Well known names such as Mobil, Exxon, Chevron were born out of this decision. A move that proved extremely profitable for Rockefeller, receiving proportionate shares in all 34 companies. At the time of his death in 1937 Rockefeller was reported to be worth $1.4 billion and was thought to be the first private citizen to accumulate such wealth.

A relevant entry point regarding US foreign policy in relation to securing US corporate interests would be Guatemala. President Jacobo Árbenz was democratically elected in 1950 and determined to transform Guatemala into a modern self-reliant society. This did not sit well with the US and in particular the United Fruit Company. Árbenz was planning huge land reforms which would severely disrupt the United Fruit Company’s production, as land in Guatemala accounted for one-quarter of the company’s land in Latin America at the time. The US promptly took action, after the first attempt to overthrow Árbenz failed, President Eisenhower agreed a budget of $2.7 million to help overthrow the President. The CIA used tactics including; psychological warfare, political action and subversion. One key component was to try to convince the rest of the world that Árbenz’s government was aligned to the Soviet Union. An allegation concocted to destabilise Árbenz determined to construct a self-sufficient state. Inevitably, the CIA’s plan for the coup d’état was successful and Árbenz resigned on June 27th 1954 and subsequently went into exile. Following this. the US supported Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas and his army for the invasion of Guatemala from neighbouring Honduras. Not by coincidence, the Director of CIA at the time Allen Dulles was also a former President of the United Fruit Company (note a similar theme occurs when we look at Dick Cheney and Iraq). This coup plunged Guatemala into 40 years of civil war with over 150,000 victims over this time. This strategy has been utilised repeatedly all over Latin America with horrific consequences.

These are not an sporadic incidents, Noam Chomsky stated in numerous books that the US government have historically used a multitude of reasons for their interventionist foreign policy. During the ‘cold war’ they adopted the fable that their actions were to halt the spread of communism.Is_this_tomorrow At the same time US households were also fed huge doses of propaganda for decades in the news and in popular culture depicting the Soviet Union as the evil empire. In truth, what the US was trying to deter rather than communism was what’s known as the ‘domino effect’ or the ‘good example’. The basic premise is; if one small country can strive to be a democratic and economically viable country, non-reliant on foreign business, this could possibly convince other countries to do the same. This would fly in the face of US corporate interest as the US exploited (and still do) the low wages that were paid in Latin America  in order to increase profits. The ‘red threat’ cover wasn’t only utilised in Latin America, in Vietnam alone total deaths between 1965-1974 are conservatively estimated at 1.3 million people.

Sadly for the US when the Berlin Wall came down they had to change tack, but the US governmental storytellers in Washington were saved by Islam. After the tragic events of 911 to justify the invasion of Afghanistan and the fabrication of weapons of mass destruction (WMD’s) to support military action in Iraq, the ‘war on terror’ was born. With an US population living in constant fear, helped along by the corporate propaganda machine stoking the fires of doom, this rather handily justified practically any action either home or abroad, all in the name of security. The ‘War on Terror’ has been a blatant attempt to secure rapidly depleting oil supplies in the Middle East and to increase profits for the corporations involved in the lucrative military industrial complex. Across all countries involved in these wars it has cost an estimated 1.3 million lives, all under the absurd guise of democracy. While domestically it has been capitalised by the US government to usher in draconian ‘anti-terror’ measures under the name of Homeland Security, including torture to innocents and the destruction of civil liberties. Unsurprisingly the situation in the region is worse than ever, with no end in sight.

Without doubt, this has been a fantastic time for the US arms manufacturers, private security firms, the oil industry and of course the military, who have seen their budget sky-rocket year upon year and private profits soar. Corporations that do well generally enjoy strong links with members of the US government, people such as former Vice President (2001-2009) Dick Cheney who was the CEO of the multinational corporation Halliburton from 1995-2000. As of 2013 Halliburton had made approximately $39.5 billion primarily on the back of the war in Iraq. Somehow the phrase ‘conflict of interest’ seems appropriate, however, this rarely applies to the ruling elite. These people continue to scratch each others backs, making obscene amounts of money, whilst obtaining power and political influence. In the meantime, their catastrophic influence has inflicted abject misery on the doorstep of innocent civilians all over the world.

As a summary of foreign policy it seems appropriate to display how far the tentacles of empire have stretched under the dubious title of US foreign policy since 1950. It is also important to point out that in many cases, particularly more recently in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Syria, the US haven’t done this alone. They have certainly led the charge, but they are not without accomplices. Former Prime Minister of the UK Tony Blair was more than happy to partake in the charade surrounding WMD’s, lying to gain the support of the British public so he and George W Bush could have their war. Here is a list of countries that has experienced the wrath of the US since 1950;

  • Guatemala
  • Cuba
  • El Salvador
  • Honduras
  • Panama
  • Nicaragua
  • Chile
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Ecuador
  • Bolivia
  • Uruguay
  • Columbia
  • Haiti
  • Dominican Republic
  • Grenada
  • Congo
  • Libya
  • Somalia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Lebanon
  • Kuwait
  • Syria
  • Afghanistan
  • Pakistan
  • Korea
  • Vietnam
  • Laos
  • Cambodia

This is not an exhaustive list of countries that have suffered at the hands of US interbention (either covert or overt) since 1950, but 30 sovereign nations seemed enough to prove a point. I suppose the next sensible question is; where does this fit in with the neoliberalism that we experience in today’s society?

Firstly we are a planet of finite resources, however, neoliberalism relies on continual growth, where success of a country is measured generally by gross domestic product (GDP), which is frankly a crude economic measure. GDP is what the masses predominantly hear in the media as some sort ‘gold standard’ of success. Implying that each country has to keep growing incessantly, we therefore, start to associate an improved GDP with a favourable outcome for all. For one, continual growth in a finite world just doesn’t make sense, secondly there are many other ways to measure a country’s wellbeing other than GDP. In pursuit of continual growth the ruling elite, are taking more and more risks to secure ever dwindling resources. A few examples are; military action in the middle east (an obvious one), drilling in the Arctic and fracking.

Desperate measures such as these have caused a numerous deaths in the middle east, plus millions of displaced people, leading to a massive strain on neighbouring countries both morally and financially. The fossil fuel industry are now employing increasingly expensive and dangerous methods to keep the money flowing in. At the same time huge corporations are pressuring governments to remain dependent on fossil fuels so the corporations can maintain their political power. All the while the planet we live on is becoming ever more vulnerable and climate change is not just going to disappear. In a meta analysis dated 2013, it was noted that amongst abstracts of journals that had a distinct position on climate change, 97.1% believed that climate change was a problem perpetuated by humans. As the recent United Nations climate change conference COP 21 demonstrated; if we allow climate change action to be organized mainly by corporations and governments, no worthwhile solutions to our global problem will be forthcoming. I have no doubt that this is the biggest issue we face and that the ruling elite present the biggest roadblock for us if we are going to resolve the problem of climate change.

I will round this off by talking about an obvious problem with the neoliberal system, that of inequality. A recent headline emerged last week stating that the 1% now have more wealth than the other 99%. Another startling fact is, 62 of the richest people in the world have more combined wealth than the bottom 50% (3.5 billion people). This is obscene. There is so much evidence to suggest that massive inequality is detrimental to everybody, including the rich. Just a brief look on the internet at sites such as the equality trust indicates that severe inequality leads to poorer health outcomes, education, crime and general wellbeing. It’s time we started to arm ourselves with knowledge, look after our needs as a society and take the power back. We are in need of a collectivist movement of compassion and humanity, not individualism and unabashed greed.

Can we destroy neoliberalism through our respective political systems? I hope so, but I must confess I am relatively pessimistic, due to the vice like grip the ruling elite currently possess on the political system. I tend to agree with the best-selling political writer Chris Hedges who suggests that real change will occur outside the current political arena. It is heartening, however, to witness the rise of Jeremy Corbyn in the UK and Bernie Sanders in the US. If nothing else this is a positive change in politics, maybe we can get away from the personalities in politics and talk about the important issues we are currently facing.