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The armament industries have lead the way in the conquest and modernization of the world. One of the key policies of British Empire was to keep manufacturing technology out of the hands of her far flung colonial conquests while denaturing and appropriating any of the native craftsmanship/technology solely for the benefit of the empire. Priya Satia writes about a historical technological divergence that happened around the 1800’s and how that manufactured divide laid the ground work for much of the present economic system and associated cleavages, we have today.

“Bengal, Mysore and Maratha are just three of many places in the Indian subcontinent where Britain at great expense and effort restricted, curtailed or closed down knowledge and capacity for arms manufacturing in India. The near parity between India and Britain in small arms made British conquest of the subcontinent slow, costly and difficult, and made the crushing of indigenous arms manufacture essential.

Perhaps many polities had the potential for industrial growth, but imperial ambition, generating military commitments requiring mass levels of supply, ensured that Britain became the site of industrial take-off – and a global arms depot. In addition to its geological and geographical advantages, Britain had coercive colonial policies enabling jealous control of know-how. Eighteenth-century Britons believed in the government’s right and obligation to use its might to promote industrial prosperity at home and strangle it abroad. We too must recognise the way that war shaped the entwined industrial fates of Britain and its colonies, and the way that power always shapes knowledge-sharing.”

The rest of Satia’s essay is quite heavy on historical specifics, but worth the read if you have the time.

 

 

imperialladderkicking  I’m almost done with Sorrows of Empire so I will stop deluging the blog with quotes, but I cannot forgo Johnson’s explanation of the mutating monster that Neo-liberalism is.  I’d like to reproduce the entire chapter because it is that good, but instead we’ll look at how insidious neo-liberalism is when it comes to being critiqued by the intelligentsia residing in centres of Western power.

   “It is critically important to understand that the doctrine of globalism is a kind of intellectual sedative that lulls and distracts its Third World victims while rich countries cripple them, ensuring that they will never be able to challenge the imperial powers.  It is also designed to persuade the new imperialists that “underdeveloped” countries bring poverty on themselves thanks to “crony capitalism”, corruption, and a failure to take advantage of the splendid opportunities being offered.  The claim that free markets lead to prosperity for anyone other than the transnational corporations that lobbied for them and have the clout and resources to manipulate them is simply not borne out by the historical record.  As even the Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, a former director of research at the World Bank, has come to acknowledge, “It is now a commonplace that the international trade agreements about which the United States spoke so proudly only a few years ago were grossly unfair to countries in the Third World… The problem [with globalists is] … their fundamentalist market ideology, a faith in free, unfettered markets that is supported by neither modern theory not historical experience.

[…]

   There is no known case in which globalization has led to prosperity in any Third World country, and none of the world’s twenty-four reasonably developed capitalist nations, regardless of their ideological explanations, got where they are by following any of the prescriptions contained in globalization doctrine.  What globalization has produced, in the words of de Rivero, is not NICs (newly industrialized countries) but about 130 NNEs (nonviable national economies) or, even worse, UCEs (ungovernable chaotic entities).  There is occasional evidence that this result is precisely what the authors of globalization intended.

   In 1841, the prominent German political economist Friedrich List (who had immigrated to America) wrote in his masterpiece, The National System of Political Economy, “It is a very common clever device that when anyone has attained the summit of greatness, he kicks away the ladder by which he has climbed up, in order to deprive others of the means of combing up after him.”  Much of modern Anglo-American economics and all of the theory of globalization are attempts to disguise this kicking away of the ladder. 

 

-Chalmers Johnson, Sorrows of Empire. p.262.

So really, colonialism by any other name…  I’m so glad we’ve progressed so far.

We have truly breached new moral ground, made the world a safer place (for oligarchic capitalism), and ensured the continued well being of right class of people.

 

For more on ‘ladder kicking’ see Cambridge’s Ha-Joon Chang and his post on this very topic.

 

 

The chickens of western colonialism are coming home to roost.

Excerpt from “The Guns of August” – by Matthew Stevenson via Counterpunch

 

“Doubts about the sincerity of Americans in Iraq probably began when President Ronald Reagan dispatched his former national security advisor Robert C. “Bud” McFarlane to Tehran in 1986 with a cake and a Bible and proposed swapping arms for American hostages in Lebanon.

 

Until that moment, in the long war between Iran and Iraq, Saddam was our man, a bulwark against Shiite expansion in the Gulf, a non-fundamental (i.e., someone not adverse to girls or gin) Muslim willing to do the West’s bidding.

 

Bud’s cake and Bible alerted Saddam to the fickleness of Western support, and he repaid the favor in 1990 when he invaded Kuwait and let his troops drive all those looted Mercedes back to Baghdad.

 

The Iraqi occupation of Kuwait led to the first Gulf War and Saddam’s alleged death threat against President George H.W. Bush, cited in 2003 when his son, President George W. Bush, decided to overthrow Saddam’s regime.

 

Driving Saddam into a hole near Tikrit (where he was captured and later hanged) wasn’t the hard part of the blitzkrieg. The biggest challenge was deciding who should run Iraq once Saddam was swinging from the gallows.

 

Remembering the Mesopotamia, Churchill had faced the same conundrum in 1921, and at the Cairo Conference he went with an invented, cereal-box monarchy, an air campaign to subdue rebels, and a cadre of loyal Sunnis to keep the majority Shiite population on their knees.

 

In one form or another, that unholy coalition lasted until the 2003 American invasion, when the Bush administration decided to turn the country over to the Shiite majority.

 

Never mind that such a government would align Iraq more closely with Antichrists in Tehran.

 

*   *   *

 

By suppressing the Sunnis, the U.S. hoped to keep al-Qaida sympathizers in Iraq away from the oil fields. Under this partition, Shiites would get the government, the U.S. would get the oil, and Sunnis, especially those with Osama bin Laden posters on their kitchen walls, would get the shaft.

 

The problem with this division of Iraqi spoils is that it required the Bush administration to disband the Iraqi army and Saddam’s Baathist party infrastructure, two centers of power not solely identified with either Sunni or Shiite interests.

 

At the same time (mid-2000s) the U.S. army withdrew its forces into frontier stockades.  Iraq fell into anarchy until Gen. David Petraeus took time out from his amorous counter-insurgencies and paid Sunni warlords, especially in western Iraq, some $300 million to fight on the American side.

 

The rent-an-army surge worked until the Obama administration stopped payment on the Petraeus incentive compensation and left it to the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to explain to the opposition the fine print of the American victory, what in the Vietnam War President Nixon called “peace with honor.”

 

Speaking of peace with honour; the IS is bringing neither to the region as this Vice News clip illustrates.

 

Churchhill

 

Winston Churchill about the Palestinians, in 1937:

“I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”

Source: Page 9, Samar Attar (2010) Debunking the Myths of Colonization: The Arabs and Europe, University Press of America. Page 156, Makovsky Michael (2007) Churchill’s Promised Land: Zionism and Statecraft, Yale University Press.

We’re the good guys right?  Right?? Just keep telling yourselves that.

The pit of human despair known as Haiti just got a little bleaker.  Cholera, a result of the non-existent sanitation and waste disposal is becoming more widespread.

“An outbreak of cholera is worsening in Haiti, and moving closer to the country’s earthquake-devastated capital, Port-au-Prince.As of the most recent reports on Saturday evening, the disease has killed at least 208 people and sickened another 2,674.

There are concerns tens of thousands of people made homeless by January’s earthquake could be at risk.”

Haiti has return to the memory hole, resurfacing only recently as more grim news besets the population.

“If the epidemic makes its way to Port-au-Prince, where children and families are living in unsanitary, overcrowded camps, the results could be disastrous,” said Dr. Estrella Serrano, World Vision’s emergency response health and nutrition manager.
What the West needs to do is immediately negate any debt owed to them.  France, Canada and the US are all partially responsible for the wretched state Haiti is in.  Consider small portion of the historical record (from the comments section of the CBC article):
“69% of Haitians voted for Aristide. Then the elites together with American and Canadian governments ensured that he was maligned and then whisked off to Central African Republic in the middle of the night. 

Why? Because he actually wanted to help the huge poor majority with radical things like increasing minimum wage and organizing better housing. Not so good for profits if you are an American garment maker. Dangerous stuff if you are a wealthy Haitian enriched by the status quo.”

We broke it, we need to fix it.  Debt forgiveness would be only the first step.
For a detailed breakdown of the relief effort in Haiti please see the Wiki article. – H/T tildeb.

From the fat file of addressing effects rather than causes in the Middle East:

“Barack Obama, the US president, has asked Congress for $205m to help Israel speed up construction of a new short-range anti-missile defence system, White House aides have said.

Another 'pillar' of the Peace Process

The so-called “Iron Dome” project is designed to intercept rockets and artillery shells from the Gaza Strip and neighbouring Lebanon.”

Rather than addressing the root causes of why Israel needs a missile shield, lets just build a slapdash system give it a sexy name and throw a couple billion into developing and deploying it.  The amount of US peaceable hand-waving in the Middle East is increasing as of late as well as the threat of military action.

“As the president has repeatedly said, our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakable and our defence relationship is stronger than ever,” Vietor said.”

An equitable two state solution would solidify Israel’s security concerns without lining the pockets of the defense industries.

“A senior department of defence official tells me that recently, US officials saw a test of the project and were very impressed by it, and decided to give the money to help speed up production.”

The move comes after ties between Israel and the US were strained by an announcement of more illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem made during a visit to Israel by Joe Biden, the US vice-president.”

Oh well; it is kiss and make up time as the frothy pro-Israeli lobby in the US once again dictates foreign policy.  “Oh hey, don’t worry about breaking international law and the whole illegal settlement thing.  Here is a couple million for your troubles we caused you by daring to call you on your anti-Palestinian colonization program.”

“According to the US state department, US military aid to Israel in 2009 totalled $2.55bn. This will increase to $3bn in 2012, and will total $3.15bn a year from 2013 to 2018.”

Will there be peace in the Middle East?  I have 3.15 billion reasons to think that the answer for the foreseeable future will be ‘No’.

Update: Watch the Pro-Israeli Flak machine in action at Think Progress, sickening.

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