- Germany Beefs up Security for NATO Summit
- Turn off the Stockholm Programme!
- The Festival is Over - Japan Resistance Report 2008
- In the Shadow of G8: Repression and Revolt in Japan
- Civil Unrest in America?
Germany Beefs up Security for NATO Summit
The leaders of the 26 NATO states are due to gather in Germany on April 3 for a two-day summit co-hosted with France. Germany is putting in place extensive security measures, including shutting down part of the city of Kehl for a 10-minute photo-op.
With France and Germany preparing to host the summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) at the beginning of April, extensive security measures are being prepared to protect the leaders of the 26 member states.
The south-western German cities of Kehl and Baden-Baden and the French city of Strasbourg are co-hosting the gathering which will mark the 60th anniversary of the alliance. An estimated 15,000 police officers are to be deployed on the German side alone and the German army, the Bundeswehr, is supporting the security operation with interceptor planes, transport helicopters, paramedics, motorcycle escorts as well as buses and other vehicles. However, the local police force in the state of Baden-Württemberg have not asked the Defense Ministry in Berlin to provide scout tanks or Tornado reconnaissance jets, whose deployment caused such controversy during the G-8 meeting in the Baltic Sea resort of Heligendamm two years ago. While the jets were supposed to keep an eye out for signs of a possible terrorist attack it later emerged that they had also been employed to spy on a camp of anti-globalization protestors.
Alexander Bonde, a Green Party member of the German parliament, has described the security measures planned for Kehl as "completely absurd" and branded the gathering a "summit of impertinence." He says that hundreds of citizens will be living under "quasi house arrest" in the area around a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Rhine -- the location of a group picture of the NATO heads of state. Local residents living nearby will not be allowed to leave their homes between the Friday and the Saturday morning without a police escort and even that is only allowed in urgent cases and with prior consent. "Even for probably the most costly photograph in history," says Bonde, "this expense is completely excessive."
The photo-op, which will take place as the summit guests are transported across the border from Baden-Baden to Strasbourg, is scheduled to last 10 minutes. During that time all traffic on the motorways and streets nearby will be brought to a standstill while shipping on the Rhine will also be halted for several hours.
That is not the only disruption the NATO meeting is due to cause to the lives of local people. In order to ensure that enough police officers are available for the operation all the soccer league matches that had been scheduled to take place in the state of Baden-Württemberg on April 3 and 4 will now have to be postponed.
Turn off the Stockholm Programme!
No Future for the "Future Group"!
Following Tampere 1999 and Hague 2004, the EU plans to decide the next five-year plan on "Justice and Home Affairs" (JHA) this year.
After the implementation of data retention and new databases, the creation of "Frontex" and the "European Security Research Programme" , the "harmonization" of terrorism laws and more surveillance of the internet, next severe changes are foreseen to bet set in the new guideline.
Under swedish EU presidency in the second half of 2009, probably in November or December, the ministers of interior and justice will meet to agree the new "Stockholm Programme".
A self-announced "Future Group" of some of the ministers, initiated under german EU presidency 2007, already published the wishlist "European Home Affairs in an open world":
An EU population register, ‘remote’ forensic searches of computer hard drives, internet surveillance systems, more implementation of satellites and ‘drone’ planes for surveillance, automated exit-entry systems operated by machines, autonomous targeting systems, risk assessment and profiling systems, e-borders, passenger profiling systems, an EU ‘entry-exit’ system, joint EU expulsion flights, dedicated EU expulsion planes, EU-funded detention centres and refugee camps in third countries (even "overseas"), expansion of the para-military European Gendarmerie Force, deployment of EU Battle Groups, crisis management operations in Africa, permanent EU military patrols in the Mediterranean and Atlantic, more power for EU agencies, interlinking of national police systems, an EU criminal record, a permanent EU Standing Committee on internal security (COSI) dealing with operational matters, more partnerships with the security industry.
By 2014, the ministers wish to establish a "transatlantic security partnership" between the EU and USA, that can be seen as a kind of domestically NATO. NATO strategists on the other hand approach to internal politics by claiming in the paper "Towards a grand strategy in an uncertain world" that military could only supply "strong defence" if there is a "strong homeland security".
This blog tries to collect calls, background texts, links, dates and material in different languages for campaigning against the meeting in Stockholm.
Continue and get more information in deutsch | english | francais | italiano on http://stockholm.noblogs.org
The Festival is Over - Japan Resistance Report 2008
Japan can be described as a decaying high-tech quasi-corporatist island state, hostile to many of its neighbouring countries. Several Japanese companies which benefited from slave labour in WW2, Mitsubishi etc, still operate. Japan is re-arming itself militarily and has never firmly broke with its fascist & imperialist past, the state attempts to enforce a high level of social control but even so, there does remain tumultuous outbreaks of anarchy that no-one can predict occurring, moments of incredible beauty, like Osaka in 13-21 June 2008, when an incident of police brutality sparked fierce rioting in Kamagasaki, a working class district.
The government is very repressive against the social movements in no small part to the serious revolutionary disturbances of the 60’s & 70’s onwards, with some underground autonomous groups still existing in hiding today. Japan is not the stable, comfortable place that the media tries to portray, and there are many people living a very precarious life of poverty and exclusion.
Not only in violent response to repression was there was a stark difference between the 6 day riot in Osaka and the anti-G8 events which took place almost simultaneously in Hokkaido, northern most island of the Japanese archipelago.
In Hokkaido a tiny number of anti-globalisation activists, socialists, pacifists, environmentalists, NGOS, and of course, anarchists, were systematically suppressed in Sapporo from the onset of the entire organised counter-events. They were violently prevented on the most minor terms from having a peaceful street demo with a sound-system truck, the driver absurdly wrestled out by a posse of cops in a characteristic move of attacking vulnerable demos where the cops feel they can be aggressive and have the sanction of the media to do so. The sound-demo in Tokyo was the usual suppressed event, despite the evident rage of some of the people against the police restrictions. Anti-globalisation academics flew in and flew out again, presentations and counter-conferences were organised, promoting this or that new book or hip social theory in venues where you usually had to pay to enter. The spectacle was maintained, commodities were sold, careers were trod.
The media build-up to the G8 was extremely questionable, with mainstream media meeting the German anti-G8 ‘Dissent’ delegation in the months before the events at the air-port like movie-stars. Unfortunately the ‘Dissent’ delegation participated with the mainstream media, something we completely disagree with, viewing it as counter-productive and antagonistic to our hostility to the agenda of the corporations and government. The media was customarily both hysterically curious and dismissive, with the accompanying usual alerts to hold the image in the mind of terrorists like the Japanese Red Army, Aum or Al-Qaeda.
The base population simply got on with their lives. In Osaka when a day-worker was discovered beaten and tortured by the inner-city police during the G8 clampdown period, the whole area lit up with unmediated anti-police, anti-system rage, it didn’t matter so much that there was also a secondary G8 ministers meeting happening at the time in the city, we guess people were pretty angry. In addition the squatted parks around the city act as semiautonomous areas of free space, with information and material distribution,
so the news spread fast. There is a closeness to the people who have known each other in a collective fight for some time and they know the lay of the city to their advantage. Kamagasaki is a fighting working class neighbourhood, they do not need to be convinced by a street-party to dance. The anti-G8 events were characterised by a strong focus on structure, on the logistics of organising an ‘event’. The actions borrowed the structure of past anti-G8 action; in particular organisers in Japan used their experience of the G8 in Germany the previous year.
We don’t doubt the sincerity of the people who spent so much time and effort in organising the resistance against the G8, but for us this structure was applied superficially. There was not much analysis of how and why people wanted to act against the summit, or what the aims of action were. There seemed to be a lack of preparation for an attack from the cops and lack of de-centralised actions outside the central sounddemo( s), which seemed to come from lack of initiatives and conflictual attitude of solidarity on the part of the Japanese groups and also internationals not sufficiently understanding the operating environment. The international anti-G8 infotour for the G8 was extensive, across many countries and continents, why was the mobilisation so weak? Did it rely too much on a dependency for ‘outside’ numbers and pose a logistical complexity beyond the capabilities of the organising initiative?
In contrast to the more spontaneously created, structureless rioting in Osaka, the G8 action involved hierarchical organising. While on the surface borrowing the structure of previous anti- G8 events, the idea of leadership was very present in the organisation. The only way out is to completely denounce their methods and their ambition, what exists of it. Space seems significant in this, the lack of autonomous spaces in Japan affected the mentality of organisation; without the actual physical space to situation oneself in, it’s difficult to practice and build nonhierarchical collective organising for a mass of people. Although lacking in much action, the anti-G8 events did create some discussion around the methods of organisation. The challenge of a small, politically diverse, international group, trying to react against the G8 created an environment where there was no alternative but to engage as a group, and discuss political tactics.
In Hokkaido anti-G8 camp, internationals were separated from the decision making process and told that any action that was not approved by the organisers would result in certain arrest, job loss and prison (for the central organisers), therefore the usual putting pressure on everyone to toe the line. Also the inappropriate plan to march 20 Km in the countryside where there would be little chance to have any effect on the actual proceedings of the G8 is irritating to say the least.
The lack of opportunity for discussion around the tactics chosen by the central activist clique was dis-empowering and shows the weakness in the adoption of structure without adequately thinking about content. Without a collective confrontational position to capitalism on our own terms , our ‘resistance’ appears to amount to nothing but words, a gesture, a trend, then back to our routines.
Unfortunately, as well as this superficial structure, the NoG8 action was without a sense of spontaneity, raw feeling, passion, anger, or catalyst for action, as was seen in Osaka. Combined with massive amounts of self-repression, and the reality of a huge police presence, the result was an event lacking in direction or power.
“Coming nowhere near to the goal of ’shutting down the summit’, the protests were largely characterized by complacent marches in the shadow of $280 million dollars spent on security and 21,000 police goons lined up against a mere 1,000 or so protesters. From the beginning, the organizers formally negotiated with the police and paid the price: the marches passed nowhere near the meeting site and instead were forced into routes through the countryside at obscene distances, epitomized by a 22km daytime march through mountains and forest roads that only 100 people attended after the vast majority of participants denounced it and refused to attend. Despite the ‘good behavior’ of the organizers, four activists were nevertheless arrested for pathetically arbitrary reasons, such as having three people at a time on the sound system float (only two were allowed). Media coverage was mostly absent, even in ‘independent media’ despite the presence of hundreds of cameras. It is safe to say that the protests were not noticed at all, and even on their own limited terms were failures. Will there be people brave enough to admit this?” anonymous rebel/datacide This is not so much just a critique of some of our Japanese comrades as a critique of the Pavlovian activist mindset whereby a generic response is rolled out regardless of the specifics of people and place. What success the G8 protests achieved was found in bringing together new interactions between Japanese anti-capitalists and internationals.
What happened – or didn’t happen – in Japan is no surprise. An international call out was produced because that is what was expected: that is the model – unreflected, insupportable (in terms of infrastructure) and inappropriate. The fact that Japan is, as a political, social and subcultural entity, so extremely different from those places where these summits have been held and attacked before simply threw the poverty of the ritual into sharp relief.
So, for us the anti-G8 protests were characterised by massive self-surveillance and self-repression, and difficulty in breaking out of a sense of isolation and individualization. The ‘activist’ response to the G8 was dis-empowering in contrast to the necessary, spontaneous chaotic rioting in Osaka which was grounded in a reality of social conflict against the conditions of a repressive daily life.
The G8 action and the Osaka riots highlighted a stark divide between people pushed to a point of necessary action, and the ‘activist scene’, where there is a feeling of having too much to lose to take action. Comparably, this situation in Japan is suggestive of where the organised ‘activist scene’ in United Kingdom is at from an outsiders perspective: revolving around structured events, without either a depth of analysis, spontaneity or position of conflict, leading to an inactive ‘scene’ and decaying ‘sub-culture’, without clear targets and ways to fight them.
Anarchists and other uncontrollables in Osaka felt it was pointless going to Hokkaido, the struggle is in their city, most certainly away from the concentrated forces of the enemy in a rural area. This is where only those who readily control mass access to transport and personnel can win the engagement due to the environment. They felt that also there was an undiscovered element of ‘white supremacy’ in the assumption that imported Anglo-Atlantic models will be the best ones for the Japanese situation, and that ‘activist’ methods can be a symbolic theater that is not based on collective action in the face of a repressive system, but is a reaction to a temporary media event of authority. Also maybe only more financially solvent North American and European activists have a possibility to enter and this was not automatically available to closer comrades in East Asia. This effects not only the amount of people who come but also maybe the readiness for conflict, due to the heavy sentences given out by the Japanese state, which are a different reality, it is not a joke. Japanese prisons are notoriously harsh but they are nothing compared to the realities of life in many prisons of the majority world. When you add together the possibility of not clearing immigration because of problems with visas, money, if you are an international, and then heavy jail time for very minor actions, you have to think very clearly about the situation you find yourself in. If we face this much repression for centralized ‘legal’ ‘pacifist’ public actions, we have to seriously think about the social terrain we find ourselves in and how best to act.
In Japan, the problem is one of visibility, of having a visible anti-capitalist/anarchist infrastructure, as the resources available to the anti-capitalist movement are small, there are few infoshops, collective housing projects, squats etc. The state uses media, secret police, surveillance, manipulation, judicial harassment and imprisonment in a thorough manner, anyone who is identified as a threat will find themselves constantly on minor charges, house searches, this amounts to personal harassment, stalking, it is intended to be injurious to the mentality and so on, to hold people into keeping respectful of the seemingly allencompassing power of the government. So, the G8 in Japan was difficult to react against. Obviously G8 summits are organised in a way that anyway tries to remove the possibility of sparks of conflict or catalyst, such as holding them in remote rural locations. The ‘countryside’ in the industrialised world is always a ‘theme park’ or an ‘unforgiving advantage’ to those with superior technology, logistics and control of movement.
Despite it’s problems, Osaka benefits from having a long-running class struggle based practically on resisting the conditions of daylabour. The revolt against capitalism is already a potential in the tens of thousands of exploited who find themselves rolled over in this economy. It consists in recognizing that the currency crisis is a result of the search for capitalist value in the American markets since the fall of the Soviet Union, and not a result of the particular failures of bank policy in any one country. That’s where new allies, new struggles and new praxis emerge from. The antiglobalization movement has been stone-cold dead for years. The G8 protests were so far distanced from actual on-the-ground praxis in Japan that it is difficult to think of them apart from something like an anime convention.
The revolt against the industrialised world will not come from the countryside now the majority of the world lives in cities, it comes from within the contradictions and excluded zones of the mega-metropolis’ themselves, the most critical place to stop the economy, and seize control of the streets.
Kamagasaki has been rebelling since the 1960s, but only rarely have there been effective interventions there that have had the potential to get bigger (most notably the new left interventions of the 70s, but even that was really problematic). We have to find a way to overcome the limitations of riots, to destroy not only the police station but the economy, to push for a social war and the end of capitalism. To push a situation of disparate anger into a position of class strength and selforganisation. Repeatedly going to places of conflict where the possibilities are defined by the agenda of the state we see as a dangerous mistake, the ‘difficult’ condition of modern warfare is ‘urban’ precisely because this is the arena where our everyday lives are made. Where the commodities are produced and sent forth, where the utilities are run, where the octopus of cables multiples and spreads, where the schools, hospitals, bureaucratic and financial houses are run.
This is what is at stake. For a future without capital & coercion. Some anarchists always in exile.
Osaka comrade given prison term for riot
Greetings with indomitable soul
19th Nov 2008, comrade Y-San received an unjust sentence of 2 years and 2 months despite our struggle for his rescue. He has already been in custody in Osaka prison, not knowing when and where he will be sent. He says he wants to get out and come back even if it is only one day earlier. We will continue to visit him with articles, keep a place for him to come back and prepare ourselves for revenge.
(ABC Osaka/Free Workers Union)
In the Shadow of G8: Repression and Revolt in Japan
Over the past week and a half, an unprecedented political crackdown has been enacted in advance of a series of economic summits around the country. Despite this, the brave workers of Kamagasaki stood up against the stiff security environment in riots against the brutal beating of a day laborer over the past five days. The twin situations of repression and revolt deserve to be examined in more detail.
In the run-up to the series of summits, over 40 people were arrested in pre-emptive sweeps of broad left and anarchist groups.
On May 29th, 38 people were arrested at Hosei University in Tokyo at a political assembly against the G8. These large-scale arrests were carried out by over 100 public security agents after the students staged after a march across campus protesting the summits.1 All of the arrestees are still jailed, and among them are apparently some leadership of the Chuukaku-ha Leninist organization, one of the largest organizations of its kind in Japan.
On June 4th, Tabi Rounin, an active anarchist from the Kansai region, was arrested on accusation of having his address registered at a location other than where he was living. When arrested, his computer, cell phone, political flyers and more was taken from him; these items were used when detectives interrogated him, asking him about his relationship to internationals possibly arriving for the G8, as well as his activity around Osaka. He would be the first obviously political arrest masked as routine police work.
On June 12th, an activist from the Kamagasaki Patrol (an Osaka squatter and anti-capitalist group), was arrested for allegedly defrauding lifestyle assistance payments. This person has been constantly followed by plainclothes police and even helicopters during demonstrations. Clearly, his arrest was planned with the idea of keeping him away from the major anti-summit mobilizations and he will be held without bail for the maximum of 23 until the summit is over. The office of an anarchist organization called the Free Worker was raided in order to look for 'evidence' in this comrade's case.
The same day the Rakunan union in Kyoto was raided, with police officers searching their offices and arresting two of their members on suspicion of fraudulent unemployment insurance receipt. One of these two arrested are accused of funneling money received from unemployment insurance to the Asian Wide Campaign, which was organizing against the economic summits. In the meantime, Osaka city mobilized thousands of police with the pretext of preventing terrorism against the summit, setting up inspection points and monitoring all around the city. But the strengthened state high on its own power inevitably deployed it in violence, and turned the day laborers of southern Osaka against it in riot.
Kamagasaki is a traditionally day laborer neighborhood that has experienced over thirty riots since the early 1960s. The last riot in Kamagasaki was sparked in 1990 by police brutality and the exposure of connections between the police and Yakuza gangs.
The causes this time were not much different. A man was arrested in a shopping arcade near Kamagasaki and taken to the Nishinari police station where he was punched repeatedly in the face by four detectives one after another. Then he was kicked and hung upside down by rope to be beaten some more.
He was released the next day and went to show his friends the wounds from the beatings and the rope. This brought over 200 workers to surround the police station and demand that the police chief come out and apologize. Later people also started demanding that the four detectives be fired. Met with steel shields and a barricaded police station, the crowd began to riot, throwing stones and bottles into the police station. Scraps with the riot police resulted in some of their shields and equipment being temporarily seized. The riot stopped around midnight with the riot police being backed into the police station. The next day they brought over 35 police buses and riot vehicles into the Naniwa police station with the intention of using these against the rioters.
During the riot, the police surveilled rioters from the top of the police station, from plainclothes positions and from a helicopter. Riot police with steel shields were deployed all around the neighborhood in strategic places to charge in when the action kicked off. The workers organizations which by the second day were maintaining the protest had chosen a good time to do so because the police department proved unwilling to unleash the direct, brutal charges seen in the 1990 riot due to the international spotlight focused on them. On Saturday a police infiltrator was found in the crowd, pushed up against a fence and smashed in the head with a metal bar.
(A shield captured from cops by riot participants)
The riot has lasted since the 13th and every night there is a resumption of hostility between the day laborers and the cops. Workers so far refuse anything less than the fulfillment of their demands in light of the police brutality incident. Despite the call from more 'moderate' NGOs to 'stop the violence' there has been no let-up in hostility towards the police, although the real level of violent confrontation is not as strong as the weekend of the 13th-15th. The riot has been characterized by the participation of young people as well as the older day laborers in confrontation with the police. As the guarantors of everyday exploitation under capitalism who have to assertively maintain the constant dispossession of the urban working class, the police have many enemies. This they are finding out every night.
Over the past couple of days there have been points where more than 500 people have gathered and rioted around the neighborhood. Police have responded mainly by defending the Nishinari police station, their home base, while getting back up from the local Naniwa police station, which has a riot countermeasure practicing lot, and holds tens of anti-riot vehicles. Despite this mighty arsenal, the police were perhaps surprised when they deployed their tear gas cannon on the first day only to be met with cries of joy and laughter. The use of force no longer has any spell of intimidation, it is simply expected.
Still, the combined brutality of the police and their riot vehicles has netted over 40 arrests (including of many young people), many injuries and even blinded one worker with a direct shot of tear gas water to his right eye.
The struggle here is inevitably limited by the particular situations of day laborers, who are dispatched to their job sites and have no direct access to the means of production that standard wage workers would. This prevents them from for instance calling political strikes against police brutality, and hitting powerful interests in the city where they really hurt. As workers deprived of these means to struggle, the day laborers will always have the riot as a method not only of collective defense but for also forcing concessions from the city in the form of expanding welfare access, creating jobs, backing off of eviction campaigns etc. While these are more or less important gains strictly in terms of survival, it is important to explore the possibilities of spreading the antagonism of the Kamagasaki workers to the larger population of exploited people in order to imagine doing away with this power structure once and for all.
It is unclear exactly where the situation is headed, but we can know for sure that the real repression in Kamagasaki will arrive after the summits have ended and the focus is off of the Japanese government. Then we will see the raids, the arrests and the scapegoating of particular individuals for the righteous outburst of class violence that these riots are. Instead of quietly accepting their fates as people to be trampled upon, the participants have directly attacked the wardens of wage labor who guarantee the violence of everyday slum life.
Overall, the ongoing repression against those involved in organizing against the G8 summit as well as Kamagasaki should not convince anyone that the ruling class here is once again afraid of the working class. In repressing certain left groups organizing against the economic summits, the Japanese government is more interested in preventing a movement from emerging that starts to question capital at the macro level, than actually attacking an existing one. On the other hand in Kamagasaki, the state tries to deny the possibility of antagonism in a major metropole and the visibility of this revolt, for fear of it spreading. This is why most news reports have blacked out the ongoing riots in Kamagasaki. The concreteness and universality of the Kamagasaki revolt truly threatens to expand beyond the borders of police violence. Visitors to Kamagasaki from near and far have over the past five days participated and found their own struggle in riots fought by total strangers. The ruling class fears and knows that it cannot control this horizontal sympathy and the real practice of revolt that accompanies it.
Civil Unrest in America?
by José Miguel Alonso Trabanco
Eurasia is currently experiencing serious problems derived from financial and economic difficulties such as unemployment, GDP negative growth, currency depreciation, overall economic slowdown and so on. Several members of both the European Union and NATO (Poland, Hungary, Iceland come to mind) are already dealing with a considerable deal of domestic discontent. Some States from the Former Soviet Union (notably Ukraine, Belarus and the Central Asian Republics) and even Russia itself are facing similar problems. Even Chinese government officials acknowledge protests in the Chinese mainland, just like Professor Michael Klare points out, which means that East Asia is by no means an exception. As we shall see, financial and economic conditions are equally grave in the American hemisphere, if not more so.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor and early supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, has warned that civil unrest on American soil is a possibility that should not be dismissed. Brzezinski explains that “[the United States is] going to have millions and millions of unemployed, people really facing dire straits. And we’re going to be having that for some period of time before things hopefully improve. And at the same time there is public awareness of this extraordinary wealth that was transferred to a few individuals at levels without historical precedent in America…” Brzezinski concludes with this noteworthy remark “…hell, there could be even riots”.
The aforementioned means that the upper echelons of the American political elite have realized that the current financial and economic turmoil is not as bad as many experts had foreseen, they are well aware that it is actually much worse and that things could really spiral out of control if the present situation deteriorates even further. Indeed, optimistic signs are nowhere to be found. Quite the contrary.
The full magnitude of the financial tsunami is clearly reflected in a piece written by Barry Ritholtz, who states that the bailout plan promoted by former US Secretary of the Treasury Henry “Hank” Paulson amounts to a sum of money that is superior to the Louisiana Purchase, the New Deal, the Marshall Plan, the Apollo Lunar Project, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the invasion of Iraq and other large government expenditures – combined (!). This illustrates that America’s top policymakers (both Democratic and Republican) hold serious concerns about the health of the American financial system and the American economy.
Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy (the largest in American history) was merely the tip of the iceberg and economic and financial conditions have dramatically worsened ever since. On January 22 2009, the Christian Science Monitor published that the four largest U.S. banks “have lost half of their value since January 2.” Moreover, in the period from summer 2008 to March 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Average index has decreased more than 50%. Furthermore, during February 2009 alone, more than 651 000 jobs were lost in the US, whose unemployment rate has now reached 8.1 %, the highest in 26 years. Also, some US car manufacturers (such as Ford, General Motors and Chrysler), once the pride of America’s industry, are practically on life support.
Steve Lohr, from the New York Times, writes that “Some of the large banks in the United States, according to economists and other finance experts, are like dead men walking.” Indeed, there were only two investment banks left: Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs and their condition is not exactly solid because they have managed to survive by becoming ordinary commercial banks. The Guardian reproduces an assessment by Bill Isaac, an experienced financial expert; he claims that the transformation of both Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs is “a shame because this country [the US] was built, in part, on risk-taking by Goldman and Morgan and by a whole bunch of firms before them.” Karl West, from the Daily Mail mentions that financial specialists warn that mammoth bank Citigroup “could collapse”.
All of the above indicates that the much-feared financial meltdown is no longer a distant and remote possibility because in fact it is already taking place. However, this chaos might trigger some very serious and preoccupying consequences. In order to have a clear understanding of these implications, it is vital to take into account some reports that were not given the proper amount of attention they deserved when they were first published.
Professor Michel Chossudovsky observed that the US Army 3rd Infantry’s 1st Brigade Combat Team returned from Iraq some months ago. That information is extremely disturbing because such military unit “may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control”, according to official sources. Now, what scenario could possibly require the operational deployment of said units on American soil? Professor Chossudovsky puts forward an intriguing hypothesis that must be borne in mind. He argues that “Civil unrest resulting from from the financial meltdown is a distinct possibility, given the broad impacts of financial collapse on lifelong savings, pension funds, homeownership, etc”.
Shortly afterwards, the Centre for Research on Globalization website posted an article written by Wayne Madsen. Mr. Madsen claims that a highly confidential official report has been circulating among senior members of the US Congress and their top advisors. The report has been allegedly nicknamed as the “C & R document”. The author stipulates that those letters stand for none other than “conflict” and “revolution” because those scenarios are supposedly regarded by America’s policymakers as plausible consequences triggered by a financial meltdown. According to Mr. Madsen, the content of the document reveals that severe financial chaos could spark a major war if Washington refuses to honor its foreign debt and/or massive riots in US cities if the American population does not accept a considerable tax increase.
For decades, overall political stability in the US was taken for granted. However, as it has been pointed out, even senior American statesmen are taking into consideration that financial volatility could fuel a wave of discontent which could easily reach troubling proportions. It seems that America itself is not immune from “regime-threatening instability” as the Pentagon and the American intelligence community terms it. It is likely that American government officials have not dismissed the worst-case scenario. Indeed it looks like they have been preparing accordingly.
Therefore, as has been scrutinized here, once one proceeds to connect the dots a very dark picture begins to emerge, to say the least. An all-encompassing cloud of uncertainty prevents us from formulating an accurate forecast regarding what developments will occur and how they will unfold during the next few months, let alone years. The only thing that can be taken for granted and that one can be sure of is that the unthinkable has now become thinkable.
José Miguel Alonso Trabanco is an independent writer based in Mexico specialising in geopoltical and military affairs. He has a degree in International Relations from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Studies, Mexico City. His focus is on contemporary and historic geopolitics, the world’s balance of power, the international system’s architecture and the emergence of new powers.