A Different View: New IMF Rules To Isolate China and Russia?

[The IMF has, says Congress and the NYTimes, become more inclusive of China and Russia (see previous Frontlines post, https://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com/2015/12/29/ny-times-on-the-liberalizing-of-the-international-monetary-fund/).  But others, looking deeply, see the new IMF rules as counter-attacks on Chinese and Russian other-imperialist initiatives.  See this lengthy article for more details. — Frontlines ed.]

The IMF Changes its Rules to Isolate China and Russia

by Michael Hudson, CounterPunch, December 15, 2015

The nightmare scenario of U.S. geopolitical strategists seems to be coming true: foreign economic independence from U.S. control. Instead of privatizing and neoliberalizing the world under U.S.-centered financial planning and ownership, the Russian and Chinese governments are investing in neighboring economies on terms that cement Eurasian economic integration on the basis of Russian oil and tax exports and Chinese financing. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) threatens to replace the IMF and World Bank programs that favor U.S. suppliers, banks and bondholders (with the United States holding unique veto power).

Russia’s 2013 loan to Ukraine, made at the request of Ukraine’s elected pro-Russian government, demonstrated the benefits of mutual trade and investment relations between the two countries. As Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov points out, Ukraine’s “international reserves were barely enough to cover three months’ imports, and no other creditor was prepared to lend on terms acceptable to Kiev. Yet Russia provided $3 billion of much-needed funding at a 5 per cent interest rate, when Ukraine’s bonds were yielding nearly 12 per cent.”[1] Continue reading

NY Times on the “Liberalizing” of the International Monetary Fund

[The IMF and the World Bank are key instruments of the finance/montary/credit-debt management of the entire world.  Enacted at the end of WWII to establish US leadership of the world imperialist system, both IMF and WB have come under endless criticism and challenges over the decades, but the emergence of new imperialist powers from post-socialist Russia and China has posed historically-contending  blocs-in-formation as unprecedented dangers to the once-presumed “permanent” US hegemony.  Both IMF and WB have become increasingly tattered and less effective instruments, as challenges have grown.  Congressional reforms aimed at a more durable structure for the IMF are hailed by the media-of-empire NY Times in the following editorial, which writes, strategically, ‘If the fund and the World Bank are to remain relevant and be truly global organizations, they cannot be seen as European and American fiefs.’ — Frontlines ed.]

Congress Gets Out of the I.M.F.’s Way

By The New York Times EDITORIAL BOARD, December. 22, 2015

The House went into holiday recess after passing a measure that included ratification of International Monetary Fund reforms.

After five years of Republican foot-dragging, members of Congress last week ratified an agreement that will increase the capital of the International Monetary Fund and give developing countries like China and India a greater say in the organization.

This should strengthen the fund at a time when its expertise is needed to help revive a slowing global economy. In 2010, the Obama administration negotiated an agreement with other countries to double the I.M.F.’s capital to about $755 billion, so it could lend more money to troubled countries like Greece and Spain. The changes also gave more voting power in the fund’s management to China, India, Brazil and Russia while slightly reducing the clout of European countries and the United States. Continue reading

World Bank: Massive Displacements with “Development” Masks

[The World Bank, an instrument of the US-led reorganization of the world imperialist system since World War II, has enabled the maintenance of neocolonial systems with successions of comprador and puppet regimes around the globe.  The suffering brought under the “development” slogan in the mis-named “developing nations” has brought displacement to hundreds of millions who, in response to such oppression, have continually and repeatedly rebelled.  Even the superficial credibility of present-day World Bank has been challenged, and so, the World Bank aims to put lipstick on the pig. — Frontlines ed.]
CounterView, Wednesday, December 23, 2015
World Bank decides action on “sweeping failures” in rehabilitating people affected by projects funded by it

Fishing community in Gujarat “affected” by World Bank power project

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a powerful group of cross-border journalists, has appreciated that, after years of delay, the World Bank has initiated “action to address sweeping failures in its oversight of development projects that force people from their land or harm their livelihoods.” Continue reading

Rihanna and Mick Jagger party as gold-rush mood grips Havana

[Big predators with deep pockets and smiling faces are crowding in……. — Frontlines ed.]

By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN, Associated Press , October 18, 2015

Tourists sit in the popular O'Reilly 304 Bar in Old  Havana, Cuba, Oct. 13.  Cubans with money and foreign backers are furiously rehabbing old homes into micro-hotels complete with high-end restaurants and conference rooms for business meetings.

Tourists sit in the popular O’Reilly 304 Bar in Old Havana, Cuba, Oct. 13. Cubans with money and foreign backers are furiously rehabbing old homes into micro-hotels complete with high-end restaurants and conference rooms for business meetings. The Associated Press

HAVANA — By midnight, the basement of one of Havana’s hottest clubs is packed wall-to-wall for a private concert by one of Cuba’s biggest pop stars.

Squeezed among the usual crowd of sleek young Cubans and paunchy, prowling European tourists, the owner of one of New York’s hippest restaurants discusses his new Havana boutique hotel project. At the bar, a Swiss venture capitalist describes meeting with Communist Party officials about partnering on a marina complex. An Ohio woman who runs a bespoke guide service for wealthy Americans shows her clients iPhone photos of the private villa where they will have a waterfront paella dinner the next day.

The foreigners visiting Havana used to be Canadians and Europeans on cheap beach package tours and left-leaning Americans on dutiful rounds of organic farms and neighborhood health clinics. Ten months after the U.S. and Cuba declared the end of a half-century of official hostility, the mood in Havana has changed.

Continue reading

How complete, and what cracks, in US Hegemony in the World Cyber-Imperialist System?

[The following is a long and detailed report from the leading French media giant, examining the history and extent of US domination of the internet and cyber-surveillance throughout the world imperialist system — and the attempts of other countries and independent forces to break, or secure some level of autonomy, on that dominance.  It’s a long article, but worth reading.  While much of the current reporting on these issues focuses on personal secrecy issues vs. “national security” claims, additional issues are driven by  economic competition and contention, political manipulation, and military alliances, and related “intellectual property rights” and “scientific research/development” controls.  

Those involved in struggles for self-defense, self-determination, internationalist solidarity, investigative journalism, anti-capitalist research, and for socialist/proletarian revolutions must recognize which instruments are useful in pursuit of their strategic goals, and what other means must be found and utilized to be sure their enemies are not aware of their ways before their own comrades are, and before solid initiatives can take root among the masses..  —  Frontlines ed.]

US wants to control, and own, the world online

We’ve got our eye on you

Edward Snowden not only told the world about US state surveillance of national and personal secrets, he reminded us that almost all the companies surveying us for commercial gain are American.
 by Dan Schiller, Le Monde diplomatique, November 1, 2014

Revelations on US National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programmes based on Edward Snowden’s cache of its data files caused “fundamental, irreversible changes in many countries,” wrote journalist Glen Greenwald, who brokered many of the disclosures (1). In 2013 Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil took public stands against US privacy invasions — they had personally been victims — and the UN General Assembly voted unanimously to affirm online privacy as a human right. In June 2014, responding to the EU, the US Justice Department promised to send legislation to Congress that would grant European citizens many of the (inadequate) privacy protections accorded to US citizens.

But to grasp fully the importance of the Snowden affair, we must broaden our focus beyond the transgressions of an overbearing superstate and examine the impact of his revelations on the forces shaping the global political economy, structured around the US.

Continue reading

The Political Economy of Ebola

[Arrogant claims that “there is no alternative” to capitalism explode when held up to stubborn facts like the spread of Ebola in Africa–a disease whose most damning feature is that the racist profit system requires that an entire continent be kept in a state of permanent vulnerabilty, because the resources which could solve the scourge of this disease are tightly held for profitable pursuits and issues closer to the hearts of the privleged.  The people deserve, and, in time, will create a system based on our common interests and needs, (which will put the profit-oriented inhumanity of today in museums for generations of bewildered people to study.)  —  Frontlines ed.]
Ebola is a problem that will not be solved, because it isn’t profitable to do so.

Joseph Ferdinand Keppler / Library of Congress

The Onion (a satirical newspaper in the US — ed.), as ever, is on point with its “coverage” of the worst recorded outbreak of Ebola, and the first in West Africa, infecting some 1,779 people and killing at least 961. “Experts: Ebola Vaccine At Least 50 White People Away,” read the cheeky headline of the July 31 news brief.

Our shorthand explanation is that if the people infected with Ebola were white, the problem would be solved. But the market’s role in both drug companies’ refusal to invest in research and the conditions on the ground created by neoliberal policies that exacerbate and even encourage outbreaks goes unmentioned.

Racism is certainly a factor. Jeremy Farrar, an infectious disease specialist and the head of the Wellcome Trust, one of the largest medical research charities in the world, told the Toronto Star: “Imagine if you take a region of Canada, America, Europe, and you had 450 people dying of a viral hemorrhagic fever. It would just be unacceptable — and it’s unacceptable in West Africa.”

Continue reading

Western Moves to Isolate Russia Spurs China-Russia Energy Deal

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, right, and President Xi Jinping of China on Wednesday in Shanghai, where they signed a deal to send gas through a pipeline from Siberia to China. Credit Pool photo by Mark Ralston

BEIJING — China and Russia agreed to a major 30-year natural gas deal on Wednesday that would send gas from Siberia by pipeline to China, according to the China National Petroleum Corporation.

The announcement caps a decade-long negotiation and helps bring Russia and China closer than they have been in many years. The contract was driven to a conclusion by the presence of President Xi Jinping of China and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Shanghai for the last two days. Continue reading