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

How the Pentagon Removes Entire Peoples

The Past is Never Dead

by DAVID SWANSON, CounterPunch
US Military Bases In The Middle East. The Number Has Exploded Over The Past Decade. Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-15-maps-that-explain-the-world-in-2012-2012-6?op=1#ixzz2VY3KNvyr

US Military Bases In The Middle East. The Number Has Exploded Over The Past Decade.
Map from: http://www.businessinsider.com/

If we think at all about our government’s military depopulating territory that it desires, we usually think of the long-ago replacement of native Americans with new settlements during the continental expansion of the United States westward.

Here in Virginia some of us are vaguely aware that back during the Great Depression poor people were evicted from their homes and their land where national parks were desired.  But we distract and comfort ourselves with the notion that such matters are deep in the past.

Occasionally we notice that environmental disasters are displacing people, often poor people or marginalized people, from their homes.  But these incidents seem like collateral damage rather than intentional ethnic cleansing.

If we’re aware of the 1,000 or so U.S. military bases standing today in some 175 foreign countries, we must realize that the land they occupy could serve some other purpose in the lives of those countries’ peoples.  But surely those countries’ peoples are still there, still living — if perhaps slightly inconvenienced — in their countries. Continue reading

Longview, Washington: “The ILWU Cannot Lose This Fight”

Counterpunch, January 10, 2012

The Looming Showdown in Longview

by BEN SCHREINER

The long-simmering dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the international consortium EGT Development transpiring in Longview, Washington looks to be coming to a head.

September 2011 protest at Longview Poert

In a January 3 letter addressed to his members, ILWU International President Robert McEllrath disclosed that EGT will soon attempt to commence operations at its new $200 million grain terminal located at the Port of Longview.  As McEllrath wrote, “We believe that at some point this month a vessel will call at the EGT facility in Longview, Washington…Prepare to take action when the EGT vessel arrives.”

The Struggle and Its Stakes

At the heart of the Longview dispute has been EGT’s refusal to hire longshoremen from ILWU Local 21 to work its grain terminal at the Port of Longview. The publicly owned port—as with all West Coast public port docks—has been worked exclusively by the ILWU for decades.

Dismissing this hard-won jurisdiction, EGT chose to break off negotiations with the ILWU last year and contract with a third party employing labor from International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 701.  The ILWU argues that this is in direct violation of EGT’s lease agreement with the Port of Longview, which explicitly stipulates all port work is to indeed be done by the ILWU.

For its part, IUOE Local 701 has been widely condemned within the Northwest labor community, with many accusing the local of conspiring with EGT to break the ILWU.  Both the Washington and Oregon state AFL-CIO bodies, along with numerous other unions, have already passed resolutions condemning Local 701.  The July resolution passed by the Oregon AFL-CIO described 701’s actions at the EGT terminal as “scab labor.”

The national AFL-CIO, on the other hand, has remained conspicuously muted on the dispute.  No mention of the ILWU’s struggle in Longview can be found on the federation’s website or blog.  In fact, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has referred to the entire matter as a mere “jurisdictional dispute.” Continue reading

Oakland’s Dirty War: Coercive Attrition and the Occupy Movement

January 09, 2012
by GEORGE CICCARIELLO-MAHER, Counterpunch

As winter sets in, the Occupy Movement nationwide confronts a new series of challenges. Conspiring with the weather, however, is the threat of a shifting policing model currently being tested out in Oakland.

Coercive Attrition

The Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci spoke of a distinction between “war of position” and “war of maneuver,” between those gradual and occasionally imperceptible political struggles that occur every day and the frontal attack on power toward which they eventually build. While this distinction is necessary, it should not be overstated, and nor can we associate the war of position too directly with ideological struggle and war of maneuver with direct military attacks on and by the coercive apparatus of the state. Recent events in Oakland and the strategy of coercive attrition directed against the Occupy Movement make perfectly clear just how insufficient such a correlation would be.

Recent weeks have seen the Occupy Movement confronted with a war of attrition nationwide: as cold weather sets in, many cities have opted to wait out the movement, allowing excitement to fade and the movement to devour itself in the petty squabbles of disempowerment. Often, though, this strategy of passive attrition operates alongside a more aggressive approach. In Philadelphia, for example, a hands-off approach to the now-decamped Occupy Philly operates in tandem with ferocity toward those who step out of line in a transparent attempt to bully radicals into submission (as with the case of two housing activists currently facing multiple felonies).

But it is in Oakland more than anywhere else that friendly weather and sustained militancy have given rise to a different approach, one similarly premised on chipping away at the movement through attrition and fatigue but doing so in a far more repressive manner. One key ingredient to this peculiar constellation of forces is the empty vessel perched atop the city government: Mayor Jean Quan. Quan was discredited long ago and from all sides, hated by the left for unleashing the near fatal attacks on Occupy Oakland in October, and by the right (represented by OPD and the City Council) for not taking a harder line. Now, having opted to vacillate rather than stand on the side of history, she will simply be hoping to serve out her term and avoid an embarrassing recall campaign.

This vacillation has been nowhere clearer than on the question of the epic Port Shutdowns on November 2nd and December 12th, the first of which catapulted Occupy Oakland to the forefront of the national movement, and the second of which demonstrated a capacity for coordinated militancy not seen in this country for decades at least. Since it was Quan who took the heat for the unrestrained actions of police in October, one could hardly blame the Mayor for hesitating to unleash OPD and other forces against those blocking the port. But when Quan suggested that the city might not be able to prevent future shutdowns of the port, her critics in City Council found powerful echo in Governor Jerry Brown. But for now at least, OPD’s hands are at least partially tied, and the full-on assaults of many an officer’s dream go unfulfilled for now.

Blocked from engaging in a brutal war of maneuver, OPD’s strategy has been a different one, and what remains of Occupy Oakland’s presence in Oscar Grant Plaza has seen small raids with a handful of arrests several times a week. While some interpret this half-heartedness by the forces of order as a sign of impotence, the frequency, the timing, and the serious charges incurred in the raids speak to a more sinister strategy. Continue reading