US hegemony and belligerance

Ruminate on this: In the new, comprehensive worldwide Pew poll of public opinion, a majority (42%) of Israelis think that America’s Middle East Policies “Favor Israel too much”.

Glenn Greenwald (2007) writes in Salon.com that “Finally, it is worth noting one fact that is indisputable yet frequently denied in American political discourse, except when it is ignored altogether — namely, that America’s blind support for Israel in its disputes with its neighbors plays a key role — not the only role, but a key role — in why America’s moral standing has collapsed.”

Here is Greenwald’s article (“The Tragic Decline of America’s Standing…”) on how he thinks the US’s slide ever downward in world public opinion matters. I don’t love the article, but it’s a start. Here is the link to Mr. Greenwald’s article, and follow-up articles:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/07/05/

Here is the Pew Global Attitudes Project site:

http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=256.

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Libby pardon

Cutting Libby a break an outrageous move
InsideBayArea.com
http://www.insidebayarea.com/timesstar/ci_6296747
Article Last Updated: 07/04/2007 08:10:21 AM PDT

PRESIDENT BUSH spared former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby of a 2 1/2-year prison sentence in the CIA leak investigation, and while the initial gesture wasn’t a total pardon, it really makes us think:

What more injustice can come from the White House?

Bush only had a few hours to act — an appeals court panel ruled Libby could not delay his prison term; in fact, Libby already had been designated as inmate No. 28301-016 by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. With prison all but certain, Bush made his call merely five hours after the panel’s decision. Bush said he respected the jury’s decision and he did leave intact a $250,000 fine and two years probation — for the moment. Yet our president says, just because Libby was found guilty of lying and obstructing justice, that 30 months was simply too harsh. As a matter of fact, the president says any jail time is too harsh. Would he do that for just anybody? Hardly.

Then the next day, the president had the audacity to leave open the possibility of a full pardon. “I rule nothing in and nothing out,” Bush said. Wouldn’t that be a kick in the teeth for justice?
While nobody ever was charged with leaking the fact that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent to a newspaper columnist, Libby did lie to federal prosecutors about how he learned about Plame and whom he told. Going after Libby, however, was a mere consolation prize for prosecutors because it was Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and White
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House political adviser Karl Rove who provided the information for the original article, and they got away scot free.
Is Bush bailing out the fall guy in this affair, considering the Plame incident was done to discredit her husband, who was a harsh critic of Bush’s Iraq policy? Consider Libby was Cheney’s chief of staff — during the trial, testimony revealed extraordinary steps Bush and Cheney took to discredit a critic of the Iraq war.

This also shows the ongoing pattern the Bush administration has taken in attempting to manipulate events in its behalf, be it the Iraq war, Supreme Court appointees, stem cell research or global warming, just to name a few. And what’s Bush’s reasoning for sparing Libby while others are wasting away in Guantanamo Bay without any due process of justice?
While we understand the fine and probation do carry a degree of penalty, we also believe had Libby served his prison sentence, at least that would’ve been a mere shred of justice completed in this episode of coverup at the highest level, a coverup that rivals the Iran-Contra affair and is barely a step behind Watergate. Instead, Bush waved the magic presidential wand and made good on one of his good soldier’s dirty deeds — and we may see a full pardon, stay tuned. This administration continues to act like it’s above the law — what message is that sending to the American public?

The irony of this saga can date back to 1999 when another man named George Bush, the father of our current president, made a statement that those who expose names of intelligence sources are “the most insidious of traitors.” We wonder what he thinks about that today.

why did social democracy work?

If the Anglo-American countries have tried to stay just on the liberal side of the line between liberalism and fascism, social democracies like Sweden started out trying to stay on the socialist side of the line between liberalism and socialism. How did the Social Democrats manage to do it?

The number one reason they could do it is that a major communist country existed in Europe. It radicalized American capital, but it kept European capital in some kind of line. Now that socialism has died in the North, social democracy has all but thrown in the towel.

The number two reason they could do it is that originally they managed to convince the middle class that they were workers too; their interests were working class. Structurally, that’s true; but with a little help from liberal entrepreneurial ideological hegemony, the middle class increasingly comes to see themselves as potential capitalists (and future angels in heaven). As the middle class views themselves apart from the working class, social democracy becomes unviable.

Still, left coalition politicians in Sweden swear that they will keep social democracy alive through sheer pluck. They believe themselves to be the last defenders of a vision of a liberalism that doesn’t hurt. But the anomaly is over.

What is the reason Social Democrats insist that they can still make a happy capitalism real?

They have no good reason. For one thing, liberal theory asserts it’s possible. But that tends to mean that no matter how despotic the capitalist country, liberals see it as de facto emancipatory. In the U.S. that has come down to depicting as “emancipation” the elite market domination of society, car ownership, theological populism, and allowing the hoi poloi infreqent, mediated, formal voting exercises. The social democratic countries will increasingly lose the objective bases of widespread quality of life as well.

In Sweden, it comes down to the left believing their own hegemonic work. If they labored to convince Swedes that they are the people that strive for equality, then now they reason that that hegemonic achievement must be divorced from hegemony and structural context–it must rather have become inherent in biological Swedishness, accessible simply through moral suasion. The danger and weakness of nationalism is in its tendency to naturalize political-economic luck and accomplishment. When social democracy loses socialism, all it’s got left is nationalism.

Swedish Soc Dems feel that simply by being Swedish, they promote women and unions, and “care” about the “poor”. But the last item is a hollow phrase, and the confessed commitment to the first two will evaporate fast once capital divests women and labor of their seats in political power. The Swedish Social Demcratic Party is close on the heels of the British Labour Party.

Without a widespread understanding that capital exploits labor, you have no reason to use the state to intervene on behalf of labor. The state devolves quickly into an instrument of capital, the raison d’etre of a capitalist society: channeling pork barrel, privatising and other methods of redistributing social wealth to the rich, building up police forces and prisons, and imperial adventuring. The increasingly stratified population develops habits of thought to support the hyper-exploitative way of life.