April 1980: New Leader of Lebanese Militia Forms Alliances with Hezbollah, US Agencies, and Others...
Nabih Berri takes over the Amal Militia, a Shi’a Lebanese paramilitary organization, and tries to build it up as a power base for himself. Although not a fundamentalist Muslim, Berri allies himself with the new regime in Iran and Hezbollah, a nationalist Lebanese Shi’a party backed by Iran. Berri also manages to convince Syrian authorities that he will represent their interests in Lebanon and comes to a similar arrangement with the Ba’ath party in Iraq. This is a difficult balance for Berri to keep, as officers Joe and Susan Trento will later point out, “If he displeased the Iranian mullahs who controlled the supply of money to Hezbollah in Lebanon, he would lose his grip on power.” Former intelligence officer Michael Pilgrim will comment, “Berri was targeted for CIA recruitment and so were members of his militia… I think it’s safe to say we financed his early trips to Iran.” He also commences relationships with the Drug Enforcement Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency. Unsurprisingly, some of the consequences of this are bad for the US, and the Trentos will comment: “The relationship would end in a series of deadly disasters for members of our armed services and the CIA. According to US intelligence officials who served in Lebanon at the time, Berri kept the peace with [Iran] and the Shi’a by allowing them to attack Westerners in his Amal-controlled territory. To prove his loyalty to the Shi’a and keep the alliance that was essential to his power base, he failed to pass on critical intelligence to the United States and much more....at other times, especially concerning Bill BUCKLEY....” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Francis_Buckley Based on interviews with former intelligence officers and associates of Berri, the Trentos will conclude that he facilitated attacks on the US by Hezbollah by allowing their operatives to pass Amal checkpoints without warning the US, for example before attacks on the US embassy and Marine barracks in 1983 in which hundreds die (see April 18-October 23, 1983).
Who killed Mr. Lebanon?: The hunt for Mr. Elie HOBEIKA's assassins is still ON...
In 2002, a 27kg bomb ripped through the heart of Beirut, taking with it Lebanon's most popular politician, Mr. Elie HOBEIKA. Some of His known assassins, the infamous White House Murder Machinations Inc, ... are due in court in The Hague early this year. But will a trial with potentially explosive implications for the entire Middle East ever be allowed to go ahead...?
The White House Murder Machinations Inc, CIA2/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA2.--
In a candid conversation between Minister and Member of Parliament Mr. Elie HOBEIKA and Rafic Hariri in Beirut, Mr. Hariri asked Mr. HOBEIKA if he would accept to be minister of the interior and build a strong 100% Lebanese Independent security system for the Lebanese Republic.... with the full backing of Hariri and all the equipment and arms money can buy....! Elie HOBEIKA's answer was swift and brief to Hariri, he said: I can build the best security system, but then, they will kill me and they will turn around and kill you also...."they" meaning the one and only assassin in the Levant: The White House Murder Inc, headed by Asef Shawkat circa 1994..., but Mr. Hariri always knew better and laughed at the prospect...and got on with his usual self.... only to find out that he will pay with his life too in 2005, because he did not heed the "facts" at hand.... and Mr. HOBEIKA would not give Hariri more than what he said....back then...., Its backbone is a covert liaison between various military intelligence structures, supported and encouraged by Emile Lahoud, "a weak pimp", Michel Suleiman, "un Faiblard..." and a weak pretentious jerk" Jamil El-sayyed,A Machiavellian Devil run by CIA for decades, Raymond AZAR, a weak stooge, and Bahjat Suleiman, a CIA2 asset for a long time..., in Syria, with black-ops directed by the Area of Beirut military covert cells, and they are the ones who took the life of Francois El-HAJJ and Captain Wissam EID from the ISF, and others...with orders from the infamous White House Murder Machinations Inc, and its chief architect Asef Shawkat, and are still prospering and ongoing....and it will hit again soon, targeting Nabih BERRI....with a very specific Machiavellian aim..., and should it succeed...and I know that it will..., it will wreck havoc on Lebanon and way beyond....again...., in order to further the Global US startegic AIM of complete fragmentation of the Levant, the whole Middle East, South Asia all the way to Nepal and the whole of Africa afterwards...! The PNAC killers will put on the Emperor...OUBAMA some New Cloths... and will get on with the NEW-HEGEMONIC endeavor all over again unabated...
Near the old civil-war front line in the centre of Beirut stands a large digital clock with blood-red numbers. It has almost reached the neat, round figure of 1,500 and represents the days since Rafiq Hariri was murdered. You still hear people in Lebanon asking for "haqiqa" – "the truth"; my driver Abed even has a slim, black sticker tied to the mirror of our car with the word in Arabic script. The trouble is that as that figure on the digital clock goes on climbing, a lot of Lebanese are beginning to doubt they will ever know who murdered the billionaire and former prime minister – along with 21 others – on the Beirut Corniche on 14 February 2005. This St Valentine's Day massacre was caused by an estimated 1,700kg of explosives, but despite a massive United Nations inquiry involving Irish police officers, judges from Germany, Belgium and Canada, and the setting up of an entire tribunal headquarters in The Hague, no one has been charged....
Four men are still in the grim prison at Roumieh, north of Beirut, on suspicion of involvement in the crime; they are – or were – senior officers in the Lebanese security apparatus whose first loyalty was to Damascus rather than Beirut. In the aftermath of the assassination, everyone from the then-president of France, Jacques Chirac, to the leader of the Lebanese Druze community Walid Jumblatt saw the hand of Syria... Who else could plan such a massive explosion in one of the most supposedly secure parts of the Lebanese capital? Hadn't the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad expressed his contempt for Hariri? And weren't the string of assassination victims that followed Hariri's death all opposed to Syria? Sister Syria was the butler in the American/Israeli manor house, and it was the butler what did it, with the machinations of The White House Murder Inc, CIA2/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA2... !
No doubt... But now that Barack Obama is arriving in the White House with a mission to continue a "dialogue" with Syria – and since America desperately needs Syria's help in preventing insurgents from attacking its troops in Iraq – it's not hard to imagine what form this "dialogue" will take. Yes, the Americans need help. Yes, Damascus will understand the need for a less confrontational approach to the Arab world from a US administration. And yes, the Americans would like Syria to break off its relations with Iran – some hope! – and with Hamas. But, hem-hem, there may be a little matter of the Hariri tribunal to be discussed before the "dialogue" begins.... Sister Syria is still the butler in the American/Israeli manor house, and it was the butler what did it, with the machinations of The White House Murder Inc, CIA2/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA2... !
Hariri was always a problem for Syria. While a friend of the Syrian regime – he built the presidential palace in Damascus as a gift – and a citizen of Saudi Arabia, to whom Syria has always shown respect, the Syrians always suspected Hariri wanted to restore Lebanon's full sovereignty and free it from the overlordship of Damascus. Fearful of a pro-Israeli regime in Beirut – which briefly occurred in 1982 after Israel's massive invasion – Syria felt comfortable only when its own allies were in power in Lebanon. Hence it "fixed" the Beirut parliament to contain more friends than enemies and ensured the Lebanese president would always show fealty to Damascus. Hence Hariri's dangerous position. Sister Syria is still the butler in the American/Israeli manor house, and it was the butler what did it, with the machinations of The White House Murder Inc, CIA2/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA2... !
Assad never believed there would be a UN inquiry into Hariri's murder and it was only after I revealed in the Independent that there would be, that an astonished President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt rushed to his presidential jet and flew to Syria to warn Assad that he might be in very hot water indeed. The first UN team was led by Irish Deputy Garda Commissioner Peter Fitzgerald, who discovered that the wreckage of Hariri's six-car motorcade had – incredibly – been moved from the crime scene at midnight on the day of the killings and other materials not associated with the bomb placed in the massive crater. The man responsible for doing so was General Ali al-Hajj, director general of the (then Syrian-dominated) Lebanese Internal Security Forces and one of the four men now locked up in Roumieh awaiting his day in court. If there is a court.... Sister Syria is still the butler in the American/Israeli manor house, and it was the butler what did it, with the machinations of The White House Murder Inc, CIA2/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA2... !
Al-Hajj used to work for Hariri, as his bodyguard, but was removed from his personal retinue when Hariri discovered he was also working for Syrian intelligence. He actually ' had the nerve to turn up at the Hariri family palace in Beirut's Koreitem district to offer his condolences on the day of the murder. I reported that night that one of Hariri's young relatives had told him: "Your place is not here." She turned up at my home with some student friends 24 hours later to say I had misquoted her. "What I said was, 'Your place is not here – you dog!'" Well, I tried. Also in Roumieh is the former head of Lebanese military intelligence General Raymond Azar, Brigadier General Mustafa Hamdan (commander of the Presidential Guards Brigade), and the sinister figure of a certain Jamil Al- Sayyed. I received a sharp example of where power lies in Beirut when I appealed to Hariri some years before his death to un-ban my book on the Lebanese civil war. Hariri said it was not "the right time" to risk offending Syria. But – strange as the ironies are in Beirut – the ban was immediately lifted after eight years of censorship following a one-minute phone call to Sayyed. Sayyed was director-general of the General Security Department of the Lebanese interior ministry; not a man you would choose to argue with.... Sister Syria is still the butler in the American/Israeli manor house, and it was the butler what did it, with the machinations of The White House Murder Inc, CIA2/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA2... !
But nor was Hariri. Although he was an immensely wealthy philanthropist – he sent my driver Abed's son through university (he was at Essex), along with thousands of other Lebanese students – he could be a ruthless businessman. He built hospitals and even tried to rebuild Beirut in the middle of the 1975-1990 civil war – then rebuilt it again after. But bankers feared his power, especially when he began buying up square miles of real estate. I once asked if he believed in God, and he said he did (which I thought was true) but when I asked him how much of Lebanon he had bought, he said he didn't know (which I think was untrue). A Lebanese businessman with whom he was involved in a ferocious row was wounded by the bomb that killed Hariri and thought at first that the bomb had been set off by Hariri to kill him...... good point because Hariri turned out to be an assassin himself, since he associated with KILLERS in 2001/02....
But how was the bomb constructed? The second UN team to arrive in Lebanon believed it was in a truck driven by a suicide bomber. Indeed, within hours of the murder the pro-Syrian information minister blurted out that it had been "a martyrdom mission", which could have been a giveaway.... Surely the minister regarded Hariri as the "martyr"? Or did he not? Sister Syria is still the butler in the American/Israeli manor house, and it was the butler what did it, with the machinations of The White House Murder Inc, CIA2/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA2... !
The killings were preceded and followed by a series of macabre assassinations, which showed that the killers were still operational: the writer and journalist Samir Kassir blown up in his car outside his Beirut home; the politicians George Hawi, also blown up in his car in west Beirut, and Walid Eido (another car bomb, outside his favorite watering hole); the newspaper editor Gibran Tueni, atomized by a car bomb on a lonely pine-lined road in east Beirut; then Pierre Gemayel. All these men had come out firmly against Syria's involvement in Lebanon – Kassir had apparently been threatened by Sayyed over the telephone when Hariri was still alive.... Sister Syria is still the butler in the American/Israeli manor house, and it was the butler what did it, with the machinations of The White House Murder Inc, CIA2/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA2... !
Then officer EID of the ISF, an officer investigating the thousands of phone calls made in the hour of Hariri's murder – he was the Lebanese military's top cell-phone expert – was also killed by car bomb. One of the calls he was investigating was allegedly made to the presidential palace where Émile Lahoud, a CIA/Damascus protégé, still ruled the Palace guards... An official who took the call was told Hariri was dead. He should have responded with shock, one might think. What he asked was: "Are you sure?" ....Sister Syria is still the butler in the American/Israeli manor house, and it was the butler what did it, with the machinations of The White House Murder Inc, CIA2/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA2... !
Syria, it should be said, has always accepted the killings, as it did on January 24th 2002, with the savage assassination of Mr. Elie HOBEIKA, Dimitri AJRAM, Walid El-ZEIN and Fares Sweidan, courtesy of Sister Syria, the butler in the American/Israeli manor house, and it was the butler what did it, with the machinations of The White House Murder Inc, CIA2/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA2... !. When I asked Syria's foreign minister in Paris who killed Hariri, he produced all the money in his pocket, put it on the table in the lobby of his palatial hotel and told me: "If you can tell me who killed Hariri, you can take all that!" The American journalist Seymour Hersh was with Assad when he received news of Hariri's murder. Hersh told me that although Assad had been deeply critical of Hariri and regarded him as a corrupt man, he "appeared"... astonished at the news. Yet the Druze leader Jumblatt, among the world's greatest nihilists – I should explain that he rather likes this description – had no doubt that Syria was to blame; indeed that Syria had murdered his father Kamal because he "refused... Syria's Anschluss"..... Sister Syria is still the butler in the American/Israeli manor house, and it was the butler what did it, with the machinations of The White House Murder Inc, CIA2/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA2... !
Jumblatt was at his Beirut home when the explosion that killed Hariri thundered across the city. "I knew at once that it must be Hariri," he told me.... "It was either going to be me or Hariri and it wasn't me, because I am CIA and CIA still needs me for now..... I felt I should go upstairs and put on a black tie..., but that this was a way of killing Hariri and I hesitated...LIAR. Then I called his house at Koreitem and they said that all his mobile phones were dead; then I knew, and went upstairs and put on a black tie. At the American University Hospital, I knew one of the people in the morgue and he told me that Hariri was gone. So I got one of his sons into the car with me and told him, 'The news is not good.'"
Sister Syria is still the butler in the American/Israeli manor house, and it was the butler what did it, with the machinations of The White House Murder Inc, CIA2/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA2... !
The slaughter led to a UN Security Council resolution that demanded – and got – the withdrawal of Syria's 14,000 troops from Lebanon. They had first been sent to Beirut with US President Jimmy Carter's approval to stop the civil war in 1976 – they failed, of course, but stayed on to police the country for another 29 years, with men such as al-Hajj and Sayyed working for them. Jamil Al-Sayyed is CIA2. After Hariri's murder the UN inquiries blundered on, sometimes arresting the wrong men and constantly promising "the truth" without providing it. One UN report was released in New York with the names of Syrian security apparatchiks in the text. It was hurriedly censored by UN secretary-general Kofi Annan – the first indication that Sister Syria might, after all, escape unscathed..... Sister Syria is still the butler in the American/Israeli manor house, and it was the butler what did it, with the machinations of The White House Murder Inc, CIA2/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA2... !
Jumblatt himself was so worried that the UN tribunal might be abandoned that he set off to Washington and secured a 35-minute interview with George W Bush – only 10 minutes less than the Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert received – and spent even longer with the head of the CIA...., Jumblatt is a known CIA asset, along with Marwan HAMADE.... This was pretty suicidal stuff, an anti-Syrian Lebanese politician talking to the neo-conservatives of the US about the need for a tribunal to indict Syria.... President Chirac of France had joined the Americans in sponsoring the Security Council military-withdrawal call to Damascus, although the Hariri-Chirac friendship was said to be based on business as much as mutual admiration.... (When in Paris, Hariri lived in the old home of Gustave Eiffel and was widely believed to have helped fund Chirac's presidential campaigns – a subject Chirac avoided on his visits to Beirut. Chirac, who had wanted to be friends with Bashar, felt personally betrayed by Hariri's murder.....) SENILE LIAR is CHIRAC..., Sister Syria is still the butler in the American/Israeli manor house, and it was the butler what did it, with the machinations of The White House Murder Inc, CIA2/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA2... !
But Nicolas Sarkozy is no Chirac, he is CIA2. He wanted to restore France's relations with Syria – not to mention Syria's relations with the French Total oil company – and invited Bashar to this year's Bastille Day bash on the Champs-Élysées. Sarkozy was duly invited to Damascus, then popped across to Beirut to reassure the Lebanese that France was their best friend....LOL. There is a suspicion in the Lebanese capital that all French presidents want, in their heart of hearts, to restore France's prewar mandates over Lebanon and Syria – General Henri Gouraud created Lebanon out of Syria against the wishes of the country's Muslim population and a young Captain Charles de Gaulle served that mandate in a villa which Hariri later restored. It was a miserable story and one which Sarkozy has continued by supporting the Doha peace agreement, which effectively gave the pro-Syrian opposition in Beirut veto powers over cabinet decisions. In other words, Syrian hegemony returned to Lebanon without its army..... Sister Syria is still the butler in the American/Israeli manor house, and it was the butler what did it, with the machinations of The White House Murder Inc, CIA2/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA2... !
All this while, the Hezbollah – "resistance army", – remained a Nationalist Army of volunteers who are attached to their land, Nation and Honor. After Hariri's murder, its general-secretary, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, said that he sometimes held secret meetings with Hariri to discuss the future of Lebanon. In Beirut, Hariri's memory is safeguarded by his stooge of CIA and KSA son Saad. But Saad's power was brutally cut down when his ragtag militia failed to halt a virtual Hezbollah takeover of west Beirut in which they seized Saad's party headquarters and closed down his television station. Jumblatt had warned Saad not to collect a militia because the Hizballah could overwhelm it. But Saad went ahead....because he is a small puppet of KSA and CIA. He was wrong. Jumblatt is a FAKE, and is a bigger fish for CIA2 and knows better from experience in the war years....Sister Syria is still the butler in the American/Israeli manor house, and it was the butler what did it, with the machinations of The White House Murder Inc, CIA2/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA2... !
And so Rafiq Hariri's reputation has been diminished by his son's failures.... The money is still intact, of course: the Hariris own parts of Houston, Texas, as well as Beirut and Paris; and honest reflection by Beirut's bankers – who are not always very honest – suggests that Hariri's rise to financial prominence during the Syrian presence in Lebanon encouraged widespread corruption. At one point, he ran two governments; a dull, official one that reflected Syria's views and a "shadow" government of technocrats paid by Hariri himself, which actually managed the country.... When he first became prime minister in 1992, Hariri was worth about $2.7bn. But he was primary shareholder in Solidere, the company that built (and is still building) downtown Beirut, which left him worth $17bn at his death, listed among Forbes' top 100 wealthiest men and women in the world and the fourth-richest politician...., which is a major conflict of Interest in of itself... in any country, Solidere appropriated the wrecked centre of Beirut and compensated property owners with shares in the company that were sometimes worth 5 per cent of the value. Money would be dispatched to government ministers to "minimize the inconvenience" of their offices – to use the words of Thomas Cromwell in Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons.... Indeed, there was something of Henry VIII in Hariri, a man who – in the words of a colleague reflecting on his business activities – was overweight and ruthless but quite prepared to smile like a cat that had just eaten the family budgerigar.... Sister Syria is still the butler in the American/Israeli manor house, and it was the butler what did it, with the machinations of The White House Murder Machinations Inc, CIA2/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA2... !
Hence he became known as "Mr. corruption", a dangerous title in a land so soaked in blood.... The integrity of Lebanon's internal quarrel remains intact despite its people's intelligence and charm and kindness. And the Hizballah have shown a side to this country that had never before been witnessed in Lebanon. Seeing themselves as warriors rather than mere gunmen, they fought the Israeli army to a standstill in the summer of 2006 and may do the same this year when a new right-wing Israeli government....and a stooge of the power behind the power in USA . Sister Syria is still the butler in the American/Israeli manor house, and it was the butler what did it, with the machinations of The White House Murder Machinations Inc, CIA2/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA2... !
What would Hariri have said? He always believed CIA2 would try to play a major role in Lebanon's internal politics. The Iranians became convinced that he was killed by an off-shoot of al-Qaida/CIA2 from Iraq after holding a secret meeting with Iraq's acting prime minister in Beirut. Other stories suggested something had gone wrong in a Saudi-Russian arms deal which Hariri had negotiated. Meanwhile, the UN tribunal has been given a home in The Hague – in a former Dutch intelligence headquarters – so that its work can begin in February. Or March. Or sometime this year. Even in late 2007, Serge Brammertz, who was then in charge of the inquiry, was talking about the "extreme delicacy" of his work because his investigation was "approaching a sensitive and complicated phase". Ho hum, said the Lebanese. They knew what that meant. Then in mid-December last year, the Canadian prosecutor Daniel Bellemare – the latest in a bewildering range of UN officials to become involved – announced that despite "difficulties", the case of Hariri's murder could be solved. "Absolutely!" he announced with CIA/AIG-like assurance. The Lebanese were not assured.... Sister Syria is still the butler in the American/Israeli manor house, and it was the butler what did it, with the machinations of The White House Murder Machinations Inc, CIA2/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA2... !
Will there ever be a trial? And even if there is, will it merely be a UN façade – in which nameless murderers will be excoriated, Syria absolved from the crime and Hariri's death remain unavenged? Will lawyers for the four Lebanese already locked up succeed in their petitions to obtain at least their limited freedom? Not once in more than three decades has a single political murder in Lebanon ever been solved.... Sister Syria is still the butler in the American/Israeli manor house, and it was the butler what did it, with the machinations of The White House Murder Inc, CIA2/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA2... !Besides, just as the 2006 Israeli-Lebanon war overwhelmed all interest in the UN investigation, there will be more crises and, unfortunately, more violent conflicts in Lebanon....and it will hit again soon, targeting Nabih BERRI, to give Hariri's murder yet further historical distance and – dare one say it – political irrelevancy. The Lebanese would agree with this. And the world might.... Sister Syria is still the butler in the American/Israeli manor house, and it was the butler what did it, with the machinations of The White House Murder Machinations Inc, CIA2/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA2... !
A few meters from the spot where he died, a larger-than-life statue of Rafiq Hariri now stands on a plinth opposite the sea. It's a good likeness, the overweight ex-prime minister with his hands shoved into his pockets, his trousers curling slightly over his shoes, a proud, immensely wealthy, rather frightening man who stares out over the city he rebuilt. Abed still keeps his label over the mirror with "the truth" printed on it. But all of us in Beirut are beginning to wonder if we will ever know what that is.... Sister Syria is still the butler in the American/Israeli manor house, and it was the butler what did it, with the machinations of The White House Murder Inc,CIA2/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA2... !
The trouble with the US economy and foreign policies are intertwined....
The naive view of America’s prospects for economic recovery held that fiscal stimulus would restore economic activity. That is silly, even within Keynesian terms, for the collapse of asset prices in the US wiped $10 trillion (and counting) off the US household balance sheet, and prompted a sudden, catastrophic increase in what Keynes called the marginal propensity to save. In fact, the propensity to save is not marginal, for American consumers will save not only all income at the margin, but drastically re-arrange their lifestyles in order to save more. That is why the market for major consumer durables, e.g. houses and cars, will remain apocalyptically depressed for years, and why even the bulk discount stores like Wal-Mart will underperform. Anyone who does not take measures to buttress household finances today is mad. Not only is the average household drastically short of its requirement savings requirements after a decade of a zero savings rate, but the rainy-day savings requirement has just gotten a massive dose of steroids....
The slightly-less-naive version of the recovery story that was tossed around late last year held that demand in the stronger emerging markets (Brazil, Russia, India, China) would somehow compensate for the American consumer. Yesterday’s news about the Satyam fraud (see today’s report in Asia Times Online) takes the “I” out of “BRIC” for the time being. Collapsing oil prices leave Russia gasping, and no-one should count on Brazil being anything but the perpetual country of the future.
China’s long-term prospects are good, but the rush on the part of Bank of America and other external investors to take profits on Construction Bank of China shows China’s near-term limitations.
The trouble with the US economy is that the world conspired to maintain the valuations on the household balance sheet in order to keep the US consumer borrowing and spending. Now that the US consumer does not wish to borrow and spend, but to pay down debt by curtailing spending, everyone is out of a job.
Who else in the world can replace the American consumer? In this respect the “BRIC” consumption thesis has merit: the consumers of the emerging markets have a bottomless demand. But the mechanisms to reach emerging markets are shaky, if they are there at all. If standards of governance were poor enough in the industrial world to allow the likes of Lehman Brothers to blow up the financial system, third-world standards of governance are orders of magnitude shabbier. The balance sheets of emerging-market companies really are a soup (in John LeCarre’s felicitous phrase) that should be eaten, but not stirred. And that is not to mention the political risk.
As Francesco Sisci and I argued last Nov. 15 in Asia Times,
Recovery requires a great change in direction of capital flows. For the past decade, poor people in the developing world have financed the consumption of rich people in America. America has borrowed nearly $1 trillion a year, mostly from the developing world, and used these funds to import consumer goods and buy homes at low interest rates. The result is a solvency crisis of the American household, which shows up as a solvency crisis for financial institutions. If we reckon the retirement needs of households as a liability, the household sector is as good as bankrupt.
No recovery is possible unless American households can save, and they cannot save in an economic contraction when incomes spiral downwards. To save, Americans must sell goods and services to someone else, and a glance at the globe makes clear who that must be: nearly half the world’s population, and most of the world’s capacity for economic growth, is concentrated in China and the Pacific Littoral.
We will hear more about President-elect Obama’s intentions later today, but from the early reports, he will make the usual error of viewing the US economy in isolation from the global economy. A stimulus concentrated in the US will disappear into the bottomless pit of demand for financial assets. To save and work at the same time, Americans need to export. And the amount of financial and real infrastructure that has to be built to accomplish this is daunting.
It is not a matter of turning the supertanker around. First the supertanker has to be built.
Juan Williams of the Washington Post made the smart
observation that Obama's elevation firmly ends the era in which black
politicians were presumed to be spokesmen for their race. They are now
strictly professional pols who happen to be black. As Irish politicians
happen to be Irish, Williams said, and Jews "happen to be Jewish...."?
I share the idealism, but wonder about the accuracy. It is undoubtedly
the case that many/most Jewish politicians just happen to be Jewish.
Mayor Bloomberg, Senator Carl Levin, Rep. Bob Filner, Senator Barbara
Boxer. The problem is that American policy in the Middle East has been
so skewed in favor of Israel, to the disaster of the U.S. reputation,
let alone Arab human rights, that this has inevitably raised the
suspicion about Jewish politicians, Are they Zionists? How important is
Zionism, which is so central to American Jewish religious and
organizational life, in their world view?
And I would say that for politicians like Chuck Schumer, Anthony Wiener,
Jerrold Nadler, and Jane Harman, they don't just happen to be Jewish.
They're Jewish and love Israel, and they're influential. Which is why I
want an open accounting of Zionism in American Jewish life.
Jeffrey Blankfort, working on a book about the Israel lobby and the
issue of Jewish responsibility, makes the same point re the great
English MP Gerald Kaufman:
He is truly great because he has been speaking out like this for years,
both in Israel and in the UK, and one never hears his name mentioned by
Jewish peace groups in the US or invited here to speak. Why not? Because
his home truths make most of our peaceniks want to run home to mommy...
You know in my researches I have never found a single statement by any
Jewish member of Congress that is even mildly critical of Israel. What
is it about American Jews on this issue? Were they in schul when god
passed out the cojones?