BRICS: Global Change, Peril And Promise.

by Jerry Alatalo

“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.”

– 1 Timothy 5:9-10

World Map1Alphabet Some have attributed today’s wars and violence around the Earth in large part to the rise of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) international financial institutions. Listening to Brazil-born Paulo Nogueira Batista – an Executive Director for eight years at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – provides affirmation the analysis is most likely correct. The question which arises is can humanity prevent the outbreak of a possible major war over this historic change.

Mr. Batista’s last day of employment at the IMF is June 30, after which he will take the position of Vice President of BRICS new, ready-to-open development bank, marking the first time the IMF, World Bank and other major US/western dominated international financial institutions will have “competition”. The development of BRICS will result in a reduction in the role of the dollar as the world’s major currency. Analysts have concluded that the reason the US, Britain and other western nations invaded Iraq and deposed Saddam Hussein in 2003 was Hussein’s decision to sell oil for euros, instead of the dollar. Analysts believe Muammar Gaddafi and Libya became destroyed by NATO air-bombardment in 2011 because of Gaddafi’s plan for major monetary reform – creation of gold Dinars as the new currency for the continent of Africa.

In both cases, Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011, false reasons – lies – were put forth to mould public perceptions in favor of military action to remove those nations’ leaders. The nations of Iraq and Libya, the men, women and children living in those countries, have suffered tremendously ever since those military attacks, and today both nations are in extremely difficult situations struggling to recover some semblance of peace, security and economic normalcy. Depending on the extent to which assertions that monetary choices in Iraq and Libya were the major factor leading to military action to protect the dollar are reflective of truth, one could come to view BRICS’ entry into international finance competition, potentially resulting in the US dollar’s decreased use in global transactions, as reason for concern over escalation of war and violence.

Any study of unsanitized, accurate records of history – such as “People’s History of the United States” by the late Howard Zinn, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” by John Perkins, “The Untold History of the United States” by filmmaker Oliver Stone, “The Secret of Oz” documentary by Bill Still, and many others – provides clear evidence that wars become fought for economic, financial, power/control reasons, and not for noble ideals of “democracy and freedom”. Years-long legal engineering of the secretive and massive trade agreements TPP, TTIP and TiSa could accurately be perceived as economic warfare in response to BRICS nations’ early beginnings, meetings and conferences, and continuing development.

The world is changing at a rapid pace, moving from unipolar to multipolar, and the most important consideration for men and women around the Earth is preventing those strongly opposed to this change from reacting through military force.

It is with the intention of providing greater understanding of the BRICS phenomenon and building awareness of both potential positive and negative consequences that Paulo Nogueira Batista’s (PNB) interview has been shared in this post. As the interview begins, host Oksana Boyko notes that Mr. Batista has been “very critical of some of the fund’s methods”.

PNB: “Sometimes the fund has success stories, sometimes the fund has failures… Often the fund makes mistakes or is misguided in its interventions.”

“There are good reasons and bad reasons for delay in going to the fund. Countries are very reluctant to give up part of their sovereignty, part of their autonomy, in terms of policy-making, and are reluctant to fall into the hands of international bureaucrats. Why? Because, among other reasons, these international bureaucrats, comfortably installed in Washington, visiting countries regularly or on a quarterly basis, are out-of-touch very often with political, social, and even economic realities in the countries that rely on the fund”.

“The international institutions, the IMF and the World Bank, their governance is very skewed – very unequal. So, the North Atlantic countries are in control. And often these countries have a short-sighted view of how these institutions should act, in my opinion. So, you find that powerful countries, powerful stakeholders of the IMF or World Bank, subordinating the institutions to their short-term or medium-term political agendas”.

“The way to hell is paved with good intentions. It’s more than intentions, it’s a political issue. Countries often, not only the North Atlantic powers, but all countries in general, are prone to abuse power. So, you may find institutions that are supposed to be multilateral, or global, obey not the theory or even the rules that they work under but their interests – it’s not malevolence, I wouldn’t say malevolence… If you look at it from a historical perspective, Europeans and Americans have been used to rule the world, and they are adapting with difficulty to the fact that the world is changing very quickly”.

“I think Greece is one of the least successful episodes in IMF history. And there’s no end in sight to the economic crisis of the country. For a number of reasons, but if you look at the unemployment activity, fiscal policy, structural reforms, the political impasse that arose after Syriza’s victory – impasse between Greece and its creditors, the so-called Troika – has led to a deterioration in the situation, and things are coming to a head right now. As we speak, the situation is coming to a, one more cliffhanger, and its not clear at all whether this time you will be able to pull, not only Greece but Greece’s creditors, up from the cliffhanger”.

Host Oksana Boyko asked about the different IMF treatment of Ukraine and Greece.

PNB: “Ukraine can be seen as a second Greece. …Ukraine, the fund is trying to, let’s say learn, from the failure in Greece. Greece was too little, too late in terms of restructuring; that put an extra burden on the problem and the country itself. In the case of Ukraine, not as early as I would have liked. … 2015 – better late than never – and the program calls for restructuring, ironically, June 30. June 30 has become a fateful day both for Greece and Ukraine, as you know Greece has a major payment that’s been bundled for June 30. By the way, for me June 30 is another significant date because that’s my last day at the fund”.

“It’s very important to compare Greece with Ukraine. Are we facing double standards here? Is Ukraine getting better treatment than Greece because the fund has since learned, or is it because Ukraine, for political reasons, has a special treatment that is not granted to Greece? Then you have the political factors. What is the political nature of the government in Kyiv? What is the political nature of the government in Athens? All those questions are not explicitly there always, but they are of course in the background”.

The discussion turns to IMF reform…

PNB: “There’s a change in plateau in terms of cooperation of the BRICS since 2012. So I think that’s one factor. About the fund, I think there’s a sense of disappointment no doubt. For me, for example, I’ve been working so hard on IMF reform in the last eight years… We achieved some things, but much less than I would have expected, say, back in 2010. So I think the west has to decide, does it want to run the institutions that it controls into the ground by making them uncapable of adapting to a changing world in a quick manner, or do they want to realize that, no, the world is changing fast, we need to open space… One Chinese delegate once said, quite rightly, ‘You have a large, very large, and oversized share of a bad cake. Do you want to reduce your share, and have a smaller share of a better cake?’ And that’s the question they haven’t answered”.

“I think the United States did more than vote for reform in 2010. It actually played a very important role in putting forth reform. If you would have asked me five years ago ‘would it be possible for the United States to become the major blocking factor in the implementation of IMF reform?’ I would have answered quite confidently ‘No’. And I would have been wrong, because the US has since become the major blocking factor. Whether it’s a tactical consideration, to put the blame on Congress – ‘I want to do it, but Congress doesn’t allow me’ – I really wouldn’t know”.

Ms. Boyko points out that the US, without reform, has the “best of both worlds”, so why would they want to change?

PNB: “You touch on a very important point. It was a political agreement at the highest level in 2010, that the countries including the BRICS would provide borrowed resources to the fund as a bridge to the implementation of reforms. We did our part, we provided the resources that we pledged, but the reform did not come. So, it’s a matter of whether you want to have a… Does the United States, do the Europeans want to have a big influence on the multilateral world or are they content to just frustrate everyone? That’s the question they need to ask themselves. They have an incentive. The incentive is to keep the value for the international community – let’s put it this way – of institutions that they created, and where they have a controlling interest. If they don’t want to recognize this… Of course, there are internal divisions…”

IMF reform was/is apparently possible without the approval of the US Congress, but because such reforms would have lowered US voting power below the threshold where the US could assert veto power, it became opposed by the US.

Ms. Boyko talked about “western countries more assertive recently than developing countries”….

PNB: “The west is declining in relative terms but it still rules, and the rest of the world is increasing its weight, but it’s perhaps still not used to having a global view of matters. I think the BRICS are a partial exception to that, let me tell you. If I were to select from the non-west part of the planet – a part of the planet that introduces alternative ideas, that has a global view, I would say it’s the BRICS. It’s the BRICS. I think that one advantage that the BRICS have is that we have experienced what it is to be a developing country, relatively poor, debtor to the IMF… As you mentioned at the beginning of our conversation, not so long ago Brazil was under an IMF program. Russia was under IMF program not so long ago, I think in the 90’s. India in the early 90’s.”

“When someone comes to the board, Greece or Ukraine or whatever, we look at the issue and we have the memory. As a young official in the Brazilian government, I was involved in negotiations with the IMF in the 1980’s during the debt crisis. We have the experience so I think we need to use that experience to have an empathetic approach to the problems of other countries”.

Host Oksana Boyko: “…10 years ago 90% of world currency in the form of US dollar, now it’s 60%. If that trend intensifies, it will have significant social, economic, political consequences on the United States. The United States may become subjected to a new kind of experience. Doesn’t that guarantee that Washington will fight tooth-and-nail to prevent the BRICS plans from being realized? … because it threatens its own well-being?”

PNB: “The United States can do a lot, but it can’t do everything. There are certain trends that the United States cannot deal with, although it might wish to. The United States has resisted any reduction of the role of the dollar, so this is a long-standing issue. It will continue well past my departure from this planet. I don’t think we will solve it, but I do think you’re right that we have signs already – especially with China’s rapid rise – that other currencies will become, including emerging market countries, increasingly important in the world”.

Ms. Boyko: “Do you think your expertise will be helpful in undermining the western dominance of the global financial institutions?”

PNB: “I don’t think that’s the way we see it. The way that the BRICS countries see those institutions – the bank in Shanghai and the monetary fund – is not ‘against’ anyone. They’re pro-BRICS and pro-developing countries, so we take a soft approach”.

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(Thank you to WorldsApart RT at YouTube)

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In Global War Of Ideas, Truth Is The Greatest Weapon.

by Jerry Alatalo

“Those who are convinced they have a monopoly on the truth always feel that they are only saving the world when they slaughter the heretics.”

– ARTHUR M. SCHLESINGER, JR. (1917-2007) American educator, historian

 CANADA (photo: state.gov)
CANADA
(photo: state.gov)

Alphabet The website GlobalResearch.ca founded by Emeritus professor of economics at University of Ottawa, Canada Michel Chossudovsky has become one of the “go-to” sites for news on the internet. Mr. Chossudovsky began teaching at the University of Ottawa in 1968, became a visiting professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile during the 1970-1973 government of Salvador Allende, and started researching economic and political repression after a United States-backed coup toppled the democratically elected Allende and dictator Augusto Pinochet seized power in 1973.

Mr. Chossudovsky sees globalization now operational in a global war of many dimensions, most evident in wars taking place in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, etc., and destabilizing events in South America, Africa, and the South China Sea.  According to Chossudovsky, the goal is world domination and the process is directed by powerful élite global capitalists seeking subjugation/control of national capitalist countries under the “cloak of human rights and western democracy”.

He perceives global capitalists using a variety of tactics and strategies from their “toolbox”, including direct military engagement, economic sanctions, a propagandistic corporate media, covert operations, “color revolutions”, weather warfare – “owning the weather for military use”, cyber warfare, and internal warfare consisting of harsh austerity policies with governments and corporations acting against citizens – most noticeable in Greece, Spain, Italy, Iceland, Ireland, and increasingly more visible in all western countries including the United States.

Unfortunately, resistance to the corporatist agenda has become fragmented through “co-optation” of civil societies where groups dilute power into single issue areas like environmentalism, war and peace activism, women’s rights, etc. instead of coming together in an organized manner to effectively confront the “empire of chaos”. The dangerous nature of globalization in Mr. Chossudovsky’s way of thinking relates to those who decide on war and peace believing their own propaganda, that they have to use war to bring about peace and democracy.

The controversial, giant trade proposals being negotiated in secret TransPacific Partnership and TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership are a large part of the corporate global domination agenda, says Mr. Chossudovsky. It is worth noting that there have been near zero reports on those two massive trade deals in major western/corporate media outlets. If it weren’t for the internet, where the trade deals receive a huge amount of coverage, citizens would likely have no knowledge of their even existing.

The overall, disturbing summary of Michel Chossudovsky’s talk suggests that ordinary citizens have become increasingly marginalized around the world; in a sense entire societies are now viewed in the class of “throwaway”, leading to worsening living conditions for many millions of men, women and children during a real devolution from poverty to despair. Unfortunately, Mr. Chossudovsky’s analysis is correct.

The essential nature of the worldwide economic, social, political battle is a war of ideas, with the “sides” being the corporate mainstream media and its “extensive propaganda” up against alternative/internet media – combating that propaganda with truth on the world-wide-web.

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For more insight on the current global situation read philosophy Professor John McMurtry’s astonishing writing: “Winning the War of the World”, originally posted on Global Research (March 28, 2015), along with his speech at the University of Toronto:

https://onenessofhumanity.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/winning-the-war-of-the-world/

To purchase Michel Chossudovsky’s book ‘The Globalization of War”:

https://store.globalresearch.ca/store/the-globalization-of-war-americas-long-war-against-humanity/

(Thank you to GlobalResearchTV at YouTube)

European Union Stance Ignores Humanitarian Crisis’ Roots.

by Jerry Alatalo

ocean55Alphabet Professor of International Studies Vijay Prashad and former Deputy Speaker of the Belgian Parliament Lode Vanoost share their insights on the refugee/migrant crisis centered in Libya. Thousands of men, women and children are leaving their home nations in Africa and the Middle East and risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea. The European Union is trying to pass a Chapter 7 resolution through the United Nations Security Council, which introduces military measures for dealing with smugglers facilitating desperate people’s dangerous journeys from Libya across the sea to Europe.

Both Mr. Prashad and Mr. Vanoost think the true causes for the situation which has led to thousands fleeing their homelands are not being addressed, with Mr. Vanoost stating: “if you refuse to analyze and face the problem (you’re) never going to solve the humanitarian crisis”. Vijay Prashad places the blame on raging wars in Syria, Libya, Iraq and other areas of Middle East-Africa regions, plus decades of operating under trade deals signed by European/western nations and nations in Africa which favor the interests of large corporations over people.

Mr. Vanoost sees no short-term solution for the crisis, caused by what he describes as “the mess left behind by Europe”, and that a massive investment in Africa offers perhaps the only solution. It’s safe to say both men agree smugglers arranging for refugees’ crossing the Mediterranean is only a minor, “side-issue” part of the crisis, and more like a symptom of a much greater set of socioeconomic, geopolitical, military problems which must become addressed.

The “migrants” refugees travel from countries across the Africa continent as well as the war-torn Middle East. One could almost compare the European Union’s initiative to militarize the crisis to a gated community – a gated Europe. As the Oakland Institute and International Consortium of Investigative Journalists have reported, the World Bank, global corporations, investors and corrupt African politicians have facilitated land grabs in African countries which have displaced tens of thousands from their land. Continuing wars in Libya, Syria, Iraq and nations in Africa add to the crisis, leading to people fleeing for their lives from the violence.

Instead of pointing at human traffickers smuggling desperate people across the Mediterranean as the problem, the European Union and United Nations Security Council/member states need to take a long hard look and identify the parties responsible for African land grabs, wars of aggression through either arming, financing and training so-called “terrorists” or direct military attack, along with other negative, destructive actions resulting in so many innocent people finding no alternative but to get away.

End all wars, repeal or rewrite corrupt trade deals, call out and prosecute corrupt politicians, and create good societal conditions so people can live their lives peacefully in the nations of their birth. Reject band-aid, guaranteed-to-fail approaches for solving the world’s refugee-humanitarian crisis which don’t powerfully address the real causes.

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(Thank you to TheRealNews at YouTube)

(Thank you to RT at YouTube)

Thousands Suffer After Africa Land Grabs.

by Jerry Alatalo

ocean44Alphabet Executive Director of the Oakland Institute Anuradha Mittal and her team have worked for years on land, food and environment issues in regions around the Earth. Oakland Institute recently joined the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in exposing World Bank actions involving land grabs/acquisitions by foreign investors in Ethiopia which have resulted in tens of thousands of small farmers becoming forcibly evicted from their land.

Ms. Mittal describes the situation with regard to land grabs in Ethiopia as “dire”, with evicted farmers and their families facing persecution, intimidation, and arrest if refusing to leave the land which has sustained them for generations or by protesting. While many around the world are under the impression that colonialism in Africa is long-over and a thing of the past, what the Oakland Institute has discovered is a type of “re-colonization” of the African continent has occurred in recent years through land grabs/giveaways to investors looking to extract natural resources.

The Oakland Institute has become an organization that people in African nations and other regions on Earth go to when such deceptive transactions reach the point where bulldozers begin leveling homes of people who’ve farmed and worked the land to make a living for, as mentioned, generations. Despite a common absence of government transparency making it difficult to produce financial and land area statistics, Ms. Mittal was able to share that in the year 2011 – globally, 56 million hectares (a hectare is the size of a football field), roughly the size of France, became transferred from small-scale subsistence farmers/land owners to international investors.

In the last decade, the amount of land transferred to corporate and individual investors globally was 200 million hectares, of which 70% was on the African continent.  Whether investors were looking for profits from large agribusiness operations, mining, or other types of business opportunities, too often large numbers of small-scale farmers have become displaced. While financial institutions like the World Bank, prospective corporations/investors, along with corrupt government officials in the various nations explain their actions as “economic development, job creation, poverty reduction, food security for the people of Africa” etc., in Ms. Mittal’s view people’s land is being stolen.

So, Oakland Institute’s researchers have exposed the false argument that foreign investors and the World Bank are only interested in “socially responsible, benevolent  investment, meant only for carrying out altruistic goals like improving the people’s quality of life”. Ms. Mittal may uncover the true motives of foreign investors in African nations by pointing out that African lands are being sold at $.50-($7-9) per hectare compared to $7-8,000 per hectare in Malaysia/Indonesia, $26,000 per hectare in the United Kingdom, and $14-17,000 per hectare in the midwest United States  for the same quality land.

Oakland Institute Director Anuradha Mittal believes the land is being stolen and not being paid for, that the practice of land grabs shows the absence in nations of rule of law, and that wealthy corporations/investors are taking the opportunity to re-colonize Africa and get away it.

She points out that the World Bank’s recent creation of “ease of doing business rankings” for developing nations has resulted in a “race to the bottom”, where the less environment, labor, tax, and legal constraints a nation has for investors the better the country’s ranking. This race to the bottom trend has negative consequences for men, women and children living in the various developing nations as related to democracy and governing for the health and well-being of citizens. Combine this with the near unanimous participation of corporations and wealthy individuals in the global tax haven/evasion industry and developing nations are essentially being plundered.

The Oakland Institute has earned much credit for bringing these corrupt practices to the awareness of the world’s people, and has because of their actions – combined with the group’s global recognition and solid reputation for anti-corruption efforts and reasearch – successfully prevented or reversed large-scale land transactions which otherwise would have harmed a great number of people.

Please disseminate The Oakland Institute and International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ extremely valuable, important work to honorable leaders everywhere on Earth – and to the attention of contacts/friends you know in developing countries, especially nations on the continent of Africa. It will truly make all the difference in the world.

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The Oakland Institute: www.oaklandinstitute.org

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists: www.icij.org

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(Thank you to SaharaTV at YouTube)