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Why America Really Fears a Nuclear Iran: They Might Be Sane and Responsible

That’s the impression given by some very revealing quotations William Blum includes in his chapter on Iran in his book America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy. One is from the Israeli military historian, Martin van Creveld, who states very clearly that the world can live with a nuclear Iran, but it would be awkward for Israel to admit that. The reason? They use the threat of a nuclear Iran to get weapons from the rest of the world.

Van Creveld said this in an interview he gave to Playboy:

The U.S. has lived with a nuclear Soviet Union and a nuclear China, so why not a nuclear Iran? I’ve researched how the U.S. opposed nuclear proliferation in the past, and each time a country was about to proliferate, the U.S. expressed its opposition in terms of why this other country was very dangerous and didn’t deserve to have nuclear weapons. Americas believe they’re the only people who deserve to have nuclear weapons, because they are good and democratic and they like Mother and apple pie and the flag. But Americans are the only ones who have used them…. We are in no danger at all of having an Iranian nuclear weapon dropped on us. We cannot say so too openly, however, because we have a history of using any threat in order to get weapons …. thanks to the Iranian threat, we are getting weapons from the U.S. and Germany. (pp. 97-8).

And Danielle Pletka, the vice-president for foreign and defence policy of the neo-Conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, said

The biggest problem for the United States is not Iran getting a nuclear weapon and using it, it’s Iran getting a nuclear weapon and not using it. Because the second that they have one and they don’t do anything bad, all of the naysayers are going to come back and say, ‘See, we told you Iran is a responsible power. We told you Iran wasn’t getting nuclear weapons in order to use them immediately’…. And they will eventually define Iran with nuclear weapons as not a problem. (p. 99).

This suggests, I think, that Pletka and the other Neo-Cons are afraid that even if Iran doesn’t use nuclear weapons immediately, it may do so in the future. But that’s the danger with all the countries with nuclear arms, including and especially Israel. According to the Samson Option, if Israel is attacked and the majority of the country destroyed, they would launch their missiles not just at their attacker, but also at the rest of the world – Europe, Russia and Islam’s holy places. This would be partly in reprisal for the other nations not intervening on their behalf. Israel seems to be quite prepared to destroy the rest of the world purely for its own security.

If the Iranians have been developing nuclear weapons, I honestly can’t say I blame them. The country has been the victim of first British and then American imperialism, and it seems to me very clear that Washington wants regime change and that this is constant, regardless of whoever’s in the White House.

And American foreign policy actually encourages countries to have nuclear weapons by showing how vulnerable they are without them. Saddam Hussein didn’t have weapons of mass distraction. He made repeated attempts to show the Americans and their allies he didn’t have them, and the international atomic weapons inspectors knew he didn’t. And so the Americans and their allies invaded, causing massive carnage and plundering Iraq of its oil and state industries. The lesson this gives the rest of the world is the precise opposite America wants to teach: you will only be safe from western invasion if you have nuclear arms.

But this will stop the West invading and butchering for the profits of their multinationals and the Israelis getting arms from their panicked and fearful allies. So they have to go on scaring the world with the bogeyman of a nuclear Iran.

Book Review: Anti-System Politics: The Crisis of Market Liberalism in Rich Democracies by Jonathan Hopkin

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 30/11/2020 - 10:54pm in

In Anti-System Politics: The Crisis of Market Liberalism in Rich Democracies, Jonathan Hopkin studies the political counter-movements that have arisen on the Left and the Right since the 2008 financial crisis, positioning these as forms of ‘anti-system politics’ that are a response to the failures of neoliberal orthodoxy. Scott Timcke finds this book one of the most compelling reads of 2020, deserving of serious engagement and discussion by anyone interested in politics, philosophy and economics.

If you are interested in this book, you can listen to a podcast of author Dr Jonathan Hopkin speaking at an LSE event on ‘Anti-System Politics in Europe’, recorded on 30 May 2019. 

Anti-System Politics: The Crisis of Market Liberalism in Rich Democracies. Jonathan Hopkin. Oxford University Press. 2020.

Joining books like Mark Blyth’s Austerity and Yanis Varoufakis’s And the Weak Suffer What They Must?, Jonathan Hopkin’s Anti-System Politics adds to the constellation of contemporary literature covering the fallout from the 2008 Great Recession to confidence in the capitalist political economy. Like others, Hopkin readily admits that during the recession he was swept up in the belief that the ‘neoliberal consensus had met its demise’ (ix), but he concedes this assessment was premature considering the subsequent European austerity programmes that followed. ‘We should have expected years of rising inequality and a massive financial crisis to produce a political backlash’ (50), Hopkin writes.

It is with this background that Hopkin studies the resultant counter-movements to the long, steady transformation of liberal democracy into ‘neoliberal democracy’ (5) that generated the recession in the first place. His aim is to produce ‘a basic theory to explain political instability after the financial crisis’ (83). Through compelling case studies of political developments in the US (Chapter Three), the UK (Chapter Four) and well as Southern European and Northern European countries (Chapters Five to Seven), Hopkin labels these counter-movements as ‘anti-system politics’. He argues that they primarily reject the so-called settled debate over the appropriate role of the market and government and the general downplaying of the contradictions between capitalism and democracy.

Effectively, anti-system movements are a forceful response to ‘cartel politics’ (39) where major neoliberal political parties had decided not to ‘interfere too much with the workings of markets’ (39). Hopkin’s analysis identifies a nationalist-authoritarian anti-system Right and an egalitarian interventionist anti-system Left. Brexit and Trumpism are examples of the former, while political parties like Greece’s Syriza and Spain’s Podemos are examples of the latter.

Conceptualising these political figures, parties and movements as responses to the failures of neoliberal orthodoxy, Hopkin is adamant that these are a predictable rejection given that during the 2008 Great Recession, rich democracies prioritised safeguarding the wealth of shareholders over the general interests of citizens. ‘Anti-system politics is born out of the failings of our political institutions to represent popular demands’ (6), Hopkin writes. Indeed, ‘the upheavals of the second decade of the twenty-first century stem from the failure of neoliberalism to deliver widely shared economic prosperity and democratic accountability’ (250). Hopkin displays considerable empathy for these movements: ‘banking bailouts and austerity were po­litical choices, and citizens could not be expected to be indifferent to their consequences’ (14). If, as Dan Drezner argues in The System Worked, bailouts blunted the full extent of economic catastrophe, then the subsequent austerity quickly called this conclusion into doubt.

Pound coin being squeezed between a nutcracker

Certainly, dissatisfaction with neoliberal democracy pre-dates the 2008 Great Recession. For example, Silvio Berlusconi’s rise to become the Italian Prime Minister in 1994 through the formation of Forza Italia — a political party less than a year old that placed first in that year’s general election — was both a ‘political earthquake’ and an early indicator of ‘the vulnera­bility of our political institutions to a hostile takeover [showing that] even in wealthy, con­solidated democracies, the political system could be captured by anti-system forces’ (2). But this precursor is a point in favour of Hopkin’s thesis, for it makes his argument less dependent on the characteristics of a single event and more on the building pressure of markets narrowing political options over decades. The most powerful expressions of anti-system politics are ‘where inequality is highest, and where the social and economic effects of the Global Financial Crisis have been most severe’ (3) as well as where ‘political institutions have been least able to address [these] consequences’ (14).

Hopkin, quite rightly in my view, is pretty clear that ‘rather than dismissing anti-system politics as ‘‘populism,’’ driven by racial hatred, nebulous foreign conspiracies, or an irrational belief in ‘‘fake news,’’ we need to start by understanding what has gone wrong in the rich democracies to alienate so many citizens from those who govern them’ (3-4). If the goal is to explain ‘why anti-system politics is on the march, and why different forms of anti-system politics prosper in different places and among different types of voters’ (3), then Hopkin argues it is necessary to also look at the transformation of institutions during the neoliberal era. In brief, one tendency was delegating the management of markets to experts and their spreadsheets, while concurrently politics increasingly devolved into which party offered better administrative competency.

Yet these parties’ platforms of ‘’scientifically grounded technical fixes’ (43) rarely raised issues of (re)distribution and so were unable to sufficiently address the ‘slow deterioration of democratic health’ (249), class decomposition, stalled wages, precarity, downward social mobility and the myriad of similar issues that stem from the ordinary operation of markets and the vast inequalities they produce. If these matters all relate to the social question, then as the 2008 Great Recession showed so concretely, neoliberal democratic parties were no longer seen as credible leaders able to provide a suitable answer. In this credibility gap, anti-system politics and the critique they presented were able to prosper by calling attention to the moral betrayal by elites of their fellow citizens. The key demand has been for a fundamental overhaul of the political economy by introducing forms of governance whereby responsive representatives self-consciously act in accordance with traditions of popular sovereignty.

Adjacent to Hopkin’s argument is the ‘cultural backlash thesis’. From this perspective, reactionary white supremacists are reasserting themselves to police de facto citizenship in their polities, and in doing so reveal the depth of racist, nativist attitudes. Certainly, the Far Right with its xenophobia and racism is a threat to democracy, but Hopkin observes that the anti-system Left seeks to expand social protections for migrants and minorities to further realise democratic values across the full social terrain. Indeed, the latter’s critique is predicated upon how ‘unregulated markets’ starve governments of the resources to undertake service delivery and otherwise implement social welfare programmes that provide adequate protection against market forces. Accordingly:

To reduce anti-system politics to cultural unease, the anxiety of the ‘‘left behind’’ or the ‘‘places that don’t matter,’’ or the revival of national sentiment misrepresents the phenomenon. At a very basic level, anti-system politics is about reasserting the power of politics over markets and money (16).

It is not that the evidence for the cultural backlash is threadbare, but rather that it is incomplete and insufficiently comparative.

In this regard, Hopkin situates the ‘fundamental changes to the political economy’ (248) and the emergence of anti-system politics within a Polanyian double movement, which, as a reminder, demonstrated that capitalist development gave rise to organised opposition where people demanded protection against the effects of the market on their fragile societies. Hopkin keeps pointing to the similarities between the inter-war years in which Karl Polanyi was writing The Great Transformation and the 2008 Great Recession, highlighting the stakes of this conjuncture. ‘Greece or the United States in the 2010s are certainly not Germany in the early 1930s,’ he writes. ‘But it is hard to dispute that citizens’ expectations that their democratically elected governments would help the whole of society participate in rising living standards have been disappointed’ (15). Thankfully, the key difference is that improvements in living standards provide something of a cushion compared to the conditions of the 1930s. However, as the last remaining social protections are eroded by neoliberal democracy and the austerity it brings, so the difficulties of the inter-war years loom large.

Finally, Hopkin provides an explanation for the character of anti-system politics in different countries. Generally, ‘the nature of party politics and the development of economic and social policies’ are key ‘variables [that] explain why some countries have been far better equipped to survive globalization and its attendant economic shocks than others’ (14). But more specifically, support for anti-system parties turns on the logic and mechanisms by which benefits and burdens are shared. ‘Anti-system politics is stronger in countries that are structur­ally prone to run trade deficits, have weak or badly designed welfare states, and have electoral rules that artificially suppress the range of political options voters can choose from’ (17), Hopkin writes. This model is predictive insofar as right-wing anti-system politics finds success in creditor countries where citizens fear an erosion of existing welfare systems. Left-wing anti-system politics tends to find success in debtor countries where highly educated young populations face the prospect of not enjoying the same social protections that older populations experienced.

By placing anti-system politics within the larger history of the open antagonism between capitalism and democracy, Hopkin focuses on the ‘fundamentally unstable relationship that produces regular political upheavals’ (16). He concludes that the current purchase of anti-system politics tells how the free-market model cannot deliver prosperity and security. If this is to change, political authority must be asserted over the market; and that authority must be legitimated by ‘meaningful mass participation in political decision-making over whatever matters society thinks are important’ (257). In summary, Hopkin has produced one of the most compelling reads of 2020, a book deserving of serious engagement and discussion by anyone interested in politics, philosophy and economics.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics.

Banner Image Credit: (theilr CC BY SA 2.0).

In-Text Image Credit: (Howard Lake CC BY SA 2.0).

 


Rayner Threatens Purges as Labour Members Revolt against Leadership’s Treatment of Corbyn

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 30/11/2020 - 10:33pm in

Mike also reported yesterday that Angela Rayner made a speech to the faux Jewish group, the Jewish Labour Movement, that she would suspend ‘thousands and thousands’ to get rid of anti-Semitism in the Labour party. This looks like a threat to purge all the awkward Labour party members, who insisted on discussing and passing motions against the suspension and denial of the party whip to Jeremy Corbyn. A string of local Labour parties and affiliated organisations and trade unions have passed motions of solidarity with the former Labour leader and condemning the leadership’s attempts to prevent discussion of this issue, and their other attacks on party democracy. These local parties include Pudsey, Harrow East, the Westminster branch of Momentum, New Cross, Dulwich and West Norwood, Milton Keynes North, Milton Keynes South, Hall Green Birmingham, Bristol East, Bristol South and Leeds North East. Momentum held an online rally in support of Corbyn on Saturday, and Hackney South and Sheffield Hallam have passed motions of ‘no confidence’ in David Evans. Hackney South have also passed a similar motion on Keir Starmer. As the peeps on Twitter have observed, this is a revolt of the Labour rank and file against the leadership.

Labour leader Starmer thought party rules are his toys for coercing the membership; he is badly wrong | Vox Political (voxpoliticalonline.com)

Hence Rayner’s threat to purge the party. This comes after she declared a little while ago that she wouldn’t be in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet if she believed he was an anti-Semite. She has also written an article stating that the EHRC’s findings on anti-Semitism in the Labour party are not up for discussion and that the Labour party was going to implement them. As Mike points out, this is precisely what Starmer and Ange aren’t doing. The EHRC report condemns the political interference in the conduct of cases. But this is what Ange and Starmer are doing. The gruesome twosome are also very conveniently neglecting to mention that in 60 per cent of cases, the EHRC found that the conduct of cases was biased against the accused. Mike’s trial following smears in the press of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial was a kangaroo court, and so have been the cases of very, very many others. Marc Wadsworth’s was notoriously biased. He’s Black, and a long-standing campaigner against real racism and Fascism, including genuine anti-Semitic attacks. But he too was accused on anti-Semitism with a squad of White Blairite women MPs demanding his expulsion. Some commenters compared it to a Klan lynching. They have a point.

And so Rayner has been threatening a mass purge of all those awkward people, who dare to defy the leadership’s lies and its rightward movement back to Blairism.

Rayner defies EHRC by threatening to suspend ‘thousands’ of Labour members | Vox Political (voxpoliticalonline.com)

And it’s significant that she made this threat at a meeting with the Jewish Labour Movement. I’ve called it a faux Jewish group, and it is. It’s the old Zionist Labour party organisation, Paole Zion, rebranded. This was moribund, effectively dead, until a few years ago when it was revived, given a change of monicker and had masses of money pumped into it from someone, somewhere. It claims to represent the party’s Jews, but in fact you don’t have to be Jewish or even a member of the Labour party to be a member. It was also until Corbyn’s ouster numerically small. It had just over a hundred members, and its active core was probably much, much less. The pro-Corbyn Jewish organisation, Jewish Voice for Labour, was much larger and much more Jewish. Only Jews could be full members, though gentiles could become associate members. But they were sidelined and ignored by the establishment and the media because they’re left-wing Jews, who opposed the Israeli state’s abuse of the Palestinians. The Jewish Labour Movement is much smaller and far less representative, but as they are a right-wing, fanatically Zionist organisation, they are presented as the true representatives of Labour’s Jewish members.

Starmer and Rayner thought there would be little opposition to their expulsion of Corbyn and his supporters and their attempts to reassert Blairite dominance. And now that the party has shown that it will defy them on this, they’re reduced to making threats of purges on a truly Stalinist level.

Which shows their factionalism, authoritarianism and contempt for Labour democracy and the party’s ordinary members.

BBC Fifth Most Trusted News Broadcasters

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 30/11/2020 - 9:54pm in

Or should that be ‘fifth most distrusted’ for news. Mike today has put up a piece commenting on the finding by Ofcom that that the Beeb is behind Sky News, Channel 4, ITV and Channel 5 in poll of audience trust and belief in their impartiality. He contrasts this finding, which shows that of these five broadcasters, the Beeb is considered to be the least trustworthy and impartial and Sky News the most, with Andrew Marr’s comments about possible competition from GB News and Murdoch’s planned TV news service. Marr was upbeat, believing that audiences would prefer BBC impartiality to overtly opinionated broadcasters like Fox News. He also claimed that the Beeb didn’t have a left-wing bias with remarks about the Director-General Hugh Carleton Green. He claimed Green had a far more anti-hierarchical, anti-Conservative bias than today.

The right-wing internet broadcaster Alex Bellfield was ranting about Ofcom’s findings yesterday. He’s an ex-employee of the Beeb and hates them with a passion. He regularly denounces them as a source of ‘woke’ bias for its continuing anti-sexism anti-racism and pro-LGBT stance. So he was highly delighted with this bit of news.

The Beeb has come under strong attack for its supposed anti-Conservative stance, partly because the Tories themselves want it privatised and its place in broadcasting filled by right-wing commercial broadcasters like their backer, Rupert Murdoch. I don’t doubt that the lack of trust the British public has for the Beeb largely comes from the regular attacks in the right-wing press.

But it also reflects the lack of trust those on the left also have with the broadcaster. When it comes to politics and international affairs, I have very, very little trust in the Beeb. The Corporation was part of the general media frenzy pushing the bogus anti-Semitism smears against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party, and are still doing so. Last Friday an alleged comedian on Have I Got News For You, Fin Taylor, joked about bombing Jeremy Corbyn supporters at Glastonbury. There’s been wide criticism of the joke, but the Beeb has naturally defended it. I’ve covered this in a previous blog post, where I mistakenly referred to Taylor as Torbin or Toibin/Tobin. I’m absolutely sure Taylor was invited on to the show because he was anti-Corbyn, and could be counted on to make some kind of dig at him. The Beeb just didn’t expect how much outrage it would provoke.

I’m also extremely sceptical about its foreign news. For example, it has consistently claimed that the 2012 Maidan Revolution in the Ukraine was democratic, despite the fact that it was carefully staged by Victoria Nuland of the US state department and the National Endowment for Democracy, the autonomous body to whom the American state has delegated its policy of regime change since taking it away from the CIA and their ‘Health Alteration Squad’. Putin is an autocratic thug, but in this instance the Russians are the wronged party. But you won’t hear that from the Beeb.

Just as you won’t hear news that the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were about anything other than giving these countries freedom and democracy, when the reality is that they were attacked and occupied for their oil or strategic importance to the oil industry, and for western multinationals to seize their state industries in the case of Iraq.

The Beeb in many areas simply isn’t a trustworthy broadcaster. Far from being objective, it simply pushes establishment propaganda. Which I don’t doubt its hacks and management, coming as they seem to do from very middle class, very Tory backgrounds and living in the London metropolitan bubble, believe is genuinely objective news and analysis.

Now the Beeb’s under threat from Murdoch and the other private broadcasters. Once upon a time it could have counted on the support of people on the left. But it has alienated them with its overt Conservative bias and its repeated demonisation and vilification of Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters as anti-Semites and Jew-haters.

Which means that both left and right distrust the Beeb. Neither of whom believe it is impartial, whatever Marr says or chooses to believe.

BBC is named as least objective news provider – which we all knew already | Vox Political (voxpoliticalonline.com)

Can’t Do America: Kick the Can Approach to Public Pension Fund Crisis, Even Though Canada Cleaned Up Its Mess

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 30/11/2020 - 9:30pm in

Tags 

Legal, Politics

Why the US is certain to ignore the Canadian roadmap out of its public pension fund mess....and it's not just because exceptionalism.

Trying to run Scotland without its own currency would be like a person trying to be a carpenter without having a saw

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 30/11/2020 - 7:10pm in

I took part in a debate on the need for a Scottish Central Reserve Bank yesterday. This was run as a parallel event to the SNP conference, featuring resolutions that the SNP conference organisers had declined for debate by their membership. The event was run by Tim Rideout and the Scottish Currency Group.

I made a few notes in advance, just to concentrate my thinking. They focussed on why Scotland had to have its own currency if it was to manage its own affairs via a central reserve bank. Those notes said:

Why Scotland has to have its own currency

It’s essential to manage the economy. A country without its own currency cannot:

A) Control the interest rate, for reasons B and C

B) Provide central bank reserve accounts for its banks - meaning that a key economic sector is effectively beyond its control - and these accounts are essential for controlling short term interest rates

C) Do QE, which is essential for controlling long term interest rates

D) Advance money into the banking system to prevent banking meltdown as has been required twice in the last 12 years in the UK

E) Integrate monetary and fiscal policy - as most economists now think to be essential.

They're all a bit shorthand, I admit, but also fit fairly into recent threads on QE and related issues.

The overall point is simple though: without its own currency Scotland would not have control if its interest rate policies, would not have control of any crisis hitting it, and would not be able to integrate monetary and fiscal policies, with the latter being fundamentally undermined as a result.

As I summarised it during discussion:

Trying to run Scotland without its own currency would be like a person trying to be a carpenter without having a saw.

I could have added:

And nor can a carpenter borrow a saw, because they need it all the time and will never be able to give it back. So too with the currency.

It baffles me that this debate is required, but the SNP insists that it is by refusing to consider a Scottish currency. It’s a big mistake on their part.

Economic misunderstanding is bad for democracy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 30/11/2020 - 10:09am in

It appears that this picture is of a distressed man who was one of Saturday’s anti-lockdown protestors, protesting because he lost his business to lockdown. This is so sad because it indicates where we get to when generally we have so little understanding of how the economy works. It is not lockdown that is wrong... Read more

Obama’s Promised Land: Come for the Droning, Stay for the Erasures

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 30/11/2020 - 7:25am in

Cracking open Obama third autobiography

Reputation laundering: weapons companies infiltrating schools to promote education

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 30/11/2020 - 6:10am in

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Politics

Lockheed missile blows up a bus full of Yemeni children; in Australia Lockheed Martin gains kudos by sponsoring the National Youth Science Forum. BAE Systems sponsors underprivileged kids in Australia while being complicit in the killing of thousands of needy children in Yemen. All you see in industry marketing pitches is euphemism, with nary a mention of the word “weapons”.

The UK’s largest weapons-maker, BAE, is working inside Saudi Arabia supporting Saudi-United Arab Emirates military operations in Yemen, a war that has killed or injured tens of thousands of civilians, including thousands of children.

Meanwhile in Australia, BAE sponsors The Smith Family’s STEM education program for under-privileged children.

Flagrant hypocrisy? Welcome to the weapons business.

Then there’s Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest weapons-maker, also raking in billions from the Yemen war. A Lockheed missile blew up a bus full of Yemeni school children in 2018, killing at least 29 kids and injuring dozens more. Back in Australia, Lockheed was cultivating kudos with kids as major sponsor of the National Youth Science Forum, a registered charity.

US missile-making giant Raytheon also continues to supply the Saudi-UAE coalition, despite evidence of numerous attacks with Raytheon missiles that targeted and killed civilians, including children. No mention of that in Australia. Instead, Aussie school kids had fun hanging out with the young Australian snowboarding paralympian Raytheon hired to front the launch of its Maths Alive! STEM program.

The French company supplying Australia’s new submarines, Naval Group, is at the centre of multiple corruption scandals globally, some of which involved murder. That hasn’t stopped Naval promoting itself as a model future employer, with the help of Port Adelaide footy heroes, to 90,174 kids in 329 South Australian schools since 2017.

And let’s not forget the list of sponsors of the Australian War Memorial, Legacy, Invictus Games and Soldier On, which include numerous weapons-making corporations.

There’s a name for this cynical behaviour: reputation laundering. And nearly every weapons company is doing it.

Promoted as innovators

The world’s weapons producers have taken with gusto to promoting themselves as innovators in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Military industry has adopted the STEM mantra to target children and young people as future employees, usually with the willing partnership of respected educational institutions. Many, if not most, Australian universities now have joint agreements, strategic partnerships or some other form of collaboration with the weapons industry.

The sales pitch is, join us for an exciting and challenging high-tech career in science. This enthusiastic support of STEM serves two purposes: reputation laundering is one, the other is as a recruitment drive. STEM provides a socially acceptable way to promote the weapons industry to children, and parents, as a potential employer.

There’s nothing wrong with promoting STEM education, or seeking new employees. The issue is the way these companies are now targeting children as young as primary school age, with the full support of government. (eg. The MD of weapons-maker Saab Technologies is on the South Australian education board.) The problem is the spin and glamour applied to increased militarism, with pertinent information omitted from the marketing. Warfare isn’t mentioned, for starters.

There’s nothing about how the kids will use their STEM education to enhance the ‘lethality’ of their employer’s products. Or about a future where employees have eliminated the need for human involvement in the ‘kill chain’ by creating autonomous robotic devices to make those decisions. (This is not science fiction, these research and development programs are already under way.) Working on nuclear weapons isn’t discussed, either.

You won’t find the underlying arms manufacturing realities in the STEM marketing by weapons giants. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find the word “weapons” at all.

A world of euphemism

Instead, you’ll enter a world of euphemism: “high end technology company”, “leading systems integrator”, “security and aerospace company”, “defence technology and innovation company”. It’s also a fair bet you’re reading weapons company marketing if you see the phrase “solving complex problems”. Especially if there’s mention of working to make the world safer and more secure.

The following are a few examples of many in which multinational weapons corporations are co-opting organisations of good purpose in Australia.

BAE and The Smith Family

BAE operates inside Saudi Arabia, training Saudi pilots, maintaining Saudi’s BAE-supplied fighter jets, and supervising Saudi soldiers as they load bombs onto the planes. Indiscriminate bombing, a well-known feature of the Yemen war, has killed or injured tens of thousands of civilians, including children.

BAE has earned £15 billion from sales to the Saudis since 2015 when the Yemen war started. A BAE maintenance employee was quoted last year saying, “If we weren’t there, in 7 to 14 days there wouldn’t be a jet in the sky.”

BAE’s role in helping the Saudis prolong the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen has been pointed out more than once to The Smith Family since news broke of its sponsorship by BAE. Understandably, The Smith Family has responded defensively along the lines that critics are trying to steal an education from needy Australian children.

But what about the tens of thousands of needy children starved, maimed, and killed on the other side of the world? BAE Systems has given The Smith Family a mere $100,000 –  about 0.3% of The Smith Family’s $36.3 million in non-government fundraising income.

Cheap reputational PR for a company that has gained tens of billions of dollars in defence contracts in Australia, while facilitating war crimes elsewhere.

Raytheon and Maths Alive!

Raytheon has marketed this program to children across America, the Middle East and Australia. Raytheon’s intention? To reach children at an early age and create a “healthy pipeline” from primary education, through secondary, to tertiary studies, to secure its future workforce.

The then Assistant Minister for Defence David Fawcett lent his support to the 2018 Australian launch of Maths Alive!, telling media: “I welcome the ongoing commitment by Raytheon to engage young Australians by helping them visualise what a career in science or engineering might look like.”

Lockheed Martin and National Youth Science Forum

The National Youth Science Forum was created by Rotary, which remains involved. The forum, now run by a board chaired by former senator Kate Lundy, has several programs, the flagship program being for Year 12 students interested in science.

Each year about 600 students complete the program, which exposes students to various career pathways in science. Since Lockheed started as major sponsor in 2015, students visit Lockheed Martin laboratories and speak with Lockheed staff as part of the program. (Watch a short video here from Lockheed’s website with some students.)

The National Youth Science Forum’s website does not mention Lockheed’s dominant influence as the world’s No. 1 weapons manufacturer or its significant role in producing nuclear weapons. Lockheed’s role in civil sectors is covered, however this work constitutes a minor aspect of its business. The most recent information from Stockholm International Peace Research says 88% of Lockheed’s revenue comes from arms sales.

Lockheed Martin and the Gallipoli Sponsorship Fund

This year Lockheed Martin became the first corporate partner of the Gallipoli Scholarship Fund. This partnership includes the new $120,000 Lockheed Martin Australia Bursary for the educational benefit of descendants of Australian veterans.

One of the aims of the Gallipoli Scholarship Fund is to contribute “to the future security of our nation and our national values of democracy, freedom, and the rule of law”.

Nuclear weapons will become illegal under international law in January 2021 when the new UN treaty prohibiting them comes into force. The world’s nine nuclear-armed countries haven’t signed it – nor their hangers-on, including Australia – so it won’t apply to them. But two-thirds of the world’s countries (including New Zealand) did vote to bring the treaty into being, banning the world’s worst weapons of mass destruction, and setting a new global norm.

Professor Ramesh Thakur, Director of the Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament at the Australian National University, has said, “The ban treaty embodies the collective moral revulsion of the international community.”

The awkward truth is that the Gallipoli Scholarship Fund’s new corporate partner, Lockheed Martin, is one of the largest nuclear-weapons-producing companies on the planet. Lockheed is all set to provide its 12 bursaries from now through to the end of 2023.

Such are the ethical dilemmas these weapons corporations create for organisations doing good work that are in need of funding.

Morally indefensible positions

Such sponsorships might appear less self-serving if weapons companies behaved consistently, and stopped supplying weapons to war criminals. Claiming they are just doing the bidding of the US or UK governments in supplying the Saudis, as these companies have, is not a morally defensible position, particularly in the face of evidence of ongoing war crimes in Yemen.

Similarly, claims that they are committed to serving the national interest might be more believable if they ceased bribing and scamming their way into the next arms deal, or concocting endless ways to extend and inflate government contracts and invoices for their own corporate financial benefit, blatantly siphoning funds from the public purse.

Disclosure: Michelle Fahy was employed part-time by the Medical Association for Prevention of War for 10 months from May 2018 and worked on its campaign to end weapons company sponsorship of the Australian War Memorial and Questacon.

Is Morrison finally nearing the tipping point on climate?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 30/11/2020 - 5:58am in

Tags 

climate, Politics

He would rather forego his parliamentary pension than admit it, but
our prime minister is unobtrusively softening his hardline stance on climate change.

Not to the point of bipartisan agreement in the national interests –
that would be too big an ask. But there are signs that the decade-long
pitched battle may de-escalate to a heavily armed truce.

The delay could well be disastrous – Australia has a lot of catching up
to do, and the rest of the world has become very tired of waiting for
our intransigence.

But better late than never, as they say. Scott Morrison might come
late to the party, but if he brings a serious contribution to the punch
bowl, he may be allowed to wassail along with the others.

The trigger, of course, is Joe Biden. The incoming president has made
it clear that America will not only re-join the Paris agreement, but
intends to lead it. And this will be his first priority in office. Next
February, Morrison’s isolation will become even more stark.

Which is why he is backing off. Last week there was a significant
concession: Australia’s insistence that using left over carbon credits
to fund our 2030 emission targets was a legitimate ploy when all the
other players deemed it unacceptable was quietly sidelined – not yet
abandoned, but it is clearly on the way out.

Morrison continues to blather about meeting and beating our
commitments in a canter, and how he proposes to square that circle
is yet to be revealed. But he is becoming resigned to the fact that he
will not be allowed to cheat: he must be seen as part of the solution,
not part of the problem.

He is still resisting the most important goal, zero emissions by 2050.
But in a sense it hardly matters because it is effectively locked in: all
the premiers and chief ministers, the business community, the
agriculture sector, even many of the miners have signed up, and the
rest of the world has moved on. Whether Morrison likes it or not, he
will be dragged along in the backwash.

There will always be recalcitrants – the silliest, our so-called Energy
Minister Angus Taylor stubbornly continues to puff gas from every
orifice in the fond belief that this is the answer long after the question
has been abandoned. Ticking off the Narrabri gas fields is a bad idea
on every level – environmental, economic and political. It will play
briefly to the coalition rump, but the majority within the government,
even the Nationals, cannot maintain their rage for much longer.

The transition will not be easy but it must be negotiated and finally
Morrison is sidling towards the inevitable flip and if he has any
hesitation, there is an even more impeccable source to fall back on.

Last week Rupert Murdoch went out of his way to insist that not
everyone in his empire was a climate denialist. Well, there may be a
couple who aren’t, although we haven’t heard much from them in the
last few years. But now it has become imperative for the mogul to
start cosying up to the new regime in Washington.

His interests in his seldom-visited dominions in the Antipodes are
less urgent, but the Dark Lord has spoken, and his words will he
heard across the ocean. And Morrison, as always, will be listening.

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