*edit, May 8, 2017 – I’ve added a link to the compromised Al Jazeera and corrected a few typos.
An excerpt from the above linked-to article by Tony Burman follows:
…The murders since 2010 of four nuclear scientists — most certainly masterminded by agents of Israel’s Mossad — are deeply humiliating. With parliamentary elections in March regarded by many as the most important in the history of the Islamic republic, the pressure within Iran to hit back at Israel in some damaging way is inevitable — and this will happen soon.
In Israel, the calculation is also overwhelmingly political. The fractious government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is obsessed with the prospect of a nuclear Iran even if the evidence is still unclear how imminent that threat is. Netanyahu is also driven by his bitter rivalry with President Barack Obama. There is growing speculation the prime minister will trigger early Israeli elections in June to shore up his political position before Obama, as Netanyahu believes, is re-elected in November. He knows his best opportunity to attack Iran will be shortly before the U.S. election when he figures Obama would be politically cornered.
Tony Burman, a tool, is spouting fantasy and it can’t be a good thing. If the U.S. stopped arming and supporting Israel, Israel would be in big trouble. That substantial support, on top of simply succeeding in having Israeli leaders betray their own people for power and glory, is how uncle Sam keeps its most important mid east asset in line. Israel won’t attack Iran without the go-ahead from uncle Sam. Not a bloody chance! With the U.S. so invested in the region, its main asset would never, never chance displeasing the Americans by miscalculating, as Saddam Hussein probably did when he invaded Kuwait, and striking Iran against uncle Sam’s wishes.
Yes, Tony Burman is a former Al Jazeera chief and before that a CBC editor in chief. There’s nothing special about having a connection to the spinny, compromised CBC. It’s a fake friend of ‘the people’, like the Toronto Star. (See my recent post titled “The 1% Is Pissed! Their Fake Leftwing Assets Are Active!”) Which isn’t to say that the people don’t need something like the CBC.
While Al Jazeera has endeared itself to the Left, or at least the mainstream Left (I don’t know exactly how the ‘real’ Left feels about Al Jazeera), I have always found it to be not right. That was before I came across information about how it was willing to do nasty things to whistle blowers simply because Julian Assange and Wikileaks made whistleblowing a heroic and widely popular thing and (like the Wall Street Journal) saw a way to capitalize on that. The intention wasn’t to support and encourage whistleblowers. See my post titled “Giving The Dogs A Reason To Party.”
My online responses to the top of post linked-to article follows:
Perverted Provocative Predictable
“Serious people are doing serious work to prevent this from happening.” Mr. Burman should not parrot establishment, pro war language that ignores, in the most provocative manner, Iran’s right to make nuclear weapons, as it’s citizens want (point of pride) and as, we see, would be rational in a world where the US (supported by other criminal states – like Israel – that take their orders from the godfather, uncle Sam) steals countries whose people (often because of traitorous leaders) are too weak to defend themselves. Seriously!
Can a criminal state perform ‘near’ criminal acts? Hmm.
If these organizations and individuals who would certainly have us believe that they see themselves as public servants and champions, not destroyers, of civilization allow me to publicly disagree with them the way I do, Can I be right? You bet! For one thing, Where organizations are concerned, Especially when they present themselves as being ‘progressive’, it isn’t so easy for them to completely silence progressive voices. If they go to the trouble of looking progressive, then it wouldn’t make sense for them to start openly attacking and/or hindering progressives whose bona fides are beyond questioning. (Are my bona fides beyond questioning? They would be if anyone knew me. Never mind.) As well, Such orgs are often large and have many working for them, whose views might be more or less the same, but with some exceptions.
The Star carries articles by a few who do not support the direction that it’s top officials are taking it in. Just compare Carol Goar’s sorry reportage dealing with free trade and deficits with Linda McQuaig’s reportage on those same subjects. Thomas Walkom no doubt sees things quite a bit differently than anyone on the Star’s editorial board. Rick Salutin, who was unceremoniously dumped from the pro free trade, anti civil society Globe And Mail (where it’s easier to turn on progressives, since it doesn’t pretend to the same extent as the Star to be progressive) doesn’t see eye to eye with the Toronto Star’s big shots. Who knows about others within the organization? There are gatekeepers everywhere, for sure. But not everyone is a gatekeeper.
And here’s Rick Salutin’s thoughts on the CBC: “Should leftists defend the CBC? Hell, no, they should attack it — for being so far to the right. Look at CBC’s prestige political panel: two of three members are Andrew Coyne, of hard-right Maclean’s, and Allan Gregg, who polls for Preston Manning to show how right-wing Canada now is. Its chief pundit is Rex Murphy, now also at the National Post. Take former journalists in the Harper government, like minister Peter Kent and senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin — they all had serious CBC careers. Is CBC training right-wing media agents?” – Rick Salutin (“CBC drifts further right, passing a conservative along the way”)
Kai Nagata worked, very hard and successfully apparently, for CTV. He quit because, like most mainstream media, it isn’t a place where those who take life seriously, in a positive sense (caring about the big issues of the day because one cares about people and the environment and the way those with power don’t care), can thrive and do much good. After his departure from CTV, he explained why, online in his blog. And he had a few words to say about media in general, including the CBC:
“Aside from feeling sexually attracted to the people on screen, the target viewer, according to consultants, is also supposed to like easy stories that reinforce beliefs they already hold. This is where the public broadcaster is caught in a tough spot. CBC Television, post-Stursberg [see bottom of post], is failing in two ways. Despite modest gains in certain markets, (and bigger gains for reality shows like Dragon’s Den and Battle of the Blades) it’s still largely failing to broadcast to the public. More damnably, the resulting strategy is now to compete with for-profit networks for the lowest hanging fruit. In this race to the bottom, the less time and money the CBC devotes to enterprise journalism, the less motivation there is for the private networks to maintain credibility by funding their own investigative teams. Even then, “consumer protection” content has largely replaced political accountability.
“It’s a vicious cycle, and it creates things like the Kate and Will show. Wall-to-wall, breaking-news coverage of a stage-managed, spoon-fed celebrity visit, justified by the couple’s symbolic relationship to a former colony, codified in a document most Canadians have never read (and one province has never signed). On a weekend where there was real news happening in Bangkok, Misrata, Athens, Washington, and around the world, what we saw instead was a breathless gaggle of normally credible journalists, gushing in live hit after live hit about how the prince is young and his wife is pretty. And the public broadcaster led the charge.
“Aside from being overrun by “Action News” prophets from Iowa, the CBC has another problem: the perception that it’s somehow a haven for left-wing subversives. True or not, the CBC was worried enough about its pinko problem to commission an independent audit of its coverage, in which more consultants tried to quantify “left-wing bias” and, presumably using stopwatches, demonstrate that the CBC gives the Conservative government airtime commensurate with the proportion of seats it holds in the House of Commons. Or something like that.
“Jon Stewart talks about a “right-wing narrative of victimization,” and what it has accomplished in Canada is the near-paralysis of progressive voices in broadcasting. In the States, even Fox News anchor Chris Wallace admitted there is an adversarial struggle afoot — that, in his view, networks like NBC have a “liberal” bias and Fox is there to tell “the other side of the story.” Well, Canada now has its Fox News. Krista Erickson, Brian Lilley, and Ezra Levant each do a wonderful send-up of the TV anchor character. The stodgy, neutral, unbiased broadcaster trope is played for jokes before the Sun News team gleefully rips into its targets. But Canada has no Jon Stewart to unravel their ideology and act as a counterweight. Our satirists are toothless and boring, with the notable exception of Jean-René Dufort. And on the more serious side, we have no Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow. So I don’t see any true debate within the media world itself, in the sense of a national, public clash of ideas. The Canadian right wing, if you want to call it that, has had five years to get the gloves off. With a majority Conservative government in power, they’re putting on brass knuckles. Meanwhile the left is grasping about in a pair of potholders.”
Here’s a letter I wrote to Carol Goar, which her pro free trade propaganda prompted me to write but which I did not enjoy writing since I had, just a short time earlier, written her to thank her for her articles dealing with poverty. She acknowledged receipt of the letter:
Carol Goar: August 10, 2007
I can’t tell you how disappointed I am with your boosting of NAFTA. You must know that free trade, a misnomer, hasn’t been good for most people. (Congress’s own research arm predicted that NAFTA would hurt all three national signatories to the pact, which it did. But the study and it’s findings were not released to the public.) People here have signalled to politicians that they (the people) are so stupid that their leaders can push this sort of legalized exploitation on them just by referring to it as ‘free trade’. I agree that people are dumb. Most of it is voluntary. Some of it isn’t. It makes me angry. But it’s no excuse for people who choose to exploit. If your front door is open, that does not mean it’s okay for me to walk across your yard and into your home. In regard to free trade, the capitalist exploiters know that most folks will not ask, “What? There was no trade before now? It wasn’t free? You’re right, There’s no time to waste. We need free trade!” When exactly the opposite is the case.
Your colleague, Linda McQuaig, has some interesting thoughts about free trade, as you well know. Consider:
“A poll conducted for Business Week similarly found that 80 per cent of Americans believed that the environment should be a top priority in trade deals; 74 percent also wanted to make labour rights a priority, and a solid majority disapproved of signing trade deals that offered no protection for environmental and labour concerns. What this suggests is that a lot of Canadians and Americans don’t fully understand that the new trade deals compromise environmental and labour rights. This is no surprise, since government and business leaders keep implying that the deals are exclusively about trade. But when asked about their priorities, citizens in both countries are unequivocal: unbridled profit-making, at the expense of everything else, is unacceptable.” -pg 223 of ALL YOU CAN EAT – GREED, LUST AND THE NEW CAPITALISM (2001)
It’s not just government and business leaders who imply trade deals are only about trade, Is it Carol? Linda also notes how pundits who are widely known and respected, such as the New York Times’s Thomas Friedman, can greatly help to convince people that a certain position is right by himself endorsing it in his columns. Like you with your columns, Carol. Linda notes that by being regarded as neutral and not ideological – which is not exactly what I would have thought about Friedman – he adds force to his arguments. Frankly, I would have thought ‘neutral and not ideological’ applies ‘more’ to you than Friedman. Therefore, In my view and from all I’ve read about free trade deals, Your betrayal, as one who regularly speaks out about the plight of the poor, is great.
And it seems that everyone, except you, is aware that the Washington Consensus, also known as neoliberal capitalism, has been devastating for Latin America. Of course, you ‘are’ aware. While we’re on the subject of what you are and are not aware of, it took some clever navigation on your part to avoid mentioning the Security and Prosperity Partnership in your article on NAFTA and it’s benefits. But it’s hardly surprising. While you might want to boost free trade – which I’ll NEVER understand – NAFTA is already done, whereas the SPP isn’t, de jure, a done deal yet. And we mustn’t invite the readers to enquire as to what this SPP is about, Must we?
“As the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research has shown, economic growth has slowed dramatically in virtually every corner of the developing world in the past two decades – which also happens to be the period when the World Bank and the IMF started aggressively pushing their unfetterred-market agenda. If we compare the twenty-year period before 1980 – when Keynesian-style government interventionism was in vogue – to the twenty years of pro-market policies that have followed, we find that growth was higher almost everywhere in the earlier Keynesian period. (This pattern holds true, although to a less dramatic extent, throughout the industrialized world as well.) In Latin America, for instance, GDP per capita – the standard measure of economic growth used by mainstream economists – grew by 75 per cent in the earlier period and by only 6 per cent in the more recent period.” -pg 77 of ALL YOU CAN EAT
So what does George W. Bush do? He goes down there (with an unstated agenda to morally support tottering rightwing leaders) in the early spring of this year and tells South Americans that neoliberal capitalism hasn’t worked for them and so they should let American capitalists give them more of it, as Justin Akers Chacón recently noted in ISR. In fact, Justin provides us with the sobering fact that “These policies, known collectively as neoliberal capitalism, have been responsible for one of history’s greatest transfers of wealth from poor to rich nations (and from the working classes to the ruling classes) ever witnessed in human history. Since 1980, for instance, it has been calculated that over $4.6 trillion have flowed from poor to wealthy nations through these polices.” (International Socialist Review, “Casualties of neoliberalism,” July/ August 2007)
A final point Linda mentioned in her book has to do with people thinking, with a little help from the establishment, that before the recent free trade deals there wasn’t any free trade. There was, and it was ‘actual’ free trade, as she discusses in the chapter of ALL YOU CAN EAT titled Tearing Down The Fence. She also makes that point, on page 47, in an earlier chapter titled Remaking The World.
And every time I read about how these pacts arrived or are arriving, I find the same reference to how they’ve been kept from the public as much as possible. I remember experiencing this personally when the Multilateral Agreement On Investment was being cooked up. I was online for that and I immediately began passing on info about it as I discovered it. But, What does the public have to add to pacts and so forth that depend for their success on social deficits? The people must fail for the few, who reside in Richistan, to succeed.
“Neoliberalism in Mexico (with the passage of NAFTA) was designed to induce a painful shock treatment into the economy, with the rapid transition to open markets, the abolition of tariffs and subsidies, and the reduction of social spending. Nowhere in the 700-plus pages of NAFTA text was there a plan to address the land loss, deindustrialization, and impoverishment that would immediately result in those sectors of the economy made vulnerable by exposure to the world market,” writes Justin Akers Chacón.
Murray Dobbin adds this:
“Common to all of these deals and potential deals is the complete absence of any reference to social, environmental, or labour standards or human rights. In the developed countries, governments have responded to this criticism with what are now commonly referred to as “side deals.” These usually concern labour and the environment, the two areas where the protest has been the most effective, and a social charter. So far, under the FTA and NAFTA, the side deals have proven ineffective though supporters suggest the jury is still out.
“There is a fatal flaw in the notion of social charters being attached to liberalizing multinational agreements. Pressing for improved labour, social and environmental standards fundamentally contradicts the whole point of these deals, which is to lower cost and investment barriers to transnational corporations. Free trade and investment demand deregulatory requirements that make social protection ideologically and politically unacceptable. It would be difficult to make them effective precisely because, to the extent that they are effective, they undermine the purpose of the agreement and its corporate libertarian philosophy.” -pg 118 of THE MYTH OF THE GOOD CORPORATE CITIZEN, by Murray Dobbin
Murray isn’t drawing his own conclusion there. He then recounts how the U.S. Council for International Business, speaking for U.S. TNCs, wrote to senior U.S. officials and told them they would oppose “any and all measures to create or even imply binding obligations for goverments related to environment or labour.”
Has something changed here, Carol, that we don’t know about?
“The UD [Universal Declaration of Human Rights] became the focus of great attention in June 1993 at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna…
“The high-minded rhetoric at and about the Vienna conference was not besmirched by inquiry into the observance of the UD by its leading defenders. These matters were, however, raised in Vienna in a Public Hearing organized by NGOs. The contributions by activists, scholars, lawyers, and others from many countries reviewed “alarming evidence of massive human rights violations in every part of the world as a result of the policies of the international financial institutions,” the “Washington Consensus” among the leaders of the free world. This “neoliberal” consensus disguises what might be called “really existing free market doctrine”: market discipline is of great benefit to the weak and defenseless, though the rich and powerful must shelter under the wings of the nanny state. They must also be allowed to persist in “the sustained assault on [free trade] principle” that is deplored in a scholarly review of the post-1970 (“neoliberal”) period by GATT secretariat economist Patrick Low (now director of economic research for the World Trade Organization), who estimates the restrictive effects of Reaganite measures at about three times those of other leading industrial countries, as they “presided over the greatest swing toward protectionism since the 1930s,” shifting the US from “being the world’s champion of multilateral free trade to one of its leading challengers,” the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations commented in a review of the decade.” -pg 130 of ROGUE STATES – THE RULE OF FORCE IN WORLD AFFAIRS (2000), by Noam Chomsky
We need besmirching, Carol. But I guess we’ll only get that from rabble rousers like your colleague Linda McQuaig and, perhaps, from the odd “special to the Star” writer, like the one who wrote a different view from you the same day you tapped out “Americans rethinking free trade.” Dick Smyth, a former broadcaster, wrote “Our crass business ethos cannot survive,” in which he notes that:
“Free trade had the potential of improving the human condition. But instead of bettering wages and working conditions in Mexico and the U.S. south, it has exerted downward pressure on them in Canada.
“Unions are loathed. The first indication of their demise was when politicians dispensed with the once mandatory union “bug” on their campaign material. Unions today negotiate concessions rather than benefits.
“Pension and medical plans are increasingly rare. The five-day week and eight-hour day, wrested into existence by unions, are vanishing under the twin chimeras of “competitiveness” and “productivity.” Employers evade the spirit of the law while observing its letter by hiring people “on contract” or as part timers. Others are given meaningless “management” titles to thwart laws on overtime.” And he doesn’t mellow out for the rest of his article. I remember the man, sort of. I remember his voice. It’s distinctive. But I remember him, I think, from a time when I wasn’t politicized. Now I’ll remember his words, which I’ve enjoyed. (“Americans rethinking free trade,” Toronto Star, August 6, 2007 & “Our crass business ethos cannot survive,” Toronto Star, August 6, 2007)
Maude Barlow writes about two trips that she took to Mexico that stood out for her. After one visit, she cried all the way home from seeing conditions that she describes in her book and that would make any normal person extremely sad. I liked the one about dipping a pencil into the river in the maquiladora and finding it stripped of paint when removed. She also mentions the factory owners who expected to be shown a good time when they came to visit and would therefore be given Mexican women to rape. (I recall in the news learning about all the women in the maquiladora area simply disappearing and turning up raped and murdered. Maude here mentions photo journalist Charles Bowden’s work, presenting the horrific story of those disappearances, with over 500 women, most of them young, disappearing in 1997 alone. Bowden worked for Harper’s magazine. However, She mentions that in the middle of recalling her 1990 and 1991 trips to Mexico.)
I don’t recall hearing that we are in Mexico in part to free the women, but maybe that line works better for Afghanistan. Maude’s 1990 trip, made for the purpose of finding out what free trade had done for Mexicans, prior to NAFTA’s implementation, saw her make contact with an economist named Carlos Herédia, who she later brought to Canada “when CBC’s The National put the deal “on trial” and I was defence for the prosecution.”
“For the whole week, I kept my emotions in check. I did say in my closing remarks to the gathering back in Mexico City that I was leaving a piece of my heart behind and this was true. But it wasn’t until I got on the plane to return home that the full impact of what I had seen hit me. I was sitting with Tony [Clarke] who could see that I was devastated and was helping me to comprehend what it all meant. I had seen poverty before; what so upset me about this trip was that I had glimpsed a future the world was pro-actively and consciously creating. We were weaving a future out of extreme inequality and violence in order to service the growing consumer demands of the world’s elite, many of whom lived in my country. The children I saw on the streets of Mexico would never be counted in the measurements I knew our government officials and business economists would use to “prove” that free trade was working for Canada. The twisted, deformed infant victims of the toxic maquiladora factories I visited would never show up as a negative factor in Mexico’s Gross Domestic Product. I wept most of the way back to Canada.” -pages 126 & 127 of THE FIGHT OF MY LIFE (1998), by Maude Barlow
Carol, I don’t think your boosting of free trade is educational. At least not in a positive sense. Just from the quick review of free trade in this email, it’s clear that you are very deliberately protecting free trade’s image, at least in the eyes of those who haven’t had a good look at it and who believe it’s ‘free’ and it’s ‘trade’ and that it’s good, just as people like you indicate. You have a louder voice than most others and what you say has an impact on (helping to determine) the issues Canadians will want to talk about. So, If you can lambast David Miller for not being forthcoming with the public about his dilemma vis a vis Toronto’s finances and the options before Toronto’s councillors (“Mayor’s credibility gap on taxes,” Toronto Star, August 1, 2007), then perhaps you can re-think your failure to talk about the SPP when you’re talking about it. Somehow, I doubt you will.
The public depends not on mainstream media, and establishment journos like Carol Goar, to be properly and fully informed. Indeed, journos like Goar tell the lie that our politicians and their partners in the private sector are telling us what they’re doing. But that is not the case. And if the nastiness that they were doing is so good, then how come, when the people find out about it, which they do eventually as a result of the efforts of organizations like The Council Of Canadians and individuals like Maude Barlow, they want nothing to do with it and leaders back off? Not always, but often. (for example: MAI, SPP)
“To hear Maude Barlow tell it, Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be sacrificing Canada’s energy security, weakening its environmental safeguards and relinquishing control over its water supply when he meets U.S. President George Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon at the Château Montebello next week…
“What is at stake in the two-day summit is a sprawling package of regulatory reforms known as the Security and Prosperity Partnership…
“But to say that “corporations are drafting government policy behind closed doors,” as the Council of Canadians does, is a bit of a stretch.” (Carol Goar, “We need a dialogue, not protests,” August 13, 2007, Toronto Star)
The SPP formally died in August of 2009 (but in substance, many policies and measures it was meant to establish are alive and well). See this interesting summation, by Stuart Trew, of the push by fascists to implement this nasty program and progressives’ successful push back against it here: “The SPP Is Dead, So Where’s the Champagne?”
Here’s some archived material from the COC’s website dealing with the then current fight against the SPP. Visit the website for the links provided:
“Big business corporations on both sides of the border are pushing for stronger economic and political ties with the United States. Led in Canada by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) – an organization representing Canada’s top 150 corporations – and supported by right-wing think tanks like the C.D. Howe Institute and the Fraser Institute, corporate groups are lobbying the Canadian government to get rid of border restrictions and policy differences with the U.S. in order to make it easier to do business.
““Deep integration” is a term that refers to the dismantling of the border between Canada and the United States. It could affect everything – the economy, social programs, resources and the environment. Deep integration is the harmonization of policies and regulations that govern the foods we eat, the items we buy, and how we live. It calls for the formation of a new North America that effectively erases the border between Canada and the United States in the interest of trade north of the border and security concerns south of the border.
“Documents obtained by the Council of Canadians provide damning evidence of how North American integration is being carried out by stealth. They describe a series of closed-door meetings with government officials and business leaders from Canada, Mexico and the United States to discuss everything from bulk water exports to a joint security perimeter and a continental resource pact, all with the explicit aim of helping executive-level politicians further integrate our three countries.”
Who’s the rat? Maude et al? Or Carol Goar et al? Decide for yourselves.
*“Casualties of neoliberalism,” by Justin Akers Chacón, International Socialist Review
*“Celebrating 25 Years Of Accomplishments,” by Maude Barlow (mentioning the defeated MAI, short for ‘Multilateral Agreement on Investment’)
*I first encountered the word “Richistan” in Richard Gwyn’s (June 26, 2007) Toronto Star article titled “The rich get their own nationality.” The following is an excerpt: “…Stephen Schwarzman…runs a company called the Blackstone Group. It’s a private equity firm (more about that in a moment). It’s just made a public share offering, a most successful one, of which Schwarzman, as the principal shareholder is, naturally and properly, the principal beneficiary. But a beneficiary on a scale without precedent. He’s now worth just under $8 billion (U.S.). That’s on top of last year’s earnings of $398.3 million. Besides those who wish they were him and those who now hate him, there is a one group of naysayers who are especially interesting. According to the Financial Times of London, a lot of other top executives of private equity companies are enraged at Schwarzman because he’s drawing attention to the fact that they, exactly like him, are sitting on gigantic golden eggs. Apparently, these types are worried that the politicians, egged on by the mob, or the proletariat, or ordinary types like most readers of this column, will feel they need to “do something” about those like Schwarzman who make incredible fortunes by financial juggling while making not a single product nor providing a single new service to the public… In the U.S. in 1985, there were 13 billionaires. Today, there are more than 1,000. Just in 2005, another 227,000 new American millionaires were minted. In his book Richistan, Robert Frank calls this new class “financial foreigners.” They may live in the U.S., or London or Hong Kong or Toronto, but they really live in their own space, with their own health system, own transportation system (private jets, limousines), even their own time system (watches that cost up to $600,000). Except nominally, they aren’t Americans or Brits or Chinese or Canadians. Their real nationality is that of “Richistan,” because they are very, very, very, rich.”
*I had embedded this video in a previous post. But just so folks understand what kind of people are running the state of Israel, I’ll present “There Was No War In Gaza. It Was A Massacre,” by Norman Finkelstein, again: