December 29, 2006

World War III: Has it Started?

My attitude is, if you have to ask, it probably hasn't started. But, don't let that stop you from reading on.

A friend called the other day. He said WWIII had started on that day. A second friend later said it has been under way for several years already, Newt Gingrich agrees, as do others who think we're already at war with China. Some saw the July 2006 US-Israeli assault on Lebanon as an indication of World War III.

I suspect it depends on how you define a world war (Here's a bible-thumper's attempt). A founder of the elite Delta Force, retired Command Sergeant Major Eric Haney, says, "We have fomented civil war in Iraq. We have probably fomented internecine war in the Muslim world between the Shias and the Sunnis, and I think Bush may well have started the third world war, all for their own personal policies." [3]

The first friend said that the signal was Thailand's'move on currency controls. He argued that such extreme moves are so rare that they indicate open warfare, a challenge to US domination. He said the recent coup, supported by Thailand's King, was in anticipation of this kind of severe state action. He argued that the US debt, flooding the world with dollars, creates excessive amounts of investment capital that must find a place to go. In other words, Thailand is rejecting US dollars, saying in effect, "Go create speculative bubbles somewhere else."

It's hard to argue with the logic, but my take was less sinister with regard to the United States. It might be that hedge fund managers were engaged in a pump and dump of Thai currency, or maybe it's just a market frenzy. Either way, perhaps Thailand was simply trying to protect their economy from a market failure of excessive speculative capital.

"The later is true," said my first friend. However, it's also true that Thailand is poking laissez faire economics in the eye, and is saying, "US dollars go away." Given the fundamentalist way the US embraces neoliberal economics, and the consequences to the US of other countries following Thailand's lead in shunning US dollar flows, he argues that Thailand is drawing a line.

So, I asked, "If we're at war, what are the alliances?" He said that the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel are allied against the rest, with varying degrees of polarization and a great deal of jockying still ongoing. Seems a bit too simple for my taste. For example, it could be argued that Ethiopia is allied with the United States, and where do South Korea and Japan stand?

It's true that many countries are easing away from the United States; put another way, the US is becoming isolated. This is for several reasons. First, the US is viewed as a "bully," for example using very heavy-handed tactics, and bribes, to secure votes in the United Nations, and being associated with discredited captial market liberalization policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) responsible for economic debacles.[1] As is common in relationships with bullys, other countries have been acting more gingerly toward the US; they don't want to get too close, but they don't want to get on the bad side of the US.

Second, the US has committed crimes against peace by conducting an illegal war of aggression in Iraq. Leaders of some countries are wary of the potential for guilt by association with the United States.

Third, by its military failure in Iraq, the US has exposed its weakness. James K. Galbraith makes a profound observation. He says, "Bush and Cheney have done more than bungle a war and damage the Army. They have destroyed the foundation of the post-Cold War world security system, which was the accepted authority of American military power. That reputation is now gone." He goes on to note our alliances are now vulnerable.

That is coming to pass. Japan is seeking to increase its military capacity in recognition that it cannot depend on the United States.

Another hint comes from Robert Fisk, who recently dined with Australian Army generals in Canberra. [4] "What people are asking all over the middle east is, if the Americans are going to pull out of Iraq, what happens to the Gulf States? Well, they [the US] can say, "Oh well, we'll remain in ships off shore, etcetra, etcetra. Be sure we'll be told that Americans are merely redeploying from Iraq, as in Nepoleon's redeployment from Moscow, or the British redeployment from Dunkirk, or Custer's last redeployment. But, I'll show you how far the tsunami waves go from this development. I mean, I, I'm very frightened about what's gonna happen if and when the Americans leave, even though they've got to leave.

"I was giving a lecture, as series of lectures, in Canberra, the Australian capitol six months ago now. I was invited to dinner one night by an academic and he brought a number of Australian Army generals to dinner, a private dinner.... These guys were talking and one of them said to me, "You realize Mr. Fisk that down here we're thinking of, you know, doubling the size the Australian Army." and I said "What?! You're just a big desert surrounded by a finge of gardens and you wanna double the size of your army?" And he explained it very clearly. This is what they're discussing in miltary college, of course, Army college in, in Canberra. He said, "Look" he said, "The Americans are gonna pull out of Iraq. There going to, because they've lost." The Australians have got soldiers in Iraq, so they know this... And [the general said] "If they do that, they may withdraw their Pacific shield from South East Asia, and then we could be on our own." He said, "North of us we have the largest populated Muslum country in the world." Indonesia. "and they could be in Sydney with armor in 24-hours. We need to double the size of the Army."

Fisk continues, "Now this shows you that what is happening Fallujah and Ramadi and Baghdad is having an echo way out, thousands and thousands, you know, 18, from here even more, 20 hours flying time out of here. They're worried about this. And there I was, sitting as the cicadas chirped away outside in the garden thinking, "My God. This IS going to have an effect."

Where does this leave us? I don't think World War III has started in earnest. There won't be any debate about symantics when it does. A summary of the damage to the Soviet Union in WWII makes my point: 70,000 villages destroyed, 1,700 towns, 32,000 factories, 40,000 miles of rail road track, 16 million people dead (Soviets lost 78,000 military in the battle for Berlin alone); Greece two-thirds of its merchant fleet lost, one-third of its forests destoryed, etcetra, etcetra. [5] True, survey results, published in the "Lancet" journal, estimates 654,965 excess Iraqi deaths (with a range of 392,979 to 942,636) between March 2003 and July 2006. This, and incentives for the the US to drift into Iran, suggests we might be well on the way to World War III.

This discussion started with economics. James K. Galbraith had an additional forshadowing statement. Refering to the newly exposed US military impotence, he said, "As these paper tigers start to blow in the wind, so too will America's economic security." [2] When a great empire begins to crumble, and if you read Morris Berman you'll know what I mean, it often flails violently in desperation. Add to this the US plans to expand its combat forces, and investments in new nuclear bunker-busters and other military technology. China is presently justifying its plans to expand its military capacity. We've noted Japan and Australia. Of course, North Korea now has the bomb. Pakistan got it fairly recntly, and the US is offering to give enriched uranium to India, creating the potential for that nation to use its uranium enrichment capacity for developing more nuclear weapons. There are pressures for NATO countries to expand their military capacities, often with support from the US. NATO is now deeply committed in Afghanistan, creating more pressure for military enhancements.

In other words, the world militarys are being built up. That, combined with troubled economic waters ahead, argue strongly for keeping a watchful eye on world leaders who have a track record of getting the world in to wars. If Einstien was right, common people will want to prevent World War III: "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." - Alber Einstien.


[1] Additional Reading on IMF's Discredited Policies:

Washington Post, July 29, 2004. Web Link

[2] March-April 2006 issue of Mother Jones magazine.

[3] Delta Force founder: Bush may have started World War III, RAW STORY interview by David Kronke, Friday March 24, 2006 Web LINK

[4] Flashpoints Radio interview with Robert Fisk, December 18, 2006. Web LINK which has a link to audio of the interview.

[5] Postwar: A history of Europe Since 1945, Tony Judt, Penguin, 2005.


Quipper said...

Greetings again. The holidays left life a bit busy.

I have a few comments and a question.

C1: I take Christian apocalypticos with a grain of salt. Most have a hard time separating the symbolic, spiritual writings of Revelation from the geopolitical realities of the world. It has to do with their interpretation of scripture, with which I disagree.

C2: I don't believe all the allies have been defined yet, either. And, does the enemy require geopolitical demarcation? If it's China, that's easy because they are a political entity. If the politics of radical Islam are public enemy #1, who is the enemy?

Q: I've never heard the term "neolib economics". Can you explain what this means?


GDAEman said...

Agreed on your C1. I almost didn't include the link that prompted your comment, but felt it deserved credit for at least trying to define WWIII.

Agreed on C2. Interestingly, in WWII the allies were not well-defined either. You had civil war in Greece at the end of the major conflict for just such reasons. The Soviet Union was our ally and communism was our enemy simultaneously.

Neoliberal economics has two faces (at least). One face is an honest libertarian theory that says "free trade" is a good thing. It has some economic basis (the notion of comparative advantage). Of course, it's good if you're an advanced country that has mass production that can overwhealm a lesser develope country, and bad if you're the lesser developed country. (Keep in mind the powerful countries got to be powerful by using trade barriers and stealing natural resources via colonial practices... which we'd NEVER do today).

The other face is the co-opted version that has actually taken hold in the world. It's often called "corporate globalization." The powerful nations say to the lesser nations, "Enter free trade agreements or we'll crush you." Actually, the plutocrats of the wealthy nations say this to the plutocrats of the lesser nations. The later see personal dollar signs, the corporations move in and take over every sector of the lesser nation, and the poor generally stay poor or get jobs in sweat shops.

That doesn't really do the subject justice, but you get the idea.

A book by John Perkins "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" gives a cloak and dagger take on it. He worked for the big guys to get small countries in debt. Once in debt, the plutocrats effectively own them. If the lesser countries had a leader who, God forbid, wanted to use their natural resources to better the lives of the poor people (like the evil Hugo Chavez), then "the jackals" would be set upon these heathen "communists". If that didn't work, military intervention was an option.

Anonymous said...

Opening Salvos of a greater Middle East War -

A war involving the US, Israel, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda…..

Anonymous said...

e-Book readers. Could be a huge boon for students.
But they won't enjoy the benefit of electronic products. Still will pay OUTRAGEOUS prices for books for their courses.

Using evil to prey upon evil.
I realize the horrific days of people planning monsterous acts like the Holocaust are behind us. But that doesn't mean there still are not scams in the economy, besides The Skim, wnich the gods view as necessary for positioning's sake.
Just as clone hosting selected disfavored whom the gods wanted ot ensure had no chance to ascend before The End, so did being invited into the 21st century real estate scam ensure as of yet undetermined punishment elements.
They instructed people whom they wanted ot condition into faith in their relationship that since the stock market would top out they should shift their asset base into real estate instead.
And they told them when to sell before they tanked the real estate market as well, timing all based on the level of confidence they wanted each to understand.
The victims may cry "Why would this happen to me." but their behavior in a prior life would answer this:::It didin't happen to anyone who didn't deserve it.

Both the public and the private sector host $400k overpaid employees. The difference?
The private sector preys upon the disfavored rejects from motherlands, while the public sector preys upon people too disfavored to stay reproducing with their own blood and enjoying their own culture. Corporate preyed upon the more favored purebloods from their motherland through sourcing and therefore incurr more evil in the eyes of the gods. Yet another great example of the god's "reverse positioning".

They point the finger at me and claim I participate by shopping at WalMart.
Now this is something I have yet to understand, for they ALL engage in this sourcing due to cheap Asian labor.
It is the essence of life in the United States.
And Walmart has a very straightforward business model, although not as clear as Costco's "14%", rest assured I pay a margin on each and every product I purchase at Walmart independantly, including my $3 box of American made Cherios and my 68 cent can of Campbell's tomato soup.
INCIDENTALLY, it seems to me we pay THE SAME PRICE FOR SHIT THAT WE DID BEFORE SOURCING BEGAN. The difference is being poicketed by corporate and the $400k employees who are recruited into playing a part in this evil.
The gods intentionally set this up to ensure the onus falls upon the preditory capitalist and not the ignorant public.
Trash at the top just as there is trash in the ghetto.