OH, What a Tangled Web of Gas Pipeline Projects!

OH, What a Tangled Web of Gas Pipeline Projects!

Journal of Turkish Weekly (JTW)

One of the causes most often given for the start of World War One is the maze of bilateral treaties that had been signed between the European powers of the day. One country was obliged to declare war against another because it had signed a mutual defense pact to come to its ally’s aid in case of an attack.

Today, it’s not tangled defense treaties that threaten European stability but rather a web of gas pipeline projects – none of which address the real problem with the continent’s energy policy.

The Russians have at least two pipeline projects on the table, Nord Stream and South Stream, which would provide a direct connection to their two best European customers, Germany and Italy respectively.

Implicit in the acceptance of the Russian projects is that Ukraine, which transits 80 percent of Europe’s eastern gas supplies, is an unreliable partner.

Unfortunately, following the flare-up of another Christmas-time gas standoff between Ukraine and Russia, the Kremlin currently looks just as unreliable if not more in the eyes of its Western customers.

Even if one agreed that Ukraine hadn’t been paying for the gas it imported from Russia, why did Moscow let the debt get out of hand? Why did it respond so harshly? Why was the whole business so shady and steeped in politics?

Ukraine, of course, has not come out of the affair unscathed either. Like Russia, it forfeited a load of badly needed revenues and further soiled its bid to integrate with Europe.

And also like Russia, Ukraine has its own pipeline project, White Stream, which as one might expect goes around Russia and through Ukraine to Europe.

Then there is the American favorite, the Nabucco pipeline, which goes around both Russia and Ukraine through the darling of the Bush Administration, Georgia, and then NATO member Turkey.

No one in Washington apparently wants to consider the possibility that the Turks will get sick of applying for EU membership and replace the country’s military elite with an Islamist regime.

For that matter, neither Russia, Ukraine, the United States or anyone else seem to want to consider the possibility that Central Asia will fall under a “non-European’ influence. But considering how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are going, is this really such a far-fetched scenario?

At the very least, the leaders of countries such as Turkmenistan must have realized long ago that they own the goose that lays the golden eggs. Neighbors such as China and India are also willing to pay for hydrocarbons to fuel their developing economies.

But that’s all down the road, along with American and European plans to invest in renewable energy. Solar shields, wind farms, etc. take a lot of long-term investment. And for the time being, there is lots of money to be made from selling gas and oil.

Instead, we are hearing the always progressive-minded Europeans talking about building new storage facilities so as not to be caught in a lurch again. This strategy, of course, completely ignores the root problem of ‘unreliable’ suppliers.

Putin’s Kremlin has never made it a secret that it intends to use the country’s position as a major gas supplier to extend its geopolitical influence.

This geopolitical influence includes preventing former Soviet republics like Georgia and Ukraine from joining NATO.

The recent gas war, which didn’t bring the Kremlin the results it expected, was actually the latest in a series of moves to increase Russian control over its immediate neighbors.

The Kremlin had previously been successful in keeping European energy policy divided by cutting deals with individual countries. It also had appeared to be reversing global condemnation of its short war against Georgia.

Indeed, it’s not difficult to believe that Moscow may eventually be able to gloss over its behavior during the recent gas war. A little money and time have a way of melting the iciest of criticism.

Ukraine, unfortunately, is short of both money and time. If the world’s rich countries are reluctant to invest in alternative fuels and greater efficiency, what can one expect from cash-strapped Kyiv?

Ukraine could open up its hydrocarbon fields to international investment. Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has already managed to get rid of the shady intermediary companies that controlled gas imports from Russia.

However, it takes time for such measures to pay off.

Which brings us back to Russia.

Forget about the Kremlin’s PR effort against Ukraine in Europe. The Ukrainians are already rolling over on their own.

Rumors about what Tymoshenko had to concede to the Kremlin in order to get rid of the intermediary companies and keep import prices low were still circulating when she announced during a trip to Germany last weekend that she was asking Moscow for a loan.

Speaking to journalists, however, Tymoshenko denied media reports that she had agreed to sign an agreement yielding Soviet-era assets to Russia.

The list of other possible Ukrainian concessions is long: renewing the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s lease on its base in Crimea, making Russian an official language, connecting Crimea to southern Russia by a bridge, subordinating Orthodox churches in Ukraine to Moscow and refraining from joining NATO.

NATO membership for Ukraine has become all but a distant dream anyway, with even the Americans throwing in the towel for now.

And as newly sworn-in Vice President Joe Biden begins to formulate the U.S.’s post-Bush foreign policy, one is reminded of the days of Jimmy Carter.

Ok, they will close Guantanamo and promise to no longer torture suspected terrorists – hurray. But will the U.S. stick up for Georgia and go forward with its missile defense system or not?

I think not.

As for the Kremlin, it doesn’t have to take Tbilisi or Kyiv by storm to achieve its goals. It will work from the inside to make sure the pro-Western Saakashvili and Yushchenko are sent packing by their own impoverished people.

But even as the border between the EU and the former Soviet Union becomes more defined, it will remain crisscrossed up, down and across by a multitude of competing gas-pipeline projects capable of upsetting the geopolitical applecart well into the near future.

John Marone, a columnist of Eurasian Home website, Kyiv, Ukraine


Tuesday, 10 February 2009

EurasianHome

Pakistani Information minister says masses exposed to terrorists’ message

Sherry for strengthened efforts against extremist propaganda

* Information minister says masses exposed to terrorists’ message
* Directs coordination of all govt departments, agencies with media

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: Federal Information Minister Sherry Rehman on Tuesday called for intensifying the government’s public outreach and strategic communications efforts to counter extremist propaganda.

“Pakistan is confronted with a war of ideas – between tolerance and extremism, and between democracy and anarchy,” Sherry said.

She was chairing a public outreach and communications meeting at the Information Ministry to assess the government’s counterterrorism communications strategy.

The meeting reviewed the government’s ongoing diplomatic responses to the war on terror, conflicts in Swat and FATA, and fallout of the Mumbai terror attacks.

Exposure: “In this war for hearts and minds, Pakistan’s vulnerable population segments are exposed to terrorists’ message,” she said. “Our poor and uneducated youth become hapless recruits to their sinister recruiting techniques. Only a well-coordinated and synchronised national and international framework of public outreach and strategic communications, undertaken by government departments and agencies, will thwart the extremist propaganda.”

Officials of the Inter-Services Public Relations, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority and Radio Pakistan informed the meeting’s participants about ongoing efforts to procure equipment for blocking the Taliban’s radio transmissions in Swat and FATA.

The minister was informed that the equipment would be procured and installed in the next two weeks, followed by an extensive radio campaign to counter the Taliban’s transmissions in the region.

Officials of the Pakistan Television (PTV) and Radio Pakistan briefed the meeting of news and current affairs programmes specifically aimed at countering terrorism.

PTV officials briefed the participants on a planned year-long campaign for peace in collaboration with civil society actors, intellectuals and culture ambassadors in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, the Middle East, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Coordination: Sherry stressed the need for active liaison of ministries and government functionaries with the media, directing regular communications meetings to devise and evaluate public outreach programmes.

The information minister also directed the formulation of a ‘Core Working Group’ of the meeting, which would specifically design and implement the government’s counterterrorism public outreach agenda.

She also directed the streamlining of the Press Sections in all of Pakistan’s foreign missions to present the country’s position positively in the international media.

‘Zardari says UN help to be sought over drone attacks’

‘Zardari says UN help to be sought over drone attacks’

* Tribal elder says govt’s negotiations with Taliban, mullahs have reduced tribal elders’ power

By Iqbal Khattak

PESHAWAR: President Asif Zardari has told a tribal jirga that Pakistan will appeal to the United Nations to intervene on its behalf against the continued operations of US drones in the Tribal Areas, a tribal elder said on Tuesday.

“I will take the issue of drone attacks to the United Nations if they (the US) do not stop,” tribal elder Malik Waris Khan quoted the president’s response to the tribal elders’ demand for an appropriate government response to the drone attacks. Khan read out the welcome address at a tribal jirga attended by the president during the latter’s recent trip to Peshawar.

The US has stepped up drone attacks in the Tribal Areas over the past year, targeting ‘important’ Al Qaeda elements. Islamabad’s hope that the attacks would stop with a new president in the White House have not materialised. “All jirga members were unanimous in demanding the government act to prevent further drone attacks,” another tribal elder told Daily Times on condition of anonymity.

Hailing from Bajaur, the elder said that President Asif Ali Zardari had also promised the tribal elders that the annual development budget would be increased from Rupees 8 billion to Rupees 11 billion.

Diminishing role: An influential elder from North Waziristan, Malik Qadir Khan, also talked to the president and informed him of the diminishing role of the tribal elder. He said the traditional respect accorded to the elders was fading because the “government was looking to the mullahs and the Taliban first and the elders later”.

“The government cannot restore its writ until the elders’ role is restored by strengthening them against the Taliban and others,” Malik Qadir told the president during the jirga. “We lost strength and respect because the government agreed to negotiate with the clerics and the Taliban,” he added.

Russia likely to allow shipment of Afghan-bound US arms

Russia likely to allow shipment of Afghan-bound US arms

MOSCOW: Russia is open to the possibility of letting the United States and NATO ship weaponry across its territory to Afghanistan if the broader relationship between Moscow and the West improves, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday.

Lavrov spoke the day after U.S. diplomats met with Russian officials in Moscow to work out logistical details for Western military supplies to cross Russia. Moscow has previously allowed non-lethal cargo from European nations to cross its territory and said last week it would let the U.S. do the same.

Asked at a news conference whether Russia could also agree to transit of weapons, Lavrov said “additional steps are also possible.”

“Last April and May we discussed the possibility of using Russian military cargo planes to deliver supplies to coalition forces with our NATO colleagues,” he said. “Any other agreements are also possible.”

He added that broader cooperation on Afghanistan would be contingent on improvement of Russia-NATO ties, which were frozen after last summer’s Russia-Georgia war.

“The most important thing is to normalize Russia-NATO relations,” Lavrov said, adding that the alliance must view Russia as an equal partner and respect its security interests.

He also welcomed the new U.S. administration’s stated intention to reset relations with Russia.

“There are too many problems in the world which we must solve together, there are too many common threats Russia, the United States and Europe all face,” he said. “The situation in Afghanistan is one of these problems.”

A delegation headed by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Patrick Moon traveled to Moscow Tuesday to work out details of allowing Afghanistan-bound shipments to cross Russia.

With Taliban and al-Qaida violence rising in Afghanistan, President Barack Obama plans to send as many as 30,000 additional forces this year. Taliban fighters, carrying assault rifles and wearing suicide vests stormed the Justice Ministry and another government building in Afghanistan’s capital Wednesday in the latest deadly attack.

Supplying allied forces has become increasingly tenuous as insurgents intensify attacks on supply lines through Pakistan — the primary route for U.S. supplies. Transit routes through Russia and the possibly through the Central Asia nations of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan would serve as key alternatives to Pakistan routes.

Adding to the uncertainty is the decision last week by another Central Asian nation, Kyrgyzstan, to evict U.S. forces from an air base that is important to U.S. operations in Afghanistan.

U.S. officials suspect that Moscow, which promised billions in aid and loans for impoverished Kyrgyzstan, was behind the decision to close the Manas base.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev insisted Wednesday that he made the move for purely economic reasons after repeated appeals to the United States to pay more for rental of the base went unheeded. He said the United States promised $150 million in annual rent in 2006, but that Washington failed to keep its word. The United States now pays $63 million a year.

A parliamentary vote on approving the closure was expected this week, but the bill has been delayed, leading some analysts to suggest that negotiations on a settlement may continue.

Russia’s relations with Washington worsened steadily during George W. Bush’s presidency, with Washington’s plans to deploy missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic a key irritant. A day after Obama’s election, Russia threatened to deploy short-range missiles near Poland in an apparent attempt to push the new administration into dumping the plan.

Lavrov said Wednesday that Russia would move the missiles to the Kaliningrad region if the U.S. puts the missile defense sites in place.

“It will only be necessary if the missile defense facilities are physically created,” he said.

‘Safe havens’ must be uprooted: Holbrooke: Qureshi urges talks with reconcilable elements

‘Safe havens’ must be uprooted: Holbrooke: Qureshi urges talks with reconcilable elements

By Baqir Sajjad Syed
ISLAMABAD, Feb 10: US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Richard Holbrooke urged the Pakistani leadership on Tuesday to eliminate safe havens of terrorists in tribal areas and said the Obama administration would fully support efforts for achieving the objective.

The US envoy met President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI’s Director General Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha.

In the course of what was described as frank, candid and straightforward discussion, he told them that the Obama administration was ready to get the Kerry-Lugar Bill passed for increasing socio-economic assistance to Pakistan, implement the Reconstruction Opportunity Zones project in tribal areas and meet the military hardware needs of the country for counter-insurgency operations. In return. he said, the US wanted to see the tribal areas cleared of safe havens of Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The special representative said that the safe havens in Fata were as much a threat to Pakistan as they were to the US and Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said at a press conference: “There are some irreconcilable elements and nobody wants to deal with them, neither Pakistan, nor Afghanistan nor the US, but there is a reconcilable element and we should not overlook their importance and their significance.”

The rest of the discussion was more of ‘exploratory nature’ during which Mr Holbrooke tried to sound out the Pakistani leaders on various aspects of Pak-US cooperation in the war on terror.

The government decided to set up an inter-agency committee led by Foreign Minister Qureshi which would sit with Mr Holbrooke’s team to review the past policies and help re-craft the US policy on Pakistan and Afghanistan. The committee will travel to Washington next month for further discussions.

Mr Qureshi said: “We’ll work with Ambassador Holbrooke in reviewing their analysis on what had happened in the past so many years, what went wrong and how to approach the issue in a different manner.”

Although the composition of the committee is yet to be decided, Mr Qureshi made it clear that it would include relevant people.

But even before the committee has been formed, there are concerns that the new structure could affect the ongoing strategic dialogue between the two countries.

The foreign minister said he had told Mr Holbrooke that the strategic dialogue between the US and Pakistan was significant and should not be overlooked as both sides engaged in cooperation at the level of inter-agency committee.

Pakistan’s concerns regarding the planned US military surge in Afghanistan were also communicated to the ambassador.

“The military surge might have implications for Pakistan,” Mr Qureshi said, adding it needed to be accompanied by a civilian surge, entailing socio-economic development and greater political engagement with reconcilable elements.

The issue of drone attacks featured in the discussion with Pakistan reiterating its position that the strikes were counter-productive.Ambassador Holbrooke was asked to weigh advantages and disadvantages of the attacks.

The foreign minister said he had told the US envoy that there should be ‘red lines’ defining what was acceptable and what was not acceptable to Pakistan, and also what was acceptable and what was unacceptable to the US.

Making a mention of the Kashmir issue, the Pakistani side emphasised that a holistic strategy for dealing with the problem of extremism and militancy was not possible without resolution of regional problems.

“If Pakistan has to remain focussed on western borders then obviously a calm eastern front is in everybody’s advantage,” Mr Qureshi said.Interestingly neither the Mumbai attacks nor the much talked about A. Q. Khan issue came up during the discussion.

Consensus for peace

Talking to Mr Holbrooke, Prime Minister Gilani said the new US administration must base its relationship with Pakistan on trust, cohesion and understanding of each other’s strengths and constraints in their struggle against extremism and terrorism.

He said Pakistan would like to engage with the US to build a new global strategic consensus for peace, security and stability in the region. He underlined the importance of enhanced cooperation in defence and intelligence sharing.

APP adds: During his meeting with Ambassador Holbrooke, President Zardari emphasised that only a cohesive and integrated regional approach was the way forward to defeating extremism and terrorism.

He also called for expediting the Kerry-Lugar Bill and Reconstruction Opportunity Zones legislation and stressed the need for working out a joint strategy to counter terrorism.

Welcoming Mr Holbrooke’s appointment as a special representative, the president said that stability, peace and prosperity of Pakistan were important for peace and stability in the region.

He assured Mr Holbrooke of Pakistan’s engagement with the new administration on the policy review that it was undertaking for the region

The World Flees from the “American Disease”

The World Flees from the “American Disease”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The only way to avoid another dose is to reject economic entanglements with the Americans.”

The world is reorganizing itself to avoid further exposure to the most virulent strains of what is now commonly referred to as “the American disease.” The contagion is dreaded like the worst kind of venereal infection. This disease is transmitted through political and economic intercourse with the Typhoid Mary of the planet, the United States. As headquarters nation for global finance capital, the U.S. acted as vector of the current planetary economic meltdown.

No country is fully immune to the ravages of the American transmitted disease. Having penetrated nearly every corner of the planet, the scourge, first spread by Wall Street hustlers, now threatens to undermine the economic organs of the entire Earth. Just as with biological infections, the disease must be contained before it can be cured. That means avoiding contact with the Americans and their hopelessly contaminated financial instruments: those festering derivatives that so poisoned the U.S. economy, it is virtually paralyzed.

When the Wall Street plague hit Europe in October of last year, the assembled heads of state were quick with a diagnosis, but not a cure. “We want entrepreneurial capitalism and not speculative capitalism, “ declared French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. But speculative capitalism is the only kind the United States has been peddling for a very long time. By now, much of the world has come to the realization that the only way to avoid another dose of the American disease is to reject economic entanglements with the Americans.

The pathology will continue eating away at the political economy for at least four more years.”

Meanwhile, the United States continues to incubate the infectious agents. The Obama administration is riddled with carriers of the disease – corrupt bankers and their accomplices at every level – ensuring that the pathology will continue eating away at the political economy for at least four more years. There can be no cure if you don’t get rid of the germs.

As the world erects defenses to keep the American disease from repeatedly infecting its global neighbors, the effect will be similar to the redlining of neighborhoods. The U.S. will fall further into decline as it is walled off from other nations’ efforts at economic development. That’s the meaning of the redlining of America.

The United States has been the object of redlining since at least 2003, when George Bush finally convinced the world that Washington was bad company with his illegal invasion of Iraq. Nobody wants to do business with a crazy man – or a crazy superpower. By late 2005, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations decided not to invite the United States as an observer to its annual meeting, but allowed the Russians and Chinese to attend as official observers. When the U.S. sent a diplomat anyway, he was turned away. Last December, the heads of 33 nations of Latin America and the Caribbean pointedly failed to invite Washington to their summit meeting in Brazil. Increasingly, the Americans are shunned as bringers of war and killers of economies, the two most feared symptoms of the American disease.

The corporations that threw their money behind Barack Obama for president were hoping his fresh face and charm would be seen by the world as a prophylactic for the American disease. But the Wall Street street walkers and the Pentagon refuse to change their risky behavior. Increasingly, the world has no choice but to put them in isolation. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at
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The Futility Of Not Creating Debt Free Currency

IMF LOANS, CURE WORSE THAN THE DISEASE.

The Futility Of Not Creating Debt Free Currency

By Eric V. Encina

U. S. President Obama is presenting all the positive sides of the “stimulus package” and pushing its ratification in the halls of Congress. Likewise, the Philippine President Marcapagal is carrying out a comparable program to uplift his own country’s ailing economy, create jobs and save the financial system from total collapse. However, the problem with the stimulus packages created by these two leaders is that the money to be used to jumpstart business activities, obviously, provides a “band-aid remedy” coming from borrowings and taxes, which will create the same results of crisis in the long run except that it will be even bigger and more catastrophic. Therefore, the best kind of repair for the economic downturn is the creation of debt free money by governments’ financial arms.

In short, why not provide the stimulus packages directly to the people who create the wealth through labor rather than to the bankers and other financial managers, who do practically nothing other than receive bonuses and other sorts of compensation benefits in the millions of dollars? Besides, it was the bankers and other speculators who created many of the problems in the first place. So, who is to say that they won’t do so again?

Acute money crisis and stimulus packages:

Indeed all over the world, government leaders are undertaking activities to limit large scale fiscal ruin during which they are unveiling similar stimulus packages to shore up their ailing economies from recession and depression. Concurrently, endless debates and arguments are going on concerning whether or not to push through the measures other than tax cuts, direct subsidies to the poor, bail-out for banks and other key financial institutions, etc.

Yet, who will benefit from these plans? Surely, it is not the workers whose livelihoods, food supply, healthcare and homes are at risk to disappear.

Many so-called experts in economics, who often are only good in predictions while doing nothing to ease the burdens to the poor, are perfectly contented to predict a crisis, such as the one that is happening right now in relation to unemployment and the downtrend in the economic activity. They rarely, if ever, offer advise about any feasible resolutions to the predicaments faced by the masses.

And even in the issue of job losses, the Philippine governmental leaders, for example, have financed the debt and consistently taken the side of the big corporations rather than the marginalized sectors of society. In other words, the action needed now is to have the money in the hands of the public to really foment growth and provide for sustainable living.

Therefore, the Philippine government must revamp its business model away from being oriented towards imports (which further drain finances out of the country), based on foreign investments and involved with a debt-logged monetary system. As such, the best alternative is debt free money creation that will prioritize domestic needs while doing so for people’s interest and development over the banking institutions and multinational corporations that are guaranteed to siphon money into the hands of the ultra-wealthy.

Moreover, the Philippine Government’s 2009 P1.415 Trillion Budget with P700.6 Billion interest payments, wrecked by budget and trade deficits will not be enough to see such a plan take place. This is because the budget is coming from private, foreign, international loans at high interest from the forcible taxes with which citizens are ultimately burdened.

At the same time, the 2010 Philippine Presidential Candidates are likely going to repeat the history of debt and poverty in the Philippines. These candidates have their billions of pesos and have money campaign machinations to fool the Filipinos.

The problem is that they are all the same sorts of plans under debt finance and taxes for the benefit of the  transnational banking, agricultural and industrial consortiums rather than their meeting the desperate needs of the common Filipinos. This is nearly always the pattern in the state of economic and financial disasters in the sense that the downtrodden always get worse conditions while the upper most affluent group “make out like bandits”  through commandeering the wealth and, in the end, control of resources on a worldwide scale.

HOW CAN WE SURVIVE?

What is the cardinal rule to survive? Pure survival, rather than focus on any other orientation, is said to be a basic instinct of man when hard times strike. On account, it brings out the worse or best in us.

As such, today’s global recession to depression, now really deepening and going into overdrive, is compelling us to think of any ways and means to ride out the financial-economic tornado. Yet how can we do so when there are no opportunities available? How can we do so when everything is “business as usual?”

Moreover, it most surely is “business as usual” with the same out patterns present that got us all into this current dilemma in the first place. Meanwhile, the ripple effects of the crisis continue lamentably right around the world.

On account, personal efforts are not enough to handle the ongoing worsening conditions. Consequently, there must be government intervention to truly jump the economy forward, especially as the government exists for the people and not the other way around!

If this whole trouble is not a supernatural problem, but is only an artificial problem, then it can be solved in an outright fashion since it is manmade. Therefore, the successful remedy can be generated, too, which involves removal of debt, the creation of which led to the most turbulent years in the history of global financial markets in that debt generation has arguably been THE main foundation for the money flow in our current model.

Consequently, governments should be compelled to infuse funds in capital or aid programmes that create work and economic stimulus for their citizens rather then help the banking system carry on as usual. After all, who can borrow money from the bank if he has no means for capital growth as the foundation to pay it back with interest?

The Philippine government is currently pledging  P15 Billion or $300 Million in capital from taxpayers’ money and/or from foreign borrowings for Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC) to fund the payout of deposits of the closed bankrupt legality group of rural banks presumably caused by the greed and corruption of those involved. Meanwhile, we see the same pattern of wrongful behaviors around the world!

In particular and concerning the Philippines:

IMF has the forecast that Philippines has $800 Million deficit in balance of payments in 2009.
IMF AND WB loans at interest are destroying my country’s economy and the working class people who suffer increasing poverty under such an arrangement.

So what is next? Why do we need to pay interest further? How CAN we do it? The Filipinos have paid too much already. We have NO MORE to give! We cannot pay back whatever we do not have and it was an unjust transaction with which to begin such that no Filipino in his right mind would ratify it except for our wealthy elite, who took the loans for their own indirect benefits.

In the end, let’s face a hard truth in this whole matter. It is this: What kind of values do we want to promote as a society? Can we not realize that it is not the banks that matter, but the people who make up the society? If this latter view is the case, then we need to change our financial models to support them rather than use them like chattel and slave for the gains of the global business and banking tycoons.

The alternative — the one to which we are likely heading — just might be that Filipinos wind up expecting to copy the poor in Haiti in order to get ourselves out of this mess. Are we expected to live under tarps after losing our homes? Are we expected to look for food by combing garbage dumps? Must we and our children eat mud cookies because we can no longer have jobs and cannot pay for imported food?

As Penny Hess stated in “America causing world food crisis and starvation” [1]:

“Forced deregulation of world agricultural markets. Historically countries around the world produced food for themselves and their governments kept restrictions on the price of food to prevent speculation and price gouging. Haiti, where the people are today forced to subsist on a steady diet of mud, is a perfect example. Twenty-five years ago Haitian farmers grew and exported their own rice.

“But in the late 1980s the U.S. backed IMF forced Haiti, as a condition for a desperately needed loan, to deregulate their markets and open them up to competition from the outside. The U.S. then dumped its government-subsidized rice onto Haiti (and many other countries around the world), selling the American rice cheaper than Haiti farmers could sell theirs for. The U.S. rice dumping brought to an abrupt halt Haiti’s own self-sufficient agricultural infrastructure and forced millions of people into desperate poverty.

“U.S. Agribusiness. According to Gretchen Gordon in, ‘The Food Crisis: Global Markets and Deregulation Strike Again,’ three major corporations, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland and Bunge, ‘control the vast majority of global grain trading, while Monsanto controls more than one-fifth of the global market in seeds.’

“While billions of human beings are starving, Cargill’s third quarter 2007 profits increased more than 86 percent and Monsanto’s were up 45 percent. In fact they are using the current crisis to further impose their genetically modified seeds on the peoples of the world.”

Meanwhile, high salaries and compensation packages – rewards really for doing who knows what – are still given to the bankers and business tycoons even in these hard times of global financial crisis and even while President Obama and the Australian prime Minister have called for an end to unrestrained selfishness on the part of these financial speculators. At the same time, it has been reported that, in Germany, bank managers receive annual Euros 500,000.00 or $645,000 as a rough average intake.

In a similar vein, Josef Ackermann, chief executive of Deuthsche Bank AG has the total gain, including assorted benefits and shares, of Euros 14 Million or $18.9 Million. And the list goes on… and on concerning irresponsible money managers who are making out royally due to the losses of many, many others.

As such, European bankers receive astronomical, US-style compensation, which is similar to the huge rewards obtained by other financial executives in India, China, Philippines, India, Russia, Mexico, Brazil and other countries. Likewise, some Russian financial executives and bankers are paid in the amount of $500,000 to $5 Million range, while top Italian and French executives make $2 Million to $3 Million annually.

Similarly, Indian salaries have risen to $300,000 to $3 Million level and Mexican financial executives are making nearly $1 Million. However, chief financial executives in Japan usually receive salaries merely in the $400,000 range. All the same, many ordinary citizens around the world wallow in dreadful poverty, hunger, homelessness and despair while these financial gangsters worldwide gain from their ongoing losses.

In the end, we need to reorganize the patterns of the global economy rather than continue to throw money at useless crooks and empty remedies that, doubtlessly, do not work because, if they did, we would be seeing improvements already rather than an ever deepening crisis. Therefore, we need to start pressuring our government representatives to make the necessary radical reforms. If we not change our monetary patterns soon, the most terrible outcomes imaginable are all but assured.

References:

[1] “America causing world food crisis and starvation” by Penny Hess is located at http://www.talkzimbabwe.com/news/130/ARTICLE/2208/2008-04-25.html.

Eric V. Encina, Filipino Social Creditor/Monetary Reformer, can be contacted at ericencina@yahoo.com.