Who Are America’s Oligarchs?

April 11, 2009
Why is this man smiling

Why is this man smiling?

Like his mother, Ann Dunham Soetoro, the media has sold Barack Obama as a “Leftist”.  I don’t believe this story about mother or son. What better camouflage for a corporatist/opportunist/operative than soft focus “Leftist”?  While investigating the theory that Obama’s mama, Ann Dunham Soetoro, was a possible CIA covert operative stationed in Indonesia, Thailand and Pakistan, I have been taken in many directions. Most investigative paths led back to Southeast Asia. After a coup  and the corporate “opening” of one of the most resource rich countries in the world, Indonesia became one of the poorest-per capita-nations in Asia, with low educational levels and enormous divisions between rich and poor .

Summarizing some of my earlier posts, life-behind-the-malls

Poor area of Jakarta

Poor area of Jakarta

I followed the connections between Peter Geithner (long time head of the Ford Foundation’s Asia Division) and Ann Soetero. The Ford Foundation in Asia is widely held to be connected to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.  Ann Dunham Soetoro worked extensively with the Ford Foundation as well as the U.S.A.I.D. and the World Bank, both considered sometime partners in covert operations. Barack Obama’s step-father, Lolo Soetoro was a high ranking military officer in Suharto’s Army and a government liaison between the Indonesian military government and the international oil industry.

Peter Geithner’s son Tim, Obama’s Treasury Secretary, was raised primarily in China and Southeast Asia. As Clinton undersecretary for Asian Affairs and high ranking officer in the International Monetary Fund, it was Geithner’s monetary medicine that led to a worsening of the Asian financial catastrophe — which wrecked the economies primarily of Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea.  Many experts believe Geithner’s monetary policy led to the crash of the Southeast Asian economies. Other factors in the collapse were overvalued real-estate assets and outside currency manipulations. Foreign capital had been pouring into the Southeast Asian economies, due to high interest rates relative to the dollar. When American interest rates began to rise, capital flowed toward American investments, out of Asia. Thailand was forced to “float” its currency against the dollar. This resulted in the crash of the value of the Asian currencies and a deep retrenchment of real estate values.  The financial collapse called for a massive infusion of IMF funds.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you?

The foreign ministers of the 10 ASEAN countries believed that the well co-ordinated manipulation of their currencies was a deliberate attempt to destabilize the ASEAN economies. Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad accused George Soros of ruining Malaysia’s economy with “massive currency speculation.”

The economic crisis also led to a political upheaval, most notably culminating in the resignations of President Suharto in Indonesia and Prime Minister General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh in Thailand. There was a general rise in anti-Western sentiment, with George Soros and the IMF in particular singled out as targets of criticisms.

George Soros

George Soros

Soros is also reviled in some quarters for his speculative manipulation shorting of the British Pound Sterling.  The British government fought back with massive central bank intervention but was unable to defend its currency which lost 20% of its value.  With this attack, Soros made (I won’t say earned) more than 1.1 billion dollars in a single day.

Soros doesn’t just anticipate currency devaluations, his hedge fund movements and his dire warnings often cause the events.

From Wikipedia:

When investment regulations restricted his ability to run the funds as he wished, he quit his position in 1973 and established a private investment company that eventually evolved into the Quantum Fund.

Soros is also a former member of the Carlyle GroupRecall that the Carlyle Group’s members include former defense department and CIA heads as well as members of the Saudi royal family.

According to Wikipedia this is the focus of the Carlyle Group’s financial interests:

Carlyle invests primarily in the following industries: aerospace and defense, automotive, consumer and retail, energy and power, health care, real estate, technology and business services, telecommunications and media, and transportation. The Carlyle Group’s investments are focused on East Asia, Europe and North America, with most investment money coming from the United States (65%), Europe (25%), Asia (6%), Latin America, and the Middle East. Defense investments represent about 1% of the group’s current portfolio; for example, Carlyle owns 33.8% of QinetiQ, the recently privatized British defense contractor.

Hmmm…CFR’s interests, healthcare, automotive, electric power,real estate, all Obama’s primary interests in the Economic stimulus package. And…
Interesting that Britain is also privatizing ITS military.

According to Wikipedia:

In late 2006, Soros bought about 2 million shares of Halliburton.

With this information on the table, tell me, do you think Obama is going to end the war? Or will he continue to fill the coffers of Halliburton?

From Chinadaily BBS

Soros likes to portray himself as an outsider, an independent-minded Hungarian emigre and philosopher-pundit who stands detached from the US military-industrial complex. But take a look at the board members of the NGOs he organises and finances. At Human Rights Watch, for example, there is Morton Abramowitz, US assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research from 1985-89, and now a fellow at the interventionist Council on Foreign Relations; ex-ambassador Warren Zimmerman (whose spell in Yugoslavia coincided with the break-up of that country); and Paul Goble, director of communications at the CIA-created Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (which Soros also funds). Soros’s International Crisis Group boasts such “independent” luminaries as the former national security advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski and Richard Allen, as well as General Wesley Clark, once Nato supreme allied commander for Europe. The group’s vice-chairman is the former congressman Stephen Solarz, once described as “the Israel lobby’s chief legislative tactician on Capitol Hill” and a signatory, along with the likes of Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, to a notorious letter to President Clinton in 1998 calling for a “comprehensive political and military strategy for bringing down Saddam and his regime”.

George Soros was Barack Obama’s primary, early deep-pocket supporter through MoveOn.Org.  Is Soros a conventional “Leftist” or an opportunist who exploits the gaps caused by social transition and political instability?  My guess is that he’s the same type of “Leftist” as Obama.

Soros has also speculated that an international reserve currency will replace the dollar

China recently proposed greater use of Special Drawing Rights, possibly as an eventual global reserve currency. “In the long run, having an international accounting unit rather than the dollar may, in fact, be to our advantage …

Where is the “advantage” for the average American citizen?

So, Soros backed Obama. Then, Obama has chosen Tim Geithner (architect of the IMF collapse of the Indonesian and Thai economies) to rescue America from the financial collapse created by unregulated banks and hedge funds. Seems to me like a cluster fuck of the American taxpayer.

Soros and Geithner have something else in common. Both are members of the Council of Foreign Relations, which some believe to be the most influential private foreign policy group in the world.  CFR publishes Foreign Affairs.  It’s policy think tank is the Rockefeller Institute (closely allied with the Ford foundation). According to Wikipedia:

Journalist Joseph Kraft, a former member of both the CFR and the Trilateral Commission, said the Council “comes close to being an organ of what C. Wright Mills has called the Power Elite – a group of men, similar in interest and outlook, shaping events from invulnerable positions behind the scenes.”

Corporate members of the board of CFR

One long term and influential member of the CFR is Henry KissingerTimothy Geithner was an associate of Kissinger and Associates from 1986-1989.  Since Kissinger’s clients and activities are totally secret, we don’t know what Geithner actually did while with Kissinger and Associates.

the Times then-national security correspondent, Leslie Gelb, reported that the Midland Bank of Britain was also one of the special influence-purchasing clients of Kissinger Associates that paid Treasury Secretary-Designate Geithner and his colleagues “slightly more than $150,000 yearly for varying services.”

The new order is globalization: the sweeping away of national institutions and borders and transitioning to free trade, mobile international labor markets, mobility of capital movement, worldwide corporate structures.  Looking at your family and neighbors — how many are affected by NAFTA, immigration, job loss, outsourcing, …?

Is the U.S. just another country to be destabilized in the global leveling process?
In this article the author takes up globalization fostered by interests in both the political Left and the political Right.

In his book, Promoting Polyarchy, William Robinson describes the formation of a new hegemonic bloc that has emerged to lead the process of globalization. This bloc consists of various economic and political forces that have become the dominant sector of the ruling class throughout the developed world. The politics and policies of this ruling bloc are conditioned by the new global structure of accumulation and production. This historic bloc is composed of the transnational corporations and financial institutions, supranational economic planning agencies, major forces in the dominant political parties, media conglomerates, and technocratic elites in the Third World.

The new integrated circuits of world production and finance are possible because information technologies allow the centralization of decision making along with a geographic decentralization of production. The results are world mobility for investments, markets,and production, which leads globalists to harmonize a wide range of fiscal, monetary and industrial policies across national borders. Therefore, it is the logic of global accumulation, rather than national accumulation, that guides the political and economic behavior of the ruling bloc.   (Emphasis mine)

In the U.S., the globalist ruling bloc has three main factions: neo-liberal structuralists; free-market conservatives, and liberal regulationists. Their debates dominate Washington and don’t correspond to the familiar political categories of the industrial era. The same is true of the anti-globalist camp, which contains both the anti-imperialist left and the reactionary populous right.

The globalists consolidated ideologically in the early 1980s under the policy of the Washington Consensus. Developed to deal with the debt crisis in Latin America and Mexico, its main principles were privatization, free trade, high interest rates, and a sharply diminished role for the state in economic activity and social services. This became the policy mantra of the Reagan revolution, and a siren call for the new Democrats. However, the recent Asian crisis has exposed important contradictions and major splits in the globalists camp. Foremost is the question of how best to structure the new world economy, with the debate centered on IMF policies.

Obama’s mama had a cover:  a leftist do-gooder.  Obama’s acorn didn’t fall far from it’s tree. Left and Right have one goal – weilding power for the accumulation of riches.  Left and Right are embodied in one person, and that person is Barack Obama.

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It’s All About Oil. Part II … Venezuela

April 4, 2009

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

mapscaor

Venezuela.  This is an interesting tale of a Latin American coup that failed. It was a garden variety coup like the failed Indonesian coup of 1958;  certainly not as horrifying as the 1965-1999 massacres and land grabs in Indonesia and East Timor, but definitely instructive in its political architecture.

Moreover, the cast of characters and their methods never really change. Breathtakingly, American political operatives are able to set policies, carry them out and then step back into the comfort and riches of defense contracts and think tanks.

The more things change…

Will Obama, President Fauxgressive, be any different?  So far, I’m thinking: NAAH!

Perhaps the most important thing to know about Venezuela is that it is an oil exporting country, the fifth largest in the world, with the largest reserves of conventional oil (light and heavy crude) in the western hemisphere and the largest reserves of non-conventional oil (extra-heavy crude) in the world.

Thus begins Gregory Wilpert’s 2003 article concerning the politics of Venezuelan oil and the April 2002 coup that briefly ousted President Hugo Chavez.

Venezuela’s oil boom years encompassed 1912-1943. Standard Oil and Shell Oil were the first companies to drill on Venezuelan soil. Things changed in 1943 with Venezuela’s  Hydrocarbons Act which declared that no foreign oil interest could make more profit on Venezuelan oil than the Venezuelan state. Oil revenues increased.   However, as oil production rose, other parts of the economy suffered and the populous became more dependent upon state services provided by oil revenues rather than income taxes.

In the 1950’s large international surpluses of oil (especially in the Middle East) drove  prices to record lows, causing social instability in a nation economically dependent on one resource. So

In 1960, the world’s main oil exporting countries, largely due to the prodding of the Venezuelan government, decided to form the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Also in 1960, Venezuela created the Venezuelan Oil Corporation, which later formed the basis for the nationalization of Venezuela’s oil industry.

Political stability in a petro state necessitated a “pacted democracy” which guaranteed proportional access to state produced wealth by oligarchs of both parties regardless of which was in power.

Sound familiar?

The 1973 embargo of Middle East oil had a huge impact on Venezuela, quadrupling its oil revenues. By 1976 the country moved to fully nationalize its oil industry with the creation of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). PDVSA outsourced many of its general operations, including accounting and information technology.

The government promised to “sow the oil”, raising all boats in a nation coasting on oil. The article cited above also points out:

Critics of the nationalization process, such as Carlos Mendoza, say that the newly nationalized oil industry was nothing more than a Trojan Horse. Venezuela’s oil industry maintained an anti-statist and transnational corporatist management culture throughout its existence. The ties to the former owners of the nationalized Venezuelan companies were maintained primarily through technical assistance contracts with the former owners and through commercialization contracts, which heavily discounted the price of oil to their former owners.

By the 1990’s the world’s over-supply of oil had, once again, plunged Venezuela into the economic doldrums.

Hugo Chavez was elected by popular referendum in 1998. Almost immediately, Chavez pressured members of OPEC and the non-OPEC producers to hold the line on production quotas. When Chavez moved to replace the PDVSA board with other technical resources, PDVSA joined a work stoppage against the government. More from the article cited above –

Perhaps the most important instance of outsourcing, in terms of the management of PDVSA, is the joint venture it engaged in with the U.S.-based company SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation) to create INTESA (Informática, Negocios, y Tecnología, S.A.) in 1996. INTESA was to manage all of PDVSA’s data processing needs.

A recent investigation into INTESA, and especially into its majority owner SAIC (60%), revealed some information that ought to be quite disturbing to the government of Hugo Chávez. That is, INTESA, which controlled all of PDVSA’s information, is in turn controlled by SAIC, a Fortune 500 company … that is deeply involved in the U.S. defense industry, particularly as it relates to nuclear technology, defense intelligence, and computing technology. Its managers included two former U.S. Secretaries of Defense (William Perry and Melvin Laird) and two former CIA directors (John Deutch and Robert Gates). Its current Board of Directors includes the former commander of the U.S. Special Forces (Wayne Downing), a former coordinator of the National Security Council (Jasper Welch), and the former director of the National Security Agency (Bobby Ray Inman)           (italics mine).

Recall that Robert Gates served in the Reagan and Bush II administrations. He now serves President Barack Obama’s as Defense Department chief.

The government moved from taxing oil industry profits to charging royalties, making oil extraction more expensive. Chavez also re-directed Venezuelan oil supplies to non-U.S. buyers.

Then in 2002 came the attempted coup.

2002 Venezuelan coup d’état attempt

The Venezuelan coup attempt of 2002 was a failed coup d’état on April 11, 2002 that lasted only 47 hours, whereby the head of state President Hugo Chávez was illegally detained, the National Assembly and the Supreme Court dissolved, and the country’s Constitution declared void.

Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce (Fedecámaras) president Pedro Carmona was installed as interim president. In Caracas, the coup led to a pro-Chávez uprising that the Metropolitan Police attempted to suppress. Key sectors of the military and parts of the anti-Chávez movement refused to back Carmona. The pro-Chávez Presidential Guard eventually retook the Miraflores presidential palace without firing a shot, leading to the collapse of the Carmona government and the re-installation of Chávez as president.

The coup was publicly condemned by Latin American nations (the Rio Group presidents were gathered together in San José, Costa Rica, at the time, and were able to issue a joint communiqué) and international organizations. The United States and Chile quickly acknowledged the de facto pro-US Carmona government, but ended up condemning the coup after it had been defeated.

And more from Gregory Wilpert in his 2003 article:

Matters reached a boiling point in April 2002 with the coup d’etat against Chavez Frias which surprisingly lasted only two days as millions of Venezuelan poor came to his defense. The 48-hour usurper, Carmona, moved almost instantaneously to turn around ChavezFrias’ Bolivarian policies and consolidate what amounts to an “oiligarchy.” Within 48 hours, he dissolved the parliament and the supreme court, dismissed all mayors and governors, stopped the shipment of oil to Cuba, and started a massive wave of repression across the country. But there is more…

According to the British paper The Observer

… one of those giving the nod to the attempted coup was Elliot Abrams, a member of the Reagan team involved in the dirty wars in Central America convicted over actions during the Iran-Contra Affair. He was later pardoned by George Bush, Sr. Another coup advocate was Cuban, Otto Reich, assistant administrator for USAID 1981-1983 and named ambassador to Caracas in 1986.

There it is again, USAID. For those of you who doubted USAID, a benevolent agency of the U.S. government, might be converted to covert uses, enjoy the view.  My previous post noted that Ann Dunham Soetoro was engaged in “microfinance” with USAID in Indonesia in the 1970’s and 1980’s  — during one of the worst human rights atrocities of the century — and perhaps Pakistan in the 1980’s.

Next step:  let’s see what the World Bank, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and East-West Center, University of Hawaii, were up to.