Empire Games – but who writes the rules? By William Bowles

12 June 2011

The Western left’s abdication, nay abandonment of principles that go to the heart of the socialist liberation project has been long in the making, decades even and made all the more obvious by the left’s take on events in Libya and now Syria. Critiques of the ‘humanitarian, socialist interventionists’ came thick and thin but for the most part the fundamental question of why the left had abandoned its historic mission has not been asked. Continue reading

The New York Times backs the Egyptian army By William Bowles

10 February, 2011

Update: 21:05

So he’s NOT going, instead, he’s handing over power to Sulieman. Rubbing salt in the wound, he talked about Egyptians as his “children” and completely absolved himself of the thirty years of crimes committed on his watch! Going even further, he talked about prosecuting all those who had committed crimes! The crowd in Tahrir went absolutely apeshit when it sank in, waving their shoes in the air.

Behind the scenes, I surmise that there’s been a ‘silent’ military coup.

“The command of Egypt’s military stepped forward Thursday in an attempt to stop a three-week-old uprising, declaring on state television it would take measures “to maintain the homeland and the achievements and the aspirations of the great people of Egypt” and meet the demands of the protesters. The development appeared to herald the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.” — The New York Times, 10 February, 2011

So states the opening para of the ‘paper of record’s’ take. Titled appropriately ‘Egypt’s Army Signals Transfer of Power’ after a lot of waffle about ‘confusion’ and competing claims about who, or what will be the successor to Mubarak’s three decades of rule, the NYT gets down to the nitty gritty:

“So far, the military has stayed largely on the sidelines, but Thursday’s statement suggested it worried that the country was sliding into chaos. The military called the communiqué “the first statement of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces,” strongly suggestive that it had arranged to take power in Egypt. (my emph.WB)


“A senior official in Mr. Mubarak’s embattled government was quoted as saying the army would “intervene to control the country” if it continued to devolve into chaos.” (ibid)

And it’s the labour movement’s entry into the affray that has sparked the urgency, this is what the NYT means by “devolv[ing] into chaos” for once the organized working class get involved everything is possible!

“The apparently hardening official line — and the stubborn resistance of the protesters — coincided with a surge of strikes and worker protests affecting post offices, textile factories and even Al Ahram, the government’s flagship newspaper.” (ibid)

The strikes are spreading as is public opposition. New cities are being occupied. The resistance is reinvigorated. No wonder the leading mouthpieces of the Empire are pumping the ‘rumour’ that Mubarak will announce his resignation on television tonight. The ‘wait and see’ policy has obviously not paid off. If anything it has been counter-productive for not only has it revealed the master-servant relationship that exists between the US and its Egyptian stand-ins, it has given much needed time for the insurrection to gain traction and get properly organized.

Given the demographics of Egyptian society with over 50% under the age of twenty-five, organized youth are central to the struggle for control of the state (see also April 6 Youth Movement) but there are no indications that US has any idea what this means. It’s 40 million people, that’s what is is!

And the Egyptian military is caught between a rock and hard place. If it assumes power under the newly constituted Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, it will have to tread extremely carefully (under US tutelage). Any attempt to clear the public occupations or force workers back to work will be resisted, and it will be done in the full view of thousands of mobile phones.

The key issues are: the abolition of the Emergency Laws; the dissolution of the government; the creation of an ‘caretaker’ government; alterations to the Constitution followed by elections. Judging by the US and Egyptian governments responses to these demands, there is an enormous gulf between them and the Egyptian people. It’s obvious that these are the absolutely minimum demands.

Do the US policy-makers have any inkling of the depth of feeling that exists amongst the vast majority of Egyptian people? It seems not and why should it? It’s had a de facto military dictatorship sitting on the people for thirty years (though the US intelligence agencies are well aware that all was not well in the Land of the Pharos).

Clearly, the decades-long collaboration between the Egyptian armed forces and the USG is central to any understanding of the role the Egyptian army could play in any post-Mubarak situation. Foremost will be keeping Egypt on its side especially Egypt’s traitorous role in supporting Israel.

But any new government if it is to reflect the will of the Egyptian people will demand that this relationship is terminated and this scares the living daylights out of the Empire. Unlike the 1967 War that took place in the context of the Cold War and a Soviet-backed Egypt, there will be no Israeli invasion of Egypt, after all they’ll be killing each other with US-supplied weapons. And in any case, what kind of pretext could the Zionists dream up that would justify an invasion?

In other words liberating Egypt from imperial control would create an entirely new ballgame in the Middle East. Aside from South Africa (at the other other end of the continent), Egypt is the most developed of all the African states with a modern army and a relatively well-developed infrastructure and strategically situated on the gateway between Europe and Asia. Indeed, it owns it!

The US, unable to openly enforce its will on the Egyptian people is in a real bind. On the one hand it’s been going off at the mouth for decades about ‘spreading democracy’ but when faced with putting its money where its mouth is, it has baulked (old habits die hard), hence all the calls for an ‘orderly, ‘measured’ and ‘sensible’ transition to what they hope will be democracy US-style.

But all bets are off. If the masses can hold the centre as well as producing a programme that satisfies the majority, then short of an army coup d’etat (not impossible but an extremely dangerous move that would, in my opinion, spell disaster for the US), things could turn out well.

Barbie bites back By William Bowles

Mattel’s double whammy

The toy company, Mattel has had to recall 18 million of its products (2 million of them in the UK), all manufactured in China, for various health and safety safety reasons including high levels of lead in the paint and magnets that come off.

Coincidentally, the New York Times ran a puff piece on Mattel, ‘Toymaking in China, Mattel’s Way’ on 26 Jul 2007[1]. In it they informed (the largely uninformed) reader that:

“[I]ndependent analysts, and even watchdog groups, say Mattel may be the best role model for how to operate prudently in China… Mattel, and many of the outside analysts, say the key is command and control”

“Command and control” eh. Bad timing by the NYT but then the “paper of record” is not well known for getting its facts straight or, apparently, on time.

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CSI Baghdad By William Bowles

7 June 2004

The George Tenet affair illustrates the ‘wheels within wheels’ strategy of the propaganda war being waged over the abject failure that is the invasion and occupation of Iraq. And it’s a failure on two fronts: the failure of the invasion itself to establish a secure beachhead in the Middle East and the imperium’s failure to convince the world that ‘pre-emptive’ war has any justification.

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A Damn Fine Mess By William Bowles

27 May 2004

So where is the demand from the so-called Left of the Labour government for the complete and unconditional withdrawal from Iraq? Are they too hiding behind the fig leaf of the UN? A UN that is reluctant to takeover the minefield created by the occupation and one complicated by the juggling of the various actors such as Russia and France, as they attempt to leverage advantage from the rapidly disintegrating situation.

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Truth and Consequences By William Bowles

20 April 2004

“We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.” – John Swinton, the New York Times

Well he should know shouldn’t he but does your ‘average’ reader? And in this age of instantaneous and interlinked communications, dominated by a handful of powerful (and interconnected) media/communications companies, the power of the press to shape our knowledge let alone our opinions has taken centre stage in the struggle ‘for hearts and minds’ as the US political pundits put it during the epic struggle of the Vietnamese to free themselves from US corporate domination.

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The voice of the imperium squeeks By William Bowles

30 December 2003

“The only solution is for the Bush administration to return to foreign policy sanity, starting with a more cooperative, less vindictive approach to European allies who could help share America’s military burdens. ” – New York Times, Dec 29 2003

What could be clearer than this NYT editorial of the dire straights of US strategy under Bush. And when the NYT speaks it is speaking to (and for) the power elite. But will its voice be heeded and are the major powers of Europe (France and Germany) even listening?

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Imperialism considered as a one-night stand By William Bowles

14 December 2003

Well that’s how the Economist described the ‘new imperialism’ in an article back in August (“Manifest Destiny Warmed Up?“[1]) predicating their analysis on the experiences of running the British Empire, that used I might add, very minimal military force by contemporary standards in order to maintain its rule.

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The Death of Dr David Kelly: Dark actors – dark forces? By William Bowles

28 July 2003

So Dr David Kelly’s media contact on the New York Times was, according to the Independent on Sunday (27/07/03), Judith Miller (more on Ms Miller below). The same piece also alluded to the fact that Kelly had had a longstanding relationship with journalists. The more we know about Kelly, the less we know. What is absolutely clear, is that he played a key role in the creation of the September 2002 document. There are many unanswered questions about Kelly’s role in the run-up to and the invasion, such as: Continue reading