[News] War and cheeseburgers
news at freedomarchives.org
Mon May 21 18:02:19 EDT 2012
War and cheeseburgers
By Pepe Escobar
A specter haunts Europe. No, it's not communism;
it's US rating agencies. Greece is bankrupt; the
eurozone is about to crack; JP Morgan makes
billion-dollar "mistakes"; there's no (jobs)
future for the new generations. And yet the
weaponized arm of the Western 0.1% elites
occupies Chicago - turned into an Orwellian
police city-state - to discuss "smart defense".
In Afghanistan, the "smart" North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) is in fact bound for a
humiliating escape. "Smart defense" is code for
"there's no money". Only five among 28 NATO
member states spend 2% of their gross domestic
product on the military - as NATO would have it.
One of them was - surprise! - Greece. Here's yet
another crash course on weaponized
neo-liberalism. First Greece was more or less
forced to buy expensive submarines from the
French and the Germans; then it was forced to
make budget cuts. Call it the "food for subs" NATO relief plan.
The US pays for no less than 75% of NATO's bills
- yet another graphic demonstration of NATO as
the European arm of the Pentagon. Still, in 2011
European Union (EU) members spent no less that
$180 billion on defense. Not anymore. There's no
money. So it will be up to the Pentagon to keep it going.
And keep it going it will - with relish. As
expected, this Sunday in occupied Chicago NATO
approved - better yet, US President Barack Obama
and his allies "just decided" - to go with the
first phase out of four of the US missile shield for Europe.
This means in practice an American warship armed
with interceptors stationed in the Mediterranean,
and a NATO, Turkey-based radar system controlled
out of the headquarters in Ramstein, in Germany.
The sprawling Ramstein base is led by an American
general. Now, according to the Turkish newspaper
Zaman, a Turkish general will be his
second-in-command. This is the kind of carrot
Turkey gets for campaigning for regime change in Syria.
Those who believe NATO's spin - this shield is
not aimed at Russia, but as a defense against
"evil" Iranian missiles - may join Alice in
Wonderland. For all practical purposes, Russian
military chief General Nikolai Makarov has
already said Russia is bound to respond by
stationing short-range Iskander missiles in
Kaliningrad, near the Polish border. You can take
NATO out of the Cold War but you can't take the Cold War out of NATO.
Medium rare, no ketchup
On Afghanistan, the White House spin is that
Obama has urged Afghan President Hamid Karzai to
"implement electoral reform, cut out corruption
and press the Taliban for a settlement". That's
beyond wishful thinking; to believe that the
corrupt-tainted Karzai system will "reform" is
like believing the House of Saud cherishes
Jeffersonian democracy. If there were to be a
semblance of "electoral reform", Washington's
allies in Afghanistan would lose every single
election. And it's the Taliban that would force
Karzai into some settlement, not the other way round.
So what's left to save Western civilization?
Cheeseburgers. With French - not "freedom" - fries.
This new cheeseburger diplomacy, sealed at the
Oval Office by Obama and new French President
Francois Hollande, is supposed to save Greece,
revamp the eurozone and reignite the US economy,
just in time for the November US presidential
election. How come the redoubtable US burger
chain Five Guys never thought about that before?
Here's the Obama calculation. If his Republican
challenger Mitt Romney gets elected in November,
we are even more screwed than we are now. I need
jobs. I need a recovering economy. I need those
damned Europeans to put their house in order. I
can't sit down here waiting for them to solve the
Greek problem; I've got an election to win.
Here's the Hollande calculation. I won my
election. I promised to deliver jobs and growth.
Now I need my coalition of the willing - for
growth; otherwise we will be run over by the
extreme right, everywhere. Mon Dieu, how come
"Onshela" - aka German Chancellor Angela Merkel - can't understand that?
For the Franco-American duo, it's a win-win
situation. Hollande's economic policy is in fact
Team Obama's economic policy. They may have laid
down the (new) law to "Onshela" at the placid
Camp David Group of Eight retreat - protected
from the real world by an army that could effect
regime change anywhere in five minutes.
Problem is, neither Barack nor Francois has
briefed the God of the Market - and European and
American banks - about it. The Masters of the
Universe couldn't give a damn about Greece the
birthplace of democracy; they want their money back.
Obama is in a hurry. Current Italian Supreme
Interventor Mario Monti - former Goldman Sachs -
may have the market credibility to convince
Berlin and the troika (European Central Bank,
European Commission, International Monetary Fund)
that either Europe grows or there's no money to
anybody. But Obama also needs a strategic
political ally. That's certainly not austerity dominatrix "Onshela".
I'd rather have a steak
The problem is these cheeseburgers are drenched
in oil. Iranian oil. Obama is playing the
hardliner on Iran essentially for electoral
reasons. Over the next five months he might be
able to steer the debate were it not for the
Europeans - following his directive, in fact -
proceeding with their Iranian oil boycott
starting on July 1. He dreads the inevitable
consequence: an oil price spike. Then it's bye
bye European recovery - duly followed by bye bye Obama's re-election.
This is what makes the next round of talks in
Baghdad this week between Iran and the P5+1
nations even juicier. From the point of view of
Team Obama, the best possible scenario would be
let's agree to talk some more.
That would leave Obama with a window to press -
through Hollande - the necessity for Europe to
forget about the oil boycott, at least while both
parts are talking, and at least for the next six
months. After all, the ultra-harsh sanctions
package remains in place - and that is certainly
biting the Iranian population, much more than the Tehran leadership.
The only thing that matters to Team Obama, above
all else, is to guarantee victory on November 4.
Will the cheeseburger diplomacy work? Or will
Mitt Romney counter-attack promising a "No steak
left behind" policy, with lots of Iranian ketchup?
Pepe Escobar is the author of
How the Globalized World is Dissolving into
Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and
Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the
surge. His most recent book, just out, is
does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at pepeasia at yahoo.com
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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