There are no breaking news at the moment

 

uncle-sam

The Venezuela government has recently accused the US of financially propping up violent opposition groups in the country: Promoting an “unprecedented and systematic attempt” to intervene in the internal affairs of Venezuela. A statement of the foreign ministry of Venezuela said: “US financing and logistical support for violent groups in Venezuela have facilitated an armed sedition”. The statement added: “The US system of power relies on frequent and repeated statements, unilateral extraterritorial sanctions, economic financing of organizations in Venezuela for terrorist purposes, financial blockade, threats of military intervention […] to mask an open process of intervention marked by a rude meddling and violating international law.”

Only weeks ago, the Empire made a flagrant aggression on a sovereign country without any provocation: missile-strike on Syria.

Countries regularly experience imperialist interventions with variations in forms, tact and stage.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) recently adopted a resolution opposing intervention.

The reality of intervention and the IPU’s resolution is a show of power-equation in the current geopolitics: there are the mighty imperialist powers juxtaposed to the shaky majority. The reality shows: A gulf of difference between desires of the shaky and thrashings by the powerful.

The IPU in a resolution adopted at its general assembly in Dhaka on April 5, 2017 opposed intervention in any sovereign country. The standing committee on April 4, 2017 passed the draft resolution with 44-10 votes. Belgium refrained from voting. Bangladesh, India, China were among the 44 countries that voted in favor of the draft resolution. Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Canada, the UK, Switzerland, Ukraine, Finland and Iceland voted against the draft. The US is not a member of the forum. The key part of the 18-point resolution was the prevention of interference by any country. Many of the parliamentarians taking part in the discussion blamed other countries over intervention. A representative of Portugal said the country was in a bloc of 12 countries against the resolution. The block included Belgium, Canada, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Switzerland, Ukraine, the US, and Ireland. (bdnews24.com, “IPU passes resolution to stop foreign intervention in internal affairs”, 2017-04-05) The pattern of voting on the resolution shows geostrategic position and geotactical relations of the countries concerned.

Intervention is a regular incident in the world system: Yesterday it was Syria, today it’s Venezuela, the day before yesterday it was Libya. These are hot examples of intervention. Other examples of currently not-hot intervention are also there. A close look will present cases of intervention or possible-intervention at preparatory stage: occasional negative propaganda and sporadic slandering carried on regularly, imparting of training in the name of “democracy” education, misleading interpretation of incidents, fabrication of crisis. Contemporary history is full with related examples.

There are Boris Johnsons and John McCains. Boris Johnsons, the UK foreign secretary, tried to make the Syria case hotter at the recently concluded G-7 summit in Italy. On Syria-missile-strike, Johnson said Trump had shown “a resolve and willingness that has been sadly missing in the last few years.” Johnson was talking to the Sun. John McCain, a US senator, is identified as a trusted representative of the Deep State within the Empire, and a proponent of intervention.

There is no ambiguity that the days of interventionists are going strong. Latest example is the Syria-aggression and Venezuela. Both of the cases are going on for years. Now, in the case of Venezuela, the interventionists are trying to make a determined push that includes mobilizing relatives, grandparents and celebrities.

After US missile strikes on Syria, the International Committee of the Red Cross said: the situation in Syria now “amounts to an international armed conflict”. “Any military operation by a state on the territory of another without the consent of the other amounts to an international armed conflict,” ICRC spokeswoman Iolanda Jaquemet told Reuters. “So according to available information – the US attack on Syrian military infrastructure – the situation amounts to an international armed conflict,” she said, an assessment, according to the Reuters report, confirmed by Andrew Clapham, an international law professor at the Graduate’s Institute in Geneva. (“Exclusive: Situation in Syria constitutes international armed conflict – Red Cross”, April 7, 2017)

The flight path of this international armed conflict in Syria is long, beginning from a local protest movement in Dara’a, a southern city in Syria, into a full-blown imperialist intervention – presence of US military personnel without any authorization from the sovereign country’s government or of any UN resolution – and manufacturing the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II.

Syria is not a single current incident of intervention. Hot imperialist intervention is there in Yemen. The hot imperialist intervention in Libya is still claiming its cost from the devastated country. Afghanistan and Iraq are “old” examples of imperialist interventions.

Intervention’s toll: a partial account

Toll of intervention till today has not been counted fully. Following are segments of the toll:

Syria-intervention’s toll till 2016: 250,000 people killed, more than 1.2 million injured, over half of the population displaced, more than 4.2 million people  refugees, 13.5 million people need humanitarian assistance, 11.5 million people need health assistance, 8.7 million people are food-insecure, 2.4 million people need shelter, over 2.1 million under-5 children, pregnant and lactating mothers are at risk of malnutrition, 70 per cent of population remain without regular access to safe drinking water, nearly two-thirds of public hospitals are destroyed or partly functioning, and reduced food baskets from food agencies. (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, henceforth OCHA, Global Humanitarian Overview 2016) The population of Syria, as of mid-April 2017, was over 18 million while the pre-intervention population, according to The Economist (“Syria’s drained population”, September 30, 2015), was around 22 million. A “great contribution” made by reducing population!

In Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world, more than 2.3 million people have been forced to flee their homes, over 14 million people are now food insecure including 7.6 million severely insecure, 2.1 million people including 1.3 million children are malnourished. (OCHA, op. cit.) Hospitals and infrastructure are devastated in the country. The population of Yemen, as of mid-April 2017, was over 28 million, which means half of the population is food insecure.

While inquiring intervention in Libya a report by a UK House of Commons committee admits:  “[T]he UK along with France led the military intervention” in Libya.” (House of Commons, Foreign Affairs Committee, Libya: Examination of Intervention and Collapse and the UK’s Future Policy Options, third report of session 2016-17, September 14, 2016) The report said: The result of the intervention was a political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of Gaddafi regime weapons and the growth of ISIS in North Africa. The report cited the following facts: “This economy [Libya] produced an average annual per capita income of approximately $12,250, which was comparable to the average income in some European countries. […] The UN Human Development Report 2010 […] ranked Libya as the 53rd most advanced country in the world for human development and as the most advanced country in Africa.”

Out of total Libyan population of 6.3 million, 3 million people have been impacted by the intervention and post-intervention conflict and instability, and 2.4 million people required protection and humanitarian assistance. (OCHA, op. cit.) “The crisis has led to the breakdown of Government institutions and the rule of law […] and looming economic and fiscal crises. Abductions, targeted killings, torture, human trafficking, arbitrary detention, sexual violence and the forced recruitment of children have increased. […] Internal displacement has nearly doubled in a year, affecting 435,000 people. Access to basic services has diminished. […] At least 20 per cent of hospitals are closed […] Food insecurity is growing and education enrolment rates in some conflict areas are less than 50 percent.” (ibid.) Life in Libya is now intolerable and always uncertain. There’s nothing to dream about future by an ordinary Libyan now.

People in Iraq know the meaningless, disorganized life under occupation forces as the intervention-torn country finds 11 million people need protection and humanitarian assistance including 3.2 million people internally displaced, 2.4 million people food insecure, 3 million children don’t have access to schools, occurrences of diseases including outbreak of cholera, steep increase in child rights violations, mass executions, systematic rapes, enslaved women and girls, “hope wanes […] families increasingly fleeing to other countries as a last resort in their search for safety and dignity.” (ibid.) The population, as of mid-April 2017, was over 38 million.

Afghans have witnessed incidents of brutality and dishonor by interventionist boots. The story is broadly the same only with changes in number.

Intervention-experienced Bosnia-Herzegovina is now one of the poorest countries in Europe.

There were successful/attempted “Rose”, “Tulip”, “Orange”, “Cedar” and “Green” “revolutions” in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Lebanon and Iran respectively, which were interventions by imperialism.

Interventionists deface countries. Yugoslavia is an example. A recent report by The Guardian said: One of Trump’s aides proposed that Libya be partitioned. At one point the aide drew his suggested divisions on a napkin during a meeting with a senior European official: three areas based on three old Ottoman provinces – Cyrenaica in the east, Tripolitania in the north-west and Fezzan in the south-west. (“Trump aide drew plan on napkin to partition Libya into three”, April 10, 2017)

Imperial costs of intervention: also partial 

In all of these countries, the interventions are funded and organized by imperialism: CIA operatives, network of intermediaries, private military contractors, shipment and airlifting of arms. In cases, it was more than a hundred of cargo flights supplying arms to the mercenaries. Even the mainstream media or the bourgeois-imperialist media (BIM) have carried reports of these interventionist activities. Citing US officials and Arab intelligence officers a report by The New York Times tells about “[a] small number of CIA officers […] operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government”, and “[t]he weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar”. (“C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition”, June 21, 2012)

Money imperialism and its cohorts spent for conducting these interventions are beyond the imagination of ordinary citizens of the Third and Fourth Worlds: trillions of dollars. A number of studies have assessed/calculated the cost of these interventions. An assessment by Linda J Bilmes at the Harvard University claims: “The Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, taken together, will be the most expensive wars in US history – totaling somewhere between $4 trillion to $6 trillion.” (“The Financial Legacy of Iraq and Afghanistan: How the Wartime Spending Decisions will Constrain Future National Security Budgets”, faculty research working paper series, John F Kennedy School of Government, March 2013) “The US has already borrowed”, says the assessment, “some $2 trillion to finance the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars and the associated defense build-up – a major component of the $9 trillion US debt accrued since 2001.” Citing The Price of Liberty: Paying for Americas Wars (Time Books, Henry Holt and Company, 2007) by Robert Hormats, former vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs, Linda J Bilmes’ analysis says: “[I]t is unprecedented in US history that we pay for a war entirely from debt”. It added: “[T]he war debt has been especially unhelpful. Large amounts have been spent on things that clearly did not benefit the United States – for example, $87 billion in reconstruction funding in Afghanistan, and $61 billion in Iraq, much of which has been squandered according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) and Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) respectively. […] Throughout the past decade, the United States has underestimated the length, difficulty, cost and economic consequences of these wars, and has failed to plan how to pay for them. […] In short, there will be no peace dividend, and the legacy of Iraq and Afghanistan wars will be costs that persist for decades.” Regarding US’ Iraq War, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, and professor at Harvard University Linda J. Bilmes in their book The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Costs of the Iraq Conflict (Norton, New York, 2008) present their calculation of the cost of the war: likely to top $3 trillion. (Farooque Chowdhury, “Iraq War: Costs People Pay”, Countercurrents.org, September4, 2010) They admit: It was a “conservative estimate”. Neta C Crawford, Professor of political science at Boston University and Co-Director of the Cost of War project, comments: “The Stiglitz-Bilmes estimate was conservative in many respects. Not including the increased burden to our national debt, the costs of war have exceeded even their cautious estimates.” (“US Budgetary Costs of Wars through 2016: $4.79 Trillion and Counting, Summary of Costs of the US Wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan and Homeland Security”, Brown University, Watson Institute, September 2016) Neta C Crawford also admits: “By my conservative estimate”. She calculates: “As of August 2016, the US has already appropriated, spent, or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and on Homeland Security (2001through fiscal year 2016). […] [T]he total US budgetary cost of the wars reaches $4.79 trillion.” (ibid.) Neta C Crawford mentions: “The economic costs of the war for other countries are also not included in this accounting. The costs incurred outside the US by its allies and by the people and governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq total in the many billions of dollars. […] The UK spent about $14 billion in Iraq from 2003‑2011 and was projected to spend about $30 billion in Afghanistan by the time of the complete withdrawal of the UK. By one estimate published in 2011, the budgetary costs of German military involvement in Afghanistan is more than $15 billion (12 billion Euros), at the low end, and this number does not include medical costs or the costs of financing the German participation in the war. […] In addition, there is a budgetary burden to international institutions involved in humanitarian assistance in the war zones, which is shared broadly by many of the world’s governments.”

“Impact of Libya’s Conflict on the Tunisian Economy: A Preliminary Assessment” said: “Libya’s turmoil is likely to have a significant impact on Tunisia’s economy.” (Emanuele Santi, Saoussen Ben Romdhane and Mohamed Safouane Ben Aïssa, North Africa Quarterly Analytical, second annual quarter, July 2011, African Development Bank) “The economic upheaval in Libya”, the International Monetary Fund says, “has also had significant spillovers globally and regionally.” (Libya beyond the Revolution: Challenges and Opportunities, prepared by a staff team led by Ralph Chami, and comprising Ahmed Al-Darwish, Serhan Cevik, Joshua Charap, Susan George, Borja Gracia, Simon Gray, and Sailendra Pattanayak, 2012) The argument is substantiated by cases of Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Greece, and other countries in Asia, Africa and Europe.

The US/UK/German wage-earners can calculate the number of working-days or -years required by them to earn or the surplus labor appropriated from them to make these trillions of dollars. Reports by ILO carry information on condition of wage earners around the world, which is pathetic. Condition of people in austerity-struck economies is now documented even by the MSM/BIM. It’s so pitiful that in some cases, condition of a part of low-wage earners in a few Third World countries appear better compared to austerity-hit people in a number of European countries. Can one forget the labor’s fight for minimum wage, condition of the middle class, educational debt, sufferings and humiliations of debtors in an imperialist economy? Can one forget condition of public health service in another imperialist economy in Europe? The Guardian has carried a number of burning reports on the issue.

The article was originally composed in mid-April, 2017.

Farooque Chowdhury, writing from Dhaka, has not authored/edited any book in English other than Micro Credit, Myth Manufactured (ed.), The Age of Crisis and What Next, The Great Financial Crisis (ed.), and he doesn’t operate any blog/web site.

One Comment

  1. K SHESHU BABU says:

    Very informative article on the intervention politics of the developed nation’s. On the pretext of assisting the smaller countries, developed nation’s are ‘ exploiting’ the lands and resources and killing people who resist.
    There may be types of intervention. For instance, while the developed nation’s ‘ intervene’ politically to plunder resources, nation’s like Cuba ‘ intervene’ in the liberation struggles of Africa, specially to free blacks from apartheid. Also, some human rights activists, nations or organisations ‘ intervene’ to assist countries where people die of poverty, hunger or malnutrition.
    Nehru’, Naser and Tito and other eminent persons proposed ‘ non- alignment’ where a country should not interfere politically but can assist poor nations in their troubled times.
    Thanks for the article. Hopefully, the various ways of ‘ Good’ intervention and the ‘bad’ intervention would also be discussed

Leave a Reply