By Anu Muhammad
10 September, 2007
"Would you please
tell me, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to"....
Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland
are living in a world that has entered into a reproductive system of
war, militarization, destruction and dehumanization. For different reasons
the US has emerged as the centre of this global system. The survival
of the US as a super power, expansion of its empire hegemony and the
function of crisis ridden global capitalism now depend highly on its
war machine and militarism on the one hand and speculative activities
on the other. All sorts of criminal activities go with that.
David Korten who had been
former senior advisor to USAID described only one part of the scenario
when he said: 'The world is now ruled by a global financial casino staffed
by faceless bankers and hedge -fund speculators who operate with a hard
mentality in the shadowy world of global finance. Each day, they move
more than 2 trillion dollars around the world in search of quick profits
and safe harems, sending exchange rates and stock market into will gyratium
We are living in a world
where US$ 9 billion is adequate to ensure safe water for everybody in
the world but where millions die every year because of unclean water.
The same world spends more than US$900 billion for war and armaments
every year, i.e., hundred times the money required to create a safe
world; share of the US in these destructive expenditure is more than
60 per cent.
Therefore, we have a world,
we have a 'knowledge base society', we have 'free democratic' civilisation
where regimes like the Bush administration can spend unlimited resources
for destruction, genocide, occupation and create a real hell on earth.
To make the point clear,
this is not the Bush administration per se but the global system we
live in that creates and recreates faceless heartless robotic efficient
inhumans in civil military administrations, parliaments, business, think
tanks, banks, religious guilds and all centers of power. We are living
in a world where global system everyday brings more destruction for
its own survival and consequently invites destruction of the whole civilisation.
We are now living in a world
where we find growing resources but increasing deprivation, expanding
communication but intensifying conflicts, generating knowledge but monopolizing
power, growing potential but deepening discrimination. Globally we have
autocracy and militocracy in the name of democracy where peace means
war, love means hate, freedom means occupation, security means genocide.
The United States, the centre of global power, is crying for its own
security and to ensure that, or as an excuse, creating insecurity all
over the world as well as for its own people. Its cry for security actually
a madness for profit and domination for few.
Blood for Oil and Gas
Millions of people have been
raising slogans against war since 1991, and called for 'no blood for
oil', still oil and natural resources have become the focal point of
military action led by the US. Communal, racial hatred and urge for
global hegemony go with that.
Kretzmann (2003) correctly
observed that 'there is a striking correlation between the presence
of oil and the deployment of the US military globally'.
In Somalia, in 1991, nearly
two-thirds of the country's territory had been granted as oil concessions
to Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips.
The Andean countries of Columbia,
Venezuela and Ecuador together produce about 20 per cent of the oil
imported by the United States. In 2002, the Bush administration allocated
$98 million to deploy 60 to 100 Special Forces troops to train a "Critical
Infrastructure Brigade" of Colombians for the explicit purpose
of protecting an Occidental Petroleum pipeline.
In March 2001, the United States pledged $4.4 million in military aid
to oil-rich Azerbaijan in the name of "counter threats such as
terrorism". According to Azeri President, "guaranteeing the
security of the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan and the Baku-Tblisi-Erzurum oil and
gas pipelines is an integral part of our struggle against terrorism."
In February 2001 US military
support including 'advisers' specialised for counter terrorism to Georgis
was, according to the Georgian defense ministry, "servicemen trained
under the US Train and Equip program might help provide security for
the [Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan] pipeline."
In 1997, BP and Halliburton proposed the Trans-Balkan pipeline (TBP).
In 1999, US forces in southeast Kosovo began construction of Camp Bondsteel,
largest new military base since the Vietnam War. In December 2002, ExxonMobil
and Chevron Texaco both expressed their eagerness to participate in
the Trans-Balkan pipeline.
From Nigeria in the North
to Angola in the South has become a 'vital interest' for the US. This
area is important for oil reserve and other mineral resources. US is
going to build a naval base in Sao Tome.
People around the world are
denied their rights over their own resources. Development strategy pursued
by the World Bank and the IMF always try to legitimize grabbing these
resources by big multinationals. Still that continues to be hotbed of
war and occupation. Millions of people were killed by the US- led forces
in Iraq since 1991 in that connection. Killing and destruction led by
US led forces continues, and continues life and death resistance from
Iraqi people as well. In Bangladesh with increasing discovery of natural
resources, we are entering into more danger of occupation, militarisation,
deprivation and insecurity for the whole nation. We are getting taste
of that since the 1980s.
Civil faces of imperial military
I mean the World Bank, IMF
and peer global regional agencies by that. These agencies always portray
themselves as development agencies, donors, politics- neutral and independent.
Anybody if she or he examines their role, find how state department
of the US, US treasury, Pentagon, CIA, big multinationals, and the World
Bank and the IMF go hand in hand. There is no instance where any of
these is happily working in country but any other is not. In many ways,
investigations of the pattern of actions of these institutions reveal
the visible fist behind the 'invisible hand'. Different country experiences
show the World Bank and the IMF actually work for creating or smoothening
path for global corporate grabbing in a peaceful way by influencing,
lobbying, creating support base thorugh consultancy, trip abroad and
by 'manufacturing consent'. If that does not work, military intervention
takes place. US led military actions are for 'development and democracy'!
So, they follow 'development' institutions. It is, therefore, not surprising
to see US defense managers getting appointment as World Bank presidents
under different White House regimes.
These institutions therefore
work as instruments to bargain or lobbying to create necessary arrangements
with different countries to protect US led global corporate and imperial
interest. Their enthusiasm for 'development' in some countries or its
indifference to crisis of some other countries also has links with these
objectives. Lending support to South Vietnam or South Korea's pro-US
regime, hostility to Allende government and sudden change of policy
towards Chile after fall of elected government and military takeover
there, or after reinstatement of President Aristide in Haiti, long hostile
policy towards Cuba or policy towards Afghanistan and Iraq are a few
instances of long list of rhetoric and crimes. Same goes with the IMF.
Here is an example how the IMF works. The example concerns the 1996
election in which Mr. Yeltsin, the preferred candidate of the US led
west, was in a shaky position. The Economist (July 13, 1996) reported
on the case and role of IMF as follows: "The election is over and
to almost universal relief Mr Yeltsin is still in office..Did the IMF,
in effect cast a vote for him? In principle, the Fund is apolitical.
It is supposed to be bound by strong internal rules and to be a strict
enforcer of conditions attached to its loans. But some of its big shareholders,
especially America and Germany, clearly cared more about Mr. Yeltsin's
survival than about a percentage point here and there in Russian's national
accounts. Did the Fund take the hint, and treat Russia with special
leniency?..One reason to suspect that it did was the Fund's readiness
in the first place to grant a three year loan of just over $10 billion-after
Mexico's, the second-biggest ever to Russia in February....When Mr.
Yeltsin dished out campaign promises to spend an unplanned $10 billion."
Agenda for Grabbing and Peoples Response
There is no instance in the
world where the hegemonic power of these institutions gives any good
to the people and the land. Everywhere that created a good number of
very big rich class, corrupt oligarchy, a submissive and shameless bureaucrats
and consultants but increasingly vulnerable economy and environment
and, above all, insecurity for the people.
These institutions have some
common agenda those are crucial for global capital to have market, to
have extraordinary return on investment and an open space to do whatever
they like. These include: (a) dismantling public institutions and public
enterprises that deprives people but give immense authority to big business,
(b) removing all supports and protection for local industries and agriculture
by liberalizing imports, (c) supporting export oriented activities to
meet the needs of western market by supplying cheap product at the expense
of economy and environment, (d) withdrawing state's responsibility of
providing health care and education for the people, (e) raising prices
of fuel, gas, electric city, raising fees of education and healthcare
to create good business opportunities of the global companies.
With implementation of these
prescriptions, the countries under the hegemonic power of these institutions
witness silent erosion of national capabilities and peoples increasing
sufferings. However, that cannot always go uninterrupted; there are
eruptions of peoples anger too. Damien Millet and Eric Toussaint summarizes
some instances as presented below:
In 1986, in Zambia, the price
of foodstuffs increased by 120 percent, causing hunger riots.
In 1989, in Venezuela, the SAP caused spectacular increases in the prices
of basic products and petrol (and therefore of public transport). In
three days of rioting (el Caracazo) there were officially 300 deaths
(unofficial sources say over 4,000).
In 1991 in Peru, President Alberto Fujimori applied the orders of the
IMF and the World Bank. The price of petrol increased 31 times and bread
12 times overnight, while the minimum salary fell by over 90 per cent
in fifteen years.
In Jordan, twelve people died in riots in 1989 after the announcement
of the rise in the price of fuel as suggested by the IMF. In August
1996, further riots broke out in Karakul when bread went up 2.5 times
its price following government subsidy cuts from following on rice,
milk and sugar.
In May 1998, subsidies on necessities were cut in Indonesia, causing
big riots. In February 2000, following an agreement with 30 per cent
and of electricity by 20 per cent, with sweeping cuts in the education
and health budgets.
In Yemen, there were hunger
riots in June 1998 after a 40 per cent rise in petroleum prices.
In August 1999, the Cote d'Ivoire saw riots against a rise in transport
fares, following the 17.5 per cent increase in the cost of petroleum
products. A young man was killed in Yopougon.
In Zimbabwe, there were hunger riots in October 2000 when a 30 per cent
price-rise on necessities such as bread and sugar was announced.
In 2001 and 2002, Argentina,
Paraguay and Uruguay also had rioting and occasional pillaging, often
to the sound of saucepans being banged by disgusted housewives.
In addition, in Bangladesh
there were many demonstrations against oil and gas contracts. In 2006
there were uprising in Phulbari where three people were killed and many
more injured, the disastrous open pit mining project proposed by a British
company supported by global agencies was halted by peoples protest.
In Latin America, these protests
resulted fundamental changes in their polity, too. That initiated a
new era of the people there, where global companies and these lobbying
agencies were rejected and people centred development strategy was put
Bangladesh: Fragility of
Bangladesh is located in the periphery of this global capitalism where
we find junior partners of these inhuman global powers. It has witnessed
how the global inhumans can create its own junior species in this land
in different forms. Therefore, the fate, destiny and the direction of
Bangladesh do not wholly depend on Bangladesh alone. Like many other
weak countries, Bangladesh has also potential to be a land of real democracy
where people can have a decent life with self-esteem and participation
in power. That is only possible if people can have authority over their
own lives and resources. Nevertheless, till today that is missing.
During the last three decades,
Bangladesh has experienced different forms of governments: civil and
military, parliamentary and presidential. Emergency was declared twice
(1974 and 1987) before the latest one on January 11, 2007; Martial Law
was promulgated twice (1975 and 1982). During the period, two Presidents
were killed (1975, 1981). Since 1991, elected governments had been ruling
the country. A form of non-party caretaker government has been introduced
in 1991 to run 'good elections'. But Bangladesh could never find or
sustain a governance system that represent people of the land and exercise
its own authoriy over its resources, planning and direction. In fact,
the ruling classes of the country, unlike Iraq, surrendered their sovereignty
without any resistance, and rather happily.
We have, therefore, fragility
of democracy and vulnerability of development. These are obviously interlinked.
Capital accumulation process takes a primitive form here. Unlike many
other peripheral countries, Bangladesh had been enjoying 'democratic'
rule, i.e., elected governments under parliamentary system since 1991.
Nevertheless, the parliament was never allowed to lead the country;
not to formulate, not even discuss on crucial policies those determine
fate of the country.
All major economic policies
have been formulated in line with the strategic framework by global
agencies, i.e., the World Bank, IMF or ADB without any knowledge or
consent of the people. The nation - state has been reduced to an implementing
agency of policies formulated elsewhere with increasing coercive power.
How can one expect development of institutions in this setting? What
will the parliament elected by free and fair election will do if this
power matrix remains untouched?
Deciding our Destiny
Today's world gives an obvious
message to change the tide of occupation, domination and destruction
by imperial power represented by the IMF and the World Bank et al. Worldwide
discontent is rising. After experiencing disastrous affect in many areas
in economy and society and after reaching a collapse following prescriptions
from IMF and the World Bank people of many countries became desperate
to through the lackeys away and change the governance system to stand
on its own feet. Some of them could succeed. Obviously, they started
rejecting the prescriptions and started disassociating with these anti
development agencies. Latin American countries like Argentina, Venezuela
and Brazil are no longer indebted to these institutions; some of African
countries can now access funds from the capital markets. Report goes,
' Together with Turkey and Indonesia, Argentina and Brazil are among
the four largest borrowers from the Fund, together accounting for 70%
of its outstanding loans. And another of these countries, Indonesia,
declared in 2003 that it would seek no new finance from the IMF, but
would run down its debt according to the original repayment schedule.'
In Bangladesh all trade and
business bodies, in an unprecedented move, rejected IMF prescriptions
terming as antidevelopment. This happened due to these agencies assertion
for policies against local industries and contractionary monetary policy.
These are all bad news for IMF et al. They survive on the crisis and
submission of weak countries. If that goes, their exit becomes imminent.
At this point, these agencies
become crazy to find a way out and keep chains around the neck of weaker
countries. After PRSP, their latest invention is policy support instrument
(PSI). Their version of the new instrument says: ' In recent years several
low-income countries have made significant progress toward economic
stability and no longer require IMF financial assistance. However, while
they may not want—or need—Fund financial support, they might
still seek ongoing IMF advice, monitoring and endorsement of their economic
policies—what is called policy support and signaling..."Signaling"
refers to the information that Fund activities can indirectly provide
about countries' performances and prospects. Such information can be
used to inform the decisions of outsiders. Outsiders can include private
creditors, including banks and bondholders, who are interested in information
on the repayment prospects of loans; official donors and creditors,
both bilateral and multilateral, who may be interested in reassurance
about the countries they are supporting; and the public at large.' By
ignoring the rhetoric one can easily find this as a desperate attempt
of the IMF to keep and extend its control over the countries where their
'good guys' in power. This 'control without fund' phase is critical
for them. Very few have agreed, like Nigeria, a test case of huge resources
and high poverty because of absolute domination of imperial power and
corrupt despotic counterpart inside.
An IMF mission is now in
Dhaka to sign that PSI put another chain cround the country's neck.
We condemn that and demand cancellation of the visit immediately. We
have enough of IMF and the World Bank (or the ADB etc) in this country;
we have enough of lumpen thugs and criminal billionaire ruling classes.
The millions of women men children passing days after days hungry, drinking
unsafe water, having no future, sitting in front of closed mills or
shining malls, children roaming in pain for not being able to continue
study, devastated men and women for their livelihood, waterlogged, women
weeping for failing to give food to their children, women remembering
their sons killed in huge demonstration to protect national resources
from global dacoits, all these have points against these local-global
Nevertheless, we smell attempts
for fresh recolonozing our country, imposing new slavery instruments.
The US, the worst-ever terrorist power in history, has its ugly eyes
on Bay of Bengal and Bangladesh as a whole. Their regional strategy
centred on India, the superpower in south Asia. China is emerging as
a global power. Their conflicts and unity both have bad effects on us.
All of these games of occupation and domination increase burden on our
people, risk our lives, and destroy our potentials. But that is not
the end of history.
Countries like Bangladesh
are called 'poor' but they are not. They have resources, human and material,
they have high potentials. However, in Bangladesh, we are repeatedly
seeing our potentials stolen by big corporate lobbyists in the name
of development juts like our forests, gas resources are stolen. The
world is calling for a change. We must join them; we must say a loud
NO to IMF, World Bank, ADB and their local lobbyists. If we can gain
that strength, we will be able to create a new governance, culture and
environment to have a life with dignity.
People's collective consciousness
and unconscious collectivity have infinite capacity to create a new
era for their own present and future.
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