Walberg’s book critique, part 3
G. S. 
initial posting 22 Sept 2011- last update 23 Sept 2011

URL: http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/t/2011-09-22.htm

      Well, I managed in the first day of this “serious” critique of Eric Walberg’s book, Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the great games, to make at least one factual error. I had assumed that Eric was of Jewish ethnicity. Not so, he informed me in his response: “A minor correction. I believe you think I’m Jewish too, but much as I admire (albeit it critically) the Jewish character and am often assumed to be Jewish, as far as I know (who knows?) my origins are Protestant Swedish/Irish. I am quite convinced that through the ages, the large majority of those born Jewish have assimilated (no records of these apostates are kept), and in any case, we are all related if we go back 7 generations.”

      Just to remind us, here’s the thumbnail sketch of the book whose first section, the Introduction, I commented on in my piece yesterday.

— Introduction, pp17-28;color map -p.18;endnotes pp28-29

— Chapt 1,pp30-46;GGI: Competing Empires;endnotes pp46-49

— Chapt 2,pp50-91;GGII: Empire against Communism;endnotes pp92-98

— Chapt 3,pp99-152;GGIII: US-Israel—Postmodern Imperialism;endnotes

— Chapt 4,pp161-219;GGIII: Israel—Empire-and-a-half; Appendix: The Israel lobby
            and ‘Dog wags the tail’ debates pp214-219;endnotes 219-232

— Chapt 5,pp233-276;GGIII: Many players, many games;Appendix III: The
            ex-Soviet central Asian republics in GGIII,pp.273-276;endnotes 277-283

— Bibliography, pp.284-293, Bibliography – and Chapt 4 Appendix: Critique of
           ‘New NATO’ literature

— Index, pp.294-300

      The last installment of this critique was about Chapt 1, GGI: Competing Empires of Eric’s book. Today I want to focus on his Chapt 2 which, with its endnotes, occupies pages 50-96. Of course you’re welcome to join in. Both Eric and I will be glad to learn your thoughts. And if you want, you can post them on my new blog. [1]

      I got a note from Eric in the early hours of this morning that’s worth being attentive to. He objects to my undifferentiated lumping of Jewish people in different ideological camps into the single category “The Jews”, pointing out, quite correctly, that such sloppiness on my part might dissuade potential readers from even looking at his book. That could be harmful to his intent — to get as many people, and not just the already committed, to read his work. His comments included the following: “Yes, Churchill is quite the devil, a very eloquent and crafty politician. It helps to personify each of the games to bring them alive. But re bankers and the role of Jews, let’s agree to refer to “the Jewish elites” as I explain in Chapt 4., careless use of language turns off mainstream readers, who are really the main audience. If the book is only read by the [already] converted, it will not have been a success“. I defer to Eric’s wisdom, and will try to control my passions.

      By The Great Games II (GGII) Empire Against Communism Eric is referring to the historical period during which the U.S. — truly the global hegemon, was openly intent on preventing even embers of socialism from smouldering. Its’ ruling bankers were in control of much of the world’s wealth, a key control lever. Walberg zeros in on this no-longer-hidden fact, starting the chapter [on p.50] with

Beginnings of GGII and goals
      What is dubbed Great Game II here is called super-imperialism by Michael Hudson, referring to the unique role of the US dollar. The professed goal in GGII was still to bring the benefits of western civilization — be they the fruits of capitalism or communism — to the undeveloped nations and to improve the well-being of the ‘backward’ peoples. Christian missionaries were as visible as in GGI, acting as handmaidens of imperialism. But they were now competing with third world communist and socialist idealists and, for those ex-colonies able to achieve some genuine independence, advisers from behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ dividing Europe. [p.51]

Chapt 2 GGII: Empire Against Communism
      The underlying goal of the formerly competing western empires of GGI, now united under US hegemony, was to align ex-colonies against communism and capture the most market control in competition with the now Soviet-Chinese heartland and the anti-colonial movement, while the Soviet Union and its allies tried to encourage the emerging nations to follow a more independent course, to build balanced, self-reliant economies that meet basic social needs, while avoiding tying themselves to the traditional colonial role of supplying raw materials to a capricious world market, where prices can rise or fall wildly, alternately providing windfall profits or threatening bankruptcy. This playing field was very different from GGI, providing a modicum of hope that the dependency model of imperialism could be broken through anti-imperialist alliances and farsighted planning.

      This hope derived from the fact that the western nations had been forced to ally with the Soviet Union from 1941—45 and adopt its anti-imperialist rhetoric as GGII got underway. As a consequence, the period from 1945’1980, though officially one of peace, was really one of unremitting upheaval, with imperialism on the defensive, especially in the 1950’60s, during the heyday of anti-imperial struggle, when socialist and communist revolutionary fervor was sweeping the globe.

      Even western Europe, occupied by US forces, witnessed communists holding important cabinet posts in coalition governments after the war. Britain elected a Labour government in 1945, intent on socialist reforms, despite the prestige of wartime leader Winston Churchill. For a few years, it looked like communism might triumph around the world. The experience of the US during the war as a planned economy had shown the viability and advantages of socialism — full employment and extensive social welfare — policies the allies were compelled to follow during the war to ensure a compliant working class remained united with their capitalist elites to defeat Nazism.

      [p.52] The days following WWI had been halcyon ones for British foreign policy strategists. Britain was able to divide up the Middle East according to its GGI plans, with the League of Nations as a legitimizing cover. Following WWII, an exhausted and bankrupt Britain and France quickly shed their Middle East colonies, and the US, stronger than ever, set up new international organizations even before the end of the war — the International Monetary Fund and World Bank (founded in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire in 1944) and the United Nations (founded in San Francisco in 1945). But there were storm clouds already on the horizon, as the US and Britain were forced to compromise with the Soviet Union on a division of Europe, and had to struggle to re-establish western control over the colonies which Japan had seized and to make sure the newly independent British “mandates” in the Middle East remained onside.The situation was dire for US strategists. With the overwhelmingly pro-communist world sentiment following the defeat — primarily by the Soviet Union — of the Nazis, it was very much touch and go.

      It’s interesting to me (G.S.) to recall that period of ideological struggle. I was 18, had been inducted into the U.S. Army and assigned to be the so-called “information and education” non-com (non-commissioned officer) for my company, the 744th Engineering Oilfield Battalion. Russia had been (I still believed) our ally in the war against Germany, and my sympathies were, as you would expect for a “good, liberal Jew”, pretty solidly pro-Communist. That of course was long before I became a real (lower-case c) communist. Anarchism I’d never heard of. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was my idol. It was 1943, long before the bulk of Jewish Americans had even heard of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. And before they were being converted from staunch anti-Nazis to embracing former Nazis to demonstrate their supposed ditching of Communist ideology. I was so unaware I didn’t realize there were no blacks in our company because the U.S. military was strictly segregated at the time.

      Even years later, I was disgusted at (Joseph) McCarthy and the Catholic hierarchy with their virulent anti-Semitism — supporting the calculated persecution and murder of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg — the “atom spies” because of their hatred of Jews and their craven desires for power. This entire sordid episode of state murder was carried out with the willing collaboration of a number of Jews eager to exonerate themselves from the stigma of being Communist sympathizers. I remember some of the intensity of hatreds generated in ordinary, otherwise decent people. In my Company, the 744th, which mostly consisted of southern oilfield workers from Texas and Louisiana, I recall one of them swearing about Blacks (niggers to him), “I hate them so bad I can taste it”. I’m not making this up. It was part of my life, and I accepted it, in my ignorance. Of course I had no choice.

      There was one guy in our Company who was a Quaker. He rejected violence and refused, as a matter of principle, to carry any firearms. Why he got assigned to the 744th I have no idea, any more than why I ended up there. Another example of a military SNAFU (Situation normal, all fucked up).

      [p.53] The ideologies motivating the western players in GGII were a confusing mix of liberalism and socialism, but above all — anticommunism. The alliance with the Soviet Union in WWII had inspired the western public with the ideas of socialism, especially after the widespread suffering during the protracted depression of the GGI endgame in the 1930s, when the experiment in socialist planning in the Soviet Union was much admired.

      [p.54] The chief ideological mantra of GGII, anticommunism, was Goebbels’ “big lie”, that is, people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it. The Soviet Union was not responsible for any of the dozens of third world revolutions against imperialism and never threatened to invade western Europe or attack America. On the contrary, its foreign policy was cautious to the extreme — Stalin supported the Kuomintang in China, not Mao’s communists; he failed to come to the aid of the powerful Greek communists and watched as they were murdered by the British and Americans after the war, sticking to the wartime agreement with Churchill and intent on avoiding further war.

      [p.55] No country was to be allowed to “go communist”, where communist was intentionally ill-defined. Instead, they were expected to continue to abide by the rules set down by the ex-imperial mother country, to respect private property and the market, to follow western practices of electoral democracy and later to observe “human rights”. Any sign of challenge to US hegemony, as in the case of Iran and many other countries in the 1950 — 60s, however, did not permit invasion and colonization as in GGI, but it did legitimize 3) — empire exceptionalism, permitting the US to employ all necessary means short of invasion to bring into line and if necessary overthrow the offending government and install an acceptable one, preferably later legitimized in US-monitored elections — using the new soft power techniques.

      [p.56] In chess, a pawn reaching the opponent’s rear is promoted, usually to the most powerful figure, a queen, changing the fundamental dynamics of the game. In real life, the American empire achieved two such coups as GGII got underway, creating a new playing field and rules of the game. What became the cornerstone to the US GGII game plan was the ascendancy of the US dollar as world reserve currency. By 1948, the US possessed 72 per cent of the world’s gold, and the gold exchange system of the new IMF pegged each country’s national currency to the dollar. The real financial pillar was in fact the dollar, with the US having effective veto power in the IMF (whose head is chosen, at least officially, by an obedient Europe) and the World Bank (whose head is chosen by the US). Britain was bankrupt and the pound on life-support. The US GGI game against the British empire ended with the US crowning its dollar as the new financial queen.

      [p.59] The continuity of financial strategy from Nixon’s 1971 discarding of the gold standard through to the new post-embargo scenario with high oil prices is suggested by the secret Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) accord initiated by Nixon’s assistant treasury secretary Jack Bennett (who later became a director of Exxon) and finalized in 1975 in a memo to Kissinger whereby the Saudi revenues were used to finance the growing US government deficits. This is further confirmed by “economic hit man” John Perkins. OPEC remained safely wedded to payments in US dollars only — not German marks, Japanese yen or Swiss francs.

      [p.68] Many of the world’s most intractable conflicts are in former British colonies or protectorates: from [p.69] the West Bank and Gaza, Iraq, Kurdistan, Yemen and Somalia to Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Cyprus and Sudan — with the reflex imperial resort to partition a recurrent theme. The failure in modern Britain to recognise the empire for what it was — an avowedly racist despotism, built on ethnic cleansing and ruthless exploitation, which undeveloped vast areas and oversaw famines that killed tens of millions — [boldface by G:S.] is a dangerous encouragement to ignore its lessons and repeat its crimes in a modern form. The use of military might to destroy potential threats to the imperial status quo achieved the desired result, even when the states concerned seemingly defeated the US. The US is popularly thought of as losing in Vietnam, but by destroying its economy, killing millions of its people and devastating its land, it prevented the successful development of a strong socialist country which could have been a catalyst in the non-imperial transformation of southeast Asia. The only holdouts from GGII today — Cuba and North Korea — remain impoverished, besieged by the empire.

      As I wrote in concluding my comments on Walberg’s Chapter I, (they apply here as well) I hardly need do more than select the most trenchant parts of his epic work, and add a few explanatory remarks here and there. Eric cuts through in a way that Alan Hart fails to do. I think Alan was used (in the worst sense) by the woman whose friendship he believed was genuine, Golda Meir. She was the epitome of the ambitious, dishonest, brutal Jewish Zionist liar. Of course Alan, and all the good people whose sympathies for the “poor Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust” are aghast and infuriated to see the “Chosen People” slaughtering tiny children. Justice insists that Palestine — all of it — be returned to its indigenous inhabitants. Step I in rebuilding our world.

[1] Sketch for a humane resolution of the Palestine/Israel conflict. http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/t/2010-11-13.htm

Date: Tue, Sep 20, 2011 at 4:09 AM
From: Eric Walberg <walberg2002@yahoo.com>

      Hi George, You have been hard at work. I can’t believe you are 86. I am delighted by your discourse — very anarchist. I too believe that you must write with passion or not at all (though the rewriting of a book should tone the text down so that the reader can provide his/her own passion).

      >lightly-written but serious treatise
      Eric: “Good to hear. That’s what I strove for.”

      >It starts with quotes from two British empire-builders and a glimpse of the
      Eric: “I’m not sure where ‘a glimpse of the author’ in what follows the Curzon quote has ‘To me, I confess, they are the pieces on a chessboard’ but that’s Curzon. You have a lively style which is enjoyable to read. Thanks again.”

      Eric: “A minor correction. I believe you think I’m Jewish too, but much as I admire (albeit it critically) the Jewish character and am often assumed to be Jewish, as far as I know (who knows?) my origins are Protestant Swedish/Irish. I am quite convinced that through the ages, the large majority of those born Jewish have assimilated (no records of these apostates are kept), and in any case, we are all related if we go back 7 generations.”

      Eric: “I think Mexico has many interesting and talented North American expats. It would be interesting to read a good book about you/them. Canada’s legendary skater/artist toller Cranston lives on a hill top in San Miguel de Allende.”

      Eric: “My hope for my own book is that it can become a reference book for progressives and appear on reading lists. I am working on getting it translated into Arabic at present. I look forward to your further reflections, Eric <http://ericwalberg.com/>”

Date: Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 4:21 PM
To: Eric Walberg <walberg2002@yahoo.com>
From: George Salzman <doctorsci@gmail.com>

Subject: A question on Latvia

      Hi Eric, I’m unclear whether I actually read an article lauditory of Latvia’s current regime some time ago that was written by “our” Israel Shamir, or whether it was authored by a “news propaganda agency” that is named Israel Shamir. I had not realized there was such an official Latvian agency until I decided to go back to Israel’s website to look for the article I remembered reading. My intent was to tell you about it, as evidence that Israel is not to be trusted. I am still certain he is playing a dirty game, but it may be that what I thought was a piece of evidence was my mistake. If you happen to know the answer to this quandry I’ll appreciate being enlightened. All the best —George

P.S. I just read <http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/09/19/the-pillaging-of-latvia/>

September 19, 2011
Bankers’ man, Anders Aslund, invokes Latvia to bail out his reputation
The Pillaging of Latvia
by Jeffrey Sommers and Michael Hudson

Date: Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 4:57 AM
From: Eric Walberg <walberg2002@yahoo.com>
To: Dr. Science <doctorsci@gmail.com>

      Hi George, No re shamir supporting Latvian govt. though the news this week from Latvia is that the good guys came out on top in the elections — the Socialist Party with a strong Russian base. but they will be shut out of the govt. Shamir is a unique individual, a media celebrity, so you must keep this in mind. I respect him and admire his writings. He just wrote a brilliant piece on the Middle East that I highly recommend:

The Arab Autumn <http://www.israelshamir.net/English/Arab_Autumn.htm>
By Israel Shamir

      Autumn in the Middle East hasn’t the melancholy connotations you attach to it in the North. For you, this is the season of dying; maple leaves turn purple and geese fly south. For us, this is the jolly season of awakening after stupefying summer heat; grass hatches again on the burned-to-reddish-brown lawns and trees are heavy with ripe figs and pomegranates. Arab Spring, as the wave of spectacular February risings was called, gave way to Arab Summer, that hot and meaningless season of vainly seeking shade or a cool dip under a mercilessly blazing sun. In Egypt, the military junta continued Mubarak’s policies; in Libya, armed gangs prowled the desert under the . . .

George Salzman is a former American Jew living in Oaxaca, Mexico, an ex-physics prof, Univ of Massachusetts-Boston.

All comments and criticisms are welcome.  <doctorsci@gmail.com>

      If you know folks who want to ‘save the world’, starting with global open communication — no censorship, I’ll be glad to add them to my Notes of an anarchist physicist listserv [noap]. To subscribe write me, including your first and last names, please, or send a blank e-mail to noap-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.

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Initial posting of this page: 19 Sept 2011.
Last update: 23 Sept 2011