Walberg’s book critique, part 4b
G. S. 
initial posting 18 Oct 2011- last update 19 Oct 2011

URL: http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/t/2011-10-18.htm

Note: OK, finally here’s the completion of the critique of Chapter 3 of Eric Walberg’s book.

      Just to remind us, here’s the thumbnail sketch of the book whose first section, the Introduction, I commented on in my piece on Monday the 19th, whose second section, Chapt 1, I reviewed on Tuesday the 20th, whose third section, Chapt 2, I reviewed on the 24th. On the 25th I just touched on a critique of the fourth section, Chapt 3. That chapter gets Eric into the heart of his thesis, that the destructiveness being fomented in the “Middle East” is the deliberate work instigated by a fairly small group of what he refers to as “the Jewish elites”. Eric is concerned that if I use too broad a brush, speaking of “The Jews” instead of being precise and including the adjectivial noun “elites”, such “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 will defer to Eric’s concern, because I most certainly wish potential readers of his book to be encouraged to read it. However, there is an important ideological disagreement between the two of us, which I will not ignore.

— 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

      A reminder, you are welcome to post your thoughts on this controversial dispute on my new blog. [1]

      Eric launched his Chapter III with an encompassing view of the state of the world initiated in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union. I mentioned this at the very end of my posting of 2011-10-15. Now I want to pick up from that point.

      It looked in 1991 like “the end of history” which Francis Fukuyama proclaimed the next year. True, there was the pesky “clash of civilizations” and the simmering problem of “Islamic fundamentalism” with Israel at its heart. The US had won GGII, providing Israel with a gift of 1 million Soviet Jews in 1991, and trounced Israel’s major enemy in the Middle East [Iraq]. If these two very expensive gifts had been rewarded by an obedient Israel willing, at long last, to make peace with the Palestinians, the threat from the Arab and Muslim world would abate, ushering in Bush I’s neoliberal new world order, a pax americana, a postmodern imperial order. The underlying goal had not changed: to complete Mackinder’s plan — a renewed energetic thrust by the US for world economic and political hegemony, now active on the whole Silk Road, from the Balkans to China’s frontiers. In its present reincarnation, the Mackinder plan required the securing of oil supplies in both the Middle East and the newly opened Central Asia.

      The fly in the ointment was the fundamentally anachronistic nature of Zionist plans. They had not changed either. Israel was still a settler colonial regime in a neocolonial era — a recipe for permanent war. When Bush I tried to end Israel’s colonial mentality, force it to stop building new settlements, his new game plan unraveled, and a struggle to define the new GGIII game plan began. Eisenhower had made Israel bend to the US game plan in 1956. Ford/Kissinger/Carter had too, though just barely in the 1970s, curbing somewhat Israel’s colonial ambitions. Both, ironically, relied on the Soviet threat to the neocolonial order. But ‘in victory, defeat’. The Soviet threat was no more, and in the meantime, the Israel lobby in Washington had become too powerful for a president to counter.

      It is the range of considerations and breath of factual details that makes Walberg such a powerful advocate in his struggle for justice and decency for all peoples. His focus is never too narrow. Thus we find in this same chapter the following (endnote 52, p.155):
      By unleashing the free market from the 1980s on, inequality between the richest and poorest nations increased from 88:1 (1970) to 267:1 (2000). At the height of GGI it was just 22:1. The net effects of opening capital markets in the South to the North has been to drain them: in 1992 debt service payments by developing countries were $179b and financial inflows $128b. By 2000 the figures were $330b and $86b. Doing the opposite of the IMF advice — maintaining strict national capital controls — as did Malaysia in 1997 was the best solution, just as Russia’s 1997 debt default was the only way out of its free market abyss, Argentina’s refusal to pay its debt except from proceeds following recovery, and Iceland’s refusal to bail out its banks. Statistics from Freeman and Kagarlitksy, eds, The Politics of Empire: Globalisation in Crisis, 9,11.

      Another endnote also serves to illustrate the depth to which Walberg penetrates the deliberately misleading pronouncements of politicians and the corporate “news-hackers”. (endnote 46, p.154):
      Quoted in Jonathan Cook, Israel and the Clash of Civilisations, London: Pluto, 2008, 19. Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi realized the new rules of the game could mean US invasion and quickly came to terms with the US. In 1991, Libyans had been indicted in connection with the 1988 PanAm (the so-called Lockerbie incident) and 1989 UTA air crashes and Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was convicted in 2001 on circumstantial evidence. Suspicions are that the PanAm crash was the work of Iran in retaliation for the US shooting down an Iranian civilian airliner the same year. Al-Gaddafi’s support of Iran in the Iraq-Iran war could well have been a motive in framing a Libyan for the attacks. Nonetheless, to end the stand-off, Libya formally accepted “responsibility for the actions of its officials” in 2003 concerning the Lockerbie bombing, agreed to pay compensation of $2.7 billion to the victims, and threw wide open the doors to its weapons program in 2006, thereby ending its isolation. Bush I agreed to renew diplomatic relations with Libya in 2006 and UN sanctions were lifted in 2008 — the only clear-cut neocon victory so far in GGIII, accomplished without firing a shot. The US even agreed to pay Libyan families $300 million for casualties suffered due to the 1986 US airstrikes.

      Walberg draws on a great many sources for the information he synthesizes in his presentation. Like Immanuel Wallerstein, he necessarily has to go far afield in his search for understanding. Of course this implies having to rely on numerous secondary sources. My sense is that Walberg brings to bear a stricter critical judgment than Wallerstein of how heinous are the crimes of the Zionists. They both place themselves in the camp of understanding events on the basis of “realpolitics” and thus avoid to some extent making ethical judgments of the parties in posts of power. In this regard I think Wallerstein is too non-judgmental, but I also tend to be critical that Walberg is not as judgmental on ethical issues as is, in my opinion, warranted. Regarding the behavior of the Zionist government and all its supporters (including those comfortable American Jews) I share the sense of rage that the British journalist Alan Hart now expresses. His humanitarian values have been betrayed by Golda Meir and the host of reprehensible Zionists in her cohort, and he’s absolutely outraged — pissed — that he was, after all, outwitted and betrayed, as he sees it, by this woman who made him think she regarded him highly. She was, ultimately, a whore for Zionism and its conquest, a whore who charmed Alan into believing she trusted him and into thinking he was in her circle of confidence.

      The problem that everyone like Walberg, Wallerstein, Hart, William Engdahl, and so on faces is that the reality of contemporary politics/economics/social struggles is not like a giant jig-saw puzzle in which a unique solution exists for which each piece has a well-defined place. There is no clearcut unique formulation — rather than that, the reality is full of ambiguities. Consequently, different observers, no matter how diligent, informed and honest they may be, cannot be expected to arrive at a single understanding of the situation. Some, like Robert Fisk, live with greater uncertainty, acknowledging that it’s unclear which of various directions the struggles may follow. I cannot even pretend to know which developments are likely to prevail. I live with my hopes that the terrifying reality through which humanity is suffering will not endure and that the humanistic values that still characterize much of the indigenous culture of Oaxaca State will come to be seen by humanity at large as an ideal — and practical culture by which to self-govern our communal lives.

      Naturally there are many points on which I disagree with these informants, the best sources I know of to learn what is happening. But these are individuals whose basic honesty I’ve come to trust, except for William Engdahl, about whom I have some serious doubts. These first arose in connection with criticisms Engdahl wrote about a former colleague of mine, Gene Sharp. My paper, “William Engdahl, is he a slanderer not to be trusted? Is Gene Sharp compromised?” written almost four years ago, began:

      This sad tale of an experience in what ought to be “the movement” for a decent world tells of my disenchantment with each of three “activists”: 1. F. William Engdahl, who I believe slandered Gene Sharp and Sharp’s Albert Einstein Institution, 2. Sharp, who I believe compromised himself and his institution by training young Venezuelan “activists” in Boston in non-violent strategy for getting rid of the Hugo Chavez government, and 3. George Lakey, who rationalized training students seeking to “bring democracy” to their nations by unseating the government even when such efforts “happen” to support American foreign policy objectives.
      What brought me back to consider F. William Engdahl is the repeated reliance on his book A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, revised ed., London: Pluto, [1992] 2004. Walberg cites this Engdahl volume 28 times. My skepticism about Engdahl came when I sought from him the factual information on which his criticism of Gene Sharp rested. Engdahl, I had noted, seemed never lacking citations to published literature to support his assertions. But in his article in which Gene Sharp figured, there were no cited references, which of course caught my attention as a marked deviation from Engdahl’s usual practice. I wrote him to inquire what facts he was relying on, initially in a friendly note that assumed we were all on the same side of the struggle for a good world. Engdahl apparently believes he is too important a personage to be bothered with the likes of me. I never received even a simple acknowledgement that my e-mail got to him.

      I think it was some time later that I realized he was uninformed about some basic scientific understanding. He wrote with the expressed expectation that contrary to what is known about the formation of petroleum, the Earth will continue producing it ad infinitum. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F._William_Engdahl> His political judgment in affiliating himself with perennial presidential candidate Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. is on a par with his scientific acuteness. His beliefs regarding petroleum are, I believe, simply ludicrous, exhibiting his scientific vacuity. He stated in 2007 that he had come to believe that petroleum is not biological in origin, but that it is produced deep underground from carbon, by conditions and forces of heat and pressure deeper down than the Earth’s bioshpere. He calls himself an “ex peak oil believer”, stating that peak oil is actually a political phenomenon. He claims that global warming, like peak oil, is merely a “scare” and an attempt “by powerful vested interests to convince the world to sacrifice [so] that they remain in control of the events of this planet”.

      Let me wrap up this part of my critique by saying that anyone who, like Eric Walberg, succeeds in covering such an enormous and convoluted panorama in a way that makes it accessible to someone with my limited capabilities deserves my praise and my thanks.

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

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>

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Initial posting of this page: 18 Oct 2011.
Last update: 19 Oct 2011