1/10/8 U.S. Recession & Reality

Digest note:
A few 'economic news' report links below admit that the 'recession is here', but they are misleadingly framed by the official line that the u.s. 'housing slump'/real estate bubble bursting' is the cause -- not the result -- of what is actually a systemic structural & conjunctural crisis of capital.

This is the driving force behind the desperate u.s. global agenda [aka GWOT]. Why? Only control of Arab energy/oil resources will give u.s. ruling class the leverage necessary for expanded and secured global domination. As Henry Kissinger is reputed to have said, and as 'everyone' knows, “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.”

Historically, U.S. capital crises have been temporarily 'fixed' by imperialist world wars to eliminate major rivals and expand the global basis for maximizing the accumulation of capital. From its inception, american "manifest destiny" has been the same killer game.

No exception this time around -- except probably the stakes are higher: without this 'fix,' U.S. world supremacy faces extinction at the hands of two counter-forces: the increasing resistance of millions worldwide [aka "terrorists", "al qaeda"] and rapidly growing capitalist rivals China & Russia, with the anti-hegemonic blocs they are forging against U.S. unilateral power. Following the news links are some revealing documents that put current events into their long-simmering geostrategic political context. [more info and docs at http://www.burbankdigest.com/]

Note: glossing some very serious signs since finance capital rules

Citigroup could axe 32,000 workers to stem losses
The world’s largest bank could lose 10 per cent of its workforce when it unveils full-year results next Tuesday. It is also believed to be considering the sale of non-core assets to raise capital However, Meredith Whitney, one of Wall Street’s top banking analysts, said that the only way Citigroup could repair its balance sheet would be by selling Smith Barney, the broker, for about $25 billion (£12.7 billion).
Wall Street was especially gloomy yesterday after David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch, said that the United States had already slipped into recession. Mr Rosenberg believes that weak employment data and slowing retail sales performance point to the US economy being in recession.

Goldman Sachs sees recession in 2008:
Goldman Sachs on Wednesday said it expects the U.S. economy to drop into recession this year, prompting the Federal Reserve to slash benchmark lending rates to 2.5 percent by the third quarter. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080109/bs_nm/usa_economy_goldman_dc_2

Countrywide Financial Corp. dropped the most since "Black Monday" in October 1987
in New York trading on speculation that it needs cash to continue operating its mortgage business.

Bush Convenes Plunge Protection Team
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor
Bears beware. The New Deal of 2008 is in the works. The US Treasury is about to shower households with rebate cheques to head off a full-blown slump, and save the Bush presidency. On Friday, Mr Bush convened the so-called Plunge Protection Team for its first known meeting in the Oval Office.

Recession in the US 'has arrived'
The feared recession in the US economy has already arrived, according to a report from Merrill Lynch.
It said that Friday's employment report, which sent shares tumbling worldwide, confirmed that the US is in the first month of a recession.
Its view is controversial, with banks such as Lehman Brothers disagreeing.
But a reserve member of the committee that sets US rates warned that it could do little about the below-trend growth expected in the next six months.
"I am concerned that developments on the inflation front will make the Fed's policy decisions more difficult in 2008," Charles Plosser, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said.
He was referring to the problems faced by the US Federal Reserve, which might want to cut interest rates to avoid a recession, but is worried about inflationary factors such as $100-a-barrel oil.

'Significant decline'
An official ruling on whether the US is in recession is made by the National Bureau of Economic Research, but this decision may not come for two years.
The NBER defines a recession as "a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months". It bases its assessment on final figures on employment, personal income, industrial production and sales activity in the manufacturing and retail sectors.
Merrill Lynch said that the figures showing the jobless rate hitting 5% in December were the final piece in that puzzle. "According to our analysis, this isn't even a forecast any more but is a present day reality," the report said.

'Actual downturn'
But NBER president Martin Feldstein denied Merrill's claims. "I think we're not in a recession now," he told CNBC. "But I think there is a serious risk that it could get worse and we could see an actual downturn," he added.
Merrill said that the current consensus view on Wall Street that there is a good chance of avoiding a recession is "in denial".
It also objected to the use of euphemistic terms for the state of the economy. "To say that the backdrop is 'recession like' is akin to an obstetrician telling a woman that she is 'sort of pregnant'," the report said.

Housing figures
There were further signs of the housing slowdown that has sparked off the problems in the US economy in home sale figures.
Pending sales of existing homes fell 2.6%, according to the National Association of Realtors, which saw its pending sales index drop to 87.6 in November, 19.2% below the point it was at a year ago.
The figures were better than expected, however, because October's index reading was revised upwards from 87.2 to 89.9.

Meanwhile, US phone giant AT&T said it was now disconnecting a growing number of home phone and broadband customers for failing to pay their bills.
Published: 2008/01/08 23:01:56 GMT

Bad news piles up for British economy:
The bad news on the British economy piled up further Monday as one report found that activity in the services industry fell at the end of 2007 and another survey revealed that companies are at their most pessimistic in five years.http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D8U16LJO0.htm


Note: The following short selection of docs., approx. in chronological order, helps make sense, from a certain perspective, of the apparent insanity going -- unlike the propaganda handouts aka 'news': if it's helpful, pass it on.


1992: Excerpts From Pentagon's Plan: 'Prevent the Re-Emergence of a New Rival'
NYT March 8, 1992
Following are excerpts from the Pentagon's Feb. 18 draft of the Defense Planning Guidance for the Fiscal Years 1994-1999: This Defense Planning guidance addresses the fundamentally new situation which has been created by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the disintegration of the internal as well as the external empire, and the discrediting of Communism as an ideology with global pretensions and influence. The new international environment has also been shaped by the victory of the United States and its coalition allies over Iraqi aggression -- the first post-cold-war conflict and a defining event in U.S. global leadership. In addition to these two victories, there has been a less visible one, the integration of Germany and Japan into a U.S.-led system of collective security and the creation of a democratic "zone of peace." [HAHAHA]

Containing China
Michael Klare
When first enunciated in 1992, the permanent-dominancy doctrine was non-specific as to the identity of the future challengers whose rise was to be prevented through coercive action. At that time, U.S. strategists worried about a medley of potential rivals, including Russia, Germany, India, Japan and China; any of these, it was thought, might emerge in the decades to come as would-be superpowers, and so all would have to be deterred from moving in that direction. By the time the second Bush administration came into office, however, the pool of potential rivals had been narrowed in elite thinking to just one: the People's Republic of China. Only China, it was claimed, possessed the economic and military capacity to challenge the United States as an aspiring superpower; and so perpetuating U.S. global predominance meant containing Chinese power. The imperative of containing China was first spelled out (publicly)... by Condoleezza Rice... as a foreign policy advisor to then Gov. George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential campaign. In ...Foreign Affairs, she suggested that the PRC, as an ambitious rising power, would inevitably challenge vital U.S. interests. "China is a great power with unresolved vital interests, particularly concerning Taiwan," she wrote. "China also resents the role of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region." "China is not a 'status quo' power but one that would like to alter Asia's balance of power in its own favor. That alone makes it a strategic competitor...

1996: A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm
Following is a policy blueprint prepared for incoming Israeli president Netanyahu by The U.S. Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies’ "Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000." The main substantive ideas in this paper emerge from a discussion in which prominent opinion makers, including Richard Perle, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser participated.

1997: THE GRAND CHESSBOARD: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives
Zbigniew Brzezinski
"America is now the only global superpower, and Eurasia is the globe's
central arena. Hence, what happens to the distribution of power on the
Eurasian continent will be of decisive importance to America's global
primacy and to America's historical legacy."æ (p.194)...
"With warning signs on the horizon across Europe and Asia, any successful
American policy must focus on Eurasia as a whole and be guided by a
Geostrategic design." (p.197)
"That puts a premium on maneuver and manipulation in order to prevent the
emergence of a hostile coalition that could eventually seek to challenge
America's primacy..." (p. 198)
"In the long run, global politics are bound to become increasingly
uncongenial to the concentration of hegemonic power in the hands of a single
state. Hence, America is not only the first, as well as the only, truly
global superpower, but it is also likely to be the very last." (p.209)
"Moreover, as America becomes an increasingly multi-cultural society, it may
find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues,
except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct
external threat." (p. 211) ...

We are entering a new American century, in which we will become still wealthier, culturally more lethal, and increasingly powerful. We will excite hatreds without precedent. There will be no peace. At any given moment for the rest of our lifetimes, there will be multiple conflicts in mutating forms around the globe. The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing....we will win [...]

2002: U.S. Considers Dividing Iraq Into Three Separate States After Saddam Is Gone
FORECASTS & TRENDS, Oct 1, 2002 http://www.profutures.comarticle.php/91/%20
Stratfor.com http://www.stratfor.com/reports that one of the leading long-term strategies being considered by US war planners is to divide Iraq into three separate regions. Under this plan Iraq would cease to exist. [emphasis added]
Stratfor says that such a plan reportedly was discussed at an unusual meeting between Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan and pro-US Iraqi Sunni opposition members in London in July. Further, they say that in September, the Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, stated that the US goal in Iraq was to create a United Hashemite Kingdom that would encompass Jordan and Iraq's Sunni areas. Also, Israeli terrorism expert Ehud Sprinzak recently echoed this sentiment on Russian television on September 24.
So whose idea is this? According to Stratfor, Sprinzak stated that the authors of the "Hashemite" plan are Vice President Dick Cheney and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, both considered the most hawkish of Bush administration officials.[...]

P20G: Into the Dark: The Pentagon Plan to Foment Terrorism
From the Moscow Times, Nov. 1, 2002.
Darkness Visible: The Pentagon Plan to Foment Terrorism is Now in Operation January 25,2005)

2004 Rand study for the Air Force: “U.S. Strategy in the Muslim World After 9/11”
Rand study titled “U.S. Strategy in the Muslim World After 9/11” suggests exploiting Sunni, Shiite and Arab, non-Arab divides to promote the US policy objectives in the Muslim world. [...]

"China's Demand for Energy is Reshaping Power Structures Around the World"
Drafted by Adam Wolfe on February 25, 2004
China's Gross Domestic Product rose at a rate of 9.1 percent in 2003, and surpassed Japan to become the world's second-largest oil importer after the United States. Domestic energy production is rapidly expanding, but China continues to rely on imported fuel to keep its economy growing. The expectation that China will continue to demand more and more oil from foreign countries is beginning to reshape the relationships between oil producing countries, and has even had an effect on the U.S.' "war on terrorism."... As the Northern Hemisphere eases out of winter, demand for oil and gas falls. In this situation China's purchasing power increases. China prefers to purchase its oil from Russia because even though the shipping route is twice as long as the route from the Middle East, the cost of Russian crude oil is still below the market price of OPEC. This has helped to draw down the prices of Middle Eastern oil, and those countries have begun to seek ways to prevent any more slippage in price.
Russia and Saudi Arabia are jockeying for position as the global leader in crude oil exports, with each country hovering around 8 million barrels per day. The importance of oil to each country's economy has forced the leaders to change their diplomatic strategies in reaction to China's demand for energy. Because China's need for oil is so great, neither country is interested in pursuing an aggressive strategy to weaken the other. A Brunswick UBS analyst, a leading bank in Russia, sums up the situation: "We believe that growing demand far in excess of Russian production offers the most realistic and probable outcome that would alleviate OPEC of the need to confront Russia dramatically, although the risk is present."...As long as the Chinese economy continues to expand, Russia will persist on working with the Middle Eastern producers[...]

U.S. STRATEGIC NON-VIOLENCE: Washington's New World Order "Democratization" Template:
by Jonathan Mowat
The new Gladio in action: Ukrainian postmodern coup completes testing of new "pro democracy color revolutions" template
"Gene Sharp started out the seminar by saying 'Strategic nonviolent struggle is all about political power.' And I thought, 'Boy is this guy speaking my
language,' that is what armed struggle is about."—Col. Robert Helvey

Declassified documents shed new light on American [CIA] support to Dalai Lama
Arthur J Pais in New York
Just as the United States Congress, following intense pro-Tibet lobbying by the likes of movie star Richard Gere, has urged the administration to spend annually $ 2 million in support of the Tibetan exiles, in addition to the $ 2 million annually in funding for Tibetan exiles in India, comes a revelation that could embarrass the Tibetan cause.
The Central Intelligence Agency has stoutly refused to discuss its involvement in the Tibetan struggle but the story in Tuesday's Los Angeles Times blows the lid off the Tibetan operation.
The declassified historical documents provide the first inside details of the CIA's decade-long covert programme to support the Tibetan independence movement. Part of the efforts was enlisting prestigious universities as Cornell in creating Tibetan study programmes. At the time of the intelligence operation, the CIA was seeking to weaken Mao Zedong's hold over China. And the Tibetan exiles were looking for help to keep their movement alive after the Dalai Lama and his people following an unsuccessful 1959 revolt against Chinese rule. [...]

2004 THE PENTAGON’S NEW MAP: War & Peace in the 21st. Century
by Thomas P.M. Barnett, U.S. Naval War College
NOTE: The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century is
published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on 26 April 2004 (448 pages)
Esquire, March 2003 issue explains why we're going to war and why we'll keep going to war
Since the end of the cold war, the United States has been trying to come up with an operating theory of the world—and a military strategy to accompany it. Now there’s a leading contender. It involves identifying the problem parts of the world and aggressively shrinking them. Since September 11, 2001, the author, a professor of warfare analysis, has been advising the Office of the Secretary of Defense and giving this briefing continually at the Pentagon and in the intelligence community. Now he gives it to you.

The conquest of Southwest Asia
By Pepe Escobar
For Washington the real enemy is not Islamic fundamentalism: it's Arab nationalism. For decades the ultimate target of Israeli foreign policy has been to sow disunion among Arabs. Secular Arab nationalism is the ultimate threat to Israel, thus to the US...
The crux is not religious: it's political...

Civil war likely in Iraq, not necessarily negative
Tony Jones Interview with Daniel Pipes
Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 02/03/06

China 'Frankenstein threat' to US
Critics point to China's rising military power and ask who it might be aimed at. China has come in for heavy criticism from members of the US House of Representatives with one congressman labelling the country a "Frankenstein" created by the US that now threatens American interests.
Giving testimony to the committee, John Negroponte, the US deputy secretary of state, said China needed to be "more open about its military budget, doctrine, and intentions". The motives behind China's military build-up are unclear and are of concern to both the US and China's neighbours, he said. Negroponte is the chief adviser to Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, on China and the rest of Asia...

Dalai Lama: China hardening on Tibet
December 13, 2007
Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, gestures during the annual summit of Nobel Peace Prize winners, Rome Thursday, Dec. 13, 2007. China condemned the visit by the Dalai Lama to Rome, saying Thursday it opposed any country supporting or sympathizing with the exiled spiritual leader. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
ROME -- The Dalai Lama said Thursday that China is taking an increasingly harsh stance on Tibet and he appealed for international help during a visit to Rome. Addressing Italian lawmakers in the lower chamber of parliament, the exiled spiritual leader said Tibet was not seeking independence from China but only wished to preserve its culture."Our right hand has always reached out to the Chinese government," the Dalai Lama said. "That hand has always remained empty, so with our left hand we appeal to you: help us." China condemned the visit, saying it opposed any country supporting or sympathizing with the exiled spiritual leader. "The Dalai is not a pure religious figure but a political exile under the cover of religion who has long been engaged in activities aimed at splitting the motherland and national unity," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters in Beijing.
The Dalai Lama's recent meetings with President Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also drew strong rebukes from Beijing, which says he wants to split Tibet from China. The Dalai Lama insists he only seeks autonomy for Tibet, which China has ruled since 1951....The Dalai Lama stopped in Rome for an annual summit of Nobel peace laureates... The Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.


Note: the basis for optimism in all this horror is that capital's strategic weakness is a potential opportunity for people everywhere -- if we know what's really going on, why, and figure out how to make some real change --- not the no-change mantra mouthed by capital's electoral agents in the con game designed to keep us supporting the political-economic system that is destroying the world and the planet ... for the power and profit of a handful.

Dems and Reps Unite for Imperial Overkill
Chris Floyd , Empire Burlesque
Glenn Greenwald provides a snapshot of the true – and truly gargantuan nature of the American Imperium in his piece, "The bipartisan consensus on US military spending." The facts – chiefly, that the United States spends more on its military than all of the rest of the world combined, including Russia and China – are not exactly news to anyone who has been paying attention these past many years, but it is useful to see it all set down clearly with the latest figures.
Greenwald also rounds up some telling quotes from those "fightin' progressives" leading the race for the Democratic presidential nomination – all of whom, even the "angry populist" John Edwards, have publicly committed themselves to maintaining – and expanding – America's imperial legions around the world. Barack Obama, for example – the "different" candidate, the "new voice," etc. etc. – not only pledges to expand the war machine but to use "military force in circumstances beyond self-defense…to support friends, participate in stability and reconstruction operations, or confront mass atrocities."
This is of course an exact replication of the "Bush Doctrine" of unending aggressive war, described in precisely the same terms that Bush himself would use to justify his crimes. After all, isn't the invasion and rapine of Iraq a "stability and reconstruction operation"? Meanwhile, H. Clinton is the largest recepient of legalized bribes from the masters of war – outstripping even the bloodlusting Republican candidates in war industry donations.
Greenwald also notes the long-obvious truth that the extent of the American military empire is not even considered a fit subject for public debate by our political class and its bloated, fawning, fatuous courtiers in the media. That America must dominate the world by force and the ever-present threat of force is simply a given of our ruling class, and no one – no one – who seriously questions this assumption will ever be allowed to reach the commanding heights of power. [Arthur Silber has waxed eloquently on this theme for years.]...
Greenwald says that we should "take note of just how profoundly limited and lacking is the discourse that surrounds [the voting] process," and indeed we should. But it is not only the discourse that is limited; the choices themselves are severely circumscribed. Such a system is a democracy in name only...[note: peoples' democracy in name only, it is democracy for the dictatorship of capital]

Barack Obama Would Attack Pakistan:
Democratic candidate Obama, states that as commander in chief he would do what is necessary to protect the American people. He stated as well that if this means war with Pakistan than he would proceed in that direction.


This essay of Lenin's is till the best basic analysis of the nature and irresolvable contradictions of "globalized" capital:

"Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism"
V. I. Lenin

Lenin enumerated the following five features characteristic of the epoch of imperialism:

(1) the concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life;
(2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation on the basis of this “finance capital”, of a financial oligarchy;
(3) the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance;
(4) the formation of international monopoly capitalist associations which share the world among themselves, and
(5) the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed. Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed.

Lenin Collected Works vol.22, http://www.marxists.org/glossary/frame.htm
Lenin, Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism, LCW Volume 22, p. 266-7.

"[Imperialism] is something quite different from the old free competition between manufacturers, scattered and out of touch with one another, and producing for an unknown market. Concentration [of production] has reached the point at which it is possible to make an approximate estimate of all sources of raw materials (for example, the iron ore deposits)... [throughout] the whole world. Not only are such estimates made, but these sources are captured by gigantic monopolist associations [now called multi-national conglomerates]. An approximate estimate of the capacity of markets is also made, and the associations "divide" them up amongst themselves by agreement. Skilled labor is monopolized, the best engineers are engaged; the means of transport are captured – railways in America, shipping companies in Europe and America. Capitalism in its imperialist stage leads directly to the most comprehensive socialization of production; it, so to speak, drags the capitalists, against their will and consciousness, into some sort of a new social order, a transitional one from complete free competition to complete socialization.

"Production becomes social, but appropriation remains private. The social means of production remain the private property of a few. The general framework of formally recognized free competition remains, and the yoke of a few monopolists on the rest of the population becomes a hundred times heavier, more burdensome and intolerable."
(p. 205)

"The development of capitalism has arrived at a stage when, although commodity production still "reigns" and continues to be regarded as the basis of economic life, it has in reality been undermined and the bulk of the profits go to the "geniuses" of financial manipulation. At the basis of these manipulations and swindles lies socialized production; but the immense progress of mankind, which achieved this socialization, goes to benefit... the speculators." (p. 206-207)