31 Jan 2016

What Is Happening In Libya And Why Nobody Talks About It?

Shubhda Chaudhary

Politically overshadowed, Libya, in spite of its tumultuous irony with Arab Spring hardly marks advent into limelight. With a government that barely exists, Washington is preparing to take “decisive military action” in Libya against the alarming growth of ISIS.
“Action in Libya is needed before Libya becomes a sanctuary for ISIL (another name for ISIS), before they become extremely hard to dislodge,” said US Defense Official. A team of six British RAF officers and MI6 operatives flew to an airbase near the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk, which is under control by internationally recognized militia forces. In November, a US F-16 fighter jet struck the eastern town of Derna, killing Abu Nabil, also known as Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al-Zubaydi, the local ISIS leader.
In October 2011, the U.S., France and Britain launched attacks that led to the overthrow of the Libyan leader Gadaffi. The majority of Libyans are demonstrably worse off today than they were under Gaddafi, notwithstanding his personality cult and authoritarian rule. The slaughter is getting worse by the month and is engulfing the entire country. There is an ongoing civil war between the Council of Deputies in Tobruk and its supporters, the New General National Congress in Tripoli and its supporters, and various jihadists and tribal elements controlling parts of the country. While foreign pressure builds to tackle a threat from Islamic State militants, Libya’s internationally recognized parliament, based in the east, has rejected a main article in the U.N. accord as well as a proposed list of ministers.
It now has two governments and parliaments, with the internationally recognized authorities based in the east and a militia-backed authority in the capital Tripoli. In December, Libya’s warring factions signed a UN-backed peace deal designed to establish a unity government that could lead a military push against Isis. However, earlier this week Libya’s internationally recognized parliament rejected the proposed new government.
Noted journalist Patrick Cockburn had rightly stated ‘Human rights organisations have had a much better record in Libya than the media since the start of the uprising in 2011. They discovered that there was no evidence for several highly publicised atrocities supposedly carried out by Gaddafi's forces that were used to fuel popular support for the air war in the US, Britain, France and elsewhere.’
Libya is imploding. Its oil exports have fallen from 1.4 million barrels a day in 2011 to 235,000 barrels a day. Militias hold 8,000 people in prisons, many of whom say they have been tortured. Some 40,000 people from the town of Tawergha south of Misrata were driven from their homes which have been destroyed.
Unfortunately, the militias are getting stronger not weaker. Libya is a land of regional, tribal, ethnic warlords who are often simply well-armed racketeers exploiting their power and the absence of an adequate police force. Nobody is safe.
Libya represents a classic case of the failure of Arab Spring. Even though pro-democracy outbursts took place in 2011, after the death of Gadaffi, Libya has descended into a political morass. The foreign intervention of US, France and Britain in Libya with the imposition of a ‘No Fly Zone’, camouflaging the Western vested interests of implementing neo-conservative regime have failed in Libya as it did earlier in Iraq.
There are few hard-line questions though that makes Libya a difference.
Firstly, the media blackout regarding the political condition in Libya is making it very difficult to meticulously decipher what is happening in the country. Whether the media blackout is deliberate or just because Libya is unsafe for journalists, still can be debated.
Secondly, media is flooded with the news and narratives about the refugees from Syria but why no one talks about Libyan refugees. What happened to them, amidst the tribal and ethnic tension that is catapulting the state into a condition of complete failure?
Thirdly, there are numerous militants being recruited from Libya into ISIS. The main question here is how they are getting arms and financed. There is hardly any concrete evidence regarding it.
The revolution has failed in Libya for sure, but what about the future, what about the solution? The western countries are hardly interested in a non ambiguous plan of action along with the UN.
So, will be mutely be spectators as Libya’s case worsens and it implodes?

Monsanto’s Roundup Kills And Damages More Than Weeds

Shepherd Bliss

Sebastopol, California: Protests against Monsanto’s Roundup, with its poisonous, weed-killing glyphosate, have spread around the globe. An arm of the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it a probable cause of cancer in 2015. California’s Environmental Protection Agency (CA EPA) recently decided to label it as such.
Environmental groups and activists in Northern California, a region known for its wines, advocate a moratorium on this herbicide as health concerns mount. Roundup is the world’s most widely used pesticide.
Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, was the focus of a January 28 informational event. It was initiated by the Watertrough Childrens Alliance as a fundraiser for a lawsuit against winemaker Paul Hobbs for converting an apple orchard into a vineyard adjacent to schools, thus putting the health of around 500 children at risk by spraying Roundup. The Sierra Club, Sonoma Group, co-sponsored the evening.
Sebastopol Mayor Sarah Glade Gurney welcomed a panel of three experts and around 60 people from Sonoma and Napa counties attended and moderated an active discussion. Attorney Jonathan Evans of the Tucson, Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity, organizer Ella Teevan of the Washington, D.C.-based Food and Water Watch (FWW), and former Petaluma Vice-Mayor and City Council member Tiffany Renee spoke.
Monsanto also makes Roundup Ready, which are Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). “93% of soy beans and 80% of corn in the U.S. are grown with Monsanto GMO seeds,” reported Teevan. “Food and Water Watch wants a moratorium on more GMOs and their labeling.”
“Our food system and how we interact with our environment is broken. Instead of serving people, profit is served. We need to fix our food system,” Teevan added.
“Glyphosate has become a pervasive presence in the environment. 65% of water in some countries has traces of it,” said Evans. “Exposure can create a number of problems, including liver and kidney damage. It can even change ones DNA. Our goal is to protect health and keep these products out of the market.”
“After the CA EPA decision to label Roundup, Monsanto filed a lawsuit against them. They claimed that their First Amendment rights to free speech were being violated,” Evans reported.
“BECOME EDUCATED CONSUMERS”
“We need to become educated consumers and not buy these products. We need to empower elected officials to act, Evans suggested. “We need to get involved in grassroots actions and push for a just food system,” added Teevan. “Become active participants in democracy.”
“The California city of Richmond banned all pesticide a year ago,” reported Renée. "We advocate such a ban in Petaluma, which must include neonicotinoids. Portland, Oregon has banned neonicotinoids, systemic pesticides that damage bees. Glyphosate is a public health threat. The many costs are suffered by humans, animals, and plants. The benefits are only to a few humans,” she added.
“The highest use of glyphosate in Sonoma County is for winegrapes, yet non-toxic alternatives are available,” said Evans. “Monsanto is a bad actor. They sue farmers when GMO seeds blow onto their lands from neighbors,” he said.
The Huffington Post’s January 26 article “8 Reasons to Avoid Doing Business with Monsanto,” by business editor Alexander C. Kaufman, reports that the giant bioengineering firm has been dubbed “the world’s ‘most evil corporation.’”
Mounting criticism of Monsanto’s “litigious, secretive, and combative” practices have made it financially vulnerable, asserts Kaufman. It plans to cut 3,600 jobs, which would be 16% of its global workforce. Roundup and Roundup Ready constitute 90% of Monsanto’s revenue. “Several countries, cities, and retail chains worldwide have banned or severely limited glyphosate products,” notes Kaufman.
“Hundreds of Moms Across America groups exist nationwide,” he adds, and “more than 2 million people in 52 countries internationally took to the streets to ‘March Against Monsanto.’”
Monsanto is desperately seeking a merger, according to the January 25 issue of GMWatch from the United Kingdom (www.gmwatch.org). One of their goals seems to be to abandon their tarnished name.
CITIZENS SPEAK UP

When Mayor Gurney opened the discussion to the crowd, more than a dozen people promptly came to the microphone. The first speaker quoted a study of seven wines from Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake counties conducted by the Biochemical Working Group in Ukiah. It documented that traces of glyphosate exceeding EPA safe levels were found in all of them. People are drinking Roundup in their wine. Glyphosate has been banned in Europe.
“We’re tired of our children and babies being damaged by Roundup. We need to mandate a real school protection zone,” declared Janus Matthes of Wine and Water Watch (www.winewaterwatch.org). Instead, “the vineyards are being protected,” she added.
“It is so easy to use Roundup. The breads that you eat that are not organic have glyphosate in them,” noted geologist Jane Nielson, Ph.D.
“Roundup is an antibiotic that kills gut bacteria,” said Amy Martenson of Label GMOs Napa County. She added that “we are having problems with the vineyards. Napa County has the highest rate of cancer in California.”
“We want a GMO free zone up and down the coast. Most counties on the North Coast have prohibited growing GMO crops,” explained Pam Gentry of Citizens for Healthy Farms and Families. They are collecting signatures to place an initiative on this year’s ballot that would ban growing genetically engineered crops in Sonoma County
Monsanto controls an area in South America larger than California called “soybean republic.” Jim Stoops noted, “Sixty doctors have complained about higher cancer rates in that area.”
Meanwhile, GM Watch reported the following: “Monsanto’s attempts to build its GMO seed plant in Argentina have met with three years of unflinching popular opposition. Protesters received an eviction notice, but local activists mobilized to strengthen the blockade, and a prosecutor suspended the order. The demand was, ‘Monsanto, get out of Latin America!’
Back in the U.S., GM Watch reports the following: “Campbell Soup Company said it supports the enactment of federal legislation for a single mandatory labeling standard for GM foods. The company said, ‘Printing a clear and simple statement on the label is the best solution for consumers and for Campbell.’ Campbell says its prices will not increase as a result of labeling.”
The article “Half of All Children Will Be Autistic by 2025” appears in the December 23, 2014, newsletter of the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH), with the subtitle “Warns Senior Research Scientist at MIT.”
MIT’s Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., “noted that the side effects of autism closely mimic those of glyphosate toxicity. Children with autism have biomarkers indicative of excessive glyphosate, including zinc and iron deficiency, low serum sulfate, seizures, and mitochondrial disorder.”
ANH describes “the revolving door between Monsanto and the federal government, with agency officials becoming high-paying executives—and vice versa! Money, power, prestige: it’s all there. Monsanto and the USDA scratch each others’ backs.”
Food and Water Watch’s booklet Monsanto: A Corporate Profile, further documents this: “Monsanto’s board members have worked for the EPA, advised the U.S. Department of Agriculture and served on President Obama’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.”
Renee concluded that “we need activism. Eat locally, hopefully organic or biodynamic. Grow part of your own food.”
KOWS-FM recorded the evening, which will eventually be available at www.kows.fm.
For Further Information:
www.foodandwaterwatch.org
www.biologicaldiversity.org
info@wcachildren.org

The West Is Reduced To Looting Itself

Paul Craig Roberts

Myself, Michael Hudson, John Perkins, and a few others have reported the multi-pronged looting of peoples by Western economic institutions, principally the big New York Banks with the aid of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Third World countries were and are looted by being inticed into development plans for electrification or some such purpose. The gullible and trusting governments are told that they can make their countries rich by taking out foreign loans to implement a Western-presented development plan, with the result being sufficient tax revenues from economic development to service the foreign loan.
Seldom, if ever, does this happen. What happens is that the plan results in the country becoming indebted to the limit and beyond of its foreign currency earnings. When the country is unable to service the development loan, the creditors send the IMF to tell the indebted government that the IMF will protect the government’s credit rating by lending it the money to pay its bank creditors. However, the conditions are that the government take necessary austerity measures so that the government can repay the IMF. These measures are to curtail public services and the government sector, reduce public pensions, and sell national resources to foreigners. The money saved by reduced social benefits and raised by selling off the country’s assets to foreigners serves to repay the IMF.
This is the way the West has historically looted Third World countries. If a country’s president is reluctant to enter into such a deal, he is simply paid bribes, as the Greek governments were, to go along with the looting of the country the president pretends to represent.
When this method of looting became exhausted, the West bought up agricultural lands and pushed a policy on Third World countries of abandoning food self-sufficiency and producing one or two crops for export earnings. This policy makes Third World populations dependent on food imports from the West. Typically the export earnings are drained off by corrupt governments or by foreign purchasers who pay little while the foreigners selling food charge much. Thus, self-sufficiency is transformed into indebtedness.
With the entire Third World now exploited to the limits possible, the West has turned to looting its own. Ireland has been looted, and the looting of Greece and Portugal is so severe that it has forced large numbers of young women into prostitution. But this doesn’t bother the Western conscience.
Previously, when a sovereign country found itself with more debt than could be serviced, creditors had to write down the debt to an amount that the country could service. In the 21st century, as I relate in my book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism, this traditional rule was abandoned.
The new rule is that the people of a country, even a country whose top offiials accepted bribes in order to indebt the country to foreigners, must have their pensions, employment, and social services slashed and valuable national resources such as municipal water systems, ports, the national lottery, and protected national lands, such as the protected Greek islands, sold to foreigners, who have the freedom to raise water prices, deny the Greek government the revenues from the national lottery, and sell the protected national heritage of Greece to real estate developers.
What has happened to Greece and Portugal is underway in Spain and Italy. The peoples are powerless because their governments do not represent them. Not only are their governments receiving bribes, the members of the governments are brainwashed that their countries must be in the European Union. Otherwise, they are bypassed by history. The oppressed and suffering peoples themselves are brainwashed in the same way. For example, in Greece the government elected to prevent the looting of Greece was powerless, because the Greek people are brainwashed that no matter the cost to them, they must be in the EU.
The combination of propaganda, financial power, stupidity and bribes means that there is no hope for European peoples.
The same is true in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the UK. In the US tens of millions of US citizens have quietly accepted the absence of any interest income on their savings for seven years. Instead of raising questions and protesting, Americans have accepted without thought the propaganda that their existence depends upon the success of a handful of artificially created mega-banks that are “too big to fail.” Millions of Americans are convinced that it is better for them to draw down their savings than for a corrupt bank to fail.
To keep Western peoples confused about the real threat that they face, the people are told that there are terrorists behind every tree, every passport, under every bed, and that all will be killed unless the government’s overarching power is unquestioned. So far this has worked perfectly, with one false flag after another reinforcing the faked terror attacks that serve to prevent any awareness that this a hoax for accumulating all income and wealth in a few hands.
Not content with their supremacy over “democratic peoples,” the One Percent has come forward with the Trans-Atlanta and Trans-Pacific partnerships. Allegedly these are “free trade deals” that will benefit everyone. In truth, these are carefully hidden, secret, deals that give private businesses control over the laws of sovereign governments.
For example, it has come to light that under the Trans-Atlantic partnership the National Health Service in the UK could be ruled in the private tribunals set up under the partnership as an impediment to private medical insurance and sued for damages by private firms and even forced into abolishment.
The corrupt UK government under Washington’s vassal David Cameron has blocked access to legal documents that show the impact of the Trans-Atlantic partnership on Britain’s National Health Service. http://www.globalresearch.ca/cameron-desperate-to-stop-scandal-as-secret-plans-to-sell-the-national-health-service-are-discovered/5504306
For any citizen of any Western country who is so stupid or brainwashed as not to have caught on, the entire thrust of “their” government’s policy is to turn every aspect of their lives over to grasping private interests.
In the UK the postal service was sold at a nominal price to politically connected private interests. In the US the Republicans, and perhaps the Democrats, intend to privatize Medicare and Social Security, just as they have privatized many aspects of the military and the prison system. Public functions are targets for private profit-making.
One of the reasons for the escalation in the cost of the US military budget is its privatization. The privatization of the US prison system has resulted in huge numbers of innocent people being sent to prison, where they are forced to work for Apple Computer, IT services, clothing companies that manufacture for the US military, and a large number of other private businesses. The prison laborers are paid as low as 69 cents per hour, below the Chinese wage.
This is America today. Corrupt police. Corrupt prosecutors. Corrupt judges. But maximum profits for US Capitalism from prison labor. Free market economists glorified private prisons, alleging that they would be more efficient. And indeed they are efficient in providing the profits of slave labor for capitalists.
Here is a news report on UK Prime Minister Cameron denying information about the effect of the Trans-Atlantic partnership on Britains’ National Health.
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jan/26/anger-government-blocks-ttip-legal-documents-nhs-health-service
The UK Guardian, which often has to prostitute itself in order to maintain a bit of independence, describes the anger that the British people feel toward the government’s secrecy about an issue so fundamental to the well being of the British people. Yet, the British continue to vote for political parties that have betrayed the British people.
All over Europe, the corrupt Washington-contolled governments have distracted people from their sellout by “their” governments by focusing their attention on immigrants, whose presence is a consequence of the European governments representing Washington’s interests and not the interest of their own peoples.
Somthing dire has happened to the intelligence and awareness of Western peoples who seem no longer capable of comprehending the machinations of “their” governments.
Accountable government in the West is history. Nothing but failure and collapse awaits Western civilization.

30 Jan 2016

Let Them Eat iPhones

Pete Dolack

You say you are struggling to cover your rising expenses while your pay is stagnant? You should have become an executive at a bank. Break the economy and earn big rewards!
But don’t sweat it — you have a phone and that more than makes up for your lack of adequate wages, declining ability to access health care and lack of a pension. Just ask JPMorgan chief executive officer Jamie Dimon.
Mr. Dimon’s pay is more than 220 times that of the average employee at JPMorgan, reports Business Insider, but he says you underpaid employees shouldn’t complain — because you have iPhones! At least Marie Antoinette’s alleged belief in cake allowed France’s plebeians to eat, more than can be done with a phone. Here is what Mr. Dimon said in his latest attempt to show compassion, according to BloombergBusiness:
“ ‘It’s not right to say we’re worse off,’ Dimon said [lastSeptember 17] at an event in Detroit in response to a question about declining median income. ‘If you go back 20 years ago, cars were worse, health was worse, you didn’t live as long, the air was worse. People didn’t have iPhones.’ ”
Cutting the pay of chief executive officers would do nothing to solve inequality, Mr. Dimon proclaimed. Instead, “investing in ‘intelligent infrastructure’ ” is what is needed. If possessing a “smart phone” is the key to happiness, apparently “smart buildings” would make us still happier. There’s progress for you — Marie Antoinette never offered anyone a bakery. But as you apply ketchup to your iPhone, you will surely digest smoothly with the knowledge that the chief executive officers of Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan officially became billionaires during 2015.
Goldman Sachs’ chief, Lloyd Blankfein — or Lord Blankcheck, as Occupy Wall Street activists memorably dubbed him — took home US$23 million last year, while Mr. Dimon “earned” $27 million, a healthy 35 percent raise. And shed no tears for those who have yet to reach the corporate pinnacle — three Goldman Sachs executives each took home $21 million and three JPMorgan execs each were awarded more than $10 million in stock alone.
Profits of biggest banks increase again
When we last heard from Mr. Dimon, about this time last year, he complained that “Banks are under assault,” adding that “We have five or six regulators coming at us on every issue.” As the six biggest banks in the U.S., which includes JPMorgan, racked up profits totaling $75 billion for 2014, you will be excused for having doubts about just how tough regulators are.
Profits for those banks were no more endangered in 2015, totaling almost $93 billion. Here is how they fared in the just concluded year:
*JPMorgan Chase & Company: net income of $24.4 billion on revenue of $96.6 billion. JPMorgan reported its highest-ever net income in 2015, and paid out $11 billion to shareholders through stock buybacks and dividends.
*Bank of America Corporation: net income of $15.9 billion on revenue of $82.5 billion. Net income more than tripled from 2014, and it nearly doubled the dividend it paid shareholders — the bank said it handed out $4.5 billion through common stock buybacks and dividends.
*Citigroup Incorporated: net income of $17.2 billion on revenue of $76.4 billion. Although revenue was down slightly, net income more than doubled because Citigroup wasn’t troubled with having to pay out billions in fines over its toxic derivatives as it was in 2014.
*Wells Fargo & Company: net income of $23 billion on revenue of $86.1 billion. The bank reported it handed out $12.6 billion through stock buybacks and dividends, yet it relentlessly demands its tellers pressure customers to open multiple accounts and pays those tellers too little to live on.
*The Goldman Sachs Group Incorporated: net income of $6.1 billion on revenue of $33.8 billion. Goldman Sachs’ net income was below that of 2014 due to a $3.4 billion deduction (or “charge”) from its earnings due to its reaching a settlement with government regulators over its toxic mortgage-backed securities; profits would have risen without the fine. But please don’t shed any tears for the investment bank — it proudly reported that it “advised” on corporate mergers and acquisitions worth more than $1 trillion, work that by itself netted it billions of dollars while jobs disappeared.
*Morgan Stanley: net income of $6.1 billion on revenues of $35.2 billion. Similar to its peer banks, Morgan Stanley shelled out $2.1 billion to buy back its stock in an effort to have its profits shared among fewer stockholders. Despite that profit, the bank has said it will lay off staff as part of an effort to “cut costs” under Wall Street pressure.
The biggest get bigger
Yes, the biggest banks keep getting bigger. The four banks with the largest holdings accounted for a composite 42 percent of all U.S. banking assets in 2014, a total that has steadily increased, both before and after the 2008 crash.
And not even the fines levied by regulators slow them down. Earlier this month, Goldman Sachs announced that it had agreed to $5 billion in penalties to settle claims arising from the marketing and selling of dodgy mortgage securities, although nearly $2 billion of that is “consumer relief” in the form of loan forgiveness, the bank said.
Banks have paid a total of $40 billion to settle claims by financial regulators and prosecutors, yet these penalties are bumps in the road for them, no more than a business expense. In part, perhaps that is because much of these penalties come in the form of mortgage modifications, rather than cash, and often these modifications are to loans that the banks service but don’t actually own — allowing them to get credit for modifying loans belonging to another company.
Banking of course is not the only industry undergoing consolidation. Mergers in 2015 were bigger than ever, with corporate deals worth $4.7 trillion. Investment banks earn huge fees for arranging mergers and acquisitions, none more so than the biggest U.S. banks. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citigroup ranked as numbers one through five in the world in terms of the value of the deals banks “advised” on.
Competitive pressure accounts for some corporate mergers — the capitalist imperative to grow or die does not abate even for the biggest corporations — but pressure to “enhance shareholder value” plays a significant role. “Enhancing shareholder value” is finance-speak for acceding to speculators’ demands for more short-term boosts to profits and higher stock prices, no matter the cost to others or the long-term damage to the company itself. Hedge-fund billionaires are among the fiercest in pressing these demands, continually demanding cuts to jobs that serve only to fatten their swollen wallets. The big banks, as major Wall Street players themselves, both apply this “market” pressure for the same reasons and further profit from acting as “advisers.”
Reforming such insanity is a hopelessly sisyphean task. What if instead banks became a public utility with an end to speculation? Proposals are being floated in the U.S. to create state banks, perhaps on the model of the successful Bank of North Dakota, and the Left Party of Germany has a detailed plan to bring banks under democratic control. Capitalist propaganda aside, there is no need for banking to exist as an uncontrollable behemoth extracting wealth from all other human activities. Why shouldn’t it be a utility under public control that exists to serve the productive economy? We can’t survive on iPhones alone.

The Demonization of Vladimir Putin

John Wight

Vladimir Putin is probably the most popular Russian leader there has ever been, polling up around a phenomenal 80% as recently as November 2015 in a study carried out by a team of American researchers. This makes him inarguably the most popular world leader today, though you would think the opposite given the way he’s routinely depicted and demonized in the West.
Paradoxically, the main reason for Putin’s popularity in Russia is the same reason he’s so reviled in the US and Western Europe. It comes down to the simple but salient fact that when it comes to leadership and political nous Vladimir Putin is playing chess while his counterparts in London, Washington, and Paris are playing chequers.
This is not to ascribe to the Russian leader the moral virtues of Nelson Mandela or the humanitarian instincts of Mahatma Gandhi. But neither is he the caricature regularly and vehemently described in the UK and US media. Putin is not a villain straight from a Bond movie, sitting in a spooky castle somewhere in deepest Russia planning and plotting world domination. For that kind of ‘Masters of the Universe’ malarkey you need to take yourself to the White House in Washington, or maybe CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. No, the Russian President is a man who knows his enemy better than they know themselves, and who understands and has imbibed the truth of former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s statement that, “If you live among wolves you have to act like a wolf.”
What those Western ideologues and members of the liberal commentariat who’ve been lining up to attack him in their newspaper columns fail to appreciate, not to mention the army of the authors who’ve been churning out books painting Putin as a latter day Genghis Khan, is the deep scars left on the Russian psyche by the country’s exposure to freedom and democracy Western-style upon the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s.
Canadian journalist and author Naomi Klein lays it out in forensic detail in her peerless work, The Shock Doctrine (Penguin, 2007). The impact of free market shock therapy on Russia under Boris Yeltsin’s presidency, Klein describes thus: “In the absence of major famine, plague or battle, never have so many lost so much in so short a time. By 1998 more than 80 percent of Russian farms had gone bankrupt, and roughly seventy thousand state factories had closed, creating an epidemic of unemployment. In 1989, before shock therapy, 2 million people in the Russian Federation were living in poverty, on less than $4 a day. By the time the shock therapists had administered their ‘bitter medicine’ in the mid-nineties, 74 million Russians were living below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.”
Klein also reveals that by 1994 the Russian suicide rate had doubled and violent crime increased fourfold.
Given the devastation wrought on the Russian economy and society by Western free market gurus and their Russian disciples during that awful period, the country’s recovery to the point where it is now able to contest and resist Washington-led unipolarity where before it existed unchecked, has to count as a staggering achievement.
Putin rose to power in Russia on the back of his role in violently suppressing the Chechen uprising, which began amid the chaos of the Soviet Union’s dissolution. It was a brutal and bloody conflict in which atrocities were undoubtedly committed, as they are in every conflict, until the uprising was finally crushed and Moscow’s writ restored. The former KGB officer was thrust into the spotlight as a key member of Boris Yeltsin’s team thereafter, viewed as a safe pair of hands, which propelled him onto the political stage and his first stint as president in 2000, when he elected to office upon Yeltsin’s death.
Since then Putin has worked to restore the Russian economy along with its sense of national pride and prestige on the world stage. The loss of that prestige as a result of the demise of the Soviet era had a cataclysmic effect on social cohesion in a country that had long prided itself on its achievements, especially its role in defeating the Nazis in the Second World War.
The new Russian president is credited with returning the country to its former status as a respected power that can’t and won’t be bullied by the West. The attempt to use Georgia as a cat’s paw in 2008 was swiftly dealt with, and so has the attempt to do likewise with Ukraine in 2014. All this baloney about Putin having expansionist aims is an attempt to throw a smokescreen over the West’s own expansionist agenda in Eastern Europe with the goal of throwing a cordon sanitaire around Russia in pursuit of a cold war agenda.
Russia’s current game changing role in the Middle East, along with China’s ferocious economic growth and growing influence, is proof that the days of unipolarity and uncontested Western hegemony are drawing to a close. This more than any other factor lies at the root of the irrational Russophobia being peddled so passionately in the West.
The most populous country in Europe is not and never will be a Western colony or semi colony. For those Western ideologues that cannot conceive of any relationship with Russia other than as a deadly or defeated foe, accepting this reality is a non-negotiable condition of achieving a semblance of stability and peace in the world.
While Vladimir Putin and his government are not beyond criticism – in fact, far from it – their misdeeds pale in comparison to the record of Western governments in destroying one country after the other in the Middle East, presiding over a global economy that has sown nothing but misery and despair for millions at home and abroad, leading in the last analysis to the normalization of crisis and chaos.
Their deeds, as the man said, would shame all the devils in hell.

Eliminate Tax Havens!

Chandra Muzaffar

Oxfam, the global aid and development confederation that focuses upon poverty, in a briefing paper launched on 18 January 2016 has shown how the global inequality crisis has reached “new extremes”.
Quoting Credit Suisse, it reiterates that “the richest 1% have now accumulated more wealth than the rest of the world put together”.Titled ‘An Economy for the 1%’ Oxfam’s briefing paper reveals that “In 2015, just 62 individuals had the same wealth as 3.6 billion people --- the bottom half of humanity. This figure is down from 388 individuals as recently as 2010”. It elaborates that “ the wealth of the richest 62 people has risen by 44% in the five years since 2010 --- that is an increase of more than half a trillion dollars ( $ 542bn) to $1.76 trillion while the wealth of the bottom half fell by just over a trillion dollars in the same period --- a drop of 41%”.
These figures merely underscore an obvious truth. As Oxfam puts it, “There is no getting away from the fact that the big winners in our global economy are those at the top. Our economic system is heavily skewed in their favour and arguably increasingly so. Far from trickling down, income and wealth are instead being sucked upwards at an alarming rate”.
This is happening for a variety of reasons. In proportional terms, the larger share of the income of a nation has been going to the owners of capital rather than to workers. In fact, almost everywhere the workers’ share has been decreasing significantly. While “many workers have seen their wages stagnate, there has been a huge increase in salaries for those at the top”. Economic policy in recent decades has also emphasized liberalization, deregulation and privatization which have brought much greater benefits to the rich and powerful. This emphasis is part and parcel of a general enchantment with the “market” which is largely ideological.
Within these market dominated economies, it is the financial sector that has “grown most rapidly in recent decades, and now accounts for one in five billionaires. In this sector, the gap between salaries and rewards and actual value added to the economy is largerthan in any other. A recent study by the OECD showed that countries with oversized financial sectors suffer from greater economic instability and higher inequality. Certainly, the public debt crisis caused by the financial crisis, bank bailouts and subsequent austerity policies has hit the poorest people the most”.
This is why any attempt to reduce gross economic inequalities must address issues in the financial sector. Of these issues, Oxfam in its briefing paper has focused upon “the global spider’s web of tax havens and the industry of tax avoidance, which has blossomed over recent decades”. Tax havens and tax avoidance lead to a situation where governments are forced to cut back on critical public services. This is happening both in the Global North and the Global South. In the Global North, welfare programmes are downsized while in the Global South efforts aimed at overcoming dire poverty, building primary schools and expanding basic health care are severely hampered by shrinking government budgets --- a victim of the rich escaping the tax net.
Oxfam provides a concrete example of this. Almost “a third (30%) of rich Africans’ wealth--- a total of US 500bn --- is held offshore in tax havens. It is estimated that this costs African countries 14bn a year in lost tax revenues. This is enough money to pay for healthcare that could save the lives of 4 million children and employ enough teachers to get every African child into school”. According to one source “7.6 trillion of individual wealth --- more than the combined gross domestic product (GDP) of the UK and Germany --- is currently held offshore”.
Tax havens, Oxfam argues, should be brought to an end. Only if this happens will it be possible to overcome inequalities. The governments of the world should work together towards this goal. It will require making some significant changes to domestic tax law and enacting new rules for global finance. It is the sort of change that will take time. But if there is the will it can be done.
Through its clarion call to bring tax havens to an end, Oxfam has thrown a challenge to the entire human family. Persuade governments to eliminate an institution which is a bane upon equality and justice. If we don’t, our grandchildren will inherit a world where there is greater divisiveness and destruction than what we are now witnessing.

The Seeds Of Spin: Decoding Pro-GMO Lies And Falsehoods

Colin Todhunter

If you are in some way critical of genetically modified food and agriculture or have some concerns that remain unaddressed, here is a brief interpretive (satirical) guide for navigating the seedy world of pro-GMO spin.
1) We are pro-science and objective.
Meaning: We are industry supported and dismiss out of hand this type of anti-GM nonsense that suggests our science is somehow tainted.
2) Our critics are anti-science Luddites.
Meaning: Unlike us, they rely on 'pseudo science', labelled as such because it is not funded by the industry and its conclusions challenge the commercial interests of it.
3) Our critics are human haters because they deny GM food to the hungry.
Meaning: We learned to say this in our seminars about ‘dealing with anti-GMO campaigners’.
4) We are humanitarians, while they are ideological elitists.
Meaning: We learned this also in our strategy seminars and meetings.
5) This academically unqualified anti-GM gang are hurting the poor.
Meaning: Critics of GM with valid concerns are hurting profit margins.
6) “All that people like you know is to stop progress and US agriculture is doing fine and thanks to the absence of scientists like Seralini and Pushpa Bhargava. These two so-called scientific jokers will not allowed set foot in the real world of science in North America . They have a heyday in countries like India because of ignoramuses" (Shanthu Shantharam in comments thread here).
Meaning: Poisoned, de-nutrified food,degraded soil and unsustainable agriculture is ideal and anyone who challenges this will be ridiculed and smeared.
7) These anti-GM campaigners are “murdering bastards.” (Patrick Moore)
Meaning: Can’t hold an objective debate? Insults will suffice.
8) You are presenting “anti-capitalist twaddle.”
Patrick Moore‏@EcoSenseNow
@colin_todhunter @GMWatch How about "anti-capitalist twaddle" or "anti-globalization twaddle" or "Occupy-twaddle"?
11:33 AM - 11 Apr 2015
Meaning: Who needs rational debate when baseless clichés will suffice? I don’t want to hear about the destruction of indigenous agriculture by the West with its ‘aid’, ‘structural adjustment’ and agribusiness companies because this analysis does not suit with my agenda (the above tweet was in response to this analysis).
Meaning: No it isn’t and I won’t, but you are a “jerk” for calling my bluff.
10) I don’t take money from Monsanto.
Meaning: OK, maybe it happened but they were advised not to make the cheque out to me.
11) You are just victimising me and I am scared.
Meaning: I got caught out but will play the sympathy card.
12) Preventing GM will hold back Indian agriculture and the availability of cheap food.
Meaning: I spout uninformed personal opinion but my expertise as a molecular biologist qualifies me to speak as 'an expert' on anything.
13) People with authoritarian personality types anda political agenda are harming the poor by imposing their views on everyone - similar attitudes have killed millions under totalitarian regimes.
Meaning: Highly emotive. But, hey, as a molecular biologist, I am a self-appointed expert on psychology, politics and history.
14) There is a scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs.
Meaning: No there isn’t, but if I repeat the mantra often enough people will believe it.
15) The debate on GM is over.
Meaning: No it isn’t, but if I repeat the mantra often enough people will believe it (instruction to lobbyist: employ same tactic regarding no risks, better yields, GM is no different from conventional and so on).
16) With so much land under GM, farmers are actively choosing this technology.
Meaning: We love ‘free’ market platitudes about ‘choice’ and everyone should just ignore US intimidation tactics to get GM into countries, the closing-off of choice as GM becomes the only available option, strings-attached loans in Ukraine to force through GM agriculture, the buying-up of seed companies , financial incentives to plant GM, etc.
17) We care about the poor and hungry.
Meaning: Benefits for the poor should be cut and these people should rely on food stamps and food banks… but we really, really do care about the poor in Africa or India!
18) Labelling GM food will confuse people and send out the wrong impression.
Meaning: People do not have any right to know what they are eating – if they knew, they wouldn’t buy it!

A Long-War Strategy For The Left

William T. Hathaway

As the viciousness of capitalism engulfs ever more of us, our yearnings for change are approaching desperation. The system's current leader, Barack Obama, has shown us that the only change we can believe in is what we ourselves create.
To do that, we need to know what is possible in our times and what isn't. The bitter probability is that none of us will see a society in which we'd actually want to live. Even the youngest of us will most likely have to endure an increasingly unpleasant form of capitalism. Despite its recurring crises, this system is still too strong, too adaptable, and has too many supporters in all classes for it to be overthrown any time soon. We're probably not going to be the ones to create a new society.
But we can now lay the groundwork for that, first by exposing the hoax that liberal reforms will lead to basic changes. People need to see that the purpose of liberalism is to defuse discontent with promises of the future and thus prevent mass opposition from coalescing. It diverts potentially revolutionary energy into superficial dead ends. Bernie Sanders' "long game" campaign is really only a game similar to that of his reformist predecessor, Dennis Kucinich, designed to keep us in the "big tent" of the Democratic Party. Capitalism, although resilient, is willing to change only in ways that shore it up, so before anything truly different can be built, we have to bring it down.
What we are experiencing now is the long war the ruling elite is fighting to maintain its grip on the world. The current phase began with the collapse of Keynesian capitalism, which flourished from the 1950s into the '70s, when the primary consumer market was in the capitalist headquarter countries of North America and Western Europe. Corporations were able to stimulate domestic consumption and quell worker discontent there by acceding to labor's demands for better wages and conditions. That led to a 30-year bubble of improvement for unionized workers, predominantly male and white, that began to collapse in the '80s as capitalism gradually became globalized.
Then to maintain dominance Western corporations had to reduce labor costs in order to compete against emerging competition in low-wage countries such as China, India, Russia, and Brazil. Also international consumer markets became more important than the home market, but reaching them required low prices. So capitalist leaders reversed hard-won reforms, forcing paychecks and working conditions in the West down. And they tried to keep control of crucial Mideast oil resources by tightening their neo-imperialist hold on that region: overthrowing governments, installing dictators, undermining economies.
This aggression generated armed resistance: jihadist attacks against the West. Our response has been the current holy war against terror. All of this horrible suffering is just one campaign in capitalism's long war for hegemony. Any dominator system -- including capitalism, patriarchy, and religious fundamentalism -- generates violence.
Since we are all products of such systems, the path out of them will include conflict and strife. Insisting on only peaceful tactics and ruling out armed self defense against a ruling elite that has repeatedly slaughtered millions of people is naïve, actually a way of preventing basic change. The pacifist idealism so prevalent among the petty-bourgeoisie conceals their class interest: no revolution, just reform. But until capitalism and its military are collapsing, it would be suicidal to attack them directly with force.
What we can do now as radicals is weaken capitalism and build organizations that will pass our knowledge and experience on to future generations. If we do that well enough, our great grandchildren (not really so far away) can lead a revolution. If we don't do it, our descendants will remain corporate chattel.
Our generational assignment -- should we decide to accept it -- is sedition, subversion, sabotage: a program on which socialists and anarchists can work together.
Sedition -- advocating or attempting the overthrow of the government -- is illegal only if it calls for or uses violence. Our most important job -- educating and organizing people around a revolutionary program -- is legal sedition, as is much of our writing here on CounterCurrents.
For subversion we could, for example, focus on institutions and rituals that instill patriotism in young people. School spirit, scouts, competitive team sports, and pledges of allegiance all create in children an emotional bond to larger social units of school, city, and nation.
Kids are indoctrinated to feel these are extensions of their family and to respect and fear the authorities as they would their parents, more specifically their fathers, because this is a patriarchal chain being forged. It causes us even as adults to react to criticism of the country as an attack on our family. This hurts our feelings on a deep level, so we reject it, convinced it can't be true. It's too threatening to us.
This linkage is also the basis of the all-American trick of substituting personal emotion for political thought.
Breaking this emotional identification is crucial to reducing the widespread support this system still enjoys. Whatever we can do to show how ridiculous these institutions and rituals are will help undermine them.
For instance, teachers could refuse to lead the pledge of allegiance, or they could follow it with historical facts that would cause the students to question their indoctrination. When a teacher gets fired, the resulting legal battle can taint the whole sacrosanct ritual and challenge the way history is taught in the schools.
Subversive parenting means raising children who won't go along with the dominant culture and have the skills to live outside it as much as possible.
Much feminist activism is profoundly subversive. That's why it's opposed so vehemently by many women as well as men.
Spiritually, whatever undercuts the concept of God as daddy in the sky will help break down patriarchal conditioning and free us for new visions of the Divine.
Sabotage is more problematic. It calls to mind bombing and shooting, which at this point won't achieve anything worthwhile. But sabotage doesn't need to harm living creatures; systems can be obstructed in many ways, which I can't discuss more specifically because of the police state under which we currently live. They are described in my book Radical Peace (http://www.amazon.com/Radical-Peace-People-Refusing-War/dp/0979988691).
We'll be most successful by using both legal and illegal tactics but keeping the two forms separate. Illegal direct action is sometimes necessary to impair the system, impede its functioning, break it in a few places, open up points of vulnerability for coming generations to exploit. This doesn't require finely nuanced theory or total agreement on ideology, just a recognition of the overriding necessity of weakening this monster, of reducing its economic and military power. It does require secrecy, though, so it's best done individually with no one else knowing.
As groups we should do only legal resistance. Since we have to assume we are infiltrated and our communications are monitored, illegal acts must be done alone or in small cells without links to the group. Security is essential. Police may have the identity of everyone in the group, but if members are arrested and interrogated, their knowledge will be very limited. The principles of leaderless resistance (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leaderless_resistance) provide the most effective defense for militants.
Using these tactics, we can slow down this behemoth, curtail its expansion, make it a less effective murderer. The government will of course try to crush this resistance. But that very response can eventually seal its doom because it increases polarization and sparks more outrage. People will see the rich have not only taken away our possibility for a decent life, but now they are taking away our freedom. Then the masses revolt.
When the police and military have to attack their own people, their loyalty begins to waver. They realize they too are oppressed workers, and they start disobeying their masters. The power structure grinds down, falters, and falls. At this point the revolution can succeed, hopefully with a minimum of violence. Then the people of that generation, with the knowledge and experience we have passed on to them, can build a new society.
This is not a pleasant path of action, and those whose first priority is pleasantness are repelled by it. That's why reformism is so popular: it's an illusion that appeals to cowards. But when their backs are to the wall, which will inevitably happen, even they will fight back. And there's something glorious in that revolutionary fight even in its present stage -- much more vivid and worthwhile than the life of a lackey.

The Dark Side Of Depending On Black Gold

Michelle P.

The development of oil prices between 2014 and 2016 has seen a sharp decline from well over $100 in mid-2014 to under $30 in early 2016. While for most of us in the West, the impact of the dramatic dip in oil prices is limited to a pleasant reduction in the cost of filling up at the gas station, this article will examine the impact on countries whose entire economy depend on oil and gas as well as the consequences of this development for the citizens and residents of such countries.
While there are already developments that are occurring as a short-term reaction to the slump in oil prices there is little agreement among economists, analysts, and politicians on what that future development in the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) may look like. Hence this article will specifically look at Qatar as an illustrative example, not because it is necessarily disproportionately affected by this issue relative to other countries, but because it is representative of a hydrocarbon-based economy, with over 90% of the country’s GDP attributed to oil & gas production and because of the country’s dependency on oil money to attain a number of goals, ranging from regional political influence to drawing global attention to itself through sports events like the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Dip in Oil Prices
The current situation is the result of a perfect storm, from the perspective of oil-producing countries: China, the world’s second largest oil consumer (after the United States), has experienced substantially slower economic growth, reducing the expected global demand for oil in the foreseeable future. The monetary response of the Chinese government to the country’s economic slowdown has been a depreciation of its currency, the yuan, making oil imports more expensive and therefore decreasing demand further. At the same time, since Iran resumed a normal relationship with the rest of the world following its nuclear arms agreement and the removal of embargoes and recommencing of trade, further increased the global supply of crude oil and gas. Adding to the situation, oil production in the United States has surged through the increased extraction of shale oil through fracking, doubling the country’s output during the last five years, surpassing Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producing country. Overall, a number of contributing factors have aligned in such a way, that the price of oil has plummeted beneath $30.
Looking Beyond Oil and Gas
Qatar is a small peninsula, spanning only 11.5 thousand km² and jutting into the Persian Gulf. More than 90% of the country’s GDP, which is the highest per capita in the world, results from the production of oil and gas. 15 billion barrels of oil lie beneath its desert sands, but that pales in comparison to the country’s natural gas reserves, which amount to 13% of the world’s total supply and the world’s largest natural gas field, the North Dome, lying at its northern shores.
In recent years, Qatar has made substantial investments in order to diversify its economy and reduce the country’s dependence on hydrocarbons. The citizens and residents of the country also benefited from an expansive social welfare system and a range of subsidies which covered amenities such as electricity and water, health insurance, education as well as extremely generous financial provisions for its citizens. Petrol prices are also subsidized and were, until recently, set at around 25c (US) by the government. With the government budget slashed as a result of the decreasing oil and gas revenue, the price of petrol in the small Gulf state was increased by 30% on 15th January 2016. So while the price of petrol is decreasing around the world, ironically, it is increasing for the residents of Qatar.
One of Qatar’s priorities in its vision for the year 2030 was to be a cultural hub for the region and beyond, prompting billions to be spent on the construction of museums and amassing a sizable collection of famous paintings. The Qatari royal family’s investment arms are responsible for the acquisition of many of the most prominent (and expensive) properties in London such as The Shard, Harrods, 10% of the London Stock Exchange and others. A whopping 15 museums were planned for construction in the country’s capital, Doha. Currently only 4 are planned to be executed. Just how much of that reduction can be attributed directly to the price development of hydrocarbons cannot be said, as there is certainly an element of correction from what were ambitions plans at best, delusions of grandeur at worst. However, it is common knowledge that when a governmental budget shrinks, cultural expenses are often among the first to be cut. It seems likely that the budget deficit played a strong role in this decision process, considering that in 2013, just before the slide of oil prices, the staff of the national museums were pegged to double from 1200 by 2015, when in fact the number of employees has been cut to only 800. While Qatar’s
museums still boast sizable collections (and are far from crowded), if the government budget were to remain on a comparable level, it is certain that many of the investments and expenses, that could be considered non-core activities, i.e. not relevant to the country’s economy, security, or other vital areas, are likely to see substantial cutbacks. Frivolous expenses for glamour and prestige, with no prospect of purpose of making a return did not matter at oil prices over $100 per barrel –now they do.
The most well-known of Qatar’s prestige-projects is the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Though it is unlikely to be severely impacted due to the importance of the event to the country, it too will not go unscathed by tightening budgets. An intricate modern metro system that was introduced as part of the transportation plan for the World Cup will not be completed anywhere close to the scale in which it was envisioned. Instead of 4 metro lines, only 1 is still planned to be operational by 2022. Again, one cannot be certain that this is due to budget restraints, as large-scale construction projects in the Middle East more often than not have overly ambitious timelines with long delays in the actual execution being implicitly accepted as a fact of nature. However, the fact that even prestigious projects such as the World Cup are having fat trimmed indicates that Qatar is no longer able, or willing, to simply throw money at an issue until a problem is rectified.
Clearly, the government budget would show reduced spending in a number of areas, though the impact on the country’s population this would have is probably not too dramatic, seeing as the reductions would realistically be a categorical shift from opulent to still pretty extravagant. But would the impact of long-term low oil and gas prices be on the economy and how would that affect the country’s plans? This is certainly entering more speculative territory, as it is a scenario which was deemed impossible only a few years ago and would still be considered rather unlikely. In fact, I’d wager that the country itself doesn’t have detailed plans covering this eventuality. It is a difficult conundrum that would take place:
Should investments be made to strengthen non-hydrocarbon related activities, or should the country try to garner as much hydrocarbon wealth as possible and live off a sovereign wealth fund for as long as possible?
It has been the government’s declared goal for a number of years to diversify the country’s economy and therefore reduce its dependency on oil and gas. Such projects include the construction of a number of satellite campuses on US universities and the construction of the Qatar Science and Technology Park, in an attempt to shift towards a knowledge-based society. The national airline, Qatar Airways, as well as the substantial funding and luxurious conditions offered to numerous international companies as an incentive to open subsidiaries or research centers also contribute to this strategy. While any investment in education is certainly worthy of praise and the societal benefit of learning goes beyond the mere material impact, it cannot be ignored that these are hugely expensive projects which have, as of yet, been unable to make a dent in the country’s dependency on hydrocarbons.
Anticipate Changes Ahead
With the size of the governmental resource pie shrinking, I believe that the government and citizens of the country will be more concerned with retaining as much of that pie in the future, rather than wagering on alternatives which may or may not slow down the shrinking of the pie. Realistically speaking, this may not be the worst strategy. Even the country’s most well-known enterprise, Qatar Airways, is economically not viable and relies for survival on cheap kerosene and subsidies. At the end of the day, the only comparative advantage in the global market is the presence of hydrocarbon resources and no endeavor to prove otherwise has proven successful.
In order to remain in control in a country in which citizens are outnumbered by migrants 8 to 1 and to ensure that the country’s resources aren’t siphoned off, the government, as in most of the other Gulf monarchies, has been tightening regulations which restrict access to high-level positions in government entities and government-owned companies to national citizens which is known as Qatarization. What is possibly an understandable move and sentiment could prove as catastrophic as Mugabe’s agrarian reforms in Zimbabwe. Due to a generational lag, with few Qataris enjoying a rigorous academic education prior up until a few years ago, many individuals in leadership positions are not the most competent people available for the job. As previously discussed, I expect efforts to expand the reach of these programs to intensify in the case of prolonged low oil prices.
The increased nationalization of the country would not only be a protective reflex, but would also be in line with the entire rational under which the country operates. The citizens of the country will be happy as long as their personal wealth and prestige renders them incapable of raising any qualms with the leadership of the country. The monarchy’s legitimacy lies in its ability to distribute wealth among its citizens. In case of a diminishing ability to distribute such wealth, the leadership may be vulnerable to challenges from within its citizenry. As the royal family is aware of this, it is unlikely that that the government handouts to citizens or rampant nepotism within government agencies would be reduced or cease to exist any time soon.
Finally, many of these potential consequences are unlikely to occur, both in the short term, or even at all. Personally, I believe a number of oil and gas producers would cut down production, leading to an end of the glut and a normalization of the hydrocarbon prices within a few years. Nevertheless, it highlights just how dependent Qatar, and other countries in the Middle East, are on the wealth supplied by hydrocarbons for their strategic investments, economic development, and internal stability.