Monthly Archives: September 2019

“香港真正的地缘政治意义” 斯·维尔克森 Lawrence Wilkerson 采访录

香港真正的地缘政治意义  

劳伦斯·维尔克森 Lawrence Wilkerson 采访录

贝一明:近日来发生在香港的抗议活动受一股大肆蔓延的不满情绪所推动,抱有这种情绪的年轻人感觉自己未来无望。然而我们目睹的许多事,其起因并不能单纯地从年轻人对现状不满这一角度解释。目前香港的政治危机是否有美国的参与和干涉?

维尔克森:美国当然脱不了干系——不论是以前还是现在,美国一直都在加拉加斯搅局,这次它下手的对象换成了中国香港。2002年我去过加拉加斯,也曾亲眼目睹美国为推翻乌戈·查韦斯以及后来的委内瑞拉总统采用了何种残暴的手段。我们一直希望改变那里的政治格局,现在又在拿尼古拉斯·马杜罗做文章。然而我们只是将委内瑞拉推入了无能的困境,而同无能并行而至的,往往还有失败。我们成功地通过制裁令成千上万的委内瑞拉人民受苦受难,给他们的经济造成了巨大破坏。

尽管媒体从来不把加拉加斯和香港相提并论,但我们仍然能明确地锁定可疑目标:美国国家民主捐赠基金会等组织在香港的活动突然活跃起来,以对香港年轻市民普及“民主教育”之名,向其提供了用意可疑的赞助。

我担心的是,美国会重施1956年在匈牙利施展的手腕,给香港的年轻人设局,让他们陷入万劫不复之地。我担心美国会像当时那样一味地在他们背后怂恿煽动,然而他们遭受镇压时,却只是袖手旁观——1956年苏联的坦克开进匈牙利、平息叛乱时,美国根本没有什么作为。

美国国家民主捐赠基金会等非政府组织背后的势力是中情局,这已经是公开的秘密了。

然而香港抗议活动仍然与匈牙利事件存在着不同之处。这一次我们运用社交媒体和突发新闻播报,通过更为复杂巧妙的手段针对假想敌——中国发起了秘密行动。

当然,习近平一定要步步为营、谨慎应对,因为他的一举一动都会被生活在台湾的2,300万人民看在眼里、加以解读。习稍有差错,台湾对中国大陆的敌意便会愈发强烈。

贝一明:但是很明显,特朗普根本没有处理这种局面的才智和能力,他个人更可能只是想碰碰运气。香港抗议活动的幕后黑手究竟是谁?

维尔克森:目前为止,是约翰·博尔顿一直在操纵全局。他顶着国家安全顾问的头衔接连发起行动,破坏美国同中国以及其他国家之间的关系;中情局的“酷刑女王”吉娜·哈斯佩尔也做过他的帮凶。可以肯定的是,这一事件的幕后主使不止一人。

贝一明:那么约翰·博尔顿离职后,美国的外交政策是否会有所改善?

维尔克森:我在克里斯·海耶斯的节目上说过,约翰·博尔顿的离职并不会带来翻天覆地的变化。没错,一个货真价实的战争贩子离开了国家安全顾问这一岗位,但国家安全顾问影响力的大小,完全是由总统决定的。罗纳德·里根在八年里任命了六名这样的顾问,原因很简单:里根认为总统就得自己拿主意。而理查德·尼克松和吉米·卡特则完全不同;在外交政策上,他们分别同亨利·基辛格和兹比格涅夫·布热津斯基共同掌权,共同决策。

要让总统的决策有所保证,最好的办法是定期更换国家安全顾问。

特朗普不是里根,而且与里根相去甚远。因此他身边的人,从麦克·蓬佩奥到吉娜·哈斯佩尔,再到斯蒂芬·米勒和财政部的史蒂文·努钦,都只会不顾形势地自行其是,因为特朗普根本没有能力仅凭一己之力管控他们。

约翰·博尔顿走了,是件大好事。尽管媒体把他大肆炒作成才华横溢的奸邪之徒,但他实际上只是个十足十的恶棍。说到“才华横溢的奸邪之徒”,阿伦·伯尔才是,约翰·博尔顿根本排不上号。

没错,一个恶棍离开了政府中重要的岗位,的确令人欢欣鼓舞。然而当初把他推上重要岗位的无能之人——总统,其地位仍然安如磐石。这才是问题所在。

贝一明:许多乱港分子都与台湾有直接联系,台湾当局甚至为他们摇旗呐喊。蔡英文今年对美国退伍军人协会的讲话令我深感诧异。她采取了相当极端的态度,将整个中国大陆描绘为邪恶势力,却没有讲求逻辑地、系统地解决台湾民众真正关心的问题。自从20世纪80年代以来,我还没见过台湾方面如此地避实就虚、如此短视。台湾领导人的这番言论只会让众多中国人将台湾视作西方极右翼势力的傀儡。

维尔克森:早在21世纪初期,陈水扁便开始不时地发表相似言论。回想一下,蔡英文当时是在对退伍军人协会发表讲话,而那番言论对退伍军人这群热血听众极具煽动性。听她讲话的听众群体极为有限,她却在其中精挑细选,大做文章。尽管博尔顿可能会希望蔡在美国国会联席会议上按照内塔尼亚胡的风格做一次演讲,但好在特朗普政府中还有一两位在台湾问题上理智尚存的人。

她站在自己的角度,认为她的讲话对自己的听众——美国退伍军人协会、美国乃至北京至关重要。从这个方面来看,我也觉得她措辞谨慎、用语得体。

尽管如此,正如你所建议的那样,她应当放眼全球,把目光放在愈演愈烈的气候变化等威胁人类生存的问题上。然而对她精心挑选出的听众讲这些,无异于对牛弹琴。

贝一明:毫无疑问,香港许多年轻人之所以参与到抗议活动中,是因为对自己黯淡的前景愈发担忧。然而他们所谓的领袖曾与彭斯和博尔顿会面,他们的抗议对气候变化和财富集中对香港造成的影响(香港是全世界财富集中问题最为严重的城市之一),以及精英阶层对民众的冷漠避而不言。为什么最重要的问题反倒被束之高阁?

维尔克森:人们对与自己息息相关的事物的恶化视而不见,却对声色犬马、各种噱头和危险之事趋之若鹜,这并不是新现象。看看特朗普在美国的拥趸就知道了。不论是为富豪减税还是加征贸易关税,承担特朗普经济政策不良后果的,都是支持他的选民。但是好像只要他承诺给“罗伊诉韦德案”翻案,使堕胎非法化,让基督教祈祷式重现白宫,他的拥护者就甘愿受苦受难。现在人类立足于其上的地球正在病痛中垂死挣扎,可能很快就会沦为不毛之地,香港的抗议者们却想去摘天上的星星。

贝一明:还有军事拨款法案。这里面的逻辑十分简单:如果一大笔钱突然被划拨出去,用于准备同中国开战,那么不论政府官员有多么深谋远虑,他们都会在制度压力下推动美中对抗。

维尔克森:你指的是台湾还是美国,或者说二者都会发生这种情况?

贝一明:美国的军事预算规模相当庞大,官方披露的数字是7,500亿美元,而且由这笔预算支持的许多昂贵军备都是为对付中国而添置的。

维尔克森:美国制定了巨额国家安全预算,用意不言而喻——它的具体数额也许更接近1.3万亿美元,其去向涵盖了退伍军人事务部、国土安全部、核武器能源部、国防部以外的情报源,再加上中情局、国家情报局局长和国际事务部部长的账户。此种预算给美国造成了许多不验自证的危害。

我们只要回顾一下冷战时期发生的一切,就可以知道国家预算是如何推动军备竞赛(包括核军备竞赛和常规军备竞赛)、如何在每一紧要关头影响战略决策的。支持针对中国进行军事和经济对抗的预算框架会使爆发战争的风险急剧上升。

贝一明:那么我们是否可以消除这种紧张态势和冲突的根源,扭转乾坤?我们能否组织活动,让香港民众和全世界的地方政府共同讨论关乎于年轻人、气候变化、经济军事化(这一问题中美均有)危害的切实问题?或许还有其他别具一格的方法?

维尔克森:我们可以做一些积极的尝试。但我认为,组织人们就严肃问题开展讨论恐怕收效甚微。除非我们能够在人力、物力和组织能力方面与中情局匹敌甚至略胜一筹,否则我们根本无法促成更为理智、高明、切实的对话。我不想说丧气话,但组织这样的活动一定要以讲求实际为前提。

贝一明:可是香港问题与美国对亚洲的政策息息相关。我们应该制定相关政策,而且是富有建设性的政策。

那么具体说来,怎样的政策更能收到成效?

维尔克森:我们应当重拾我们在乔治·H·W·布什当政时期及冷战末期所秉持的态度:警惕谨慎、讲求方略、和平竞争。

我们的目标应该是实现世界和平与经济整合;我们应当通力合作,共同面对跨国犯罪、气候变化、难民潮(现在已有7千万人,而且数量还在增多)等全球性挑战,以及任何一个国家都无法单独成功解决的问题。保险起见,我们一方面需要维系日本、韩国等盟友,另一方面需要拓展同印度等国家的关系,准备一支装备齐整却又不会耗资甚巨的军队。但总而言之,我们的目标是建立以和平与和平竞争为中心的世界秩序。

贝一明:美国有许多博识多才的知识界人士,他们可以前往香港、台北、上海或北京跟同道中人就我们共同的未来开展富有意义的深刻探讨。倘若这些学者和普通公民开始讨论大家共同关心的问题、同中国的知识分子开展合作,状况即会得到极大的改观。如果我们能够就气候变化、社会经济问题和虚拟空间的未来进行对话,或许可以用积极的内容填补媒体中的空白。

维尔克森:我也认为此举会受到大众的欢迎。我们的总统以及国家安全委员会、国务院和财政部中的大小官员要是懂得其中的关窍,将会对这一事业大有助益。

贝一明:当局为什么会认为有必要在暗中执行外交政策?我们怎样才能终结在其他国家搞破坏的秘密行动,回归切实的文化交流,从而引导年轻人集中精力从事积极的事业?

维尔克森:首先,我们需要一个新政府,一个开明的政府;国会需要对我们当前讨论的问题有所了解的新议员。我们需要全新的媒体,不把中国贴上“敌对国”标签、不把宣扬新冷战视为己任的媒体。最后,当然,我们还需要各行各业富有责任感、能够开展对话的学者和公民。

“温暖化の危機こそ憲法九条を” 出版記念シンポ@大阪

地球温暖化の危機こそ憲法九条を

出版記念シンポ

+

祝いの会

東アジアの安全保障問、環境問題の研究者E・パストリッチさん(55歳)—ワシントン在住—が『武器よさらば 地球温暖化の危機と憲法九条』(東方出版、1600円)を刊行しました。出版記念シンポ+お祝いの会を10月18日午後6時半から大阪のPLP会館で開きます。

10月18日(金)午後6時

 PLP会館(地下鉄扇町駅下車徒歩5分)

      午後6時半から7時 E・パストリッチさん講演

       午後7時〜8時 シンポ /8時〜9時半 出版の祝い   

   シンポ E・パストリッチさんの提起を受けて」

   パネラー 服部良一(元衆議院議員)、斎藤日出治(大阪労働学校・アソシ

         エ)、堀田美恵子(さよなら原発なら県ネットの共同代表

 会費  講演とシンポ 1000円(資料代)/本のみ 1600円

     出版のお祝いの会+シンポ 3500円(本代+食事含む)

E・パストリッチさんは中国、日本古典文学研究でハーバード大学から博士号を取得し、イリノイ大学で教授を務めたあと、韓国の慶煕大学などで教授を歴任、東アジアの国際平和と地球環境の国際協力を推進する組織・アジアインスティチュート(The Asia Institute) の所長として活動している。初の日本語訳本では憲法9条こそ地球温暖化の危機に、世界的規模で取り組む安全保障の主役になると提言している。今回はワシントンから来ていただき、出版祝いと講演シンポを開きます。是非参加をお願いします。

呼びかけ人(9月14日現在)

榎本恭一郎(さよなら原発なら県ネット)/奥田和浩(憲法9条を守る京田辺の会)/金珍英(NP O法人生野同胞相談生活総合センター)/難波希美子(縮少社会研究会)/平石昇(元全港湾大阪支部)、林真樹(ヨンデネット大阪)、富永猛(ヨンデネット大阪)寺田理(世直し研究会)

●問い合わせ先 申し込み先

 090−8234−0077(川瀬)、メールkawase2018@yahoo.co.jp 

(食事の準備もありますので、10月10日までに、担当の川瀬に申し込みお願いします)

America’s Rush Back to Nuclear Weapons” (Foreign Policy in Focus)

Foreign Policy in Focus

Interview with Lawrence Wilkerson

“America’s Rush Back to Nuclear Weapons”

September 5, 2019

Emanuel Pastreich

Interview with Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell and current Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Government and Public Policy in the Government Department of the College of William and Mary.

Emanuel Pastreich: What is the current status of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty on nuclear weapons?

Lawrence Wilkerson: As you know, the United States pulled out of the INF medium-range nuclear weapons treaty with Russia in August and it plans a substantial buildup of these destabilizing weapons, above all in East Asia. This move is dangerous.

The INF Treaty was far from perfect, but it had a broad appeal, including an appeal to many in the military, because it simply made sense.

That treaty between the United States and Russia encompassed all missiles, nuclear or conventional, ballistic or cruise, that had a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. When the INF Treaty was signed in 1987, it helped to slow down a dangerous arms race. For the first time since the Cold War started, an entire class of nuclear weapons was eliminated.

Pastreich: Why do you think the United States withdrew?

Wilkerson: We no longer live in a rational world  in which policy makers take a scientific approach to risk.  Rather, policy making is dominated by irrational figures like John Bolton, the president’s national security advisor, a man who hates arms control with a passion, who spends his days trying to find ways to undo the few restrictions that remain, and who would plunge the world into a completely new nuclear arms race.

This time, however, the competition won’t be bilateral, just between the United States and the USSR. This time the race will be global, and we will see a nightmare world of instability, with a renewed risk of a nuclear holocaust as a result.

Pastreich: What’s the background behind this drastic shift in American policy?

Wilkerson: Right now there are a huge number of intermediate range missiles stationed in Fujian Province, and elsewhere in southern China, which are aimed at Taiwan. We’re talking about a missile for just about every square meter of every viable target in Taiwan. China was never a signatory to the INF Treaty because at the time its missile capacity was minimal and its nuclear weapons policy, which was set by Mao Zedong, was one of sufficiency to deter.

If there was a valid reason for the United States to withdraw from the current INF Treaty, it was this change in China’s missile arsenal. China is most likely contemplating a new doctrine with regard to the use of nuclear weapons. That change has little to do with Russia and everything to do with the pressing need for a new nuclear weapons arms control regime.

Pastreich: You mean that China’s actions were a reason for the United States to withdraw?

Wilkerson: In part, the changes in China were a factor. And Russia has been “cheating” with respect to the INF Treaty. Even more dangerous is Russia’s publication of a military doctrine calling for blunting NATO’s advantage in PGMs [precision guided munitions] by using short-range nuclear strikes. Russia has been building a missile inventory necessary to accomplish this doctrine.

There are of course other aspects of the problem. We find a mutual abuse of the INF Treaty, such as the United States putting ABM defenses and troops in former Warsaw Pact countries, thus moving the borders of NATO so that they are smack up against Russia’s “near abroad.” And now the United States refuses to talk about almost anything with Russia.

We see the proliferation of medium-range missiles among non-signatory countries (China, DPRK, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc.) and also violations of the INF Treaty by both the original treaty signatories, who also happen to be the owners of the vast preponderance of nuclear weapons.

Pastreich: What do you think that should the United States have done then?

Wilkerson: Sadly, the United States kept complaining about what was imperfect about the treaty, but it made no effort to create something better, to fashion and gain support for an entirely new and more comprehensive nuclear arms control regime.

Instead, what the United States is accomplishing is the launch of a far more virulent arms race, one that could lead, some would argue inevitably, to the use of nuclear weapons in war.

It would have made better sense to maintain the treaty, or to declare it obsolete, in a bipartisan manner, and, in either case, to open negotiations to expand the treaty so as to include all nations that possess extensive stockpiles of intermediate range missiles—particularly those that also possessing nuclear weapon capability. From the point of view of smart arms control, of our children’s future, and of the security of the United States and of the world, such an expanded and modernized, treaty would make perfect sense.

But Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, doesn’t do arms control.  Moreover, Trump himself seems to disdain multilateral arrangements, sensible negotiations, and the type of astute diplomacy required to accomplish either. He seems to more-or-less follow Bolton and his desire for “a little nuclear war.” While campaigning, Trump even suggested he believed the world would be better off if there were more, not fewer, nuclear weapons, and states that possessed them.

Pastreich: What can be done now to correct this mistake?

Wilkerson: I think you mean, given these clear realities what can be done to modify the behavior of an administration that has been opposed to arms control from the very start and that has done more and will do more to damage arms control efforts than any previous administration? How will we convince John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, who made their careers by opposing rational arms control treaties, that they don’t need to abandon treaties but should rather expand them, multi-lateralize them, and seek new ones that do even more than the old ones did?

If we are talking about these individuals alone, the task is hopeless. They are beyond redemption. But democratic politics is not simply about individuals, whether it be presidents, national security advisors, or otherwise. There are cases in American history where extremist politicians have been brought into line by a shift in the mood and in the culture and by a weigh-in by the demos in accordance with such shifts.

What we need is to create again in Washington DC a nuclear arms control environment, a culture in which responsibility and strict regulation of nuclear weapons—and other weapons, as in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty—is accepted as a necessity. We need to ensure that such a development is a natural occurrence, that it is something that is not disdained, but rather anticipated.

At the end of the day, we need to negotiate a series of treaties that form a global overlapping system that includes all classes of nuclear weapons. We need to bring into this process pariah states like Israel and North Korea. Achieving that goal requires us to be tough at times. We must be ready to take a strong stand to insist that all nuclear weapon states must join the regime that will be established.

Pastreich: What is the thinking about nonproliferation and disarmament in the U.S. military?

Wilkerson: The military makes the challenge even greater because there are large factions in the military who are hankering for a new nuclear arms race. Those generals and admirals want more money, and they want to build more missiles. Doing so will allow them to get their hands on some of the trillion-plus dollars allotted for new nuclear weapons by former President Obama.

Those officers want all sorts of nuclear and non-nuclear missiles, but the diversity in their demands does not mean that they are strategically imaginative. They are not.

All they want is more, more, and a little more. But we should also remember that there are some clear thinkers and some brave people devoted to the common good mixed in with them. They see the handwriting on the wall and they wish to avert nuclear war.

President Trump is highly susceptible to the military’s siren call. The president has painted himself into multiple corners, and he seems to feel that he desperately needs the military to be president of the United States. Since he now faces opposition at almost every level of government and increasingly within the country, loyalty has become his first priority. He perceives the military to be overwhelmingly loyal to him and he wants to reward them.

This relationship between Trump and the military is dangerous because Trump is so ignorant about diplomacy and security, and at the same time he is increasingly desperate in his search for support. He does not care about global warming or nuclear war, but he is obsessed with his political standing. He desires above all to have people who will gather around him and listen to him speak. He is ultimately concerned with holding on to power.

Moreover, nuclear missiles, in particular, offer big juicy contracts that are not subject to much external review, and they empower the president—who is the one who can decide on his own whether or not to use them. So these weapons also feed Trump’s ego.

But anyone with any understanding of nuclear weapons knows how close we have come to nuclear war in the past—even with treaties in place. Sadly, most educated citizens have no idea how different a world we will be living in once the nuclear weapon genie escapes from its bottle, especially as there is a whole new group of nations like Germany, Turkey, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, and so on, that have either in the past shown a desire for nuclear weapons or who could join in a future nuclear arms race.

Pastreich: The decision to withdraw from the INF treaty, and other agreements like the ABM Treaty, while simultaneously increasing the number of short-range nuclear missiles, seems as if it was made in meetings among Bolton, Pompeo and Trump, with some input from the military. There were few, if any, congressional committees who debated the new policies, or summoned experts on nonproliferation for testimony.  

Wilkerson: This unhealthy policy-making process seems to be intrinsic to the Trump administration. But the shift has been taking place for some time. The cause is not necessarily Trump.

H.L. Mencken wrote back in 1920 that one day, “…the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” Although that prediction was uncanny, it was not a matter of chance.

The current crescendo of incompetence is the product of a long-term structural and statutory shift that has encouraged a dysfunctional decision-making process.

We can see Trump’s arbitrary use of power as the logical conclusion of the centralization of national security decision-making in the White House that dates back to the 1947 National Security Act. This concentration of power in the White House, and the decline of the power of the president’s cabinet, as well as of the powerful congressional committees run by highly educated and focused political leaders like Jacob Javits or James Fulbright, have profoundly altered the process by which policy is formulated and decisions are made.

The next step came after Ronald Reagan both consolidated power in the executive and stripped other parts of the federal government of budgets and authority. He created a new policy landscape that was readily made use of by H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, with some slight variations. So, the original balance of powers among Congress, the judiciary, and the executive described in the constitution existed only by dint of institutional inertia. That balance was ready to be torn down—and was torn down like a rotten tree—by Trump’s people.  

Pastreich: How does this institutional shift relate to the seemingly endless wars the United States is involved in?

Wilkerson: Many members of Congress—and particularly powerful committee chairmen—are backed to the hilt by Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, BAE, Grumman, General Dynamics, and other military contractors who are pursuing big-budget contracts with the government. This trend is true for both parties, but the Republicans practice it with greater abandonment. The coffers of these Congress members are essentially filled up by lobbyists who represent these merchants of war.

Pastreich: Although it seems irrelevant to lobbyists and influence peddlers, the constitution is supposed to be the manual that determines how the Federal government is run.

Wilkerson: The three branches of government are co-equal, but the legislative branch was clearly meant to be primus inter pares, and James Madison was quite adamant on that point.

The executive has become the overwhelmingly dominant branch. And now you have a specially selected Supreme Court and a court system that basically approves all of the executive branch’s actions, domestic and foreign. The Congress, especially the Republican-dominated Senate, is incapable of overriding the president. At this very moment, the Republicans in the Senate and the White House are conspiring to keep the House of Representatives from reclaiming the war powers that the constitution grants to Congress.

That battle is but the small end of the sword, if you will. The big end is that if we do go to war with Iran, for example, it will be without any congressional input, whatsoever. The latest disaster for the United States will be perpetrated by the executive branch alone, without any accountability. That is the degree to which the decision-making process with regard to war has been usurped by the president.

Of course, saying that decision-making is centralized in the White House is not the entire story. That White House we see today was created by, and takes its marching orders from, a predatory and transnational capitalist state where defense contractors, investment bankers, and hedge fund billionaires call the shots. Then there is big oil, big food, and big energy. Needless to say, having the decision-making so centralized makes it much easier for the big money from these groups to have impact than would be the case if decision-making were spread across the cabinet or across the government. Also, there is no moment in the process when anyone asks what the national interest is, what the long-term implications are.

Pastreich: Let’s come back to China for a moment. What are the risks for America here?

Wilkerson: First, let’s consider what the role of the United States should be—and, not just about juicy military budgets resulting from the China threat.

These days the United States is just a disruptor in Asia, and an unintelligent disruptor at that. We swing from cooing “I love you, Kim Jong Un” to imposing vicious tariffs on Chinese goods to creating a major embarrassment for Japanese Prime Minister Abe when he tried to help out with Iran.

And most of us were shocked to see Trump mocking how Japanese speak and how Koreans speak. That was the president of the United States! He was not speaking to Prime Minister Abe or to President Moon, but to a racist audience at home and for strictly domestic political purposes.

But to a certain degree the future role of the United States in East Asia will be determined by power dynamics in the region as much as by U.S. policy. Some Americans might want to stay, to be a hegemon in Northeast Asia forever. But that is not a sustainable policy. There is a desperate need for the United States to find a middle ground, a course that preserves some essential American influence within a cooperative framework. The competition with China, and other powers, is going to be substantial at all levels, and simply painting China as a bogeyman is not going to do the trick.

First, we need to go back to good old-fashioned diplomacy. That is more important than any fighter plane or missile. No state is going to fare well in a hot war, or even in a new cold war. We need to use our creativity to shape a culture that supports arms treaties, disarmament, and peace in general—peaceful competition, if you will. And we must build an off-ramp that allows America to dismount the imperial train and steer away from global hegemony and towards global cooperation.

Oddly enough, I think Trump is – very inexpertly, imperfectly, and probably unknowingly – digging out the foundations for such a new collaborative order through his destructive fits. He calls into question the value of NATO, and the so-called deep state is immediately up in arms. So, although Trump may be doing many destructive things, he is also drawing attention to the anachronism that NATO has become post-Cold War. The alliance no longer has any purpose except to seek out trouble “out of area” to justify itself.

We need to have the courage to discuss how we will bring back U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula, and under what circumstances. We cannot consider that discussion a taboo topic. We also need to use our imagination, and our commitment, to create a regional order that assures the continued security of the Korean Peninsula without that U.S. troop presence.

Let’s be honest with ourselves. If the United States wants to maintain its influence in East Asia, its needs plans to bring its troops back from other parts of East Asia, including Japan and particularly Okinawa. We will be much better off if we take the initiative than if we are pushed out by some disaster or another.

And in terms of policy change, I am not just talking about security issues. The United States today is flat-out bankrupt, with a $22 trillion debt. Annual interest payments on that debt added to the annual military budget will zero-out all other discretionary federal spending in less than a decade. We just did something unprecedented: we printed billions of dollars under the Quantitative Easing program with absolutely nothing behind those dollars except the paper and ink on which they were printed. We have no earthly idea what such profligacy will produce in the future. We have new security challenges like a changing climate and we had better start saving money, and learning to respond to new security challenges, in a manner that does not require such an expensive military instrument.

Pastreich: How can the United States fashion a different strategy for engaging with the world?

Wilkerson: Ambassador Richard Haass threw out the concept of “integration” back in 2001 in his discussions with his Policy Planning staff. He thought that “integration” was the best one-word substitution for “containment.” For Haass, integration was a concept that offered an alternative to globalization and its demand for unending expansion and extraction. Haass did not like the concept of globalization, and I think he was right.

Globalization has happened before, in the 1890s, for example. But globalization brings contradictions and tensions that are dangerous. What is going on today goes beyond globalization. What we see happening today is integration: integration of trade, integration of society, integration of culture. That integration is at times mean, disruptive, hateful, and dangerous, but it’s happening.

Trade is where we observe the most profound integration. For example, the United States cannot make a sophisticated piece of military equipment any longer without employing foreign components.

But Trump is heading in the opposite direction. He wants to take apart trade agreements and institutions, to disintegrate, not to integrate, trade. And he thinks that somehow the destruction of global institutions will save “white America.”

“Governing the Earth: Current Political Chaos Demands a Transformation of the United Nations” (Global Research)

Global Research

“Governing the Earth: Current Political Chaos

Demands a Transformation of the United Nations”

September 2, 2019

Emanuel Pastreich

The destruction of the Amazon jungles by right-wing Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro threatens to end our civilization and to condemn the next generation to death and destruction. This is a truly existential moment for us, to use the hackneyed term employed in the media so frequently that most people forget its significance. But as the Amazon burns, due to fires set by those seeking to make short-term profits for the few off of the jungles that purify the atmosphere shared by all of humanity, we are made aware of how completely defenseless we are.

The United Nations can make statements, famed intellectuals can write editorials, NGOs can protest in front of Brazilian embassies, and citizens can sign petitions, but we are essentially powerless in the face of a criminal effort to destroy our future.

Some are so married to the idea of solving all problems peacefully through discussion that they cannot imagine real resistance. Or they are so accustomed to opposing demands for regime change that come from right-wing think thanks that they are allergic to the very concept—even when it is necessary for our survival.

But a progressive form of regime change

[emanating from the grassroots]

is an entirely legitimate thing for concerned citizens to advocate for. Do not forget the thousands of committed youth who went to Spain in the 1930s to fight against Franco’s fascist regime. There was no shame in the word regime change then, nor should there have been. Nor was there any shame in the use of the force of arms to combat the fascistic governments that were set on slaughtering the majority of humanity in a ruthless quest for “living space.”

There can be no mistaking the threat of totalitarian governance and the destruction of the ecosystem and of humanity in the ruthless search for profit. We cannot ignore the pressing need to transform our world and that will require more than signing petitions. It will require us to reinvent global governance, not as a tool for investment bankers and wealthy philanthropists to flatter themselves, but as a means to address the threats of ecological collapse, militarism and the massive concentration of wealth.

It is no mystery why the G7, the G20, the United Nations and other global organizations are entirely powerless to respond to burning of the Amazon, even as scientists describe it as a threat to life on earth that may be the equivalent of a world war.

The radical concentration of wealth has made those global organizations into the play toys of those with money.

And the superrich have somehow convinced themselves that money and technology can save them from the catastrophe that awaits us. That attitude is best summed up by Lt. Gen. Steven L. Kwast, of the recently launched “Space Command” which will bring the war for dominance into low orbit, into a region that should be the shared legacy of all of humanity. Kwast notes,

“There is also a marketplace of opportunity for humans not only to live and thrive in space, but also to have a place to go if there is ever any problem with Earth whether it is from an asteroid, from a disease, or any kind scourge of human nature or of nature that can threaten human life. This is the broad arch of history that we sometimes forget because we have lived in such a cocoon of protection and security for so long that we forget the fact that there is a cycle asteroids and of contagion that can wipe out from the dinosaurs to the human race. And there is nothing you can do about it unless you have a sanctuary you can go to.”

Kwast does not use the word “climate change,” but there can be no doubt that it is what he refers to by a “problem with Earth.” He is selling a delusional fantasy that somehow the control of space will allow some to survive catastrophe. This superficial and thoughtless strategy is typical of the bankruptcy of global governance today and it is leading us towards military conflicts in space, in the Arctic and the Antarctic, and in the oceans which should be a shared commons, not the exclusive property of corporations.

We face an ideological and systemic collapse around the world that is at least as dangerous as that which we face when the United Nations was established in 1942 and that even if Trump and Bolsonaro are not sending millions to death camps yet, their assault on the climate and their embrace of fossil fuels will be far more lethal for humanity than were the German death camps.

We need a vision for a future world that will move beyond this suicidal consumption-driven and military-dominated society and will inspire us to risk everything we have to fight against such dark powers as they tear our world apart.

The United Nations did not suddenly spring into being. It was at the center of the drive to battle against fascist movements which had taken over many nations through force and by ideological struggles, roaming over large swaths of the Earth and threatening to destroy much of humanity. It was a time, that is, not unlike our own.

A small group of intellectuals and political activists risked their lives in all corners of the Earth to fight against totalitarianism, and advocate for internationalism and for peace. Eventually, they joined forces with Russia, China, the United States and Great Britain, and with other exiled governments in London, Washington and Shanghai. There were profound compromises in that process, but together they planned not only for the defeat of the Fascists, but also for a new form of global governance.

Those who had battled against Fascism in the streets of Europe and Asia came together for a brief moment with those who held institutional power and were able to rise above the exploitative systems that had put them in power. The wisdom and the experience of those who had led the struggle was reflected in government policy for a change, and an institution dedicated to true global governance, both inspiring and infinitely practical, was established.

The “United Nations” grew out of the struggle to create a new system for international relations that can be traced back to the Hague Peace Conventions of 1899, 1907 and 1914 (the final one was disrupted by the outbreak of World War I). Those peace conventions codified the principles of international law, proposed, and started to implement global regimes for disarmament, and promulgated humanitarian laws for the conduct of diplomacy, trade and war that included the punishment of war crimes. The tradition of the Hague Peace Conventions, although completely ignored by the media today, was the source of much of what we think of as international law beyond trade policy. That tradition is what we most desperately need today.

The proposals of the Hague Peace Conventions were developed further in the League of Nations after the catastrophe of the First World War, moving the Earth closer to a form of global governance that could counter global governance driven by multinational corporations. This effort culminated in the Kellogg–Briand Pact of 1928 which set up a framework to end war in a systematic, legal and institutional manner.

That effort did not succeed, as we know from the rise of Fascism, but it did not fail entirely either. The Hegelian spiral continued upwards and even in the midst of the chaos of the Second World War, the United Nations took shape, and a small group of intellectuals and activists around the world struggled to push forward with a new model for true governance.

Sadly, the United States, flushed with confidence after its victory in the Second World War, was unable to pass up the temptation to inherit the spoils of the British Empire. By the end of the Korean War, the financial elites with deep ties to London were victorious over those Americans who had taken cause with the global struggle against Fascism. The United States thereafter turned the Soviet Union into a rival, rather than a partner for world peace. The Cold War was born and the United Nations was still born.

But even if the United Nations did not realize its full potential during the Cold War l, it continued to play a critical role defusing crises and proposing solutions to intractable global problems.

The end of political economies focused on a socialist model in Russia and China has profoundly distorted the discourse on policy in the United Nations because the previous pushback on issues of class and capital has vanished. Yet, even after the United Nations’ budget was stripped to the bone during the George W. Bush Administration and United Nations resolutions were ignored as a matter of course, even as American policy drifted further and further away from international law under the Trump administration, the United Nations remained vital as the place to which citizens of the Earth feel that they can appeal for justice and for guidance.

The United Nations, stuffed with retired bureaucrats in cushy jobs, funded (directly and indirectly) by multinational corporations and billionaires, continues to drift away from it moorings. And yet, again and again, we appeal to it to play the role that no other institution can play, and on occasion it stand for the greater good and for ethical policy.

The desire for an agency of global governance accountable to the people, in contrast to numerous secretive and self-interested institutions that dominate global governance such as G7 and the International Monetary Fund, has been enough to keep the United Nations going even through the most difficult of times. The United States, however, never regained the institutional commitment to the United Nations it had under President Franklin Roosevelt.

We are facing political and ideological dangers equal to, or greater than, those that we faced in 1942. We have not yet witnessed anything in this struggle, in this chaos, as horrible as the slaughter of millions by the Nazi armies in Poland, the Soviet Union and China. Nevertheless, the decision of the United States to renounce all arms control treaties, to launch wars of aggression in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere (and to openly prepare for war with Iran, Russia and China) suggest that a conflict on that scale (or greater) is entirely possible.

The complete collapse of arms control policy in the United States, now that right-wing and corporate power has taken complete control of global and national governance, is best embodied by the ideologue and psychopath John Bolton who has opened wide the gates of hell. The United States and Russia now have thousands of nuclear weapons that are thousands of times more powerful than those that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

The threat of war against China made by US vice president John Pence, a fascistic “Christian” leader who has drunk his full at the teat of militarism, suggests that total war is not just something to be experienced vicariously on video games, but quite plausible as American policy. If Trump is not afraid of the catastrophic implications of climate change what makes you think that he is afraid of nuclear war?

The breakdown in global governance cannot be separated from the concentration of wealth. We now see in the mainstream media, on Facebook or Twitter (which is the only media most citizens have access to unless they come from privileged and educated families) that opinions on climate, economics, and geopolitics comes primarily from billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates or Michael Bloomberg, or from their shills, and not from individuals with expertise, or with a deep ethical commitment to the common good.

The “Wealth-X World Ultra Wealth Report 2018” reported that 255,810 “ultra high net worth” (UHNW) individuals (people with over $30 million USD in assets) now control $31.5 trillion USD. That amount is greater than the total assets controlled by 80 percent of the Earth’s population, some 5.6 billion people. The increase in the wealth of these UHNW increased by 16.3% between 2016 and 2017, and when the figures are released for this 2018, the rate of increase will most likely be far higher. It is these superrich, and not the United Nations bureaucrats, who call the shots in global governance today.

Don’t reform the United Nations; Transform the United Nations

The current institutional decay of national, regional and international institutions is not theoretical or forthcoming. It is right here, right now. The global liberal order that once we trusted to guide us forward has collapsed, leaving behind a smoking crater wherein investment bankers and their lackeys spar with vicious fascist tribes.

And although those groups may disagree about who gets what part of the spoils, they are working together to burn down the Amazon, and to prepare for war with China and Russia; they are deadly serious and they have no intention of backing down—or even of negotiating.

Don’t bother asking them what they are going to do; ask yourself, what are we going to do?

Such a dangerous and unstable world demands from us nothing less than a global response. “Global” does not refer to shared Facebook postings, but rather a coordinated international effort by committed citizens of the Earth who are at least as well organized as the investment bankers, and ethnic nationalists that we are up against.

This unstable world also demands that we form institutions that go beyond the limited capacity of the United Nations so as to address the single greatest political issue: The Earth is excessively integrated in terms of finance, manufacturing, distribution and consumption but we remain complete strangers when it comes to collaboration between ethical intellectuals and citizens groups. We need a global system that supports, first and foremost,the rational scientific analysis of the causes of the threats that we face, and that oversees the immediate and effective implementation of a massive response for the entire Earth—regardless of borders.

Numerous proposals for United Nations reform have been made over the last six decades. Some, like the Millennium Development Goals, have been partially implemented. Yet the vast majority of the ideas proposed have been left to rot because the United Nations, and the nation states of which it is comprised, are increasingly manipulated by global investment banks and other vested interests who are concerned primarily with their own profits.

The hour is late and the institutional rot is deep. Whether we look at the degeneration of United Nations’ assignments into perks for bureaucrats or the commercialization and the privatization of the policy making process, the UN is no longer able to rise to the critical tasks of preventing world war, ending the unholy concentration of wealth, or reducing the catastrophic warming of our Earth.

The Earth Congress

The current situation is so serious that a laundry list of piecemeal reforms for the United Nations will not do. What we need is a proposal for a massive structural transformation, not a progressive adjustment, that will change the function of the United Nations, and be a shift equivalent to the move from the League of Nations to the United Nations.

We must make the United Nations a bicameral representative institution, vaguely akin to the United States Congress, or to Great Britain’s Parliament, so that it no longer represents the outdated institutions known as nation states, but also represents the citizens of the Earth in a democratic manner. That is to say we must make it function more like a government, but do so by making it directly representative.

Such a move will give the United Nations back the mandate that it had in 1942.

The current United Nations assembly should become the upper house, the equivalent of the Senate in the United States. This upper house, which could keep the title “United Nations,” will offer each nation state a single representative. The current Security Council, however, should be replaced with a speaker elected by all members of the United Nations who works together with permanent and ad hoc committees to address economic, security, welfare and environmental issues for the Earth as a whole.

The majority of the authority in global governance, however, should be transferred to a new legislative body that will serve as the rough equivalent of a lower house, or a “House of Representatives.” The analogy to a lower house is limited, however, because this assembly will play the central role in global governance.

This legislature, hereafter referred to as the “Earth Congress,” will serve as a means of representing the needs and the concerns of the citizens of the Earth at the local level, while at the same time functioning as global institution for the formulation and for the implementation of policies for the entire Earth. It will carry out the global governance function which is currently monopolized by investment banks, multinational corporations and the consulting firms that they support, and then forced upon nation states through corrupt political systems.

The Earth Congress will be directly engaged with citizens around the world, both responding to the actual concerns of local populations and representing their interests and also informing them about global issues in a scientific and rational manner. It will establish a global dialog for the formulation of policy and the policy that it produces will be binding across the entire Earth. It will not be an oppressive world government because it will be far more democratic in nature than most current nation states. Moreover the Earth Congress will provide funding for global action based on an objective assessment of the Earth’s needs. It will not be dependent on the whims of billionaires or the profits of corporations in order to implement its goals.

Although the Earth Congress will draw on the traditions of the League of Nations and of the United Nations, it will go further by taking full advantage of new technologies to facilitate the promotion of true cooperation around the world whether dialog between citizens, joint research between scientists or cooperation on global issues between governments. It will not have a central building where representatives gather, but will rather have its meeting places distributed across the Earth, even as policy is formulated in a centralized manner.

Because the Earth Congress is concerned with democratic governance, education must be a critical part of its mission. Governance is in decline around the world not so much because of corrupt politicians, but because the media and educational organizations on which we depend have declined radically in their quality and therefore most citizens of the Earth are encouraged to respond to gimmicks and fads rather than to engage in rational discourse and objective analysis. The citizens of the Earth are subject to a broad anti-intellectual attack that makes political discourse difficult and ethical governance nearly impossible.

The Earth Congress must offer to citizens around the world the chance to learn about the critical problems that we face and at the same time opportunities to participate in governance at the local level that will be reflected in policy discussions at the global level. Such a process requires a radical restructuring of the value systems promoted by business in the local economy so as to make participation in political discourse a high priority.

The Earth Congress will take the lead in formulating strategies that allow citizens to work together with their peers around the world. Trade will no longer be limited to the import and export of goods monopolized by large corporations in a manner that greatly increases carbons emissions. Rather a truly shared economy will be established in which communities around the world can find like interests and coordinate their own micro-trade and manufacturing cooperatives so as to form a citizen-based global integration that counters the current concentration of capital in the hands of those who dominate trade and finance. Such efforts should not be a sideshow, but rather central to the future of global governance.

The actions of for-profit organizations that seek to obtain short-term benefits through the destruction of the Earth’s resources will be strictly regulated by the Earth Congress. The Earth Congress, funded by a system of local contributions, must serve as a global organization that capable of both assessing impact of current corporate exploitation of resource and of definitively stopping such actions. It will be capable overriding the criminal actions taking place in Brazil today, or creating a long-term plan to wean the Middle East permanently of dependence on petroleum for economic development.

The Earth Congress will regulate, on behalf of the population of the entire Earth, the oceans, the Arctic and the Antarctic, the atmosphere and the satellites and other devices that orbit the Earth, and it will set out transparent and effective regulations to assure that the internet is based entirely on renewable energy, is accessible to all and promotes an open intellectual discourse based on the scientific method.

Policy will be made within the Earth Congress, and not by law firms, or by think tanks, or by consulting firms that lack transparency or accountability. The Earth Congress will be funded by contributions from citizens (which will ultimately be obligatory like taxes) across the Earth. It will employ such an approach because it allows it to create institutions to govern the world that will replace those based on profit today which do not consider the health of society or of the Earth. The Earth Congress will not be allowed to accept questionable forms of support from profit-seeking organizations.

It is better to have a smaller budget and be able to make accurate and objective decisions than to have massive funding that promotes corrupt and dangerous policies.

The Earth Congress, as the primary legislative body of the United Nations, will determine representation according to the population of the entire Earth.

Perhaps one representative can be assigned for every 50 million people (120 representatives for 6 billion people). Some parts of the representation should be determined geographically (to represent regions like Africa or South America) but at the same time, there must be members of the Earth Congress who represent groups who are a significant part of the Earth’s population, but who are too few in number to have direct representation in local government. For example, the extreme poor, or the handicapped, should be granted representatives to reflect their global significance, even though they do not represent a large population in any one country. Such an approach will provide a global democracy to counter the global tyranny of multinational corporations.

The Earth Congress will be responsible for assessing the long-term interests of humanity and of our precious Earth without concern for national boundaries, or for special interests. It will then propose long-term solutions to current challenges and implement them on a global scale.

The Earth Congress must insist on long-term (minimum of 30 years) solutions to the most critical issues facing the Earth and will encourage thoughtful and frank discussions about security concerns such as climate change and immigration that are not driven by a need for symbolic images, but real solutions.

Because it makes long-term policy, the Earth Congress will also provide long-term financing globally that will make solar and wind power, and other organic farming projects readily affordable for citizens of the Earth.

The Earth Congress must move beyond the short-term, case by case, arbitration of economic and political conflicts of interests between nation states that have paralyzed the United Nations. Rather it will plan for the future of humanity in an integrated manner with a focus on the long-term ecological health of the Earth.

Problems such as saving dying oceans, reducing the emissions of dangerous chemicals, countering the spread of deserts and stopping the proliferation of dangerous weapons cannot be addressed by nation states or international organizations that are dependent on the good will of the wealthy.

For the Earth Congress, security will be defined as protecting the Earth and its inhabitants. Its inhabitants are not only humans but also indigenous animal and plant life. It is a basic assumption within this new approach to global governance that no one owns the oceans, the air, or the land and that all modern concepts like “real estate” and extraction are extremely limited in authority. The Earth Congress will strictly regulate fishing, pollution of the air and the water, the destruction of soil and of natural habitats and it will focus on projects to restore the natural environment.

The interaction of experts in the Earth sciences, the environment, agriculture and technology with groups that are deeply engaged with ordinary citizens and with representatives of local governments will create a positive cycle of inquiry, objective analysis, constructive proposals and transparent and global implementation that will usher in a new age for meaningful global governance.

The future of global governance

There is nothing idealistic or unrealistic about this proposal for the meaningful reform of global governance.

We already have a highly integrated system for global governance administrated by investment banks and sovereign wealth funds which use banks of supercomputers to calculate their short-term profits and force through policy at the local, national and international level to support their interests.

The rapid advancement of communication technologies taking place today has already established a form of global governance that overpowers the nation-state, whether we like it or not, whether we know it, or not. Our only choice is to embrace the best of the traditions of moral philosophy and good governance, and to use our creativity and our industriousness so that we can create a better model for global governance, on that addresses in a direct and long-term manner the tremendous challenges of the current age, rather than the short-term profits of the few.

Is the problem of the market economy economic, ideological, or spiritual?