Archive for the ‘Nibbling on The Empire’ Category

On Feb. 27. 2021, Peace Alliance Winnipeg hosted a webinar entitled “The New Cold War, Canadian Foreign Policy and Canada’s Peace Movement.”

It featured presentations by:

Radhika Desai, a Professor at the Department of Political Studies, and Director, Geopolitical Economy Research Group, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. She is the author of Geopolitical Economy: After US Hegemony, Globalization and Empire and numerous other books and articles on political and geopolitical economy and world affairs.

Yves Engler, a Montréal-based activist and author who has published 11 books on various aspects of Canadian foreign policy. His latest book is titled House of Mirrors — Justin Trudeau’s Foreign Policy.

Tamara Lorincz, a PhD candidate in Global Governance at the Balsillie School for International Affairs (Wilfrid Laurier University). She is on the board of directors of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space and on the international advisory committee of the No to NATO Network. She is a member of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

The webinar was moderated by Glenn Michalchuk, chair of Peace Alliance Winnipeg.

While the quality of the presentations was first rate, the audio quality of Radhika Desai’s presentation was less than optimal. Don’t let that dissuade you from listening. What she has to say makes it well worth the effort.


If you feel inspired to get involved in changing Canada’s foreign policy for the better, here are some organizations that could use your energy.

Peace Alliance Winnipeg

Geopolitical Economy Research Group

New Cold War

World Beyond War

This marks the 10th year of my YouTube channel. You can watch more than 350 videos here, but as it is the season to reflect on the past year, here is some of what I saw, through my unabashedly lefty lens, in 2019.

Winnipeg Central American Migrant Caravan Benefit Concert
Jan. 4, 2019: The Benefit Concert for the Central American Caravan was held on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 in Winnipeg’s historic Ukrainian Labour Temple, with proceeds going to the Mennonite Central Committee (Canada) to support its work with Central American migrants.

Trudeau & Trump: #HandsOffVenezuela
Jan. 26, 2019: Members of the Venezuela Peace Committee and Peace Alliance Winnipeg rallied in Winnipeg outside the building the houses the United States Consulate to protest the actions taken by the Canadian and US governments to destabilize Venezuela.

Winnipeggers say: Hands Off Venezuela!
Feb. 23, 2019: The Winnipeg Venezuela Peace Committee joined in an international day of action in solidarity with the people of Venezuela and the democratically elected government of Nicolas Maduro.

How you can support Venezuela
Feb. 23, 2019: Speaking at a Venezuela solidarity rally in Winnipeg, Alan Freeman, of the Venezuela Peace Committee, explains what you can do to support the people of Venezuela and their democratically elected government against foreign intervention.

Winnipeg Labour Solidarity with Palestinian Workers
March 16, 2019: Palestinian postal worker Imad Temiza, as well as CUPW and CUPE members who have recently returned from delegations to Israel and Palestine, discuss the challenges faced by Palestinian workers.

André Vltchek: NATO, Canada & Western Imperialism
April 3, 2019: The North Atlantic Treaty was signed on April 4, 1949, giving rise to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO. To mark the occasion, a public forum on the role of NATO was held featuring André Vltchek, a Russian-born American political analyst, journalist, and a filmmaker.

Peace Alliance Winnipeg Annual Meeting Report
Peace Alliance Winnipeg, of which I am a member, held its annual general meeting on April 13, 2019. PAW’s chair, Glenn Michalchuk, reports on some of the highlights and challenges of the past year.

Radhika Desai – How We Work for Peace in Venezuela
April 24, 2019: Radhika Desai wraps up a Town Hall forum in Winnipeg entitled “The West’s War on Venezuela” with an explanation of how and why the Venezuela Peace Committee contributes to peace in Venezuela.

Dimitri Lascaris – Manufacturing Consent to a Coup against Venezuela
April 24, 2019: Journalist Dimitri Lascaris speaks to a Town Hall forum in Winnipeg entitled “The West’s War on Venezuela” about the myths perpetrated by western governments and media to support a coup against Venezuela’s democratically elected Maduro government.

The West’s War on Venezuela – Why Canada is Wrong
April 24, 2019: Canada’s decision to seek regime change in Venezuela along with the US and other Western countries, the anti-Maduro bias prevailing in the mainstream Canadian and western news media and the potential for the confrontation between western powers and others, such as Russia and China, are the key issues that were discussed in a public forum at the University of Winnipeg.

Henry Heller’s Marxist History of Capitalism
April 29, 2019: Henry Heller shows that capitalism has always been a double-edged sword, on one hand advancing humanity, and on the other harming traditional societies and our natural environment. He makes the case that capitalism has now become self-destructive, and that our current era of neoliberalism may trigger a transition to a democratic and ecologically aware form of socialism.

Dennis Lewycky: Magnificent Fight – The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike
May 2, 2019: On the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike, Dennis Lewycky launches his new book on the topic, appropriately titled “Magnificent Fight: The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike.”

Barbara Perry: Assessing the Far Right in Canada
March 14, 2019: Is Canada’s extreme right growing? How dangerous are they and where do they live? These and other questions are discussed by Dr. Barbara Perry, who has researched and written extensively on right-wing extremism.

1919: A Graphic History of the Winnipeg General Strike
May 12, 2019: One century on, the Winnipeg General Strike remains one of the most significant events in Canadian history. A new book, 1919: A Graphic History of the Winnipeg General Strike, marks the centenary of this epic struggle.

The Winnipeg Labour Choir celebrates the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike
May 15, 2019: One hundred years ago, workers in Winnipeg’s building and metal trades were negotiating with their employers for the right to collective bargaining, better wages and improved working conditions. Talks were going nowhere so, on May 15, 1919, the Winnipeg Trades and Labor Council called for a general strike. Within hours, 30,000 men and women, many of whom were not union members, left their jobs. Winnipeg was shut down and the shock waves were felt across the country.

38th Winnipeg Walk for Peace
June 22, 2019: Peace Alliance Winnipeg and the Council of Canadians – Winnipeg Chapter held the 38th annual Winnipeg Walk for Peace. The purpose of this year’s event is to call upon the Canadian government to promote peace and international cooperation and development, objectives that are sorely lacking in Canada’s foreign policy.

The threat of the “New Antisemitism”
June 22, 2019: Speaking at the Winnipeg Walk for Peace, Harold Shuster, of Independent Jewish Voices, explains the threat posed by a new definition of antisemitism.

Women Strike Part 1: The Nawrockis in Concert
June 13, 2019: ‘The Nawrockis’ is Norman Nawrocki’s exciting new violin and ukulele duo with his sister Vivian. They play traditional, upbeat Ukrainian folk music. She’s a Vancouver-based singer and musician. They provide the warm up act that proceeded Norman’s play (see next item.)

Women Strike Part 2: The Play
Women Strike! 1919-2019 – The Winnipeg General Strike was recorded at the Ukrainian Labour Temple in Winnipeg, Canada on June 13, 2019. Written and directed by Norman Nawrocki, the play features Karam Daoud, Lorraine James and Marri-Lou Paterson. It was staged as a part of the Winnipeg Labour Council’s 2019 Mayworks Program.

Elizabeth May: Canada’s most important election ever
Aug. 15, 2019: Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May was in Winnipeg to lend support to Greens contesting the Sept. 10th provincial general election. Speaking at WestEnd Commons in Winnipeg with Wolsley candidate David Nickarz, May described the upcoming federal election as the most important one in Canada’s history because it will be the one that decides whether Canadians will be able to act in time to meet our climate targets.

Inclusive Democracy & Proportional Representation
Aug. 27, 2019: Fair Vote Manitoba held a forum on electoral and other democratic reforms at the Park Theatre in Winnipeg featuring candidates from most of the parties running in the Manitoba provincial election.

ELECTION 2019: Manitoba Leaders Debate on the Environment
Winnipeg, Sept. 5, 2019: The global climate crisis has occupied centre stage in the Manitoba provincial election. Leaders from three political parties showcased their perspectives on climate change and the environment in a debate organized by several environmental organizations.

Winnipeg Lanterns for Peace 2019
Aug. 6, 2019: Winnipeggers held their annual Lanterns for Peace Ceremony to commemorate the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945. Their aim is to help keep the memory of these attacks alive so that current generations understand we must never allow nuclear weapons to be used again.

Maria Páez Victor: The Case for Venezuela
Winnipeg, July 20, 2019: Speaking at the Class, State and Nation conference, Dr. Maria Páez Victor describes the criminal nature of the United States-led campaign to undermine the government of Venezuela.

Arnold August on the US Canadian Attack on Cuba and Venezuela
October 3, 2019: There is no doubt that Canadian foreign policy has taken a hard turn to the right, especially with regard to Latin America. Arnold August provides the context and details the US led attacks on Cuba and Venezuela that Canada has been supporting so vigorously.

Bryan Palmer: The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike heard around the world
The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike was followed with great interest by people around the world, says Dr. Bryan Palmer, Professor Emeritus at Trent University. Professor Palmer was speaking at the 14th Forum of the World Association for Political Economy entitled Class, State and Nation in the 21st Century, held in Winnipeg July 19-21, 2019.

Winnipeg Chile Solidarity
Oct. 24, 2019 — People in Chile are dying at the hands of their repressive government. People in Winnipeg showed some solidarity this morning at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Michael Hudson: Resisting Empire
Renowned economist Dr. Michael Hudson spoke at the 14th Forum of the World Association for Political Economy, held in Winnipeg in July 19-21, 2019. The conference was entitled Class, State and Nation in the 21st Century.

Vanessa Beeley: Canada’s Dirty War Against Syria
December 13, 2019: Two successive governments of Canada, those of Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau, have been an integral part of the US coalition for regime change and economic sanctions against Syria since 2011. Independent journalist Vanessa Beeley visited 7 Canadian cities in December to deliver a talk entitled “Canada’s Dirty War Against Syria: the White Helmets and the Regime-Change-War Billionaires.”




July 21, 2019: Professor Michael Hudson gave the final keynote at the 14th Forum of the World Association for Political Economy, held in Winnipeg at the University of Manitoba. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Michael Hudson is President of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET), a Wall Street Financial Analyst, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, author of many books and an outspoken critic of capitalism.

He spoke at the 14th Forum of the World Association for Political Economy, held in Winnipeg at the University of Manitoba this past July. The theme of the conference was “Class, State and Nation.” Professor Hudson’s talk, which I’ve titled “Resisting Empire” (because YouTube likes short titles), charts the rise and decline of the American Empire and some of the strategies implemented by other nations (principally China) to overcome the domination of the United States.

What follows is video I recorded of his talk and (for those who prefer to read) a transcripts of his remarks, lightly edited for clarity.

I can’t think of a conference where I’ve learned so much starting with the wonderful three-hour tour of Winnipeg and the general strike in 1919. It’s sort of a metaphor for everything that we’re describing in the world today. That here you had a city that had the potential to be taking off. They talked of it as a potential Chicago. And what happened? The workers and the general strike wanted the same things that workers all over the world have wanted. They wanted higher prosperity. They wanted a decent pay. Shorter hours would have been more productive.

And yet the ruling class of Winnipeg, the Thousand said, we, we could have a wonderful growth. We could make a lot of money in real estate alone by immigrants coming here. We could make it a centre , but then other people would have to get rich just like we are. We don’t want it. We would rather be relatively rich and keep them poor than have development. We want to keep our status of control over them so that we have all of the initiative, all of the planning power and they are powerless because that is for us the system.

It’s not an economic system. It’s the same system that existed in Rome. And the result of course is that Winnipeg didn’t become another Chicago. It became Winnipeg today.

Well, this same attitude is the attitude that the United States is taking towards the rest of the world. And the question is, will, the rest of the world be more successful than the Winnipeg strikers were in 1919?

From the very beginning, I’ve been a part of WAPE (World Association for Political Economy) and the very first issue, volume one, number one David Laibman and I had an article. So, we’ve been part of this for a long time. Uh, I want to thank both Radhika and Ellen for the wonderful organization of this meeting.

I did write a paper for it that maybe will be posted. But after listening to the discussions here, I’ve decided to make a different set of comments. And I think the framework for my comments is that capitalism has not evolved in the way that Marx expected.

Marx wasn’t wrong, but he was an optimist. He thought that capitalists would act in their own self-interest. Well, of course, if they would have acted in their self interest, you wouldn’t have had the Winnipeg general strike. He thought that their interest was going to be in becoming more efficient in streamlining the economy and getting rid of the fictitious costs, what he called the false costs or full fray of production. And he’s rightly been called a revolutionary. But what upset the vested interests more than anything else was not simply that Marx is a revolutionary, but that he showed that capitalism itself was revolutionary. He said the historical destiny of capitalism was to get rid of the landlord class that simply collected rent without providing any productive service. The task of capitalism was to get rid of parasitic finance and instead finance would be used to fund industrialization as it seemed to be happening in his time in Germany and in central Europe. And he thought that the role of capitalism was to be so much more efficient that in a speech he gave before the Chartists in London, he supported free trade, not on the basis of the neoclassical and neoliberal silliness of free trade is being productive.

But he said, well, the one virtue of free trade is going to be that since Britain is the most efficient economy its trade with India is going to break down all of the backwardness of India. And as British manufacturers undersell the manufacturers of countries that are backward, that have elites that have predatory and parasitic vested interests and ruling classes, they would have to either modernize or be swept away. And it seemed logical to him that capitalism would pave the way for a natural evolution into socialism by at least getting rid of the carryovers of feudalism the landed invasions, the warlords that became the Lords and controlled the politics and the land.

Well, as we all know, that’s not what the leading economy of the United States is today. If Marx were looking at the United States, he wouldn’t say, I think that it’s wonderful that all the other countries should follow the United States lead because it’s going to bring about prosperity and efficiency. In contrast to England and the industrial revolution, the United States has become the most inefficient economy in the world in terms of manufacturing. The reason that there cannot be a revival of a manufacturing industry in this country is simply because the accumulation of debt has gotten so large and the price of housing and the privatization of monopolies and health insurance has become so expensive that if American workers were to get all of their food, all of their clothing, all of their transportation for nothing, for zero, they still couldn’t compete with China or even Europe because out of every paycheck they have to pay up to 40% of their income for rent. 15% is taken off for social insurance and medical care, another 10% for payments of interest and debt.

Only a small portion of the worker’s budget is available to be spent on the goods and services they produce. So the United States is left in a very high cost position and has become something that is different from the industrial capitalism that Marx talked about in his day. Industrial capitalism has become finance capitalism and the roots of finance capitalism, the basic analysis for it is all outlined in Marx’s volume three of Capital and volume two. The reason he left it for volume three and volume two and not in volume one was he thought that there was already the 1848 revolutions in Europe; already there was pressure to tax away of the rent of the landlords. Already there was pressure to create a public subsidy of health, of basic monopolies of post office, of transportation, and communication.

And by the time Marx wrote, he thought, okay, that fight has been won. Capitalism can take care of the post feudalism problem. And Marx talked about the problems of capitalism itself, the relationship between the employer and the employee. And for him, industrial capital was money that was spent on employing labor to make a profit and squeeze out surplus value.

This seemed to be the way that the world was evolving until World War One and World War One really changed all of that. England found itself bankrupted by the debt that it owed to the United States when the war was over. For hundreds of years, Europeans at the end of a war had simply canceled the mutual debts because they thought we’re all in it together. But the United States said, well, we sold you a lot of arms before we were in the war. So we’re really not brothers. You have to pay us enough money that to cause mass unemployment there — to essentially do to England what the IMF has done to the Third World after World War Two. And so England and France also had to pay into her ally debts turned to Germany to pay the reparations and caused austerity and a crisis in Germany. And the result of course was a chronic depression that a build up of debts that finally all had to be wiped out in 1931, 1932, when the inter allied debts and reparations were forgiven. And the crisis was so great that it brought on the world depression of the 30s that was only pulled out by World War Two.

So, what has happened since World War Two was something that Marx could not have expected. He thought that banking and finance capital would be industrialized. He described finance as external. Finance existed in Babylonia in the third millennium BC. Interest bearing debt was in Rome and Greece. But all of this debt Marx described was simply parasitic. It took money and it accumulated and it grew by the mathematics of compound interest. And Marx collected everything that was written in his day on the mathematics of compound interest. And he said, it grows inexorably by purely a mathematical laws of its own power and there’s not part really of the capitalist system, but if the banks made productive loans to industry where the bank credit provided the industrial borrower with the means of earning a profit, able to repay the debt, then that would become productive. And that would become a basis that even socialism could apply.

Many of Marx’s followers in the 19th century expected the banks to be the planning center, the incipient planning center of the socialism to come. And this view was based largely on the German experience where there was a combination of the Reichsbank, the large banks the military for credit for armaments, especially for the building of navies and heavy industry. And it was largely a government coordinated development in Germany, which seemed to be headed towards the leadership of the world.

This terrified England because England really had failed to do what seemed potentially able to do in 1848. It wasn’t able to get rid of the banks by the time that in 1914 when World War One broke out, there was a set of articles in the economic journal in England worrying that England was going to lose the war because its financing was so predatory, so greedy, so corrupt and its behavior was so short term hit and run that it could not possibly compete against an economy that had basically planned productive credit as a Germany had. The stockbrokers in England were notorious for putting their customers into financial frauds and just hitting and hitting and running, for taking over companies and insisting that the companies pay all of their income out as dividends, not reinvest their profits, not accumulate productive power, but rather simply build up debt. And the Marxists were in the lead of describing this phenomenon of finance capitalism that at the time it seemed to be a perversion of industrial capitalism, but turned out to be something almost entirely different. And we all know the result of that.

That was World War Two. And in World War Two, the United States set out to dominate the world and make itself the center, sort of a wheel and spoke system. The United States called this globalization or internationalism.
But the role of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund was not internationalist at all in the spirit that we just heard describing the Belt and Road Initiative. The idea of the World Bank was not to promote development, but to promote dependency. The leading assumption of the World Bank was under no case would domestic currency loans be made to develop agricultural self sufficiency and countries to become independent and grow their own food. From the very beginning, the United States wanted loans to go only to the export sector. Third World countries, Latin America, Africa, the Near East were told to depend on American grain and the loans were only for export crops to build railroads and roads to lower the cost of making exports so that America could get raw materials from other countries.

And America became [what it] accused England of wanting to make it in the 19th century — hewers of wood and drawers of water. That was how the Bible phrased it. So you know, what has happened as a result? Well we had a dependency system here. At the time America emerged from World War Two, it had by far most of the gold supply of the world. And at that time the domestic money created by central banks with based on gold. The United States had such a dominant possession that by the time the Korean war broke out in 1950, the United States had accumulated 75% of the world’s gold supply.

This meant that other countries were facing austerity. The Americans expected quite correctly that as a result there was going to be rising social revolution in these countries. So the American free market planners realized the first premise of free market economic theory — I don’t know why this is left out of the textbooks that they teach — the first premise is you cannot have a free market unless you’re willing to assassinate everyone who opposes you, unless you can have a regime change for any country that does not follow a free market. All of Roman history is this. The fifth fourth, third, first century BC. Every single advocate of debt cancellation, of land redistribution, of democracy, was killed. The United States immediately set up a regime change in Guatemala overthrowing the Arbenz government that wanted land reform.

And it came in, in support of British Petroleum in Iran and overthrew the elected Mosaddegh regime. And it installed dictators throughout Latin America long before you had Pérez Jiménez in Venezuela. You had everyone there. Kissinger was very open in backing Pinochet in Chile saying if you have an opponent of free markets — meaning American dominated — you’re free to buy anything you want in the United States, but you have to buy it — whatever you buy — in the United States. He said we have to kill, not only the leader, but the entire class. And the result was a huge 10-year war throughout all of Latin America, political assassinations of labor leaders, of socialists, of academics, of professors — a mass of terrorism.

And it was really in the 1970s that America emerged as the leading terrorist country in the world backing its concept of free markets and democracy. By democracy. It meant pro American. Any regime including the Ukrainian Nazis that are pro American are called a democracy. Any country no matter of whether they elect their leaders or not is called anti-democratic or totalitarian, meaning other than the United States.

So, the problem is: where can we go from here? Well, the problem of finance capitalism is finance is extractive: leveraged buyouts, stock buybacks, finances short term. Banks look at something [as] “how much can we collect?” And banks don’t lend in terms of “what can our loan create in productive capacity to earn the profits to pay?” They say, “if we make a loan, where is the property that we can grab when there is a default?” The aim of creditors throughout history has not been primarily to earn interest. It’s not to earn interest. It’s to foreclose and get the property of the debtors that cannot pay the interest. This is essentially the IMF’s policy, in a nutshell. It will make loans to countries as long as they’re in the US orbit. It will not make loans to countries opposing the US and it makes loans in conjunction with World Bank plans that cannot be paid. And when there is a balance of payments crisis of countries IMF’s clients, they’re told “you can pay us by selling off your property, by privatizing your property, privatizing your mineral resources, privatizing your public utilities, and your natural monopolies, especially your electric companies, your water companies your oil reserves.”

This is the game and the IMF essentially is the knee-capper, as we say in America, it’s the gangster for the American objective of buying out control of other countries. Because we’re in a position now which Alan Freeman has pointed out where we’re not growing in the United States. And if you look at the actual growth in GDP, all of the growth in American GDP since 2008 has only gone to the top 5% of the American economy, Wall Street, the finance, insurance, and real estate finance sector. The 95% of the economy is shrunk. And if you say, well, what is this GDP growth? Well, one big element is late fees charged by banks on debtors that can’t pay. When banks charge a late fee the GDP economists say that’s providing a service of taking a risk to provide the economy with credit.

The other maybe 8% of the GDP is the increased value of homeowners’ homes. In other words, they’re asked, if you own your home, what if you had to pay rent for your home? How much rent would you have to pay? And as housing prices are inflated on credit the houses price goes up, the rents go up more and more. And so this increase in GDP is the increased value of homeowners’ living conditions, even though it’s the same home. No new home has been built, nothing has changed except the inflation of housing prices. So basically, what passes for GDP growth in the United States is simply the increased asset pricing the inability of labor and industry to pay debts, causing late fees, and what the classical economists called unearned income, economic rent.

So, we’re a rentier society and America’s relationship to the rest of the world is that of a rentier, that is a rent extractor. It lives off the interest and the property that it can grab as a result of its international credit. It lives off the dollar standard, a free ride. After America went off gold in 1971, countries had to keep their foreign reserves in some kind of risk-free asset. And the only risk free asset large enough was the US dollar. And the reason there were so many US dollars in the world is they were pumped into the world economy by means of the balance of payments deficit. Now, balance of payments deficit: that sounds abstract, but in practice, the entire deficit, every cent from the 1950s, 1960s onward, it was military and other, the private sector is just about in balance, but the America through its 800 military bases over the world, and its supply of dirty tricks and the American foreign Legion is very expensive.

The foreign Legion is ISIS, Al Qaeda and the other terrorist groups. So all of this is creating a huge influx of dollars and these dollars end up by the free market being spent largely in China, Asia and other countries and America, until about a year ago, said you countries can earn as much as you want by running your own balance of payments trade surpluses, but you have to send all of your surplus to the United States by buying US treasury bonds to finance, not only the US budget deficit, but to finance our expenditure on encircling you with our 800 military bases. That’s called a circular flow, and that was the definition of equilibrium that they had. Now, you can imagine my surprise a few months ago when Donald Trump came out and accused China of manipulating its currency by buying US treasury bonds.

And Trump’s argument was — somehow, he read an economics textbook — this was a disaster. He was very successful being a petty criminal throughout his life. He made his money by not paying his workers, by not paying his suppliers. He’d go to suppliers, offer 50 cents on the dollar and say, well, if you don’t like it, sue me. And in the United States, it costs about $50,000 to mount a court case to collect. And he ended up cheating people. He didn’t pay the banks. He defaulted. No bank in the United States will lend to Donald Trump. No contractor in New York city, where I live, will deal with him. No labor will deal with him. He thought that it worked for him; it will work for the United States. All you have to do is promise the moon which is called equilibrium I guess for economists and then say, well, here’s what we’re going to pay you.

It obviously is not working, but this puts other countries including China in a dilemma. What is it going to do with all of the dollar payments that it gets from other countries in Asia, in the Third World and the United States ? What will it do with them? Well, a few years ago, it said, well, the natural thing for us to do is what the United States does. We will recycle these dollars by buying up foreign industry. They tried to buy oil, not just filling stations. Oil distributors in America. America said, that’s a national security threat. There was a discussion in Congress. They said, anything China owns that makes them richer is a threat to our national security. Well, this is just what was said in Winnipeg in 1919. Any improvement in the status of labor or to anyone but us is a threat to our security and our domination.

So, China is considered a threat to our national security by being prosperous. This is not a case of the most efficient economy in the world spreading its way of production into other countries. It makes other countries essentially colonies. It’s a form of financial neocolonialism. And the advantage of neocolonialism in a financial means is you don’t have to draft an army. In fact, the whole character of control has shifted away from military. The last draft in America was in the Vietnam war, and if America tried to invade Venezuela or any other country you would have the same kind of riots in America that you had during the Vietnam war. So that’s why America needs either a Foreign Legion or what’s called client oligarchies like it’s trying to install throughout Latin America and for other countries.

But you have to sort of feel a little sympathy for America’s position. And I want, I want to make a plea for sympathy. How can this country survive if it can’t be permitted to kill your leaders? If it can’t be permitted to take over your industry and get all of the rents and the profits and the raw materials for free? How on earth can it survive if it can’t produce its own industrial goods? It’s high cost. It’s heavily indebted. How on earth are American companies and the employers and the employees who worked for them that are heavily indebted — pension funds will lose their money, the stock prices will go down, the banks will go bust, there will be defaults on the real estate. So America really feels that the only way that it can survive is by international sabotage.

The only kind of war that a democracy can afford to fight is by bombing. It can’t afford to have a military draft, it can’t afford to invade a country because of the domestic politics. It can only bomb. It can only destroy. That is the only form of warfare that is available right now. So what is amazing is the lack of response by Europeans. All of this has been celebrated since about 1980 as the end of history. And this end of history book came out right after the Soviet Union dissolved. And that was taken by America to say, well, we’ve won. The end of history means there is no alternative and they’ll make sure there is no alternative because American policy is to make sure that history will not change, that there won’t be an alternative to the current way of doing, of doing things.

So, this is not survival of the fittest. It looks like it’s the survival of the parasites. It’s the survival of an unproductive, predatory economy. And if you’re making a forecast about the future, the natural tendency is to assume that everyone will act in their self interest and everything will grow better and better. But that’s not happening. If you looked at Rome, exactly the same thing happened in Rome. Finally by the first century, there was such a land grab, such a monopolization of land, such a power of creditors. Revolution after revolution uprising after uprising — everybody expected Caesar to cancel the debts. And he was killed by the oligarchy for wanting to be even, even moderate. The result of what then was neo-liberalism, meaning the vested interests are in control, was the dark age in feudalism.

So, the question is whether the American plan, the neoliberal economics, is going to lead to a new kind of feudalism and how other countries can protect themselves. Rome survived for a century by looting its more productive richer provinces like Asia minor and Gaul. But finally, there was no more money to loot and the economy just collapsed from within. And in a way, this, this problem is inherent in Western civilization. It made Greece and Rome different from Sumer, Babylonia, Persia, the Near East. All the Near Eastern countries, when they had a debt problem, the rulers, would step in and cancel the debts and they would reverse all of the land transfers. Where people had lost their land to the creditors, the land would be returned to them. Every single ruler of Sumer and Babylonia in the third millennium and second millennium did this. This became the Jubilee year of the Bible, which was taken over word for word from the Babylonian lawyers. It remained in force in Constantinople, the Eastern Christian empire, but not in the West.
The West has the concept of progress and this ideal of progress is irreversibility. You can’t go back. This is the problem that president Obama faced himself with. He’d promised to write down the debts of the junk mortgage loans of the fictitious loans, and keep the homeowners in their houses. But then he said, no progress means you can’t cancel the debts. You let the debts completely go up.

No member of the 1% will lose their money. That means the 99% has to lose their property. And President Obama invited his Wall Street backers to the White House and said, I’m the only person standing between you and the mob with pitchforks. These are the people that Hillary Clinton called the deplorables. The role of the American president was basically to convince the population that somehow all of this neoliberal stagnation that they’re experiencing is all for the good. And you’ll have the economics profession sort of looking at all of history this way.

All of you have heard about Rome falling into the Dark Age, but there is a new economic history of neo-liberals. It said, well, it wasn’t so dark. If you look at the rich people, there were a lot of big manors. And there was a lot of trade and nice ceramics, all Near Eastern. All the traders were Near Eastern. All the money that Rome could extract from its colonies was sent to India or further East. But they say that the rich people had such an enjoyable life that we really can’t call it a dark age. It was only a dark age for the 99% of the people. And but look at the 1%, you know that’s what we have in the museums. Was it all worth it or no?

So the question is, what does China do in response to all of this? Well, obviously the first thing it’s doing is agreeing with Donald Trump. Yes. We’re going to de-dollarize. We’re certainly not going to keep our savings and loans to the US treasury that enable you to encircle us with military bases. So de-dollarization is one aspect.

China’s not going to ask the International Monetary Fund the planet’s economy and tell it what industry is to be privatized and sell off to private managers who will simply increase the prices that China has to pay for its electricity, transportation and others. So, and in fact, it’s set up its own independent bank as a by-product of the Belt and Road Initiative. It has its own bank and its bank is financing actual tangible investment instead of financing dependency. In response to the unilateral us trade war and protectionist tariffs, China has the option of countervailing sanctions. The United States already has large investments in China. The balancing factor would be for China to say, okay, you’ve grabbed our money. We’ll just take what you have here and call it even.
There’s obviously a cyber war. Also, as you know, the American CIA and national security system have worked with Silicon Valley to install back doors so that it can spy on every other country. What makes China’s Huawei so undemocratic is it doesn’t have spyware for the United States. And so that obviously is a threat to US control. So you have that in place of the class war and the austerity program in the US China’s kept its credit in the public domain.

This means that in America, when the company — you’ve seen the wave of bankruptcies of American corporations recently, especially in the retail sales — when an American corporation goes out, a hedge fund or a vulture fund comes in and buys it at a fraction of the cost. In China, there are many industrial plants that have been unable to pay the debt, but because the creditor is the government, the bank of China can simply write down the debt. It writes it down so that it keeps the industrial employer in business. It doesn’t sell it off to a hedge fund or an American. China realizes what Marx expected to be the future for banking and finance. It’s a public utility. It’s created electronically, basically credit. Any bank can simply make a loan and create money.

China’s already doing that, and the final capstone is that China’s developed an alternative economic theory to neo-liberalism and that’s Marxism. Marxism looks at the overall context. It places it in the context of politics so that it looks at the economy as a system, not as parts to be carved up and essentially looted. So, as long as China can continue to develop its monetary policy, its trade policy, its foreign policy and military policy, in keeping with this overall view of systemic growth, it’s going to be operating in a way that creates its own future instead of passively surrendering to America’s neoliberal future.

Photograph: Paul S. Graham

Winnipeggers rallied at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in solidarity with the people of Bolivia, Venezuela and Chile who are facing a variety of imperialist pressures.

Here is my video report.

Stephen Gowans is an independent Canadian political analyst. His writings, which appear on his What’s Left blog have been reproduced widely in online and print media in many languages and had been cited in academic journals and other scholarly works. He’s the author of Washington’s Long War on Syria (2017), and Patriots, Traders and Empires: The story of Korea’s struggle for freedom (2018). Both are published by Baraka Books in Montreal. His latest book is Israel, a beachhead in the Middle East: From European colony to US power projection platform, also published by Baraka. I spoke with Stephen about his latest book on November 6th. The transcript is lightly edited for clarity. You can listen to the interview here (and/or read along below).


Paul Graham: Stephen, the title of your latest book pretty much says it all. “Israel serves Western imperialism” would be a, a shorter title perhaps. Can we begin at the beginning? Where did the idea of Israel as a modern Jewish state originate?

Stephen Gowans: It originates in the thought of Theodore Herzl or not only him, but he has probably the most consequential figure. He was a 19th century secular Austrian Jew who was searching for a solution to the problem of antisemitism. And his solution was for Jews to get out of Europe and establish a Jewish majority state elsewhere. I think it’s important to note that his solution contrasts with an alternative solution of building a world of universal equality where all would be equal and free from prejudice and discrimination, as well as free from oppression and exploitation. This latter view was the view proposed by socialists and more robustly, by communists. And it’s a very different view from, the view espoused by Herzl and the solution that he proposed.

Paul Graham: In reading your book, I was amazed to learn that Napoleon Bonaparte was an early proponent of some kind of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Who were some of the other early Zionists?

Stephen Gowans: Well, Zionism was not originally an idea of Jews as one might think today, but of Christians, and they took their Zionist views from their reading of the Old Testament. Indeed, Western statesmen who were the most ardent supporters of political Zionism were usually men who read their Bible regularly. So they believed and evangelical Christians believe today that Palestine was promised to the Jews by their gods, that is, the god of the Christians and the Jews and the Muslims, and that the return of the Jews to Palestine fulfills a biblical prophecy. So you know, evangelical Christians today, and previous decades, believed that anti Zionism or any political position at odds with wholehearted support for Israel is against biblical prophecy. So consequently, they are ardent supporters of a Jewish state in Palestine.

Paul Graham: In your book, you describe a somewhat complicated, almost symbiotic relationship between Zionism and antisemitism. Could you elaborate on this?

Stephen Gowans: Political Zionism was a proposed response to antisemitism in Europe or how to escape it. And without antisemitism, there would be no political Zionism, at least not of the sort Herzl and his followers developed in which led them to the creation of Israel. And that connects with what we were just talking about with the Christian Zionism, which really has nothing to do with antisemitism. The political Zionism, the Jewish movement of Herzl and his followers is intimately connected with antisemitism. So without antisemitism, the justification for political Zionism and for a Jewish state dissolves. I mean, antisemitism is the alpha and omega of political Zionism and for the argument for a Jewish state.

Now political Zionism, you know, when inspired as a solution to antisemitism is predicated on this very pessimistic and conservative view that antisemitism is an ineradicable, permanent and incorrigible part of human nature. So it may diminish, it may become latent, but there’s always a danger it will break out afresh. Political Zionism, the movement, inspired by Herzl, rejects the view that antisemitism is a socially constructed ideology – you know, something that people learn that can be overcome and eliminated. So that’s the symbiotic relationship between Zionism, political Zionism and antisemitism.

Paul Graham: If I read correctly, Herzl and others made this work for them. It was almost a bargaining chip: “you can solve the Jewish question by helping us get to Palestine,” I guess would be a crude way of putting it.

Stephen Gowans: Yeah and Herzl recognized that you couldn’t simply say, “I’d like to create a Jewish state in Palestine” and it would be created. He would need the sponsorship of some great power, a European power, that would provide the funding and the political support and the military support or whatever support was required to bring this concept to fruition. But he recognized that he would have to provide some benefits or offer benefits, promise benefits to some kind of European power, whatever power was going to sponsor his project. And one of the benefits he offered was this, for conservatives and Herzl was very much a conservative: the conservative view in Europe was that all of the agitation against the established order, revolutionary movements, the French revolution, for example, these all came from the Jews. The Jews were in the forefront or the vanguard of all of these movements. The Jews were the vanguard of the socialist movement, for example. And so one of the benefits that Herzl offered the established order in Europe and the ruling classes of Europe was that Europe would be swept clean of this class of agitators and they would leave Europe. The established order would become more secure and these Jewish proletarians who are demanding more equality would go off to a Palestine and they would settle as farmers. So this is the process of converting angry proletarians into satisfied farmers or land owners, which was a process of settler colonialism, which benefited European ruling classes, not only in Palestine as it turned out, but wherever the settler colonial project was carried out, including in Canada.

Paul Graham: So, in a perverse kind of way, this was almost a mirror image of the antisemitic tropes about the Jewish conspiracies to control the world — that the Russian revolution, for example, was a manifestation of that.

Stephen Gowans: Yes. And you know, the conservative tradition, as I mentioned, blamed the Jews for all revolutions. And, the French revolution was blamed by conservatives on the Jews. And one of the reasons that they blamed the French revolution on the Jews or attributed it to the Jews was because the Jews benefited from the French revolution. The French revolution manumitted or liberated, emancipated, the Jews and France. The Russian revolution emancipated the Jews in Russia.

And the czarist tyranny was a vile institution. I mean, we forget just how antisemitic the czarist monarchy was. That’s because it’s been kind of eclipsed or overshadowed by the Nazis. But prior to the Nazis, the czarist monarchy was vehemently antisemitic in the ugliest way and the Russian Revolution overcame that antisemitism.

So, a bunch of conservatives used the old cui bono approach — who benefited from the revolution? Who benefited from the French revolution? Who benefited from the Russian revolution? It was the Jews, therefore the Jews must be behind it. But also, if you look at the socialist movements in Europe, Jews were vastly over-represented relative to their numbers in the population and those movements. The Nazis later started pointing to the Bolsheviks and saying, look at all of the Bolsheviks who are Jews, the prominent Bolsheviks that are Jews. I mean, Trotsky, Kamenev and Radek. And they would go through a long list and Hitler would go through a long list of Jews in Germany who were socialists and how Jews are dominating or seem to be dominating the socialist and communist movement. So this conservative tradition, it was always pointing to Jews as the major source of agitation against the established order and the principal promoters of what Churchill later called the “impossible idea of equality.” They didn’t like this impossible idea of equality.

And I mentioned at the outset of the interview that Herzl’s idea or solution to antisemitism was very different from the socialist or communist idea. And it’s interesting that we have one group of Jews, secular Jews, the Zionists are promoting one solution, and then we have movements in which Jews are highly represented, the socialist and communist movements, having a very different solution to the problem of antisemitism. But just to close on the answer to this question, even Herzl said, you know, the Jews are blamed for everything, including socialism.

Paul Graham: And for Churchill, I guess the so-called “good Jews” would be the Zionists and the “bad Jews” would be the socialists.

Stephen Gowans: Yes. And he wrote, he wrote an article about this, which was kind of like what happened after 911, when, if you were Muslim, you had to either denounce the terrorism of 911 to indicate that you’re a good Muslim and the bad Muslims are the Muslims who are opposed to Western domination of the Arab and Muslim worlds. Well, Churchill did the same after the Bolshevik revolution. H demanded that Jews either align with what he called the good Jewish tradition and the good, true Jewish tradition where the Jews who would go off to Palestine or they’re the bad Jews, and he singled out the bad Jews. They were the Bolsheviks- the Trotskys and the Kamenevs and the Radeks. And he had the whole long list of them. These are all bad Jews. Bad Jews are those who are challenging the established order and proposing a new order of what he called impossible equality. You know, this world of universal equality which would be free from exploitation and oppression.

Paul Graham: You noted in your book that Israel’s role in the world has been “to advance the interests of the political right, or to put it another way, to frustrate the advance of the political left.” Before 1948, this helped early Zionists sell the project called Zionism. But what about after 1948? How has political Zionism been a counter-revolutionary or a reactionary player in the world?

Stephen Gowans: Herzl, who inspired the creation of Israel, was part of this conservative tradition that emphasizes social, political, and economic inequalities in hierarchies and argues that these hierarchies are natural and desirable. So it could be hierarchies of nation, you know, Europeans over Arabs, hierarchies within a country of, you know, the aristocracy. Herzl is very much a supporter of the aristocracy and didn’t believe that the rabble could govern itself.

So he had all of these conservative views and in 1948, Israel is established, and Israel is always looking for a sponsor, an imperial sponsor. And it needs an imperial sponsor because it’s a state of a few million Jews. It’s not very large. Well, it is a state of a few million Jews and some Arabs, and depending on how you want to do the accounting and how you want to define the state of Israel, it could be a state of slightly more Arabs than Jews. Or, if you define the borders in a very narrow way, it’d be more Jews than Arabs. But the point is, it’s a very small state, but it’s surrounded by hundreds of millions of Arabs whose land European Jewish settlers had stolen and threatened. So Israel has had to rely on the support of great powers, great power seeking to establish a hierarchy and this conservative traditional hierarchy in which they’re at the top and other powers, other countries, other people are below them.

And so, Israel has always acted as hired muscle of whatever imperialist power will support its project and have its back. Initially Britain, France and today very much the United States. So, as it happens, I mean if you trace the history of Israel and its relationship with the United States from 1967 is really when the so called special relationship was established between the United States and Israel. Israel has often acted as the hired muscle of the United States doing the United States dirty work throughout the world, intervening against movements of national liberation, usually intervening against third world movements that are trying to liberate themselves from the yoke of US or some kind of European imperialism. They did that too on the behalf of Britain and France as well prior to establishing this special relationship with the United States in 1967.

Paul Graham: So, some examples of that would be support for the apartheid regime in South Africa, I would imagine. Some of the relationships that it fostered with right-wing Latin American governments over the years. Their involvement with right-wing Islamists, ISIL for example.

Stephen Gowans: Yes. They encouraged, for example, the development of Hamas, which arises out of the Muslim Brotherhood, as a counterweight against the secular PLO. So they’ve been prepared to enter into these kinds of alliances of convenience in order to play this game of conquer and divide. Let’s keep our opponents fighting each other. During the Soviet presence in Afghanistan, they certainly encouraged Hamas, which at that time was encouraging young activists to go to Afghanistan and fight against the Soviets rather than remaining at home and fighting against Zionism

Paul Graham: As a young man, and I’m thinking of my own experiences in the 1960s, I had this view of Israel as a country that was populated by plucky socialists, kibbutzniks, almost an oasis if you will, of enlightenment in a sea of Arab backwardness. You can tell I was reading Leon Uris a lot in those days. Can you talk a little bit about Labour Zionism, the kibbutz movement and things like that? What happened with the socialist part of Zionism that existed for awhile?

Stephen Gowans: Labour Zionism originated out of a leftist Marxist tradition, and the kibbutz represented this form of communal living, that is communal living for some people which excluded other people, on someone else’s land. But you know, there is this fundamental contradiction between the kibbutz movement and Marxism and that is that no matter how far left labour, Zionism and the kibbutz movement presented themselves, they remained settler colonial projects, which is to say, their projects and domination and oppression were fundamentally antithetical to the movement from which they claim to have originated.

I know someone who, inspired by Leon Uris, went to Israel to live on a kibbutz. And I thought this was significant because this was someone of European origin who could go from Canada  and live in a kibbutz which is established on the land of Arabs and, which excluded Arabs. So, it was this nice communal project for people of a certain ethnicity or religion which excluded the natives. So, this is all based on dispossession of the natives and a process where the natives are treated as foreigners without rights while the immigrants are treated as natives. Where someone of European origin from Canada can go live in a kibbutz in Israel and, and native of that land cannot participate in the kibbutz community. So, one of the reasons Labour Zionism is no longer a force is because of the contradictions. It might claim that it was Marxist, it might use Marxists phraseology but it couldn’t resolve the contradiction of being a project of oppression and exploitation.

Paul Graham: A hundred years ago, the commonly held belief was that a shadowy cabal of Jewish bankers were trying to rule the world. And as we’ve discussed earlier, were believed responsible for the Russian revolution and other kinds of upheavals. These days, on the left and also on the right, quite a number of people have this belief that Israel controls American foreign policy. You’ve argued that Israel is not in the driver’s seat when it comes to US foreign policy. Why do you say that?

Stephen Gowans: I think the belief that Israel controls US foreign policy in the Middle East originates in the thinking of liberals. And there might be some people consider themselves as left and not liberal, but actually have kind of a liberal view. And the liberal view is that the state mediates the competition among contending groups within a country and then seeks to construct the policy that represents the interests of the country as a whole. And then liberals then look at US policy in the Middle East and they say, this makes no sense. I mean, our foreign policy harms US interests. They say Americans would be better off if Washington didn’t provoke the enmity of the Arab and Muslim world through its robust support of Israel. So how then do we explain this nonsensical policy, which is harming Americans in the majority? I mean, that’s the liberal question. And so the answer they come up with is, well, our policy must’ve been hijacked, must have been hijacked by someone who benefits.

Again, we go back to this, you know, cui bono thinking — well who benefits. Whoever benefits must be behind it. Well, Israel benefits, therefore Israel must have hijacked US policy and subverted it.

I think where this view errs is in assuming that US policy is neutral with respect to contending classes within U S society and it seeks to represent the interests of Americans in the majority. A more sophisticated view is one that holds that US policy formulation is dominated by wealthy interests, by corporate America and its representatives. And that US policy consequently serves elite interests, elite economic interests, not mass interests. And you know, it’s not difficult to make the case that policy formulation reflects the interests of corporate America. We simply have to look at who it is that has roles in the administration or in the upper levels of the bureaucracy.

Or you have to look at the amount of money that corporate America is able to bring to bear in lobbying the US Congress, the legislative branch, and also the administrative branch. Some people talk about the law, the AIPAC, I mean the Israeli lobbying and they point to how much money the Israeli lobby has. The amount of money the Israeli lobby has is actually quite small compared to the amount of money that corporate America as a whole can bring to bear in lobbying the US government.

So, what are the interests of the US corporate elite in the middle East? The interests are to have open access to all profit-making opportunities that the Arab and Muslim world provides. That is, to dominate their economies. And these are important economies because, they are teeming with oil and gas resources or if they don’t have oil and gas resources themselves, they act as land routes over which oil and gas is transported to market.

But there are forces in the Middle East that are opposed to foreign control and hegemony. One figure in the State Department called these the forces of local independence and national assertiveness. And he called them this at a time when the Soviet Union existed. And there was always this argument being made that the Middle East had to be protected against the predations of the Soviet union and the Soviet union had aspirations to take over the Middle East and therefore it was incumbent upon Washington to protect the Middle East. But this State Department official writing in Foreign Affairs, which is kind of like the informal journal of the State Department said, no, that’s not the case. The Soviet Union isn’t a threat. What’s a threat are what he called “forces of local independence and national assertiveness” — in other words, the people of the region.

So these forces of local independence in national assertiveness, not only are they opposed to US hegemony and to the United States plundering their resources, they are opposed to the United States installing and supporting governments, which really represent the interests of the United States rather than local interest. But these same forces of local independence and national assertiveness are also opposed to Israel and they’re opposed to Israel because it’s a settler colonial state that has encroached on Arab territory and threatens to encroach on more.

So Israel and corporate America had a common foe in Arab and these Islamic nationalist movements, the local forces of independence and national assertiveness that oppose both the Zionist and the US corporate presence. So, the corporate elite represented by the US government and the Zionists in Israel, have a common foe and they have overlapping interests in opposing that foe.

Moshe Dayan, who was a principal figure in Israel at one point said that the role of Israel, or actually the way he put it, the role of the Jewish people, was to be a rock against which the waves of Arab nationalism are broken. And that is the role that Israel has played and continues to play, all to the benefits of corporate America, which have reaped a cornucopia of profits from the domination of the Middle East’s oil and gas resources.

Paul Graham: Given the importance of Israel to the Western corporate interests that we’ve been talking about, what do you think the prospects are for Palestinian liberation?

Stephen Gowans: I guess another way to ask that question is who is the Palestinians’ main enemy? Is it Israel or is it the United States? And people like Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, argue that the main enemy of the Palestinian and the Lebanese, the people he says principally suffered at the hands of the Israelis, is the United States because Israel is essentially a tool of the United States or as Netanyahu, the current prime minister, once said, Israel is the West’s outpost in the Middle East. Israel is an instrument of the United States in the West. So, if the Palestinians and the Lebanese have been harmed by the Israeli presence, it’s largely because Israel is backed by strong Western powers.

Paul Graham: And so, given all of that, can we realistically expect justice for Palestinians in the absence of significant political changes in North America and Europe?

Stephen Gowans: I don’t think we can. I mean, if there’s a problem, you look for the roots of the problem to solve the problem and the root of the problem is the United States and the alliance that it has with Israel and its use of Israel as an instrument of its foreign policy. Without addressing that, I don’t think you can fundamentally address the problems that the Palestinians face.

Paul Graham: Do you have any final thoughts, anything that we haven’t touched on that that you’d like to mention?

Stephen Gowans: Just two things, quickly. Israel has a largely unrecognized role as an asset in the US war in Syria, just to be topical. Apart from providing material assistance to Al Qaeda groups who were operating in Southern Syria, it has also been providing medical aid to wounded Al Qaeda fighters, but on top of that, it has conducted thousands and thousands of airstrikes against targets that the US cannot strike legally. And it cannot strike them legally because it does not have authority under US law to use force in Syria except against ISIS. So it can’t strike Iranian targets, can’t strike Hezbollah targets, can’t strike Syrian targets. To do that, it relies on Israel, which strikes all three.

And I find this important, that is the way in which the United States has used Israel for decades as an instrument or as a country that will do the dirty work for the United States when its hands are tied by US law. Washington also relied on Israel to take out the Osirak reactor in Iraq during the Iraq-Iran war. And the secret reactor the Syrians had been developing in the desert. Had Iraq’s Arab nationalist government developed nuclear weapons, had the Syrians developed nuclear weapons, the United States would never have invaded either country. So, these are significant contributions that Israel has made to the advance of US foreign policy.

And then the last thing I just note is that the Kurds, again, being topical, the Kurds represented by the YPG in Syria kind of recapitulate the approach of political Zionism. By this I mean that the Kurds are an oppressed nation in the same way that Jews in Europe were bedeviled by antisemitism. And one of the ways that Kurds have sought to escape their oppression is by striking a deal with the United States for Washington to sponsor the creation of a Kurdish mini-state, occupying essentially one third of Syria, in exchange for the YPG acting as the tip of the US spear. They said the tip of the US spear and the fight against ISIS, but the area that the YPG occupied extended beyond the traditional Kurdish territory and into traditional Arab territory. So in effect, the YPG was establishing a Kurd state on Arab territory with imperial backing in exchange for services rendered. So you have, essentially, what Herzl tried to do — to get the backing of an imperialist sponsor to establish a state on someone else’s land. Some have even said that the YPG effectively sought to create a second Israel in the Middle East. So that kind of approach that Herzl had pioneered, we see today, in Syria being pursued by the YPG

Paul Graham: Even more interestingly, the YPG is politically to the left and progressive and feminist, even, in its political positions.

Stephen Gowans: Yes, absolutely. Which is another parallel too, since the, the original Zionists as you mentioned, were kind of Labour Zionists who had used a lot of Marxist phraseology and talked about how they were going to establish these harmonious relationships with the Arabs and, and yes, it’s very much similar.

Stephen Gowans’ books are available at Baraka Books and better bookstores everywhere.

Winnipeg, Oct. 3, 2019 – Arnold August, speaking at the University of Manitoba about US and Canadian foreign policy regarding Cuba and Venezuela. Photo: Paul S. Graham

There is no doubt that Canadian foreign policy has taken a hard turn to the right, especially with regard to Latin America. Arnold August provides the context and details the US led attacks on Cuba and Venezuela that Canada has been supporting so vigorously.

August is a Montreal-based Canadian journalist and lecturer, the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 Elections, Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion and Cuba–U.S. Relations: Obama and Beyond.

He was a member of the Canadian Delegation invited to the Sao Paulo Forum in Caracas last July. His articles are published regularly on many web sites in Latin America, Cuba, Europe, North America and the Middle East. He collaborates with television and radio broadcasts based in Cuba, Ecuador, Venezuela, Canada and U.S. He is a member of the Québec Chapter of the Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements in Defence of Humanity.

He gives conferences in Cuba, Canada, the UK and until recently the U.S., from which he was barred on March 16, 2019 for his political views and specifically his support for the Bolivarian Revolution.

Arnold August’s visit to Winnipeg was hosted by the Winnipeg Venezuela Peace Committee.

Most Canadians imagine Canada to be a force for good on the world stage. Polite, reasonable, peace-loving and progressive. At least, that is how we like to imagine ourselves.

Winnipeg, July 20, 2019: Dr. Maria Páez Victor at the 14th Forum, World Association of Political Economy. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Sadly, it’s a myth. We helped oust the democratically elected Haitian government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. We helped turn Libya into a failed state. We helped invade Afghanistan and occupied part of it for over a decade. And these are just a few examples of Canada’s backwards foreign policy in this century.

And now, we’re meddling in Venezuela, where our government has joined with the United States to destabilize, undermine and crush the democratically elected, socialist government of Nicholas Maduro and the popular movement that supports it. Yves Engler has written several well researched articles on Canada’s attacks on Venezuela that I recommend you read. Yves’ articles are an effective antidote to the bullshit being passed of as news and analysis in our mainstream media, as is a recent speech by Dr. Maria Páez Victor.

Dr. Páez Victor is a Toronto-based, Venezuelan-born sociologist and activist on the board of the Canadian, Latin American and Caribbean Policy Centre. She speaks with authority and passion about what is at stake in the country of her birth. I recorded her presentation at the 14th Forum of the World Association for Political Economy, held at the University of Manitoba in July.

Returning to the title of this post, why should you care? Simply put, if you want Canada to be a force for good on the world stage, our government’s policies and actions must change. And if you allow our government to continue along its reactionary path without challenging it, you are complicit.

It’s election time in Canada. Ask your candidates where they stand on issues such as this. Make your support for them conditional on their support for a foreign policy that is peaceful, cooperative and supportive of international law. It’s not too much to ask.

2018 was not my most prolific year in terms of video output, but it provided, nonetheless, some interesting and useful insights into the struggle for peace and human rights in various parts of the world. Here is a rundown of the past 12 months and as we like to say in YouTubeLand, if you enjoy any of these, please click the “like” icon and subscribe.

Steve Ellner: What is really happening in Venezuela: The Winnipeg Venezuela Peace Committee held a public forum on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 entitled “What is really happening in Venezuela?” The forum featured Steve Ellner, professor of economics at the University of Oriente in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. Watch.

Yves Engler on Canada’s Left & its Foreign Policy Failures: Yves Engler discusses his latest book, “Left, Right — Marching to the Beat of Imperial Canada.” The book details the failure of Canada’s Left parties, institutions and intellectuals to confront Canada’s support of empire and promotion of corporate interests abroad. Watch.

Niranjan Takle: Journalism under Hindutav Fascist India: Indian journalist Niranjan Takle recounts how the mainstream media in India ignored or refused to publish his report on the suspicious death of Judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya. Watch.

Israel Palestine International Law Symposium: An impressive line-up of experts on human rights and international law gathered in Winnipeg for a weekend to explore various legal aspects of the Israel-Palestine situation. I recorded all of the sessions.

  • Introduction: Symposium coordinator David Kattenburg explains the origins and purpose of the symposium.
  • Human rights: Rhetoric vs Reality: Lawyer and journalist Dimitri Lascaris describes the failure of western governments to uphold the human rights of Palestinians.
  • Keynote Address: Michael Lynk, who is the United Nations Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, explains how international law has largely been ignored or broken by Israel over the past several decades of its occupation of the Palestinian Territory.
  • Israeli Rights and Obligations:  Michael Lynk and Dimitri Lascaris explore different aspects of Israeli’s legal rights and obligations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
  • One State or Two?: Professors Michael Lynk and Virginia Tilley speak to this issue.
  • Palestinian Rights & Obligations: In this clip, we hear from human rights advocates Suha Jarrar and Jonathan Kuttab.
  • Palestinian Rights to Resources: Suha Jarrar, a Palestinian human rights researcher and advocate, and currently the Environmental and Gender Policy Researcher at Al-Haq human rights organization in Ramallah, Palestine explains how Israeli companies illegally exploit resources in the Occupied Territories.
  • Is Israel an Apartheid State?: In this clip, Virginia Tilley argues that Israel meets the legal definition of an apartheid state.
  • Dueling Perspectives: In this clip, David Matas defends Israeli practices and policies with regard to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Michael Lynk argues that Matas’s arguments are not supported by international law.
  • Canada’s Rights and Obligations: Dimitri Lascaris explains how Canada has not lived up to its obligations under international law.
  • Concluding Remarks: In this final clip from the symposium, we hear from David Kattenburg, Mark Golden and Dean Peachey, key organizers of the event. The symposium was sponsored by (alphabetical order): Independent Jewish Voices Canada, Mennonite Church Manitoba Working Group on Palestine-Israel, Palestinian Canadian Congress, Peace Alliance Winnipeg, United Jewish People’s Order (Winnipeg) and the Winnipeg Centre Federal Green Party Association. Additional information, including Power Point presentations and other documents will be made available at the conference web site.

Winnipeg Lanterns for Peace 2018: Every August, Winnipeggers commemorate the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima (Aug. 6) and Nagasaki (Aug. 9) with a Lantern Ceremony in Memorial Park. We believe it is important to keep the memory of those horrible events alive so that current generations understand we must never allow nuclear weapons to be used again. Watch.

St. Boniface By-election 2018 – Elizabeth May and Françoise Therrien Vrignon: Françoise Therrien Vrignon was the Green Party of Manitoba candidate in the July 17th Manitoba by-election in St. Boniface. With her in this video is Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May. Their discussion took place at La Maison des artistes visuels. Watch.

Winnipeg Rally for Refuge: The Canadians Care Coalition in association with Amnesty International, Menno Simons Students Association and the Global College Students Association held a rally entitled “Rally for Refuge: Rescind the safe third country agreement.” The coalition demanded that the Canadian Government rescind the designation of ‘Safe Third Country’ that is applied to the United States because the US is demonstrably unsafe for refugees. The Safe Third Country Agreement denies refugee claimants access to the Canadian refugee determination system if they have come from the United States to the Canadian border. Watch.

Winnipeg Walk for Peace 2018: Winnipeggers held their 37th Annual Winnipeg Walk for Peace. Sponsors: Peace Alliance Winnipeg and the Winnipeg chapter of the Council of Canadians. Watch.

Michel Chossudovsky – The Globalization of War: The Regina Peace Council played host to Professor Michel Chossudovsky, who spoke on the growing dangers of world war and the need to revitalize the peace movement. Professor Chossudovsky is the founder and director of Global Research. Watch.

Al Nakba 70 in Winnipeg: Winnipeggers marked the 70th anniversary of the forcible expulsion of Palestinians from their land and expressed solidarity with the people of Gaza who are under Israeli siege. Watch.

Make Poverty History in Winnipeg: Make Poverty History Manitoba released a comprehensive report on the poverty that affects one in ten Winnipeggers and called on the city’s mayor, Brian Bowman, to take the lead in developing a poverty reduction strategy for the city. Watch.

MFL Day of Mourning 2018: Manitoba’s labour movement held its annual observance in memory of injured and killed workers. Hundreds attended the march from the Union Centre to Memorial Park and the future site of the Firefighters, Peace Officers and Workers Memorial. Watch.

7th Generation Walk for Mother Earth 2018: Winnipeggers marked 15 years of taking to the streets with grassroots land and water defenders.The 7th Generation Walk is alternative to Earth Day, recognizing the resistance and resilience of Indigenous community led campaigns for social and environmental justice. Watch.

Mobilize against the war: Just hours before the United States launched missile attacks on Damascus and Homs, peace activists rallied outside the building housing the US Consulate to speak out against the war and Trump’s declared plan to expand it. The picket was organized by the Manitoba Peace Council. Watch.

Democracy and Elections in Cuba: Two Cuban government representatives visited Winnipeg to discuss Cuba’s electoral system and other issues of interest. The forum was sponsored by the Manitoba-Cuba Solidarity Committee. Watch.

My Jerusalem – Responding to the U.S. Embassy Announcement: Panelists representing Judaism, Christianity and Islam, share their personal reflections on what Jerusalem means to them and the implications of the US announcement to move it’s embassy there. Watch.

Winnipeg Commemorates Quebec Mosque Massacre: Winnipeggers gathered at the Manitoba Legislature to honour the victims of the terrorist attack on the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec. Watch.

Winnipeg Kurdish Solidarity: In Winnipeg, the Kurdish community rallied at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in defense of Kurds under Turkish attack in Afrin, Syria. Watch.

North Korea and The United States at a Dangerous Nuclear Crossroads: Michel Chossudovsky is professor emeritus at the University of Ottawa and founder of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He spoke at the University of Manitoba on the history of the United States’ conflict with North Korea and the prospects for nuclear war. Watch. As well, he spoke at the University of Winnipeg. Watch.

Arnold August – Cuba-US Relations from Obama to Trump: On a national tour to promote his book “Cuba-US Relations: Obama and Beyond,” Arnold August spoke at McNally Robinson Books on developments in the two countries relations since the election of Donald Trump. Watch.

That’s it for 2018. Happy New Year, all!








Winnipeg, October 17, 2018: Yves Engler discusses his latest book with an audience at the Université de Saint-Boniface. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Some authors are so prolific you can set your calendar by them. So it is with Yves Engler, who seems to put out a new book every fall. Yves just released his tenth, entitled “Left, Right — Marching to the Beat of Imperial Canada.”

The book details the failure of Canada’s Left parties, institutions and intellectuals to confront Canada’s support for imperialism and promotion of corporate interests abroad.

Part of the solution, says Engler, is to establish a Canadian Foreign Policy Institute that will act as a clearing house for the best alternative research and analysis of Canadian foreign policy.

Yves was in Winnipeg last week to promote the book. The evening was sponsored by Peace Alliance Winnipeg. I recorded his presentation (below) and interviewed him for the Global Research News Hour. Enjoy.

Winnipeg, Dec. 6, 2017 – Professor Johnny Márquez, speaking at Winnipeg’s historic Ukrainian Labour Temple on the political and economic situation in Venezuela. Photo: Paul S. Graham

When it comes to Venezuela, the mainstream media is awash with lies and distortions and the Canadian government is complicit (with the United States) in an attempt to force the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Nicolás Maduro. One can easily imagine Trump and Trudeau agreeing that it would be a crime to leave the largest proven oil reserves in the world (about 297 billion barrels) under the control of a socialist government pledged to use this wealth on behalf of some of the poorest people in the world.

In Winnipeg, a group called the Venezuela Peace Committee has organized a number of educational events to encourage citizens to learn about Venezuela and the struggles of working people for a socialist society. The VPC has a petition on the House of Commons E-Petition web site that calls on the government to cease its sanctions campaign. Here is the text:

Petition to the Government of Canada


On September 22, 2017, the Government of Canada imposed new sanctions against Venezuela, Venezuelan officials, and other individuals under the Special Economic Measures Act in violation of the sovereignty of Venezuela;
Such sanctions impede dialogue and peace-building in Venezuela and in the region more generally;
These sanctions impede the normal operation of Venezuela’s duly constituted political processes including elections;
The Government of Canada has supported the U.S. government’s sanctions against Venezuela
The Government of Canada has met with, supported, and continues to echo the demands of Venezuela’s violent anti-government opposition;
The Government of Canada refuses to recognize the legitimacy of Venezuela’s democratically elected government and falsely refers to it as dictatorial; and
The government of Canada seeks to promote foreign intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela.

We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to immediately lift all sanctions against Venezuela, Venezuelan officials, and other individuals, retract all statements in support of US sanctions against Venezuela, immediately cease its support for the efforts of the US and other right wing governments in the Organization of American States (OAS) that violate the sovereignty and self-determination of another member-state and immediately cease all intervention against Venezuela.

The VPC is asking Canadians and friends of Canada to sign the petition. Just sign here.

The petition arose out of a resolution approved by the attendees of a conference held at the University of Manitoba to mark the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. One of the keynote speakers at the conference was Julia Buxton, an internationally recognized expert on Venezuela. I recorded her talk.

Most recently, the VPC arranged for the visit of Professor Johnny Márquez to speak in Winnipeg. Professor Márquez is a Venezuelan lawyer, diplomat and scholar and president of the Latin American and Caribbean Center for Energy and Environment Studies. His first appearance was at the University of Manitoba on Dec. 5, 2017, where he discussed the history of Venezuela’s oil industry and its strategic importance. The following day he presented at Winnipeg’s historic Ukrainian Labour Temple on the current political situation in Venezuela. Both of these videos are linked below.