THE ROVING EYE A bailout and a new world
By Pepe Escobar
WASHINGTON and SAO PAULO - The George W Bush administration's US$700 billion
no-accountability scheme, globally, informally dubbed "cash for trash", is
making all the headlines. Simultaneously, there's the small matter of the
United Nations General Assembly sanctioning the troubled birth of a new,
multipolar world. As a 21st-century counterpart to the Dadaist Manifesto, this
chain of events is priceless.
One just had to listen to the speeches. Brazilian President Lula da Silva
passionately expounded the new political, economic and commercial geography of
the multipolar world. He praised the Union of Latin American Nations (UNASUR) -
the first treaty uniting all South American nations in 200 years. He blasted
supranational economic institutions that now have no authority - and no
policies - to prevent "speculative anarchy".
French President Nicolas Sarkozy correctly described the Wall Street meltdown
as the biggest crisis since the 1930s. He is proposing to "rebuild" capitalism
- in fact, in his original French, to "moralize" capitalism, not subjected to
wily market operators, with banks financing development and not engaging in
speculation, and with firm control of credit agencies. Sarkozy described
speculators as "the new terrorists". US Republicans of course call Sarkozy's
plan socialism - as if the Ben Bernanke-Hank Paulson bailout scheme was not
no-holds-barred socialism for the wealthy.
UN general secretary Ban Ki-moon urged the democratization of the UN. This
would mean in practice a new International Monetary Fund and a new World Bank -
both still controlled by the US and Western Europe.
And then Bolivian President Evo Morales nailed it. The new multipolar world
should get rid of imperialism and colonialism. Evo stressed there's no possible
social peace under hardcore capitalism - the global masses would heartily
agree. Of course Evo didn't fail to recall the longtime, concerted Bush
administration campaign against him - once dubbed "the bin Laden from the
Andes" by a former US ambassador. He stressed there was not a single word of
condemnation by the US of relentless right-wing terrorism in Bolivia, unlike
all the nations of South America talking with one voice via UNASUR.
Evo also revealed that Bush sent him a message - "If I'm not your friend, I'm
your enemy". Evo's response: "I'm a friend of the American people, I'm
anti-imperialist. If they like me, OK; if not, it's also OK."
What the UN is NOT talking about is how the US will be able to sustain wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan and go against Iran, the Pashtuns in Pakistan or Russia if
the Chinese, the Japanese and sovereign wealth funds of the Gulf
petromonarchies decide to stop financing these demented adventures. That's the
larger-than-life elephant in the UN house: everybody knows that the end of the
unipolar world is tied to the fact that Washington simply cannot continue to be
a superpower financed by foreigners.
The Bush administration would do anything to push Georgia into the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization and totally choke off Russia. Bush himself still
referred to Iran at the UN as "terrorists". But Iranian President Mahmud
Ahmadinejad, after proclaiming that the American empire is waning, preferred to
stress conciliation - he would rather have a "friendly" relation with
Washington. He would meet Barack Obama or John McCain - whoever is elected to
the White House. His beef is with Zionists - not the Jewish people. He said the
Israeli regime would disappear in the same way as apartheid South Africa and
the Soviet Union - maybe after what he called a "humanitarian" solution, a
referendum in Palestine where Palestinians would decide their own future.
Burn, baby, burn
And while Rome - that is, Wall Street plus Washington - burns, Russia sends the
mighty Peter the Great - with 20 nuclear missiles - plus an anti-sub
destroyer for military exercises with Venezuela in the Caribbean. The
flamboyant Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez didn't even show up at the UN -
he's busy doing mega-deals with another emerging superpower, China. The US
Navy's 4th fleet - disbanded in the 1950 - is back to police South America; the
Brazilian military wasted no time launching their own military exercises to
protect what they call the Blue Amazon, their new, huge offshore oil fields.
And then, live from New York, there was Republican vice presidential nominee
Sarah Palin's speed-dial diplomacy - from Henry the K Kissinger - did they talk
about Metternich and Clausewitz? - to Hamid "mayor of Kabul" Karzai and
Colombian friend of Bush Alvaro Uribe. The media had literally a few seconds
(29 with Karzai, 20 with Uribe) for a photo op, and that was it.
Did the beehived, bespectacled creationist hockey mom learn anything about
foreign policy? The mystery remains. She may be cursing the cancellation of her
meeting with Irish pop icon/world leader Bono. They won't be singing One
together. Blogger Andrew Sullivan nailed it: "Since Sarah Palin was selected
for the vice presidential nomination, Mahmud Ahmadinejad has given more press
conferences than she has."
With the meltdown on Wall Street, it will be very hard for Republican candidate
McCain to pay for his "vision" of America as world's top dog/policeman. In a
dramatic gesture, he has "suspended" his campaign and bailed out of Friday's
presidential debate as well (late night talk show icon David Letterman nailed
this one: "What are you going to do if you're elected and things get tough?
Suspend being president? We've got a guy like that now!"
It took "maverick" McCain roughly over a week to go from a "the fundamentals of
the economy are strong" deregulation mantra to Great Depression gloom and
finally to bail himself out from his own campaign and a debate to boot. Not bad
for a self-confessed ignoramus in economic matters. McCain anyway still counts
on the Bernanke-Paulson $700 billion scheme - and he'll still be pushing for
even lower taxes for the US ultra-wealthy.
And while the new multipolar world was being sketched out in midtown Manhattan,
and McCain was busy trying to run away from his own presidential campaign, the
US took a few more steps to quickly become the new Brazil - appalling social
inequality, tremendous concentration of wealth, in sum, the law of the jungle.
Call it the revenge of the developing world.