Dictators Fall, but States Remain: Zimbabwe’s (Already) Missed Chance

Last week, the fall of Robert Mugabe’s regime made headlines across the world, and was greeted with relief and hope by international commentators as well as Zimbabweans. Overall, the general feeling was that of a new beginning, long awaited in a country that had been stuck for four decades under rampant inflation, corruption, and an oppressive rule. There seemed to be little doubt, given how the news was presented, that this is a pivotal and far-reaching transformation for this African nation.
And yet, if one looks closely, there are signs that, despite the current sense of hope in Zimbabwe, Mugabe’s removal will not bring the long awaited change. Mugabe “retired’ with immunity, a $US 10 million severance check, and a promise to be paid a salary for the rest of his life. He has now been succeeded by his vice-president, who lead the coup d’tat and capitalized on the year long public protests against his disputed predecessor. With the new president, the rule of the ZANU-Patriotic Front will continue, as will the party’s Marxist-Leninist ideology and its politburo.
How can one know that things won’t change? There are many similarities between the recent history of Zimbabwe and the not too distant history of socialist republics, like Romania, from the decades of oppression and poverty to the overwhelming hope of a new start following the revolution. But one important common aspect of the two regimes – Ceausescu’s and Mugabe’s – is that neither or them were actual autocracies, or ‘personal’ states. A forty year totalitarian rule is not a one-man feat, but must be necessarily supported by an entire state apparatus for which the dictator himself often becomes no more than a mouthpiece.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on November 28, 2017.

The Unrevolutionary Revolution

February in Romania has brought 27 consecutive days of protests against the current government, at a scale unmatched since the Revolution in 1989. In a record day, more than 600,000 people gathered in the capital’s Victory Square and around the country to overturn a decision by the current ruling party to decriminalize some acts of corruption and abuse of office. This decision was especially self-serving given the high number of party members already serving suspended sentences for similar graft offenses. News outlets around the world have covered the events using flattering words, describing the peaceful riots as a ‘poetry of international resistance’ and a ‘massive political awakening.’
The resilience – and moderate success – of protesters, in spite of the government digging its heels in and the temperatures dropping, has been undeniably impressive, and has demonstrated an energetic interest in pursuing justice, which, rightly employed, could become the driver of a much needed change in Romanian politics.
Yet at the same time, amongst the shouting against totalitarian measures aimed at changing the penal and civil code, other voices emerged as well. Equally numerous, and sometimes belonging to the same people, they call for stronger ‘democratic’ processes and offer public displays of affection for the European Union. Unsurprisingly, there have also been no mass protests against another fairly recent economic policy which forces supermarkets to ensure at least 51% of their grocery offers are of Romanian provenance. In this regard, many protesters might decry the ‘thieving multinational corporations’, and ask for a government crackdown on tax evasions, in order to provide for socialized healthcare and education.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on February 27, 2017.

Eastern Europe & World War III

Europe could become the site of a new global war in the East as tensions build there against refugees and the economic decline fosters old wounds. The EU is deeply divided over the refugee issue and thus it is fueling its own demise and has failed to be a stabilizing force. After five days of demonstrations, Romania’s month-old government backed down and withdrew a decree that had decriminalized some corruption offenses. They were still acting like typical politicians and looking to line their pockets. After one month, the people have rising up saying ‘We can’t trust this new government.’
On the eastern border of the EU, only a few hundred kilometers from Berlin as well as Vienna, there is a growing danger that the world will stumble into a global war primarily from through the incompetence of the politicians in the EU as well as in the East. The EU is more concerned about punishing Britain and trying to hold on to overpaid political jobs that to address the real issues facing Europe.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Feb 8, 2017.

“Russian” Hacker Guccifer 2.0 Publishes Complete Personal Information Of 200 Congressional Democrats

According to so-called experts, the Romanian (as he described himself) hacker Guccifer 2.0 is really a Russian (even though there is still not a shred of evidence to confirm this) who several weeks ago provided a trove of 20,000 emails to Wikileaks, which exposed the corruption at the Democratic National Committee as it rigged the primary election on behalf of Hillary, further revealing just how deeply in bed the DNC and the “independent” media were.
As of this afternoon, the “Russian” has made it possible for millions of American to contact their Democratic representative instantly, after he released an excel spreadsheet on his blog – obtained from hacking the DNCC – which includes the personal cell phone number, physical and email address as well as full personal information for some 200 congressional Democrats.
On his WordPress blog, Guccifer 2.0 says the following:
Hi all!
It’s time for new revelations now. All of you may have heard about the DCCC hack. As you see I wasn’t wasting my time! It was even easier than in the case of the DNC breach.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 12, 2016.

The Dems WikiLeaks Hysteria – – The Hunt For A Red Trump-tober

Julian Assange has done it again: exposed the inner workings – and crimes – of our political class, that is. This time his target is Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, whose emails were hacked by a Romanian who calls himself ‘Guccifer 2.0,’ and posted online by WikiLeaks. As revelations tumble out of the enormous data dump – e.g. DNC staffers conspired to target Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish, as an ‘atheist’ – the collusion of the party leadership with the Clinton campaign to marginalize Sanders threatens the Democrats with a potential explosion on the eve of their convention. It’s ‘gas meets flame,’ as one Democratic party leader put it.
The Clinton campaign has responded by pushing a bizarre conspiracy theory that recalls the darkest days of the cold war: the DNC leak, they claim, is part of a plot by the Kremlin to elect Donald J. Trump President of these United States.
Yes, seriously.
Here is Clintonista-in-chief Robby Mook telling Jake Tapper that ‘Experts are telling us Russian state actors broke into the DNC, stole these emails, andother experts are now saying the Russians are releasing these emails for the purpose of helping Donald Trump.’ Echoing neoconservative complaints that efforts to insert a call for giving Ukraine offensive weapons were scotched by the Trump campaign, Mook pointed to this as ‘evidence’ that the Russians have infiltrated and taken over the Republican party. That’s their answer to the flood of scandal pouring out of the DNC emails – a reiteration of the plot of ‘The Manchurian Candidate,’ with a little bit of ‘Red Dawn’ thrown in for good measure.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner by Justin Raimondo ‘ July 25, 2016.

Europeans Say Enough With Washington’s Anti-Russian Hysteria

A significant crack has been unexpectedly opened in the wall of Europe’s disciplined obedience to the United States. I’m not only referring to the possible long-term consequences for U. S.-European relations in the wake of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, but the unlikely blow against Washington’s information war on Moscow delivered by Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who a week ago shockingly accused the North Atlantic Treaty Organization of ‘war-mongering’ against Russia.
Since the Bush administration’s twisting of events in the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, which the E. U. blamed on Georgia, Western populations have been subjected to the steady message that Russia is a ‘threat’ to the West and is guilty of ‘aggression.’ This reached a peak with the false narrative of events in Ukraine, in which blatant evidence of the West’s complicity in a violent coups d’tat was omitted from corporate media accounts, while Russia’s assistance to eastern Ukrainians resisting thecoup has been framed as a Russian ‘invasion.’
The disinformation campaign has reached the depths of popular culture, including the EuroVision song contest and sports doping scandals, to ensure widespread popular support for U. S. hostile intentions against Russia.
The Russian ‘aggression’ narrative, based largely on lies of omission, has prepared the way for the U. S. to install a missile-shield in Romania with offensive capabilities and to stage significant NATO war games with 31,000 troops on Russia’s borders. For the first time in 75 years, German troops retraced the steps of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on July 1, 2016.

The Alliance of Neutral States (ANS): Putin’s Anti-NATO Grand Design for the Balkans

Capitalizing on the popular dissatisfaction with the neoliberal Atlanticist political & economic status quo
For about two decades, it appeared that the end of the Cold War in Europe left the Balkan states with no long-term geostrategic option except the so-called Euro-Atlantic integrations underwritten by the ideology known as Atlanticism. This option reached the peak of its strength after NATO’s military intervention in the Bosnian conflict in 1995 (which was its first out-of-area military operation since the founding in 1949) and NATO’s 78-day long war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999. More covertly, NATO forces also intervened in the Macedonian-Albanian conflict in 2001.
As the result of these offensive military undertakings, Bosnia and Kosovo essentially became NATO protectorates with the civilian administrations being supervised by the EU, while the U. S. military bases and auxiliary facilities were quickly established in both. In addition, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Romania became the members of NATO in 2004 and Croatia and Albania in 2009. All remaining Balkan states, surrounded by NATO members from all sides, rapidly developed close military and intelligence linkages with NATO headquarters in Brussels. This process was greatly helped by the fact that the ruling political elites in these states, except to some extent in Serbia and the Serb Republic (a political subunit within Bosnia), openly acted as NATO’s agents of influence and advocated membership, even though this contradicted the political will of the majority of the population.
These Balkan political elites have been allowed to compensate for the obvious lack of internal democratic legitimacy by the endless praise from the high-level officials in Brussels, Berlin, Paris, London, and Washington, DC. Organized crime, corruption, lawless privatizations, massive unemployment, widespread poverty and hopelessness have simply been swept under the rug. The typically loud defenders of human rights and the rule of law have looked the other way. Evidently, the Atlanticist end justified all and any “dirty” means. Geography trumped democracy.

This post was published at Boiling Frogs Post on May 22, 2016.

The Eurocrats’ Big Lie – – Life Outside The Euro Has Worked Just Swell For Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Turkey, The Czech Republic Etc.

Will the euro-fanatics please stop lying to the people of Greece?
And while they’re at it, will they please stop lying to the rest of us as well?
Can they stop pretending that life outside the euro – for the Greeks or any other European country – would be a fate worse than death?
Can they stop claiming that if the Greeks go back to the drachma, they will be condemned to a miserable existence on the dark backwaters of European life, a small, forgotten and isolated country with no factories, no inward investment and no hope?
Those dishonest threats are being leveled this week at the people of Greece, as they gear up for the weekend’s big referendum on more austerity. The bully boys of Brussels, Frankfurt and elsewhere are warning the Greek people that if they don’t do as they’re told, and submit to yet more economic leeches, they may end up outside the euro … at which point, of course, life would stop.
Bah.
What I find amazing about the euro-fanatics is they just don’t seem to care about facts. Take a look at the chart at the top of this article. It compares the economic performance of Greece inside the euro with European rivals that don’t use the euro.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on July 4, 2015.

Huge Disconnect Between NATO Bellicosity And Declining Defense Spending Throughout Europe

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, a former prime minister of Norway, took the podium during last week’s meeting of NATO defense ministers to hype the Russian threat to NATO while downplaying recent NATO military moves on Russia’s border.
While criticizing ‘a more assertive Russia investing heavily in defence,’ Stoltenberg countered that, ‘We do not seek confrontation [with Russia], and we do not want a new arms race.’
He then announced that the new enhanced NATO Response Force will triple in size to include 40,000 personnel instead of the originally announced 13,000 and that NATO would be setting up six new east European mini-headquarters in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.
A joint statement of the NATO defense ministers underscored Stoltenberg’s Russia points:

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner by Daniel McAdams ‘ June 27, 2015.