The British arms manufacturing giant BAE (British Aerospace) has been fined some 286 million pounds sterling for bribing government officials in Third World countries to place orders with their company.(1) Among other activities, they bribed officials in Tanzania to order an advanced radar system for defense in that country, even though Tanzania is not likely to be at war with anyone and is one of the poorer nations in the world. What makes the case all the more remarkable is the fact that earlier on British prosecutors intended to prosecute over bribery of Saudi officials to the same purpose, but that a combined action from then Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, quashed the case, in order not to offend the Western ‘allies’ in Saudi Arabia. In this manner, they showed that neither rule of law nor combating theocracy mean anything to the gentlemen politicians who rule our countries, but that only strategic maneouvers do. Little seems to have changed since the days of the ‘Great Game’ and the Victorian approach to international relations. Continue reading “BAE and the Arms Trade”
Well-known anthropologist and popular science writer Jared Diamond has written an opinion article in the New York Times in which he praises various large multinationals for adopting a supposedly more ‘green’ way of operating, since their profit incentive forces them to do so.(1) He is particularly lavish in his praise for the Chevron oil group, which is or was active in oil projects in New Guinea, the region Diamond is professionally specialized in. He has written about their activities in New Guinea before in his book Collapse, where he also lauded their supposed efforts to improve the environment.(2) Continue reading “Jared Diamond and the ‘green’ capitalists”
The great capitalist dystopia of Dubai, a huge speculation bubble in paradisical tourist islands and business skyscrapers built on the slave-labor of South Asian migrant workers, is on the verge of collapse. Even though it is located in one of the driest and hottest parts of the world, its developer-king, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, saw a bright future for the place as the great playground of modern cosmopolitan capital. Indeed he presented himself and the whole project as a capitalist variation on the ‘enlightened kingdom’ of the old concept of the philosopher-king: none of those pesky things like regulations and taxes, or even good taste, could stand in the way of capitalist development here. In Dubai, anything would and should be possible on a larger and more commercial scale than ever before seen. Continue reading “The Fall of the House of Dubai”
The current economic crisis, despite (or maybe because) of the hullaballoo about its premature ‘end’, gives a good perspective on the failures of liberal economic policy. Precisely those nations that had in the past attempted a get-rich-quick scheme by relying on extreme liberalism to draw in capital in search of unrestricted territory for expansion are now the ones suffering the most from the inevitable cyclical collapse that is attendant on the movement of capital.
Such ‘success stories’ of liberal development as Ireland and Iceland have gone into deep recession. Continue reading “Crisis: Liberalism fails where anti-liberalism succeeds”
For the third time in about as many decades, the specter of massive famine looms over the Horn of Africa region and Ethiopia in particular. Some 13.7 million people are now estimated to be in need of urgent food aid, when at the same time the rations doled out to the poor peasants of Ethopia by aid NGOs and the UN World Food Programme have been slashed as the crisis has severely cut donations.(1) These programmes support some 12 million people in the area and the rations are already small as is, causing a further crisis. The Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in 2002 already warned that the impending famine could be even worse than the great famine of 1984, which killed about one million people.(2) At that time, the actual famine was narrowly avoided. Continue reading “Famine looms over Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa”