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Sunday, 28 February 2016

UK's Global-Strategic Position, 1960

‘The Main Objectives of the United Kingdom’s Overseas and Strategic Policy’, January 1960

Cabinet Office, ‘Future Policy Study 1960-70: Part III: The Main Objectives of the United Kingdom’s Overseas and Strategic Policy’, January 1960
‘We have the capacity to play a world-wide role only if we are willing as a nation to devote our actions and resources to this purpose. There are many desirable ways of using our resources at home, especially the improvement of our standard of living through better social services and the increasing our of wealth through productive investment. But we cannot exert influence in the world unless we devote resources sufficient to underwrite our external responsibilities…
Our partnership with the United States is an existing source of power and is capable of still further development…We shall become increasingly dependent on their support, as perhaps they will on ours, and our status in the world will largely depend on their readiness to treat us as their closest ally…
Economically, though Commonwealth Preference will be a wasting asset, Commonwealth countries will be important to us because of the high proportion of our trade for which they account and the network of trading and financial interests based on past associations and on sterling. The Commonwealth association is a very important source of political influence which buttresses our standing as a Power with world-wide interests…
We must never allow ourselves to be put in the position where we have to make a final choice between the United States and Europe. It would not be compatible with our vital interests to reject either one… We must therefore work to ensure the continuation of the United States presence in Europe and the development of a wide economic and political community of interests embracing both the United States and Western Europe. In so far as the United Kingdom can help to keep Western Europe steady in the alliance we shall enhance our own standing in American eyes. This is the core of our policy and we must be prepared to adapt our plans and actions to it. If we can uphold it successfully, our influence on the United States will be considerable and we shall not need slavishly to follow their line, though we should always consider their susceptibilities before making policy decisions… the preservation of the Atlantic Alliance is, in the last resort, the most basic of all our interests…
To the extent that our position in the Persian Gulf area safeguards the supply of oil and preserves the political status quo, we are serving a general interest. In addition there is a particular United Kingdom interest at stake – the profits made by the United Kingdom oil companies from their operations in the area…  At present the United Kingdom is committed to the protection of the Ruler of Kuwait and other Persian Gulf Sheikh. It is quite certain that if we withdrew this protection or showed our intention of so doing, the local rulers would hasten to make the best terms they could with their larger neighbours… While we have at present no alternative to maintaining our political obligations to the Persian Gulf Rulers, and particularly to the Ruler of Kuwait, it should be the object of our policy over the next ten years to create a situation in which they can be terminated without undue damage to the security of our oil supplies and the general political stability of the area… In the meantime, to prevent revolutionary pressures from building up, we should continue to encourage the Persian Gulf rulers to modernise their regimes’.
National Archives, CAB 21/3847

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

US Political Establishment Rocked By New Hampshire Primary Results

Anti-establishment candidates triumph in New Hampshire primaries
The contest has only just begun, of course, but it is already clear that the anti-establishment wave that has been criss-crossing Europe - from Spain to Greece to the election of left-winger Jeremy Corbyn to Labour Party leader - not to mention the rise of UKIP - seems to have crossed the Atlantic. There is a palpable sense of disillusionment with established political elites and new hope that emerging movements of resistance will be able to take on the financial and political power of big banks whether in London, New York or Berlin, and turn back the tide of 'austerity' policies that have seen draconian cuts in public spending on the middle classes as well as the most vulnerable in our societies.
Bernie Sanders’s big lead in polls was replicated in the election – with 60% of the vote, over 20% ahead of Clinton. Sanders’s call for a ‘political revolution’ resonated with Democrats far more than Clinton’s ‘realism’. Sanders seems to be winning in the Democrats’ tug-of-war over who’s the real ‘progressive’ candidate. Hillary is losing ground to Sanders especially among young and women voters. Her claims that she can ‘rein in Wall Street’ while suggesting Sanders is impractical did not cut any ice with NH electors. 

Bill and Hillary Clinton have received election campaign donations of $3 billion over the past 40 years, according to a Washington Post investigation ( 

And the Clinton Foundation has been rocked by revelations of its links with major banks and corrupt businessmen providing donations in exchange for major government contracts.    

Sanders huge win will drive home his message that he can take on Clinton, even though he lags behind in racially diverse states like Nevada and S Carolina. But back in June 2015, Clinton led in NH by 15%; she lost by 22%.

Sanders is still not making any real appeal to minorities, despite popularity with young voters. In Iowa over 80% of voters under 29 years of age supported Sanders. However, former president and CEO of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Ben Jealous, has endorsed Sanders for the nomination, a significant step ahead of the South Carolina primaries where Clinton’s lead is around 40%, and African-Americans make up 60% of Democratic voters.

With the progressive label being fought over in the Democratic party and the Republican shift to the right brought about by Trump’s popularity, the partisan divisions in the US remain very wide.

The leading anti-establishment Trump won a resounding victory too – cashing in on widespread disgust with professional career politicians. Although Rubio picked up more endorsements after Iowa and moved closer to Trump in terms of Google search volume in New Hampshire (and the US more generally), his campaign suffered a severe setback after winning just 10% of the vote and coming in fifth behind John Kasich, Jeb Bush, and Ted Cruz, who did relatively well despite gaining just 1 new endorsement to Rubio’s 9 since Iowa.

The Republican race remains wide open although the scale of Trump’s gives the GOP leadership a real headache.

The point to bear in mind, however, is that the GOP race is front-loaded with states likely to favour outsiders like Trump and Cruz – high proportions of non-college educated and evangelical voters, where delegates are allotted on the basis of proportional representation. But later down the road, state primaries are first-past-the-post, winner-takes-all delegates, and have far more delegates to distribute.

Yet, it must also be remembered that a large proportion of Trump’s white non-college-educated base is economically liberal – they want bigger government programmes for the poor and working families, and heavier taxes for the rich, and redistribution of wealth and income. Indeed, a majority of Republican voters favour redistributive measures. Party images – focused around ethno-racial and cultural factors – are the principal perceptions keeping apart economically-liberal GOP and Democratic voters.  

But those opinions – on left and right – do not accord with the views of large donors to the Clinton and Rubio/Cruz/ Bush campaigns – and they have flatly refused to address the matter.

In Europe, money talks; in America, money screams

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Right Moderate: Rubio's NeoCon Advisors

 Rubio is considered the moderate Republican - just look at his billionaire and George W. Bush era neocon backers - if he wins in November 2016, it would be like Bush's third term

Marco Rubio Is Winning the Neocon Primary
While bombastic GOP front runners steal the headlines, the Florida senator is quietly racking up the support of right-wing mega-donors and Bush-era neocons.
By Sina Toossi, December 8, 2015.

With pundits and columnists dissecting and critiquing every word uttered by GOP front-runners Ben Carson and Donald Trump, comparatively little attention has been paid to the positions and affiliations of a far more electable Republican presidential candidate: Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
Unlike Trump or Carson, Rubio is considered a stalwart member of the party’s establishment wing, standing out in the crowded Republican primary field for his comparatively moderate stances on issues such as immigration reform. While he lags behind Trump and Carson in most polls and runs neck-and-neck with “Tea Party” evangelical Ted Cruz, Rubio is primed to jump to first should the spectacle of the “anti-establishment” candidates finally run its course.

Beyond his veneer of reasonableness, however, Rubio has established himself as the most adept of the Republican candidates at regurgitating the militaristic talking points of the party’s neoconservative wing. His competency in this regard has earned him the favor of influential hawkish donors like Sheldon Adelson, as well as an array of neoconservative political operatives.
Rubio is in fact a dark horse candidate who, more explicitly than any of his competitors, would usher back into power the Bush-Cheney school of foreign policy.

Bolstered by an all-star cast of Bush-era foreign policy ideologues, the Florida senator has echoed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the “conditions” do not exist for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; vowed to renege on the Iran nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions on the country, potentially putting the United States on the path to another catastrophic war in the Middle East; and promised to rescind the Obama administration’s diplomatic achievements with Cuba, further alienating the United States in Latin America.

With respect to other great powers, Rubio has stated he is “open to Ukraine joining NATO,” a move that would be immensely provocative to Russia and could put Washington on the hook for any further escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. He’s also asserted that he would “restrict Russian access” to the SWIFT international payment system, essentially cutting Russia out of the world economy and plunging the world to the cusp of a global war. On China, Rubio has designs just as aggressive, calling for the United States to “engage with dissidents” and “champions of freedom” within the country, using language that implies a regime change agenda.
This specter brings to mind the phrase famously misquoted by former President George W. Bush: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

Sheldon Adelson’s “Perfect Little Puppet”
Perhaps the most consequential relationship Rubio has built for his presidential campaign has been with billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson — a major funder of Republican causes and hardline “pro-Israel” initiatives in particular. Rubio’s courtship of the controversial mega-donor has spurred criticism even from Donald Trump, who tweeted in October: “Sheldon Adelson is looking to give big dollars to Rubio because he feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet. I agree!”
Obsessed with imposing his hawkish worldview on both U.S. and Israeli politics, Adelson has been described by veteran journalist Bill Moyers as the “unofficial head of the Republican Party” and the “uncrowned King of Israel.” Adelson doled out an estimated $100 million — more than anyone else in American history — during the 2012 presidential election, at first in support of Newt Gingrich and then to the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan presidential ticket.

The key to Adelson’s wallet is the issue most near and dear to his heart — and the one on which he’s most out of step with decades of mainstream U.S. policy: Israel.
Adelson’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the broader Middle East can most charitably be described as Manichaean. Less charitably, it’s racist and reactionary. Adelson has disparaged the two-state solution, denying even the existence of the Palestinians as a distinct people; called for a nuclear bomb to be dropped on Iran; and dismissed concerns that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians was undermining its democracy with a “So what?”

Adelson is to the right of even the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — or AIPAC, the famous “pro-Israel” lobby — breaking with the group in 2007 over disagreements on U.S. economic aid to the Palestinian Authority. He’s instead propped up a host of uber-hawkish advocacy organizations that have helped make his extremist visions politically viable, such as the Zionist Organization of America, Christians United for Israel, the Republican Jewish Coalition, and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, among others.

In April, Politico reported that Rubio has “reached out to Adelson more often than any other 2016 candidate” and “provided him with the most detailed plan for how he’d manage America’s foreign policy.” The piece added that Rubio phones Adelson “every two weeks” and is the “clear frontrunner” to win the “Sheldon Adelson primary.” A follow-up article in October added that a “formal endorsement” is imminent, “and with it, the potential for a multimillion dollar contribution.”
In Israel, meanwhile, Adelson has twisted the country’s political landscape by publishing and freely distributing the right-wing newspaper Israel Hayom, which fostered the rise of Benjamin Netanyahu and right-wing parties like the Likud. Bloomberg reported in June that Israel Hayom has “all but anointed” Rubio.

On the Campaign Trail
Rubio’s courtship of the neoconservative right may already be paying dividends for his presidential campaign.
For example, a dubious nonprofit “social welfare” group — which, under U.S. campaign finance law, doesn’t have to disclose any of its funders — has paid for all of Rubio’s early-state TV ads, including ones railing against the Iran nuclear deal. The New York Times has said of the group, called the Conservative Solutions Project: “Mr. Rubio’s heavy reliance on the group effectively keeps secret the identities of some of his biggest supporters, making it impossible to know whose agenda the senator may be embracing. Mr. Rubio has avidly courted the casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, for example, even signing on in June as a co-sponsor of an Adelson-backed bill that would restrict Internet gambling.”

Adelson’s Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas will play host to a Republican debate on December 15, an arrangement that has led to officials from other campaigns to worry that the audience will be pre-picked to be in favor of Rubio. A recent Politico story stated that “top campaign officials” have “pressed the Republican National Committee” on whether Adelson would be able to receive a “block of tickets” to “stack the crowd for his favored candidate.” The piece added that Adelson is widely believed to formally get behind Rubio in the near future.
While Adelson waits in the wings, Rubio’s already won the official support of another major hardline “pro-Israel” donor: hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer. Declaring his endorsement in October, Singer described Rubio in a letter to his network of like-minded donors as the “strongest choice” for the nomination. According to CNN, Singer’s support is a huge boost for Rubio, and a blow to rivals like Jeb Bush, “because the billionaire has a vast network of people who will give hard dollars to Rubio and lots of money to his super PAC.”

Rubio’s political career was in fact jump-started by powerful donors in the ideological vein of Adelson and Singer. Norman Braman, a Florida businessman with a decisively hawkish attitude on U.S. Middle East policy, has been the “single-largest backer of Rubio’s presidential campaign” thus far, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA). Braman, a billionaire who’s funded illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, took Rubio on a trip to Israel shortly after he was elected to the Senate.

The JTA has reported that Braman’s relationship with Rubio goes back to Rubio’s early political career. The donor “helped finance the young senator’s legislative agenda, employed Rubio as a lawyer, hired Rubio’s wife (a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader) as a philanthropic adviser, helped fund Rubio’s position as a college instructor, and assisted Rubio with his personal finances.”

Return of the Neoconservatives
Rubio’s foreign policy platform doesn’t just reflect the dangerously black-and-white worldviews of donors like Adelson, Singer, and Braman.
In fact, it’s been drawn up by the same neoconservatives who so discredited themselves with their disastrous foreign policy adventurism during the George W. Bush administration. Even Rubio’s campaign slogan, “A New American Century,” is almost certainly a homage to the infamous neoconservative letter-head group, the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), which played a decisive role in agitating for U.S. intervention in the Middle East prior to 9/11 and in the lead up to the Iraq War.

Rubio counts among his foreign policy advisors numerous prominent neocons, including Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, hawkish former senator Jim Talent, former Reagan official and Iran-Contra convict Elliott Abrams, neoconservative writer and historian Robert Kagan, and former George W. Bush national security advisor Stephen Hadley.
Rubio has also been advised by the avowedly militarist John Hay Initiative, an advocacy group founded in 2013 by former Romney advisor Brian Hook and former George W. Bush administration officials Eric Edelman and Eliot Cohen. The Hay Initiative consists of more than 250 “experts,” of whom the vast majority have hawkish track records, and is “structured somewhat like a campaign foreign policy team in waiting,” according to the Daily Beast. Observers have opined that the group is a “rebirth of the Project for the New American Century.”

Another Rubio advisor, neoconservative Council on Foreign Relations fellow Max Boot, recently garnered attention for his call for the United States to unilaterally declare a Sunni autonomous region in Iraq. Rubio promptly echoed him, stating that as president he would “demand” that Iraq’s government grant “greater autonomy” to the country’s Sunni regions.
On his official campaign team, Rubio has appointed Jamie Fly as his “counselor for foreign and national security affairs.” A former director of the Foreign Policy Initiative, another PNAC successor organization that was founded in 2009 by Robert Kagan and Bill Kristol, Fly co-wrote a paper in 2012 with Gary Schmitt (of PNAC fame) that explicitly called for a military attack on Iran that would “destabilize the regime.”

Is Rubio’s full-spectrum saber-rattling just campaign rhetoric, or is it reflective of what he would actually do as president? Either way, his water-carrying for hardline donors and disgraced foreign policy entrepreneurs is bad news for global peace and stability.
Sina Toossi is the assistant editor of Right Web, a project that monitors the efforts of militarists to influence U.S. foreign policy. He tweets @SinaToossi.