Last week, Bayer, a transnational drug and pesticide company, secured funding for its $66 billion offer to acquire Monsanto, the world’s largest producer of agricultural seeds. This follows the announced $130 billion merger of chemical giants Dow and DuPont, and ChemChina’s proposed $43 billion purchase of the seed and pesticide firm Syngenta.
Bayer, DuPont, Dow, Monsanto, and Syngenta are five of the world’s six biggest pesticide and seed corporations. There are claims, which I find credible, that the “Big 6” and their products bear major responsibility for pesticide-resistant weeds and insects, and are implicated in impoverishment of small farmers, collapse of honeybee colonies, water pollution, and loss of biodiversity and soil fertility—all serious attacks on the common good. And similar consolidation continues in most every sector of the economy.
As individual corporations grow in size, global reach, and political power, we see a corresponding shift in the primary function of national governments—from serving the interests of their citizens to assuring the security of corporate property and profits. They apply police and military powers to this end, subsidize corporate operations, and facilitate corporate tax evasion. They let corporations off the hook with slap-on-the-wrist fines for criminal actions. Rarely, if ever, do they punish top executives.
We the People never voted to yield our sovereignty to transnational corporations. Nor was the corporate takeover a response to public need.
Editor’s Note: Nomi Prins is a former managing director at Goldman Sachs and a former senior managing director at Bear Stearns. I would HIGHLY recommend reading her latest book, “All The Presidents’ Bankers“. You can check out more of Nomi’s great work at her website.
‘At first glance, the neo-Cold War between the US and its post WWII European Allies vs. Russia over the Ukraine, and the stonewalling of Greece by the Troika might appear to have little in common. Yet both are manifestations of a political-military-financial power play that began during the first Cold War. Behind the bravado of today’s sanctions and austerity measures lies the decision-making alliance that private bankers enjoy in conjunction with government and multinational entries like NATO and the World Bank.
It is President Obama’s foreign policy to back the Ukraine against Russia; in 1958, it was the Eisenhower Doctrine that protected Lebanon from a Soviet threat. For President Truman, the Marshall Plan arose partly to guard Greece (and other US allies) from Communism, but it also had lasting economic implications. The alignment of political leaders and key bankers was more personal back then, but the implications were similar to the present day. US military might protected its major trading partners, which in turn, did business with US banks. One power reinforced the other. Today, the ECB’s QE program funds swanky Frankfurt headquarters and prioritizes Germany’s super-bank, Deutschebank and its bond investors above Greece’s future.
These actions, then and now, have roots in the American ideology of melding military, political and financial power that flourished in the haze of World War II. It’s not fair to pin this triple-power stance on one man, or even one bank; yet one man and one bank signified that power in all of its dimensions, including the use of political enemy creation to achieve financial goals. That man was John McCloy, ‘Chairman of the Establishment’ as his biographer, Kai Bird, characterized him. The relationship between McCloy and Truman cemented a set of public-private practices that strengthened private US banks globally at the expense of weaker, potentially Soviet (now Russian) leaning countries.’
‘Liam Halligan, editor at large of Business New Europe and Telegraph columnist, talks to Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. He explains it is a rival to not only the IMF but also to the Asia Development Bank, which is Japanese-led. This is extremely threatening to the US as the BRIC countries wield a massive amount of power. There is a difference in the way that America and Britain see China, with the UK seeing them as a trading partner rather than a challenge. It is a symbolic move for Britain to back the AIIB, taking a step away from Washington towards a current that the US sees as a ‘major irritant.’ And he feels there is a growing argument that Britain’s future lies not in the West, with a failing Eurozone, but in a thriving Asian economy.’ (Going Underground)
- US stance on AIIB “hypocritical”, says China
- European Nations Join China’s World Bank Alternative in Blow to US
- US anger at Britain joining Chinese-led investment bank AIIB
- US urges allies to think twice before joining China-led bank
- France, Germany, Italy to join China-led $50bn infrastructure bank
- Major US allies to join China-backed AIIB bank
- Australia shifts stance on China-led development bank
- China calls on countries interested in AIIB to join by March 31
- The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
- Why the US Is Trying to Squash China’s New Development Bank
- Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank – Wikipedia
‘The World Bank, created to fight poverty, has admitted that it’s failed to follow its own rules for protecting the poor people swept aside by dams, roads and other big projects it bankrolls.
This conclusion, announced by the bank on Wednesday, amounts to a reversal of its previous efforts to downplay concerns raised by human rights activists and others working on behalf of the dispossessed — people evicted from their land, sometimes in violent ways, to make way for World Bank-financed initiatives.
It comes days after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and The Huffington Post informed bank officials that the news outlets had found “systemic gaps” in the bank’s protections for people who lose homes or jobs because of development projects.’
- World Bank Acknowledges Shortcomings in Resettlement Projects, Announces Action Plan to Fix Problems
- World Bank chief warns of surge in people facing resettlement
- World Bank denies blame for violent Ethiopian evictions
- Human Rights Experts Denounce World Bank’s Proposed Safeguard Changes
- World Bank accuses itself of failing to protect Kenya forest dwellers
- World Bank and UN carbon offset scheme ‘complicit’ in genocidal land grabs, say NGOs
- Leaked World Bank lending policies ‘environmentally disastrous’
- Masters of Illusion: World Bank and the Poverty of Nations (Book)
- Imperial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization (Book)
- World Bank – SourceWatch
- World Bank – Wikipedia
‘It could almost be a slogan: Bilderberg brings people together. Specifically, every year, the Bilderberg Group holds secret, “private” meetings at four star hotels around the world, bringing together nearly 150 of the world’s most influential bankers, corporate executives, dynasties, heads-of-state, foreign policy strategists, central bankers and finance ministers. It also invites the heads of international organizations, think tanks, foundations, universities, military and intelligence officials, media barons, journalists and academics.
Participants at Bilderberg appreciate having a closed-door forum where they can speak openly and directly to one other – and of course, not to us. But perhaps we, the people, would also like to hear what they have to say. For the past four years, Bilderbergers have been running around the world preaching the gospel of “austerity” and “structural reform” – very important terms. If you don’t know what they mean, Bilderbergers are working their day jobs to make sure you will learn.’
Editor’s Note: Professor Leo Panitch is a distinguished research professor of Political Science at York University in Toronto, Canada and editor of the Socialist Register. He is also co-author of ‘The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire‘.
- World Bank Warns on Global Growth
- Lagarde warns of ‘lopsided’ global growth
- Lagarde: High Debt and Unemployment Threaten Global Growth
- IMF praise of UK economic growth dismissed as inaccurate by experts
- China’s slower growth casts its shadow over the region
- China’s GDP growth expected to be lowest in 24 years
- US unemployment rate drops to 5.6%, but wages fall
‘Thanks to China, Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund, Jim Yong Kim of the World Bank and Takehiko Nakao of the Asian Development Bank may no longer have much meaningful work to do.
Beijing’s move to bail out Russia, on top of its recent aid for Venezuela and Argentina, signals the death of the post-war Bretton Woods world. It’s also marks the beginning of the end for America’s linchpin role in the global economy and Japan’s influence in Asia.
What is China’s new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank if not an ADB killer? If Japan, ADB’s main benefactor, won’t share the presidency with Asian peers, Beijing will just use its deep pockets to overpower it. Lagarde’s and Kim’s shops also are looking at a future in which crisis-wracked governments call Beijing before Washington. ‘
- China To Launch Yuan Swap Trading With Russian Rubles On Monday
- The Ruble Crisis, Russia, And China
- Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank: An Idea Whose Time Has Come?
- Three major nations absent as China launches World Bank rival in Asia
- Why China is creating a new “World Bank” for Asia
- Chinese investors surged into EU at height of debt crisis
- The Obama Administration’s Pivot to Asia
‘Carbon trading—one of the biggest weapons touted by governments and business in the global fight against climate change—could end up killing the planet. In Africa, human rights campaigners say, it is already killing people.
Since the launch of a World Bank sponsored conservation programme in west Kenya eights years ago, the Bank-funded Kenya Forest Service (FKS) has conducted a relentless scorched earth campaign to evict the 15,000 strong indigenous Sengwer community from their ancestral homes in the Embobut forest and the Cherangany Hills. The pretext? The Sengwer are ‘squatters’ accelerating the degradation of the forest.
This October, with violence escalating, pressure from campaigners finally elicited a public response from World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, who promised to help facilitate “a lasting, peaceful resolution to this long, unfinished business of land rights in Kenya.”
But according to British film-maker Dean Puckett, who is currently on the ground in Embobut forest in west Kenya capturing extraordinary footage of recent events, the plight of the Sengwer has only worsened dramatically since Kim’s intervention.’
- New report exposes the ‘Dark side of conservation’
- Sengwer: Conservation Vs Communities (Documentary Preview)
- World Bank chief steps in over evictions of Kenya’s indigenous people
- World Bank accuses itself of failing to protect Kenya forest dwellers
- World Bank and UN carbon offset scheme ‘complicit’ in genocidal land grabs – NGOs
- World Bank and aid donors accused of enabling land grabs
- Is the World Bank enabling agribusiness land grabs?
- Architecture of the global land acquisition system: applying the tools of network science to identify key vulnerabilities
- Virtual nature, violent accumulation: The ‘spectacular failure’ of carbon offsetting at a Ugandan National Park
- The Darker Side of Green: Plantation Forestry and Carbon Violence in Uganda
- What’s in a number? Why the struggle to quantify the global land grabbing crisis is part of the problem
- Global carbon market to reach record volumes by 2016
- Land grabbing as a driver of environmental change
- Kenyan Government torches hundreds of Sengwer homes in the forest glades in Embobut
- Peak soil: industrial civilisation is on the verge of eating itself
- See Which Countries Are Land Grabbers with Land Matrix’s Cool Maps
- Who Owns the Earth? A Review of Fred Pearce’s The Land Grabbers
- Dust Bowl the Greatest Man-Made Eco Disaster in U.S. History
- Rainforest Roulette (Rainforest Foundation Report)
- Can Carbon Trading Save Vanishing Forests?
‘These two groups – financial institutions and the consultants that advise them – play key roles in the spread of institutionalized corporate and financial power, and as such, warnings from these groups about the threat posed by “social unrest” carry particular weight as they are geared toward a particular audience: the global oligarchy itself.
Organizations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank were responsible for forcing neoliberal economic “restructuring” on much of the developing world from the 1980s onwards, as the IMF and E.U. are currently imposing on Greece and large parts of Europe. The results have been and continue to be devastating for populations, while corporations and banks accumulate unprecedented wealth and power.
As IMF austerity programs spread across the globe, poverty followed, and so too did protests and rebellion. Between 1976 and 1992, there were 146 protests against IMF-sponsored programs in 39 different countries around the world, often resulting in violent state repression of the domestic populations.
These same programs by the IMF and World Bank facilitated the massive growth of slums, as the policies demanded by the organizations forced countries to undertake massive layoffs, privatization, deregulation, austerity and the liberalization of markets – amounting, ultimately, to a new system of social genocide. The new poor and displaced rural communities flocked to cities in search of work and hope for a better future, only to be herded into massive urban shantytowns and slums. Today roughly one in seven people on Earth, or over 1 billion, live in slums.’
- IMF’s Post-Crisis Austerity Call Mistaken, Internal Watchdog Says
- The Group of Thirty, Architects of Austerity
- Europe’s job crisis a smouldering fuse
- The root of Europe’s riots
- Fact. There is a link between cuts and riots
- World Bank warns of social unrest
- IMF warns second bailout would ‘threaten democracy’
- Prolonged crisis a danger without fast stimulus, IMF warns
- Greg Palast: IMF’s four steps to damnation
- The Missionary Position: NGOs and Development in Africa
- Masters of Illusion: The World Bank and the Poverty of Nations (Book)
- Planet of Slums (Book)
- Billions of dollars wasted on investment advice
- Consultants face need for survival strategy
- Capitalism for the Long Term
- Future State 2030: The Global Megatrends Shaping Governments
- Dealing With Disruption: Adapting to Survive and Thrive
‘Like virtually every country in Africa, Burkina Faso has been assailed by North Atlantic military intervention over the past four decades, as well as an escalation of land grabs since 2008. More land has been grabbed in Africa over the past 15 years than in the rest of the world combined—more than 55 million hectares, according to Blessing Karumbidza of the Global Justice Ecology Project. The economic tensions between local producers and international powers that have contributed to the revolutionary dissatisfaction with the establishment in Burkina Faso can be found in virtually any country subject to the harsh and cruel conditions of the global land grab and the crisis of climate change. The revolution in Burkina Faso represents a crucial break, summoning the revolutionary leaders of past generations to maintain a legacy of popular control.
The popular movement that has spread throughout the small African state contains the process of liberation both inspired by and inspiring different forms of political engagement throughout the continent. While some, including the present military junta, insist that we are seeing a youth rebellion, the revolution has formulated a deeper, systemic challenge. The promise of Thomas Sankara, the “Che Guevara of Africa” who ruled Burkina from 1983 until his assassination in 1987, was the suture of the generation gap and the progression of egalitarian economic policies. While Sankara emerged as a powerful leader in Burkina Faso in the 1970s, a powerful student movements broke through in nearby Sierra Leone, the independence movement of Guinea-Bissau ascended to power, and the People’s Republic of Benin was declared. West Africa was uniting under common dreams of liberation fueled by the legacy of Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Toure, and other noteworthy West African leaders of the 1950s and 1960s. After the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela and the assassination of Amílcar Cabral, Sankara appeared among the most important radical leaders in all of Africa. The current revolution, with its rekindling of Sankara’s legacy, can be seen as a return to the legacy of national liberation—not just as a youth movement, but a rejection of the neoliberal trajectory set into place after Sankara’s death.’
- Grabbing Back: Essays Against the Global Land Grab (Book)
- NGOs: World Bank and UN carbon offset scheme ‘complicit’ in genocidal land grabs
- Burkina Faso: Where democracy has always run on protests and coups
- Why Burkina Faso matters to US counterterrorism efforts in Africa
- Coup leader in Burkina Faso received U.S. military training
- France helped Compaore flee Burkina Faso unrest, Hollande says
- Ghost of ‘Africa’s Che Guevara’
- Thomas Sankara
‘China and 21 other Asian nations signed on Friday to a new Beijing-backed international bank for Asia that Washington opposes as an unnecessary rival to established institutions such as the World Bank.
Representatives of the 22 nations signed a memorandum of understanding at the Great Hall of the People in the heart of Beijing to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
The new bank reflects both China’s desire to push investment in the region and its frustration with U.S., Japanese and European dominance of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Asian Development Bank.
The new lender would fund the construction of roads, railways, power plants and telecommunications networks in Asia that global finance officials say are needed to keep the region’s economies humming along.’
- Australia won’t join Asian infrastructure bank ‘until rules change’
- Three major nations absent as China launches World Bank rival in Asia
- Deal Set on China-Led Infrastructure Bank
- An Asian Bank Is a Strategic Necessity for China
- Why the US Is Trying to Squash China’s New Development Bank
- US Opposing China’s Answer to World Bank
‘World Bank Turkey Director Martin Raiser on Tuesday addressed design flaws in the EU-Turkey Customs Union agreement that is seen as the biggest obstacle for Turkey in EU economic integration.
Raiser said that although Turkey is a candidate for EU membership, its inability to participate in the decision-making process on the EU’s Customs Union policies increases the risk of Turkish non-compliance with EU legislation.
[…] Raiser was speaking at the “Turkey-EU Custom Union” panel held by the European Union and the Ankara-based think tank Global Research Association, which conducts research into Turkey’s harmonization with EU principles and policies.’
‘Radical plans by the World Bank to relax the conditions on which it lends up to $50bn (£29bn) a year to developing countries have been condemned as potentially disastrous for the environment and likely to weaken protection of indigenous peoples and the poor.
A leaked draft of the bank’s proposed new “safeguard policies”, seen by the Guardian, suggests that existing environmental and social protection will be gutted to allow logging and mining in even the most ecologically sensitive areas, and that indigenous peoples will not have to be consulted before major projects like palm oil plantations or large dams palm go ahead on land which they traditionally occupy.
Under the proposed new “light touch” rules, the result of a two year consultation within the bank, borrowers will be allowed to opt out of signing up to employment safeguards, existing protection for biodiversity will be shredded, countries will be allowed to assess themselves, and harmful projects are much more likely to occur, according to World Bank watchdog groups including the Bank Information Centre (BIC), the Ulu Foundation and the International Trade Union Confederation.’
‘Much hope is placed on foreign direct investment to deliver development capital for African countries. Yet FDIs are part of the global financial capitalist system, which maintains and reproduces inequality and keeps African states dependent on Western countries and financial institutions.
Africa’s political leaders are under illusion to believe that foreign direct investments (FDIs) will get them out of their development crisis. This is not to dismiss FDIs but to provide a framework for an analytical and critical understanding of ‘capital’, how it is generated, and what its real function is.’
‘A group of five countries have launched their own development bank to challenge the U.S.-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Leaders from the so-called BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — unveiled the New Development Bank at a summit in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza. The bank will be headquartered in Shanghai. Together, BRICS countries account for 25 percent of global GDP and 40 percent of the world’s population. To discuss this development, we are joined by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University and the World Bank’s former chief economist. “It’s very important in many ways,” Stiglitz says of the New Development Bank’s founding. “This is adding to the flow of money that will go to finance infrastructure, adaptation to climate change — all the needs that are so evident in the poorest countries. It [also] reflects a fundamental change in global economic and political power. The BRICS countries today are richer than the advanced countries were when the World Bank and the IMF were founded. We’re in a different world — but the old institutions haven’t kept up.”‘ (Democracy Now!)
- Is the New BRICS Bank a Challenge to US Global Financial Power? With Michael Hudson & Leon Panitch
- Marc Weisbrot talks the BRICS Summit
- Jim Rickards: BRICS Development Bank A Significant Step Away From The Dollar
- Pepe Escobar: BRICS against Washington consensus
- BRICS establish $100bn bank in challenge Western dominance
- BRICS nations hope to bankroll a changing world order
- Pepe Escobar: BRICS against Washington consensus
- BRICS establish $100bn bank in challenge Western dominance
- New BRICS bank to be based in China, India to have presidency
- Putin tells BRICS to set up energy bloc to boost safety
- The BRICS try to reshape the world
- BRICS summit: Banking on a new global order
‘China is moving forward with a plan to create its own version of the World Bank, which will rival institutions that are under the sway of the US and the West. The bank will start with $100 billion in capital. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will extend China’s financial reach and compete not only with the World Bank, but also with the Asian Development Bank, which is heavily dominated by Japan. The $100 billion in capital is double that originally proposed, the Financial Times (FT) reported.
A member of the World Bank, China has less voting power than countries like the US, Japan, and the UK. It is in the ‘Category II’ voting bloc, giving it less of a voice. In the Asian Development Bank, China only holds a 5.5 percent share, compared to America’s 15.7 percent share and Japan’s 15.6 share. At the International Monetary Fund, China pays a 4 percent quota, whereas the US pays nearly 18 percent, and therefore has more influence within the organization and where loans go. “China feels it can’t get anything done in the World Bank or the IMF so it wants to set up its own World Bank that it can control itself,” the FT quoted a source close to discussions as saying.’
- China expands plans for World Bank rival
- BRICS nations hope to bankroll a changing world order
- A new BRICS bank to mark global shift
- BRICS emerging nations close to launching bank; to start lending in 2016
- BRICS creating parallel Monetary Fund disillusioned with IMF and World Bank
- BRICS agree to capitalize development bank at $100bn
‘After more than six decades of dictating development policy in much of the emerging world, the Western-led International Monetary Fund and World Bank may soon have some competition.
The BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — are reportedly close to finalizing their long-awaited development bank and currency reserve, each valued at $100 billion, in what has been billed as a historic challenge by the world’s emerging economies to a global financial architecture that has been dominated by the U.S. and Western Europe since its post–World War II inception.
The BRICS nations first announced their plans for the bank in March 2013 but struggled to reach an agreement over China’s desire to hold a greater stake in the institution. But a Brazilian government official told Reuters last week that the five members were ready to split funding and control equally, clearing the last major hurdle for a launch in 2016.
To economists in the developing world, who have long criticized the World Bank and IMF as anathema to the countries they purport to help, the New Development Bank holds tremendous promise. Critics say the West has taken advantage of its monopoly in international lending to wield outsize influence in the economic and political affairs of developing countries, dictating development models that further entrench these countries’ subservience to the West.
But unlike the U.S. and Europe, who are in lockstep on most things, the BRICS countries have little in common but a shared ambition to rebalance the global economic order.’
Serbia’s parliament approved the cabinet of Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic who took office on Sunday pledging deep economic reform and a drive to get the country into the European Union by the end of the decade. In March the 44-year-old Progressive Party (SNS) leader won the strongest popular mandate of any government since the days of Slobodan Milosevic, a leader during the wars of Yugoslavia’s demise in the 1990s that left Serbia isolated and bankrupt. One hundred and ninety-eight deputies in the 250-seat parliament voted for Vucic’s 19-member cabinet. Vucic said entry into the EU would be the government’s priority.
The former ultra-nationalist and Milosevic-era minister, who converted to the pro-EU cause in 2008, promised root-and-branch reform of the bloated public sector, pension system and labour law, as well as a cut of subsidies to loss-making state firms. His lead role in a much-publicized fight against crime and corruption, including the arrest and trial of influential Balkan retail tycoon Miroslav Miskovic, has vested him with popularity and helped him secure 158 out of 250 seats in the parliament.
- Ashton backs Serbia’s new PM in his bid to accelerate EU membership
- Ashton: Serbia “can be example to others in region”
- Yale-graduate to remain as Serbia’s finance minister, former World Bank economist will be economy minister
- McKinsey consultant Krstic to be Serbian finance minister
- Lazar Krstic outlines new austerity reforms
- Serbia Finance Minister Lazar Krstic on Raft of Unprecedented Economic Reforms
- World Bank to Lend Serbia $490 Million After New Laws Approved
- U.S. Ambassador: Serbia won’t get reparations for NATO bombing
Humans can survive weeks without food, but only days without water — in some conditions, only hours. It may sound clichéd, but it’s no hyperbole: Water is life. So what happens when private companies control the spigot? Evidence from water privatization projects around the world paints a pretty clear picture — public health is at stake.
In the run-up to its annual spring meeting this month, the World Bank Group, which offers loans, advice and other resources to developing countries, held four days of dialogues in Washington, D.C. Civil society groups from around the world and World Bank Group staff convened to discuss many topics. Water was high on the list.
It was like a scene out of Le Carré: the brilliant agent comes in from the cold and, in hours of debriefing, empties his memory of horrors committed in the name of an ideology gone rotten. But this was a far bigger catch than some used-up Cold War spy. The former apparatchik was Joseph Stiglitz, ex-chief economist of the World Bank. The new world economic order was his theory come to life.
He was in Washington for the big confab of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. But instead of chairing meetings of ministers and central bankers, he was outside the police cordons. The World Bank fired Stiglitz two years ago. He was not allowed a quiet retirement: he was excommunicated purely for expressing mild dissent from globalisation World Bank-style.
Here in Washington we conducted exclusive interviews with Stiglitz, for The Observer and Newsnight, about the inside workings of the IMF, the World Bank, and the bank’s 51% owner, the US Treasury. And here, from sources unnamable (not Stiglitz), we obtained a cache of documents marked, ‘confidential’ and ‘restricted’.
The New Tyranny: How development experts have empowered dictators and helped to trap millions and millions of people in poverty
On the morning of Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010, the villagers of Mubende District, Uganda were in church when they heard the sound of gunfire. They came out to find men torching their homes and crops. The soldiers held them off at gunpoint from rescuing their homes; one 8-year-old child was trapped and died in the fire. The soldiers then marched off the 20,000 farmers from the land that had been in their families for generations. The reason for the violence was that a forestry project financed by the World Bank wanted the land.
The only thing that distinguishes this episode from the many human rights violations that happen in the name of development is that it got unusual publicity. The New York Times ran a front-page story on it on Sept. 21, 2011. The World Bank the next day promised an investigation. What is most revealing of all about this episode is what happened next: nothing. The World Bank never investigated its own actions in financing this project. Now, just after the fourth anniversary of the Mubende tragedy, it has been forgotten by nearly everyone except its victims.
The sad neglect of the rights of the poor in Mubende follows from the ideas behind the global war on poverty. Those who work in development prefer to focus on technical solutions to the poor’s problems, such as forestry projects, clean water supplies, or nutritional supplements. Development experts advise leaders they perceive to be benevolent autocrats to implement these technical solutions. The international professionals perpetrate an illusion that poverty is purely a technical problem, distracting attention away from the real cause: the unchecked power of the state against poor people without rights. The dictators whom experts are advising are not the solution — they are the problem.
Jim O’Neill is at it again. He is best known for inventing the acronym BRIC (now BRICS), a group of countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and then South Africa — which, he claimed, would dominate the world economy in the 21st century. Now he is suggesting that the MINTs (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) will have the same economic growth as China if they continue their market-orientated economic policies.
O’Neill, a British economist who used to work for the “vampire squid” investment bank Goldman Sachs, is pursuing a double objective. He is identifying emerging economies fit for investment by the global banking community; he says the BRICS and MINTs are knocking on a development door, which, if they’re pursuing the correct economic policies, will open wide to the benefits of economic growth. His view of the world system regards the self-interested actions of investment bankers as contributing to the development of poor countries; he and other neoliberal economists disguise the central dynamics of economic development under capitalism.
The contemporary world has unprecedented wealth, and mass poverty. Total global wealth was $241 trillion in 2013 and is expected to rise to $334 trillion by 2018. Yet the majority of people live in poverty. To suggest that rising global wealth and global poverty are interrelated, and that the former is premised upon the latter, is not something that most players in international development want to do because it would reveal the sordid foundation of their vision of development.
Human Rights group calls on World Bank to acknowledge role in the mass killing of one million Indonesians
The Oscar-nominated documentary THE ACT OF KILLING was projected on the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C. Thursday in an action by the East Timor and Indonesian Action Network. The group is calling on the World Bank to acknowledge its role in the 1965 military coup in Indonesia that lead to the massacre of an estimated one million civilians. The World Bank helped prop up the corrupt government of Suharto, the general who lead the coup and ordered the mass killings. The Bank sent the Suharto regime $30 billion in development aid over the course of three decades despite knowing $10 billion had been looted by the government.
“THE ACT OF KILLING powerfully highlights the ongoing impunity within Indonesia for the 1965 mass murders,” said John M. Miller of the East Timor and Indonesian Action Network. “Tonight we highlight the World Bank’s support for the Suharto regime, which knowingly backed his corrupt government while his post-coup body count climbed. We urge the World Bank to acknowledge its role in Suharto’s many crimes and to apologize and provide reparations to the survivors. Institutions like the World Bank must also be held accountable for their financial assistance to the murderers and decades of support as they continued to violate human rights.”
“The World Bank gave $30 billion dollars to a dictator who killed an estimated one million of his own citizens,” said THE ACT OF KILLING filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer. “The murderers spent years profiting off of their heinous crimes with the World Bank and other global financial institutions footing the bill.”
THE ACT OF KILLING, currently Oscar-nominated for Best Documentary feature, has been recognized as one of the best films of 2014. The film has received over 60 awards including Best Documentary from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). While the mass killings of 1965 are an open secret in Indonesia, the government has never acknowledged or apologized for sponsoring the murders. THE ACT OF KILLING, which has been shown in thousands of private screenings and is available free online throughout Indonesia, is empowering victims’ families to demand reparations from the government for the first time.
The World Bank’s Office of the Compliance Adviser/Ombudsman (CAO) determined on January 10 that the Bank’s private-sector lending arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), violated “its own ethical standards” when it “lent millions of dollars to a Honduran palm oil company [Dinant Corporation] accused of links to assassinations and forced evictions,” Nina Lakhani reported in the Guardian. Were this true—had the Bank really acted against its principles, displayed over decades of consistent action—then the appropriate response would be global celebration. But the IFC-Dinant incident is just the latest chapter in a miserable story.
Consider, for example, Honduras in the ’90s, when a “paradigm promoted by the World Bank” spurred “a massive re-concentration of land in the Aguán”—the valley where Dinant operates—“into the hands of a few influential elites,” Tanya Kerssen writes in Grabbing Power, her superb study. These land barons, particularly Dinant’s owner Miguel Facussé, thrived as “the Aguán cooperative sector was decimated,” some three-quarters of its land seized. Campesinos, suddenly dispossessed, first sought legal recourse, which failed. They subsequently “protested and occupied disputed land,” Rights Action’s Annie Bird writes in a crucial report, prompting government authorities to review the legitimacy of Bank-assisted territorial transfer. But the June 2009 coup ended this appraisal. Four School of the Americas (SOA) graduates directed Manuel Zelaya’s removal from power—“a crime,” a top Honduran military lawyer, himself an SOA alumnus, admitted, and proof “that the Obama administration had as weak a commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law as the preceding U.S. presidency,” British scholar Julia Buxton explained. Since then, Bird observes, Honduras’ 15th Battalion, Washington-aided “since at least 2008,” has “consistently been identified as initiating acts of violence against campesino movements,” with police forces and Dinant’s security guards getting in on the kills. The CAO paper puts the number of peasant murders since January 2010 at over 100.
In the past we have discussed at length the inevitable demise of the USD as the world’s reserve currency noting that nothing lasts forever. However, when former World Bank chief economist Justin Yifu Lin warns that “the dominance of the greenback is the root cause of global financial and economic crises,” we suspect the world will begin to listen (especially the Chinese. Lin, now – notably – an adviser to the Chinese government, concludes that internationalizing the Chinese currency is not the answer (preferring a basket approach) but ominously concludes, “the solution to this is to replace the national currency with a global currency,” as it will create more stable global financial system.
The infamous chart that shows nothing lasts forever…