Barak Obama advocates imperial investment, free trade, free capital expansion and pro-capitalist economic rationalization as cure to Middle East and North Africa Woes.
Opinion/Analysis May 19, 2011–New York
by Rawlinsview Blog
While US president Obama’s speech was commendable for its oratory and commitment to the liberal ideals of the Enlightenment era, It was loudest for its omissions. There was no real discussion of imperialism’s future plans for its escalating military intervention in North Africa as the NATO air campaign in Libya brushes up against the Tunisian border. There was no mention of ongoing drone attacks and preparations for intensified military intervention in Pakistan, nor the real possibility that the US may soon find itself in direct military conflict with the Pakistani security forces. There was no mention of the feudal political structures of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) states, which in there majority have no viable constitutions and are ruled by hereditary absolute monarchies and in which millions of migrant workers who have no political rights at all perform much of the productive labor. There was no mention of Saudi Arabia, a nation in which there are no political rights granted to the population at all. It was as if the world’s largest oil producer and greatest purchaser of US military hardware did not exist as a partner in the military intervention in the Libyan civil war and was not, with the UAE, a perpetrator in the occupation of Bahrain and repression of the Bahraini Shia . There was certainly no mention of the oppressed Shia population within Saudi Arabia that has mounted protests against the attacks on their co-believers in Bahrain. There was no mention of persistent demonstrations and strikes in Oman. There was no mention of the working class or trade union rights.
It must be considered a victory for the political movement for a democratic and secular republic in Bahrain that Obama was compelled to address some of their complaints. In his speech he included the demolition of Shia places of worship and the imprisonment of the leaders of the non-violent protests which took place there. Clearly the ongoing resistance of the Bahraini Shia to the occupation of their villages and the loud and persistent solidarity which they have received from activists the world over who have trumpeted their cause has had a political impact. At the same time Obama made it again clear that the Kalifa monarchy was to be treated as an ally of US imperialism and that the US would not stand by any movement which called for an end to Monarchial rule. The Obama administration and the Clinton State department are clearly seeking a “solution” to the “problems’ and “turmoil’ in Bahrain. A “solution” is not the same thing as democratic rule.
A significant focus of the speech amounted to a free trade and investment proposal in Egypt and Tunisia.
So, drawing from what we’ve learned around the world, we think it’s important to focus on trade, not just aid; on investment, not just assistance. The goal must be a model in which protectionism gives way to openness, the reigns of commerce pass from the few to the many, and the economy generates jobs for the young. America’s support for democracy will therefore be based on ensuring financial stability, promoting reform, and integrating competitive markets with each other and the global economy. And we’re going to start with Tunisia and Egypt.
First, we’ve asked the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to present a plan at next week’s G8 summit for what needs to be done to stabilize and modernize the economies of Tunisia and Egypt. Together, we must help them recover from the disruptions of their democratic upheaval, and support the governments that will be elected later this year. And we are urging other countries to help Egypt and Tunisia meet its near-term financial needs.
Second, we do not want a democratic Egypt to be saddled by the debts of its past. So we will relieve a democratic Egypt of up to $1 billion in debt, and work with our Egyptian partners to invest these resources to foster growth and entrepreneurship. We will help Egypt regain access to markets by guaranteeing $1 billion in borrowing that is needed to finance infrastructure and job creation. And we will help newly democratic governments recover assets that were stolen.
Third, we’re working with Congress to create Enterprise Funds to invest in Tunisia and Egypt. And these will be modeled on funds that supported the transitions in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. OPIC will soon launch a $2 billion facility to support private investment across the region. And we will work with the allies to refocus the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development so that it provides the same support for democratic transitions and economic modernization in the Middle East and North Africa as it has in Europe.
Fourth, the United States will launch a comprehensive Trade and Investment Partnership Initiative in the Middle East and North Africa. If you take out oil exports, this entire region of over 400 million people exports roughly the same amount as Switzerland. So we will work with the EU to facilitate more trade within the region, build on existing agreements to promote integration with U.S. and European markets, and open the door for those countries who adopt high standards of reform and trade liberalization to construct a regional trade arrangement. And just as EU membership served as an incentive for reform in Europe, so should the vision of a modern and prosperous economy create a powerful force for reform in the Middle East and North Africa.
Prosperity also requires tearing down walls that stand in the way of progress — the corruption of elites who steal from their people; the red tape that stops an idea from becoming a business; the patronage that distributes wealth based on tribe or sect. We will help governments meet international obligations, and invest efforts at anti-corruption — by working with parliamentarians who are developing reforms, and activists who use technology to increase transparency and hold government accountable. Politics and human rights; economic reform.
Tweet this article Tweet