Articles relevant to the issue of empire.

Mali: African solution to an African Problem (2)

Note by HealthWrights staff

Africans quite rightly suspect European and American interventions on their continent. This article, from an African newspaper, explains why. The health of the African continent was not served by the colonialism and imperialism of the past, nor will it be well served by the no-colonialism that is now creating chaos on the continent. We need to listen to African voices when we want to learn about Africa. Western journalism serves NATO which, as this article points out, is essentially the military arm of the multi-national banks and corporations. The western media it is mostly propaganda that is aimed not at educating people, but at convincing them of the rightness of the illegal wars that are being waged on a permanent basis by the United States and its allies.

The article

Pambazuka News


Mali: African solution to an African Problem

Omoyele Sowore of SaharaTV interviews Prof. Horace Campbell on the crisis in Mali

Horace G. Campbell

2013-02-06, Issue 615

cc L M
The jihadists in Mali are a real threat to freedom, peace and security in the country and region. But French military intervention will not solve the problem. The regional bloc ECOWAS must take the lead in the search for a political solution.

OMOYELE SOWORE: Professor Horace Campbell is a noted peace and justice international scholar and a professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY. He has a book coming out in March called ‘Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya’. Professor Horace Campbell, welcome to Sahara TV.

Let’s go into this directly. What do you think is happening in Mali? Why is the world suddenly interested in Mali and how do you think we got here, because apparently now France is bombing and there are troops over there and there have been a lot of responses all over the world? People need to understand this and that is why we have you on our show today.

HORACE CAMPBELL: Well, I think your viewers should remember that it was two years ago that African politics changed with the revolution in Tunisia and in Egypt. With these two revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt we had counter revolutions in Libya. The western financial speculators along with their army which is called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – called NATO – used the expedience of the responsibility to protect to invade Libya and destabilize the country, creating a situation with militias and eventually executing the president, Muammar Gaddafi.

Mali and South Africa are two countries in Africa that have a very strong civil society, which in Mali is organized at different levels: in trade unions, in youth groups, students groups, women’s organizations, cooperatives, Islamic organizations and they have been active since 1992 to change the political process. Now in the context where South Africa and Mali have this tradition of people organizing to defend their livelihood, western countries are afraid of the potential of the ideas of revolution - that came from Tunisia and Egypt – that those ideas may cascade and spread across Africa, as they will, and that there is nothing to stop the revolutionary momentum because the revolution is calling for one thing: The people of Africa want a better quality of life; the people of Africa want the resources and wealth of Africa to change their standard of living; the people of Africa want unity and reconstruction of Africa; and the people of Africa want peace.

Today the most important Malian singer, a woman, came out with a new song calling for peace and says that peace can come from the people of Mali. Now, here we have a situation where the worst imperialist in relation to Africa for the last 180 years [is involved in military intervention]. France invaded Algeria first in 1830. France was involved in a brutal war against the Algerian people when they fought for independence. France assisted in destabilizing Africa in the Congo. France has supported military dictatorships all over Africa. How could France suggest to people that they are in Africa to help Africa? That is something Africans will not accept.

However, Africans are put in a very difficult situation because of the jihadists who destroyed one of the most important cultural sites in Africa – Timbuktu. These jihadists have been financed by the United States of America for the last ten years under the so-called Pan Sahel Initiative and the United States of America with their African Command financed these jihadists to overthrow Gaddafi. So Africans…caught in a trap, what do we do against these jihadists?

Can ECOWAS send troops to fight beside France, which is a bigger enemy than the jihadists? These are real problems and these problems require priority, organization and political mobilization for peace in Africa. It cannot be short-term and be driven by the Western propaganda about what is going on in Mali.

OMOYELE SOWORE: Thank you, professor. You have just laid out what happened and how we got here, but it is also important going forward, what would you suggest - with the kind of leadership in Africa now, that led to the leadership in Tunisia and Egypt, the kind of leadership we have in Nigeria that has been engaged in corruption and looting of the common wealth … in several African countries where there have been dictators and where they have refused to allow the civil society, you mentioned, which exists in Mali and South Africa to flourish. How do we trust these internal colonialists? Are they not bigger enemies in some cases to Africa than even the western countries who have financed and supported and sometimes helped them hide their loot in their various vaults?

HORACE CAMPBELL: No possibility. Most of these African exploiters that you have mentioned would not be able to stand on their own two feet without the support of western military and financial institutions. What we saw in the Congo in 1997, where after 32 years of Mobutu, who was supposed to be this strong person, collapsed overnight. Now with the Mali situation I cannot be very simplistic. It is a complex situation and as the French say, it is a complex operation. But that complexity should have us not take our eyes off the number one question, which is: This matter cannot be solved militarily, it has to be solved politically by the organization of the people of Mali to isolate these people, and ECOWAS must come in to support the people of Mali and we must call for the withdrawal of French troops. That is the bottom line. ECOWAS must be the main force and in my view this attempt by France to intervene in Mali is to lay the foundation to bring the United States into a war to further militarize Africa because France on its own cannot afford a military operation in Africa at this particularly historical juncture. They have a financial crisis and for France to continue fighting it needs the support of the European Union and the United States of America – well, the European Union is bankrupt.

We have heard about a telephone call between the French President Hollande and the British Prime Minister Cameron that was very instructive. He was calling on the British to give more support. The Europeans do not have the financial or the military wherewithal to intervene in Africa at this particular moment. Therefore they need the United States and the United States Africa Command but it is the United States Africa Command that created a condition for what we see in Mali today. One: Half a billion dollars was spent in the last ten years on what was called the Pan Sahel Initiative; Number Two: What’s happening in Mali is a direct result of the destabilization of North Africa and the war in Libya. Number Three: The United States African Command was discredited when its ambassador was killed in Benghazi because it was allied with militias – the same militias and jihadists that they are financing to fight in Syria - and the United States African Command is under review, because progressive African scholars are calling for the dismantling of Africom.

Now, if Africom and the United States get involved in this war in Africa it will create a situation where we will have to mobilize even greater in the United States of America and lastly, this is about Nigeria. Nigeria is a giant and a powerhouse in Africa. The attempt by the Wahabi, who are the conservative Islamists, to destabilize Nigeria is part of the plan of imperialism to make Nigeria weak. They have failed so far. They may kill a few people with what they call Boko Haram but the Nigerian people, since 1970, made a commitment that there will never be another civil war in Nigeria that will kill three million people and the Nigerian revolution which now requires political organization, mobilization, education from the Nigerian people to root out the corrupt elements in Nigeria is at the heart of the unification of Africa, bringing one currency for Africa, one freedom of movement across Africa.

So this invasion of Mali has complexities that we have to be clear about and that is why we have to be tactical to say the United Nations Security Council must call for the withdrawal of France from Mali and give support to ECOWAS to fight the jihadists.

OMOYELE SOWORE: Prof Horace Campbell, that’s all the time we have for you but it’s important to mention that you have struck at the heart of something that is important to us on this show - you have said that Nigeria needs a revolution and looks like they know that Nigeria is on the path to a revolution that will root out the corrupt elements that have held Nigeria down and this can also be linked to what we are saying now, maybe to slow down the momentum. I think it’s a very deep and fundamental submission that you have made and we appreciate you coming onto this show. We want to remind viewers that you have a book coming out – ‘Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya’. It will be coming out in March.

Thank you very much.


Libya: It’s Not About Oil, It’s About Currency and Loans

mass_deceptionNote by HealthWrights Staff

Endlessly the government spins noble but fanciful narratives about its illegal, brutal and ill-advised wars, and the mainstream press distributes these narratives to the people along with its soaps and advertisements. The reality, on the other hand, is always pretty much the same. These wars are not about democracy and human rights. They are about oil and power. They are about maintaining the power of a dying empire, and even more about protecting and increasing the wealth of the already obscenely wealthy. The sooner the people in this country are able to set aside their Walt Disney image of reality, and see the real world for what it is, the sooner we will be able to create a real world worth living in. The article below does a very nice job clarifying the reasons for the United State's latest violation of the Nuremberg Accords.

The Main Article

"Information Clearing House" -- WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- World Bank President Robert Zoellick Thursday said he hopes the institution will have a role rebuilding Libya as it emerges from current unrest.

Zoellick at a panel discussion noted the bank's early role in the reconstruction of France, Japan and other nations after World War II.

"Reconstruction now means (Ivory Coast), it means southern Sudan, it means Liberia, it means Sri Lanka, I hope it will mean Libya," Zoellick said.

 On Ivory Coast, Zoellick said he hoped that within "a couple weeks" the bank would move forward with "some hundred millions of dollars of emergency support." ( By Jeffrey Sparshott, Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES –full article here)

We listen to U.S. spokespeople try to explain why we’re suddenly now entangled in another Middle East war. Many of us find ourselves questioning the official justifications. We are aware that the true causes of our engagement are rarely discussed in the media or by our government.

While many of the rationalizations describe resources, especially oil, as the reasons why we should be in that country, there are also an increasing number of dissenting voices. For the most part, these revolve around Libya’s financial relationship with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), and multinational corporations.

According to the IMF, Libya’s Central Bank is 100% state owned. The IMF estimates that the bank has nearly 144 tons of gold in its vaults. It is significant that in the months running up to the UN resolution that allowed the US and its allies to send troops into Libya, Muammar al-Qaddafi was openly advocating the creation of a new currency that would rival the dollar and the euro. In fact, he called upon African and Muslim nations to join an alliance that would make this new currency, the gold dinar, their primary form of money and foreign exchange. They would sell oil and other resources to the US and the rest of the world only for gold dinars.

The US, the other G-8 countries, the World Bank, IMF, BIS, and multinational corporations do not look kindly on leaders who threaten their dominance over world currency markets or who appear to be moving away from the international banking system that favors the corporatocracy. Saddam Hussein had advocated policies similar to those expressed by Qaddafi shortly before the US sent troops into Iraq.

In my talks, I often find it necessary to remind audiences of a point that seems obvious to me but is misunderstood by so many: that the World Bank is not really a world bank at all; it is, rather a U. S. bank. Ditto, its closest sibling, the IMF. In fact, if one looks at the World Bank and IMF executive boards and the votes each member of the board has, one sees that the United States controls about 16 percent of the votes in the World Bank - (Compared with Japan at about 7%, the second largest member, China at 4.5%, Germany with 4.00%, and the United Kingdom and France with about 3.8% each), nearly 17% of the IMF votes (Compared with Japan and Germany at about 6% and UK and France at nearly 5%), and the US holds veto power over all major decisions. Furthermore, the United States President appoints the World Bank President.

So, we might ask ourselves: What happens when a “rogue” country threatens to bring the banking system that benefits the corporatocracy to its knees? What happens to an “empire” when it can no longer effectively be overtly imperialistic?

One definition of “Empire” (per my book The Secret History of the American Empire) states that an empire is a nation that dominates other nations by imposing its own currency on the lands under its control. The empire maintains a large standing military that is ready to protect the currency and the entire economic system that depends on it through extreme violence, if necessary. The ancient Romans did this. So did the Spanish and the British during their days of empire-building. Now, the US or, more to the point, the corporatocracy, is doing it and is determined to punish any individual who tries to stop them. Qaddafi is but the latest example.

Understanding the war against Quaddafi as a war in defense of empire is another step in the direction of helping us ask ourselves whether we want to continue along this path of empire-building. Or do we instead want to honor the democratic principles we are taught to believe are the foundations of our country?

History teaches that empires do not endure; they collapse or are overthrown. Wars ensue and another empire fills the vacuum. The past sends a compelling message. We must change. We cannot afford to watch history repeat itself.

Let us not allow this empire to collapse and be replaced by another. Instead, let us all vow to create a new consciousness. Let the grass-roots movements in the Middle East – fostered by the young who must live with the future and are fueled through social networks – inspire us to demand that our country, our financial institutions and the corporations that depend on us to buy their goods and services commit themselves to fashioning a world that is sustainable, just, peaceful, and prosperous for all.

We stand at the threshold. It is time for you and me to step across that threshold, to move out of the dark void of brutal exploitation and greed into the light of compassion and cooperation.



Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche

Note by HealthWrights staff

A number of important points are made in this fine review of Ethan Watters' book: That our simplistic, reductionist ideas about “mental health” are perhaps disease producing. That when big multinationals get into the act, profit trumps all other concerns and values. That diversity is connected to health. The number of people in prisons plus the number of people in mental hospitals provides a good indication of the general health of a society. By this criteria we should not be exporting our culture. Rather we should be learning from those who have a more holistic and humanistic understanding of mental health.

From Karen Franklin's Blog on forensic psychology and criminology, In The News.

A successful virus is adaptive. It evolves as needed to survive and colonize new hosts. By this definition, contemporary American psychiatry is a very successful virus. Exploiting cracks that emerge in times of cultural transition, it exports DSM depression to Japan and posttraumatic stress disorder to Sri Lanka.

Journalist Ethan Watters masterfully evokes the heady admixture of moral certainty and profit motive that drives U.S. clinicians and pharmaceutical companies as they evangelically push Western psychiatry around the globe. On the ground in Sri Lanka following the tsunami, for example, hordes of Western counselors hit the ground running, aggressively competing for access to a native population "clearly in denial" about the extent of their trauma. Backing up the foot soldiers are corporations like Pfizer, eager to market the antidepressant Zoloft to a virgin population.

Watters has done his homework. Each of his four examples of DSM-style disorders being introduced around the world is rich in historical and cultural context. Despite their divergences, each successful expansion hinges on the mutual faith of both the colonizers and the colonized that Western approaches represent the pillar of scientific progress.

It is ironic that Americans are so smugly assured of the superiority of our cultural beliefs and practices, in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary. Do we really want others to emulate a country with skyrocketing levels of emotional distress, where jails and prisons are the primary sites of mental health care? Does our simplistic cultural metaphor of mental illness as a "chemical imbalance, " with human minds reduced to "a batter of chemicals we carry around in the mixing bowls of our skulls," represent true enlightenment?

Our implicit condescension is made explicit if we imagine the converse, one of Watters' interview subjects points out: "Imagine our reaction if Mozambicans flew over after 9/11 and began telling survivors that they needed to engage in a certain set of rituals in order to sever their relationships with their deceased family members. How would that sit with us?"

Not only is our missionary zeal condescending, it may be harmful. Watters provides evidence to suggest that the "hyperintrospective" and "hyperindividualist" model of Western psychiatry can be destabilizing to time-worn, tried-and-true indigenous healing practices, in some cases even producing the problems we naively believe we are combating.

"What is certain," Watters cautions in his conclusion, "is that in other places in the world, cultural conceptions of the mind remain more intertwined with a variety of religious and cultural beliefs as well as the ecological and social world. They have not yet separated the mind from the body, nor have they disconnected individual mental health from that of the group. With little appreciation of these differences, we continue our efforts to convince the rest of the world to think like us. Given the level of contentment and psychological health our cultural beliefs about the mind have brought us, perhaps it's time that we rethink our generosity."

Perhaps it is already too late to turn back the tide. Thanks to the exportation of Western diet and lifestyle, 19 out of 20 inhabitants of the tiny island of Nauru in the Pacific Islands are now obese. Previously hardy islanders are stroking out in their 20s and 30s. The globalization of the American psyche is more insidious, but perhaps in the end it will prove equally catastrophic.

Reading Crazy Like Us left me with a nightmare image of a homogeneous future world with McDonald's and Starbucks (see my review of Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce, and Culture) on every corner, obesity gone wild, and Western psychiatry reigning supreme

This Politics of Health Website is a Project of HealthWrights