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Friday, March 24, 2006

Some Chomsky

I doubt Oliver "Krapp" Kamm can write anything like this stuff (or attract the attentions of Elle Macpherson, that's for sure!)

"New World Relationships": Noam Chomsky, Khaleej Times, March 10, 2006

The prospect that Europe and Asia might move toward greater
independence has troubled US planners since World War II. The
concerns have only risen as the ‘tripolar order’ — Europe, North
America and Asia — has continued to evolve. Every day, Latin America,
too, is becoming more independent. Now Asia and the Americas are
strengthening their ties while the reigning superpower, the odd man
out, consumes itself in misadventures in the Middle East.

Regional integration in Asia and Latin America is a crucial and
increasingly important issue that, from Washington's perspective,
betokens a defiant world gone out of control. Energy, of course,
remains a defining factor — the object of contention — everywhere.
China, unlike Europe, refuses to be intimidated by Washington, a
primary reason for the fear of China by US planners, which presents a
dilemma: Steps towards confrontation are inhibited by US corporate
reliance on China as an export platform and growing market, as well
as China's financial reserves, reported to be approaching Japan's in

In January, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin
Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia visited Beijing, which is expected to lead
to a Sino-Saudi memorandum of understanding calling for "increased
cooperation and investment between the two countries in oil, natural
gas and investment," The Wall Street Journal reports. Already, much
of Iran's oil goes to China, and China is providing Iran with weapons
that both states presumably regard as deterrent to US designs. India
also has options. India may choose to be a US client, or it may
prefer to join the more independent Asian bloc that is taking shape,
with ever more ties to Middle East oil producers. Siddarth
Varadarajan, deputy editor of The Hindu, observes that "if the 21st
century is to be an 'Asian century,' Asia's passivity in the energy
sector has to end."

The key is India-China cooperation. In January, an agreement signed
in Beijing "cleared the way for India and China to collaborate not
only in technology, but also in hydrocarbon exploration and
production, a partnership that could eventually alter fundamental
equations in the world's oil and natural gas sector," Varadarjan
points out. An additional step, already being contemplated, is an
Asian oil market trading in euros. The impact on the international
financial system and the balance of global power could be
significant. It should be no surprise that President Bush paid a
recent visit to try to keep India in the fold, offering nuclear
cooperation and other inducements as a lure.

Meanwhile, in Latin America, left-centre governments prevail from
Venezuela to Argentina. The indigenous populations have become much
more active and influential, particularly in Bolivia and Ecuador,
where they either want oil and gas to be domestically controlled or,
in some cases, oppose production altogether. Many indigenous people
apparently do not see any reason why their lives, societies and
cultures should be disrupted or destroyed so that New Yorkers can sit
in their SUVs in traffic gridlock.

Venezuela, the leading oil exporter in the hemisphere, has forged
probably the closest relations with China of any Latin American
country, and is planning to sell increasing amounts of oil to China
as part of its effort to reduce dependence on the openly hostile US
government. Venezuela has joined Mercosur, the South American customs
union, a move described by Argentine President Nestor Kirchner as ‘a
milestone’ in the development of this trading bloc, and welcomed as a
"new chapter in our integration" by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio
Lula da Silva. Venezuela, apart from supplying Argentina with fuel
oil, bought almost a third of Argentine debt issued in 2005, one
element of a region-wide effort to free the countries from the
controls of the International Monetary Fund after two decades of
disastrous conformity to the rules imposed by the US -dominated
international financial institutions. Steps towards Southern Cone
integration advanced further in December with the election of Evo
Morales in Bolivia, the country's first indigenous president. Morales
moved quickly to reach a series of energy accords with Venezuela.

The Financial Times reported that these "are expected to underpin
forthcoming radical reforms to Bolivia's economy and energy sector"
with its huge gas reserves, second only to Venezuela's in South
America. Cuba-Venezuela relations are becoming ever closer, each
relying on its comparative advantage. Venezuela is providing low-cost
oil, while in return Cuba organises literacy and health programmes,
sending thousands of highly-skilled professionals, teachers and
doctors, who work in the poorest and most neglected areas, as they do
elsewhere in the Third World.

Cuban medical assistance is also being welcomed elsewhere. One of the
most horrendous tragedies of recent years was the earthquake in
Pakistan last October. Besides the huge death toll, unknown numbers
of survivors have to face brutal winter weather with little shelter,
food or medical assistance. “Cuba has provided the largest contingent
of doctors and paramedics to Pakistan," paying all the costs (perhaps
with Venezuelan funding), writes John Cherian in India's Frontline,
citing Dawn, a leading Pakistan daily.

President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan expressed his ‘deep gratitude’
to Fidel Castro for the ‘spirit and compassion’ of the Cuban medical
teams —reported to comprise more than 1,000 trained personnel, 44 per
cent of them women, who remained to work in remote mountain villages,
"living in tents in freezing weather and in an alien culture" after
Western aid teams had been withdrawn. Growing popular movements,
primarily in the South, but with increasing participation in the rich
industrial countries, are serving as the bases for many of these
developments towards more independence and concern for the needs of
the great majority of the population.


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