Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Way To Beat The Empire

...is for countries threatened by it to come together and build stronger economic and military ties. Which, thankfully, is what's happening.

The website Belarus Today reports that as many as 18 agreements on trade and economic cooperation were signed during the recent visit of an official Belarus delegation to Venezuela. A most important result was Belarus’ plan to launch commercial oil production in Venezuela by the end of 2007. Venezuela allowed Belarus to choose two oil deposits with a developed infrastructure and big oil reserves.
In return, Belarus will also supply Venezuela with $49 million worth of building and road machinery, 1,000 tonnes of whole milk powder and $14.5 million worth of equipment made by Minsk Wheeled Tractor Plant (MZKT).
The total of trade and economic contracts, excluding military ones, amounts to $250 million. The total of military contracts exceeds $1bn.

Belarus and Venezuela are natural allies: both are progressive, independent, socialist democracies who are following entirely different economic and social agendas to the neo-liberal one laid down by the Empire, one which benefits only multinationals and the very rich. Because of their independence, the leaders of Belarus and Venezuela have been demonised: both President Lukashenko and President Chavez have been called 'dictators' despite their regular election successes and the overwhelming popularity both men command in their respective countries.

Around the world today we are witnessing the formation of an alternative power bloc, of which the Belarus-Venezuela trade/military agreement is the latest step.
For all those who support the ideas of a truly democratic world, one in which the economic and social path a country follows is decided by the people of the country itself, and not by unelected bankers, it's an extremely positive development.

18 comments:

dymoz said...

So when are you emigrating to Belarus to give them support on the ground?

Honestly, I can't think why you haven't done so already: compared with the hell-hole that is modern Britain, you make Belarus sound like a veritable paradise on earth.

And I'm sure they'd welcome you with open arms. Possibly legs too.

Anonymous said...

Anyone not contorted into helpless fits of laughter by Neil Clark's love-in with the Stalinist dictator of Belarus -- well, you should be. But only after you read this:

http://web.amnesty.org/report2003/blr-summary-eng

Neil Clark said...

Lukashenko is not a "Stalinist dictator".

From the British Helsinki Human Rights Group report on Belarus:
http://www.bhhrg.org/CountryReport.asp?CountryID=4

"BHHRG visited Belarus in the pre-election period returning three weeks later to observe the conduct of the poll. The Group has monitored elections in the country on a regular basis since 1994 when Lukashenko came to power. During the past 12 years its regular monitors have witnessed the vast improvements that have taken place in the republic’s economy and standard of living as well as the stirrings of a genuine, home grown civil society. Yet, politicians and journalists in the West continue to refer to the country as a Stalinist outpost and economic basket case.
A workable, social democratic model of the type once favoured by the EU now flourishes in Belarus where everyone is all too familiar with the costs of the reform agenda that has ravaged other post-Soviet republics."

Anonymous said...

No neutral observer should take anything the BHHRG says very seriously. Even a description of them as dispassionate as their Wikipedia entry more than explains why. Stick with what Amnesty says.

Neil Clark's political model of choice is command economy authoritarianism. Mr Belarus adds the Stalinist trimmings of disappearances and alleged torture too. Belarus is also the only country left in Europe that practises the death penalty, which must have NC salivating with pleasure. What a shining alternative to the evils of the neocon 'empire'.

Anonymous said...

Human Rights Watch on the 'appalling human rights record' of Belarus:

http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/05/15/belaru15932.htm

Neil Clark said...

Would that be the same "Human Rights Watch" which is funded by that well-known supporter of 'democracy' Mr George Soros?

http://www.newstatesman.com/200306020019

shatner's bassoon said...

Oh, this is priceless. In the context of a discussion about whether Neil Clark's views on Belarus are to be trusted, he slags off George Soros - and as "proof", he links to an article by...

...Neil Clark!

I'm sure that will cause his readers to convert to the anti-Soros cause in droves.

By the way, you haven't linked to an anti-Amnesty piece to counter the link in the second comment. Perhaps you haven't got round to writing one yet.

Neil Clark said...

It's not just me who has written about the bias of Human Rights Watch, shatner....


http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=12200

the funky gibbon said...

Anyone not contorted into helpless fits of laughter by Neil Clark's love-in with the Stalinist dictator of Belarus -- well, you should be. But only after you read this:

To pre-empt the obvious riposte that that Amnesty report is five years old, here's the 2007 edition:

"The clampdown on civil society continued. The number of convictions of civil society activists increased as legal changes limiting freedom of association introduced at the end of 2005 came into effect. Opposition activists were subjected to harassment and arbitrarily detained. Mass detentions of peaceful demonstrators took place after presidential elections in March. The government did not adequately protect women against violence in the home. Use of the death penalty continued. No progress was made in investigations into four cases of enforced disappearance."

Anonymous said...

I would respect Neil Clark if he'd just come out with it, once and for all, and say 'Belarus is not a democracy. It is an authoritarian state with a terrible human rights record. But since it isn't as bad as the USA, whatever they get up to is fine by me.'

greenriver said...

venezuela and belarus are natural allies, bearing an alternative economic model to prosaic capitlaist consumption but what is interesting is that both have a growing free market - who will this couple with their ideals? Neil Clarke is right to highlight the trend of these two countries. Much like opposition in democracy is important, so too is opposition on the world stage.

PS to compare Lukashenko to Stalin is slightly alarmist and sensationlist. let have more constructive comments, please!

kralc lein said...

Neil, you know the answer to this as well as I do, so this is a purely rhetorical question, but...

...if you were to pick 100 Americans and 100 Belarusians at random and offer them the chance to emigrate to each other's countries, gaining full citizenship rights in the process, which group of people do you think would be most enthused by the suggestion?

And why do you think that would be?

David Lindsay said...

John Pilger was largely on fine form last night. Britain has a real opportunity here. Using a formula based on the country in question's own wealth, it should guarantee social democracy (and that is all that, say, Chávez, wants - social democracy with national sovereignty, like the Labour Party back when it really was the Labour Party) to any state on earth which:

1. adopted or retained the Westminster model of parliamentary democracy, capped and safeguarded by the monarchy;

2. acceded to or remained in the Commonwealth;

3. used British Standard English at least as one of its official languages;

4. used the pound sterling at least as the reserve currency, and preferably as legal tender;

5. gave priority to British goods, services and capital (the EU cannot stop people from being nice to us like that);

6. signed a common defence treaty with Britain and every other participating country, and which integrated its own armed forces into an overall British command structure; and

7. agreed to use any seat on any international body in accordance with British direction, itself formulated in close consultation with all the participating countries.

Those participating countries would be called the Associated States of the United Kingdom. I say again, subject to the above conditions absolutely anywhere could become one.

Anonymous said...

My god.

That is truly despicable.

Chavez is busy building the infrastructure for a totalitarian state.

Belarus is a totalitarian state which engages in disappearances and possibly torture. A state in which people are dying because of the policies and central control of the regime.

Its sad that people who claim to want a better life for people throw their weight behind such people rather than supporting freedom and human rights and the free market which brings them.

If Neil Clark wants to live in such a country the I suggest he goes and lives there. I'm sure they'll put him up in style (at the expense of the poor of course) and let him publish propaganda missives.
If of course he wishes to say something not liked by the regime he won't be able to publish that, but never mind, it is in the best interests of the state.

The sooner the left looks at itself and realises that it has so many totalitarians in its midst who are little different from the totalitarians they hate on the right, the better.

Perhaps then we can have a movement dedicated to liberty, prosperity, human rights and the pursuit of happiness to counter the authoritarians and totalitarians.

macquechoux said...

"both are both are progressive, independent, socialist democracies "

So your idea of a progressive, independent, socialist democracy is closing TV stations and newspapers that don't share your views. Oh, I guess every progressive democracy's president always appoint themselves president for life, don't they?

Anonymous said...

I, entirely seriously, would like to know why you continue to live in the UK rather than Belarus?

Neil Clark said...

anonymous:
1. I'm British and my family and many of my friends live here.
2.My work is here.
3. British horse racing is best and most varied in the world.

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight, the benevolent west has the right to change regimes at will, even though these so called regimes have never attacked anyone, especially anyone in the west...unless of course what we really mean here is that as long as regimes are not subservient to total control by the west then they are communists, Nazi, and fascist regimes, their leaders are communist, Nazi, and fascist dictators, and human right abusers.

I guess the western so called politically correct citizens (like the ones attacking Neal Clark, and not the message) need to get a clue...

Now, let me see Belarus or Belorussian leaders didn't undermine any International laws or treaties, UN Charter, or any of it's neighbors sovereignty? So what is the beef, or more precisely where is the beef? The US and its subservient European followers both in Eastern Europe as well as Western Europe are ready and able to serve at a moments notice. US/EU and NATO are the elements of the new Empire ready to do everything and anything to stay in power (currently economy is the only obstacle), the Empire is above the law in all cases, it has the right to undermine UN in every case.

Well these words come to mind “Do as I say, not as I do'...and I believe a political commentator made this point recently, he said the following in his article:
[…]
Though the speech
("http:/enduringamerica.com/2009/07/07/transcript-obama-speech-at-new-economic-school-in-russia-7-july/")

Obama gave at the New Economic School in Moscow on July 7 was well written and well delivered, it is hard to see how the reaction to it could have been anything but incredulity. Having endured seven decades of violent hypocrisy, Russians can smell it a mile away – and Obama’s speech reeked of it.

Take this, for example: "In 2009, a great power does not show strength
by dominating or demonizing other countries. The days when empires could treat sovereign states as pieces on a chess board are over.
"

Isn’t it Obama’s own country that routinely dominates and demonizes entire nations, and invents Hitlers du jour to justify its overseas military adventures? And isn’t the most notable theorist of the "grand chessboard"
Obama’s old professor from Columbia,

("http://metrogael.blogspot.com/2009/06/zinibiew-brzesinski-and-obama-doctrine.html")

Zbigniew Brzezinski, an unrepentant Russophobe?


It gets better. Surely Obama was aware that the U.S. pioneered the method of regime-change now known as the "color revolution" and used it first in Serbia (2000), then in Georgia (2003) and Ukraine (2004). His Russian audience certainly was. Yet he looked them in the eye and said, "America will not seek to impose any system of government on any other country, nor would we presume to choose which party or individual should run a country."

Finally, even though it was Washington that interfered in Georgia and Ukraine to install friendly regimes; even though it was the U.S. that pushed the hardest for the "

("http://www.antiwar.com/malic/?articleid=12401")

independence" of the occupied Serbian province of Kosovo; and it was the U.S. that attacked Serbia in 1999 and Iraq in 2003, in

("http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/aug/14/usa.kosovo")

clear violation of international law, Obama had the sheer gall to say:

"State sovereignty must be a cornerstone of international order. Just as all states should have the right to choose their leaders, states must have the right to borders that are secure, and to their own foreign policies. That is true for Russia, just as it is true for the United States. Any system that cedes those rights will lead to anarchy. That is why this principle must apply to all nations – including Georgia and Ukraine. America will never impose a security arrangement on another country."

[…]
(http://original.antiwar.com/malic/2009/07/14/overload/)