Rob Kall, editor, opednews.comPerusing the Wall Street Journal:
The editorial that caught my attention enough to buy today's issue of the WSJ off the stands reads, :
At State, a Chavez Foe is Labeled a Terrorist. by Mary Anastasio O'Grady. She reports "The US State Department has revoked the diplomatic and tourist visas of one of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's most tenacious adversaries, the decorated Army General Enrique Medina Gomez. . She goes on to say " Mr. Chavez is well on his way to replacing Castro as the region's most fearsome tyrant..."
This is the same Chavez who was democratically elected, who the US sided against when a failed military coup was attempted. My guess is, there are still some non-partisan people in the State Department who have some clout, who are not total pawns of the Neocons. They've pulled his visas because they've seen that this General is another fascist, probably supported by the oil money (possibly the same Scaife-Mellon, Olin, etc. oil money that funds PNAC, Heritage, CATO, etc.) that supported the strikes by oil workers not too long ago.
I read on. She levels accusations that "Chavez has enjoyed warm relations with Castro, Columbian Guerrillas and Saddam Hussein." Ewwww. That's nasty. I'll bet she had to repress the urge to say that he's harboring weapons of mass destruction and is friends with Bin Laden. .
She appears to champion the general's civil disobedience, in which "he and 11 other generals and scores of military men" demanded that Chavez resign or allow new elections. (The aforementioned failed coup.) She refers to a fascinating article in West Point's "Assembly" journal, titled "Justified Insubordination." This is worth reading. It starts off by commenting on actions by a group of Venezuelan military officers, with an astonishing suggestion by West Point Graduate and Distinguished Service Cross holder author Gil Dorland, that mutiny as a response to the Viet Nam war was possible, "these ranking officers have put their beliefs before their careers, bringing back memories of Viet Nam and America 's uniformed leadership 's failure to oppose the White House 's decisions. Had the Joint Chiefs threatened to resign en masse, many believe that history would have recorded a totally different conclusion, a regret that GEN Harold K. Johnson took to his grave."
This is a frightening thought. While it might have been a good idea at the time of the Viet Nam war, it is frightening now, because it is an idea that is being presented to the students and alumni of West Point-- the current and future military leaders of the US. It describes a scenario that the US-- the Bush administration-- supported, in which the military took over the government from the elected president, forced him to resign, and then installed as the temporary, puppet head, the head of the Chamber of Commerce-- talk about corporation's running rampant!!
The article goes on to complain that Venezuela is selling oil below market value to Cuba. It fails to mention that part of the reason Chavez is being vilified is because he threw out the World Trade Organization (WTO) and refused to allow it to privatize Venezuelan oil. You can be sure that the money Cuba is paying directly to Venezuela is far more than the pittance of a royalty some surrogate corporation of the WTO would be paying. Dorland goes on to say that a general stike in the country has shut down oil flow to the US The Bush regime might find this alone enough of an excuse to either directly or secretly support military operations against Chavez. Think Oliver North style operations.
The WSJ article concludes, "It is, of course possible that Mr. Medina has had contact with Venezuelans who want to use force to free the country. But given the state of repression in Venezuela that should hardly be regarded as a crime. Utopians in Washington often take liberty for granted, but as Ronald Reagan (ed. Ollie North's Boss) liked to point out, the justified use of force to defend freedom is an idea that dates back to Cicero."
This sure sounds like the WSJ is advocating for an armed military junta to eject the democratically elected leader of Venezuela. This is not surprising. The WTO plays hardball. The Bush regime plays hardball when it comes to oil. Chavez is surviving-- under duress-- but surviving without the help of the US controlled WTO and World Bank (WB) (see George Monbiot's article How to Stop America on the extent of this power.) This is a lesson the US, the WTO, and WB do not want other third world feudal vassal nations to learn.
It is highly likely that the chickenhawks of the Bush regime, like Perle, Wolfowitz, etc. will be unable to restrain themselves from whipping up new, world conquest, Pax America, imperium fantasy scenarios that they will persuade the ever willing-to-bang-a-war-to-cinch-an-election Rumsfeld, Cheney Bush triumvirate to execute. Of course, this will lead to another Bush Victory (definition: a victory easily won against an easily defeated enemy-- generally one that has been described as far more dangerous than reality proves to be the case. The victory, while easy, is always followed by a loss-- a throw away of the benefit of the victory, ensuing chaos, and loss of other assets such as diplomatic, economic, military, etc.)
One likely fallout from this could be the introduction of a new terrorism factor. Until now, South American terrorists have been low on the US radar. They haven't taken that great an interest in attacking the US at home. This could change. Imagine if all of a sudden, John Ashcroft and his constitution-eroding gang of anti-democratic thugs (including Bush judicial appointees) decided to go after Hispanics like he's gone after Arab Americans and visitors. Imagine if the assault upon a bastion of South American democracy and and a holdfast against the WTO and WB were assaulted by US-aided military fascists, supported by transnational oil interests. It's not much of a leap of the imagination, is it? It is highly likely that this would set off a new wave of terrorism, a new South American continent of hate and fear toward America.
The US is still holding on to the slender thread of affection that the world has for its people. Much of the of the world, as the recent Pew Poll showed, hate the US, or at least the Bush government. It is not unreasonable to hypothesize that when a partisan voice for the Bush administration-- the Wall Street Journal-- features an Editorial, at the top of the page, with a thinly veiled advocacy for a military coup, supported by an article in one of the US military's prestige journals, that something is in the works.The other article, that caught my attention in today's WSJ, published as an editorial, without author, signifying that it is the paper's editorial, is titled The Trouble With Freddie. Here we have an economic disaster that that is the potential mother of all disasters-- Our headline news yesterday on opednews.com was a link to the Washington Post article"
Could Be Bigger Than Enron
U.S. Opens Criminal Probe of Freddie Mac Washington Post, Jun 11 "Freddie Mac was the largest corporate contributor of unlimited "soft money" donations to the political parties, according to PoliticalMoneyLine," They insure or own $1.29 TRILLION in mortgages. This could affect you. Fannie Mae is also under investigation by congress. SEC Launches Formal Investigation
The WSJ, certainly one of the bastions of de-regulation advocacy, writes in this editorial "...a decade of indifferent regulatory oversight and shrewd political lobbying have allowed the Fan (Fannie Mae) and Fred (Freddie Mac) to transform themselves into companies that run with lots of leverage, use arcane hedging strategies and occupy a central and ever-larger place in the U.S. financial system."
The editorial reports, "According to Federal Financial Analytics, more than 60% of U.S. banks with less than $100 million in assets hold Fan and Fred debt in excess of 50% of capital. For banks with more than $1 billion in assets, 20% hold Fan and Fred debt in excess of 50%."The editorial goes on to say, "The result might be a contagion of illiquidity throughout the banking system and the financial sector-- possibly causing bankruptcies, a huge disturbance in the housing market and ultimately a big hit to the economy. And probably a taxpayer bailout of unthinkable size." It goes on to observe that "the Fan and Fred satisfy many of the conditions that make it ripe for a systemic crisis. The article cites the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, which list the conditions to include: High levels of interdependence with other financial institutions, high leverage, lax safety and soundness regulations, and poor public disclosure.
First, it is clear that what the WSJ describes is a failure of stewardship of massive proportions. And, since it's been going on for at least ten years, according to this article, the Clinton administration MAY be culpable too. On the other hand, since this is an editorial by a propaganda arm of the corporatists and the Bush administration, that may only be added spin to try to spread blame.
Irregardless of blame, we have here the makings of either a banking / housing mortgage scandal and economic catastrophe that could dwarf Enron, dwarf anything we've ever seen before. It could happen in the next months, totally under Bush's watch, which could eliminate his chance at re-election, short of gross manipulation of computerized voting technology by it's primarily Republican and transnational corporate owners. Or Bush may be able to postpone it until after the 2004 elections.
Here's the amazing part. The pro-business WSJ recommends better regulations and more disclosure. Of course, they also discuss the potential that congress will consider privatization. Since a majority of small banks could go under, this privatization will probably be handed to the biggest banks, further concentrating corporate power. Think oligopoly nation.
The way the current White House (Karl Rove) works, it wouldn't be surprising if the Venezuelan situation is used to generate a flash of media distraction to cover some delay tactics to produce a temporary, ineffective scotch tape and bubble gum fix of the Freddies. Bottom line-- these need our (the media's) close attention. So far, both the NY Times and the WSJ did not give either of these issues front page coverage today
Rob Kall firstname.lastname@example.org is the editor/publisher of OpEdNews.com, a progessive news and opinion website, and organizer of cutting edge meetings that bring together world leaders, such as the Winter Brain Meeting and the StoryCon Summit Meeting on the Art, Science and Application of Story. This article is copyright by Rob Kall, but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog, or web media so long as this credit is attached. If your publication pays for op-eds, the standard payment is acceptable.