Aletho News


On Saudi Arabia in Paksitan

Angry Arab News Service | July 25, 2011

A comrade in Pakistan who wishes to remain anonymous wrote me this:

“Cmd. Junaid is correct that the Westernized, English-speaking elite of Pakistan is obsessed with Saudi Arabia to the exclusion of examining the US. It’s true that they are generally dependent on the latter for funding for their NGOs, that is, when they are just not so colonized mentally to think that Western bourgeois democracy is god’s gift to humanity, so that they actively and aggressively write crap like this:  — an article riddled with omission and inaccuracy. However, one should not throw the baby out with the bathwater. What has to be understood is that Saudi Arabia and, importantly, UAE have interests in Pakistan that, while on the whole are subordinate to US imperialism, also have a logic of their own.

This has to be contextualized in US strategy in West Asia, including particularly CENTO. (see Hamza Alavi’s article on the Pak-US military alliance here:) Pakistan was seen as a mercenary for West Asian reactionaries. To some extent, it did fulfill this role — for instance, Pak General Zia ul-Haq who later was dictator for over ten years was in command of Pakistani troops in Jordan who helped massacre Palestinian freedom fighters in Black September. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has funded political Islam in Pakistan since at least the late 1960s as a response to increasing leftist sentiment, according to Vali Nasr. This has to be seen as part of the same strategy that led to Saudi support for the Ikhwan in Egypt during the same period, i.e., as a response to secular nationalism and leftism. In 1970s, millions of Pakistanis migrated to Saudi and UAE to work (in shitty conditions, but relatively better paying), so that Pakistan’s political economy is structurally dependent on that of the Gulf. (Still, 40-45% of remittances come from just two sources — Saudi and UAE.) Moreover, Gulf capital is aggressively looking at Pakistan as a source of raw materials (incl. now skilled labour), a destination for excess capital, and a large market — classical imperialism…

That said, Junaid is correct that political Islam that now ravages Pakistan is primarily a result of 80s policies of Pakistan’s ruling elites, the US and the Gulf regimes — but the basic network was put in place in the latter 1960s and 1970s. More fundamentally, Pakistan’s ruling elites have sought to use these political Islamists as buffers and proxies against Indian expansionism. This has other spillover benefits for Pakistan’s ruling classes, who seek to use Islamic extremism as a counterweight to the secular nationalism of oppressed nationalities (e.g., the Baloch and Sindhi) in Pakistan. This is also an important angle that has to be identified.

Moreover, Pakistani mercenaries are hired by regimes in Oman and Bahrain, and probably others, to suppress uprisings there. Pakistan Army (and civilian elites too, note President Zardari speaking in favour of “stability” in West Asia) is seen as a vital ally of reactionary regimes in West Asia. So we have to understand the back and forth here in order to assess possibilities for liberation in North Africa/West Asia as well as Central Asia/South Asia. Meanwhile, let us be clear that Gulf countries are built literally on the back of migrant labourers which includes millions of Pakistanis, who do not receive the proper value of their work and are subject to innumerable abuses otherwise. These things are intimately tied, and strategies for emancipation have to take this into account.

I don’t know what is the state of this debate in Arab intellectual and progressive circles because I don’t know Arabic. In Pakistan, it is highly underdeveloped in both English and Urdu, not sure about the other nationalities’ languages. Rather than looking at this political history and political economy — and importantly, situating it in the context of world imperialism in which the leading and directing force is the US — Pakistan’s Westernized elite is obsessed with Saudi Arabia for its “cultural” imperialism (via Wahhabism). This means that it is harder for them to attend classical music programmes, or to wear sleeveless tops, or to drink alcohol — while the vast majority of the country is facing the obscene violence of not being able to make ends meet on a day to day basis, which is a result of dependent, neoliberal development in the context of US-led world imperialism.

July 25, 2011 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on On Saudi Arabia in Paksitan

Reality check on Carbon Limits

By ROBERT BRYCE | CounterPunch | July 25, 2011

Given the parlous state of the US economy, discussions about climate change, carbon dioxide emissions, and cap-and-trade schemes have largely disappeared from the political discussion.

That’s a good thing. Why? Even if the US were to launch an attempt to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050, as President Barack Obama has said it should, the rest of the world will keep using carbon-based fuels, and lots of them, thereby swamping any reductions that might happen here. But don’t take my word for it. You need only look at the latest data from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy to understand that reality. To underscore that point, let’s try a short pop quiz.

Which country which has had the biggest percentage growth in carbon dioxide emissions over the past decade?

A: Vietnam.

Next question: Which country has had the biggest percentage growth in electricity generation?

A: Vietnam.

Which country had biggest growth in coal use?

A: Vietnam

Indeed, over the past decade, only one country, China, had faster growth in primary energy consumption than did Vietnam. And Vietnam, where some 58,000 US soldiers died, stands as a proxy for many countries in the developing world. As those countries grow their economies — their energy use and their carbon dioxide emissions — the hope for any kind of a global cap, or tax, on carbon emissions becomes ever more remote.

To be sure, Vietnam’s energy use is a tiny fraction of that used by countries like China and the US. In 2010, Vietnam’s 90 million inhabitants consumed about 900,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. That’s a rounding error when compared to China’s consumption of nearly 49 million barrels of oil equivalent per day or US consumption of nearly 46 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Put another way, the average resident of Vietnam now consumes about 0.4 gallons of oil equivalent per day. The average American consumes about 6.3 gallons of oil equivalent per day, while the average Chinese uses 1.3 gallons of oil equivalent per day. In fact, the average Vietnamese now consumes more energy on a daily basis than does the average Pakistani.

But with an average income of less than $1,200 per year, Vietnam is still racing to catch up to the rest of Asia. And with an annual GDP growth rate of nearly 7%, Vietnam has every reason to continue burning as much oil, coal, and natural gas as it possibly can. (1)

Vietnam represents a whole class of fast-growing, populous countries where energy use is growing ferociously and that’s resulting in more carbon dioxide emissions – 33.1 trillion tons in 2010 alone, an increase of 28% over 2001 numbers.

Let me repeat that: over the past decade, global carbon dioxide emissions increased by 28%.

That huge surge in emissions occurred during the same decade that Al Gore was awarded the Nobel Prize, an Emmy, and an Oscar, for his work on the movie, An Inconvenient Truth.  During that same decade, high-profile, heavily publicized meetings were held in Copenhagen and Cancun, where, finally, world leaders were supposed to agree on something, anything, that would stop the world from using hydrocarbons.

Alas, the Vietnamese never got the memo. Or maybe they just haven’t heard Gore’s speeches. Here are the numbers: Over the past decade, Vietnam’s oil use jumped by about 82%, following only Qatar (202%) and China (86%). Over the past decade, coal consumption in Vietnam jumped by 175%, outstripping the percentage growth in Indonesia (134%) and China (128%). And nearly all of that coal is being used to produce electrons.

Over the past decade, Vietnam’s electricity generation increased by a whopping 227%, the fastest growth on the planet. Again, the total amount of electricity used in Vietnam – about 100 terawatt-hours — remains miniscule when compared to US consumption of 4,326 terawatt-hours. But the essentiality of electricity to modernity is incontrovertible. The countries that can produce cheap, abundant, reliable electricity can grow their economies, educate their citizens and pull their people out of poverty. And those that can’t, can’t. And that’s why all of the past – and all of the future meetings of the UNFCCC – will result in failure to put a hard cap or effective tax on global carbon dioxide: the developing countries know that limiting their access to hydrocarbons will necessarily retard the growth of their economies.

Look at the rest of Asia. Even if we forget for a moment about the 2.1 billion people living in China and India, we can see countries like Indonesia, where electricity generation has increased by nearly 64% over the past decade. Or consider Thailand where electricity use has jumped by 55%. Or consider Egypt, where electricity use is up 79%. That has meant big increases in carbon dioxide emissions. Over the past decade, Indonesia’s carbon dioxide emissions increased by 40%, Thailand’s jumped by 51% and Egypt’s grew by 53%.

In December, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will meet in Durban, South Africa to hold yet another climate meeting. And it will fail just as all of its predecessors have failed.

Why? Coal use is soaring. The latest BP data shows that over the past decade, global coal use is up 47%, that’s faster growth than what was seen in electricity generation (up 36%), natural gas use (up 30%), and oil consumption (up 13%). Environmentalists around the world love to vilify coal. But for countries like Vietnam, Pakistan, China, and others, coal keeps the lights on. That’s certainly true here in the US, but over the past decade, domestic coal consumption has fallen by 5%.

Thus far, I’ve given you a lot of percentages.  But focus, please, on these two: 27% and 28%. Since 2001, global energy use is up by 27% and carbon dioxide emissions are up 28%. Put another way, over the last decade, global energy use increased by about 53 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, that’s equal to about six Saudi Arabias’ worth of daily oil output. Energy use is soaring as more people from Hanoi to Hangzhou move into the modern world. And that means that huge cuts in carbon dioxide emissions – by 80% as Obama claims the US must – simply will not happen.

Like it or not, the world economy runs on hydrocarbons – coal, oil, and natural gas. And that will remain true for many decades to come. Energy transitions happen over decades or centuries, not years. Countries like Vietnam, China, and India, will never agree to any tax or limit on carbon dioxide. Nor does it make much sense at all to impose heavy levies on the US, and other developed countries. Why? Well, over the last decade, US carbon dioxide emissions fell – by 1.7%.

Every once in a while, we need to focus on the numbers and put aside the hype. The scale of current global energy use — about 241 million barrels of oil equivalent per day — is the same as 28 Saudi Arabias of energy production. The great cities of the world, whether it’s Rio, Kyoto, Copenhagen, Cancun, or Durban, run on highly processed forms of energy:  electricity, ultra-low-sulfur motor fuel, and natural gas. And they need lots of it.

Global leaders should give up their fixation on  cutting carbon dioxide emissions. Significant cuts will not happen voluntarily, anywhere. Instead, leaders should be focusing on providing as much cheap, abundant, dispatchable power to their citizens as possible. And to see how that’s happening in the developing world, we need only look at Hanoi.

July 25, 2011 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on Reality check on Carbon Limits

David Horowitz’ problem with Norway

David Horowitz recently carried an incendiary article by Joseph Klein in his Front Page magazine, entitled The Quislings of Norway, excerpts below:

“The infamous Norwegian Vidkun Quisling, who assisted Nazi Germany as it conquered his own country, must be applauding in his grave…In the latest example of Norwegian collaboration with the enemies of the Jews, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere declared during a press conference this week, alongside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, that “Norway believes it is perfectly legitimate for the Palestinian president to turn to the United Nations” to seek recognition of an independent Palestinian state.”

“During the Nazi occupation of Norway, nearly all Jews were either deported to death camps or fled to Sweden and beyond. Today, Norway is effectively under the occupation of anti-Semitic leftists and radical Muslims, and appears willing to help enable the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel.”

“Norway’s Labor Party lawmaker Anders Mathisen has gone even further and publicly denied the Holocaust. He said that Jews “exaggerated their stories” and “there is no evidence the gas chambers and or mass graves existed.” While the Norwegian political establishment and opinion-maker elite may not have reached that point of lunacy just yet, they do tend to treat Muslims as the victims of Israeli oppression – as if today’s Muslims are filling the shoes of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and today’s Nazis are the Israelis.”

“Socialist leader Kristin Halvorsen has been leading the boycott Israel campaign. While serving as Norway’s finance minister, she was amongst the demonstrators at an anti-Israel protest, in which a poster read (translated): “The greatest axis of evil: USA and Israel.” Among the slogans repeatedly shouted at the demonstration was (as translated) “Death to the Jews!”

“Last year, the Norwegian government decided to divest from two Israeli entities working in the West Bank. Norway’s sovereign wealth fund divested from the Israeli company Elbit, because it has worked on the Israeli security fence that keeps out Palestinian suicide bombers. Israel has also been blocked from bidding for Norwegian defense contracts.”

“Part of the motivation for this anti-Semitism is the influx into Norway in recent decades of masses of Muslims from Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia and elsewhere. Multiculturalism has taught Norway’s cultural elite to take an uncritical, even obsequious, posture toward every aspect of Muslim culture and belief. When Muslim leaders rant against Israel and the Jews, the reflexive response of the multiculturalist elite is to join them in their rantings. This is called solidarity.”

H/T – Gilad Atzmon

July 25, 2011 Posted by | Islamophobia, Wars for Israel | 12 Comments

Israeli occupation authority decides to raze mosque in Bruqin

Palestine Information Center – 25/07/2011

SALFIT, — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) ordered for the second time the demolition of Ali Bin Abu Talib Mosque in Bruqin town, west of Salfit city, at the pretext of unlicensed construction.

Head of the municipal council in Bruqin Ikrimah Samara said he had received a similar order earlier last month, affirming that the IOA still refuses to approve its suggested structural layout of the town.

Samara appealed to international human rights organization active in the occupied Palestinian lands to pressure the IOA to endorse the new layout to save dozens of homes from demolition.

Two months ago in the same town, the IOA demolished a school for girls whose construction was funded by USAID, although it was licensed and legal.

July 25, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | 1 Comment