Sunday, April 14, 2013


Students often write that ''socialism is a failed experiment." Yet the socialist experiment has only occurred in the last 100 years and unfolded against tremendous odds. Surely it's too early to dismiss it as a failure?

Unfortunately, most people's ideas about socialism are derived from the USSR. Yet, there are many models of socialist governments. It's as complex as the different models of democracy. Many countries have claimed to be socialist, but are not.
A good list  of countries past and present that have identified themselves as socialist (but check references) can be found here:
To enter into a discussion about socialism, one must first begin with a definition or at least a set of categories.
In Marxist terms, socialism is a transition from capitalism to communism. The means of production are taken into social ownership and control, via the state. This permits the emergence of common ownership and egalitarian distribution of any ensuing wealth, and eventually the 'withering away' of the state.
But socialism can also be viewed as permanent (not by Marxists). Often, private property is acceptable as long as there is not excessive accumulation of private wealth. Politically, there can be grassroots democracy, for example, in neighborhoods as in Cuba, workers' control in factories, and other types of democratic institutions such as proportional democracy, A key feature is the nationalization of the major resources and industry, such as steel, energy and other manufacturing centers. An equally important key feature is a massive welfare system 'from cradle to grave' to conform with the requirements of the Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
By socialism, I mean at a minimum. state managed and owned resources, and a strong welfare state paid for by these resources. This translates into free health care and education, in other words, a form of domestic wealth sharing that benefits the poor. Political models can range from multi-party elections and a free press (Nicaragua under the Sandinistas during the 1980s) to Stalinist-type dictatorships (USSR).
 The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 was greeted from Day One with some 13,000 American troops at the borders of the just-born state. Later on, British and French joined the US and engaged the Bolsheviks in a frontier war. The crime of the Bolsheviks was to turn a semi-feudal capitalist system into a socialist society  --an act viewed in the West as an assault against civilization. The 1919 War against the USSR precipitated the latter into a highly centralized, militaristic mode - which found its ultimate expression in the Stalinist era.
It was after World War II, inspired by the defeat of Fascism, that many countries voted in socialist governments in free and fair elections. These countries subsequently  became subject to Western military and CIA interventions, so the experiment was never allowed to stand up on its own merits. From Vietnam to Chile, from Angola to Korea, socialist movements and governments were cut down before they had a chance to mature. Millions of lives were lost in these anti-socialist wars. An excellent book detailing this gory era, is Killing Hope, US Military and C.I.A. interventions since World War II by William Blum.
Why is such a virulent approach taken against an alternative economic model, which has such mass appeal to the poor and impoverished of the world?  Largely because socialist models deprive multinational corporations from accessing cheap labor forces, cheap resources (such as oil) and consumer markets. Today, weaker countries with state-owned resources and comprehensive welfare states, are at risk for interventions: Libya, Iraq, Syria are recent examples. Whereas, countries that open up their borders to corporations, or align themselves with Western interests, are untouched and receive support despite being governed by dictators (Egypt under Mubarak, Pakistan under Zia). Here is a current partial list of US-supported repressive leaders: 

President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen, Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al-Said of Oman, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of Turkmenistan, President Karimov of Uzbekhistan.For more, see this:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


There is no UN Security Resolution or mention of Chapter 7 in any UNSC resolution, that legitimizes the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Chapter 7 of the UN Charter states that an attack on another country can only be done in self-defense, i.e. if it were attacked. This may seem counter-intuitive in the case of Afghanistan. Please read this legal briefing provided to the UK House of Commons (the UK was one of the occupying countries):

The reason why, in my view, is a dubious legal precedence that might be set. For example, say Israeli-Americans living in the US, attacked Egypt in a 9/11 type event, would the US be held responsible and attacked under Chapter 7, if for some reason it didn't give up the perpetrators?
See more recently Richard A. Clark, Against All Enemies 24 (2004): “When, later in the discussion {on the evening of Sept. 11, with Bush and his crisis advisors}, Secretary Rumsfeld noted that international law allowed the use of force only to prevent future attacks and not for retribution, Bush nearly bit his head off. ‘No,’ the President yelled in the narrow conference room, ‘I don’t care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass.”

The Taliban condemned the 9/11 attack, offered to negotiate, but it was clear that President Bush had already made up his mind to go to war, despite the United Nations Charter, which requires the peaceful resolution of disputes. It’s been said that the reason why the Taliban didn't give Al Qaeda over to the US, is that the US wasn't able to provide the Taliban evidence of its culpability for 9/11. There was actually a big debate about this in the ranks of the Taliban, with many wanting to turn over the Al Q, but others wanting evidence. See this article in the New York Times:

Published: October 15, 2001
WASHINGTON, Oct. 14— President Bush forcefully rejected another offer from the Taliban today to begin talks about the surrender of Osama bin Laden if the United States stopped bombing Afghanistan…..
Mr. Bush was responding to questions about statements by a Taliban leader who said at a news conference in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, that the Taliban would begin discussions about turning over Mr. bin Laden if the bombing stopped. The Taliban also want evidence from Washington that Mr. bin Laden is responsible for the attacks.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


The United States of America has the highest rates in the world of overweight people  (68% of the US population) and obesity (34% of the population). According to a new report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 1 in 10 people are obese worldwide!

Some countries, such as the UK,  have managed to slow the growth of obesity by increasing taxes of fatty and sugary foods. 

But countries that condition populations to eat such foods (through unlimited advertisements, cheap fast food etc), have increased levels of obesity. In 2 years, the US has increased its levels by 30%, according to this report.

Causes of overweight bodies and obesity include poor diet, lack of exercise, pollution and socio-economic status. The poorest states, such as Alabama, have the highest rates of overweight people. 

See this slideshow from the Huffington Post on worldwide statistics:


According to the US National Cancer Institute:

  • Obesity is associated with increased risks of cancers of the esophagus, breast (postmenopausal), endometrium (the lining of the uterus), colon and rectum, kidney, pancreas, thyroid, gallbladder, and possibly other cancer types.

  • Obese people are also at higher risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and a number of other chronic diseases.