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Commentary :: International
'American Corners' , Colour Revolutions and the american overthrow of Sovereign States
14 May 2007
Article show show US overthrows sovereign states by the cynical misuse of gandhian non-violence tactics, the support of internal opposition movements etc. These tactics have been used against Yugoslavia, Ukraine, and are now being used against Venezuela and Zimbabwe
'American Corners' , Colour Revolutions and the american overthrow of Sovereign States

Article show show US overthrows sovereign states by the cynical misuse of gandhian non-violence tactics, the support of internal opposition movements etc. These tactics have been used against Yugoslavia, Ukraine, and are now being used against Venezuela and Zimbabwe

Washington’s New Imperial Strategy In Venezuela

Sunday, May 13, 2007 Print format
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By: Chris Carlson -

First used in Serbia in 2000, Washington has now perfected a new imperial strategy to maintain its supremacy around the globe. Whereas military invasions and installing dictatorships have traditionally been the way to control foreign populations and keep them out of the way of business, the U.S. government has now developed a new strategy that is not so messy or brutal, and much sleeker; so sleek, in fact, that it’s almost invisible.

It was so invisible in Serbia that no one seemed to notice in 2000 when a regime was toppled, the country was opened to massive privatization, and huge public-sector industries, businesses, and natural resources fell into the hands of U.S. and multinational corporations. Likewise, few have noticed as countries in the former Soviet-bloc have recently been victims of the same strategy, with the exact same results.

Nations that do not give in to the demands of the empire and the expansion of global capitalism are targeted by an undercover, well-designed plan to change the political situation in the country, and open it up to corporate investors. U.S.-supported groups inside the country overthrow the president, making it seem like there is no outside intervention. And now, Washington has turned toward its new biggest threat: Latin America, and more specifically, Venezuela.

The Rise of the New World Order

During the second half of the twentieth century, capitalists in the first world began to saturate domestic opportunities for investment and growth. Big business reached a point where possibilities for expansion within national borders were mostly exhausted, and the only option for growth was to look for new opportunities abroad. Growing corporate conglomerates looked to expand their operations throughout the world, investing, privatizing, and buying up everything they could get their hands on. National capital was looking to go international, and by the end of the century, capitalism had become truly global.

"Get big, or get eaten," was their new philosophy, and they decided to get big by eating whole nations. With the help of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, economies everywhere were opened up to privatization. The phone systems, electrical grids, water systems, and natural resources were bought up by wealthy capitalists in countries around the world. Free-market capitalism now ruled the day; a paradise for international capital as the world’s wealth became more and more concentrated in their hands.[1]

Some nations, however, were determined to not be eaten. Privatization was an unpopular idea among populations that had developed the crazy idea that their natural resources belonged to them, and not foreign corporations. Resistance developed in several areas of the world, and some nations would not consent to the logic of global capitalism. Washington, however, was determined to open the world up to corporate expansion. They would oblige those countries that didn’t comply, either by force or by cunning.

The Case of Yugoslavia: A Model for Regime Change

It was in Yugoslavia, and more specifically, in Serbia, where Washington’s new strategy would really take shape for the first time. From here they would carry it on to other countries in an attempt to repeat the tremendous success of the Serbian experience. And it’s not hard to see why. After the toppling of the Milosevic regime allowed for mass privatization, all that remained of the formerly socialist country, including some of Europe’s largest reserves of natural resources, soon fell into the hands of U.S. and international investors.

The strategy is a sophisticated one. With the intention of ousting an undesirable regime, the U.S. government dedicates itself to strengthening and uniting opposition to the government. This includes funding opposition political parties, and creating non-governmental organizations dedicated to toppling the regime in power. On top of this, the U.S. might contract political consultants and polling agencies to help their favored candidate win at the ballot box. But in the event they cannot win the election, fake polls cast doubt on the official electoral results, and the opposition claims fraud. Massive protests and media attention put pressure on the regime to step down, or to give in to opposition demands.[2]

As implausible as it might sound, it was exactly this strategy that toppled Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia in 2000. After the war in Kosovo and NATO bombing had failed to produce regime change, the United States worked to strengthen Milosevic’s internal opponents by uniting them behind one candidate, Vojislav Kostunica, and pumping about $40 million into his election campaign.[3] U.S.-funded NGO’s and electoral consultants helped create a propaganda campaign surrounding the elections, and worked behind the scenes to help organize mass resistance to the Milosevic regime.[4] U.S.-trained “election helpers” were deployed around the country on election day to monitor results. The U.S. even provided young activists with thousands of cans of spray paint and campaign stickers to cover the country with anti-Milosevic slogans.[5]

According to official results of the first round elections, neither candidate had won a majority of the vote, and so it would require a second round run-off. But U.S. consultants published their own “exit polls,” giving Kostunica a huge victory and Milosevic refused to recognize them.[6] The opposition claimed fraud and U.S.-backed groups staged acts of non-violent resistance to put pressure on the government. Armed groups stormed the Federal Assembly and the state television headquarters.[7] Massive protests and rebellion forced Milosevic to step down. There would be no second round election, and Washington’s candidate Vojislav Kostunica took power. The strategy had worked.

But why had the U.S. targeted Serbia, and, even more specifically, the small province of Kosovo? The answer goes back to the Reagan administration and a 1984 secret document on “US Policy towards Yugoslavia.” A censored version was revealed in 1990, advocating “expanded efforts to promote a ‘quiet revolution’ to overthrow Communist government and parties.”[8]

The US government had worked on dismantling and dividing socialist Yugoslavia for years, supporting any and all independence movements within the individual provinces, including the 1999 military intervention to help the province of Kosovo break away. What was once a relative economic success under the famous Josip Tito, the socialist economy, based on socially-owned, worker-controlled companies, did not allow for foreign investment or US capital. This was a mortal sin in modern global capitalism. As Michael Parenti put it:

“Yugoslavia was the only country in Eastern Europe that would not dismantle its welfare state and public sector economy. It was the only one that did not beg for entry into NATO. It was - and what's left of it, still is - charting an independent course not in keeping with the New World Order.”[9]

Breaking up the country into smaller, dependent states and destroying their public-sector economy was the ultimate goal, and Milosevic, an admirer of socialist Tito, was the only thing standing in their way.

The rewards for their work were substantial. Once Milosevic was gone, one of the first actions taken by the new government was to repeal the 1997 privatization law and allow 70% of a company to be sold to foreign investors.[10] In 2004 the UN Mission in Kosovo announced the privatization of 500 enterprises, and U.S. corporations were the big winners. Phillip Morris bought up a $580 million tobacco factory, U.S. Steel got a $250 million deal on a steel producer, Coca-Cola grabbed a bottled water producer for $21 million, and the list goes on.[11]

In addition, western investors now had access to what the New York Times called the “war’s glittering prize,” the second largest coal reserves in Europe and large reserves of lead, zinc, gold, silver, and, even petroleum.[12] And the real gem was located in the province of Kosovo; the huge Trepca mine complex, valued at over $5 billion, now open to the highest bidder.[13]

The success of the strategy in Serbia was an important lesson for the Washington policy makers. They would repeat it several more times throughout Eastern Europe in places like Georgia (2003), the Ukraine (2004), Kyrgyzstan (2005), and Belarus (unsuccessfully in 2001). In what became known as the “Color Revolutions,” each U.S.-aided movement would remove a regime in exchange for one more favorable to the “free-market” policies promoted by Washington.[14] The preferred strategy for regime change became this new sort of non-violent resistance, and now the empire turned its gaze on South America, where a new threat to global capitalism had suddenly emerged.

The Problem of Venezuela

If the Trepca mine in Kosovo was the jackpot of the Serbian intervention, in Venezuela it is the state-owned oil company, PDVSA. Venezuela has some of the largest oil reserves in the world, possibly passing Saudi Arabia in total reserves if all extra-heavy crude deposits are included. And it is PDVSA that dominates in Venezuela with a total monopoly over the nation’s oil resources. With a production capacity of 3.3 billion barrels per day, and a $65 billion yearly revenue, the company also possesses a network of more than 13,000 gas stations in the United States, including several refineries in both the U.S. and Europe, making it the second largest company in all of Latin America.[15]

You can be sure that corporate investors would love to get their hands on PDVSA, along with other public sector companies in Venezuela. In fact, they were doing just that throughout the 1990’s. By 1998, multinational corporations had already bought up the national phone company, the largest electricity company, and PDVSA was going through what they called an “opening” to international capital; a prettier way of saying privatization.[16]

But that same year, Hugo Chavez was elected president on an anti-imperialist platform, and the auctioning-off of Venezuela came to an abrupt halt. In fact, Hugo Chavez has become a real problem for the corporate imperialists and their servants in Washington. Not only has he stopped privatization, but he is reversing it by re-nationalizing all that was once privatized. The privatization of the state oil company is now prohibited by law, and his government has taken complete control of it, using it to finance the country’s development.

But what is even more worrying for Washington and their corporate sponsors is how this trend is spreading through Latin America. The Chavez government has built close ties to many of his neighbors, and many are following in his footsteps. Countries like Bolivia and Ecuador are taking greater control of their gas and oil reserves, leaving less room for the huge corporations that hoped to one day own them.


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