Sunday, March 31, 2013

Britain in Palestine: The Exploitation of the British Empire (or the Pimping of a Pimp)


            Problematic trends exist across the modern international globe in the majority of geographic places touched by British imperialism.  In many post-colonial territories, such as Burma and Jamaica, political power voids left behind by the evacuation of colonialism unleashed domestic political struggles and instability which have never been recovered from.  In other post-colonial territories, such as Pakistan carved from Indian borders or Kuwait carved from Iraqi territory, border conflicts were left behind in the aftermath.  Even in the United States remnants of the British imperial-economic system of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, which was a colonial system before the creation of the United States, has left serious economic and social issues behind.  While British imperialism has impacted, and to an extent exploited, a majority of the globe, there is no other geographic region touched by the British Empire that has resulted in such uniquely negative fallout or has had such an unsettling impact on the modern international stage as the territory briefly named Palestine.

Before Palestine

            In the aftermath of World War I, the newly established and soon to fail, League of Nations split the remnants of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East into entities referred to as mandate territories.  These post-war League of Nation mandates in the Middle East were split between Britain and France, with “Syria and Lebanon, awarded to France; Iraq, awarded to Britain; and a new entity called Palestine, which was also placed under British control”[1].  In the calm after distribution, Britain “found itself in charge of a radically and religious divided province” with the worst physical ethnic clashes and political developments to come [2].

            The ethnically driven political movement of Zionism, which would eventually wield enough influence on British and United Nation leaders to achieve the creation of the modern nation-state of Israel, was not a creation or byproduct of World War II.  The Zionist movement originated during the waning decades of the Ottoman Empire prior to World War I and held several regional goals, such as encouraging Jewish immigration and the easing of restrictions on Jewish land purchasing under the Ottoman Empire, with the ultimate objective of establishing an ethnically Jewish state.  Contrary to popular misconceptions, Jews in the Ottoman Empire were allowed to buy land and immigrant into Ottoman territories.  This style of liberal Ottoman governance allowed “waves of Jewish immigration during the last decades of 19th century” and saw mass land purchasing which resulted in “restrictions on Jewish immigration to Palestine” being implemented in “1882, and limitations on acquisition of land by Jews went into effect in 1892” [3].  Between the years of 1882 and 1908 alone, twenty-six Jewish colonies were created in what would become British Palestine, and Jewish population numbers in the territory grew from about 20,000 to 80,000.

            Between the time of implementation of restrictions on Jewish land purchasing and Jewish immigrants who “were well-financed and had means to buy up large areas of land for their settlements” entering the Ottoman Empire until the beginning of World War I, the Zionist network worked diligently with local leaders in various individual communities, Jew and non-Jew alike, throughout the Ottoman Empire [4].  Zionist leaders utilized tactics such as “the formation of a press network” through the “purchase of already existing periodicals or by the creation of new newspapers” and the “infiltration of community institutions”, along with economic-political tactics that would also be practiced during British possession of Palestine and later on within the United States during the decades that followed the creation of the modern nation-state of Israel [4A].

British Possession of Palestine

            The British Empire remained unbiased to the regional ethnic issues of Zionism and Arab displacement prior to and after World War I mainly due to “the vitally important oil trade which existed between Britain and the Arab states and the close relationships built during Britain’s Empire-building and its role as a Great power” [5].   After the assumption of British responsibility for Palestine, all previous Ottoman restrictions on Jewish immigration and land purchasing were no longer a hindrance to the Zionist goal of an ethnic Jewish state, and by 1933 there were 200,000 Jews in Palestine and ethnic tensions had begun increasing to incendiary potential [6].  In an attempt to keep a balance of stability in the protectorate of Palestine, Britain was forced to impose similar Jewish immigration restrictions in 1930, and illegal immigration continued to be a major issue that Britain was forced to deal with in the aftermath of the decision.  The decision was not a favorable one among the Yishuv, the Jewish population in Palestine, who were already establishing nationalist armed militias.

            The 1917 Balfour Declaration, a “declaration prepared by Zionists with Lord Balfour’s approval”, was a sign of the ethnic displacement to come as it basically recommended that “Palestine should be reconstructed as the national home of the Jewish people” and had no real “stipulations regarding Palestine’s majority non-Jewish inhabitants” [7].  During the period of British authority in Palestine, Zionist tactics among the growing Yishuv in Palestine, as well as the Jewish population in Britain, worked toward achieving political goals in similar systematic fashion as they did under Ottoman rule, only now they had the ears and were filling the pockets of Christian parliamentary leaders in Britain instead of the Muslims of the Ottoman Empire.

            As the splintering and state alliance-making, which would ultimately result in the failure of the League of Nations, became evident and the reemergence of Germany as a threatening economic and military power rivaling the British hegemony became a reality, Jewish persecution increased under the nationalist government of Hitler.  Jewish immigration numbers increased drastically during the years leading into World War II and the rapidly changing demographics of Palestine sparked the Arab Revolt of 1936 through 1939 when “Arab leaders overcame their rivalries and joined forces to protest Zionist advances” [8].  The consolidated Arab leadership during the Arab Revolts sought three demands from their British protectorate: “cessation of Jewish immigration, an end to all further land sales to the Jews, and the establishment of an Arab national government” [9].  The lopsided death toll at the end of the three year period referred to in history books as the Arab Revolt shows that “a total of 415 Jewish deaths were recorded during the whole 1936-1939” period and “the toll on the Arabs was estimated to be roughly 5,000 dead, 15,000 wounded, and 5,600 imprisoned” [10].  The numbers clearly illustrate which side of the conflict was in political and economic control within the British protectorate system, and the importance of international economic support for arming Jewish extremist military groups in Palestine, such as the Irgun, which conducted terrorist attacks against the British government structure in Palestine and the Palestinian population. 

            In the face of a possible Second World War, losing control of a crucially positioned territorial possession to ethnical conflagrations and the outbreak of physical violence was not what Britain needed or wanted.  The Peel Commission, a Royal Commission on Palestine, was dispatched to Palestine and in 1937 reported that the situation between the Zionists and the native Arabs had reached the point of no return and that the issues in Palestine could no longer be reconciled, recommending that “the only hope of a cure lies in a surgical operation” [11].  The Peel Commission report from 1937 clearly showed that the British government would support partition.

Christian Zionism and Representative Democracy

            The ideology of Christian Zionism centers on the belief that supports “Jewish people to return to their homeland on scriptural grounds”, which can be argued as an irrational basis for international political decision-making since the authorship of biblical scriptures remains unverified [12].  The Restoration Movement, which referred to the establishment of a Jewish homeland, was the origin of Christian Zionism in organized format and ideology, and came into official existence during the 18th and 19th centuries with the emergence of British “theologians, writers and politicians” such as Thomas Newton, the Bishop of Bristol, Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury, George Gawler (1796-1869), Edward Cazalet (1827-1883), Lawrence Oliphant (1829-1888), and William H. Hechler (1845-1931), Chaplain of the British Embassy in Vienna.  The international Zionist movement, utilizing earlier methods of political propaganda and influence successful under the Ottoman Empire, found the expanded political atmosphere of Palestine under British rule favorable for accomplishing a Jewish state.  Britain was a free market society which allowed the purchasing of newspapers and periodicals which could be used for propaganda dissemination concerning a Jewish state, the government structure was a representative democracy which allowed the buying or influence of individual parliamentary votes, and the majority of the British population was Christian and had been indoctrinated to support the so-called Holy Land and a Jewish return based on Biblical text.  The similarities in composition, and the shared international alliance, between Britain and the emerging power of the United States during and after World War II would eventually secure the establishment of the modern nation-state of Israel which would displace and cut off, in apartheid style manner, an entire native population from the international community.

The Creation of Israel

            In the aftermath of World War II, mistakes that had contributed to a second war and the failure of the League of Nations, such as allowing each member state equal veto power, were corrected in the form of the United Nations Security Council, which gave veto power to only five permanent Security Council members, four of which were predominately Christian populations to include the free market economic and military powers of Britain and the United States.  On November 29, 1947 the “United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 181” [13].  The age of individual nation-state colonialism was ending and the first phase of economic globalization born from Bretton Woods was emerging after World War II in the form of the Marshall Plan, while at the same time “Israel and Jordan were both created by the United Nations in 1948 when the UN partitioned the Palestinian Mandate”, the land that Britain had received after World War I through the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire [14].  Just as the lopsided death tolls during the Arab Revolt of 1936 through 1939 reflected, the last days of the British Mandate “witnessed a massacre of 240 Arabs, including women and children, by a Jewish unit at Deir Yassim.  This incident helped trigger a mass exodus of Palestinians and, by 1949, 720,000 refugees had fled either to Gaza or Jordan” [15].  The wretched violence and the spilled Palestinian blood during the last days of the British mandate was an ominous sign of conditions and trends to come.  The withdrawing British Empire attempted to maintain, or at minimum present, a middle road position as the “controlling consideration behind British policy was how to limit the damage to the interests of the British Empire that was bound to result from relinquishing direct control over Palestine” [16].

            After the declaration of Israeli independence on May 14, 1948, a full blown conflict exploded between “Palestinian Arabs attached to local units of the Arab Liberation Army composed of volunteers from Palestine” and Jewish forces “composed of the Haganah, the underground militia of the Jewish community in Palestine, and two small irregular groups, the Irgun, and LEHI” [17].  Between the months of May and June in 1948, the surrounding states of Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt, coincidently all previously under British control, came to the aid of the Palestinian onslaught and displacement.  Surprisingly, the infant nation-state of Israel beat the three intervening Arab states back in a display of military might which presented suspicious questions concerning whether military arms and technology had come from the international free market or was the remnant weaponry supplied by the British during World War II.   On May 31, 1948 the Haganah was renamed the Israel Defense Forces and by the time of the 1949 ceasefire, the state of Israel had expanded by 25 percent of the original partitioned territory.

            At the conclusion of war in 1949, the entire landscape of what had been Palestine had been altered.  Described in a 1954 Foreign Affairs article entitled  The Disinherited: Journal of a Palestinian Exile by Don Peretz, “nearly half of the new Jewish immigrants live in homes abandoned by the Arabs. They occupy nearly 400 Arab towns and villages.  The Arabs left over 10,000 shops and stores in Jewish hands. The Israel Custodian of Absentee Property took over more than 4,000,000 dunams of former Arab land, or nearly 60% of the country’s cultivable area. This was nearly two and a half times the total Jewish-owned property at the time the state of Israel was established, and include most of its olive orchards, a large part of its fruit and vegetable cropland and almost half the citrus groves” [18].  By the time that the new nation-state of Israel was secured and fortified, a quarter of a million Palestinian refugees had been forced to “Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank” [19].   A new nation-state, Israel, had been created over an entire existing native population, behind a long-term meticulous Zionist planning process that began prior to World War I under Ottoman rule, and was finalized by the creation of modern Israel and ethnic cleansing committed on a large scale.

            In 1967, a sequel to 1949 occurred as Israel again took a military offensive which was politically termed in modern history books as ‘a pre-emptive strike’.  As a result of the 1967 Israeli military offensive, the nation-state of “Israel gained control over the Sinai peninsula, the Golan Heights, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem” which brought the number of Palestinian refugees to an approximate total of “more than 1.4 million” living “in 58 recognized refugee camps” [20].  The British had failed in their assignment as protectorate for Palestine and the people of Palestine, and as a result of that failure an entire Arab population had been displaced and a new state entity on the international stage would begin taking advantage of a wide spread Zionist political network in funding and protecting the newly established ethnically Jewish state, which would often find itself exempt from international condemnation and law. 

Jewish Immigration to Britain and the United States

During the century preceding the establishment of the modern nation-state of Israel, mass immigration of Jews into Britain and the United States, which mingled with Christian Zionist support, succeeded in the establishment of a deeply entrenched international Zionist political network.  Mass Jewish immigration to the west started in the 1890s and continued “to the present time” resulting “in large increases” in England and the United States, which shifted more in favor of the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, and by 1924 “two million Jews had arrived from Eastern Europe” to the United States [21].  In 2000, it was reported by the New York Times that the Jewish population of the nation-state of Israel would soon outnumber the 5.5 million Jews in America [22].

As the declining British Empire conducted colonial withdraws around the globe and dealt with rebuilding an economically war-torn Europe with the help of the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development after World War II, the United States had emerged as a capitalist heavyweight power in the early years of globalization, and would become the lone hegemonic force after the end of the Cold War which would usher in the unfettered freedom of globalization.  The United States was ripe for the Zionist economic and political networking that had made gains under the Ottoman Empire and had successfully pimped the British Empire in order to establish a Jewish state.  The United States was a free market, which made economic networking and the acquisition of media outlets easy enough to purchase, the United States government maintained a representative democracy from its days of British colonialism, which was easy enough to manipulate for votes, and the American empire was predominately Christian in population with growing Evangelist and Christian Zionist movements inspired by national propaganda focused on the atrocities of the Jewish Holocaust in Germany.

The one-way U.S.-Israel alliance that exists today continues to be driven by the same international Zionist network in the form of powerful political lobbyist organizations such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which diligently steered U.S. foreign policy through economic and political influence on Congressional votes to ensure goals such as 3 billion dollars annually in U.S. foreign aid to the nation-state of Israel, which has been paid out each year since 1950, economic sanctions against regional enemies of Israel, and the utilization of the U.S. veto in the United Nations Security Council against all international resolutions condemning Israeli human rights violations on Palestinians in Gaza.  Over 50 years after the establishment of the nation-state of Israel, the Palestinians have still not been allowed statehood and live under apartheid-like military occupation, military checkpoints, and an economically debilitating trade embargo enforced by the Israeli military.

Conclusion

            After conducting two centuries of colonial exploitation around the globe, Britain only had possession of Palestine for three decades.  The British had successfully subdued and exploited a multitude of national movements in colonial territories during British imperial history, but Britain was unprepared to deal with such a subversive, borderless and ethnically nationalistic movement as Zionism upon inheriting Palestine.  Britain’s failure in Palestine resulted in the displacement of an entire geographic human population and the creation of a nation-state that has committed human rights violations and has repeatedly broken international laws during its short 60 year existence, due in part to the dispersed political Zionist network spread throughout the most powerful representative democracies in the West and the Christian Zionist support within those states.  Unlike other post-colonial or post-protectorate states that Britain possessed during colonialism, where post-colonial problems remain domestically debilitating, the British failure in Palestine created massive repercussions not only in the Near East, but on the international stage.     

Notes

1.  Ian Bickerton & Carla Klausner, A Concise History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 4th ed. (New York: Prentice Hall, 2001), 43-44.

2.   Lawrence James, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1995), 406.

3.  Esther Benbassa, “Zionism in the Ottoman Empire at the End of the 19th and the Beginning of the 20th Century,” Studies in Zionism 11, no. 2 (1990): 128, http://www.estherbenbassa.net/SCANS/ZIONISM.PDF

4.  Lawrence James, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1995), 407.

4A. Esther Benbassa, “Zionism in the Ottoman Empire at the End of the 19th and the Beginning of the 20th Century,” Studies in Zionism 11, no. 2 (1990): 134, http://www.estherbenbassa.net/SCANS/ZIONISM.PDF

5. Victoria Honeyman, Britain, Palestine, and the Creation of Israel; How Britain Failed to Protect its Protectorate, (University of Leeds School of Politics and International Studies, 2012), 5.

6. Lawrence James, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1995), 407.

7. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmad, The Origins of the Israeli-Palestine Conflict: Settler-Colonialism, Apartheid and Political Zionism, IPRD Briefing, January 5, 2009, http://iprd.org.uk/wp-content/plugins/downloads-manager/upload/The%20Origins%20of%20the%20Israel-Palestine%20Conflict%20Settler-Colonialism,%20Apartheid%20and%20Political%20Zionism.pdf

8. The 1936 Riots, Jewish Virtual Library, 2013, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/riots36.html

9. The 1936 Riots, Jewish Virtual Library, 2013, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/riots36.html

10. The 1936 Riots, Jewish Virtual Library, 2013, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/riots36.html

11. Peel Commission Report on Palestine, Public Domain, 1937, Jewish Virtual Library, 1937, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/peel1.html

12. Malcolm Hedding, Christian Zionism 101: Giving Defintion to the Movement, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, http://int.icej.org/media/christian-zionism-101

13. The Arab-Israeli War of 1948, United States Department of State Office of the Historian, http://history.state.gov/milestones/1945-1952/ArabIsraeliWar

14. Endicott, Johnson & Papp, American Foreign Policy: History, Politics and Policy, (New York: Pearson Longman, 2005), 172.

15. Lawrence James, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1995), 563.

16. Avi Shlaim, Britain and the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, Journal of Palestine Studies, http://www.palestine-studies.org/enakba/diplomacy/Shlaim,%20Britain%20and%20the%20Arab%20Israeli%20War%20of%201948.pdf

17. The Arab-Israeli War of 1948, United States Department of State Office of the Historian, http://history.state.gov/milestones/1945-1952/ArabIsraeliWar

18. Don Peretz, “The Disinherited: Journal of a Palestinian Exile,” Foreign Affairs, October 1954, 137-138.

19. The Arab-Israeli War of 1948, United States Department of State Office of the Historian, http://history.state.gov/milestones/1945-1952/ArabIsraeliWar

20. Palestine Refugees, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, http://www.unrwa.org/etemplate.php?id=86

21. Jewish Immigration to the United States: Immigration of Eastern European Jews, Holocaust Center,  http://www.holocaustcenter.org/kinderTransport/PDFS/Immigration.pdf
22. Gustav Niebuhr, “Israeli Jews To Outnumber Those in U.S.,” New York Times, September 11, 2000, http://www.nytimes.com/2000/09/11/us/israeli-jews-to-outnumber-those-in-us.html

Friday, March 29, 2013

Decolonization: Myanmar-Burma


Decolonization: Beginning the Shift

 

            The decolonization process, which was the beginning stage of imperial transition from colonialism to globalization, varied depending on the colonized state, the value of the colonized state, government/economic/political/social structures, and the culminating point of independence.  The imperial transition from colonialism to globalization redefined the characteristics of imperialism from economic exploitation by nation-states to economic exploitation by capital private sector entities, corporate states, which utilize the military and political strengths of nation-states specifically through the consolidated international authority of International Government Organizations (IGOs).  It was no historical coincidence that the post WWII Bretton Woods Conference coincided the epoch of post colonialism.  At the same time, not every capitalist plan that was developed for post-colonial states worked out in the best short-term interests of the global market due to the sporadic nature of stability in post-colonial states.

Burma

            Not every post-colonial state has been a beacon of stability for international capital investment and exploitation.  Burma, known today as Myanmar, like many other post-colonial properties after national independence, has suffered from domestic political fractioning caused by the political void left by colonialism since its independence in 1948.  The decade leading into Burmese independence saw the world conflict, World War II, spill across its borders, which can be briefly analyzed in the British government statement of 1945: “The Japanese invasion and the long interval of enemy occupation and active warfare in her territories, during which she has suffered grave damage not only in the form of material destruction but in a shattering of the foundations of her economic and social life” [1].  While the British government termed their military reacquisition of Burma as liberation, both Britain and Japan were foreign occupiers battling over a strategic colonial chess piece on the international stage.  The destructive economic results of war resulted in the opening invitation for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (known today as the World Bank). 

The international private sector, especially the Bretton Woods conference members, considered the new independent Burma as a major prospect in 1948 for future economic exploitation and profiting.  By 1954, the World Bank was making preparations for Burmese membership and the World Bank issued their first funding allotments to the Burmese government on May 4, 1956. [2]   Britain attempted to do in Burma what had been attempted in the majority of British post-colonial possessions, and “from 1948 to 1958, the country was a parliamentary democracy based on a U.K.-inspired constitution”, a government structure that has been historically very capitalism friendly [3].

The main problems for foreign capitalist globalizing entities concerning Burma emerged in the early phases of the Cold War and stemmed from a post-colonial political power vacuum, and the domestic splintering in Burma lead to a 1962 military coup and the establishment of a socialist government under General Ne Win “who abolishes the federal system and inaugurates "the Burmese Way to Socialism" - nationalising the economy, forming a single-party state with the Socialist Programme Party as the sole political party, and banning independent newspapers” [4].  This was problematic for the international so-called free market because socialist governments tend to lean toward isolation and collective national economic resources, rather than international economic trade (of natural resources) and the accumulation of individual private capital.

In 1987, during the last years of the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, Burma saw heavy currency devaluation which destabilized the domestic state in the form of anti-government riots (more than likely funded from foreign entities interested in seeing Burma return to a more capital-friendly form of government, similar to events in Syria today), and in 1990 Democratic elections were held and the “Opposition National League for Democracy (NLD)” won a “landslide victory in general election” [5].  At this juncture across the post-Cold War international stage, the World Bank again attempted to pull Burma back into the global free market, as was the trend during this period as capital globalization began to spread eastward in efforts to pull post-Soviet satellite states into the global free market (in order to exploit their natural resources).  The World Bank’s second funding efforts in Burma were also a default failure that resulted in a twenty-five year break between the Bank and the state. 

Myanmar

Burma, now Myanmar, has only recently began to recover from the domestic political void and power splintering originally caused by colonialism, and the people of Burma have suffered for the lack of “economic correlations and international isolation” that has “led to economic stagnation, despite a short-lived effort towards economic liberalisation in the late 1980s” [6] .  Myanmar, which is “is a poor country in spite of its vast natural resources”, never transformed into the economic machine expected by international capitalist entities, but could eventually, still become used for mass foreign economic exploitation [7].  After all, Burma/Myanmar is still ‘virgin’ territory for globalization as “industrialization is still in an embryonic stage and agriculture retains a pivotal role in Burma/Myanmar’s economy, accounting for nearly 60% of the country’s GDP” [8]

The World Bank “is set to re-engage with Burma 25 years after freezing its lending, but the Southeast Asian country must first repay several hundred million dollars in outstanding arrears” and while there is concern by international investors concerning “continued violence in many of Burma’s border areas – notably Kachin state”, Myanmar may still reach its destiny of having its natural resources depleted and exploited by foreign capitalist corporations; a post-colonial destiny that may have only been delayed by post-colonial domestic factors on an international chess board.

Notes

1. Modern History Sourcebook: British Government Statement: Policy in Burma, May 1945, Fordham University, http://www.fordham.edu/Halsall/mod/1945-burma-ukpolicy.asp   

2. World Bank Historical Chronology: 1950-1959, World Bank, http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTABOUTUS/EXTARCHIVES/0,,contentMDK:20035658~menuPK:56315~pagePK:36726~piPK:437378~theSitePK:29506,00.html

3. Lex Rieffel, The Myanmar Economy: Tough Choices, Brookings Institute, September 2012, http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2012/09/myanmar-economy-rieffel

4. BBC News, Burma Profile: Chronology of Events, March 21, 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12992883

5. BBC News, Burma Profile: Chronology of Events, March 21, 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12992883

6. The EC-Burma/Myanmar Strategy Paper 2007-2013, European Union,  http://eeas.europa.eu/myanmar/csp/07_13_en.pdf

7. The EC-Burma/Myanmar Strategy Paper 2007-2013, European Union,  http://eeas.europa.eu/myanmar/csp/07_13_en.pdf

8. The EC-Burma/Myanmar Strategy Paper 2007-2013, European Union,  http://eeas.europa.eu/myanmar/csp/07_13_en.pdf

Classism and Racism: Similarties in Britain and the United States

The two nation-states of Britain and the United States are apples from the same tree and share the same social ills concerning classism and racism. Of course, these ills stem from the same shared history before and after the separation caused by the War of Independence, which created the United States. The three main categories which cause racism and classism in both states have origins in capitalism, Christianity and the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The only difference between the two states is a geographical growth factor, caused by the two great European wars, which debilitated European economics during a period when the geographically isolated United States economy was growing by leaps and bounds.

Classism and Capitalism:

The consolidation of wealth, caused by the historical distribution of wealth and the expansion of capitalism, in both states has produced a sharp economic caste in both. In Britain, the wealth gap that creates classism can be seen in the 1994 total wealth distribution as “the least wealthy 87 percent hold only 37 percent of the total, while the least wealthy 96 percent hold on 57 percent of the total” [1]. If we do some quick math, we see that the wealthiest 4 percent hold 43 percent of the total wealth in the British state. The same distinction can be noted in the 2010 U.S. wealth distribution as “the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 35.4% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 53.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 89%, leaving only 11% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers)” [2].

Developed wealth gaps shared in these two states have developed through a long term consolidation process established through centuries of colonialism, foreign and domestic capitalist exploitation, slavery, and now globalization.

Slavery and Religion:

Just as Britain and the United States share the same economic results, similar historical colonial exploitation patterns, similar economic system structures, the wealth gaps evident in both states also have been impacted by religion, specifically the Judeo-Christian elements, and slavery. Both states still suffer from racism, which stems out of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the importation of African slaves, and the reproduction of domestic slaves after the trans-Atlantic slave trade was abolished by the U.S after 1800 in order to economically damage Britain.

What were the origins of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade? Many people do not realize that the trans-Atlantic slave trade did not originally begin as a race-based enslavement. The Holy Roman Empire and more specifically the Catholic Church started the trans-Atlantic slave trade with Papal Bull Dum Diversas issued by Pope Nicolas V which provided Portugal with a monopoly on the West coast of Africa to enslave all non-Christian heathens in order to provide labor to the Spanish colonies in the Caribbean. Once Britain detached itself from the Holy Roman Empire, more specifically the catholic Church, and had elevated itself to the dominate naval force on the seas as the leading expansionist state in the world, the British had no choice but to continue the economically profitable trans-Atlantic slave trade in human labor to maximize the value of their colonies. As the lucrative value of the North American colonies grew in volume, the British North American colonies became the destination of a higher volume of African slaves.

After the independence and the birth of the United States, which was already reliant on the British economic system of slavery, was created, American Christians began struggling with a moral dilemma of enslaving fellow Christians (as many imported or domestic born African slaves had adopted Christianity either by choice or by force). It was at this point, approximately around the time when trans-Atlantic shipments of Africans were banned in the United States and slaves were reproduced domestically (and born on American soil), that domestic American slavery shifted to race based slavery which could be justified by Christian slave owners through the twisting of biblical passages (such as the curse on Moses’ son Ham). Even after the so-called emancipation, a century of racial segregation followed.

Britain and the United States suffer from the same ills of racism and classism because they share a joint history, similarities in historical international colonial and trans-Atlantic human exploitation, identical economic and government structures (representative democracy – the most easily manipulated form of democracy), and are now joint members in globalization. Oranges do not grow from apple trees.

1. Banks, Dilnot & Low, The Distribution of Wealth in the UK, Institute for Fiscal Studies, September 1994, http://www.ifs.org.uk/comms/comm45.pdf

2. Domhoff, William, Wealth, Income, and Power, University of California at Santa Cruz, February, 2013, http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Jamaica: Debt to GDP Ratio and Reform - By Any Means Necessary


            The nation-state of Jamaica is a state, classified as a developing country only fifty years out of colonialism, on the brink of complete failure.  The peril of this failure stems from a paralyzing debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio, high levels of domestic unemployment reflecting low educational, vocational and technical levels within the domestic workforce to take advantage of foreign invested capital, and domestic instability due to excessive violent crime, corruption and drugs.  Currently Jamaica attributes 55% of the national budget toward debt with “25% spent on public sector wages, this leaves just 20% for roads, schools, hospitals and other ‘critical services’”[1]  Indications of the worsening situation were the recent downgrading of Jamaica’s credit rating “from B- to C” and warning signs that if another IMF deal was not reached that “Jamaica was likely to face ‘rising financing pressures and increased risks for macroeconomic stability’”[2]  The state of Jamaica must initiate stringent domestic reforms to increase growth, develop stability, and improve GDP to debt ratio.

            Jamaican debt to GDP ratio approximately stands at a “current level of over 140 percent of GDP” and Jamaica has been forced to seek another “Extended Credit Facility agreement with the IMF [3].  In order to acquire IMF support, Jamaica will be required to initiate several domestic reforms such as “eliminating discretionary tax waivers, along with securing a contract with public sector workers to achieve a wage-to-GDP ratio of 9 percent by 2015/2016”[4].  In addition to addressing debt issues, Jamaica is currently in the process of instituting a second domestic debt exchange program which aims to “reduce Jamaica’s debt-to-GDP ratio from 140 percent of GDP to 95 percent over the next five years”[5].  The proposed debt exchange, the “country’s second in three years”, is considered “a critical component of both the IMF agreement” that would seek “domestic holders of $860bn worth of high interest government bonds to swap them for lower interest options”[6].

            A possible positive contribution to decreasing debt to GDP ratio is the planning of the “proposed Global Logistics Hub initiative” which could “transform Jamaica into the fourth node or pillar in the global supply and logistics chain alongside Singapore, Dubai and Rotterdam”[7].  Establishing a Jamaican logistics hub would lower unemployment levels through the “training of human capital to fuel the needs of the hub” as “thousands of jobs are expected to be created in areas such as, mechatronics integration of marine engineering, (mechanical, electrical and informatics), various ship board professions such as electromechanical engineering, port operations management, heavy duty equipment operations, logistics and supply chain management” [8].  Jamaica must find economic ways of training the domestic population instead of allowing the importation of trained laborers with specialized technical skills.

            The most destabilizing factors in Jamaica are violent crime, drugs and gang activities, which often derail further capital investment by foreign corporations, and if not addressed by more stringent government methods will eventually infiltrate and debilitate the promising aspect of the Global Logistics Hub in improving debt to GDP ratio, should the hub become reality.  Jamaica currently holds one of the top murder rates in the world, which recorded “1,087 deaths last year – well down from its 2009 peak of 1,683” initiated by “poverty, gang violence and the ubiquity of guns” [9].  In order to stabilize the state, the government of Jamaica must initiate sharp reforms in the creation of gang and drug task forces, the acquisition of police technology, and the building of larger prison systems to remove the elements of community that hinder advancement for the collective population and state.  At the same time, the state must establish programs to raise poverty levels and provide technical skills in order to transform members of the inner city population into productive workers and contributors of Jamaican society.

            To alleviate a national debt that prevents development, inner-city poverty which breeds criminal activity and violence, and high unemployment stemming from a population suffering from a lack of technical vocations and available opportunities, the State of Jamaica must implement staunch domestic reforms to eliminate wasteful government spending and corruption, stabilize inner-city violence, and to provide technical training and education to create a stronger domestic work force which will keep earned capital inside Jamaica.  Under no circumstance, or international liberal complaints, should Jamaica and the Jamaican people allow the Global Logistics Hub proposal to be lost, nor allow gangs, drugs and violence to engulf the hub once it is established.  An implementation of stronger domestic reforms, enforced in the same manner of colonialism if required, is a case of long-term necessity for Jamaica and the Jamaican people.  For the state and people of Jamaica, the options are either state reform ‘by any means necessary’ or further state regression and failure.

Notes

1.  Nick Mann, “Jamaica bids to lower debt costs to secure IMF loan,” Public Finance International, February 13, 2013, http://www.publicfinanceinternational.org/news/2013/02/jamaica-bids-to-lower-debt-costs-to-secure-imf-loan/

2. Nick Mann, “Jamaica bids to lower debt costs to secure IMF loan,” Public Finance International, February 13, 2013, http://www.publicfinanceinternational.org/news/2013/02/jamaica-bids-to-lower-debt-costs-to-secure-imf-loan/

3. Caribbean Journal, “Jamaica “Finalizing” IMF Agreement, Plans Debt Exchange Offer,” February 11, 2013, http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/02/11/jamaica-finalizing-imf-agreement-plans-debt-exchange-offer/

4. Caribbean Journal, “Jamaica “Finalizing” IMF Agreement, Plans Debt Exchange Offer,” February 11, 2013, http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/02/11/jamaica-finalizing-imf-agreement-plans-debt-exchange-offer/

5. Caribbean Journal, “Jamaica “Finalizing” IMF Agreement, Plans Debt Exchange Offer,” February 11, 2013, http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/02/11/jamaica-finalizing-imf-agreement-plans-debt-exchange-offer/

6. Nick Mann, “Jamaica bids to lower debt costs to secure IMF loan,” Public Finance International, February 13, 2013, http://www.publicfinanceinternational.org/news/2013/02/jamaica-bids-to-lower-debt-costs-to-secure-imf-loan/

7. Maritime Executive, “World Bank Offers to Aid Jamaica's Logistics Hub Plans,” March 5, 2013, http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/World-Bank-Offers-to-Aid-Jamaicas-Logistics-Hub-Plans/

8. Maritime Executive, “World Bank Offers to Aid Jamaica's Logistics Hub Plans,” March 5, 2013, http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/World-Bank-Offers-to-Aid-Jamaicas-Logistics-Hub-Plans/

9.  Ross Sheil, “Imani Green murder: how violence plagues Jamaica,” The Guardian, January 13, 2013, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/13/imani-green-murder-violence-jamaica

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Simulation: World Bank at International HIV/AIDS Conference

I recently participated in a simulation of a world conference in HIV/AIDS.  Each of the simulation participants selected a nation-state, international government organization, or non-government organization to represent in the conference.  Participants were required to maintain their simulation role throughout the conference.  I selected the World Bank, in an attempt to illustrate to other participants how that organization works.  The following is my opening statement, plan proposal and final vote:

Opening Statement to the Conference:

This evening, before the nation-states of the global stage, our leading private sector partners, esteemed representatives from leading non-governmental and international governmental organizations, the entire world comes together as one village to address one of the most ominous threats to ever face humanity. That threat is the disease of HIV/AIDS, which stands for an “'acquired immunodeficiency syndrome' and is a surveillance definition based on signs, symptoms, infections, and cancers associated with the deficiency of the immune system that stems from infection with HIV”. [1]

Over 34 million people around the globe are now living with the disease of HIV/AIDs, and even more disturbing is the fact that a high percentage of those infected live in developing countries. While the international community has made great strides toward achieving United Nations Millennium Goal number 6, the world has witnessed 2.5 million new cases of HIV in 2011. Alarmingly, 69 percent of the total new HIV/AIDS infections that occurred in 2011 were in Sub-Saharan Africa, the most HIV/AIDS affected region in the world today [2]. Behind Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean is the second most HIV/AIDS affected region in the world [3]. The fact that we have state leaders from both of these regions of the world in attendance tonight shows the resolve and dedication of those governments to battle the decimating epidemic of HIV/AIDS, and the World Bank applauds them (pause for applause).

In the past decade, the international community has made great strides in combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic around the globe. In 2011, the world saw a 24 percent decrease in HIV/AIDS related deaths compared to 2005, a statistical decrease that equals more than a half million fewer deaths around the globe (pause for applause) [4]. The World Bank takes extreme pride in being a leading organization in combating the disease of HIV/AIDS.

In the first decade of the 21st century, the World Bank, a proud co-sponsor of the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, and its partners has led the global battle against the epidemic of HIV/AIDS. In India, the national AIDS program supported by the World Bank has prevented an estimated 3.5 million infections from a previously projected 5.5 million infections (pause for applause). In West Africa’s transport corridor, sexually transmitted infections have decreased by 22 percent through World Bank supported prevention programs (pause for applause). In Rwanda, programs supported by the World Bank have increased overall health service utilization by 76 percent (pause for applause). The World Bank is proud to have provided over 68 million people around the globe with basic packages of health, nutrition, or population services, and to have provided 55 million pregnant women with antenatal care, to have provided antiretroviral therapies to 1.5 million adults and children with HIV, to have trained 2.2 million health personnel to improve the quality of health services in developing countries, and to have distributed 813 million condoms for the prevention of HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and unwanted pregnancies (pause for applause) [5].

In spite of all the positive advancements that the international community has achieved over the past decade, there were 34 million people in 2012 living in the world with HIV/AIDS compared to 29.4 million in 2001. Between the timeframe of 2005 and 2011, while geographical areas such as the Caribbean saw declines in AIDS related deaths, which as the second highest AIDS affected region on Earth should see decreases, the international community has witnessed disturbing increases in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, with a twenty-one percent increase in AIDS related deaths, and the Middle East and North Africa, with a seventeen percent increase in AIDS related deaths [6].

The world is capable of doing more to combat this disease, and as a global society MUST do more to combat this epidemic. Tonight, before the international community, the World Bank declares its responsibility and dedication in increasing efforts for combating the global spread of HIV/AIDS. The World Bank is prepared to enhance long-term financial and specialized technical support and knowledge to the countries of the world for effective prevention of new HIV infections, care and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS, and alleviation of social and economic consequences for affected communities [7].

In the following days, the World Bank looks forward to meeting with world leaders, along with the leading International Government Organizations, Non-Government Organizations dedicated to combating HIV/AIDS, and our private sector partners in order to propose fresh global and regional programs for reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS around the globe and assisting the United Nations and the international community in achieving the goals set forth within the United Nations Millennium Goal number 6 by the year 2015.

Thank you very much. Good night.

1. Joint United Nations Programme On HIV/AIDS. Fast Facts about HIV, 2008. Accessed on March 19, 2013 from http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/dataimport/pub/factsheet/2008/20080519_fastfacts_hiv_en.pdf
2. World Bank. Overview: HIV/AIDS, 2012. Accessed on March 19, 2013 from http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTHEALTHNUTRITIONANDPOPULATION/EXTHIVAIDS/0,,contentMDK:21546262~menuPK:376479~pagePK:210058~piPK:210062~theSitePK:376471,00.html
3. Joint United Nations Programme On HIV/AIDS. Global Fact Sheet, World AIDS Day 2012. Accessed on March 19. 2013 from http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/epidemiology/2012/gr2012/20121120_FactSheet_Global_en.pdf
4. Joint United Nations Programme On HIV/AIDS. Global Fact Sheet, World AIDS Day 2012. Accessed on March 19. 2013 from http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/epidemiology/2012/gr2012/20121120_FactSheet_Global_en.pdf
5. World Bank. Overview: HIV/AIDS, 2012. Accessed on March 19, 2013 from http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTHEALTHNUTRITIONANDPOPULATION/EXTHIVAIDS/0,,contentMDK:21546262~menuPK:376479~pagePK:210058~piPK:210062~theSitePK:376471,00.html
6. Joint United Nations Programme On HIV/AIDS. Global Fact Sheet, World AIDS Day 2012. Accessed on March 19. 2013 from http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/epidemiology/2012/gr2012/20121120_FactSheet_Global_en.pdf
7. World Bank. Overview: HIV/AIDS, 2012. Accessed on March 19, 2013 from http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTHEALTHNUTRITIONANDPOPULATION/EXTHIVAIDS/0,,contentMDK:21546262~menuPK:376479~pagePK:210058~piPK:210062~theSitePK:376471,00.html

Response to Representative of Pfizer:

Representative of Pfizer,

Since our 2010 announced partnership for the initiative to help improve healthcare delivery in developing countries, the World Bank considers it an honor to work with your organization.  We look forward to much progress being achieved during this conference and against the disease of HIV/AIDS in the years to come.  The World Bank proposal that is scheduled for this evening will certainly rely heavily on the leading technological edge of the world medical field of Pfizer to supply the developing states in attendance who are re-dedicating their battle against the current epidemic of HIV/AIDS.

Sincerely,
World Bank

World Bank and Pfizer Announce Initiative to Help Improve Healthcare Delivery in Developing Countries.  World Bank/Pfizer press release, 2010.  Accessed on March 21, 2013 from http://www.pfizer.com/files/news/press_releases/2010/pfizer_world_bank_042310.pdf

World Bank Conference Proposal:

Good Evening.

Tonight the World Bank calls on the international community of the globe, along with the leading international governmental organizations and non-government organizations, with the support of the global private sector leaders in the specialized technological and medical fields, to increase collective and individual efforts in combating the world-wide epidemic of AIDS/HIV. This evening, the World Bank has reviewed the proposals of each nation-state in attendance, and the World Bank wishes to commend the nations of the world in their dedication to humanity. In response to your proposals for combating and preventing the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the World Bank is prepared to commit to a reinvigorated effort toward reaching United Nations Millennium Goal number 6 by the year 2015, or after the deadline should the goal require longer than the original timeframe.

For nation-states in attendance of the conference, the World Bank offers its assistance in preventing and combating the disease of HIV/AIDS within your nation-state borders. For developing countries in attendance, the World Bank is prepared to initiate domestic programs based on long-term and short-term credit ratings in order to finance the purchase of the most advanced technological medical machinery, cutting edge medicines and vaccines, the top vocational training in health fields, and the most proven methods in preventive education. In order to develop these humanitarian bi-lateral programs, negotiations between the World Bank and the individual member state must be initiated and the World Bank enthusiastically invites this initiative. For member states still considered in ‘developing’ status, the World Bank is eager to directly assist and establish a program aimed to prevent and repel the spread of HIV/AIDS. For ‘non-developing’ state members, the World Bank and the World Bank Group are prepared to assist in establishing a domestic program in addressing this most important and urgent area of human concern.

All economic programs developed between the World Bank and member states in combating HIV/AIDS on a national-domestic level will be conditionally based on the World Bank’s partnership with Pfizer, a private sector leader in medical research around the globe. All World Bank funding acquired by member states in addressing the issues of HIV/AIDS will be required to be utilized through planned purchasing from Pfizer, a proud partner to the World Bank in endeavors in humanitarian efforts.

In addition to what the World Bank is offering each individual nation-state in their efforts, the World Bank proposes that each member-state of the World Bank agree to contribute $50 million (US) Dollars a year to the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) over the next ten years for collective consolidation and disbursement in HIV/AIDS prevention. World Bank Members at the conference tonight are: The People’s Republic of China, Japan, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar, The Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Pakistan.

While it is understandable that each nation-state requires its own security, and domestic and foreign interests, as paramount, the issues of the AIDS/HIV epidemic impacting the globe requires a collective humanitarian effort and economic sacrifice.

In closing, the World Bank applauds the members of the conference in their efforts towards meeting United Nations Millennium Goal number 6. Today is the first day toward a reinvigorated human effort.

World Bank. About World Bank – Member Countries, 2012. Accessed on March 21, 2013 from http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTABOUTUS/0,,contentMDK:22427666~menuPK:8336899~pagePK:51123644~piPK:329829~theSitePK:29708,00.html
World Bank and Pfizer Announce Initiative to Help Improve Healthcare Delivery in Developing Countries. World Bank/Pfizer press release, 2010. Accessed on March 21, 2013 from http://www.pfizer.com/files/news/press_releases/2010/pfizer_world_bank_042310.pdf

Response to Representative of Pfizer:

Representative of Pfizer,

When the World Bank recommends that their member states donate $50 million dollars a year for ten years, this plan of action is not simply aimed at the members in attendance at this conference. It is aimed toward every active member of the World Bank, a total number of 188 nation-state members.

World Bank Closing Conference Vote and Closing Statement:

The World Bank appreciates being allowed to participate in this historic conference which has displayed the strength of collective national collaboration and the possibilities of addressing the global issue of HIV/AIDS. The World Bank views most of the proposals that were unveiled at the conference as very positive possible steps, and would especially like to support the following proposals:

- Enhanced dissemination of education on the disease of HIV/AIDS, the spread of HIV/AIDS, and the available methods of prevention.

- The establishment, or reinforcement, of national task forces and domestic laws aimed at the sex and drug trades. Concerning the sex industry: statistics show that human trafficking is a very serious issue globally, and that the sex industries in nations such as Thailand, Philippines and Japan contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS. On the other hand, these nation-states do not see the amount of sexual assaults, rapes, or crimes against children as nations such as the United States and Britain, where prostitution occurs illegally and is often assailed by law enforcement officers, and the question of crime rate correlation should be contemplated by domestic governments. The World Bank supports all efforts for national task forces created against international and domestic illegal drug trades, especially as needle injected drugs contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS. As an alternate for nation-states facing several problems in these areas, the World Bank recommends increasing the availability and dissemination of condoms and sterile needles in order to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS and other diseases associated with sexual activity and illegal drug usage.

- The availability for free or cost efficient HIV testing for populations of all economic classes within a nation. The question left unanswered by the representative of Japan, which will actually be required to be answered by each individual government to establish such a program, is how insurance companies unaffiliated to the conference will support such an initiative or whether the establishing government will be forced to burden the fiscal costs. In addition, the question of anonymous testing leaves the issue of possible continued spread of the disease, in some cases maliciously, by infected citizens not required to register as an infection citizen. The World Bank supports testing, but would seek an amendment requiring the registration of infected citizens to host government agencies.

- The hosting of regional conferences on HIV/AIDS, as proposed by Vietnam in their proposal for a summit of Southeastern Asian states, is strongly supported by the World Bank as a proactive way to continue communications, method sharing, and collaborated efforts.

- Further research on the disease of HIV/AIDS. As mentioned by the representative of Pakistan, research efforts on the disease of HIV/AIDS should be a top priority internationally and domestically. The World Bank agrees with Pakistan that prevention is the top defense position, while technological research of the disease of HIV/AIDS and new medical treatment options should be pursued.

The World Bank opposes the following proposal areas:

- The involvement of religious organizations in state management efforts for research, prevention or medical care in the areas of HIV/AIDS. The World Bank recognizes the possibility that religious prejudice toward homosexuals or non-affiliated religious members could produce a state associated atmosphere for religious discrimination.

-The World Bank opposes the proposals calling for private-sector entities, such as Pfizer, to donate or shoulder too much of the fiscal costs in the ongoing global efforts in medical treatment, testing, education or prevention. The World Bank feels that all leading private-sector entities in the medical field should maintain their capital for future medical research in the fields of HIV/AIDS. In addition, the problem of HIV/AIDS is not a short-term problem and will be a global and domestic issue for decades to come. The World Bank believes that each government must learn to economically budget their resources for the long-term issues, and views the provision of short-term donations as only delaying the inevitable.

Closing Concerns:

The World Bank’s largest concern at the conclusion of this conference is the lack of economic/fiscal consideration and proposal planning. Almost every area proposed during the conference clearly identified areas that, if conducted properly on the global or national level, will comprise of extensive economic costs. The World Bank was disappointed in the lack of economic responsibility during the conference.

As stated in our opening statement and during our conference proposal, the World Bank stands ready to work with any nation in making their global and domestic proposals an economic reality. Again, depending on long-term and short-term credit ratings, the World Bank, in its dedication to combat HIV/AIDS, is eager to work with any nation-state that is interested in economic responsibility for the long-term problem of HIV/AIDS and other diseases.

Thank You and Good Night.

Friday, March 15, 2013

British Colonialism: 1898 Fashoda (Sudan)


At the end of the 19th century the continent of Africa was already under European colonial siege, a race termed in history as the scramble for Africa.  The major European powers in Africa at the turn of the century were the British and the French, with Germany, Spain, Belgium, Portugal and Italy also engaged on the continent.   The incident of Fashoda (modern Sudan) was not only a ‘diplomatically’ resolved land conflict between Britain and France, it served as a very important evolution point in imperialism.

In July 1898, the French established a military presence at Fashoda under the command of Jean-Baptiste Marchand.  As a result, British forces based in the Upper Nile region moved military forces under Lord Herbert Kitchener southward into Sudan toward Fashoda. 

What was the importance of Fashoda?  The Importance of Fashoda is its position on the Nile, which is a Northern flowing river.  From a British perspective, French forces could put gunboats in the water or even erect a dam to completely cut off the flow of water, which would be disastrous on economic, health, military levels.

Kitchener won the battle of Omdurmam against Mahdist forces on the southward movement toward Fashoda.  Full scale conflict between British and French forces never erupted over Fashoda because “France stepped down” because “her ally, Russia, refused to become entangled in a dispute over a stretch of sand in the middle of Africa” [1].  The French also understood the naval superiority that the British possessed over them and did not wish to see their own foreign trade decimated again, as it had been in the 18th century, due to conflict  with Britain [2].

I offer two areas for contemplation and discussion:

The fact that Britain “had the Egyptian flag rather than the British flag hoisted over Fashoda” is very interesting.  Looking at this period of colonial history, we see Britain using Egypt, basically a British property yet proclaimed as an autonomous protectorate, as a puppet state for military and political actions (to achieve British economic interests).  I view this as an evolution in imperialism.  Just as the modern imperial actions of the United States and their allies remove regimes such as Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan, only to replace them with puppet governments which they can utilize or exploit, we can look back at the British return to Egypt in 1882 and see that Britain controlled the finances, government and military of Egypt.

A few weeks back while studying Dr. Said’s orientalism, we reviewed an account of General Gordon’s evacuation mission to Khartoum (north of Fashoda).  I have to give consideration to the possibility of ‘under the table’ French support, in military or economic form, to the Mahdists in their opposition against British-Egyptian southern advancement.  Any thoughts on this possibility?

[1] James, Lawrence.  The Rise and Fall of the British Empire (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1996), 285.

[2] James, Lawrence.  The Rise and Fall of the British Empire (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1996), 285. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Jamaica: State Stability and Security - Gangs


            After a long history of Spanish and British colonization, the state of Jamaica established independence in 1962.  Similar to other post-colonial states, Jamaica was a state that emerged with a native population suffering from extreme poverty after decades of foreign exploitation and left in a fragmented domestic political void.  As post-colonialism evolved to globalization, Jamaica remained stable enough for continued foreign capital investment-exploitation, and the newly independent island state did not find itself at war with surrounding states or threatened by further foreign occupation.  The threat to Jamaica’s security and stability, and the safety of the Jamaican people, emerged and continues from a domestic threat: gangs.

Post-Colonial Political Void

            Political voids were characteristic of emerging independent states after decades of colonial occupation by European powers, and the result was no different in Jamaica as domestic political groups vied for power.  Within ten years of Jamaica’s independence, the PNP (People's National Party) and JLP (Jamaican Labour Party) were locked into a grueling battle for domestic political dominance within the democratic parliamentary system left behind by their British occupiers.  After the 1972 election of the PNP’s Michael Manley, “Jamaica’s ruling elite and foreign backers waged a violent and debilitating assault on Manley’s government and party to prevent it from implementing reforms, combining paramilitary assaults on neighbourhoods supporting the PNP with sabotage of the country’s economy” [1]. 

The political gang warfare of the 1970s went both ways as “the two main parties helped organize and arm in Kingston's poor neighborhoods in the 1970s, gangs that controlled the streets at the behest of politicians and intimidated voters at election time”[2].  The PNP was ousted in the election of 1980 when “the political violence reached its height in 1980, when an estimated 700 people were killed in election-related fighting” and the JLP won the national vote and has held power since.  As a result, the gang problem in Jamaica had been born, nurtured and strengthened by political sponsorship and unofficial, and at times official, state support.

Poverty and Drugs

            Poverty in Jamaica has “been a persistent feature of the Jamaican landscape from the post-Emancipation period”[3].  After the dissolution of political party funding for gang activities, Jamaican gangs found an independent funding source in “the introduction of cocaine in the mid-1980s”, as youth amidst post-colonial poverty began to view “the easiest way to become ‘better off’ was to buy cocaine and sell it”[4]. 

As the amount of people living under the poverty level in Jamaica climbed to “an all-time high of 45% of the population, combined with an inflation rate of 80%” in 1991, and previous restraints on gang activities by their political affiliations that funded and armed them were deteriorating, Jamaican gang members, with no other viable options, began to violently position gang alliances throughout the Kingston garrison territories for power positions in the cocaine game [5].     

            The drug trade and violent crime in Jamaica were greatly impacted by the “significant use of the gun in the 1980’s and the illicit drug trans-shipment trade changed the country’s crime landscape from conflict between individuals to violent conflict over turf” and eventually became “anchored in institutionalized relations and occupational roles (subsequent development of extortion and racketeering) [6].

Modern Gang Violence and Economic Growth

            Today, Jamaica boasts one of the highest murder rates in the world due to gang violence and drug trafficking.  As gang violence continued to develop after the turn of the century, Jamaica suffered from “1,674 murders in 2005, up from 1,471 murders” in 2004 amidst “gang related fights over drugs and turf” [7].  A 2004 World Bank report written on the violent crime epidemical erosion on possible economic growth in Jamaica states that “crime costs society at least 4 percent of GDP explicitly, including lost production, health expenses, and public and private spending” and that “Some 10-20 percent of firms in the business survey suggested that they may close down in the next three years because of crime.” [8]

            The gang violence epidemic is debilitating to the Jamaican state because the majority of gang action and violent crime takes place in densely populated urban areas trapped under heavy poverty such as Kingston where “in 2001, about 51 percent of reported violent crimes occurred” [9].  Jamaica has open borders for investment and foreign vulture capital is flowing into the state, but after natural resources and cheap labor are extracted by foreign investors, the Jamaican government is forced to spend her prostitution pay from foreign capital exploitation on reigning in gang violence and paying off international debt instead of maximum reinvestment into the social economy of the state.

Conclusion

            The origins of gang activity in Jamaica were a direct result of the political void and extreme poverty left by colonial oppression, and the violence was grossly accelerated by the political detachment of gangs and the emergence of cocaine, and later crack-cocaine, in the over-crowed cities suffering from mass poverty.  As crime and murder rates continue to expand as a result of bloody gang conflicts over drug territories, the government of Jamaica, which is already under extreme debt to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, is unable to reinvest the foreign capital that is exploiting their domestic natural resources and cheap labor for profit, because crime stability drains a good portion of the GDP after the international debtors extract their payments.  In the case of Jamaican security and economic growth, it is no longer a foreign colonial master or a neighboring nation-state that threatens that security and development.  The largest threat to national security and development, Jamaican gangs, destroys from within.

Notes

1.  Annis, Roger.  Gangs and Violence in Jamaica and Haiti.  Center for Research on Globalization, June 14, 2010.  Accessed on March 9, 2013 from http://www.globalresearch.ca/gangs-and-violence-in-jamaica-and-haiti/19744

2. Rosenberg, Matthew.  Jamaica: 20 Dead in Political Violence.  ABC News, July 10, 2013.  Accessed on March 9, 2013 from http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=80803&page=1

3. Anderson, Patricia.  Poverty in Jamaica: Social Target or Social Crisis.  Columbia University.  Souls Journal, 2001, p. 39.  Accessed on March 9, 2013 from http://www.columbia.edu/cu/ccbh/souls/vol3no4/vol3num4art5.pdf

4.  Lolland, J & Moser, C.  Urban Poverty and Violence in Jamaica.  World Bank, Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Washington, D.C, 1997, p. 14-15.  Accessed on March 9, 2013 from http://books.google.com/books?id=wQ7Fie43Ld0C&pg=PA15&lpg=PA15&dq=emergence+of+cocaine+in+jamaica&source=bl&ots=1cImBi67my&sig=5daFkzlmhVcPlQPN-JzQIEL9BZ0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=_Z47UaaKHJD82gXDsIDIBw&ved=0CHcQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=emergence%20of%20cocaine%20in%20jamaica&f=false

5. Hughes, Wesley.  A Historical Perspective on Poverty, The Transformation of Jamaica Report.  Office of the Prime Minister, 2006.  Accessed on March 9, 2013 from  http://www.pioj.gov.jm/Portals/0/speeches/Poverty%20-%20OPM%20-%20Sept%202006.pdf

6. Gray, Sherrian.  Trends in Urban Crime and Violence in Kingston, Jamaica.  UN Habitat Global Report on Human Settlements 2007, p. 7.  Accessed on March 9, 2013 from  http://www.unhabitat.org/downloads/docs/GRHS.2007.CaseStudy.Crime.Kingston.pdf

7. Biswas, Soutik.  Jamaica Struggles to Fight Crime.  BBC News, May 16, 2007.  Accessed on March 9, 2013 from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6657203.stm

8. The Road to Sustained Growth in Jamaica.  World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2004, p.18-19.  Accessed on March 9, 2013 from http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2004/05/28/000012009_20040528112811/Rendered/PDF/29101.pdf

9. The Road to Sustained Growth in Jamaica.  World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2004, p.18-19.  Accessed on March 9, 2013 from http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2004/05/28/000012009_20040528112811/Rendered/PDF/29101.pdf