Glen Ford Editor Black Agenda Report

'US behaving like warlords in the world'

5 March, 12:46     Download audio file

As the entire Middle East is in chaos and on the verge of slipping into a state of further conflict and all-out war, the United States, “imperialists and their junior partners in imperialism”, are moving away from the region and now focusing on Africa. The West is in decline and no longer the master of the world economically, so there are playing the only card they have: military might. In an assessment of AFRICOM Glen Ford laid out the facts above and more.

Robles: My first question now, it seems that NATO and the US have moved their war on terror from the Middle East and they are moving into Africa. Why is that?

Ford: Africa is the unclaimed space, but you know when we are talking about empire, when we are talking about imperialism, US imperialism and its junior partners in imperialism, in NATO, every space on earth is actually of strategic value, but Africa of course in terms of resources is of immense value and as far as they are concerned it is unclaimed. Certainly they don’t respect the claims of Africans and Africans themselves to Africa.

Robles: So, there’re racial motivations to this you think?

Ford: No, but racial realities, the realities of the racism of much of the populations of Europe and the United States make the militarization and the assaults on sovereign nations in Africa much more palatable to public opinion in the home countries.

For example, the demonization of Muammar Kaddafi that dates back almost two generations may the massive natal US assault on Libya something that was quite palatable to most sectors of the American public and, as it appears, to European publics as well, the wide-spread in racist assumption that Africans cannot govern themselves, are incapable of such, makes US intervention in the affairs of African states appear to the home countries, the public, as something that is beneficial to the Africans as opposed to an infringement of their human rights.

What is striking here is the United States since the beginning of the decolonization period in Africa had a policy of imposing an environment of chaos in those regions that it cannot control.

We saw that play out in Congo for example, that is Congo was plunged into chaos at the time of independence and Patrice Lumumba, the democratically elected leader of the Congo was assassinated by the Belgians and the Americans.

The chaos imposed from the outside did not end until they got their guy Mobutu as head of the Congo and Mobutu served their purposes for decades. When he no longer served their purposes in the mid-90s, they then plunged Congo again into chaos working through their two henchmen regimes, in Rwanda and Uganda, America’s strongest allies in black Africa and created such chaos that 6 million Congolese have died as a result since 1996.

This is long been the policy in Africa. We could make the comparison in Somalia for example as well, which the United States spent a great deal of money perpetuating an environment of chaos there since the early 90s.

Now it appears, I just wanted to make this connection, that the objective condition that decay of imperialism is such that they are willing to impose chaos as a matter of policy in the Middle East and in North Africa as well.

And so we see the chaos of Libya as being preferable to the United States and NATO to the orderliness and in fact good trade relations that existed with Kaddafi’s regime and the chaos and carnage in Syria are being preferable to orderly relations with the Assad government. This is quite disturbing.

Robles: I see.

Why is disorder and revolution and revolt and upheaval more positive for the US and NATO?

Ford: Because the United States and the Europeans, I am talking about the advanced capitalists countries, Europe as well as the United States, is now ruled by finance capitalists, this is the profound change that has occurred over the last 30 years in the capitalist system that the long struggle “contention” between manufacturing capital and financial capital have now been resolved in favor of finance capital, finance capital does not make things, it does not produce anything, it is simply monetizes everything that it can, it makes its money from rigging markets, and from manipulation and it is in no shape, no position to compete in terms of conventional trade with the rising economic powers of the global south and China.

This is a really unique period that we’ve entered in the world where in a country like Brazil that we referred to as part of the third world not too long ago, its development bank now has a much larger portfolio than the World Bank does.

And so we see India and China and Brazil and other nations, Indonesia and Malaysia are playing a vigorous, robust role in world trade, China having captured a larger portion of the African trade and even the South American trade right there in the Western Hemisphere, in the US’s backyard, so at this point, at this juncture in history, the Europeans and the Americans cannot compete with these rising economic forces and they don’t even try.

The one advantage that they have in the world is that the NATO countries account for 70% of the arms spending on the planet and have a war machine that is second to none, the clear and absolute superiority on that score. And so they play the only card that they have and that is their military, for example in Africa by suborning the militaries of most African states.

You know, most African countries, all but a handful, notably Zimbabwe, and Eritrea, and now Sudan, all but a handful of African countries have agreements, relations, ongoing connections with AFRICOM.

So, although China, India and Brazil have long eclipsed the United States and Europe in terms of trade, the United States has in a hip-pocket a relationship with African militaries that can veto, through coup d’état, through military means any geopolitical realignments of forces.

So, that is why they are moving in this fashion. If they didn’t see their destiny in conventional trade as we’ve come to know it in the world, then chaos is a good default kind of position and they are willing to risk it.

They are not businessmen anymore. They are intimidators, they are behaving like warlords in the world and warlords can take, can stand, can live, with a lot more chaos than people who want to conduct business.


End part 1

Obama’s is a corporate war mongering administration - Part Two

Obama’s is a corporate war mongering administration - Ford

7 March, 13:29   Download audio file

The placing of a black man in the ultimate seat of power by the true corporate rulers of America was a pacifying face-lift and now black America is living with the worst, most profound, political crisis in history, a much deeper crisis than during the civil rights era and the time when Booker T. Washington and his advocates of accommodation with white supremacy clashed with W.E.B. Du Bois and the NAACP and the advocates of full equality for black people. This comes in an interview with Glen Ford by the VOR’s John Robles.

Robles: Obama has continued Bush’s policies although everybody thought there would be some return to sanity, if I may express it that way.

Ford: Not everybody, certainly we at Black Agenda Report didn’t think that. Obama has built on the Bush administration policies and added new dimensions of his own.

Although the doctrine of R2P, responsibility to protect, or humanitarian military intervention, existed prior to president Obama’s assumption of office, he has made that doctrine his own.

Humanitarian military intervention is designed to fundamentally undermine international law as it has evolved over 100s of years and especially as it was left to us in the wake of World War II.

At the heart of international law is the sovereignty of nations. If there is no sovereignty of nations, there really can be no sovereignty of peoples and individuals either. But humanitarian military intervention throws national sovereignty out of the window. It says that the world community and de facto that means the United States and its allies, can declare any regime to be unworthy of its people and therefore subject to regime change, and frame that as not a violation of the fundamental principles of international law, which it is, but as a good deed, as another step up in the ladder of civilization.

It has turned world international order, international law on its head and that is the advance in imperial ideology that Obama has wrought; building on George Bush’s depredations in the world.

Robles: Now more people are realizing this, do you think this is just going to continue until… What end? In your opinion, or do you think there is any chance that we can bring order back to the world somehow?

Ford: In terms of what people in the United States can do, the landscape looks rather bleak, polls show something like 83% of Americans are in favor of Obama’s drone assassination policy, which violates international law and US law in multiple ways.

So, to whatever extent people are depending upon US resistance to the United States government’s policies, they will be, I believe, quite disappointed.

This is made even more complicated because historically the most progressive constituency in the United States, by far, has been black America. This is shown by every study and just by the polls over the last several generations as long as black people have been polled. But with the elevation of a black man to the White House, that had the effect of short circuiting African American political sensibilities, instincts and behavior, so that just by installing, and of course Obama was Wall Street’s candidate, they have neutered the most anti-war constituency in the country.

White progressives in the United States historically have tended to follow black people’s cues and so when black folks are neutralized, that tends to neutralize white progressives as well, and that is why the political picture is so bleak in the United States.

That doesn’t mean that, what works in the United States doesn’t not necessarily determine, where history marches off to, but this is a bleak political situation here.

Robles: I had this impression, towards the end of the Bush regime there, that a lot of black Americans and minorities in general were almost ready to revolt, if you would. I mean things were getting pretty bad.

And I saw Obama comes in, he had no political base of his own, he was pretty much an unknown, he was pretty much placed in the White House. Do you think that was done to appease and, like you said, neutralize black elements?

Ford: It certainly had that effect domestically. I believe however that the folks who rule this country, and we are talking about multinational capital and we’re talking mainly about finance capital, Wall Street, they wanted to do a makeover, a cosmetic face-change, in the wake of the foreign policy debacles of the Bush administration, for international global purposes, to literally put a radically different face on US imperialism, and how better to do that than to put an African American in the White House. I think that audience was a global one.

Robles: It was. It was.

Ford: It had the added advantage, in terms of domestic politics, of neutralizing that domestic constituency. But, you know, it had similar effects in Africa and, I note, elsewhere in the non-white world: that somehow this black guy could not possibly be as bad as that Texas cowboy white man George Bush, and in fact he is far more effective.

We at Black Agenda Report describe Barack Obama as not the lesser of evils, but the more effective evil, because he gets away, with so much more.

Robles: And it is hard to criticize him, I mean if you are not black, people are afraid to say anything bad about him. Do you think that he plays on that?

Ford: Well, of course, he takes that for granted. In fact, early in 2009 a number of organizations, and I was involved with this, put together a coalition called The Black is Back Coalition.

We did so not just because there needed to be a black left coalition of forces, at this point in history, but also secondarily, but importantly, to give political cover to those white progressives who wanted to do a critique of this Obama-corporate-war-mongering-administration, so that they could point to the Black is Back Coalition and say, “Hey, don’t call me racist”, the Black is Back Coalition shares the same general world view. So, yes, it is important on that racial end as well.

Robles: How do African Americans feel about… and how do black people feel about, Obama? I mean: what is the general consensus?

Ford: We’ve been wrestling with that for more than 4 years now, more like 6 years since Obama became a viable topic for presidential talk.

What has occurred is black America at large has made an emotional commitment to the idea of a black president and to the success, whatever that means, of this black president.

So that any attack on him, any critique of him is perceived as an attack on black folks. Any attempt to rein him in, in his corporatist and belligerent war mongering policies is perceived by a large segment of black America as an attack on black America.

So we see that all of the political instincts that made black America unique and guided us in a progressive direction over all these generations, at the heart of which was our deep skepticism of power, because we knew what power had done to us. These instincts have been short-circuited by the implanting of a black person in the ultimate seat in power.

So, we are not having a discussion in black America of what Obama is doing, we have a discussion of “how he is doing” and that is profoundly different, it is a discussion of: who is attacking Obama, how Obama can be supported, what black America needs to do to beat back the racists who are attacking Obama. There is very, very, very negligible amount of discussion of what Obama’s policies, domestically and internationally do to us. How they harm interests that we saw as our own only 4-5 years ago.

This has created the worst, most profound, political crisis in black America, I believe, ever. I believe it is a much deeper crisis than, that which occurred at the turn of 20th century, between Booker T. Washington and his advocates of accommodation with white supremacy and W.E.B. Du Bois and the NAACP and the advocates of full equality for black folks at the time. That was one hell of a fight.

This is of a different nature. This is a crisis manifested in the breakdown of the black policy. So, it can not even do an analysis of the behavior of power, because the black man is sitting in that seat.

This is John Robles. I was speaking with Mr. Glen Ford, he is the Executive Editor at Black Agenda Report.

 End of Part 2

African-Americans are the most imprisoned and oppressed in US - Ford

19 March, 19:07 

Despite the fact that Barrack Obama may be the first President of the United States of African-American origin, life for African Americans and minorities in the US police state has gotten worse since he took power. Poverty levels are at 1960 levels, the incarceration of blacks which went viral in1970 has continued to grow and there is little hope for the future. However polls continue to contradict the truth of the numbers and attempt to show that black are “optimistic”.

Hello! This is John Robles, I’m speaking with the executive editor from Black Agenda Report, Mr. Glen Ford.

Robles: From what I’ve seen, I mean, things have gotten worse for black Americans, for black people, for minorities in general, since Obama has been President. Would you agree with that?

Ford: Absolutely, and the numbers all say so.

And what is crazy, and I have to use just that word “crazy” about this period, when by the numbers we can show, that black folks have been hurt, by far the worst, by the economic crisis since 2008, is a series of polls began by the Pew Polling organization, but duplicated by the others, that shows that black America, is more optimistic about the economy in general, black people’s fortunes in this economy and black people in terms of their expectations and optimism about their own, and their own families’ fortunes in this economy.

It is an absolutely delusionary situation; that the group that objectively is faring worst in the society, because of one of their number, or someone that they perceive as being one of them is in power, somehow perceives that they are in better shape. 

Big majorities claim that they are better off than they were 10 years ago when in fact in the late 90s black America was by the numbers, objectively speaking, better off in terms of its living standards compared to whites than ever in the history of the country.

And in the interim, and especially after the collapse of 2008, black folks have now slipped, relative to whites, to below 1979 levels.

Poverty in the United States in general is now only a fraction of a point less severe than it was in 1965.

Robles: 1965…

Ford: 1965… And that’s poverty in general in the United States, it is probably an even starker figure for African Americans.

Robles: Regarding the number of African Americans in prison, the number of African Americans dying in this “War on Terror” and civil rights in general: now, what I saw beginning with Reagan, I mean, I saw… the stripping away, beginning with Equal Employment Opportunities and things like that, the stripping away of civil rights and that was continued by Republicans under Bush. Would you agree that civil rights have been stripped away, and how has the “War on Terror” affected the civil rights of African Americans?

Ford: The attrition, the incremental stripping away as you say, in the civil rights arena, has been going on for a long time. But in this so-called “War on Terror” period, and especially under Barack Obama, we have seen, I think a situation that, is nothing less than the absence of the rule of law. We do not have due process in this country and have not had it since the first passage, Congress has twice passed President Obama’s preventive detention law. It goes much further than Bush ever thought to reach.

President Bush did not attempt to pass through the Congress a law giving the Executive Branch the right to preventive detention, to deny American citizens the right to access to the courts, to allow for the arrest without trial or charge of any American citizen.

Bush would not have reached that far because he would have been resisted tooth-and-nail by most Democrats and the popular opposition to that would have been overwhelming. But Obama pulled it off and with only small minorities of opposition among Democrats in the House and the Senate.

We do not have the rule of law, we have an Attorney General who tells us that do process, does not necessarily mean access to the courts, and apparently due process is whatever process the executive branch says it is.

This is beyond conventional civil rights discussions. We are talking about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights becoming a dead letter, effectively.


Robles: I see. Do you see this being arbitrarily applied towards minorities and African-Americans?

Ford: We don’t have to look into contemporary realities or for a change in that regard. The United States imprisons 1\4 of the prison inmates on the planet, about half of them are black. That means: on planet Earth 1 out of every 8 prison inmates is an African American. Is that not amazing? 40 million people, out of 7 billion, representing 1 out of 8 prisoners.

The United States, just by the numbers, is not only the biggest police state in the world, certainly the country with by far the highest incarceration rates must be the biggest police state, but African-Americans are the most imprisoned and oppressed by this police state of any group, in the biggest police state in the world.

So, these “innovations” under the so-called “War on Terror” don’t introduce some new, in particular, chapter for black America, we have been in effectively a police state since the age of mass black incarceration again, and that’s about 1970 if you look at the numbers.

It is as if following the black freedom movements of the 60s, it is as if the white population of the United States said collectively in chorus, sometime around 1970: “Okay, you guys don’t want stay in your place, so we’ve got another place for you, and it is the prison system.”

It was amazing how mass black incarceration spread east, west, north and south to states in which the black population was a very small proportion, to states like Mississippi and South Carolina where there are large proportions. It was universal and took hold in seemed no time, as if by acclamation. So, this is something that we’ve been suffering under this regime of mass black incarceration since 1970, for more than two generations.

Robles: I see. The US has a tremendous adept and agile propaganda machine. Right? Most of the world thinks African-Americans live very well, it’s the land of milk and honey, everybody is treated the same, but if you look at who is in power, if you look at the police forces, if you look at the Government: it is not racially equal, is it?

Well, of course if you just look at the numbers.


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