Peace and Socialism

Seventeen years on, there is little that remains of 9/11 as physical evidence. The site of the tragedy was quickly cleaned up, too quickly in the view of many. Was that to hide incriminating evidence that exposes the real perpetrators, or just the instinctual reaction to a messy scene of destruction that you prefer to forget about?

No smoking gun has been found, though lots of strange leads, most of which point the finger at
*Israel (the ‘dancing Israelis’, Odigo text messages minutes before the planes hit the towers, Netanyahu’s ‘9/11 was good for Israel.’),
*Saudi Arabia (the 15 (of 19) Saudi hijackers were assisted by Saudi officials, Saudi funds financed al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and now ISIS; Saudi leaders make veiled threats of future terrorism), and
*Pakistan (conspirators Ahmed Omar Sheikh, Ramzi Yousef, Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, Inter-Services Intelligence Director General Mahmud Ahmed).

The US and world economy did not collapse; no more such major terrorist attacks occurred. But the world changed.


The recent interest in a basic income (BI) parallels the suddenly growing acceptance of marijuana. Could this be more than a coincidence? In the 1920s--30s, the idea of government intervention to regulate the economy was right down there with frivolous use of stimulants as the devil’s work.

Before WWI, the pious moralizing in the face of increased drunkenness had even achieved a ban on all alcohol (more or less), which continued (more or less) till 1927 in Canada (in the US 1933). Marijuana was suddenly ‘discovered’ and was banned in 1923 (in the US 1937), and unlike alcohol, remained that way, though the ban was flouted even as consumption grew rapidly in the heady post-WWII years, when the youth briefly took control of culture, if only in the explosion of energy that the baby boomers brought en masse.


Now, in the space of a few years, since the election of Trudeau jr, both bits of the devil’s work are now widely accepted, and government programs are/were tentatively being put together to make them part of our daily lives. This article deals with the basic income campaign and its radical implications for the way we think about the economy. The marijuana trip comes later. But you can bet they are two sides of one coin, marijuana the yin to BI’s yang.

How to explain the welter of contradictions in US politics these days?
*Trump’s enthusiasm for peace with Russia vs his acceptance of Cold War II with Russia, launched even as Trump declared victory in 2016.
*Trump’s virtually declaration of war against the mouse, Canada, next door, with his cutting insult to Justin Trudeau as weak and dishonest, as he left the summit early and refused to endorse its free trade plea.
*Trump’s original enthusiasm for pulling out of Syria and elsewhere, pursuing an old fashion Republican isolationism, vs his sudden flurry of bombings in Syria recently and the threat of invasion of others (Iran, North Korea, Venezuela).
*Trump’s dumping of the carefully crafted nuclear agreement with Iran, renewing sanctions and threats in the face of world opposition, both domestic and foreign (ok, the Zionists are happy, but no one else).
*Trump’s unsolicited ‘deal of the century’ with Israel-Palestine.

The Russians are coming

There are behind-the-scenes forces at work, with Russia at the centre. Obama’s and the western media’s human rights spat with Russia over Ukraine and Crimea are not important to the long term strategy of the neocons. Trump and his deep state backers understand this. Kissinger admitted it in June. They want Russia back in a new G-8, as Trump so loudly proclaimed at the G-7 in Quebec in June. But a Russia on the defensive is also in their interests, the better to make Russia bow more respectfully to US world hegemony in any grand compromise. Good cop, bad cop.

In 1987 Najibullah announced a ceasefire, a new constitution, an appeal for a coalition government with the fractious opposition. Najibullah’s rule is still fondly remembered as the best period in recent history by Afghans old enough to know. He had moved forward since he took over from Karmal in 1985, with a new constitution making Islam the state religion. He was an able commander, miraculously staving off the insurgents, leaving areas to local tribal leaders, who quickly restored pre-communist traditional village governance, settled down, and refused to join in the now Taliban-al-Qaeda world jihad.

Elections were held, and in 1988 the 50-man UN Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan (UNGOMAP) was set up to confirm the withdrawal of Soviet troops, help repatriate refugees, monitor the flow of arms into Afghanistan, and prevent any hostilities from developing between the Afghan and Pakistani governments. The mission contained 5 Canadian peacekeepers.

Though no official arms embargo was agreed (the US-Saudi ‘aid’ was still unofficial), there was a gentleman’s agreement to that effect, supported enthusiastically by Iran and India, ignored by the US, Pakistan and the Saudis. At first it looked hopeful. With the departure of Soviet troops, the spirit of jihad was draining away. As Soviet troops evacuate, locals reconstitute local affairs along traditional lines. No one wanted jihad. Except for Bin Laden and his new devotee, Mullah Omar. And of course the US and Pakistan.

1978, 1988 and 1998 were fateful turning points which resounded around the world. All centred around Afghanistan. Hollywood, always a useful barometer, was in sync in a curious way. The film Contact was conceived based on a novel by Carl Sagan written in 1978, but not made till 1998. The heroine Arroway goes through a wormhole to Vega and has friendly contact with Vegans who tell her the journey was just humanity's first step to joining other spacefaring species.

Sagan was riding on the last wave of detente in 1978, and wrote a film about the possibility of world peace, depicting the aliens (aka, earth’s aliens, the Soviets) as friendly, although the US government almost scuttled scientists’ efforts. The US philanthropist behind the mission dies of cancer in the Russian Mir space station, leaving a hopeful  legacy. But the Soviet Union suddenly became evil again in 1979, and the idea had to go on the shelf until two decades later, when another brief period of detente with the now capitalist Russian allowed the realization of Sagan’s dream.

The Afghan snowball started rolling in April 1978, briefly became an avalanche, but looked like it might peter out by 1988, only to pick up steam and become the world crisis by 1998, the aftershocks of which we continue to suffer two decades later. Evil aliens? Force majeure? Systemic? In each case, the US controlled the outcome, and did everything possible to make it worse.

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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