Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Makings of the Unified States of Africa
June 28, 2016
Opinion & Analysis
David Love Correspondent

Is the world witnessing the makings of the United States of Africa? The African Union has taken a step toward integration of the continent. At its summit taking place in Kigali, Rwanda in July, the AU is launching a single, common electronic passport throughout the continent.

The 54-member body wants to allow free movement across national borders in Africa, creating “seamless borders” similar to the EU Schengen free movement deal, as The Independent reported.

The AU plans to have visa-free travel for Africans visiting African countries by 2020, and will enact a free-trade agreement by next year. The first group to receive the new passport in July includes AU heads of state and government, foreign affairs ministers, and the permanent representatives of AU member states based at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, has called the initiative symbolic and significant, and in a press statement said it is a “steady step toward the objective of creating a strong, prosperous and integrated Africa, driven by its own citizens and capable of taking its rightful place on the world stage.”

“I think on balance this is very positive, and one of the things that has become very obvious on the continent is two major crises,” Bill Fletcher Jr — former president of TransAfrica Forum, host of “Arise” on WPFW and Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies — told Atlanta Black Star.

“One is around migration and the other is money. And the AU needs to intervene on both. The illicit trafficking around money and the ability of people to move from country to country, that needs to be tied to a continental educational initiative,” he said. “When you see what happened in South Africa, it whips up into a right-wing populist cause, and it is very dangerous.”

The notion of a united Africa is by no means a new idea. Rather it is the stuff of folklore. Marcus Garvey spoke of the concept in his poem entitled “Hail! United States of Africa:”

Hail! United States of Africa-free!

Hail! Motherland most bright, divinely fair!

State in perfect sisterhood united,

Born of truth; mighty thou shalt ever be . . .

Bob Marley even wrote a song called “Africa Unite”:

. . . Africa unite:

‘Cause we’re moving right out of Babylon,

And we’re going to our Father’s land, yea-ea.

How good and how pleasant it would be,

before God and man, yea-eah! —

To see the unification of all Africans, yeah! —

As it’s been said a’ready, let it be done, yeah!

We are the children of the Rastaman;

We are the children of the Iyaman.

Fletcher also noted that while in the 1950s the dream of a united Africa did not incorporate a common political or economic approach, things have changed.

“First of all, the intention of the decision is something that has been in the works, almost since the start of the conversion of the OAU (Organisation of African Unity) to the African Union, so that is not surprising,” Reuben E. Brigety II, Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University and Adjunct Senior Fellow for African Peace and Security Issues at the Council on Foreign Relations, told Atlanta Black Star. “This is not something that was clearly just decided or came out of the last summit. They have been on the move toward the idea of a single African passport, free movement of people, etc., for several years,” said Brigety, who served under president Obama as the appointed Representative of the United States of America to the African Union and Permanent Representative of the United States to the UN Economic Commission for Africa.

According to Ambassador Brigety, the real question is with regard to the AU plan in its implementation. “Regrettably the Union, particularly the Assembly of Heads of State, is really quite famous, or has a track record of making pronouncements and decisions that often take a long time from implementation, if ever. For example, think about the decision that was taken two years ago by the Assembly of Heads of State to move toward the African Union financing itself as opposed to relying so heavily on donors. The implementation of that decision has been really hard without the actual steps necessary to actually make that more of a reality. They have promised to do so within five years now, and we will simply have to see. And I think that the same is true with regard to the creation of a single African passport as well as moving towards a true continental-wide, free-trade area,” Brigety added.

“So if they were able to do both, certainly on matters of continental free trade, it would create economies of scale for investment from non-African foreign direct investment, which could potentially be transformative for the continent,” Brigety said of the AU passport and free-trade plans. “One would presume that also it would boost inter-Africa trade as well by cutting down on trade barriers, etc. But this is even if one accepts on face value the intent behind the decision.

Brigety noted the enormous complexities of implementing such a scheme.

“On the common passport, for example, the free movement of peoples, we’re seeing the challenges that Europe is having with that right now, and not only with regard to the migrant question, the Syrian refugee question, Syrian and Afghan and other refugees flooding in. This was a problem beforehand, with large numbers of Eastern Europeans from the eastern part of the European Union moving to go to the UK and Germany and France, etc., to find employment. I think it’s one of the things that is obviously motivating the Brexit question,” he said. “One could certainly see the movement of, say, Somalis to South Africa legally under a free African passport, or for Congolese to Senegal, or anything else like that would have similar kinds of pressures that will have to be dealt with within the African context,” Brigety argued. “On balance if they can get it right, the upside will probably be greater than the downside. But the questions of implementation are profound as well as some of the political questions that will inevitably follow this kind of next step towards integration.”

Another concern with the notion of seamless borders is the spectre of terrorism. “It’s obviously crucially important that if you allow the free movement of people that the governments of the Union have a sense of who actually is moving. I would say that is a problem anyway, even with 54, 55 individual national passports,” Brigety argued. “It’s a problem because of the large ungoverned spaces across the continent . . . and it will be more so if one assumes the AU has a common African passport and (Africans) can move at will. But my point is that this would be an issue even if one did not move towards a common African passport. And the countries are going to try to figure out if they presume that the upside of free movement of people for economic and political purposes is greater than the downside of security challenges. They have to figure out how to deal with security challenges,” he added. This latest e-passport project falls within the framework of Africa’s Agenda 2063.

That agenda has the following seven African Aspirations:

A prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.

An integrated continent, politically united, based on the ideals of Pan Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance.

An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law.
A peaceful and secure Africa.

Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, values and ethics.

An Africa whose development is people driven, relying on the potential offered by people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children.

An Africa as a strong, united and influential global player and partner.

Aspirations 2 and 7, which speak of an “integrated” and “unified” continent, are reflected in the passport initiative, the goal of which is “facilitating free movement of persons, goods and services around the continent — in order to foster intra-Africa trade, integration and socio-economic development,” according to the AU.

— Atlanta Black Star.

Brexit: An African Perspective
June 29, 2016
Opinion & Analysis
Kalundi Serumaga Correspondent

It was never merely a question of “Leave” versus “Remain”. Rather the roots of the UK’s current crisis are far deeper.

AS an activist in 1990s Britain, I once found myself at a meeting in Liverpool, made up of people aiming to bring together all Black and Asian activists into one representative organisation.

Naturally, the discussions rotated around those things that vex them: immigration controls, education, access to jobs. It was a very left-wing atmosphere.

At some point a middle-aged Pakistani gentleman living in some northern town was brought on to the stage. He was there to illustrate the racism of the British immigration system where his Pakistan-born wife who was trying to join him, was in detention.

He hardly spoke any English, and so a young, female Asian activist had volunteered to part-translate – a task she did most enthusiastically – whenever he faltered. At some point in his presentation, the immigrant described how, while visiting the detainee, he had to phone home and warn his wife that he too, was also being threatened with detention.

I will never forget the look of growing consternation on the young translator’s face, as they weaved in an out of English, trying explain to him that he could not have possibly phoned his wife at home, while at the same time visiting her in a detention facility. Once the truth dawned on her: that as a non-hijab wearing, British-born possible feminist, she was advocating for some patriarchal polygamist, she became quite tongue-tied.

I laughed in many languages.

Mass immigration was a key debating point in the EU referendum – christened the Brexit – campaign. Among the political elite and the media that feed off the immigration debate, all across Europe, this has been a wholly unexpected result. People seem to be losing their minds. David Cameron, who called the referendum and campaigned to remain in the EU, has had to resign.

The labour opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who also campaigned to remain, has been formally put on notice that many of his senior colleagues want him out. Morgan Stanley, a big financial institution has announced its intentions to move 2 000 workers to any capital still in the EU zone.

Other people, such as the many African and Asian immigrants, their children (and their relatives back home) are worried that their chances of living and working in, just about, the richest country in Europe may be greatly diminished. But these are the same people complaining about the British being everywhere when they were the premier global power, and demanding that they go home. So why are they unhappy now?

Personally, I am not surprised by all this wrong-headedness.

Much as this development comes with many remarkable features that create a sense of drama, they should not cause minds to be diverted from the fundamental issue, which is that Britain’s major political organisations simply do not understand their own people. In fact, ALL of Western politics in power is simply not fit for purpose, vis-a-vis the emerging critical issues.

The general collapse of the Western economies in 2008 has left many people without jobs, pension security, or easy access to a good education as before. Britain’s working class communities have been terribly squeezed by the arrival of first neo-liberalism, and then austerity, on their doorsteps – and have revolted against their political leaders.

Much as this development comes with many remarkable features that create a sense of drama, they should not cause minds to be diverted from the fundamental issue, which is that Britain’s major political organisations simply do not understand their own people.

British politics has always been a two-part mafia. One side works to contain the extreme nationalists who still remember Empire; and the other to contain the extreme socialists who want the poor to overthrow the rich.

Before this era of neo-liberal global domination, the parties played these roles on behalf of the British economic elite. Now they perform for global capital. The Conservatives contained the extreme nationalists by stealing their arguments, then quietly strangling them in some dark parliamentary corridor.

In holding the referendum, that is all the now departing British prime minister was trying to do: seduce those party members and leaders inclined towards the small but noisy anti-EU United Kingdom Independence party away from it, especially with an eye on the next election.

Even Boris Johnson, the man hoping to take over from him, has just stated that one result allows them to “take the wind out of the sails of the extremists who wish to play politics with the issue of immigration”.

As for the Labour Party, it developed a scheme of “imperialism abroad, socialism at home”, in which they gave the economic elite a free hand to rob the world, as long as some of the proceeds were directed to their own poor so as to placate them.

Neither of these stratagems works anymore, hence the political meltdown.

The British people are used to hard work, and have good industrial skills. Unfortunately, this was tied to a foreign policy system that gave their exports unfair global advantage. As global politics reduced their power to impose their goods on the world on their terms, their elites found it easier to make money through financial speculation, and so abandoned industry.

This is a revolt among the descendants of the skilled working class in the former industrial heartlands of the north, midlands and the northeast. Historically, these were Labour voters.

They are now disillusioned by the party’s ideological decline from managing the politics of the once mighty industrial working class, to a degenerate marketplace for horse trading in identity politics for votes from unreconstructed Asian patriarchs, sexual minorities, careerist women, and the grandchildren of the former passengers on the Empire Windrush.

All their attempts to bring this concern to the leadership’s attention were met by denialism and even contempt. As a result, Labour has been losing the goodwill of voters in the former British industrial heartlands. First in Scotland (where a nationalist party demolished Labour’s historical hegemony in the last election, and is now demanding separation from England), and now vast areas housing a usually silent majority, outside the relatively affluent South-East.

This is a revolt among the descendants of the skilled working class in the former industrial heartlands of the north, midlands and the northeast. Historically, these were Labour voters.

When a 1990s Labour government let in over 2 million immigrants from then 10 new poor eastern European countries that had just joined the EU in just a few years, this energised their extreme nationalist wing. It is no longer interested in supplying arguments for the leadership to moderate. They now want to be the leadership, and take their chances at making the country stand alone in the world, as they did by sending a navy to fight a war in the far South Atlantic in 1981. Instead of addressing their people’s concerns squarely, the political leaders spoke of pan-continentalism as if it was only ever a good thing.

But Hitler also aspired to bring all of Europe under one authority, and started a war that spread all over the world. Cecil Rhodes was a "pan-Africanist" who brought much of the vastness of Southern Africa under one authority, but the Africans did not like him.

By trying to brow-beat their population with scare stories about the dangers of being alone, both parties only reminded them that they had not been invaded for nearly 1000 years, and had single-handedly thwarted the last attempt when Hitler’s air force was defeated over the English Channel.

Such people are not easily intimidated.

The issue was never “Leave” versus “Remain”. The issue is “whose union”?

Kalundi Serumaga is a cultural activist agitating through theatre, journalism and creative writing. He lives in Kampala, Uganda. This article is reproduced from New African magazine.
We Love Our Zimbabwe, Same Way You Love Your Britain
June 28, 2016
Joram Nyathi Deputy Editor
Zimbabwe Herald

If the Brexit vote of June 25 was “a mistake”, it does nonetheless remind us that matters of sovereignty and national interest subliminally remain relevant even as we love to sound cosmopolitan in a globalised village.

NO sooner had the British voted to leave the EU than there were loud calls for another referendum, hopefully to have people rethink their decision and its implications. The Europeans on the other hand wish Britain would leave sooner so they can move on with their lives. Unlike the angst plaguing much of Africa over Brexit, Europeans are demonstrating that a lion among lions is simply a lion and no more. We colonial sheep are terrified.

Britain reportedly contributes between 400 and 585 million pounds (14,8 percent) towards the European Development Fund, money advanced as assistance to developing nations. Still the Europeans now want Britain out. Back home Britons say that money should stay at home.

It is perhaps Britain’s huge contribution to the EDF which makes Africans so anxious about it leaving the EU, and what that could mean in terms of development assistance. We have been conditioned to believe that what we require to develop is aid from the former colonial powers, without which assistance we are doomed, and they understand that very well and exploit that dependency mentality to the fullest.

It is good to be pragmatic about aid, but we are not vassals of Britain, and there is nothing to suggest that Britain can stand against the world alone. The British voted last week to leave the EU because they felt their sovereignty was being undermined as decisions taken in Brussels could override British laws. But even their pragmatists are counselling against a return to the doctrine of a “splendid isolation” notwithstanding that the outcome of the referendum has served to expose and heighten latent tensions with the EU family.

If the Brexit vote of June 25 was “a mistake”, it does nonetheless remind us that matters of sovereignty and national interest subliminally remain relevant even as we love to sound cosmopolitan in a globalised village. Nothing stops us from proudly pronouncing on those concepts in our interactions with the rest of the world, and being passionate about who we are and what we stand for.

Context of violence

There is no justification for violence, least of all violence which culminates in murder. Yet that is our daily bread in real life.

Passion, especially of a political and religious nature, is never too divorced from physical violence. We have witnessed the violence which has characterised American Republican presidential nominee, one Donald Trump. It is a mystery that there hasn’t been a murder recorded, the nearest being a British youth who was apprehended as he reportedly tried to kill Trump himself.

From where I stand, these are ordinary elections between traditional party rivals who dominate American politics. Yet the campaigns for the White House have been anything, but ordinary given the sometimes nasty recriminations between the main candidates. Hillary Clinton for the Democrats has been dishing out as much as she gets from a very abrasive Trump; nothing feminine about her quest for power, though there hasn’t been as much of public violence on her campaign trail. Still this has described as one of the most violent elections Americans have witnessed in many years. And we from Africa are equally shocked.

Britain and its Brexit project wasn’t as lucky as the Americans have been. Jo Cox (may her soul rest in peace), a 41-year old female Labour MP was shot and stabbed dead in a fit of passion for her position that Britain should remain in the European Union.

Her killer, Thomas Mair, is said to have shouted “death to traitors, freedom for Britain”. Mair and his ilk considered those who wanted Britain to remain in the EU traitors. Their slogan was “Britain first” and for that they were prepared to kill.

Zimbabwe and her land

This is one country which has been synonymous with “political” violence, particularly since the launch of the fast-track land reform programme in 2000. It is a matter which has never got a fair trial because of its racial colouring and the entanglement of local opposition politics (with a huge dose of British involvement and influence). The easiest and most convenient rendition of this emotive issue has been to reduce it to President Mugabe and his alleged love for power. In other words, the land issue has been decontextualised from the centre of the liberation war to a matter of political convenience.

It’s as if the Patriotic Front was foolish at the Lancaster House talks in 1979 to agree a moratorium on the land reform for the first 10 years of Independence, and later on to accede to a request by the ANC of South Africa to defer forcible land reclamation lest it hardened the Boers against majority rule in their country.

In explaining political violence in Zimbabwe in a rarefied manner as being all about an individual’s way of buying power, a deceitful line is amplified that ordinary Zimbabweans were never concerned about whites enjoying a monopoly over land ownership so long as they worked on the farms and had enough to eat. They were happy slaves. In that context, sanctions were a legitimate response to political violence in Zimbabwe since this was all about an individual obsessed with power, not about a genuine national grievance dating back to colonial occupation in 1893.

This is how one scholar describes the current relations between Zimbabwe on the one hand and Britain and the European Union on the other. Writing this week in the Sunday Mail on the Brexit implications for Africa and Zimbabwe, Ronald Chipaike of Bindura University of Science Education says; “Britain’s and the EU’s view is that the zanu-PF Government has used state-backed political violence against opposition political parties and civil society, in addition to rigging elections and failing to respect basic human rights and the rule of law.”

This is a perfect rendition of how we are all supposed to interpret the actions of these European good Samaritans coming to save natives who have been subjected to gratuitous violence by a senseless dictatorship besotted with staying power. It’s a sanitised script which makes them feel good, justified in imposing “targeted” sanctions on a sovereign nation without even the symbolic shelter of a UN resolution.

It’s never said that there were and still are many Zimbabweans (with or without state backing) ready to kill and die for land. To such people, those opposing land reform, black or white, were “traitors”. They were fighting to free Zimbabwe.

Worse still, it’s never stated even in passing that it was Britain’s meddlesome and racially toxic influence in efforts to resolve the land issue in the 1990s which eternally poisoned relations between the Zimbabwe Government and white commercial farmers.

It’s a fact that Britain sponsored both political parties and civic society organisations to fight in the corner of white commercial farmers in resisting land reform. In the end, those who were passionate about reclaiming land from whites couldn’t distinguish who they were fighting between a black man (who didn’t own land, but was fighting on the side of a white man) and white commercial farmers resisting land redistribution.

But then if you give Mugabe a cause, you can’t justify the sanctions. Just call him a dictator and we can hang him.

Earlier the late national hero and former Vice President Joshua Nkomo had lamented in 1995 that blacks owned “nothing” of the land in their own country. He warned of a dire future if the issue was not urgently resolved. He warned; “If we go (die) without sorting out this problem (land) our children will fight. There will be chaos.” This is the context in which political violence must be viewed post-2000. That goes for human rights and rule of law, for these were invoked specifically to forestall a historical imperative because Government didn’t have enough money to buy back a whole country from white settlers.

Blacks are human, they have matters about which they are very passionate and for which they can kill. These cannot be trivialised in defence of racist property rights and rule of law.

We are not vassals

What does Brexit mean for Zimbabwe?

That question cannot be answered in isolation. It was indicated at the beginning that there were already calls for a rerun of the referendum. By Sunday 3,4 million people had signed a petition towards this. That should tell us that the pragmatists in Britain are as worried about the upshot of the vote as most of us are. Which means our relations with Britain cannot be a one way street in which the UK determines everything while we wait.

Leaving the EU creates a vacuum as it were. Britain needs to fill that with new “friends”. The Commonwealth is not enough. In fact, there isn’t much trade there.

Second, Britain has lots of companies operating in Zimbabwe. It can’t afford to keep doors closed by living a lie about human rights. It’s Trojan horse for regime change is limping badly. Those companies see opportunities being grabbed by rivals from Russia, India and China. That should have a bearing on how Britain relates to Zimbabwe going forward. We need each other.

Third, on a broader level, African nations must outgrow the infantile idea of perpetual aid. No country has developed on the basis of foreign assistance. That means our engagement must be mutually beneficial, based on trade instead of a subordinate role as an aid receiver, much of which is stolen by European and American multinationals and siphoned out of the country.

Climbing down that high horse will require a major face saver for Britain. That is the only major reason why the UK might want to maintain sanctions on Zimbabwe. But then we are talking realpolitik beyond gamesmanship and moral pretences. We love our Zimbabwe the same way the British love their England.
Brexit: Nationalism or Xenophobic Populism?
June 28, 2016
Opinion & Analysis

GOING IT ALONE . . . Britons last  Thursday voted to leave the European Union, citing sovereignty issues but a closer examination suggests the the exit vote was driven by anti-immigrant sentiments

Nick Mangwana View From the Diaspora
Zimbabwe Herald

No matter how it is dressed, Brexit was and is about immigration. Whether that translates to xenophobia is a subject to debate. If it’s xenophobia, the nearly 50 percent of the British people should be applauded for saying No.

In a few days, the African Union will issue its first passports. A few weeks ago Ghana allowed free movement of any African into its territory by removing visa barriers. But a strange turn of events took place a few days ago when Great Britain had a referendum in which it opted to erect walls around its already geographically marooned island. The publicly offered reason was that it was compromising its sovereignty by being part of the European Union (EU).

Underneath this wave of nationalism and a cry for sovereignty is a nostalgic desire for the once “Great” Britain being great again. Some have called it the UK Independence Day but in essence they mean that it is an England Independence Day. There has already been a push for members of the Scottish and Northern Ireland assemblies not to vote on English matters. Whether besides this xenophobia targeted specially against Eastern Europeans there is ethno-regional issues as well as can be seen by Scotland’s bid for independence.

This has raised a strong feeling that sometime devolution leads to regionalism and secessionist sentiment. There is a word of caution there for those that are pushing for the same in our own backyard.

Scotland is now refusing to be led by England’s sentiment of wanting to leave the European Union. Northern Ireland would want little to do with this decision. London as a region does not like this decision either. The younger people that appreciate the beauty of multilateralism and internationalism are surprised that in such a globalised world some are still romanticising with “Rule Britannia’s” yesteryear glory.

Were there really sovereignty issues with the EU? Not really. The major intrusion into British jurisprudence is the European Court of Human Rights which provides another tier of appeal after one has exhausted the British judicial system in human rights cases. A good number of the cases that have found themselves before this court have a thing or two to do with the human rights of immigrants. So the British are not happy with having an extra-territorial oversight. One wonders why they then have a problem when other countries refuse to have the same set-up this time through the International Criminal Court (ICC)?

One of the arguments used during the referendum was that there is an erosion of British values. This columnist as an immigrant who felt welcome onto that island thought inclusivity was one of those values and is still trying to learn the others. But clearly with the campaign run on a xenophobic emotionalism the question of inclusivity goes out of the window.

So what are those “British values”? If Britain is these four countries pulled together and half of those countries have a completely different vision to the other half doesn’t it mean that the so-called British values do not exist or they are incoherent enough not to be important?

How about the cosmopolitan City of London with so many multi-cultural groups who voted for globalisation?

While the referendum was lost and won on several issues in theory, in reality this was a single issue referendum. The issue was surely immigration. Those who have been watching the politics in Europe were not very surprised as there has been a rising wave of right-wing sentiment.

Anti-immigrant sentiment has always been masked in Britain except for some fringe right-wing parties such as Britain First (whose member allegedly shot MP Jo Cox). But this referendum somehow legitimised immigration and all its xenophobic connotations into a mainstream political issue.

Sentiments like immigrants changing the complexion of local communities could now be said in public. Foreigners started being accused of using their own mother tongues in public and that they were making locals uncomfortable. Their “many” children were alleged to be putting pressure on the local schools and social delivery system. Some were accused of being prepared to take lower wages therefore undercutting the locals on the job market and depressing wages.

To be fair, some of these things might be true but they don’t say the whole story. They don’t tell someone that the Eastern European or immigrant pays taxes on their wages. They don’t say that the immigrant is happy to take the job which the local will not consider taking. In fact, while Zimbabweans don’t ordinarily work on farms a lot of other immigrants are quite at peace with working long hours in such jobs.

Those advocating to leave the EU had an anti-immigrant rhetoric which was now bordering on hate speech. High- profile people left the camp in an effort to dissociate themselves from that poisonous narrative.

There now cannot be “Rule Britannia Rule” when the country is divided down in the middle. The Labour Party is imploding. The Tory Party is imploding. The grassroots are festering in a non-violent civil war. There are lessons for every nation including in Zimbabwe that politics of hate works but for a season.

This attempt to turn back the British clock can only have the effect of making Britain beef up its relationship with the Commonwealth. That is acceptable to the older British generation as it again is a reminder of the “good old days”. In the Commonwealth Britain will always have pre-eminence. After all, it managed to convert the blight of being a coloniser into the glory of being a “club founder”. In the EU Germany is indisputably the main player.

There are a lot of people who are very angry that in this referendum pragmatism lost to xenophobic populism. The world has become interdependent. But this does not contradict the independence of nations. This is the reason why despite trying to move from the United Kingdom and be an independent nation, Scotland still wants to remain part of the European Union. That position is not self-contradictory.

The point in England is not really about political systems. Its partially the nostalgia of the old empire as well as the hitherto unexpressed feeling of xenophobia. There is always some rhetoric of “national renewal” which again is an effort to historicise everything and look at it through the prism of old glory years. The truth of the matter is that Britain controlled 98,6 percent of its public expenditure. It only contributed 1,2 percent of its total public expenditure to Brussels. When you control your resources, you have full sovereignty. But they had no total control on immigration. This is why the argument is that the whole Brexit was about immigration and not the notion of sovereignty.

So the the question is whether economic considerations were made subservient to the vanity of yesteryear glory and assumed sentiment of greatness or the venom of xenophobia? There is a high probability of both being correct. The UK exports 47 percent of its products to the EU so the economic arguments are irrefutable. While China’s vibrant economy and large population makes it a possible avenue for the British products, Germany already exports three times what Britain exports there. Being out of Europe will not entitle the UK to preferential treatment. It will now have to compete against a vindictive and hostile Europe. It should never be forgotten that behind the United States, the EU remains the largest single market on earth. Why a country would choose to leave such a regional grouping is beyond a lot of people.

No matter how it is dressed, Brexit was and is about immigration. Whether that translates to xenophobia is a subject to debate. If it’s xenophobia, the nearly 50 percent of the British people should be applauded for saying No. But the one lesson for Zimbabwe is that the United Kingdom came to this position because of the factionalism in the Conservative Party which is the governing party. It is a lesson to be learned by Zimbabwe that factionalism in the party of government can lead a nation to the brink. Let those with ears hear.

Research has shown that the anti-immigrant sentiment is a pastime of a white working class which has experienced a diminishment in social status. It is unfortunate that this group has been passed by a high improvement in educational attainment in the UK population. They therefore are the group that do the low-paying jobs whose reward is depressed by the presence of the workers from Eastern Europe.

This is the same group that relies on social housing and tend to be deprived when there is pressure on it like there is now. They then see the presence of Britain in the European Union as the genesis of their problems. This places pressures on limited resources and jobs. It is this type of rhetoric that saw the rise of xenophobia in South Africa. Foreigners were accused of spreading disease, stealing jobs and sponging off basic government services like electricity and healthcare. It is this same rhetoric that has seen Britain going for the exit door from Europe. It has little to do with patriotism and a desire to control own destiny.
SADC Maps Security Reforms for Lesotho
June 29, 2016

Morris Mkwate recently in Gaborone, Botswana
Zimbabwe Herald

A Sadc-appointed committee will oversee the implementation of constitutional and security sector reforms in Lesotho, a major step towards ensuring political stability in that kingdom.

The eight-member panel has representation from Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Tanzania which all constitute the sadc Double Troika.

It will visit the Mountain Kingdom periodically, provide expertise in key reform areas, and then report to the Summit of Heads of State in Swaziland this August.

Further, the sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation and the facilitator, South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, will oversee the return of Lesotho opposition leaders from exile and their participation in constitutional reform.

The Troika took these decisions at its summit in Gaborone, Botswana yesterday after roughly four hours of deliberations.

President Mugabe was part of the exchanges that saw Lesotho’s Prime Minister Dr Phakalitha Mosisili committing to constitutionalism and the said reforms.

The sadc Double Troika comprises the Troika of Summit (Botswana, Zimbabwe and Swaziland) which handles affairs in between meetings of Heads of State, and the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation (Mozambique, South Africa and Tanzania).

Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi told Zimbabwean journalists last night that the summit had located Basotho’s problems in their constitution and security institutions.

“The Oversight Committee will begin its assignment immediately; that was the decision. It is only a question of bringing its members together and putting the logistics in place.

“(The committee) will then definitely hit the ground to assist the Kingdom of Lesotho. It was clear the Prime Minister and his government are prepared to implement (recommendations) and undertake reforms.”

“It was a very successful summit, held in a very cordial atmosphere. There was co-operation from all the parties involved, and it clearly indicated that we should get a good report at the sadc Summit to be held in Swaziland in August. We are expecting a very positive progress report.”

Lesotho has been on the edge since its ex-defence forces commander Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao was shot dead by his former subordinates on June 25, 2015 while allegedly resisting arrest on a charge of mutiny. There had been reports of an attempted military coup after the then Prime Minister Dr Thomas Thabane fired LDF commander Lieutenant-General Kennedy Tlali Kamoli and elevated Brig Mahao to the post in 2014.

However, the army denied the reports, and Dr Thabane’s successor, Dr Mosisili, was to reinstate Kamoli after taking office in 2015.

Dr Thabane, Basotho National Party leader Thesele Maseribane and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho’s Keketso Ranso fled the kingdom as political violence surged.

A sadc Commission of Inquiry into Brig Mahao’s killing recommended the following:

--The Government of Lesotho should ensure criminal investigations on the death of Brig Mahao are pursued vigorously. The finality of the investigations should lead to a transparent course of justice;

--In the interest of restoring trust and acceptance of the LDF to the Basotho nation, Lieutenant-General Kamoli should be relieved of his duties as LDF Commander, and all LDF officers implicated in cases of murder, attempted murder and treason should be suspended while investigations on their cases proceed in line with international best practice;

--Deficiencies and overlaps in the Constitution of Lesotho with regards to mandates of security institutions need to be looked into urgently with a comprehensive strategy to reform them; and

--An amnesty covering detained mutiny suspects and ensuring the safe return of LDF members who fled Lesotho in fear for their lives should be facilitated.

Yesterday, the summit established that PM Mosisili’s government has submitted key reports, including the Commission’s to its law enforcement and investigations arm. Maseru has also arranged major workshops on security sector reforms and is studying national constitutions regionally.

President Mugabe returned home last night, and was received at the Harare International Airport by Vice-Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, Harare Provincial Affairs Minister Miriam Chikukwa, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda, senior Government officials and service chiefs.
SADC Double Troika Summit Underway
June 28, 2016
Morris Mkwate
Zimbabwe Herald
GABORONE, Botswana

The Sadc Double Troika Summit on Lesotho is now underway in Gaborone, Botswana, with Heads of State examining steps the Mountain Kingdom has taken to restore security and political stability.

President Mugabe is at the Summit, alongside his Botswana counterpart and Sadc Chair, President Ian Khama, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique and Swaziland’s King Mswati III.

Also in attendance are Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa of Tanzania, Lesotho’s Prime Minister Phakalitha Mosisili and Sadc facilitator and South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Lesotho has been on edge following the killing in 2015 of the country’s ex-defence forces commander Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao by his subordinates.

A Sadc-appointed Commission of Inquiry recommended a thorough investigation into the killing and constitutional refinement, and the Summit will consider whether Maseru has implemented these and other recommendations.
France: Pressure Builds As Thousands March
Morning Star

THOUSANDS of French workers took to the streets yesterday in continuing protests against EU-prescribed government attacks on their rights.

The march against the so-called El Khomri labour reform law proceeded under the watchful gaze of a heavy police presence.

It came a day before Prime Minister Manuel Valls was due to meet leaders of the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) and Workers’ Force (FO), France’s third largest union confederation, over the contentious Bill which has sparked months of mass protests and crippling strikes.

“I hope we’re not just being invited for coffee,” CGT general secretary Philippe Martinez told reporters.

“If the government is not going to give ground it will be a meeting for nothing,” said FO general secretary Jean-Claude Mailly. Crowds of protesters marched in Marseille, Rennes and other cities but the Paris march took place under extra security with 2,500 riot police deployed with instructions to search bags for weapons and arrest would-be troublemakers on the spot.

Officers had orders to arrest anyone attempting to hide their faces behind clothing or to bring in weapons.

Police fired tear gas early in the march to disperse a small number of masked youths who tried to vandalise a bus shelter.

The government banned a march last Thursday citing security risks but backed down to let it go ahead on a revised route.

The labour Bill would raise weekly working-time limits from 36 to 45 hours and allow individual firms to opt out of collectively agreed terms and conditions on some points.
Morning Star Reports on Aftermath of UK Vote: Tories Shut TUC Out of Brexit Talks
by Luke James in Britain
Morning Star

WORKERS’ voices are being shut out of Britain’s post-EU future by the Tory Business Secretary.

Sajid Javid called an emergency summit “to ensure that the negotiation of our future relationship with the EU is carried out in the interest of UK companies, investors, potential investors and workers.”

He invited the CBI bosses’ group and other big business lobbyists to yesterday’s economic summit but deliberately excluded the Trade Union Congress, which represents 5.8 million workers in 51 unions.

TUC officials told the Star they only learned of the meeting through weekend press reports.

The union body immediately wrote to the minister pressing the case for its inclusion, arguing that talks about Britain’s future must include the broadest range of expertise and opinion.

Mr Javid’s office replied that the TUC’s attendance was “unwarranted.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said it was “disappointing” that Tory ministers were refusing to work with the TUC to limit the impact of any economic downturn.

“At a time when the government should be looking to heal the wounds of a divisive campaign, this is a backward step,” she said.

“Unions must be present to feed in the concerns of working people and to contribute to the development of a practical plan to protect British jobs and industry.

“Excluding the TUC and our member unions from this meeting is not acting in the national interest.”

The future of the steel industry was likely to have been top of Ms O’Grady’s agenda had she been allowed to attend.

Steelworkers’ union Community has also demanded an urgent audience with Mr Javid.

General secretary Roy Rickhuss said: “The EU referendum result and the government turmoil that has resulted have placed new question marks over Tata Steel’s sales process and the trade unions need to understand what actions government will take to safeguard the future of UK steelmaking.”

Mr Javid was due to speak to Ms O’Grady by phone after yesterday’s summit and a government spokesman promised unions would be consulted over the renegotiation.

The spokesman said: “Clearly unions have an important role to play in contributing to plans to protect British jobs and ensure Britain remains open for business.”

But Tory ministers have a history of displaying their complete contempt for trade unions.

The Star revealed how the Tory minister met representatives of the CBI about the Trade Union Act a full month before bothering to consult the TUC.

The Prime Minister has also refused to meet Ms O’Grady for more than a year since she first made the request.

It took him nine months to respond to a letter from the TUC leader about the Trade Union Act.

Responding to the latest snub, Labour’s shadow minister for trade unions Ian Lavery warned the negotiation of Britain’s exit from the EU would be led “by the rich and for the rich.”

He said: “Javid’s refusal to engage with trade unions by shutting them out of meetings is proof that the Tory Party can’t be trusted to handle leave negotiations in the interests of working people.

“Trade unions must be involved at all levels in negotiating the exit to ensure that the already vulnerable do not bear the brunt of the cost of leaving the European Union.

“After the poisonous, divisive referendum campaign, ministers have a duty to act in the interests of the nation. The Tories are showing they are utterly incapable of doing so.”

Blaming ‘The Old’ For The EU Referendum Result Is Not Only Wrong, It’s Offensive

Morning Star
by Hannah Layland

AGE has certainly been an important demographic in the EU referendum. But in the hasty tweets and articles I have read since the result, some people who are supposedly on the left have been disappointingly lazy and in some cases outright offensive with their language about older people.

If the deciding group in this referendum were “the Muslims” or “the women” or “the LGBTQ community,” there would have been an outcry about the stereotyping and insults that have been slung.

Ageism is a prejudice like any other, and older people, particularly older women, are one of the most silenced and disempowered groups in our society.

Yet for some reason, it has been acceptable to publish things like: “I’m not giving up my seat to the elderly any more,” “Eye for an eye” or “Remember this when you’re dribbling in a care home and your family don’t visit.”

Maybe I am especially sensitive to it because I encounter more older people than your average young person.

For years I have worked with older people, as a carer and now for a local organisation, and I have become completely used to the intersectionality of “old age.”

People’s ethnicity, living conditions, gender and class alter their experiences and attitudes in old age.

Older people are as varied as the rest of us. They are certainly not one bigoted and privileged homogeneous lump.

Most young people probably only ever really get to know a couple of grandparents and that is the extent of their relationships with older people until they themselves get old, so perhaps that’s why they are struggling to see beyond the stereotype of the “bigoted and privileged homogeneous lump” and are using offensive language to disregard older people as such.

So let me just clarify that, in my experience, contrary to a lot of the angry accusations I have been reading, the vast majority of older people did not have a nice free university education.

Most of them went out to work at 14 or 16 years old. A lot of them were never able to buy their own house and those that could haven’t necessarily made a profit, let alone a huge profit, on it since.

Many older people have not had “golden pensions” or the sorts of careers they could retire at 60 on.

So I would suggest that if young people do have older relatives who really did have all of the above, any resentment towards them is more indicative of their own class and sense of entitlement — they had simply assumed the privileges of going to university and buying property and retiring early would continue in their family line.

Instead, the prospects for our generation are terrible, and I too am bitterly sad about the fact many young people will not be as fortunate as their parents and grandparents.

But the fault lies with the economic and social policies of our governments, not with the 80-year-old grandmother whose house price is now beyond your reach.

Whatever side of the EU debate you were on, the fallout from the result over the last couple of days just seems to be “othering” yet another group of us.

The young risk doing exactly what they accuse the old of doing to immigrants — creating a scapegoat to blame government decisions on.

During a discussion at London Pride this week, my pro-EU friends apportioned their frustration and blame to “the old working-class people in Wales” for voting to leave the EU.

Moments later we were warmly discussing the formation of the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, where young LGBT activists formed an unlikely but long-lasting alliance with the “old working-class” Welsh miners during the strike.

The irony was not lost on me. Here we were celebrating a history of breaking down barriers and not making assumptions about groups of people, while at the same time cementing toxic walls of division between “the young” and “the old.” We are never going to make progress this way.

So to those on both sides of the EU debate and indeed beyond the EU debate, be as sensitive to ageism as you are to other prejudices.

There is certainly a nuanced debate to be had about geographical and generational attitudes.

But older people are simply not all the same, and we should not humour the cheap and offensive remarks that perpetuate this myth.
Tsipras: Brexit ‘Crisis’ A Wake-Up Call To EU
Morning Star

European leaders seek Britain’s swift departure from bloc

GRIM-faced European Union leaders met in Brussels yesterday to deal with the “crisis” of Britain’s exit from the bloc.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said as he arrived: “Europe has reached a predictable crisis because of the democratic deficit, because of the absence of social cohesion and solidarity.”

He hoped “that the outcome of the British referendum will work as a wake-up call for Europe.”

Danish PM Lars Loekke Rasmussen said Eurosceptic­ism was not an exclusively British characteristic.

“What we have seen in Britain, it could have happened elsewhere,” he said. “We need to take this seriously.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed to use “all my strength” to prevent the EU from disintegrating.

She said it was in Britain’s interest to maintain “close relations” with the EU but cautioned:
“Whoever wants to leave this family cannot expect to have no more obligations but to keep privileges.”

Ms Merkel added that no formal talks could begin on the exit process until Britain formally invoked article 50 of the EU constitution — the never-used exit clause.

French President Francois Hollande said: “The process for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union must start as soon as possible.

“I can’t imagine any British government would not respect the choice of its own people.”

Hungarian PM Viktor Orban took the occasion to reiterate his anti-refugee stance, saying: “If the EU cannot solve the migration situation, then the challenges we experienced now in the case of the United Kingdom will grow.”

In Strasbourg, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told a special session of the European Parliament: “I want the UK to clarify its position not today, not tomorrow at 9am, but soon.

We cannot allow ourselves to remain in a prolonged period of uncertainty.”

Dutch Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, whose government holds the rotating EU presidency, told the parliament that “no-one, no-one, will benefit from a period of prolonged limbo.

The ball is in London’s court.”

And French PM Manuel Valls said: “Now is not the time for diplomatic prudence. We have to lance the boil.”

US President Barack Obama warned against panic in a TV interview aired yesterday.

“There’s been a little bit of hysteria post-Brexit vote, as if somehow Nato’s gone, the transatlantic alliance is dissolving, and every country is rushing off to its own corner,” he said. “That’s not what’s happening.”

But Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, attending the summit, said: “What Britain does matters.

Britain is the biggest security provider in Europe.”

We Must Not Let This Cowardly Coup Succeed

Morning Star

A small number of self-indulgent and irresponsible MPs are threatening to damage Labour beyond all repair, writes MARK SEDDON

BARELY 10 months ago, I urged my branch, the New York City Labour Party Branch, to first nominate and then vote for Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party and for Tom Watson as his deputy.

In this I was supported by longtime New York Labour activist, journalist and Tribune columnist Ian Williams.

I cannot speak for the reasons of others in doing so, but for me, Corbyn represented the best chance for Labour to finally move on from the New Labour years, to campaign against austerity, instead of meekly accepting it and to re-engage with the many traditional Labour voters who had turned their backs on us.

I supported Watson because I believed that he represented another and honourable wing of the party and would be loyal to the new leader.

Harold Wilson would always maintain that Labour needed “two wings to fly.”

Before any attempts are made to pigeon-hole such support, neither Corbyn or Watson come from the Tribune stable.

There were many good reasons why Corbyn won such a compelling and overwhelming victory and brought so many new people, especially younger ones, into a party that in many areas had become a hollowed out empty shell.

His candidacy represented a hope that Labour could regain the moral authority it had lost so badly during Tony Blair’s reckless and illegal war in Iraq.

One of the reasons Corbyn also ended up doing so well was the constant cacophony of shrill and ever more dire warnings from a range of Labour grandees.

The more they sought to dissuade, the more powerful the intent became to defy them.

Perhaps David Cameron and George Osborne might have learned something from the same tactics that have so predictably backfired on them.

Fast-forward to today and many of those who first sought to deny Corbyn a mandate and then rejected it once it had been given, have launched possibly one of the most self-indulgent, irresponsible and deeply damaging of coups that has ever been launched in the Labour Party.

They have deliberately pre-planned each deliberate and damaging resignation at a time when the government is in turmoil.

Their irresponsible recklessness risks wrecking Labour’s chances when it is strongest.

Today we have the irony, the grotesque irony, of many Europhile MPs, whose constituencies often voted heavily for Brexit, using that as a threadbare, barely believable excuse for turning on a leader who campaigned for Remain. By their lies we shall know them.

The charge that the Labour leader did not to do enough to persuade traditional Labour to voters vote to remain in the European Union does not survive a moment of scrutiny.

Nor can the revolt of many of Labour’s traditional voters be put down to this one, albeit seminal, referendum vote.

The revolt has been building throughout the decades of growing inequality, industrial closure and poverty wages.

This squalid coup aimed at destabilising the new leadership has been planned from the get-go — a self-fulfilling prophecy from false prophets, many of whom owe their careers in Parliament to the Tammany Hall politics of provided parachutes or well-connected parents.

This parade of mannequins are dancing to the tune of yesterday’s men, Tony Blair and Lord Peter Mandelson.

And the same procession of baleful professional malcontents who cannot yet offer a pretender, nor any policies, have staged a secret ballot of no confidence to protect them from the ire of the members.

They want to keep Corbyn’s name off any ballot paper in case he should win again with an increased majority.

What contemptible cowards. We cannot let them succeed.

Mark Seddon is a former member of the Labour Party NEC and a former editor of Tribune. He recently worked as a speechwriter/communications adviser for UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon.

This article first appeared at

Corbyn Is Right To Stand Firm

Morning Star Editorial

JEREMY CORBYN’S resolution to stand in any leadership contest despite the results of yesterday’s vote by MPs is as admirable as it is correct.

Corbyn has been placed under extraordinary pressure over the past few days because parliamentary colleagues have decided Labour should commit hara-kiri rather than seek to provide unity and leadership for a deeply divided country.

We know that the plot to oust the democratically elected party leader was hatched before the referendum, since the Telegraph reported on June 13 that MPs planned a “24-hour blitz” to topple him once it was out of the way.

While commentators such as Owen Jones believe the coup attempt is “knee-jerk,” he himself notes the careful timing of Sunday and Monday’s resignations, staggered to ensure Labour’s troubles dominated the news all day despite the momentous issues facing the country following the vote to leave the European Union.

The party should be putting pressure on a lame duck government to maximise the voice of working people in exit negotiations — a voice the Tories are determined to prevent being heard, as Sajid Javid’s disgraceful exclusion of trade unions from yesterday’s roundtable on the consequences of the vote shows.

Rebel MPs are trying to break Corbyn emotionally, shouting “resign” as he attempted to hold the Prime Minister to account in Parliament and guffawing along with the Tories at Cameron’s cheap dig about shadow cabinet resignations, when if the referendum was the real cause of their anger the PM would be their target.

And they have the temerity to accuse Monday night’s 10,000 pro-Corbyn demonstrators and hundreds of thousands of Labour members sticking up for their leader of bullying.

The response from trade unions and the left to the attempted coup has been strong and immediate, from the declaration of 12 affiliates that this was no time for a leadership contest on Friday to those union leaders speaking at or sending greetings to Monday’s demonstration.

We must ensure that resolve does not weaken in the face of MPs’ threat to make the party ungovernable if Corbyn doesn’t go.

We should see this sabotage for what it is — an Establishment revolt to cut off any possibility of a socialist government.

Some might be tempted to give in, despite being unhappy at the behaviour of the rebels, on the grounds that the party is gravely weakened by the rift between the leader and the PLP.

It is and that’s what makes the coup plotters’ actions so criminal. But Corbyn’s election was not some weird anomaly.

It was part of an anti-Establishment upsurge that is still with us.

And he was backed by so many trade unions because we realised that business as usual wasn’t an option any more: Labour was haemorrhaging support and a Tory Party determined to kill off our movement for good had just scraped a majority thanks to the bankruptcy of Blairite politics.

We do not have a hope of meeting the challenges Britain faces or delivering a future that works for our working-class communities without a radical change of political direction.

It’s that change Corbyn represents and that change MPs are seeking to suffocate, which is why even if Corbyn was replaced by someone with a leftish record, such as Lisa Nandy, his overthrow would be a shattering blow to the left.

Yesterday’s vote by MPs is a deeply distressing development among many over the last few days, but we always knew a big majority of the parliamentary party were against him.

It does not alter his mandate for leadership or the fact that Labour was on a slow train to the wilderness before his election.

His courage and principle in adversity shames his accusers. The lesson of the last few days is that Labour members and trade unionists have work to do to make the parliamentary party more representative.
Pepe Escobar
Sunday, June 26, 2016, 22:55
Reprinted From The 4th Media

So what started as a gamble by David Cameron on an outlet for domestic British discontent, to be used as a lever to bargain with Brussels for a few more favors, has metastasized into an astonishing political earthquake about the dis-integration of the European Union.

The irrepressibly mediocre Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, posing as a “historian”, had warned that Brexit, “could be the beginning of the destruction of not only the EU but Western political civilization in its entirety”.

That’s foolish. Brexit proved that it’s immigration, stupid. And once again, it’s the economy, stupid (although the British neoliberal establishment never paid attention). But serious bets can be made the EU system in Brussels won’t learn anything from the shock therapy – and won’t reform itself.

There will be rationalizations that after all the UK was always classically whiny, obtrusive and demanding special privileges when dealing with the EU. As for “Western political civilization”, what will end – and this is a big thing — is the special transatlantic relationship between the US and the EU with Britain as an American Trojan Horse.

So of course this all goes monumentally beyond a mere match between a hopelessly miscalculating Cameron, now fallen on his sword, and the recklessly ambitious court jester Boris Johnson – a Donald Trump with better vocabulary and speech patterns.

Scotland, predictably, voted Remain, and may probably hold a new referendum — and leave the UK — rather than be dragged out by white working class English votes. Sinn Fein already wants a vote on united Ireland. Denmark, the Netherlands and even Poland and Hungary will want special status inside the EU, or else.

Across Europe, the extreme right stampede is on. Marine Le Pen wants a French referendum. Geert Wilders wants a Dutch referendum. As for the vast majority of British under-25s who voted Remain, they may be contemplating one-way tickets not to the continent, but beyond.

Show me the people

Anglo-French historian Robert Tombs has remarked that when Europeans talk about history they refer to the Roman Empire, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Great Britain is somewhat overlooked. In reciprocity, quite a few Britons still consider Europe an entity that should be kept at a safe distance.

To compound the problem, this is not a “Europe of peoples”. Brussels absolutely detests European public opinion, and the system exhibits an iron resistance to reform. This current EU project that ultimately aims at a federation, modeled on the US, does not cut it in most of Britain.

Arguably this is one of the key reasons behind Brexit – which for its part has already disunited the kingdom and may eventually downgrade it into a tiny trading post on the edge of Europe.

Lacking a “European people”, the Brussels system could not but be articulated as a Kafkaesque, unelected bureaucracy. Moreover, the representatives of this people-deprived Europe in Brussels actually defend what they consider to be their national interest, and not the “European” interest.

Brexit though does not mean Britain will be free from the dictates of the European Commission (EC). The EC does propose policy, but nothing can be followed through without decisions from the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, which group representatives of all elected governments of member states.

Arguably Remain, in the best possible case, would have led to some soul-searching in Brussels, and a wake-up call, translating into a more flexible monetary policy; a push to contain immigration inside African borders; and more opening towards Russia.

The UK would remain in Europe giving more weight to countries outside the eurozone while Germany would concentrate on the 19-member eurozone nations.

So Remain would have led to the UK increasing its politico-economic weight in Brussels while Germany would be more open to moderate growth (instead of austerity).

Although Britain arguably would wince at the notion of a future eurozone Treasure Minister, a European FBI and a European Minister of the Interior, in fact the whole notion of a complete economic and monetary union.

That’s all water under the bridge now. Additionally, don’t forget the mighty single market drama.

The UK not only will lose duty-free access to the EU’s single market of 500 million people; it will have to renegotiate every single trade deal with the rest of the world since all of them have been EU-negotiated.

French economy minister and presidential hopeful Emmanuel Macron has already warned that, “if the UK wants a commercial access treaty to the European market, the British must contribute to the European budget like the Norwegians and the Swiss do.

If London doesn’t want that, then it must be a total exit.” Britain will be locked out of the single market – to which over 50% of its exports go — unless it pays almost all that it currently pays. Moreover, London must still accept freedom of movement, as in European immigration.

The City gets a black eye

Brexit defeated an overwhelming array of what Zygmunt Bauman defined as the global elites of liquid modernity; the City of London, Wall Street, the IMF, the Fed, the European Central Bank (ECB), major hedge/investment funds, the whole interconnected global banking system.

The City of London, predictably, voted Remain by over 75%.  An overwhelming $2.7 trillion is traded every day in the “square mile”, which employs almost 400,000 people. And it’s not only the square mile, as the City now also includes Canary Wharf (HQ of quite a few big banks) and Mayfair (privileged hang out of hedge funds).

The City of London – the undisputed financial capital of Europe — also manages a whopping $1.65 trillion of client assets, wealth literally from all over the planet. In Treasure Islands, Nicholas Shaxson argues, “financial services companies have flocked to London because it lets them do what they cannot do at home”.

Unbridled deregulation coupled with unrivalled influence on the global economic system amount to a toxic mix. So Brexit may also be interpreted as a vote against corruption permeating England’s most lucrative industry.

Things will change. Drastically. There will be no more “passporting”, by which banks can sell products for all 28 EU members, accessing a $19 trillion integrated economy. All it takes is a HQ in London and a few satellite mini-offices. Passporting will be up for fierce negotiation, as well as what happens to London’s euro-denominated trading floors.

I followed Brexit out of Hong Kong – which 19 years ago had its own Brexit, actually saying bye bye to the British Empire to join China. Beijing is worried that Brexit will translate into capital outflows, “depreciation pressure” on the yuan, and disturbance of the Bank of China’s management of monetary policy.

Brexit could even seriously affect China-EU relations, as Beijing in thesis might lose influence in Brussels without British support. It’s crucial to remember that Britain backed an investment pact between China and the EU and a joint feasibility study on a China-EU free trade agreement.

He Weiwen, co-director of the China-US-EU Study Centre under the China Association of International Trade, part of the Ministry of Commerce, is blunt; “The European Union is likely to adopt a more protectionist approach when dealing with China. For Chinese companies which have set up headquarters or branches in the UK, they may not be able to enjoy tariff-free access to the wider European market after Britain leave the EU.”

That applies, for instance, to leading Chinese high-tech companies like Huawei and Tencent. Between 2000 and 2015, Britain was the top European destination for Chinese direct investment, and was the second-largest trading partner with China inside the EU.

Still, it may all revert into a win-win for China. Germany, France and Luxembourg – all of them competing with London for the juicy offshore yuan business – will increase their role.

Chen Long, economist with Bank of Dongguan, is confident “the European continent, especially Central and Eastern European countries, will be more actively involved in China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ programs.”

So will Britain become the new Norway? It’s possible. Norway did very well after rejecting EU membership in a 1995 referendum. It will be a long and winding road before Article 50 is invoked and a two-year UK-EU negotiation in uncharted territory starts. Former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling summed it all up; “Nobody has a clue what ‘Out’ looks like.”

By Pepe Escobar, Sputnik
Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics… and U.S. Africa Command
Nick Turse
Sunday, June 26, 2016, 22:37

One of the strangest news developments of our time is the way the media now focus for days, if not weeks, 24/7, on a single event and its ramifications. Omar Mateen’s slaughter of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando is only the latest example of this.

If no other calamitous or eye-catching event comes along (“‘Unimaginable’: Toddler’s body recovered by divers after alligator attack at Disney resort”), it could, like the San Bernardino shootings, top the news, in all its micro-ramifications and repetitions, for three or four weeks.

Such stories – especially mass killings, especially those with an aura of terrorism about them – are particularly easy for strapped, often downsizing news outfits to cover. They are, in a sense, pre-packaged.

A template for them is already in place: starting with the breaking news of some horror and soon after a tagline like “America in shock, [grief,] [mourning,] wondering what comes next.” Then follow the inevitable grainy smartphone videos of some aspect of the horror as reporters fan out to capture the weeping faces; the brave or tearful accounts of wounded survivors; the backstory on the killer or killers and his or their tangled motivations; commentary from the usual terror (or mass shooting) experts; the latest on the FBI’s follow-up investigations; the funerals for the victims, including the comments of grief counselors meant to help a nation “in mourning”; and finally, of course, the issue of “closure” and “healing,” all topped – if “terrorism” is part of the package – by an endless frisson of horror and fascination when it comes to the influence of ISIS (or allegiance pledged to the same), lone wolves, the role of social media, and so on.

In this strange election season, there is, of course, the added thrill of watching Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and President Obama in mortal battle. Who could ask for more? Not the TV news outfits that now mobilize for these events the way the military might mobilize for war. So, as the New York Times put it recently, “the news industry descended on Florida” last week, and so they did.

Such events overwhelm us, as they are meant to. They glue eyeballs, as they are also meant to, and the reporting of all of this is now so enmeshed in the events themselves that it is essentially indistinguishable from them. Undoubtedly – given the allure of such intense, over-the-top media attention – it actually works to encourage future acts that will rivet similar attention on the next lone wolf or group.

There is, however, one small problem worth mentioning. For days or weeks on end, a single place – call it Newtown, San Bernardino, or Orlando (one school, one gathering of government workers, one club) – is the center of our universe.

The rest of the world? Not so much. However significant the 24/7 event may be, it blots out just about everything else and so plays havoc with our sense of what’s important and what isn’t. It also ensures that, at least in the mainstream, ever fewer reporters cover ever fewer non-24/7 stories.

For so much that’s basic to our world and will matter far more in the long run than local slaughters, no matter how horrific, there are few or no reporters and next to no coverage.

This means, for instance, that in the distant reaches of the imperium, much of the time the U.S. military can operate remarkably freely, without fear of significant scrutiny.

Which is why, on the subject of the U.S. military’s “pivot” to Africa, it’s lucky that Nick Turse has beenon the beat (almost alone) for TomDispatch. Otherwise in our new media universe, what we don’t know could, in the end, hurt us. ~ Tom

The Numbers Racket

AFRICOM Clams Up After Commander Peddles Contradictory Statements to Congress
By Nick Turse

General David Rodriguez might be a modern military celebrity – if he hadn’t spent his career ducking the spotlight. After graduating from West Point in 1976, he began his long march up the chain of command, serving in Operation Just Cause (the U.S. invasion of Panama) and Operation Desert Storm (Iraq War 1.0) before becoming deputy commander of United States Forces, Afghanistan, and commander of the International Security Assistance Force-Joint Command in 2009.

In 2011, the 6’5” former paratrooper received his fourth star and two years later the coveted helm of one of the Defense Department’s six geographic combatant commands, becoming the third chief of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). Rodriguez has held that post ever since, overseeing a colossal American military expansion on that continent. During his tenure, AFRICOM has grown in every conceivable way, from outposts to manpower.

In the process, Africa has become a key hub for shadowy U.S. missions against terror groups from Yemen, Iraq, andSyria to Somalia and Libya. But even as he now prepares to turn over his post to Marine Lieutenant General Thomas Waldhauser, Rodriguez continues to downplay the scope of U.S. operations on the continent, insisting that his has been a kinder, gentler combatant command.

As he prepares to retire, Rodriguez has an additional reason for avoiding attention. His tenure has not only also been marked by an increasing number of terror attacks from Mali and Burkina Faso to, most recently, Côte d’Ivoire, but questions have arisen about his recent testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC). Did the outgoing AFRICOM chief lie to the senators about the number of missions being carried out on the continent?

Is AFRICOM maintaining two sets of books in an effort to obscure the size and scope of its expanding operations? Is the command relying on a redefinition of terms and massaging its numbers to buck potential oversight?

If Rodriguez knowingly deceived the Senate Armed Services Committee in an effort to downplay the size and scope of his command’s operations, that act would be criminal and punishable by law, experts say.

That’s a big “if.” But U.S. Africa Command’s response hardly inspires confidence. AFRICOM has refused to comment on the subject, stonewalling TomDispatch on questions about why Rodriguez has been peddling contradictory figures about his command’s activities to Congress.

And this rejection of transparency and accountability is only the latest incident in a long history of AFRICOM personnel ducking questions, rebuffing press inquiries, and preventing Americans from understanding what’s being done in their name and with their tax dollars in Africa.

Numbers Game

In March 2015, General David Rodriguez appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to report on the previous year’s military missions in Africa. “In Fiscal Year 2014, we conducted 68 operations, 11 major joint exercises, and 595 security cooperation activities,” he told the senators.

The U.S. had, in other words, carried outa total of 674 military missions across Africa, nearly two per day, up from 546 the year before. Those 674 missions amounted to an almost 300% jump in the number of annual operations, exercises, and military-to-military trainings since U.S. Africa Command was established in 2008.

These missions form the backbone of U.S. military engagement on the continent. “The command’s operations, exercises, and security cooperation assistance programs support U.S. Government foreign policy and do so primarily through military-to-military activities and assistance programs,” according to AFRICOM.

“These activities build strong, enduring partnerships with African nations, regional and international organizations, and other states that are committed to improving security in Africa.”

Very little is known about most of these missions due to AFRICOM’s secretive nature. Only a small fraction of them are reported in the command’s press releases with little of substance chronicled.

An even tinier number are covered by independent journalists. “Congress and the public need to know about U.S. military operations overseas, regardless of what euphemism is used to describe them,” says William Hartung, a senior adviser to the Security Assistance Monitor which tracks American military aid around the globe.

“Calling something a ‘security cooperation activity’ doesn’t change the fact that U.S. troops are working directly with foreign military forces.”

This spring, at his annual appearance before the SASC, Rodriguez provided the senators with an update on these programs. “In fiscal year 2015,” he announced, “we conducted 75 joint operations, 12 major joint exercises, and 400 security cooperation activities.”

For the first time ever, it seemed that AFRICOM had carried out fewer missions than the year before – just 487. This 28% drop was noteworthy, if little noticed.

But was it true?

Things started getting hazy when Rodriguez went on to offer a new version of the number of missions AFRICOM had carried out in 2014. To hear him tell it, 2015 hadn’t represented a drop in those missions but a banner year for them.

After all, its 75 joint operations, he told the senators, topped the 68 of 2014. Twelve major joint exercises one-upped the 11 of a year earlier. And 400 security cooperation activities beat the 363 of the year before.

I did a double take and reread his 2015 statement. The discrepancy couldn’t have been plainer. His exact wordslast year: “In Fiscal Year 2014, we conducted 68 operations, 11 major joint exercises, and 595 security cooperation activities.”

And this year he said: “[W]e conducted 68 operations, 11 major joint exercises, and 363 security cooperation activities in fiscal year 2014.” Somehow, between 2015 and 2016, more than 200 missions from 2014 had simply vanished and, months later, AFRICOM has still failed to offer an explanation for what happened, while the Senate Armed Services Committee has, apparently, not even bothered to ask for any clarification.

A discrepancy of 232 security cooperation activities can’t be chalked up to a mere miscount. And since both numbers were presented to the SASC in written statements, the AFRICOM chief can’t simply have misspoken.

Such a discrepancy in the total number of “security cooperation activities” conducted by his command raises questions about what AFRICOM is actually doing on the continent (or whether it even knows what it’s doing).

The figure Rodriguez offered this year also contradicts projections laid out in U.S. Army Africa (USARAF) documents obtained by TomDispatch via the Freedom of Information Act in 2014. These refer to more than 400 activities scheduled for Army troops alone in Africa that year.

Despite numerous requests over several weeks, AFRICOM has failed to provide any comment or clarification toTomDispatch. It also failed to respond to requests to interview Rodriguez.

A Pentagon spokesperson was able to coax a reply out of the command as to the correct number of security cooperation activities in 2014. According to AFRICOM, that number is indeed 363, directly contradicting Rodriguez’s 2015 testimony and suggesting that, whether purposely or not, the general misled members of Congress.

Messages seeking comment from the SASC staff, including Dustin Walker and Chip Unruh – spokespeople, respectively, for U.S. Senators John McCain and Jack Reed, the chairman and the ranking member of the committee – were not returned.

“The fact that General Rodriguez gave such wildly conflicting figures, and that members of Congress aren’t pressing him for an explanation, is just one more example of how U.S. military activities in Africa and beyond have spun out of control,” says Hartung.

Bending the Law – or Breaking It?

With Rodriguez, Africa Command, and the staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee staying silent, it’s impossible to know what motives – if any – lay behind the bogus numbers offered by the AFRICOM chief.

The command may, without public announcement, have redefined “security cooperation activities” thanks to an as-yet-unreleased 2014 Defense Department memorandum meant to provide guidance on the so-called Leahy Law, which prohibits the U.S from providing assistance to foreign security forces implicated in human rights abuses.

Reclassifying certain types of training missions makes it more difficult than ever to track both the dollars spent by AFRICOM and the number of activities it conducted on that continent.

Africa Command, its subordinate units, and partners also have a long history of being unable to effectively track and manage their own efforts. A 2015 study by the Government Accountability Office noted that AFRICOM “identifies and synchronizes security cooperation activities through various planning processes, but the brigades allocated to AFRICOM sometimes lack key information about these activities.”

According to officials involved in the process, “the increasing number of activities being conducted in Africa… challenges the ability of the Offices of Security Cooperation to fully coordinate individual activities with the host nation, AFRICOM, USARAF, the other service components, and DOD executing units.”

A 2013 report by the Department of Defense’s Inspector General on AFRICOM’s Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa found recordkeeping so abysmal that its officials “did not have an effective system to manage or report community relations and low-cost activities.” A spreadsheet supposedly tracking such missions during 2012 and 2013 was, for example, so incomplete that 43% of such efforts went unmentioned.

New definitions, poor recordkeeping, ineffective management, and incompetence aren’t, however, the only possible explanations for the discrepancies. AFRICOM has a history of working to thwart efforts aimed at transparency and accountability and has long been criticized for its atmosphere of secrecy.

Beyond spin, the highly selective release of information, the cherry-picking of reporters to cover a tiny fraction of its undertakings, and the issuing of news releases that tell a very limited story about the command, AFRICOM has taken steps tothwart press coverage of its footprint and missions.

After I started asking the command questions about the shifting count of security cooperation activities, Rodriguez told Stars and Stripes that the command had carried out “roughly 430 annual ‘theater security cooperation’ activities” last year, a difference of 30 from the figure he provided to the Senate Armed Services Committee in March.

Why he has continued to peddle different numbers at different times is unclear.

Under Section 1623 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, knowingly making contradictory statements in court or a grand jury while under oath can get you five years in prison.

While that statute doesn’t cover Rodriguez’s testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, experts point to Section 1621 of Title 18, which prohibits lying to Congress while under oath and Section 1001 covering testimony given while not under oath, as the operative portions of the U.S. Code.

A person convicted of the former faces up to five years in jail and fines of up to $250,000. There is, however, a high burden of proof when it comes to perjury, including clear evidence of intent.

Rodriguez could, for example, have been provided with faulty numbers by subordinates or the command might have altered the way it tracks missions.

If, however, Rodriguez intentionally manipulated the numbers to deceive Congress, he broke the law, according to Andrew McBride, who served in the Department of Justice for a decade and is now a partner with the Washington D.C.-based law firm of Wiley Rein. “If he has a reason to do it and he knows what he’s doing, that is perjury. That is willfully lying under oath,” says McBride.

And under Section 1001, a person does not even have to be under oath for the federal government to bring a false statements charge. It’s enough for an individual to provide false information with an intent to deceive a federal agent or entity.

There is, as yet, no evidence that Rodriguez violated the law, but should he find himself in hot water, it would not be a first for an AFRICOM chief. Just after Rodriguez was nominated to take the helm of AFRICOM back in 2012, its first commander, General William Ward, was demoted as he was retiring from the military and ordered to repay the government $82,000 for lavish spending on the taxpayers’ dime.

On the eve of his own retirement, Rodriguez now finds himself the subject of scrutiny, with his subordinates stonewalling requests for comment. Numerous emails sent to AFRICOM spokesman Lieutenant Commander Anthony Falvo – including those with a subject line indicating a request to interview the AFRICOM chief – were, according to automatic return receipts, “deleted without being read.”

At a time when the number of U.S. troops, bases, and – perhaps – missions in Africa are increasing, along with the number of terrorist groups and terror attacks on the continent, hundreds of already murky missions have apparently been disappeared, purged from the command’s rolls and the historical record.

As troubling as this may be, the stakes go far beyond numbers, says the Security Assistance Monitor’s William Hartung. Precise figures about foreign military engagements are essential in a world where blowback from military operations is an ever-present reality, but they are only a first step.

“Providing accurate public information on what U.S. troops are doing would at least provide early warning of what might be to come, and allow for scrutiny and accountability,” he points out. “Not only should AFRICOM report the number of activities, but there should be some description of what these activities entail. Arming and training missions can escalate into more substantial military involvement.”

Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch, a fellow at the Nation Institute, and a contributing writer for the Intercept. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam. His latest book is Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan. His website is

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