Monday, May 17, 2010

Weisbrot: The EU's Dangerous Game, Prisoner Executions in Afghanistan

The video of Hersch's speech, herein, is part of a three-way discussion
before an audience. All, interesting. Click on: -Ed

US Troops Executing Prisoners in Afghanistan: Seymour Hersh
By David Edwards

May 12, 2010 "Rawstory" -- The journalist who helped break the story that
detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were being tortured by their US
jailers told an audience at a journalism conference last month that American
soldiers are now executing prisoners in Afghanistan.

New Yorker journalist Seymour Hersh also revealed that the Bush
Administration had developed advanced plans for a military strike on Iran.

At the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Geneva, Hersh
criticized President Barack Obama, and alleged that US forces are engaged in
"battlefield executions."

"I'll tell you right now, one of the great tragedies of my country is that
Mr. Obama is looking the other way, because equally horrible things are
happening to prisoners, to those we capture in Afghanistan," Hersh said.
"They're being executed on the battlefield. It's unbelievable stuff going on
there that doesn't necessarily get reported. Things don't change.:

"What they've done in the field now is, they tell the troops, you have to
make a determination within a day or two or so whether or not the prisoners
you have, the detainees, are Taliban," Hersh added. "You must extract
whatever tactical intelligence you can get, as opposed to strategic,
long-range intelligence, immediately. And if you cannot conclude they're
Taliban, you must turn them free.

"What it means is, and I've been told this anecdotally by five or six
different people, battlefield executions are taking place," he continued.
"Well, if they can't prove they're Taliban, bam. If we don't do it
ourselves, we turn them over to the nearby Afghan troops and by the time we
walk three feet the bullets are flying. And that's going on now."
The video of Hersh was uploaded to Michael Moore's YouTube account Tuesday,
May 11, 2010

Hersh has a long history as an investigative journalist and worked for many
years at The New York Times. In 1969, he broke the story of the My Lai
massacre in Vietnam.


From: "Sid Shniad" <>
Sent: Sunday, May 16, 2010 11:48 AM
The European Union's Dangerous Game*

by Mark Weisbrot

Perhaps the wild swings in financial and stock markets over the last week
will make people give closer scrutiny to what is going on in Europe, which
would be a good thing for the world. According to most news reporting,
markets are worried about a potential default by Greece on its sovereign
debt, and the possibility of this spreading to other countries, including
Portugal, Spain, Ireland, and Italy.

The agreement by the European Union and International Monetary Fund to
provide up to $960 billion of support to the weaker economies, as well as to
financial markets, has appeared to calm investors worldwide for now.

But this does not resolve the underlying problem, even in the short run.
The problem is one of irrational economic policy. The Greek government has
reached an agreement with EU authorities (which include the European
Commission and the European Central Bank) and the IMF that will make its
economic problems worse.

This is known to economists, including the ones at the EU and IMF who
negotiated the agreement. The projections show that, if their program
"works," the country's debt will rise from 115 percent of GDP today to 149
percent in 2013. This means that in less than three years, and most likely
sooner, Greece will be facing the same crisis that it faces today.

Furthermore, the Greek finance ministry now projects a decline of four
percent of GDP this year, down from less than one percent last year.
However these projections are likely to prove overly optimistic. In other
words, the Greek people will go through a lot of suffering, their economy
will shrink and the debt burden will grow, and then they will very likely
face the same choice of debt rescheduling, restructuring, or default --
and/or leaving the Euro.

There are lessons to be learned from this debacle. First, no government
should sign an agreement that guarantees an open-ended recession and leaves
it to the world economy to eventually pull them out of it. This process of
"internal devaluation" -- whereby unemployment is deliberately driven to
high levels in order to drive down wages and prices while keeping the
nominal exchange rate fixed -- is not only unjust, it is unviable. This is
even more true for Greece, given its initial debt burden. The tens of
thousands of Greeks in the streets have it right, and the EU economists have
it wrong. You cannot shrink your way out of recession; you have to grow
your way out, as the United States is doing (albeit too slowly).

If the EU/IMF will not offer a growth option to Greece, it would be better
off leaving the Euro and renegotiating its debt. Argentina tried the
"internal devaluation" strategy from mid-1998 to the end of 2001, suffering
through a depression that pushed half the country into poverty. It then
dropped its peg to the dollar and defaulted on its debt. The economy shrank
for just one more quarter and then had a robust recovery, growing 63 percent
over the next six years. (By contrast, the "internal devaluation" process
promises not only indefinite recession but a long, very slow recovery if it
"works" -- as we can see from the IMF's projections for
Estonia. These
countries <> are
projected to take 8 or 9 years to reach their pre-recession levels of

The EU authorities sent markets crashing last Thursday by saying that they
had not discussed using "quantitative easing" -- i.e. the creation of money,
as the U.S. Federal Reserve has done to the tune of $1.5 trillion in the
last couple of years -- to help resolve the situation. They also made
statements that more deficit reduction is needed by countries that are still
in recession or barely recovering. The new agreement reached over the
weekend partially reverses these statements, but not enough.

The pundits are quick to blame Greece and the other weaker European
economies (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Spain) for their problems. Although
they did -- like most of the world -- have excesses such as asset bubbles
during the boom years, they didn't cause the world recession that sent their
deficits skyrocketing. Most importantly, the real problem now is that the
EU/IMF is still offering them the medieval medicine of bleeding the
Until that changes, expect a lot more trouble ahead.
co-director of the Center
for Economic and Policy Research <>, in Washington, D.C.
He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan. He has
written numerous research papers on economic policy, especially on Latin
America and international economic policy. He is also co-author, with Dean
Baker, of *Social Security: The Phony Crisis* (University of Chicago Press,
2000) and president of Just Foreign
This article was first published in the *New York
*/*International Herald Tribune* on 12 May 2010 and republished by CEPR
under a Creative Commons license.
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