Venezuela is of limited strategic importance to Russia, though it offers symbolic significance in demonstrating Putin’s reach into a region seen as Washington’s backyard. Russia doesn’t have the capacity to send forces there as it did to support Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, limiting itself to publicity stunts like a December visit by two nuclear-capable bombers.
Moscow reads the news too, and while perhaps absent of conscience but mindful of money, it’s confidence in the success of the political societies once aligned, captivated, or enthralled with their relationship to the Soviet may be dimming. While perhaps putting a “little” money in the under-the-table pockets of its own, it has also watched parts of Central and South American states churn into cesspool of competing cartels and gangs destroying communities, exporting the nasty — the full smorgasbord of contraband — and for hundreds of thousands producing flight en masse anywhere that hasn’t become a personal no-security hell. Now the chief Phantom of the Soviet appears to be having a look-see at the future of at least one portfolio of debt accumulated by a once ideologically favored son and the picture just isn’t so wonderful as it must have once appeared.
Banning the trading of Russian bonds have been tossed around ever since Trump got elected. Anti-Russian politicians on both sides of the aisle have taken full advantage of Trump being caught in a Russian scandal to force the president to play super hardball with Vladimir Putin and anyone within a country mile of him. Since taking office, Trump has already signed harsher sanctions against Russian individuals and Russian companies, making some of them extra-territorial. Extra-territorial means sanctions apply to non-U.S. citizens and entities transacting with the sanctioned firm subject to penalties.
Reflect ye on the work of Rome — aqueducts, castles, fortifications, ports, roads | estates, villages, towns, metropolises | centers of agriculture, education, industry | a magnificence unrivaled in expression of the constructive channeling of human energy | eagerly adapted or reluctantly accepted . . . .
Whatever one may think of “Western Civilization”, the fruits of the labor of it have been coveted and enjoyed worldwide, and the twinned ideas of “Jerusalem” and the “Kingdom of Heaven” may be where we live and anywhere on earth.
Two days ago on the web, BackChannels listened to the pleas of a young man in Morocco for relief from lowest-wage labor and daily uncertain employment ($7 per day if it could be found) and exposure to illness and injury and related distress without access to local basic health services. The acquaintance told the story of friends, two among five who for sleep shared a room in a house. One had been stricken with severe stomach pain and the other with a leg injured in a fall, and there followed the story of getting to a hospital, being initially refused emergency care, and persisting in insisting on being seen.
Being seen — eventually the two were, the one with the leg injury being sent home, and the other with severe stomach pain remained in the hospital.
Being made visible – that’s why this post is here.
With online research, it doesn’t take long to connect the absence of simple human decency in the distribution of Moroccan health care in its public facet to the social cancer of pervasive corruption. In fact, corruption appears to BackChannels the chief impediment to the firm establishment and distribution of basic medical services in the state.
There appears in numerous reports the petite corruption of patients bribing the doctors to rush the que.
However, of greater concern may be the business to privileged business way of doing business, i.e., what is referred to as institutional or “grand corruption”, and that appears suppressed: nonetheless, one picks up from the literature notes associated with bribery, nepotism, profiteering, skimming, and stealing — all the many possibilities available to the feudal and ruthless.
Who diverted money budgeted for facilities maintenance and how was it really spent?
Who took the medicine or failed to protect it in storage?
Equipment or medicine damaged or stolen would seem the same thing — i.e., useless — to doctors and their patients.
Where is the money going?
Who is getting it?
What are they doing with it?
BackChannels has no idea although reading Gulain P. Denoeux’s 1999 or 2000 report may raise awareness of the tension between a feudal systems of absolute power — and lenience and patronage — and a modern rule-of-law system engaged in independent investigation, administrative and judicial oversight, and associated regulation with corrective measures and penalties specified.
This blogger’s impression, which could change with the next reference piece, is that both external forces and internal pressures have made corruption a major theme in Moroccan governance, and while related policies and laws have been developed to address issues, they have yet to be vigorously implemented by King Mohammed VI who needs must balance the legacy relationships of powerful families and institutions in situ with the state and its quest for a political modernity that cares for, enfranchises, and empowers a broadening swath of the less visible Moroccan population.
In the manner of kings, Mohammed VI this past summer shifted culpability for the death of a fishmonger trying to recover a swordfish — caught out of season — from the garbage truck (in which police had by implication thrown it) to local political authority while pressuring the same to do their work:
“If the King of Morocco is not convinced by the way political activity is conducted and if he does not trust a number of politicians, what are the citizens left with?” Mohammed VI said during a televised speech commemorating the 18th anniversary of his ascension to the throne.
“To all those concerned I say: ‘Enough is enough!’ Fear God in what you are perpetrating against your homeland. Either carry out your duties fully or withdraw from public life.”
Often in the feudal mode, appearance may be made to suffice for performance.
In the modern world, that’s not enough: the conditions of things, the states of affairs come out in open observation and statistics, and today that observation is global.
To get public health distributed as needed — as deserved and as befits the humanity and image of the state — Morocco needs greater economic development supported by rule of law and capable of sustaining revenues within the state and seeing a greater part of that confidently distributed in the public interest.
One may paint the hospital’s new oncology wing to avoid a king’s ire while also making him look good, but one may not paint over the misery of suffering alone in pain and uncertainty without recourse to accessible basic clinic services staffed by personnel educated and trained for the purpose.
It was a makeover fit for a king, Mohammed VI, whose visit, to inaugurate a new oncology wing, was later broadcast on national television. But it did not do much to mask the reality of health care in Morocco, where even Health Minister Houssaine Louardi has conceded that standards of care for the country’s 33 million people are far from adequate.
Public hospitals are decrepit and lack doctors, equipment and medicine, and fewer than 30 percent of Moroccans have health insurance coverage.
A broadly worded article in the Moroccan penal code criminalizes receiving support from foreign organizations with the purpose of “harming the integrity, sovereignty or independence of the Kingdom, or shaking the loyalty that citizens owe to the state.” This article can be used to penalize a wide range of legitimate forms of expression and association and to curtail the right of Moroccan civil society to seek funding freely as guaranteed by the international human rights conventions to which Morocco is party
Blocked pipes, mouldy walls, wet blankets and a shortage of supplies: this is what users of Morocco’s public health system have to deal with. Dozens of photos published on Facebook have shed light on the grime reality of the country’s public hospitals. According to our Observer, it reveals a disastrous state of affairs that the government’s privatisation plan won’t be able to fix.
The Suharto regime allows no space for a democratic opposition to emerge. So what the pro-democracy, pro-clean-government forces are relying on is not a revolution from below, not a revolution from above, but a revolution from beyond.
Their strategy is to do everything they can to integrate Indonesia into the global economy on the conviction that the more Indonesia is tied into the global system, the more its government will be exposed to the rules, standards, laws, pressures, scrutiny and regulations of global institutions, and the less arbitrary, corrupt and autocratic it will be able to be.
Corruption represents a problem for businesses in Morocco. Almost all sectors suffer from rampant corruption. Cultures of patronage, nepotism and wasta (the use of connections) exist, and inefficient government bureaucracy and excessive red tape deter investors. The legal framework concerning corruption, transparency and integrity is in place, and the regulatory system is becoming increasingly transparent. Under the Moroccan Criminal Code, active and passive bribery, extortion, influence peddling and abuse of office are illegal. Anti-corruption laws are reportedly not enforced effectively by the government. Prosecutions of corruption cases have been accused of targeting only petty corruption, and, allegedly, companies owned by highly influential persons are rarely disciplined. Facilitation payments and giving and receiving gifts are criminalized under Moroccan law, but businesses indicate the likelihood of encountering these practices is high.
The report goes on to comment on Morocco’s judicial system, police, public services, land administration, tax administration, customs administration, public procurement, natural resources, legislation, and civil society.
What are Morocco’s expectations for the 6th session of the UNCAC Conference of States Parties (COSP)?
It’s a UN process. All UN processes are slow because you need consensus and you cannot force governments to agree to anything. Still it’s worth noting that more and more countries accept evaluation, country visits, publication of full review reports. It’s less and less comfortable for the countries that oppose transparency. Morocco will work to help to make progress in the review process at the next COSP session, although I remain sceptical about reaching quick achievements
What is Morocco’s position on holding a discussion of grand corruption at the UNCAC Conference of States Parties (COSP)?
I think the UNCAC COSP can discuss grand corruption. Transparency International should elaborate instruments for this. The Corruption Perceptions Index is biased towards petty corruption—it does not point out grand corruption or institutionalised corruption.
In our common malignancy, perhaps, our narcissism lends repair to psychological damage to self concept. Life’s rough and in part insults us, less or more, but, again perhaps, the greater the insult to esteem — the heavier the hand — the more passionate the want of self-aggrandizement, security, and wealth.
In the healthy, it’s good having basic and somewhat above good circumstance in freedom, money, and general security. In the malignant, the same wants get Up There and Out There. On Back-Channels, I’ve likened such qualities to the recognized psychological pathologies that are bipolar disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. In our general political psychology and related sociology, we aspire and trade up in comfort and prestige, and we do that through laws an practices that accommodate a healthy general development with concern spanning the distance from penthouse to street.
The malignant do things quite differently.
Muammar Qaddafi’s Mullah Shweyga story (easily looked up) tells the difference. Such leaders take full advantage of the possession of the power to visit suffering on others with impunity. All of the crimes that may be visited on one may as well be extended to others: capricious “justice” or detainments, imprisonments, hangings, tortures. Each dictator asks: “who is going to stop me?” And off each goes into the high life on the backs of the hungry, the powerless, and vulnerable.
I’m always happy to share the Reuters piece on Khamenei (“Assets of the Ayatollah”), but I think it better that others embark on similar journeys as regards the entire host of figures whose power has proven malignant and resides in the brutalities and related fears and levers (e.g., bribery and patronage; intimidation and murder) known more to the medieval mind than the modern one.
Yes, this may be the only blog on earth suggesting the reader continue doing the research.
Here’s a related comment on Moscow’s role in managing conflicts in a manner fit to destroy those it manages to manipulate and prize from the same conflict-related income and, at least in its own hive-mind, power and prestige.
Moscow, representing Putin’s political police, himself, and the oligarchs, may be a greater power than Tehran. It may barely be keeping its political image clean — remember: officially, Moscow is helping Damascus fight “The Terrorists” — but it may have the habit of manipulating political situations to its advantage.
In the PROCESS of that war, Moscow apparently manipulated Somali leaders into laying claim or reclaiming the Ogaden, pitting first guerrilla then regular forces against Ethiopian control of the space. As advances pushed Ethiopia out of the contested space, Soviet Russia stepped in to arm Ethiopian forces, who then pushed back the Somalis. The Ogaden continues to host some related “low-intensity conflict”.
Getting away from one’s own interests, in this instance Syria, and venturing to overview Moscow’s involvements in conflicts worldwide across time may help us more brightly resolve (accurately perceive) states of affairs in Syria and the Middle East Conflict.
“I first traveled to the Swat valley, home of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the victim of a Taliban assassination attempt, when I was a girl of seven, with my Pakistani father. I recently returned there this spring under the protection of Pakistan’s Rangers in the Northwest Frontier Corps. The valley was just as beautiful as my vivid childhood memories had remembered, reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands; I immediately understood the stories of Churchill’s entrancement by the area. Only later I discovered that my paternal grandmother had been born in a village three hours from here. These were my people. I was theirs.