I see that Robert Scheer, an excellent journalist with credentials oozing out of his pores (and editor of truthdig.com), wasn’t able to resist the temptation to entitle his latest article “The Crime of the Century,” in reference to the recent LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) manipulation scandal. Trillions of dollars involved and nobody seems to really care ( see Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone for more).
The substance of Scheer’s article is very sound, no mistake about it, but the title to me seems a tad overblown. The competition for that moniker is already so stiff in our young 21st century that pretenders to the crown had best look at evidence world-wide before making blanket pronouncements.
The first years of this century witnessed blatant electoral fraud in the first and second Bush elections as well as the legislative elections of 2006 without most Americans so much as raising an eyelid, for example. Is it not? or rather, Should it not be a crime to subvert democracy in a ‘democracy’ that pretends to spread ‘democracy’ everywhere else? Just sayin’ …
Now let’s get to the heavy-weight candidates. Invading two sovereign states, in this case Afghanistan and Iraq, and thereby causing over a million deaths, countless wounded for life, physically or psychologically, hundreds of thousands of refugees in their own country … When, to top it off, all of that violence was clearly unleashed upon the world under false pretenses – you can only do a humble-mumble and say, “Now that’s a candidate!”
And yes, I did say false pretenses. The entire “war on terror” is a tragic farce as every leader in the Western world knows perfectly well (and most ‘everywhere else’ too). Ask yourself the question: “We invaded Afghanistan in order to …?” and try to complete it to your own satisfaction … Well, was that a satisfying experience? Perhaps, if you said to yourself “Because They‘s Terrists,” but then you’d have to explain why the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were carried out mainly by Saudi Arabians. I mean, American rationale in international relations being what it is, when 15 out of 19 terrorists were Saudis, instead of seeing headlines like : “Saudi attack on America!” you see … the invasion of Afghanistan and then Iraq. That’s pretty logical, isn’t it? Those two countries had exactly zero hijackers involved in 911 and yet we destroyed their infrastructures, blasted their populations to pieces and inflicted immeasurable pain on the survivors, all because we wanted to … (complete to your satisfaction). And of course it wouldn’t have anything to do with minerals, pipelines, natural gas or oil, would it?
We won’t go into the continuing horror-shows which are the countries of Haiti, (we gotta have another cheap-labor pool right here in the Western Hemisphere!) or Congo-Kinshasa (because of their immense mineral riches) or others. In the latter state though , after a visit there Mark Twain noted things like this in his text entitled King Leopold’s Soliloquy (1905): “Devastated region; population reduced from 40,000 to 8,000.” By the Belgian army (see Adam Hochschild’s book, King Leopold’s Ghosts). But hey, that was a different century …
Returning to the subject of the LIBOR fraud, though (and now it seems this has been going on for decades! see Washington’s Blog), it is the biggest-so-far British financial scandal of the 21st century. But that’s not quite the same as being “The Crime of the Century.”
Update: Looks like I was wrong to call it a British financial scandal. It now seems clear that it involved quite a several international banks. As a reminder, the LIBOR is the benchmark rate used for about $90 trillion worth of investment funds and it’s likely been skewed (and investors screwed) since its was launched in 1986. Makes sense (as Matt Taibbi has pointed out) that no one bank could do that by itself. Rate-fixing, like price-fixing, is necessarily a conspiratorial activity but don’t tell anyone unless you want to hear the usual chorus chanting: “Conspiracy theory, conspiracy theory!”