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This article appears in the October 7, 2011 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

Why London Finds Argentina 'Odious'

by Dennis Small and Cynthia R. Rush

[PDF version of this article]

Sept. 30—The newly selected head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, could scarcely disguise her repressed rage at a Sept. 21 press conference on the eve of the annual IMF-World Bank meeting in Washington, D.C., when an Argentine journalist asked her about suggestions that Greece might follow the Argentine model of default and voluntary debt restructuring. "I believe such comparisons are odious," Lagarde shot back. "You can't compare the situation of one country with another."

The British Empire—and its current top cop Lagarde—has never forgiven Argentina for unilaterally defaulting on its debt in December 2001, imposing a 75% "haircut" on the vulture fund bondholders that had been looting Argentina for decades, and achieving record economic growth after that. London is all the more hysterical today, as Greece, followed by other European countries, is being viciously pressured to not default on its debt, but to keep decimating its population and economy in the endless process of paying off the country's bankrupt creditor banks.

To London's dismay, the word "Argentina" is now on everyone's lips in Greece, as a precedent which shows that there is, in fact, "life after default."

Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner—whose late husband and predecessor, Néstor Kirchner, imposed the "haircut" on the bondholders in 2005—is blunt in her assessment of the IMF's role. "In a world that was crashing, they tried to give us lessons and [impose] conditionalities," she said in a speech in Mendoza on Sept. 26. "Even today, in the midst of the most calamitous crisis in memory of the past decades, those responsible for Argentina's 2001 default ... insist on making the world swallow the same medicine given to us for a decade, that ruined us. Such idiocy, such stubborness is inconceivable."

But there is a broader strategic issue posed by Argentina's refusal to knuckle under to London. The world today faces two starkly contrary policy options: to go down into the maelstrom of national destruction along with the bankrupt trans-Atlantic banking system, as London demands; or to survive and prosper with Lyndon LaRouche's science-driven "Great Pacific Alliance" policy, dramatically strengthened with the Putin-Medvedev "Russian surprise" of Sept. 24.

Germany, for example, faces those choices in its own way. "Putin is good for Germany," said Alexander Rahr, Russia expert at the German Foreign Policy Association (DGPA) in Berlin on Sept. 26. With him, Russian-German economic cooperation and trade will skyrocket. The other option for Germany is to be Europe's "cash cow" to bail out London's bankrupt banks. As City of London mouthpiece Ambrose Evans Pritchard put it in the Sept. 27 Daily Telegraph: "Sorry Deutschland. History has conspired against you, again. You must sign away EU2 trillion, and debauch your central bank, and accept 5% inflation, or be blamed for Götterdämmerung.

In the developing sector, Argentina's current policy course under President Fernández—rooted in the country's historic commitment to economic and social justice based on scientific and technological progress—presents a clear option for nations otherwise facing extinction at the hands of the British Empire. As such, it represents leadership in the developing sector's battle to survive, by linking up with an emerging "Great Pacific Alliance" represented by Russia, China, and a United States freed of the Obama pestilence.

Consider, in that light, the extraordinary speech given by the Argentine President at the Sept. 28 inauguration of the Atucha II nuclear reactor, the country's third.

Argentina's 'Greatest Fuel'

President Fernández spoke at the site of the reactor, in the province of Buenos Aires, surrounded by thousands of workers, engineers, scientists, and others, as she drove home the key political point that the development of nuclear energy, the fight against the IMF, and the defense of national sovereignty are one and the same fight.

Her speech was a fervent statement of Argentina's national identity as a country dedicated to scientific and technological advancement. "The best fuel we have is the Argentine people, ... and with this incredible nuclear reactor, I feel we are starting up the machine which our country Argentina was, which knew how to be a leader in all fields in Latin America—nuclear, aeronautics, building railroads, automobiles, scientific matters.... Look at what a country we have been!"

The speech was also a tribute to her late husband Néstor Kirchner, President of Argentina from 2003-07. She stated that in inaugurating the plant, she felt as she did in 2007, when her husband "decided to put an end to the debt with the IMF, when we decided to also restructure our debt in 2005 and last year [when a second restructuring occurred], to put an end to that sword of Damocles which had continuously hung over the growth of the Argentine Republic." We are paying off "historic debts, generated over decades of abandonment, mistakes, bad policies, or also of foreign interference so that Argentina would not have nuclear development. We have restored the will and the decision that the country should govern itself."

President Fernández was unapologetic in tone, never once stooping to "defending" nuclear energy or answering "green" arguments. (London-run Greenpeace, however, responded instantly to her speech, arguing that "just months after the Fukushima tragedy, it is a real irresponsibility" to launch Atucha II and announce the building of Atucha III.) In feisty response to the vicious attacks coming from the IMF, the Obama Administration, and others, President Fernández noted that Argentina has the second highest economic growth rate in the world—8% this year—after China.

She praised the dedicated workers present, many of whom served as "guardians of national sovereignty" during those years of paralysis when the plant was mothballed, before Néstor Kirchner revived the nuclear program in 2006. Eighty-eight percent of the plant, she said, was "made in Argentina"—our money, our workers, our technicians (some of whom returned from abroad). And she outlined the future nuclear goals: to complete extending the useful life of the existing Embalse plant for another 25 years; to build Atucha III; and also to build the small 25 MW CAREM reactor, which can be used at sites in the country's interior to generate electricity. (See Documentation for more excerpts from the speech.)

Obama Backs the Vultures

Even before President Fernández's assault on British imperial policies, she and her country were under escalating attack by London's Obama Administration.

On Sept. 21, Marisa Lago, U.S. Assistant Treasury Secretary for International Markets and Development, announced at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee's International Monetary Policy and Trade subcommittee that, from now on, the Obama Administration would vote against granting development loans to Argentina from such multilateral lending agencies as the World Bank or the Inter-American Development Bank. It has already voted against $232 million at the IADB. Why?

Argentina has failed to honor its "international commitments," Lago said, referring to $3.5 billion which ATFA—the unsavory group of financial predators known as vulture funds, grouped in the American Task Force Argentina—says is owed to "U.S. citizens." But as Argentine officials have stated repeatedly, those "citizens" are in fact the vultures that speculate on developing-sector debt defaults, in order to make a financial killing.

Treasury Department spokeswoman Kara Alaimo also complained that Argentina has failed to honor its commitments to the G20 and its obligations to the IMF—it hasn't invited the IMF back to evaluate its economy—as well as to the Paris Club of creditors, and the World Bank's International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), which has ruled several times in favor of foreign corporations that sued Argentina.

ATFA, run by three former officials from the Clinton Administration, has been gunning for Argentina since its 2001 default, arguing that the vultures that failed to participate in the 2005 debt restructuring should be paid the full face value of the defaulted bonds they still hold, instead of accepting the 75% "haircut." ATFA put out a euphoric press release Sept. 21, following Lago's remarks, crowing that "the U.S. government has now sent a signal that it will no longer tolerate Argentina's misconduct," and has responded positively to "lawmakers' concerns" about Argentina's behavior. (See accompanying article on the actual history of Argentina's default and ensuing "haircut.")

But Argentina is not likely to be forced to kneel by such imperial diktats, and remains solidly on course with its commitment to science, technology, and sovereignty.

The LaRouche movement's new Spanish-language website, based in Argentina, has just posted a new video on "The Potential of Argentine Science," which discusses the crucial role that this South American nation can play within an emerging Pacific Alliance of Russia, China and a U.S. "free of the Obama dictatorship."

The video, narrated by Rosina Castillo, points to Argentina's success in developing satellite technology, seen in its cooperation with NASA and several European space agencies in the SAC-D/Aquarius satellite launched on June 10, as one example of its preparation for moving beyond the Earth—and beyond the five senses—to understand reality and "see Earth with different eyes." The video quotes Sandra Torrusio, the SAC-D's chief researcher, documenting the satellite's role in identifying natural disasters and establishing early-warning systems that can save lives.

"If we don't go beyond Earth and the Solar System, and discover where we belong as a species," Castillo underscores, "we will never find the causes or the solutions" to the problems afflicting mankind.

Dmitri Medvedev's 2010 visit to Argentina was the first time in 125 years that a Russian head of state had visited the country, and, as Castillo notes, resulted in agreements for cooperation in geological research, aerospace, rail transportation, and nuclear energy. Rosatom, Russia's nuclear energy agency, has proposed to build Argentina's next two reactors.

In 2012, China and Argentina will celebrate 40 years of a bilateral relationship, the "strategic" nature of which was reaffirmed last month in China by Argentine Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman. It was in 2004 that Argentina's late President Néstor Kirchner had insisted on characterizing the relationship in this way. The two countries have now joined forces and agreed to double food production, and to seek a solution to the problem of speculation on food and raw material prices which contribute to global crisis and hunger.

Castillo also emphasizes how significant it is that Russia and China have supported Argentina's demand, as have many UN resolutions, that the British imperialists sit down to seriously negotiate the issue of sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands with the Argentine government.