Archive | May 29th, 2015

Since 1945, the USA has attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments

NOVANEWS
Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem. Sr

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Since 1945, the USA has attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which had been democratically-elected.

Submitted by IWB,

Some argue that non-transparent United States government agencies working in secret sometimes mislead or do not fully implement the decisions of elected civilian leaders and that this has been an important component of many such operations,[1] Some contend that the U.S. has supported more coups against democracies that it perceived as communist, becoming communist, or pro-communist.[1]

Prior to Cold War

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Russia

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U.S. troops in Vladivostok, August 1918

The Bolshevik revolution of 1917 was met with hostility from President Wilson‘s administration. After withdrawing funding for Russia and opposing a British and French plan to include the Bolsheviks as allies against Germany in 1918, the United States extended its maritime blockade of Germany to include Soviet Russia and begancovertly supporting Russian opposition factions.[2][3]

In 1918, the Allied powers, including the United States, began to supplement their covert efforts with a military intervention in the Russian Civil War. The U.S. sent 13,000 troops to the Russian port cities of Vladivostok and Archangelsk.[4][5] This intervention would not end until 1920 when it became clear that Lenin’s forces were defeating the loose anti-Bolshevik White Russian movement.

During the Cold War

Communist states 1944–89

image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1c/Wiki_letter_w_cropped.svg/20px-Wiki_letter_w_cropped.svg.png[icon] This section requires expansion.(June 2012)

The United States supported resistance movements and dissidents in the communist regimes of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. One example is the counterespionage operations following the discovery of the Farewell dossier which some argue contributed to the fall of the Soviet regime.[6][7]

Syria 1949

Syria became an independent republic in 1946, but the March 1949 Syrian coup d’état, led by Army Chief of Staff Husni al-Za’im, ended the initial period of civilian rule. Za’im met at least six times with CIA operatives in the months prior to the coup to discuss his plan to seize power. Za’im requested American funding or personnel, but it is not known whether this assistance was provided. Once in power, Za’im made several key decisions that benefited the United States. He approved the Trans-Arabian Pipeline (TAPLINE), an American project designed to transport Saudi Arabian oil to Mediterranean ports. Construction of TAPLINE had been delayed due to Syrian intransigence. Za’im also improved relations with two American allies in the region: Israel and Turkey. He signed an armistice in 1949 with Israel, formally ending the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and he renounced Syrian claims to Hatay Province, a major source of dispute between Syria and Turkey. Za’im also cracked down on local communists. However, Za’im’s regime was short-lived. He was overthrown in August, just four and a half months after seizing power.[8][9][10][11]

Iran 1953

In 1953, the CIA worked with the United Kingdom to overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran led by Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh who had attempted to nationalize Iran’s petroleum industry, threatening the profits of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, now known as BP.[12] Declassified CIA documents show that Britain was fearful of Iran’s plans to nationalize its oil industry and pressed the U.S. to mount a joint operation to depose the prime minister and install a puppet regime.[13] In 1951 the Iranian parliament voted to nationalize the petroleum fields of the country.[13][14]

The coup was led by CIA operative Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. (grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt). With help from British intelligence, the CIA planned, funded and implemented Operation Ajax.[15] In the months before the coup, the UK and U.S. imposed a boycott of the country, exerted other political pressures, and conducted a massive covert propaganda campaign to create the environment necessary for the coup. The CIA hired Iranian agents provocateurs who posed as communists, harassed religious leaders and staged the bombing of one cleric’s home to turn the Islamic religious community against the government. For the U.S. audience, the CIA hoped to plant articles in U.S. newspapers saying that Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi‘s return to govern Iran resulted from a homegrown revolt against what was being represented to the U.S. public as a communist-leaning government. The CIA successfully used its contacts at the Associated Press to put on the newswire in the U.S. a statement from Tehran about royal decrees that the CIA itself had written.[13]

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Tehran men celebrating the 1953 Iranian coup d’état

The coup initially failed and the Shah fled the country. After four days of rioting, Shi’ite-sparked street protests backed by pro-Shah army units defeated Mossadeq’s forces and the Shah returned to power.[16]

Supporters of the coup have argued that Mossadegh had become the de facto dictator of Iran, citing his dissolution of the Parliament and the Supreme Court, and his abolishment of free elections with a secret ballot, after he declared victory in a referendum where he claimed 99.9% of the vote.[17] Darioush Bayandor has argued that the CIA botched its coup attempt and that a popular uprising, instigated by top Shi’ite clerics such as Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Hossein Borujerdi and Abol-Ghasem Kashani (who were certain that Mosaddegh was taking the nation toward religious indifference, and worried that he had banished the Shah), instigated street riots to return the Shah to power four days after the failed coup.[16] After the coup, the Shah introduced electoral reforms extending suffrage to all members of society, including women. This was part of a broader series of reforms dubbed the White Revolution.[18] However, the Shah also carried out at least 300 political executions, according toAmnesty International.[19]

The CIA subsequently used the apparent success of their Iranian coup project to bolster their image in American government circles. They expanded their reach into other countries, taking a greater portion of American intelligence assets based on their record in Iran.[16]

In August 2013 the CIA admitted that it was involved in both the planning and the execution of the coup, including the bribing of Iranian politicians, security and army high-ranking officials, as well as pro-coup propaganda.[20][21] The CIA is quoted acknowledging the coup was carried out “under CIA direction” and “as an act of U.S. foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government.”[22] TheNational Security Archive said it that while it “applauds the CIA’s decision to make these materials available, today’s posting shows clearly that these materials could have been safely declassified many years ago without risk of damage to national security.”[20]

Guatemala 1954

The Guatemalan Revolution of 1944-54 had overthrown the US backed dictator Jorge Ubico and brought a democratically elected government to power. The government began an ambitious agrarian reformprogram attempting to grant land to millions of landless peasants. This program threatened the land holdings of the United Fruit Company, who lobbied for a coup by portraying these reforms as communist. The CIA engineered the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Jacobo Árbenz, and installed the military dictator Carlos Castillo Armas. A decades long civil war ensued in which some 200,000 people were killed, mostly by the US backed military.[23][24][25][26][27]

Tibet 1955–70s

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According to the 14th Dalai Lama, the CIA supported the Tibetan independence movement “not because they (the CIA) cared about Tibetan independence, but as part of their worldwide efforts to destabilize all communist governments”.[28]

Main article: CIA Tibetan program

The CIA armed an anti-Communist insurgency for decades in order to oppose the invasion of Tibet by Chinese forces and the subsequent control of Tibet by China. The program had a record of almost unmitigated failure.[29]

According to the 14th Dalai Lama, the CIA supported the Tibetan independence movement “not because they (the CIA) cared about Tibetan independence, but as part of their worldwide efforts to destabilize all communist governments”.[28]

The budget figures for the CIA’s Tibetan program were as follows:

Indonesia 1958

The autocratic Indonesian government of Sukarno was faced with a major threat to its legitimacy beginning in 1956, when several regional commanders began to demand autonomy from Jakarta. After mediation failed, Sukarno took action to remove the dissident commanders. In February 1958, dissident military commanders in Central Sumatera (Colonel Ahmad Hussein) and North Sulawesi (Colonel Ventje Sumual) declared the Revolutionary Government of the Republic of IndonesiaPermesta Movement aimed at overthrowing the Sukarno regime. They were joined by many civilian politicians from the MasyumiParty, such as Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, who were opposed to the growing influence of the communist Partai Komunis Indonesia party. Due to their anti-communist rhetoric, the rebels received arms, funding, and other covert aid from the CIA until Allen Lawrence Pope, an American pilot, was shot down after a bombing raid on government-held Ambon in April 1958. The central government responded by launching airborne and seaborne military invasions of rebel strongholds Padang and Manado. By the end of 1958, the rebels were militarily defeated, and the last remaining rebel guerilla bands surrendered by August 1961.[31] To make amends for CIA involvement in the rebellion, President Kennedy invited Sukarno to Washington, and provided Indonesia with billions of dollars in civilian and military aid.[32]

Cuba 1959

image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/63/LittleHavanOct06BayOfPigsMonument.jpg/180px-LittleHavanOct06BayOfPigsMonument.jpg

The Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations approved initiatives for CIA-trained Cuban anti-communist exiles and refugees to land in Cuba and attempt to overthrow the government of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Critics have characterized Castro’s rule as dictatorship. Plans originally formed under Eisenhower were scaled back under Kennedy. The largest and most complicated coup effort, approved at White House level, was the Bay of Pigs operation.

The CIA made a number of attempts to assassinate Castro, often with White House approval, as in Operation Mongoose.

Iraq 1960–63

In February 1960, the United States planned a coup against the government of Iraq headed by Prime Minister Abd al-Karim Qasim, who two years earlier had deposed the Western-allied Iraqi monarchy. Qasim’s rule has been described as authoritarian and dictatorial. The U.S. was concerned about the growing influence of Iraqi Communist Partygovernment officials under his administration, as well as his threats to invade Kuwait, which almost caused a war between Iraq and Britain.

According to the Church Committee, the CIA planned a “special operation” to “incapacitate” an Iraqi Colonel believed to be “promoting Soviet bloc political interests in Iraq.” The aim was to send Qasim a poisoned handkerchief, “which, while not likely to result in total disablement, would be certain to prevent the target from pursuing his usual activities for a minimum of three months.” During the course of the Committee’s investigation, the CIA stated that the handkerchief was “in fact never received (if, indeed, sent).” It added that the colonel: “Suffered a terminal illness before a firing squad in Baghdad (an event we had nothing to do with) after our handkerchief proposal was considered.”

Qasim was killed on 8 February 1963 by a firing squad of the Ba’ath party in collaboration with Iraqi nationalists and members of the Arab Socialist Union, in what came to be known as the Ramadan Revolution. Of the 16 members of Qasim’s cabinet, 12 of them were Ba’ath Party members; however, the party turned against Qasim due to his refusal to join Gamel Abdel Nasser‘s United Arab Republic.[33] Washington immediately befriended the successor regime. “Almost certainly a gain for our side,” Robert Komer, a National Security Council aide, wrote to President Kennedy on the day of the takeover.[34] The Ba’ath Party was subsequently purged from the government in the November 1963 Iraqi coup d’état after the Ba’athist Prime Minister, Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, attempted to seize power from the U.S.-backed President,Abdul Salam Arif.

Writing in his memoirs of the 1963 coup, long time OSS and CIA intelligence analyst Harry Rositzke presented it as an example of one on which they had good intelligence in contrast to others that caught the agency by surprise. The overthrow “was forecast in exact detail by CIA agents.” “Agents in the Ba’th Party headquarters in Baghdad had for years kept Washington au courant on the party’s personnel and organization, its secret communications and sources of funds, and its penetrations of military and civilian hierarchies in several countries…. CIA sources were in a perfect position to follow each step of Ba’th preparations for the Iraqi coup, which focused on making contacts with military and civilian leaders in Baghdad. The CIA’s major source, in an ideal catbird seat, reported the exact time of the coup and provided a list of the new cabinet members…. To call an upcoming coup requires the CIA to have sources within the group of plotters. Yet, from a diplomatic point of view, having secret contacts with plotters implies at least unofficial complicity in the plot.”[35]

Qasim was aware of U.S. complicity in the plot and continually denounced the U.S. in public. The U.S. Department of State was worried that Qasim would harass US diplomats in Iraq because of this. The CIA was aware of many plots in Iraq in 1962, not just the one that succeeded.[36]

The best direct evidence that the U.S. was complicit is the memo from Komer to President Kennedy on February 8, 1963. The last paragraph reads: “We will make informal friendly noises as soon as we can find out whom to talk with, and ought to recognize as soon as we’re sure these guys are firmly in the saddle. CIA had excellent reports on the plotting, but I doubt either they or UK should claim much credit for it.”[37]

Democratic Republic of the Congo 1960–65

Main article: Congo Crisis

In 1960, the Democratic Republic of the Congo became independent from Belgium, and Patrice Lumumba became its first prime minister.[38] The new country quickly became embroiled in a civil war, with the regions of Katanga and South Kasai declaring their independence. Lumumba sought assistance from the Soviet Union to put down the rebellions. Fearing a communist takeover of the country, the CIA was authorized by US president Dwight Eisenhower to assassinate Lumumba; however, these plans were never carried out.[39][40]

In 1964, the Maoist Simba Rebellion (Swahili for “Lions”) broke out. In early 1965 Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara traveled to Congo to offer his knowledge and experience as a guerrilla to the insurgents. Guevara led the Cuban operation in support of the Marxist Simba movement. Guevara, his second-in-command Victor Dreke, and 12 other Cuban expeditionaries arrived in the Congo on 24 April 1965 and a contingent of approximately 100 Afro-Cubans joined them soon afterward.[41][42] They collaborated for a time with guerrilla leader Laurent-Désiré Kabila, who had previously helped supporters of Lumumba lead an unsuccessful revolt months earlier. White South African mercenaries, led by Mike Hoare in concert with Cuban exiles and the CIA, worked with the Congo National Army to thwart Guevara in the mountains near the village of Fizi on Lake Tanganyika. They were able to monitor his communications and so pre-empted his attacks and interdicted his supply lines. Despite the fact that Guevara sought to conceal his presence in the Congo, the U.S. government was aware of his location and activities. The CIA assisted the operation, carried out by U.S. and Belgian forces, to rescue hundreds of European hostages held by the Simba forces.[43]

On 25 November 1965, just five days after Guevara’s departure, Joseph Mobutu seized power with the help of the political and military support of Western countries, including the U.S.[44][Unreliable fringe source?]

Dominican Republic 1961

The CIA supported the overthrow of Rafael Trujillo, President/Dictator of the Dominican Republic, on 30 May 1961.[45] Trujillo has been described as one of the worst dictators in the Americas. In a report to the Deputy Attorney General of the United States, CIA officials described the agency as having “no active part” in the assassination and only a “faint connection” with the groups that planned the killing,[46] but the internal CIA investigation, by its Inspector General, “disclosed quite extensive Agency involvement with the plotters.”[47]

South Vietnam 1963

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The body of Di?m in the back of the APC, having been killed on the way to military headquarters

The CIA backed a coup against President Ngô ?ình Di?m of South VietnamHenry Cabot Lodge, Jr., the US ambassador to South Vietnam, refused to meet with Di?m. Upon hearing that a coup d’état was being designed by Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) generals led by General D??ng V?n Minh, Lodge gave secret assurances to the generals that the U.S. would not interfere. Lucien Conein, a CIA operative, provided a group of South Vietnamese generals with $40,000 to carry out the coup with the promise that US forces would make no attempt to protect Di?m. D??ng V?n Minh and his co-conspirators overthrew the government on 1 November 1963 in a swift coup. On 1 November, with only the palace guard remaining to defend Di?m and his younger brother, Nhu, the generals called the palace offering Di?m exile if he surrendered. However, that evening, Di?m and his entourage escaped via an underground passage to Cholon, where they were captured the following morning, 2 November. The brothers were assassinated together in the back of an armoured personnel carrier with a bayonet and revolver by Captain Nguy?n V?n Nhungwhile en route to the Vietnamese Joint General Staff headquarters.[48] Di?m was buried in an unmarked grave in a cemetery next to the house of the U.S. ambassador.[49] Upon learning of Di?m’s ouster and death, H? Chí Minh reportedly said, “I can scarcely believe the Americans would be so stupid.”[50]

Brazil 1964

The democratically-elected government of Brazil, headed by President João Goulart, was successfully overthrown in a coup in March 1964. On March 30, the American military attaché in Brazil, Colonel Vernon A. Walters, telegraphed the State Department. In that telegraph, he confirmed that Brazilian army generals, independently of the US, had committed themselves to acting against Goulart within a week of the meeting, but no date was set.[51]

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U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnsonreceiving briefing on events in Brazil on March 31, 1964 on his Texas ranch with Undersecretary of State George Balland Assistant Secretary for Latin America, Thomas C. Mann. Ball briefs Johnson on that status of military moves in Brazil to overthrow the government ofJoão Goulart.

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Declassified transcripts of communications between U.S. ambassador to Brazil Lincoln Gordon and the U.S. government show that, predicting an all-out civil war, President Johnson authorized logistical materials to be in place to support the coup-side of the rebellion as part of U.S. Operation Brother Sam.[52]

In the telegraphs, Gordon also acknowledges U.S. involvement in “covert support for pro-democracy street rallies… and encouragement [of] democratic and anti-communist sentiment in Congress, armed forces, friendly labor and student groups, church, and business” and that he “may be requesting modest supplementary funds for other covert action programs in the near future.”[53]

In Gordon’s 2001 book, Brazil’s Second Chance: En Route Toward the First World, on Brazilian history since the military coup, he denied a role in the coup. However, James N. Green, an American historian of Brazil, argued: “[Gordon] changed Brazil’s history, for he… made it clear that, if the coup was advanced, the United States was going to recognize it immediately, which was fundamental [to the plotters].”[54]

Ghana 1966

In February 1966, the government of Ghana led by Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in a military coup led by Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka. Several commentators, including former CIA officer John Stockwell, have alleged the CIA’s involvement in the coup.[55][56][57] Other commentators have stated that no documentary evidence implicating the United States in the coup exists,[58] while claims of involvement may have been based on KGB disinformation.[59]

Chile 1970–73

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Two Chilean air force jets fire 18 rockets into the presidential palace La Moneda, setting it on fire, in the 1973 Chilean coup d’état on September 11, 1973

The election of Marxist candidate Salvador Allende as President of Chile in September 1970 led President Richard Nixon to order that Allende not be allowed to take office.[60]:25 Nixon pursued a vigorous campaign of covert resistance to Allende, first designed to convince the Chilean congress to confirm Jorge Alessandri as the winner of the election. When this failed, false flag operatives approached senior Chilean military officers, in “some two dozen contacts”, with the message that “the U.S. desired… a coup.”[60] Once Allende took office, extensive covert efforts continued with U.S.-funded black propaganda placed in El Mercurio, strikes organized against Allende, and funding for Allende opponents. When El Mercurio requested significant funds for covert support in September 1971, “…in a rare example of presidential micromanagement of a covert operation, Nixon personally authorized the $700,000—and more if necessary—in covert funds to El Mercurio.[60]:93 Following an extended period of social, political, and economic unrest, General Augusto Pinochet assumed power in a violent coup d’état on September 11, 1973; among the dead was Allende. Peter Kornbluh asserts that the CIA destabilized Chile and helped create the conditions for the 1973 Chilean coup d’état, which led to years of dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet.[60] Others also point to the involvement of the Defense Intelligence Agency, agents of which allegedly secured the missiles used to bombard the La Moneda Palace.[61]

Argentina 1976

image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1c/Wiki_letter_w_cropped.svg/20px-Wiki_letter_w_cropped.svg.png[icon] This section requires expansion.(December 2014)

Afghanistan 1979–89

“To watch the courageous Afghan freedom fighters battle modern arsenals with simple hand-held weapons is an inspiration to those who love freedom.”

— U.S. President Ronald Reagan, March 21, 1983 [62]

In April 1978, the communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) seized power in Afghanistan in the Saur Revolution. Within months, opponents of the communist government launched an uprising in eastern Afghanistan that quickly expanded into a civil war waged by guerrillamujahideen against government forces countrywide. The Pakistani government provided these rebels with covert training centers, while the Soviet Union sent thousands of military advisers to support the PDPA government.[63] Meanwhile, increasing friction between the competing factions of the PDPA – the dominant Khalq and the more moderate Parcham – resulted in the dismissal of Parchami cabinet members and the arrest of Parchami military officers under the pretext of a Parchami coup. By mid-1979, the United States had started a covert program to finance the mujahideen,[64]whose aim was later allegedly described by Carter’s National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, as to “induce a Soviet military intervention.”[65] However, Brzezinski has denied the accuracy of the quote,[66]while Cyrus Vance‘s close aide Marshall Shulman “insists that the State Department worked hard to dissuade the Soviets from invading and would never have undertaken a program to encourage it”.[67]

In September 1979, Khalqist President Nur Muhammad Taraki was assassinated in a coup within the PDPA orchestrated by fellow Khalq member Hafizullah Amin, who assumed the presidency. Distrusted by the Soviets, Amin was assassinated by Soviet special forces in December 1979. A Soviet-organized government, led by Parcham’s Babrak Karmal but inclusive of both factions, filled the vacuum. Soviet troops were deployed to stabilize Afghanistan under Karmal in more substantial numbers, although the Soviet government did not expect to do most of the fighting in Afghanistan. As a result, however, the Soviets were now directly involved in what had been a domestic war in Afghanistan.[68]

At the time some believed the Soviets were attempting to expand their borders southward in order to gain a foothold in the Middle East. The Soviet Union had long lacked a warm water port, and their movement south seemed to position them for further expansion toward Pakistan in the East, and Iran to the West. American politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike, feared the Soviets were positioning themselves for a takeover of Middle Eastern oil. Others believed that the Soviet Union was afraid Iran’s Islamic Revolution and Afghanistan’s Islamization would spread to the millions of Muslims in the USSR.

After the invasion, President Jimmy Carter announced what became known as the Carter Doctrine: that the U.S. would not allow any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf. He also began arming Afghan insurgents, a policy which President Ronald Reagan would greatly expand. Years later, National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski stated that “The day the Soviets officially crossed the border [24 December 1979], I wrote to President Carter, saying ‘We now have the opportunity of giving the USSR its Vietnam War’.”[65] In a 1997 CNN/National Security Archive interview he detailed the strategy taken by the Carter administration against the Soviets in 1979:

We immediately launched a twofold process when we heard that the Soviets had entered Afghanistan. The first involved direct reactions and sanctions focused on the Soviet Union, and both the State Department and the National Security Council prepared long lists of sanctions to be adopted, of steps to be taken to increase the international costs to the Soviet Union of their actions. And the second course of action led to my going to Pakistan a month or so after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, for the purpose of coordinating with the Pakistanis a joint response, the purpose of which would be to make the Soviets bleed for as much and as long as is possible; and we engaged in that effort in a collaborative sense with the Saudis, the Egyptians, the British, the Chinese, and we started providing weapons to the Mujaheddin, from various sources again – for example, some Soviet arms from the Egyptians and the Chinese. We even got Soviet arms from theCzechoslovak communist government, since it was obviously susceptible to material incentives; and at some point we started buying arms for the Mujaheddin from the Soviet army in Afghanistan, because that army was increasingly corrupt.[69]

The supplying of billions of dollars in arms to the Afghan mujahideen militants was one of the CIA’s longest and most expensive covert operations.[70] The CIA provided assistance to the fundamentalist insurgents through the Pakistani secret services, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in a program called Operation Cyclone. At least US$3 billion were funneled into the country to train and equip troops with weapons, and there were similar programs run by Saudi Arabia, Britain’s MI6 and SAS, Egypt, Iran, and the People’s Republic of China.[71]

No Americans trained or had direct contact with the mujahideen.[72] The skittish CIA had fewer than 10 operatives in the region.[73] Pakistan’s secret service, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was used as an intermediary for most of these activities to disguise the sources of support for the resistance.

The early foundations of al-Qaida were allegedly built in part on relationships and weaponry that came from the billions of dollars in U.S. support for the Afghan mujahadin during the war to expel Soviet forces from that country.[74] However, scholars such as Jason BurkeSteve CollPeter BergenChristopher Andrew, and Vasily Mitrokhin have argued that Bin Laden was “outside of CIA eyesight” and that there is “no support” in any “reliable source” for “the claim that the CIA funded bin Laden or any of the other Arab volunteers who came to support the mujahideen.”[75][76][77][78]

Michael Johns, the former Heritage Foundation foreign policy analyst and White House speechwriter to President George H. W. Bush, argued that “the Reagan-led effort to support freedom fighters resisting Soviet oppression led successfully to the first major military defeat of the Soviet Union…. Sending the Red Army packing from Afghanistan proved one of the single most important contributing factors in one of history’s most profoundly positive and important developments.”[79]

Turkey 1980

One day before the military coup of 12 September 1980 some 3,000 US troops of the RDF started a maneuver Anvil Express on Turkish soil.[80] At the end of 1981 a Turkish-American Defense Council (TurkishTürk-Amerikan Savunma Konseyi) was founded. Defense Minister Ümit Haluk and Richard Perle, then U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense international security policy of the new Reagan administration, and the deputy Chief of Staff Necdet Öztorun participated in its first meeting on 27 April 1982.

U.S. support of the coup was acknowledged by the CIA’s Ankara station chief, Paul Henze. After the government was overthrown, Henze cabled Washington, saying, “our boys [in Ankara] did it.”[81][82] This has created the impression that the U.S. stood behind the coup. Henze denied this during a June 2003 interview on CNN Türk‘s Man?et, but two days later Birand presented an interview with Henze recorded in 1997 in which he basically confirmed Mehmet Ali Birand’s story.[83][84] The U.S. State Department announced the coup during the night between 11 and 12 September: the military had phoned the U.S. embassy in Ankara to alert them of the coup an hour in advance.[85]

Poland 1980–89

The U.S. supported the Solidarity movement in Poland, and—based on CIA intelligence—waged a public relations campaign to deter what the Carter administration felt was “an imminent move by large Soviet military forces into Poland.” When the Polish government launched a crackdown of its own in 1981, however, Solidarity was not alerted. Potential explanations for this vary; some believe that the CIA was caught off guard, while others suggest that American policy-makers viewed an internal crackdown as preferable to an “inevitable Soviet intervention.”[86] CIA support for Solidarity included money, equipment and training,which was coordinated by Special Operations CIA division[87]Henry Hyde, US House intelligence committee member, stated that USA provided “supplies and technical assistance in terms of clandestine newspapers, broadcasting, propaganda, money, organizational help and advice”[88] Rainer Thiel in “Nested Games of External Democracy Promotion: The United States and the Polish Liberalization 1980-1989″ mentions how covert operations by CIA and spy games among others allowed USA to proceed with successful regime change.[89] Michael Reisman from Yale Law School named operations in Poland as one of the covert actions of CIA during Cold War [90] Initial funds for covert actions by CIA were $2 million, but soon after authorization were increased and by 1985 CIA successfully infiltrated Poland[91] By the end of the program it is estimated that CIA transferred around $10 million in cash to Solidarity[92]

Nicaragua 1981–90

From 1981–90, the CIA attempted to overthrow the Sandinista government of Nicaragua.

Destablization through CIA assets

In 1983, the CIA created a group of “Unilaterally Controlled Latino Assets” (UCLAs), whose task was to “sabotage ports, refineries, boats and bridges, and try to make it look like the contras had done it.”[93] In January 1984, these UCLA’s carried out the operation for which they would be best known, the last straw that led to the ratifying of the Boland Amendment, the mining of several Nicaraguan harbors, which sank several Nicaraguan boats, damaged at least five foreign vessels, and brought an avalanche of international condemnation down on the United States.[94]

Arming the Contras

image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c4/Oliver_North_mug_shot.jpg/170px-Oliver_North_mug_shot.jpg

Oliver North‘s mugshot taken after his arrest

The Contras, based in neighboring Honduras, waged a guerrilla war insurgency in an effort to topple the government of Nicaragua. The U.S. played a decisive role in financing, training, arming, and advising the contras.[95]

The Boland Amendment made it illegal under U.S. law to provide arms to the Contra militants. Nevertheless, the Reagan administration continued to arm and fund the Contras through the Iran-Contra scandal, pursuant to which the U.S. secretly sold arms to Iran in violation of U.S. law in exchange for cash used by the U.S. to supply arms to the Contras.

The U.S. argued that:[96]

“The United States initially provided substantial economic assistance to the Sandinista-dominated regime. We were largely instrumental in the OAS action delegitimizing the Somoza regime and laying the groundwork for installation for the new junta. Later, when the Sandinista role in the Salvadoran conflict became clear, we sought through a combination of private diplomatic contacts and suspension of assistance to convince Nicaragua to halt its subversion. Later still, economic measures and further diplomatic efforts were employed to try to effect changes in Sandinista behavior.”

“Nicaragua’s neighbors have asked for assistance against Nicaraguan aggression, and the United States has responded. Those countries have repeatedly and publicly made clear that they consider themselves to be the victims of aggression from Nicaragua, and that they desire United States assistance in meeting both subversive attacks and the conventional threat posed by the relatively immense Nicaraguan Armed Forces.”

In 1986 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in favor of Nicaragua and against the United States and awarded reparations to Nicaragua. The ICJ held that the U.S. had violated international law by supporting the Contras in their rebellion against the Nicaraguan government and by mining Nicaragua’s harbors. The Court found in its verdict that the United States was “in breach of its obligations under customary international law not to use force against another State”, “not to intervene in its affairs”, “not to violate its sovereignty”, “not to interrupt peaceful maritime commerce”, and “in breach of its obligations under Article XIX of the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between the Parties signed at Managua on 21 January 1956.” [95]

image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a7/Frente_Sur_Contras_1987.jpg/220px-Frente_Sur_Contras_1987.jpg

The U.S.-supported NicaraguanContras

The Sandinista government headed by Daniel Ortega won decisively in the 1984 Nicaraguan elections.[97] The national elections of 1984 were conducted during a state of emergency officially justified by the war fought against the Contras insurgents and the CIA-orchestrated bombings. Many political prisoners were still held as it took place, and none of the main opposition parties participated due to what they claimed were threats and persecution from the government. The 1984 election was for posts subordinate to the Sandinista Directorate, a body “no more subject to approval by vote than the Central Committee of the Communist Party is in countries of the East Bloc,” and there was no secret ballot.[98]

It has been argued that “probably a key factor in preventing the 1984 elections from establishing liberal democratic rule was the United States’ policy toward Nicaragua.”[99] The Reagan administration was divided over whether the rightwing coalition Coordinadora Democrática Nicaragüense participate in the elections or not, which “only complicated the efforts of the Coordinadora to develop a coherent electoral strategy.” [99] Ultimately, the U.S. administration’s public and private support for non-participation allowed those members of the Coordinadora who favoured a boycott to gain the upper hand.[99] Others have disputed this view, claiming that “the Sandinistas’ decision to hold elections in 1984 was largely of foreign inspiration”.[100]

The U.S. continued to pressure the government by illegally arming the Contra insurgency. On October 5, 1985 the Sandinistas broadened the state of emergency begun in 1982 and suspended many more civil rights. A new regulation also forced any organization outside of the government to first submit any statement it wanted to make public to the censorsip bureau for prior censorship.[101]

As the Contras’ insurgency continued with U.S. support, the Sandinistas struggled to maintain power. They lost power in 1990, when they ended the state of emergency and held an election that all the main opposition parties competed in. The Sandinistas have been accused of killing thousands by Nicaragua’s Permanent Commission on Human Rights.[102] The Contras have also been accused of committing war crimes, such as rape, arson, and the killing of civilians.[103]

The New York Times surveyed voters on the 1990 election:

“The longer they [Sandinistas] were in power, the worse things became. It was all lies, what they promised us” (unemployed person); “I thought it was going to be just like 1984, when the vote was not secret and there was not all these observers around” (market vendor); “Don’t you believe those lies [about fraud], I voted my conscience and my principles, and so did everyone else I know” (young mother); “the Sandinistas have mocked and abused the people, and now we have given our vote to [the opposition] UNO” (ex-Sandinista officer).[104]

Since the end of the Cold War

Iraq 1992–96

According to former U.S. intelligence officials interviewed by The New York Times, the CIA indirectly supported a bomb and sabotage campaign between 1992 and 1995 in Iraq conducted by the Iraqi National Accord insurgents, led by Iyad Allawi. The campaign had no apparent effect in toppling Saddam Hussein’s rule.[105]

According to former CIA officer Robert Baer, various rebel groups were attempting to oust Hussein at the time. No public records of the CIA campaign are known to exist, and former U.S. officials said their recollections were in many cases sketchy, and in some cases contradictory. “But whether the bombings actually killed any civilians could not be confirmed because, as a former CIA official said, the United States had no significant intelligence sources in Iraq then.” In 1996, Amneh al-Khadami, who described himself as the chief bomb maker for the Iraqi National Accord, recorded a videotape in which he talked of the bombing campaign and complained that he was being shortchanged money and supplies. Two former intelligence officers confirmed the existence of the videotape. Mr. Khadami said that “we blew up a car, and we were supposed to get $2,000″ but got only $1,000, as reported in 1997 by the British newspaper The Independent, which had obtained a copy of the videotape.[105][106]

U.S. and Iraqi sources provided an account of the unsuccessful strategy of deposing Saddam by a coup d’état during the 1990s, an effort reportedly known within CIA by the cryptonym “DBACHILLES”.[107]According to the Washington Post,[108] the CIA appointed a new head of its Near East Division, Stephen Richter, who assumed that large parts of the Iraqi army might support a coup. A team met with Gen.Mohammed Abdullah Shawani,[108] a former commander of Iraqi Special Forces, and a Turkmen from Mosul. As the CIA was drafting its plans, the British encouraged the agency to contact an experienced Iraqi exile named Ayad Alawi, who headed a network of current and former Iraqi military officers and Ba’ath Party operatives known as wifaq, the Arabic word for “trust”.

According to the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, DBACHILLES succeeded in reaching a number of senior Iraqi military officers, but was compromised and collapsed in June 1996. The Iraqis began arresting the coup plotters on June 26. At least 200 officers were seized and more than 80 were executed, including Shawani’s sons.[107]

Venezuela 2002

In 2002, Washington is claimed to have approved and supported a coup against the Venezuelan government. Senior officials, including Special Envoy to Latin America Otto Reich and convicted Iran-contrafigure and George W. Bush “democracy ‘czar’” Elliott Abrams, were allegedly part of the plot.[109] Top coup plotters, including Pedro Carmona, the man installed during the coup as the new president, began visits to the White House months before the coup and continued until weeks before the putsch. The plotters were received at the White House by the man President George W. Bush tasked to be his key policy-maker for Latin America, Special Envoy Otto Reich.[109] It has been claimed by Venezuelan news sources that Reich was the U.S. mastermind of the coup.[110]

Bush Administration officials and anonymous sources acknowledged meeting with some of the planners of the coup in the several weeks prior to April 11, but have strongly denied encouraging the coup itself, saying that they insisted on constitutional means.[111] Because of allegations, Sen. Christopher Dodd requested a review of U.S. activities leading up to and during the coup attempt. A U.S. State DepartmentOffice of Inspector General report found no “wrongdoing” by U.S. officials either in the State Department or in the U.S. Embassy.[112] According to The New York Times, documents revealed by pro-Chavez activist Eva Golinger “do not show that the United States backed the coup, as Mr. Chávez has charged. Instead, the documents show that American officials issued ‘repeated warnings that the United States will not support any extraconstitutional moves to oust Chávez’”.[113]

Iraq 2002–03

Main articles: Iraq War and Operation Viking Hammer

The CIA’s Special Activities Division teams were the first U.S. forces to enter Iraq, in July 2002, before the main invasion. Once on the ground, they prepared for the subsequent arrival of U.S. Army Special Forces to organize the Kurdish Peshmerga. This joint team (called the Northern Iraq Liaison Element (NILE)[114] combined to defeat Ansar al-Islam, a group with ties to al-Qaeda, in Iraqi Kurdistan. This battle was for control of the territory that was occupied by Ansar al-Islam and took place before the invasion. It was carried out by Paramilitary Operations Officers from SAD and the Army’s 10th Special Forces Group. This battle resulted in the defeat of Ansar and the capture of a chemical weapons facility at Sargat.[114] Sargat was the only facility of its type discovered in the Iraq war.[115][116]

SAD teams also conducted missions behind enemy lines to identify leadership targets. These missions led to the initial air strikes against Hussein and his generals. Although the strike against Hussein was unsuccessful in killing him, it effectively ended his ability to command and control his forces. Strikes against Iraq’s generals were more successful and significantly degraded the Iraqi command’s ability to react to, and maneuver against the U.S.-led invasion force.[114][117] SAD operations officers were also successful in convincing key Iraqi Army officers into surrendering their units once the fighting started.[115]

NATO member Turkey refused to allow the U.S. forces across its territory into northern Iraq. Therefore, joint SAD and Army Special forces teams and the Peshmerga were the entire Northern force against the Iraqi army. They managed to keep the northern divisions in place rather than allowing them to aid their colleagues against the U.S.-led coalition force coming from the south.[118] Four of these CIA officers were awarded the Intelligence Star for their actions.[115][116]

Iran 2005–present

President George W. Bush authorized the CIA to undertake black operations against Iran in an effort to destabilize the Iranian government.[119] A 2005 article in the New York Times stated that the Bush administration was expanding efforts to influence Iran’s internal politics with aid to opposition and pro-democracy groups abroad and longer broadcasts criticizing the Iranian government. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns said the administration was “taking a page from the playbook” on Ukraine and Georgia. Unnamed administration officials were reported as saying the State Department was also studying dozens of proposals for spending $3 million in the coming year “for the benefit of Iranians living inside Iran” including broadcast activities, Internet programs and “working with people inside Iran” on advancing political activities there.[120]

In 2006, the United States congress passed the Iran Freedom and Support Act, which directed $10 million towards groups opposed to the Iranian government. In 2007, ABC news reported that President Bush had authorized a $400 million covert operation to create unrest in Iran.[121] According to the The Daily Telegraph, the CIA has also provided support to a militant Sunni organization called Jundullah, which has launched raids into Iran from its base in Pakistan.[119] Alexis Debat separately claimed that the US encouraged Pakistan to support Jundullah, but his reporting was challenged after he was discovered to have allegedly fabricated numerous interviews.[122] Seymour Hersh, writing in The New Yorker, alleged that the US has provided funding and training to the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran and Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan, militant groups opposed to the current Iranian government.[123][124] Prior to 2012, the U.S. State Department had listed the PMOI as a terrorist organizaion, despite the absence of any confirmed terrorist acts committed by the group in more than a decade.[125]

Somalia 2006–07

Although the United States has had an ongoing interest in Somalia for decades, in early 2006 the CIA began a program of funding a coalition of anti-Islamic warlords.[126] This involved CIA case workers funneling payments of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism against the Islamic Court Union. Although the ICU was locally supported for having restored a relative level of peace, some concern had been expressed about their treatment of women and strict interpretation of Islamic law.[127]

Syria 2012–present

Main article: Syrian civil war

In 2012, President Barack Obama authorized U.S. government agencies to support forced regime change in Syria.[128] In July 2012, the Office of Foreign Assets Control authorised channeling financial support for the Free Syrian Army through the Syrian Support Group, a non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C..[129] In April 2013, the Obama administration promised to double non-lethal aid to the rebels, from US$123 million to US$250 million, thus attaining the goal of US$1 billion in total international aid.[130]

In June 2013, the White House confirmed that the U.S. has “stepped up” its assistance to Syrian rebels.[131] While the State Department was in charge of providing non-lethal aid to the rebels, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was tasked with the supply and delivery of weaponry and other lethal equipment.[132] By early September 2013, the Obama administration considered putting The Pentagon in charge of arming and training Syrian rebel forces because the CIA’s previous training program was too limited and too slow.[133]

In October 2013, the CIA ramped up its clandestine effort to train opposition fighters in Syria amid concern that moderate, U.S.-backed militias are rapidly losing ground in the country’s civil war. The program is aimed at increasing the fighting power of units aligned with the Supreme Council of the Syrian Revolution, an umbrella organization led by a former Syrian general that is the main recipient of U.S. support.[134]The CIA has run the training at bases in QatarJordan and Saudi Arabia since about August 2013.[135][136][137]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covert_United_States_foreign_regime_change_actions

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A proposed resolution at this year’s Presbyterian Church (USA)

NOVANEWS

IMG_8449-copy-580x386-@2x

A proposed resolution at this year’s Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly attempted to strike the word “Israel” from their hymnal.

Every two years the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) meets to decide important policies and determine the short-term direction for the Church. This year’s meeting in Detroit, Michigan, marked the 221st General Assembly and the establishment of some truly extreme, anti-Israel measures.

According to the post-Assembly letter to the Church, a major accomplishment of the conference included divestment from three corporations – Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Motorola Solutions, because of their affiliation with Israel. The letter states:

“[These investments] are not in compliance with the church’s policy on socially responsible investing.  The decision is a significant step in the denomination’s policy that says it should not profit from ‘non-peaceful pursuits’.”

Earlier this month, Shurat HaDin (the Israel Law Center) filed a legal complaint against the Presbyterian Church (USA) for its connections with Hezbollah. The complaint alleges violations of the US tax code for “unlawful lobbying and contact with Hezbollah, a US-designated terrorist organization.”

Vision of ‘Peace’ Includes Hezbollah, Not Israel

According to a report in The Algemeiner, the Church’s proposed resolution, which was rejected, stems from a complaint filed by a “Palestinian American Presbyterian” who is an Elder in the church.

Photo: www.presbyterianhymnal.org/

Photo: www.presbyterianhymnal.org/

The new Presbyterian Hymnal, Glory to God, published in 2013, contains a section of hymns under the heading, “God’s Covenant with Israel.” The Elder who filed the complaint statedBecause I am a Palestinian Christian, I am uneasy with the word ‘Israel’ in ‘God’s Covenant with Israel.’” 

In an effort to deal with the situation, the resolution proposed a re-education process regarding the difference between “biblical Israel” and the modern State of Israel. This included printing up stickers to be placed in all the hymnals.

At least for now, the resolution was rejected, but the fact that it was even raised is cause for serious concern. Anti-Semites and Muslim extremists alike have justified violence and hatred of Jews and the Jewish State by saying that “Biblical Israel” has no connection to the Holy Land of today. The Church’s divestment policies as well as the proposal to revise religious Hymnals along political lines demonize the Jewish State and, by extension, the Jewish People.

Israel needs your support to keep it united. We must not stay silent while organizations such as the Presbyterian Church (USA) seek to discredit Jewish claims to the Land of Israel.

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Juneteenth in Colorado Springs: ‘150 years later and we’re still not free’

NOVANEWS
By John McDevitt
Juneteenth in Colorado Springs:  ‘150 years later and we’re still not free’

This year marks the 150th anniversary of what many consider a second or true independence day in the United States—it’s the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth Day.

“First of all, normally we have had parades a few times and the cost is unbelievable to use our own streets,” explained Dr. James Tucker, a decorated Gulf War combat veteran, publisher of the African-American Voicein Colorado Springs, Co. and state director of Juneteenth.

“So this year we decided on a freedom walk.”

Juneteenth commemorates the announcement of General Order Number 3, read by Union General Gordon Granger, on union-occupied Galveston Island, Tx.  on June 19, 1865, declaring the total emancipation of all the slaves—two and a half years after the original declaration by Pres. Lincoln. The quarter of a million slaves in Texas at the time, shocked by the delayed news, rejoiced and left the plantations en masse.

“The Freedom Walk is from 329 E. Cimarron on the east side of Wasatch and Pueblo Avenue that was once the base of the Black community. Now there’s only one building remaining in the downtown area and they refuse to place an historic marker. We are going to march from that historic site to the hill where the KKK used to meet and lynch Black folks, the Hillside Community Center,” explained Tucker, (pictured above, left, on a 2013 visit to Cameroon).

But the organizers of the event are not just challenging the legacy of racism; they are also part of mobilizing against racism today.

“150 years later, we are still not free,” said Dr. Tucker who was arrested in a Walmart in Ferguson, Mo. in 2014 and whose newspaper has been in the forefront of exposing civil rights violators in the Colorado Springs area and the country as a whole. As a result, these businesses have essentially boycotted the publication in advertising. The paper is banned from Colorado Springs Police headquarters, Fort Carson, Colorado, and many other government agencies that receive federal dollars.

“Still we do not have justice for Black, Latino, Native Americans, Asians and poor whites in this country.”

“And the reason is we cannot afford justice in this judicial system that is not made for us…it’s not justice for all.”

Seeing the economic and racial disparities, Dr. Tucker has worked to forge unity and solidarity, being the first to unite Juneteenth Day with the Caribbean Heritage Festival “to connect us in the United States with our lost ancestors in the Caribbean and Latin America.” Colorado Springs is the first to draw this important connection of solidarity. Dr. Tucker pointed out that President Barack Obama recognizes Caribbean contribution in U.S. History with the National Caribbean Heritage Month Proclamation.

Dr. Tucker and the Juneteenth Caribbean Heritage Team call on Pres. Barack Obama to recognize Juneteenth Day on this 150th anniversary.

“He refuses to issue anything or recognize my enslaved ancestors who built the White House and empowered the rich white families today who built their wealth on slavery.”

As a new movement against racism and police violence has echoed throughout the U.S. in the past year, Dr. Tucker says: “People are sick and tired of racism and citizens are rebelling against this corrupt system.”

“My mother told me me growing up and my nickname was ‘Red’. She’d say Red, ‘You gotta be careful. If you stand up for your rights they are gonna put you in jail or gonna kill you.’”

“So I know there’s always the possibility of retaliation.”

But Dr. Tucker and the people of Colorado Springs understand that solidarity is strength and they call on all in surrounding areas and states to join them in marking this historic Freedom Walk.

To participate gather at the Elks Lodge at 329 Cimarron Street, Colorado Springs, CO at 11:00 AM on Sat., June 20. You can also participate in the weekend’s festival.

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The revolutionary origins of Memorial Day and its political hijacking

NOVANEWS

4th_United_States_Colored_Infantry

By Ben Becker

What we now know as Memorial Day began as “Decoration Day” in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. Civil War. It was a tradition initiated by former slaves to celebrate emancipation and commemorate those who died for that cause.

These days, Memorial Day is arranged as a day “without politics”—a general patriotic celebration of all soldiers and veterans, regardless of the nature of the wars in which they participated. This is the opposite of how the day emerged, with explicitly partisan motivations, to celebrate those who fought for justice and liberation.

The concept that the population must “remember the sacrifice” of U.S. service members, without a critical reflection on the wars themselves, did not emerge by accident. It came about in the Jim Crow period as the Northern and Southern ruling classes sought to reunite the country around apolitical mourning, which required erasing the “divisive” issues of slavery and Black citizenship. These issues had been at the heart of the struggles of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

To truly honor Memorial Day means putting the politics back in. It means reviving the visions of emancipation and liberation that animated the first Decoration Days. It means celebrating those who have fought for justice, while exposing the cruel manipulation of hundreds of thousands of U.S. service members who have been sent to fight and die in wars for conquest and empire.

The first Decoration Day

As the U.S. Civil War came to a close in April 1865, Union troops entered the city of Charleston, S.C., where four years prior the war had begun. While white residents had largely fled the city, Black residents of Charleston remained to celebrate and welcome the troops, who included the TwentyFirst Colored Infantry. Their celebration on May 1, 1865, the first “Decoration Day,” later became Memorial Day.

Historian David Blight retold the story:

During the final year of the war, the Confederates had converted the planters’ horse track, the Washington Race Course and Jockey Club, into an outdoor prison. Union soldiers were kept in horrible conditions in the interior of the track; at least 257 died of exposure and disease and were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand. Some 28 black workmen went to the site, re-buried the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery. They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

Then, black Charlestonians in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers, staged an unforgettable parade of 10,000 people on the slaveholders’ race course. The symbolic power of the low-country planter aristocracy’s horse track (where they had displayed their wealth, leisure, and influence) was not lost on the freed people. A New York Tribune correspondent witnessed the event, describing “a procession of friends and mourners as South Carolina and the United States never saw before.”

At 9 a.m. on May 1, the procession stepped off led by 3,000 black schoolchildren carrying armloads of roses and singing “John Brown’s Body.” The children were followed by several hundred black women with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses.

Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantry and other black and white citizens. As many as possible gathered in the cemetery enclosure; a childrens’ choir sang “We’ll Rally around the Flag,” the “Star-Spangled Banner,” and several spirituals before several black ministers read from scripture. (“The First Decoration Day,” Newark Star Ledger)

The battle over the ‘memory’ of the Civil War

Blight’s award-winning “Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory” (2001) explained how three “overall visions of Civil War memory collided” in the decades after the war.

The first was the emancipationist vision, embodied in African Americans’ remembrances and the politics of Radical Reconstruction, in which the Civil War was understood principally as a war for the destruction of slavery and the liberation of African Americans to achieve full citizenship.

The second was the reconciliationist vision, ostensibly less political, which focused on honoring the dead on both sides, respecting their sacrifice, and the reunion of the country.

The third was the white supremacist vision, which was either openly pro-Confederate or at least despising of Reconstruction as “Black rule” in the South.

Over the late 1800s and the early 1900s, in the context of Jim Crow and the complete subordination of Black political participation, the second and third visions largely combined. The emancipationist version of the Civil War, and the heroic participation of African Americans in their own liberation, was erased from popular culture, the history books and official commemoration. The spirit of the first Decoration Day—the struggle for Black liberation and the fight against racism—has unfortunately been whitewashed from the modern Memorial Day.

In 1877, the Northern capitalist establishment decisively turned their backs on Reconstruction, striking a deal with the old slavocracy to return the South to white supremacist rule in exchange for the South’s acceptance of capitalist expansion. This political and economic deal was reflected in how the war was commemorated. Just as the reunion of the Northern and Southern ruling classes was based on the elimination of Black political participation, the way the Civil War became officially remembered—through Memorial Day celebrations—was based on the elimination of the Black veteran and the liberated slave.

As Blight explains, “With time, in the North, the war’s two great results—black freedom and the preservation of the Union—were rarely accorded equal space. In the South, a uniquely Confederate version of the war’s meaning, rooted in resistance to Reconstruction, coalesced around Memorial Day practice.” (“Race and Reunion,” p. 65)

The Civil War whitewashed

In the statues, anniversary parades and popular magazines, the Civil War was portrayed as an all-white affair, a tragic conflict between brothers. To the extent the role of slavery was allowed in these remembrances, Lincoln was typically portrayed as the beneficent liberator standing above the kneeling slave.

The mere image of the fighting Black soldier pierced through this particular “memory,” which in reality was a collective and forced “forgetting” of the real past. Portraying the rebellious slave or Black soldier would unmask the Civil War as a life-and-death struggle against slavery, a true social revolution, and a reminder of the political promises that had been betrayed.

While African Americans and white radicals continued to uphold the emancipationist remembrance of the Civil War during the following decades—as exemplified by W.E.B. DuBois’ landmark “Black Reconstruction”—this interpretation was effectively silenced in the “respectable” circles of academia, mainstream politics and popular culture. The white supremacist and reconciliationist retelling of the war and Reconstruction was only overthrown in official academic circles in the 1950s and 1960s as the Civil Rights movement shook the country to its core, and more African Americans fought their way into the country’s universities.

While historians have gone a long way to expose the white supremacist history of the Civil War and uncover its revolutionary content, the spirit of the first Decoration Day—the struggle for Black liberation and the fight against racism—has unfortunately been whitewashed from the modern Memorial Day.

So let’s use Memorial Day weekend to honor the fallen fighters for justice worldwide, to speak plainly about this country’s historic crimes, and rededicate ourselves to take on those of the present.

 

 

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CPD hunting trophy picture proves cops are racist thugs

NOVANEWS

CPDHunt

The Chicago Sun-Times has published an image of two Chicago police officers posing with a Black man as a trophy.

The Chicago cops in this heinous and deeply revealing image, a Polaroid taken somewhere between 1999 and 2003, were in an elite special operations squad. They were top street cops. They were the most trusted of the trusted by the powerful CPD brass. They were in an unit that was given virtually free reign over the people of Chicago.

What could have possibly made them feel, in their position of armed authority, like they could take this despicable picture other than it was an integral part of the job to terrorize Black people and enforce their second class citizenship—that Black lives really do not matter?

These cops are not an aberration or bad apples. They quite literally ARE the CPD. Top cops at the CPD have been guilty of torture, drug dealing, home invasion rings, and a constant record of daily inhumanities and injustices. But even more than that—the CPD has killed thousands of unarmed civilians, mostly Black and Latino, with absolute impunity.

The two racist cops in this photo are quite literally at the heart of what it means to be a top cop in modern day america—at the heart of what the modern day american system is if we are to be honest. The Black community is not only treated as second class, but kept unemployed, impoverished and incarcerated—all at gunpoint by thugs like the cops in this picture: Timothy McDermott and Jerome Finnigan.

Finnigan has tortured, plotted murder and robbed people—all with a badge on—and is behind bars. McDermott has been give 74 awards, despite the fact that he was the defendant in four different federal lawsuits.

During their careers, they have had numerous top cops and city officials go to bat for them. Finnigan continued to wear a badge despite over 200 internal investigations.

McDermott is related to a former police superintendent, Thomas Byrne. At McDermott’s appeal of his firing over the photo, Byrne defended McDermott. McDermott was also defended by former police superintendent Phil Cline who said that McDermott was a “very hard-working policeman, the type of policeman I wanted working for us and his character was impeccable.”

At his appeal hearing before the police board, four out of nine board members were against firing him. Yes, there were four people on the police board that thought McDermott should still be wearing a badge.

This picture—it is the system—a system of racism, white thugs, a handful of billionaires and mass incarceration. A system that needs to go.

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Fast Track and the filthy rich

NOVANEWS
Fast Track and the filthy rich

On May 22, after years of pressure by President Obama and big business, the U.S. Senate passed Fast Track authority authorizing the president to negotiate trade agreements. Fast Track means that any such agreement would be brought to Congress for a vote but without any possibility of amendment or filibuster.  The House of Representatives has to pass the same Fast Track authority for it to become law.

It goes without saying that neither the President nor Congress are fast tracking legislation for jobs and a real living wage. Nor are they fast tracking for housing the people can afford or to make health care free or to make the environment clean. None of them have proposed fast track legislation to put killer cops in prison or to make racism a crime.

So why is this being fast-tracked? The answer lies in profits and power.

“Free Trade” agreements mean freedom for banks, financial institutions, big corporations and capital in general to ignore all national boundaries in their drive for profit. They can ignore many national laws and regulations that have been won to protect workers and the environment.

On the other hand free trade means mass layoffs for workers. It means accelerating the drive to push wages, benefits and rights lower and lower as weaker standards are used as a battering ram against higher standards.

Over 700,000 workers lost their jobs in the U.S. in the wake of NAFTA. Millions in Mexico were displaced and driven deeper into poverty. Canadian workers also suffered. The one winner was big business and the financial institutions that control them. The same trends have been seen in the many other “free trade” agreements from Korea to Colombia.

This Fast Track legislation is designed to clear a road for two anticipated trade agreements: the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement. Negotiations for both are being carried out in secret.

Secrecy and negotiations

The fact that the negotiations are secret is a clue that there isn’t anything good in the deal. And the negative consequences must be huge because these trade negotiations are more secret than any in the past.

The Obama administration says that the terms will be released 60 days before he signs the agreement. But by then the negotiations will be over and no Congressional action can amend the terms.

President Obama like every other president tries to paint trade agreements as acts which will create desperately needed jobs. But if that were really the case then the process would be open and transparent for all to see.

Democracy for the rich

Looking at the mechanics of how the government carries out the negotiations exposes the type of democracy that we have.

The United States is represented in these negotiations by the Office of the Trade Representative. President Obama appointed Michael Froman to head the agency. He came to that job from Citigroup where he was a CEO of one of the bank’s divisions and managed their investment/exploitation strategy for “emerging markets” aka Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Joining him in the top leadership is his deputy, Robert Holleyman. For the 13 years prior to his Trade Office appointment, he was the president and CEO of the trade group representing the biggest software companies like Microsoft, IBM and Oracle.

Should either of these two falter in pursing the interests of the capitalist class, there are over 500 advisers who have been appointed to keep them in line.  Nearly all of them come from big business or serve as their representatives. Each as a committee assignment to oversee the interests of capital in particular industries.

Here is a representative list of industries and some of the many companies assigned to the committees

  •  Trade Policy: Chamber of Commerce
  • Aerospace: Boeing and Lockheed
  • Auto: Ford, GM and Navistar
  • Telecom: Verizon
  • Grain: Dow Ag
  • Intellectual Property Rights: GE and J&J (Johnson and Johnson)
  • Pharma and Chemicals: Abbott Labs, FMC and the
  • Tobacco: Tobacco Associates
  • Sweeteners: US Sugar Corp
  • Energy: Haliburton and ADM
  • Steel: US Steel and Nucor
  • Trade and the Environment: U.S. Council for International Business

Also participating in every committee are the business associations. For example the American Chemistry Council, representing nearly every chemical corporation, is on the Pharmaceutical and Chemical committee.

There are a handful of unions represented among the over 500 “advisers” but their numbers show their insignificance. Further their participation is likely to be used as a cover for saying that workers were at the table, when the fact is that the table is hidden, the papers on it are secret and labor has no real power in that arena.

Currency wars and the origin of Fast Track

One of the issues in the Senate debates was whether the Senate should require the negotiators to ban “currency manipulation” by other countries. That is a little ironic because the U.S. frequently manipulates the value of the dollar compared to other currencies- and manipulation was a big part of what the U.S. was doing in the period when Fast Track was first created.

Fast Track authority first came into being in a bill introduced in the House of Representatives on October 3, 1973. This was a period when President Richard Nixon was asserting the need to keep White House tapes secret using logic similar to that used by Obama today but for a different purpose. The tapes would later reveal his role in the Watergate break-in. This was the same period when Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned after being exposed for his role in a kickback scheme.  The Fast Track bill was eventually signed by the unelected President Gerald Ford in January 1974, several months after Nixon resigned.

These resignations were aspects of a larger political crisis for the ruling class.  Mass mobilizations had shaken the system and various crises gave rise to plans by Nixon and others for eliminating many of the democratic rights that people were accustomed to. Those plans were not put into effect but they were a measure of how deep the crisis was. Among other things the mass protests forced the passage of a law limiting presidential power to go to war.

The political crisis was just one of several interrelated crises. Underlying the political crisis was a crisis in the economy, a crisis with significant roots in wars- military as well as trade and currency.

World War II ended with the major imperialist powers trying to figure out how they could avoid trade wars between them from escalating into military wars. Trade wars including the tactic of devaluing a currency to gain a temporary advantage had been a part of the history of class society for a long time. They came up with an agreement known as Bretton Woods which was meant to lessen the likelihood of an inter-imperialist war and which at the same time helped to consolidate the role of the United States as the supreme imperialist power.

Many rounds of trade negotiations took place after the war with no significant change until the Kennedy Round of General Trade GATT talks. The round was named after Senator Ted Kennedy because he had gotten Congress to pass a Trade Expansion Act which gave the president significantly wider negotiating authority than ever before.   The U.S. and Britain, Japan and the European Community bargained over trade terms and finally came up with an agreement in 1967 just before the expiration of presidential authority. Congress passed the terms of the Trade Agreement but modified them. This was an embarrassment for the U.S. and in part gave rise to the Fast Track legislation in 1973.

The 1974 Trade Act was not just a “correction” meant to eliminate democratic procedures (like the ability to amend) for passing Trade Agreements.

The massive unproductive war expenditures from the Korean War and especially the Vietnam War, along other factors created stagflation- or an economy with very high inflation (especially in the necessities of life), very high unemployment and very low general economic growth.

Nixon and his class looked for a way to respond that would increase profits and give U.S. business owners an advantage. In August 1971, Nixon imposed a wage freeze that was not just a freeze on wages but was a wage cut given high inflation. It was also a cut in real terms. For example, when the port workers went on strike Nixon used the Taft Hartley Act to force them back to work and then used the Wage Board to cut a 72 cent increase that the companies agreed to- back to 32 cents. Nixon’s several phases of wage freezes lasted for years.

At the same time as the 1971 wage freeze, Nixon devalued the dollar against other currencies and took the U.S. off of the gold standard. The U.S. was experiencing its first trade deficit in 80 years. Nixon’s goal was to return to the days when everything was coming the way of the U.S., that is coming into the pockets of U.S. big business.

Other countries were outraged by this currency manipulation and demanded compensation and other actions. After months of tense negotiations, the U.S. was able to get the other powers to agree to a new set of rules based on the devalued U.S. dollar.

Manipulating currencies or clipping the value of coins is an old trick used to gain advantage over competitors. In the period of imperialism where trade and foreign investment are tied to the banks and to the military industrial complex, these actions have greater consequences.

With the quadrupling of oil prices in the fall of 1973, and the collapse of the Franklin National Bank of New York, with extremely high inflation and unemployment, big business wanted the executives of their government to have a freer hand in negotiating trade deals that would benefit them and at the same time limit any resistance to those deals. That is the origin of Fast Track.

 Trade deals and corporate power

The many trade agreements that have been negotiated since WWII show a clear trend toward reducing the rights of workers and communities in every nation and increasing the power of multinational corporations. The agreements create incentives for “off shoring” of jobs.

Many people are familiar with the Supreme Court decision in Citizens Unitedwhich made it possible for corporations to have all of the rights of people- in fact more rights than people.

These trade agreements give multinational corporations rights as if they were nations. They can file complaints as private corporations saying that their rights under a public treaty have been violated and that they should be compensated. Under these agreements, corporations claim that they don’t have to abide by the laws of nations. They say that they are above any national law and that they can use these trade agreements to batter down any national law that gets in their way.

If a corporation believes that a trade agreement has been violated, then they file a case with a tribunal staffed by private attorneys. These lawyers then have the power to order governments to pay the corporations if local/national labor or environmental laws violate their “rights” to exploit labor or the land anywhere covered by the trade agreement. This process already exists and will be used and likely expanded under the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement that they are pressing for now.

As an example of what can happen, in 2009 Chevron sued the government of Ecuador to counter an Ecuador Court order that Chevron pay billions due to environmental damage and violations of Ecuadorian law. The Tribunal has been siding with Chevron and in 2013 even decided that its interpretation of the Ecuador constitution would hold versus the interpretation by Ecuador’s own high court.

Click here to see data on the  the results of some of these Investor-State Disputes. The data show that corporations “have already won more than $3.6 billion in taxpayer money, with $38 billion still pending in claims, all of which relate to environmental, energy, financial regulation, public health, land use and/or transportation policies.”

Trade and the Asia Pivot–targeting China

President Obama tells the popular press that Fast Track and the Trade deals are about jobs. But his real message is that this is part of an economic war against China. He says that if “we” don’t write the trade rules, “then China will”.

Of course “we” are not writing those rules. They are being written in secret by the corporate enemies of workers. Even the “advisers” have long records of fighting against workers here in the U.S.

The President’s current push for this fast tracked trade deal is a part of a larger strategy. On November 17, 2011 Obama made a speech in Australia announcing a major military and economic strategic policy, referred to now as the “Asia pivot”.

He announced that within a few years most of the United States military would be re-positioned to target China and North Korea. On a military level changes took place quickly with military bases, joint military exercises, training, etc.

On the economic level the President acted quickly to implement this policy. In the previous month he had just signed the Korea, Panama and Colombia free trade agreements despite mass protests. But with that done, he then gathered other Asian leaders and announced a general outline for the Trans-Pacific Partnership which was clearly targeting China.

So much propaganda is used against China to create the image that Chinese workers are stealing U.S. jobs!  But this is only a diversion. It is U.S. corporations that are outsourcing.

More importantly this argument is used as an excuse to pass trade agreements that vastly increase corporate power against workers and communities here in the U.S. and abroad.

President Obama’s military and economic war plans against China will do nothing to bring workers a decent living wage, or respect on the job and union representation. They will do nothing to bring jobs to oppressed communities.  In part that is why much of the organized labor movement is opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. And it is certainly why all of us should be involved in mobilizing against it.

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Will the U.S. send ground troops to Iraq?

NOVANEWS
Will the U.S. send ground troops to Iraq?

On May 17, Islamic State forces captured the city of Ramadi. Ramadi is the center of Iraq’s largest province, Anbar, and is less than a two-hour drive from Baghdad. The Islamic State has now taken Ramadi almost a year after it captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.

For much of the last year, ISIS has been the target of frequent bombings by the U.S. and its allies. In the back and forth of the fighting, ISIS has, in fact, suffered losses, such as the loss of Tikrit. However, even the most optimistic U.S. assessment cannot claim that ISIS is being defeated.

President Obama considers the ISIS capture of Ramadi a serious setback, but other ruling-class analysts and politicians go further. “We are not only failing, we are in fact losing this war,” says former Army vice chief of staff Gen. Jack Keane. “Moreover, I can say with certainty this strategy will not defeat ISIS.

Keane and other foreign policy hawks are calling for a new strategy, including the use of 15,000-20,000 U.S. forces on the ground. Leading the charge is Senator John McCain, attributing ISIS victories to Obama pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq too soon and calling for another surge: “George W. Bush at least had the guts to reverse and respond with the surge. I wish, I pray, Barack Obama would do the same thing.”

It is understandable why sectors of the U.S. ruling class are calling for ground troops in Iraq once again. It is a response to the bleak prospects of current U.S. strategy producing the desired outcome of the imperialist establishment. Part of that strategy has to include the defeat of the Islamic State, and it is only forces on the ground that could possibly defeat ISIS.

Iraq’s military does not lack training 

Iraq’s military is not losing battles. It is largely refusing to fight. In spring 2014, ISIS did not capture Mosul through hard-fought battles. Iraq’s officers and troops abandoned their bases, their military hardware, took off and ran. Similarly, ISIS reportedly encountered little resistance in its recent capture of Ramadi, with government troops fleeing the scene. Mainstream media often blame losses by Iraq’s military on a lack of training. But Iraq’s military personnel have received plenty of training. Although there are reports of ISIS fighters having received intense training in various desert camps, it is hard to imagine a partisan group being better-trained than a standing army trained primarily by the U.S. military.

Why Iraq’s military will not put up a serious fight goes to the heart of what the U.S.-occupation did to that country. After the 2003 invasion, under the leadership of L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. proceeded to completely dismantle Iraq’s government, both its military and its civilian government institutions, in an effort to “deBa’athify” Iraq. The U.S. objective was to build a new Iraqi system devoid of any remnants of the Ba’ath Party, which had nationalistic and progressive elements to it. At a time when Iraqis resented the criminal occupation of their country, at a time when many Iraqis engaged in an armed struggle against the occupation, the U.S. proceeded to build a new military. It should be no surprise that recruits to this new military, organized by the occupiers, were not the most nationalistic elements of the population. In the years since, the officer corps has proven to be particularly good at enriching themselves through corruption, but particularly inept at leading military operations involving real fighting.

When the U.S. and its junior partners encountered stiff resistance to their occupation, it served their interests to promote ethnic conflicts. What they feared most was Iraqis uniting against their occupation. After eight years of occupation, the U.S. had succeeded in creating deep divisions in the Iraqi population. The new Iraqi government, for years under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and now under Haideral-Abadi from the same Hezb al-Da’wa Party, is heavily sectarian, closely associated with the Shiite sect of Islam. Iraqi Sunnis do not consider the government to represent them. The government is widely seen as the government of the Shiites, not the government of Iraq.

In the absence of a cohesive national identity, one that strongly existed prior to the occupation of Iraq, it is no wonder that the military has proven to be an extremely unreliable fighting force. It is not training that this military lacks—it is a national identity. The people doing the most fighting against ISIS have been the Kurdish Peshmerga and the Shiite militia, supported and partly organized by Iran.

The U.S. has limited options 

The Obama administration does not have the option of arming and training the Shiite militias, which would strengthen Iran’s hand and further its already strong influence in Iraq. The Peshmerga will primarily fight ISIS when predominantly Kurdish areas are challenged, not in predominantly Arab regions such as the Anbar province. The only remaining options are either for the U.S, foreign policy establishment to recognize the limits of its power and accept that it cannot currently will Iraq into circumstances that will serve its interests or to engage ISIS militarily on the ground.

The Obama administration is currently taking the former option. Senators McCain, Lindsay Graham and others are opting for the latter, advocating another U.S. occupation, a path that, if embarked upon, will undoubtedly expand far beyond 20,000 troops.

What did the surge accomplish? 

In the mid-2000s, the surge policy, led by now disgraced General David Petraeus, did succeed in preventing a catastrophic U.S. defeat. But the determining factor in the relative success (for imperialist interests) of the surge was not the increase in the number of troops. It was the fact that Petraeus recognized that total victory—turning Iraq into a reliable client state—was no longer a possibility. Giving up on the hope of wiping out the resistance, the surge policy instead organized much of the resistance forces, strongest among the Sunni community in central Iraq, and put them on the U.S. payroll.

Given the wide-scale bloody ethnic cleansing campaigns by the Shiites against the Sunni community—itself a continuation of such campaigns carried out by both sides—the awakening councils were formed. Contrary to claims made by McCain and others, the surge was only a success insofar as it found a political solution to avert a disaster for the occupiers. The surge itself was a recognition of the limits of U.S. power and a significant lowering of goals pursued by the occupying forces—from seeking total victory to averting outright defeat.

U.S. occupations are disastrous for the people

Irrespective of the outcome of the 2003 invasion for U.S. foreign policy interests, the invasion and subsequent eight-year occupation has been an unmitigated disaster for the people of Iraq, as well as other people of the region. Without that occupation and the dismantling of the Iraqi state, ISIS would not exist today. Without that occupation and the promotion of ethnic conflicts, Shiites and Sunni Iraqis would not be engaged in bloody conflicts today. And without that occupation, there would not be a central government so devoid of a national identity that to many in the Sunni population an alliance with ISIS may seem preferable to living under Baghdad’s sectarian government.

As we observe the possibility of another ground invasion of Iraq (and possibly Syria) becoming an “option” tossed about by U.S. ruling-class politicians and analysts, it is important to keep in perspective how Iraq got to its current state of misery to begin with. The nightmare that the people of Iraq and Syria are living through is the direct result of the genocidal invasion and occupation of Iraq. More U.S. intervention in Iraq, in the form of another ground invasion in addition to the ongoing aerial bombings, will have more catastrophic consequences for the people of the region. The U.S. anti-war movement needs to be alert to mobilize against any such possibility.

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And what about Washington’s terrorists in Miami?

NOVANEWS
By Andrés Gómez, Director of Areítodigital, Miami

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Everything seems to indicate that once Cuba is removed from the U.S. List of States Sponsors of Terrorism at the end of May —given the prohibitions imposed on the countries on that List— a major stumbling block to the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana will be overcome.

Another major obstacle that impedes the reestablishment of those relations is the reluctance of the U.S. government — once relations are reestablished — for its diplomats in Cuba to adhere to the functions permitted to any diplomat accredited in a given country, according to the regulations established in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, the international treaty regulating such functions to which both countries are signatories.

With the renewal of diplomatic relations will then begin a long, controversial and harsh negotiating process between both governments, towards achieving the long-awaited normalization of relations between both nations, between both peoples.

Long, controversial and harsh, to put it mildly, it will be if the United States government maintains the announced objectives of its new policy towards Cuba. According to Roberta Jacobson, Assistant United States Secretary of State, presently the highest-level official in charge of these issues: “My country is changing its tactics or the form of implementing its policy, but it has not abandoned its goals.”

What process of normalization of relations is possible between both countries if this is the supposed new U.S. policy towards Cuba?

In a negotiating process of “give and take” between the United States and Cuba, what can Cuba give to the United States in exchange for the U.S. government to eliminate the Helms-Burton law and all the regulations that make up the genocidal policy of Embargo? What can Cuba give the United States government so that it eliminates the equally genocidal Cuban Adjustment Act?

What can Cuba give the United States for that government to return the illegally and forcibly occupied territory in Guantánamo bay where for more than a century the U.S. has had a naval and military base, and in recent years, it also maintains an infamous concentration camp? What can Cuba give the United States for Washington to end and condemn its policy of State Terrorism maintained against the Cuban people since 1959?

What can Cuba give the United States, for it to bring to trial the Cuban extreme right wing terrorists living in the United States who are responsible for countless and odious crimes, who are the executioners of this policy of State Terrorism? What can the Cuban people give to the United States government so that it ends the policy of permanent aggression against Cuba that Washington has maintained since the revolutionary triumph in 1959?

What can the Cuban people give the United States government in such a negotiating process, if not its sovereignty, its right to self-determination, its independence, its socialist revolution, all its rights and freedoms, its exceptional gains, its enormous sacrifices, its spilled blood and its dead of more than 56 years of aggression?

Is this the negotiating process that the government of the United States is offering the Cuban people to achieve a normalization of relations between both countries?

The only thing that the U.S. government can sensibly do to really normalize relations between both peoples is to unilaterally and unconditionally dismantle all the framework of war that it has had in place for the last 56 years against the Cuban people; all the structure that has constituted its policy of permanent aggression against the freedoms and rights of the Cuban people, against the inalienable right of Cubans to live and develop in peace.

But now, how is the U.S. government—in this process of normalization of relations between both countries—not just terminate and condemn its policy of State Terrorism against the Cuban people, but rather, how will it bring to justice those terrorists of Cuban extreme right-wing organizations before the courts and try them for their crimes? These are indispensable decisions that have to be achieved for the normalization of relations between both countries be attained. It will not be easy for Washington to achieve justice as the victims, their relatives and the rest of the Cuban people demand.

How many victims of that policy of terrorism have there been in Cuba? According to official figures there have been 3,478 people killed and 2,099 maimed. Given the horror that has resulted from the imperial policies of aggression and war against other peoples around the world in the last decades, perhaps the number of Cubans killed and maimed as a result of those years of a sustained terrorist campaign doesn’t seem to be so terrible.

Fidel knew how to place it in the proper context in a memorable speech on October 6, 2001, on remembering the 73 victims of the infamous attack, perpetrated by those same beasts, against a civilian airliner of Cubana de Aviación, on October 6, 1976.

Fidel explained: “Comparing the population of Cuba [on October 6, 1976) with that of the United States last September 11, it is as if 7 U.S. planes, each one with 300 passengers on board, had been downed the same day, at the same time . . . and if we estimate the same proportion of the populations, the 3,478 Cuban lives lost due to those terrorist actions that originated in the United States, it would be as if 88,434 people had been assassinated in the United States from terrorist activities, the equivalent of
the number of U.S. soldiers who died in the wars of Korea and Vietnam.”

Endless has been the experience and terrible the result of the U.S. State Terrorist policy against the Cuban people. And, obvious differences aside, it has also been hard for us Cubans who for decades have defended the rights of Cuba in the same places where those monsters live and thrive.

Last April 28 marked 36 years since the assassination of our comrade, member of the National Committee of the Antonio Maceo Brigade (Brigada Antonio Maceo), Carlos Muñiz Varela, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His assassins, all Cuban extreme right-wingers residing in Miami and Puerto Rico, have still not been brought to justice before the courts. The federal authorities in charge, mainly the FBI, are to blame for the fact that justice has not been achieved. They refuse to reveal the proofs in their possession that prove the guilt of the murderers.

But in Puerto Rico the family members and comrades of Carlos, Cubans and Puerto Ricans alike, led by his son, Carlos Muñiz Pérez—today older than his father was in 1979 when he was assassinated at 26 years of age—and our comrade Raúl Álzaga, have not ceased in their efforts to achieve justice for him and for Santiago Mari Pesquera, a young Puerto Rican independence fighter.

So then, what of Washington’s terrorists in Miami, Puerto Rico and other places, the ones who’ve carried out the U.S. policy of State Terrorism that has cost the Cuban people so much blood and suffering all these long decades?

They are here in Miami, still alive. Some of them are: Félix Rodríguez, Luis Posada Carriles, Pedro Remón, Frank Castro Paz, Santiago Álvarez Magriñat, Osvaldo Bencomo Robaina, Sergio Ramos Suárez, Secundino Carrera, Ramón Saúl Sánchez, Guillermo Novo Sampol, Antonio de la Cova, Virgilio Paz Romero, Héctor Fabián, José Dionisio Suárez Esquivel and Luis Crespo. Not many of them are named here, this is only a sample, but many are their hateful crimes.

In these times of change those terrorists ought to feel very vulnerable. The bosses who have protected them, if still alive, are very old and without the power they once enjoyed. The assassins know that many, many, things are changing. As Roberta Jacobson maintains, her government has not abandoned the objectives of its policy with respect to Cuba, but has changed its tactics, the form of implementing its policy . . . Now anything is possible.

Those terrorists, lackeys of the worst of imperialism, know that imperial powers throughout history, the United States in particular, have shown that they don’t have friends; what they have always shown is that they only have interests. Self interests.

Do these terrorists realize that maybe their days are truly numbered?

 

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What would socialism in the United States look like?

NOVANEWS

Sean Blackmon discusses the historic task of building socialism in the United States and debunks the myth that socialism and revolution are impossible in the United States.

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Where the UK is headed after the elections

NOVANEWS
By Mike Wang

At first glance, little has changed over the two weeks that have passed since the 2015 general elections in the United Kingdom. Worldwide, news outlets, bloggers, analysts, commentators and spectators alike read the election as a seismic shift in the politics of the UK: the two giant political parties appeared to be so anemic and so unpopular that small parties were able to gain a considerable following in the political vacuum they left behind.

After the dust settled, the Conservative Party emerged victorious. Often called the “Tories,” the Conservative Party makes up the “mainstream” right wing of the British political establishment, although it has historically represented far-right agendas such as militarily suppressing Irish independence during the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921). David Cameron—the newly-reelected Prime Minister of the UK—joins the historical ranks of Arthur Balfour , infamous xenophobe Enoch Powell and a long line of other bigoted imperialist politicians. The Conservative Party has historically advocated for the most reactionary policies in the British mainstream, from drowning independence movements in blood, to slashing social services, to outlawing homosexuality, to a foreign policy considered aggressive even in the heyday of the British Empire.

Unfortunately, the electoral alternative to the Conservative Party has historically been the Labor Party—a party whose name is as spurious and dishonest as it is tragic. Nominally a “socialist” party, the Labor Party has represented the center-left on issues which are non-threatening to the social hierarchy, but has locked step with other bourgeois politicians on more substantial matters. For example, Labor Prime Minister Tony Blair is probably best remembered in the United States as George Bush’s friend, political ally and co-conspirator in the “War on Terror.” While genuinely socialist groups were in the streets demanding there be no war in Iraq or Afghanistan, multi-millionaire Blair was busy attending posh meetings with George Bush to initiate a round of decade-long wars.

In other words, the choices have historically been between two capitalist parties—and workers have been pushed to choose the “lesser evil,” just as they have been in the United States and elsewhere where bankers and CEO’s have the last say in the political process.

Some understand this reality to mean that there could never have been any meaningful differences following elections. Such a jaded outlook glosses over the dynamic changes that can happen following bourgeois elections, often as unintended consequences of inter-capitalist disputes. It would be naïve, however, to say that these shifts, whatever their scale, signal the possibility of building socialism by “taking over” the Labor Party, by miraculously winning elections for socialist parties or by building a new electoral party.

However, several key developments did come out of the last electoral cycle, signaling a unique situation for the British political system and for people living in the United Kingdom.

Bourgeois parties lose touch with the masses

Notably, the recent elections show that neither major party in the UK can genuinely say it represents popular will, as neither party was able to muster more than 37 percent of the vote. Voter turnout has declined over the past 20 years in the UK, and this year only 66.1 percent of voters actually cast votes, compared with 71.4 percent in 1997. While 5 percent may not seem like a major change, turnout rates remained relatively stable up until the 2000s, when the steady figures of 70+ percent turnout fell to the mid 60s.

Voter turnout generally signals interest and faith in the existing system: people usually only vote if they believe their votes meaningfully impact their lives. Low turnout therefore spells either mass discontent with the choices, the system presenting those choices, or both.

The growing significance of smaller parties—notably, the Scottish National Party (SNP)—shows a political situation of mass dissatisfaction with both “Labor” and Conservative politics. A key factor in that shift was undoubtedly both parties’ callous anti-people solutions to the failing economy. While Conservative politicians predictably called for austerity—reducing spending by cutting social welfare, pensions, public projects, etc.—Labor ferociously betrayed the workers they claim to represent by joining the Conservative Party’s mobilization to push austerity. Rachel Reeves, a high-profile Labor politician, indignantly defended the party’s double-cross by declaring, “We are not the party of people on benefits. We don’t want to be seen, and we’re not, the party to represent those out of work.”

Plainly, the masses of the United Kingdom saw both in parties’ platforms their true colors.

Austerity in UK

Despite the obvious signs of mass discontent with the status quo, the Conservatives emerged victorious, despite their vigorously anti-working class politics. Moreover, it appears that the Conservatives will be able to assemble a governing coalition independent of progressive elements of the Labor Party and without the progressive SNP.

The stand-alone rightwing government in other words will essentially be free to assemble an austerity program as far-reaching as it likes. If the Labor Party at least made pretenses to represent the working class, the Conservative Party bluntly represents bankers, CEOs and the remnants of the aristocracy and consequently represents a profound danger to poor, working and oppressed people living in the UK.

Already—thanks in large part to the “Labor” Party’s betrayal—austerity has begun. Social spending, support for the unemployed, healthcare and other public services are under attack. The charity Oxfam describes the “unprecedented rise in the need for emergency food aid, with at least half a million people using food banks each year.” Oxfam concluded that the poorest 20 percent of people in the UK have to shoulder the effects of the government’s efforts to cut the deficit and appease potential foreign investors.

This disproportionate effect on poor, working and oppressed people is rooted in economic conditions familiar to many around the world: amid a rising cost of living, wages have essentially stagnated due to inflation. Part-time work is phasing out full-time work as the mainstay of the labor market. Job shortages have become so profound that self-employment, where workers enjoy far fewer jobsite protections, has sharply increased.

Although the government is claiming to match cuts with tax increases, those taxes are, in the final analysis, regressive, meaning they fall on workers, rather than a progressive tax, which gathers income from the wealthy.

Because women disproportionately handle childcare responsibilities, cuts to public services make women especially vulnerable to suffer from the cuts. Women are also strongly represented in the public sector and so are particularly hard-hit as public sector jobs are cut. As a result unemployment among women in the UK has roughly doubled since 2008 at the beginning of the Great Recession.

The victory of the Conservatives is the victory for the political nucleus of this austerity program. Only determined and vigorous organizing, protest, strikes, slow-downs and other weapons exclusively in the arsenal of exploited and oppressed people can check austerity and other anti-people measures.

High hopes for Scottish independence

It was through organization and determination that one of the few people’s victories came out of the 2015 elections. Despite the victory of the Conservatives overall, the Scottish National Party was able to practically sweep the entire Scottish vote, winning all but three counties in Scotland. As a result, the SNP was able to gain 56 of the 59 seats representing Scotland in parliament—up from 6 in 2010.

The SNP, a progressive, social-democratic party focused primarily around Scottish independence from the UK, was able to build this stunning achievement by leveraging the primary strategic resource available to progressive movements—the numbers of poor, working and oppressed people. By mobilizing the masses of Scots, the SNP was able to inspire a mass mobilization for Scottish self-determination—an unequivocally progressive issue.

By organizing, SNP membership reached over 90,000 last year—compared with 25,200 in 2013. As a result, roughly 80 percent of Scots turned out to vote, up 16 percent from 64 percent turnout in 2010.

The issue is far from settled: this is only the beginning of the SNP’s time with serious representation in parliament, and the issue is so far-reaching that it represents a fundamental reorganization of the UK itself. But the gains of the SNP represent not only one of the few major progressive victories in the 2015 elections, but also a two-fold lesson for progressives in general. Elections can only do so much to change the status quo, and ultimately a revolution is necessary to end, rather than blunt, oppression and exploitation. But organizing around elections can play a significant role in galvanizing the movement, especially if leaders are honest with the masses about the limited gains available though electoral organizing.

More generally, the SNP’s gains show the only option available to the masses of people is to independently organize ourselves. We cannot depend on the slickly-polished presentation of millionaire “socialists.” Only by self-reliance, organization and confrontation—only by struggle—can our will be expressed politically. Whether major victories like the Russian or Chinese revolutions, or comparatively small ones like Seattle’s raising of the minimum wage or the SNP victory this month, the theme is the same: we have no choice but to organize, but if we organize, we can win.

 

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