Archive | May 18th, 2016

Who Is Mustafa Badreddine?

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Martyr135Although his life achievements cannot be briefed within a short article, this report summarizes the main contributions of Hezbollah senior commander, martyr Mustafa Badreddine.

Mustafa Amin Badreddine was born in Ghobeiry, Lebanon on April 6, 1961.

In 1982, martyr Badreddine formed jihadi groups and trained them to confront the Zionist entity. He is considered one of the most prominent mujahidin who encountered the Nazi invasion in Beirut and Khaldeh where he was injured during the clashes.

In 1992, the martyr became the commander of Hezbollah’s central military unit and started forming military formations and devising plans. Badreddine also prepared many heroic operations against the Nazi occupation, including clashes, martyrdom bombings and post incursions as well, which forced the Nazi army to withdraw cowardly in 2000.

Martyr Badreddine played a prominent role in confronting the major Nazi aggression on Lebanon in 1993, obliging the Zionist Prime Minster Isaac Rabin at that time to acknowledge the fact that the Zionist entity was defeated by Hezbollah.

After the major Zionist aggression on Lebanon in 1996, the martyr succeeded in driving the world to acknowledge the Resistance’s legitimacy and its right to defend its country.

In 1997, Mustafa Badreddine had a central role in planning and supervising the Ansariya operation which killed scores of elite Zionist troops.

Martyr Badreddine was further able to dismantle scores of Nazi spy cells in Lebanon.

With the inception of the Syrian crisis in 2011, the martyr was one of the first commanders who confronted the takfiri plot across Syria.

Martyr Mustafa Badreddine continued his jihadi work till embracing the honor of martyrdom in Damascus on May 13, 2016.

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The ROUSSEFF IMPEACHMENT: What’s Really Going On in Brazil & Latin America…?

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Dilma-Rousseff-impeachment

Brazil is in a crisis, that’s for sure.
But general Western media portryal of the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff seems only to have presented a simplified, one-sided picture of events.

Dilma Rousseff’s supporters call the impeachment process nothing less than a coup.

The impeachment effort against Rousseff has been mostly orchestrated by the political, media, and economic elites in Brazil; though corporate media in Brazil and foreign media in the West has largely portrayed it as more of a populist movement of the Brazilian people. Which has echoes of Gaddafi and Libya in 2011 along with various other historic scenarios.

Brazilian journalist João Estrella de Bettencourt wrote a few weeks ago in the Huffington Post, ‘It’s a coup. And don’t deceive yourself… it will result in brutal battles in Brazilian society. The Dilma government was democratically elected and, despite the accusations, it has a legitimate right to fight back’.

We should note that this move against Rousseff – which can fairly convincingly be portrayed as an operation by Brazil’s elites to remove a Left-wing government from power (though admittedly the scenario appears more complicated than being put down to just one thing) – occurs against a conspicuous backdrop of multiple long-term Left-wing governments in Latin-America being replaced by right-wing governments.

Argentina has also just replaced a longstanding Left-wing government with a right-wing government and essentially ceded its sovereignty to Wall Street, despite years and years of staunch resistance to Washington. Venezuela, of all places, now also has a right-wing government backed by Washington, which had previously tried to overthrow the Leftist government with US backing. The right-wing state in Venezuela has been accused of violence and attacks against its own citizens. The Left-wing government in Honduras was ousted in a military coup backed by Hillary Clinton in 2009.

And now Brazil – one of the biggest countries in the world, with one of the biggest populations and economies – appears to be going the same route, albeit via a different, more complicated detour.

Glenn Greenwald, writing for The Intercept, also suggests that the current spectacle being played out in Brazil is being portrayed in Western media as something very different to what might actually be going on. He noted a few months ago that ‘much of this Western media coverage mimics the propaganda coming from Brazil’s homogenized, oligarch-owned, anti-democracy media outlets and, as such, is misleading, inaccurate, and incomplete, particularly when coming from those with little familiarity with the country’.

In its coverage of the crisis in Brazil, Western media appears to have massively oversimplified the nature of the situation, focusing almost exclusively on big street protests and depicting them in idyllic terms as a popular uprising against an unpopular or corrupt government. Of course, we know from the ‘anti- Gaddafi protests’ in Libya in 2011 how easily public gatherings and rallies can be repackaged and misrepresented by the international media depending on which way the wind is blowing.

But as Greenwald argues, ‘That narrative is, at best, a radical oversimplification of what is happening and, more often, crass propaganda designed to undermine a left-wing party long disliked by U.S. foreign policy elites. That depiction completely ignores the historical context of Brazil’s politics and, more importantly, several critical questions: Who is behind these protests, how representative are the protesters of the Brazilian population, and what is their actual agenda?’

Some call the program by select Brazilian politicians to oust Rousseff via impeachment an act of “a political character”, and criticise the lower chamber for failing to provide Rousseff with the necessary means to defend herself. Ernesto Samper, Secretary-General of the Union of South American Nations, has told teleSUR that Dilma Rousseff remains “the legitimate leader” of the Brazilian people. He also maintains that Rousseff still has full “democratic legitimacy”, having been re-elected in 2014.

Samper warned that the decision of the Brazilian Congress to initiate an impeachment trial against the President is “compromising the democratic governability of the region in a dangerous way.”

While accusations of corruption or wrongdoing against Rousseff’s party appear – according to all accounts – to have validity, there is still a question as to whether Rousseff herself has actually done anything illegal. She has not been accused of any corruption – but of disguising the size of the government’s budget deficit in the lead-up to her re-election.

More importantly, the entire political class in Brazil appears to be rife with corruption – a fact openly acknowledged by the majority of the population.

And the elites in Brazil – the plutocrats and their major media corporations – appear to be using the impeachment to, as Greenwald puts it, ‘achieve what they have failed for years to accomplish democratically: the removal of PT from power’.

The absurdity of the entire situation seems fairly obvious.

Five members of the impeachment commission are themselves under criminal investigation for major corruption. Paulo Maluf, for example, faces an Interpol warrant for his arrest and has been unable to leave the country for several years (and has been sentenced in France to three years in prison for money laundering). In fact, of 65 members that make up the ‘House impeachment committee’, 36 of them are reportedly awaiting pending legal proceedings.

The entire thing therefore seems farcical.

The Globo media conglomerate – Brazil’s biggest media organisation – has been central in stirring up the support for the impeachment; it has run highly biased coverage of the corruption allegations against Rousseff’s Worker’ Party and simultaneously afforded vast media platforms for right-wing demonstrations and commentators.

The media complicity in general seems to have played a substantial role.

Greenwald illustrated it effectively in the same Intercept piece from March; ‘To provide some perspective for how central the large corporate media has been in inciting these protests: Recall the key role Fox News played in promoting and encouraging attendance at the early Tea Party protests. Now imagine what those protests would have been if it had not been just Fox, but also ABC, NBC, CBS, Time magazine, the New York Times, and the Huffington Post also supporting and inciting the Tea Party rallies. That is what has been happening in Brazil’.

Globa media in fact used to be a supporter of and propagandist for the old (and Washington-backed) right-wing military dictatorship in Brazil.

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If this is a coup – whatever else it may be disguised as – it certainly wouldn’t be a new phenomenon in Brazil.

In 1964, an earlier democratically elected left-wing government was overthrown by a military coup. United States officials denied any role; but documents have subsequently showed that Washington directly supported and helped enable the coup. The pro-American, right-wing military dictatorship then lasted for 21 years and engaged in systemised, long-term and brutal crackdowns against Brazilian dissidents. Shamefully, a 2014 report highlighted the extent to which British and American government agencies assisted the dictatorship’s interrogation and torture techniques.

Curiously enough, one of the many Left-wing figures tortured by that dictatorship was the very same woman currently being impeached – Dilma Rouseff (who was at the time a Marxist guerrilla).

It is also not a secret that Rousseff has been unpopular with Washington and Wall Street. When Edward Snowdenrevealed that the NSA had been tapping her phones, Rousseff went to the United Nations and accused the US of violating international law and “the principles that must guide the relations among… friendly nations.” There is clearly no love lost between her and the United States.
brazil-coup-rousseff

Far from this being a simple issue of ‘corruption’ (which is endemic in Brazilian politics and by no means limited to Rousseff’s party), Glenn Greenwald puts the 1964 coup – and the current impeachment of Rousseff – in terms of both class and racial warfare. He writes, concerning that period, ‘The coup itself and the dictatorship that followed were supported by Brazil’s oligarchs and their large media outlets, led by Globo, which — notably — depicted the 1964 coup as a noble defeat of a corrupt left-wing government (sound familiar?). The 1964 coup and dictatorship were also supported by the nation’s extravagantly rich (and overwhelmingly white) upper class and its small middle class. As democracy opponents often do, Brazil’s wealthy factions regarded dictatorship as protection against the impoverished masses comprised largely of non-whites‘.

As Donna Bowater writes on Vice, much of the working class are pro Rousseff’s government. “For many of us,” one supporter says, “it’s about a government that brought dignity to those people who were excluded their whole life by society.”

Regarding the possible nature of the present situation in relation to that, Greenwald noted that ‘when massive anti-Dilma protests emerged in most Brazilian cities, a photograph of one of the families participating went viral, a symbol of what these protests actually are. It showed a rich, white couple decked out in anti-Dilma symbols and walking with their pure-breed dog, trailed by their black “weekend nanny” — wearing the all-white uniform many rich Brazilians require their domestic servants to wear — pushing a stroller with their two children.’

I have to admit that I’ve examined lots of images of the protests and I’ve struggled to spot any darker-skinned protesters, even though this is Brazil.

This paints a very different picture of the Rousseff impeachment to the simple idea of an almost unanimous society rising against a ‘corrupt’ leader that most Western media has been suggesting. Again, this ignoring of class or race issues in the mainstream narrative has echoes elsewhere, such as with Libya in 2011 when international media completely ignored the persecution (including some ethnic cleansing) of Black-African Libyans that NATO/Western-backed militias were engaged in. In the case of Brazil it isn’t as severe (or violent) as that by any means, but the international media is nevertheless failing to note the race/class divide that appears to be relevant in this situation.

For whatever its flaws or misdemeanors may be, it appears that Rousseff’s party has been much better for the lower classes and the poor and hated by the upper classes and elites, having ushered in economic and social reforms that have helped lift millions of Brazilians out of poverty. The socialist, Left-wing government, has among other things instituted the ‘Bolsa Familia’ social welfare program, the increased promotion of human rights, significant scholarship programs and things like campaigns for university inclusion programs.

Some amid the poorer section of Brazil’s population believe that the future of this more inclusive and democratic Brazil, and any further chance of upward mobility (or even inclusion), is being sabotaged or destroyed in the present crisis, which will likely see the wealthy elites taking back control of the state. A poor and unemployed 26 year-old tells Vice, “Brazil’s poor were ‘forgotten but bigger’ than the protesting elite calling for impeachment”, though she also admits that “life for the poor was even harder under Rousseff than it was before. The problem,” she said, was that she “saw nobody else who might provide a better alternative”.

There are reports that some factions at these “anti-corruption” protests against Rousseff have even been openly calling for the end of democracy – and, one would assume (by implication), a return to a military dictatorship.

Michel Temer, the opposition leader who now steps in as the interim president, appears to be a spectacularly unpopular figure in Brazil – and also happens to have strong links with Wall Street.

Thanks to Wikileaks, we also know that Temer recently met with US embassy officials in Sao Paulo; supposedly to provide his assessment on the political situation. It should be borne in mind that such meetings aren’t unusual and can’t be taken as proof that Termer is a Wall Street or Washington proxy; though it does raise suspicions, given his Wall Street connections and domestic unpopularity.

Given Washington’s well-attested history of supporting right-wing coups against Left-wing governments in Latin America (including Chile, Guatemala and El-Salvador), one really does have to wonder what the US involvement may be in this impeachment of Rousseff. It may be that there’s no involvement from Washington – and I’m not aware of any clear evidence to suggest it – but the proven US backing of the 1964 coup in Brazil makes it fair to raise the question.

And it is also possible that this move to undermine a Left-wing government in Brazil is entirely unrelated to the surprising emergence of a right-wing government in Argentina this year and the even more surprising emergence of a right-wing government in Venezuela. But as with Brazil, we know for a fact that Washington fully backed previous attempts at a right-wing coup in Venezuela, and we know that the US backed the brutal right-wing coup in Argentina in 1976 (which led to the deaths of over 300,000 Argentinians). Indeed, President Obama has recently apologised to Argentina for the horrific consequences of US interference in the past.

And Washington can’t really claim that all of this underhanded backing of right-wing coups is a thing of the past either: because, for example, in 2009 Hillary Clinton secretly backed the right-wing coup against a democratically elected government in Honduras – a coup that has resulted in a murder spree in Honduras that continues to this day.
argentina_kirchner_0630

More adamant about it than someone like myself is willing or able to be, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts appears to be in no doubt about US involvement, however. Dr Roberts links Rousseff’s impeachment firmly with the removal of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (pictured above) in Argentina.

‘Having removed the reformist President of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Washington is now disposing of the reformist President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff’, he writes. ‘Washington used a federal judge to order Argentina to sacrifice its debt restructuring program in order to pay US vulture funds the full value of defaulted Argentine bonds that the vulture funds had bought for a few pennies on the dollar. President Kirchner resisted and, thus, she had to go. Washington concocted a story that Kirchner covered up an alleged Iranian bombing in Buenos Aires in 1994. This implausible fantasy, for which there is no evidence of Iranian involvement, was fed to one of Washington’s agents in the state prosecutor’s office, and a dubious event of 22 years ago was used to clear Cristina Kirchner out of the way of the American looting of Argentina’.

I should make clear that there isn’t any proof in this instance that Washington had anything to do with the impeachment crisis in Brazil – or that what has just happened in Argentina is necessarily anything other than Kirchner’s government simply not winning the popular vote (and likewise that people in Venezuela would support a right-wing government after many years of questionable left-wing politics and mismanagement).

Whatever’s really going on, it’s almost certain that Rousseff’s impeachment represents the beginning of a major crisis in Brazil and not the end of one.

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Some recommended reading:  Soft Coup in Brazil – A Blow to Brazilian Democracy by Juan Sebastian Chavarro, Raiesa Frazer, Rachael Hilderbrand and Emma Tyrou (Council on Hemispheric Affairs), ‘Dilma Rousseff Close to Impeachment But Not All Brazilians Hate Her by Donna Bowater on Vice, Brazil Engulfed By Ruling Class Corruption and a Dangerous Subversion of Democracy by Glenn Greenwald forThe Intercept.

 

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Syria Solidarity Movement®️ successfully defends its name and reputation

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May 18, 2016
For more than six months we have been pursuing legal measures to stop a group in the UK from using our name to promote aggression AGAINST Syria. Their “solidarity” was with armed terror groups backed by the enemies of Syria.

We are happy to report that this has been a complete success.  The legal measures entailed proving that we are the originators of the name, obtaining and registering the name as a trademark, and then using it with companies like Facebook to end the misuse of the name.  On April 19, 2016, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted trademark number 4,939,285 to the name. The name and trademark are owned by the Association for Investment in Popular Action Committees, a registered US nonprofit corporation authorized under US law for tax exemption under identification number 20-5516191.  The Syria Solidarity Movement®️ is an alternate legal name of the Association, which uses the name and separate financial accounting for its project of the same name.
Even before we acquired the trademark, the UK group apparently realized that they faced a potential lawsuit and began changing their name.  By the time the trademark was acquired, the only remaining unauthorized use was in the URL of the Facebook page.  The closing of the Facebook page (reopened with the new name and a different URL) was merely the last step in that correction.
It was difficult to see our name being fraudulently used to promote illegal foreign intervention and the occupation of Syrian territory.  Our commitment is to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, and we oppose all foreign military intervention, as required by the UN charter.  This includes interference by the US, UK, France, Turkey and other NATO forces, as well as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel and other forces not authorized by either the United Nations or the sovereign Syrian government. We thank all who have supported our good name, as well as the rule of international law, and we invite all parties to respect their obligations under the treaties that they have signed.

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Nevada: This is what capitalist democracy looks like

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Screen shot from Adryenn Ashely's livestream, May 14, Nevada.

Screen shot from Adryenn Ashely’s livestream, May 14, Nevada.

On May 14, the Nevada Democratic Party held its final convention as part of the caucus process to distribute delegates. Coming into the convention, Bernie Sanders was in the lead, despite the initial results.

According to multiple reports, the Party Chair, Roberta Lange, started the first count early, before all the Sanders delegates were in the room, at 9:30 am. According to the schedule, the counts were posted to begin at 10:00 am.

Once the initial count was finished and tallied in Clinton’s favor by Lange, she immediately amended the rules on a voice vote.

Instead of heeding motions to recount, and calls for a vote of no-confidence, all of which were seconded, the chair overruled the Sanders supporters who were trying to use parliamentary procedure (Robert’s Rules of Order) to ensure a fair convention. Finally, late at night, after 10 hours of chanting and protesting from the floor by the Sanders delegates, the chair declared the convention over and left the hall. Sanders supporters were told they would be arrested if they didn’t leave and armed men entered the hall to enforce this edict.

Screen shot from Facebook about Daily Kos censorship

Screen shot from Facebook about Daily Kos censorship

Hearing this, maybe you are thinking “How could this be true? If something like this happened, wouldn’t it be on the news?” Well, of late, the mainstream media has been whiting out any and all coverage of the Sanders campaign. Tens of thousands of people overflow a stadium in Sacramento, Ca.? Not a peep in the news. Clinton supporters outright stealing a state party convention in Nevada? Nothing to see here people, move along.

The Daily Kos, the epicenter of liberalism, has apparently banned any articles critical of Hillary Clinton. An initial story about the Nevada convention was taken down, replaced with one about how Bernie Sanders supporters were “acting up” in Nevada.

What is stymieing the attempt to shut down all public discourse about the Sanders campaign, the important issues it raises and the specter of a renewal of mass working class struggle in the U.S.? It’s what we at Liberation News call “militant journalists” or more mainstream media term “citizen journalists.” You know, the Twitterverse, the blogosphere.

Much of the nefarious doings of the Nevada convention were livestreamed on something called Periscope, which I had frankly never even heard of before. But there I was, last night, watching live as the convention was gaveled to a close over the shouts and protests of Sanders delegates, while simultaneously, countless other viewers sent messages and comments, mostly of support to those in the hall, which streamed alongside the admittedly choppy live footage.

From Twitter.

From Twitter

The stream I was watching went dead shortly after someone (I’m not sure who) announced that people would be arrested if they didn’t leave. This morning, I saw the now iconic photo of armed men lined up in front of the stage, enforcing the stealing of a convention.

And this is what capitalist democracy looks like. Watch, listen, learn and then struggle.

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The real criminals behind massacre in al-Zara, Syria: United States, Qatar,Turkey

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Image result for al-Zara massacre PHOTO

Al-Nusrah fighters, the “moderate rebels”

In Syria, on May 12, foreign backed opposition groups, the so-called backed opposition groups, the so-called “moderate rebels,” attacked an Alawite town, al-Zara, in the countryside of Homs, massacring 115 civilians. According to Hasan Sivri, a reporter with the YDH news agency based in Turkey, the attack was led by the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusrah Front and included other groups such as Ahrar al-Sham, another Al-Qaeda splinter group and ahl Al-Sunna Battalions.

Reflecting the sinister aim of terrorizing the town’s residents, the attack was code-named  “Aleppo’s revenge”, an allusion to the recent liberation of a number of villages in Aleppo by the Syrian government.

In addition to the massacre of civilians, the assailants abducted a group of children and women and destroyed houses and stores in the town. Based on the photos and videos shared by the members of these groups on social media, there were claims that chemical weapons may have been used in the attack, given that victims’ bodies appeared to look as if they were sleeping.

Reporting on the massacre, Aleppo-based journalist Kevork Elmasyan stated that what happened in al-Zara was not a massacre but rather “genocide.” In a press statement released after the attack, the Prime Minister of Syria, Wael al-Halqi called the massacre “a heinous crime against the whole world.” Al-Halqi added that the international community should take immediate steps to prevent the flow of arms and money to the terror groups in Syria from their foreign sponsors, particularly Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Hundreds in Istanbul, Turkey attended a demonstration denouncing the massacre. The press statement released after the demonstration said:

“Alawites have been massacred again in the Syrian war that has been going on for five years as the U.S, E.U., the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar continue to provide logistics, arms and fighters […] Gangs of massacre, the moderate rebels, as AKP and imperialists refer to them, destroyed an Alawite town, massacring its residents. Ahrar al-Sham and other gangs behind this massacre are directly supported by imperialists and their servant, AKP.”

It is striking to note that one day before the attack, a coalition of Western powers led by the U.S. and including Britain, France and Ukraine blocked an earlier Russian proposal from late April to the U.N. Security Council to blacklist Ahrah al-Sham. In a total display of hypocrisy, the U.S. mission to the UN opposed the Russian proposal on grounds that blacklisting Ahrah al-Sham would undermine a sustained ceasefire in the fighting in Syria.

Given the role played by U.S. proxies in the region, namely Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, in arming and supporting the “moderate rebels” in Syria, it is clear that the real criminal behind this recent massacre is U.S. imperialism along with its lackeys in the region. It is also clear that the real force that is undermining any possibility of a complete ceasefire in Syria is the U.S. itself and the main agenda of U.S. imperialism continues to be the overthrow of the sovereign government of Syria. It is critical that progressive people do everything they can to oppose this imperialist agenda.

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Brazil: the coup and the struggle

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On May 12, Dilma Rousseff was suspended from the presidency of Brazil. She is out of power for 180 days, till the Senate votes for the final decision on her impeachment. The vice president, Michel Temer from the PMDB party, and one of the coup leaders, took office. This completed a very important milestone in the coup process, establishing the coup government.

All of Dilma’s ministers were removed from their seats. Ministries were eliminated, including the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Women, Racial Equality and Human Rights, plus seven other ministries.

The remaining ministries had their names changed. Words like “to combat hunger” were removed from the Ministry of Social Development, and the Ministry to Combat Hunger became the Ministry of Social and Agrarian Development (whatever that means).

The Ministry of Labor and Previdência (Previdência would roughly translate to something like  “social security” with the difference being a better retirement management plan behind it), now is just the Ministry of Labor. Social Security is out.

This video shows the protest of public workers against Temer’s minister of education and culture, Mendonça Filho.

These changes show the first signs of the systemic neo-liberal plan they have for the country. Eliminate the social benefits and especially the labor laws, like one month of paid vacation, six months of maternity leave, the “13th salary,” which is a “bonus” paid by the employer to the worker at the end of the year. That is why the word “Previdencia’ is gone. Also, this is why the ministries that were addressing the social issues faced by the majority of the population, the Black and poor people of Brazil, were shut down.

For the first time since 1979 Brazil has a government without women. The photo of the new ministers shows all white men.

The seven ministers with the red stamp are being investigated because of Lava Jato, the same investigation that tried to arrest Lula. And you may remember not long ago the international outrage when Lula almost took office as chief of staff for Dilma. Everyone went crazy about it because this would protect him from the investigation, but now we have seven people receiving exactly the same protection and no one talks about it.

Actually one of the Supreme Federal Court judges, Gilmar Mendes, invited all of Temer’s ministers for dinner. So you can see how much our judiciary system cares about it. To remember, the forces behind the coup are: police forces (federal and military mostly), judiciary, the media monopoly, the traditional right-wing parties, the business sector, national and international, and an extreme, violent, upper middle-class right wing that was out in the streets.

Another piece of information about the composition of Temer’s government is that one of the two new ministries Temer created is the “Cabinet of Institutional Security of the Presidency.” This is our old National Intelligence Service created during the dictatorship, which later during democracy was called the Brazilian National Intelligence Agency (ABIN), the Brazilian CIA. Now it has become its own ministry.

He actually set up ministries for the offensive force that will come:  The Ministry of Justice and “Citizenship” is now controlled by a lawyer, Alexandre Moraes, who is involved in money laundering for the PCC (a prisoners’ organization), and of using extreme violence against kids 14-16 years old in Sao Paulo during the occupations to save public schools the state right-wing party was closing. And the Ministry of Defense, which, between us, won’t be that hard to convince to engage in the oppression.

Temer himself has some great experience with “oppression.” For instance, he was the defense witness for two cases of torture during the dictatorship, speaking in defense of the torturer. He has had a career working with “law and order.” No wonder he picked the slogan for his government to be “Order and Progress,” the words written in the Brazilian flag. One can only imagine the marketing coming with this idea, bringing nationalism with “order and progress” together in their brainstorming session.

José Serra, from the PSDB party, who lost to Lula in 2002 and to Dilma in 2010 as the mayoral candidate from the right and opposition, is now the head of the Itamaraty, the Ministry of Foreign Relations, and is facing questioning and criticism from governments around the world. He has already attacked UNASUR, sending an official letter from the Itamaraty accusing General Secretary Ernesto Samper of having no foundation for his comments and suggesting the secretary has prejudice against Brazilians.

He published another one attacking Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, all countries where the presidents have expressed that they do not recognize the new president. President Maduro, on May 13, called back his ambassador in Brazil. On the other hand, the U.S. has recognized Temer and reinforced its “trust in the Brazilian institutions.” Their new puppet Argentina’s President Macri has done the same thing.

Now we also have the golpistas fighting between themselves for a piece of the pie, and we are already seeing a fight in the Lower House for its presidency, and threats from the Senate against Temer, telling him he must treat them well, because they can vote against the impeachment and put Dilma back. The capitalists who committed this coup are driven by greed, and they will stab each other in the back if given the opportunity to get a bigger piece.

The struggle

On Thursday, May 12, Dilma made a speech inside the Presidential Palace with all her ministers denouncing the coup and then left the palace through the front door straight toward the thousands of people who were outside chanting for her. This is what we call in Brazil “going into the people’s arms.” Not that many presidents have done that when leaving the presidency.

Later, Michel Temer had to come through the back door because a group of women were chained in front of the Palace and had taken over the traditional ramp that the president walks up when being inaugurated.

The mobilizations against the coup and especially to expose the golpistas keep growing everyday. Different actors of the coup are being exposed, what we call in Latin America the “escrache,” to publicly shame the golpistas. These actions will help educate the people about what is happening, to fight the media monopoly. For you to have an idea, there are TV sets in 95.1 percent of the households in Brazil, refrigerators in only 93.7 percent. Most people get their news from the TV.

On Thursday night, 30,000 people went to Paulista Av., a landmark of Sao Paulo, the “Wall Street” of Latin America, where they said there won’t be peace for this golpista government. Many were part of homeless workers’ movements.

Students are occupying their schools and universities. In the state of Sao Paulo, students occupied schools that were affected by a corruption scandal in which the governor, Geraldo Alckmin of the PSDB and a coup supporter, is accused of literally stealing students’ lunch money. But like any corruption case involving the right-wing parties, there is no investigation or punishment.

On the morning of May 13, the governor sent the Military Police to evict, without a judicial order, and arrest high school students who were occupying one of these schools. Here is the video of the eviction where over 50 students are arrested, many under age.

180 days of struggle

Moments like this are full of dynamic changes in which you need to be able to react fast to avoid mistakes. That is why the discussions between the forces of resistance normally lay out different possible paths the struggle can take.

With that in mind, we must mention a possibility that we can’t ignore, in which the effect of this coup could open an opportunity to a turn to a more radical left power in Brazil.

But that depends on a lot of things, and the main goal right now is to stay in the streets and expose the golpistas so the rest of the population understands what is happening and joins the protests.

In an interview, Pedro Stédile, leader of the landless movement (MST) that is part of one of the coalitions against the coup, Frente Brasil Popular (with around 60 parties, organizations and social movements), laid out the following fighting strategy:

“We (Frente Brasil Popular) did a debate that took the whole day, a few weeks ago, and our evaluation is that to place the recall now in the political agenda, is to anticipate the results of what will happen in the congress. We must try first to use the resources available to not let the president be impeached, which will be decided at the end of these 180 days.

“Where we can still find senators that won’t bend to the economic power interest and will help us block this coup.

“If the Senate still submits itself to the economic power interests and doesn’t stop this coup, we would still have another resource which is the Supreme
Court. Where we made it clear to the judge we will enter with an appeal if they decide for the impeachment.

“Well, if after all that, there is still a coup, the social movements will engage in another strategy with the goal that this strategy brings back to the people the power to decide who will govern the country.

“Right now, at our meetings we have four alternatives:

“1. The Community Party of Brazil defends the idea of making a petition, and use this work to politicize society. A petition that would be taken to the congress asking for a referendum where the people would decide to call for presidential elections.

“2. We already have in the Senate, and it was appreciated by two commissions already, is a request for the congress to call a formal referendum where the people would decide for a Constitutional Assembly to make a political reform in Brazil.

“So there is an idea to put pressure of approval of this legislative proposal that is already in course in the Senate.

“3. And this is a proposal from the Luisa Erundina, from the PSOL, which is a law proposal that implements a few political reforms.

“This proposal is in course in the Lower House, with at least 182 representatives supporting it. From the political reform proposals it has, the ones that interest us the most are: the right for the population to call a referendum to change the mandates of elected figures—nowadays, as everyone knows, a referendum can only be called by the congress, not even by the president or the people. So, if the people of Sao Paulo don’t like their governor Alckmin, they can collect enough signatures to demand the judiciary prepare a referendum to decide for a recall or not … and then the people will vote and decide if they will recall the elections or not. This would be for mayors, representatives (municipal, state and federal) and the president. So it is a very progressive law.

“Which the movements supported at the time, but I will repeat, a majority still prefers the Constitutional Assembly so the political reforms are part of the constitution. And we could also reform the judiciary power with a Constitutional Assembly.

“4. ‘Project of Constitutional Amendment’ that others are calling, that will call for general elections for representatives and the presidency.

“Now, what is the problem that we have? Of all these proposals, which I would say can complement one another, there is no preference here. Because they
are all reforms the country needs. But even if we speed them up, all of them, if we look at the political calendar ahead in the congress, it would be really hard to have any recall elections or political reform before the 2018 elections.”

“Only if, and we dream for it, in the next months, the crises of Temer’s government would aggravate so much that the masses would build a movement as strong as the one we did for the right to directly elect our president, Diretas Já.”

“And this movement would put pressure in the congress, so it would speed up one of these options, so we could have some type of referendum or recall, by the beginning of 2017. But this is a very tight calendar.”

And that’s the layout of both sides for now. The order of the day is to mobilize, be in the streets and expose the golpistas, so we can grow the movement and the pressure against this illegal government.

Posted in South AmericaComments Off on Brazil: the coup and the struggle

68 years after ‘al-Nakba’ in Palestine

NOVANEWS
68 years after ‘al-Nakba’ in Palestine

Originally published in 2008, this article has been edited to reflect the passage of time. Richard Becker is the author of Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire.

May 15 marks the 68th anniversary of what is billed in the U.S. and Israeli mainstream media as Israel’s “independence,” and what the Palestinian and Arab peoples as a whole know as al-Nakba—the Catastrophe. To make way for the creation of the Israeli settler state, more than 80 percent of the Palestinian population was driven out of their homeland by means of terror

palestinemaphistoric

Historic Palestine

Washington played an irreplaceable role in the formation of Israel. The U.S. government continues to provide billions of dollars annually and vast supplies of modern weaponry to perpetuate Israel’s continued role as a key instrument in U.S. domination of the strategic Middle East region.

On May 15, the exact day that Palestinians worldwide commemorate al-Nakba, President George W. Bush will address the Israeli Knesset (parliament). It would be hard to imagine a more hostile and insulting diplomatic action.

Leading Democrats were not to be outdone in expressing imperialist “solidarity” with the country that has repeatedly attacked and occupied neighboring states while instituting a brutal apartheid system against the Palestinians inside its 1948 borders, as well as in the West Bank and Gaza. The remaining Democratic presidential candidates both ignored Israel’s history of military aggression. According to news stories, neither even bothered to mention the Palestinian people in their remarks.

On May 9, 2008,  Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, expressed her “heartfelt congratulations to the people of Israel. … In every generation, Israel faces serious challenges to its security and threats to its existence.”

The leading presidential Democrat, Barack Obama, was more fulsome in his praise: “So let us honor the independence of this great nation; let us celebrate the achievements of six decades; and let us renew the friendship between our nations, and the solemn promise to seek lasting peace and security for the people of Israel,” he said in a May 8 statement.

The same day, presumptive Republican nominee John McCain followed his “heartfelt congratulations,” with another reality-turned-upside-down statement: “Challenges to Israel have perhaps been the norm, rather than the exception, and its people have been tested in the crucible of conflict time and again. Those threats continue, and it is incumbent upon all free people to stand by Israel in her defense of our common values and ideals.”

Resolution 181 and the creation of Israel

The barrage of disinformation and distortion from the media and the politicians makes the Palestinian struggle complex and confusing even for the closest of observers.

Palestine flag

Like all great struggles, it has had many twists and turns, and will have many more. But the root cause of the conflict—the forcible expulsion of a people from their homeland—is neither ambiguous nor mysterious. Sixty years ago, that is precisely what happened to the Palestinians in the al-Nakba.

Al-Nakba, one of the key events in modern Middle Eastern history, began on Nov. 29, 1947. That day, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 181 to partition the British Mandate (colony) of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. The United Nations made this decisive step without consulting the Palestinian Arabs, who at the time comprised two-thirds of the population.

Most of the Jewish population was made up of settlers who had arrived in the previous three decades, mainly from Europe. More than 100,000 were survivors of the Nazi genocide.

While the U.S. and British imperialists had done little before or during World War II to aid the Jewish victims of fascism, they used the horrors of Hitler’s death camps to rally support for the establishment of the state of Israel after the war.

The Palestinians—who had had nothing to do with European anti-Semitism or genocide—were not consulted before the U.N. vote. There was no plebiscite or vote of the people. If there had been, the outcome would not have been in doubt: One unitary state would have been the overwhelming choice. The U.N. vote was an illegitimate act and a violation of the Palestinians’ right of self-determination.

The two-thirds majority required to pass Resolution 181 was only achieved through intense U.S. pressure. The vote ended up 33 to 13 with 10 abstentions. The Truman administration leaned heavily on its neocolonies and client states, particularly the Philippines, Liberia, Haiti and Thailand, all of which initially opposed the resolution.

Without those four votes, the resolution would have failed. For narrow and short-term interests, the Soviet Union voted for the resolution. This represented a betrayal of the Arab anti-colonial struggle and did great harm to the socialist and communist cause in the region. Later, the Soviet Union would become a major ally of the Arab national liberation movement.

The forced displacement of a people

The U.N. vote led to celebration among the Zionists, the settler movement working to create an exclusively Jewish state in Palestine. Despite owning just 6 percent of the land, Resolution 181 awarded them 56 percent of Palestine. On the Palestinian side, there was anger and rebellion. As all parties knew ahead of time, partition meant war.

Palestinian refugee camp school following the al-Nakba
School at a refugee camp formed
following al-Nakba

Fighting broke out immediately.

In January 1948, the better-armed Zionist military forces began to carry out “Plan Dalet.” The point of the plan was to terrorize and drive out the Palestinian population. Before Plan Dalet, Palestinian villagers left their homes during battles, but typically went only as far as the next village.

On April 9, 1948, a Zionist terrorist organization, the Irgun, massacred the entire village of Deir Yassin, raising “Plan Dalet” to a new level of brutality. When the dust had cleared, more than 200 Palestinian children, women and men lay dead. The massacre was meant as a warning to all Palestinians. The leader of the Irgun was Menachem Begin, who later served as Israeli prime minister. Irgun, as well as another paramilitary, LEHI, were both self-proclaimed terrorist groups. LEHI, also known as the Stern Gang, was headed by another future Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir.

While the Jewish Agency formally “condemned” the Deir Yassin massacre, on the same day it incorporated the Irgun into the official military “Joint Command.” Twelve days after Deir Yassin, Zionist forces launched a lethal attack on the Palestinian areas of the mixed city of Haifa. They rolled barrel bombs filled with gasoline and dynamite down narrow alleys in the heavily populated city while mortar shells pounded the Arab neighborhoods from overhead. Nearly the entire Arab population fled.

Within a week, similar tactics led 77,000 of 80,000 Palestinians to flee the port city of Jaffa.

By May 15, 1948, when Israel’s independence was proclaimed, 300,000 Palestinians were living and dying in abominable conditions of exile in Lebanon, Gaza, Syria and the Jordan Valley. By the end of that year, the number of dispossessed Palestinians had grown to 750,000.

In the 1948 war, Israel, with its superior economic and military resources and support from the Western powers, conquered 78 percent of Palestine. The Israeli military strategy was to not only conquer land, but also to drive out as much of the Palestinian population as possible from that land.

Nearly 80 percent of the Arab population was forcibly “transferred” to make way for the new Israeli state. Their farms, workplaces and homes were stolen, forming an indispensable foundation for the new Israeli economy and state.

In the 1967 “Six-Day War,” Israel seized the remainder of historic Palestine: the West Bank and Gaza. This created 300,000 more refugees, many of whom were second-time exiles, having already fled the Israelis 19 years earlier.

None of those driven out in 1948 and 1967, nor their descendants, now numbering more than six million, have ever been allowed to come back or been compensated for their loss. This injustice remains despite U.N. Resolution 194, passed in December 1948, stating unequivocally that all refugees must be allowed to return and have their homes, lands and other property restored to them. The U.S. and Israeli governments have ignored the U.N. resolution for more than half a century.

While forcibly preventing the return of any exiled Palestinians, the new Israeli state proclaimed that any person living anywhere in the world who had proof of one Jewish grandparent, regardless of whether they or their family ever stepped foot in the Middle East, had the “right of return” to Israel. Those “returning” would be granted immediate citizenship in the new exclusivist state.

Right of return remains key demand

Six decades after Al-Nakba, the right of return remains a key issue despite the Israeli and U.S. leaders’ constant efforts to dismiss it.

rightofreturn

It is obvious why the cause remains so vital for Palestinians. If a people are deprived of their land, their very existence as a people is threatened. Defending the right of return is a key element in the struggle to maintain the unity of the Palestinian people between those who remain inside historic Palestine and those families that have been illegally expelled.

Israeli opposition to Palestinian return is not really because there is “no room” for the Palestinians in Palestine, as Zionist ideologues often claim. That argument is blatantly racist. Palestinian demographer Dr. Salman Abu-Sitta has pointed out that most of the more than 500 demolished Palestinian towns and villages remain unoccupied today. They were destroyed and their residents driven away for mainly political purposes—the creation of an exclusivist state.

Nor is this some long-resolved issue buried in the sands of time. Hundreds of thousands of people forcibly exiled in 1948 and 1967 are alive today. Many hold among their dearest possessions the keys to their homes in Palestine. Some of those houses, particularly in the demolished villages, were bulldozed into the ground. Many others, however, especially in cities like Haifa, Jaffa, Jerusalem and elsewhere were expropriated and turned over to Israeli settlers, who live in them to this day.

Today, 46 percent of the six million Palestinian refugees reside inside historic Palestine, the 1948 borders of Israel, or the West Bank and Gaza. Another 42 percent live within 100 miles of its borders, in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria. (Roane Carey, ed., “The New Intifada,” Versa, 2001)

Put another way, nearly nine out of 10 Palestinian refugees could be home in the time it takes many people in this country to commute to work.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian families live in extreme poverty in 59 refugee camps, with no prospect of a better future. For them, the right of return is not abstract or academic, but an issue that speaks to their very survival. The situation is especially dire in the camps of Lebanon and Gaza, which are home to more than one million people.

The return of the exiled Palestinians would not mean, as is commonly claimed by the supporters of Israel, that the Jewish population would be forced to leave.

But it would mean that Israel could not continue as an apartheid-style state, with special rights for one group, serving the interests of imperialism in a key strategic region of the world.

This goes to the heart of why Israeli and U.S. ruling circles so adamantly oppose the Palestinian right of return. It also speaks to the need for all people who stand for justice and self-determination to defend the right of return as a fundamental democratic right.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Human RightsComments Off on 68 years after ‘al-Nakba’ in Palestine

The Untold History of US War Crimes

NOVANEWS
 
HIROSHIMA MUSHROOM CLOUD NUCLEAR BOMB EXPLOSION

In this exclusive interview, Prof Peter Kuznick speaks of: the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagazaki; US crimes and lies behind the Vietnam war, and what was really behind that inhumane invasion; why the US engaged a Cold War with the Soviet Union, and how that war and the mainstream media influences the world today; the interests behind the assassinations of President Kennedy; US imperialism towards Latin America, during the Cold War and today, under the false premise of War on Terror and War on Drugs.

Edu Montesanti: Professor Peter Kuznick, thank you so very much for granting me this interview. In the book The Untold History of the United States, Oliver Stone and you reveal that the the launch of the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki by President Harry Truman was militarily unnecessary, and the reasons behind it. Would you comment these versions, please?

Peter Kuznick: It is interesting to me that when I speak to people from outside the United States, most think the atomic bombings were unnecessary and unjustifiable, but most Americans still believe that the atomic bombs were actually humane acts because they saved the lives of not only hundreds of thousands of Americans who would have died in an invasion but of millions of Japanese.

That is a comforting illusion that is deeply held by many Americans, especially older ones. It is one of the fundamental myths emanating from World War II. It was deliberately propagated by President Truman, Secretary of War Henry Stimson, and many others who also spread the erroneous information that the atomic bombs forced Japanese surrender. Truman claimed in his memoirs that the atomic bombs saved a half million American lives.

Hiroshima after the Bomb

President George H.W. Bush later raised that number to “millions.” The reality is that the atomic bombings neither saved American lives nor did they contribute significantly to the Japanese decision to surrender. They may have actually delayed the end of the war and cost American lives. They certainly cost hundreds of thousands of Japanese lives and injured many more.

As the January 1946 report by the U.S. War Department made clear, there was very little discussion of the atomic bombings by Japanese officials leading up to their decision to surrender. This has recently been acknowledged somewhat stunningly by the official National Museum of the U.S. Navy in Washington, DC, which states, “The vast destruction wreaked by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the loss of 135,000 people made little impact on the Japanese military.

However, the Soviet invasion of Manchuria…changed their minds.” Few Americans realize that six of America’s seven five star admirals and generals who earned their fifth star during the war are on record as saying that the atomic bombs were either militarily unnecessary or morally reprehensible or both.

That list includes Generals Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower, and Henry “Hap” Arnold and Admirals William Leahy, Ernest King, and Chester Nimitz. Leahy, who was chief of staff to presidents Roosevelt and Truman, called the atomic bombings violations of “every Christian ethic I have ever heard of and all of the known laws of war.” He proclaimed that the “Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender…The used of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. In being the first to use it we adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the dark ages.”

Eisenhower agreed that the Japanese were already defeated. MacArthur said that the Japanese would have surrendered months earlier if the U.S. had told them they could keep the emperor, which the U.S. did ultimately allow them to do.

What really happened? By spring 1945, it was clear to most Japanese leaders that victory was impossible. In February 1945, Prince Fumimaro Konoe, former Japanese prime minister, wrote to Emperor Hirohito, “I regret to say that Japan’s defeat is inevitable.”

The same sentiment was expressed by the Supreme War Council in May when it declared that “Soviet entry into the war will deal a death blow to the Empire” and was repeated frequently thereafter by Japanese leaders.

The U.S., which had broken Japanese codes and was intercepting Japanese cables, was fully aware of Japan’s increasing desperation to end the war if the U.S. would ease its demand for “unconditional surrender.” Not only was Japan getting battered militarily,

it’s railroad system was in tatters and its food supply was shrinking. Truman himself referred to the intercepted July 18 cable as “the telegram from the Jap emperor asking for peace.” American leaders also knew that what Japan really dreaded was the possibility of a Soviet invasion, which they maneuvered unsuccessfully to forestall.

The Japanese leaders did not know that at Yalta Stalin had agreed to come into the Pacific War three months after the end of the fighting in Europe. But Truman knew this and understood the significance. As early as April 11, 1945, the Joint Intelligence Staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was reporting that “If at any time the USSR should enter the war, all Japanese will realize that absolute defeat is inevitable.”

Yalta Conference 1945

At Potsdam in mid-July, when Truman received Stalin’s confirmation that the Soviets were coming into the war, Truman rejoiced and wrote in his diary, “Fini Japs when that comes about.” The next day he wrote home to his wife, “We’ll end the war a year sooner now, and think of the kids who won’t be killed.”

Potsdam July 1945, Churchill, Truman and Stalin

So there were two ways to expedite the end of the war without dropping atomic bombs. The first was to change the demand for unconditional surrender and inform the Japanese that they could keep the emperor, which most American policymakers wanted to do anyway because they saw the emperor as key to postwar stability. The second was to wait for the Soviet invasion, which began at midnight on August 8.

It was the invasion that proved decisive not the atomic bombs, whose effects took longer to register and were more localized. The Soviet invasion completely discredited Japan’s ketsu-go strategy. The powerful Red Army quickly demolished the Japan’s Kwantung Army. When Prime Minister Kantaro Suzuki was asked why Japan needed to surrender so quickly, he replied that if Japan delayed, “the Soviet Union will take not only Manchuria, Korea, Karafuto, but also Hokkaido.

This will destroy the foundation of Japan. We must end the war when we can deal with the United States.” The Soviet invasion changed the military equation; the atomic bombs, as terrible as they were, did not. The Americans had been firebombing Japanese cities for months. As Yuki Tanaka has shown, the U.S. had already firebombed more than 100 Japanese cities.

Destruction reached as high as 99.5 percent in downtown Toyama. Japanese leaders had already accepted that the United States could wipe out Japanese cities. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were two more cities to vanquish, however thorough the destruction or horrific the details. But the Soviet invasion proved devastating as both American and Japanese leaders anticipated it would.

But the U.S. wanted to use atomic bombs in part as a stern warning to the Soviets of what was in store for them if they interfered with U.S. plans for postwar hegemony. That was exactly how Stalin and those around him in the Kremlin interpreted the bombings. U.S. use of the bombs had little effect on Japanese leaders, but it proved a major factor in jumpstarting the Cold War.

And it put the world on a glide path to annihilation. Truman observed on at least three separate occasions that he was beginning a process that might result in the end of life on this planet and he plowed ahead recklessly. When he received word at Potsdam of how powerful the July 16 bomb test in New Mexico had been, he wrote in his diary, “We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world.

It may be the fire destruction prophesied in the Euphrates Valley Era after Noah and his fabulous Ark.” So the atomic bombings contributed very little if anything to the end of the war, but they began a process that continues to threaten humanity with annihilation today–70 plus years after the bombings. As Oliver Stone and I say in The Untold History of the United States, to kill innocent civilians is a war crime. To threaten humanity with extinction is far, far worse. It is the worst crime that can ever be committed.

Edu Montesanti: In the Vietnam War’s chapter, it is revealed that the US armed forces conducted in that small country the launch of a greater number of bombs that all launched during World War II. Would you please detail it, and comment why you think it happened, professor Kuznick?

Peter Kuzinick: The U.S. dropped more bombs against little Vietnam than had been dropped by all sided in all previous wars in history–three times as many as were dropped by all sides in WWII. That war was the worst atrocity–the worst example of foreign aggression– committed since the end of WWII. Nineteen million gallons of herbicide poisoned the countryside. Vietnam’s beautiful triple canopy forests were effectively eliminated. The U.S. destroyed 9,000 of South Vietnam’s 15,000 hamlets.

It destroyed all six industrial cities in the North as well as 28 of 30 provincial towns and 96 of 116 district towns. It threatened to use nuclear weapons on numerous occasions. Among those who discussed and occasionally supported such use was Henry Kissinger. Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara told my students that he believes that 3.8 million Vietnamese died in the war.

Thus, the war was truly horrific and the Americans have never atoned for this crime. Instead of winning a Nobel Peace Prize for ending the war, Henry Kissinger should be in the dock in the Hague standing trial for having committed crimes against humanity.

Edu Montesanti: Please speak of your experiences in the 60′s in Vietnam, and why the US decided to engage a war against that nation.

Peter Kuznick: Oliver and I approached the war from different perspectives. He dropped out of Yale and volunteered for combat in Vietnam. He was wounded twice and won a medal for combat valor. I, on the other hand, was fiercely opposed to the U.S. invasion of Vietnam from the start.

As a freshman in college, I started an anti-war group. I organized actively against the war. I hated it. I hated the people who were responsible for it. I thought they were all war criminals and still do. I attended many antiwar marches and spoke often at public events. I understood, as my friend Daniel Ellsberg likes to say, we weren’t on the wrong side. We were the wrong side.

The U.S. got gradually involved. It first financed the French colonial war and then took over the fighting itself after the Vietnamese defeated the French. President Kennedy sent in 16,000 “advisers,” but realized the war was wrong and planned to end it if he hadn’t been killed. U.S. motives were mixed. Ho was not only a nationalist, he was a communist. No U.S. leader wanted to lose a war to the communists anywhere.

This was especially true after the communist victory in China in 1949. Many feared the domino effect–that Vietnam would lead to communist victories across Southeast Asia. That would leave Japan isolated and Japan, too, would eventually turn toward the communist bloc for allies and trading partners. So one motivation was geopolitical.

Another was economic. U.S. leaders didn’t want to lose the cheap labor, raw materials, and markets in Indochina. Another reason was that the military-industrial complex in the U.S.–the “defense” industries and the military leaders allied with them–got fat and prosperous from war. War was their reason for being and they profited handsomely from war in both inflated profits and promotions.

So it was a combination of maintaining U.S. preeminence in the world, defending and exploiting U.S. economic interests, and a perverse and corrosive anti-communist mentality that wanted to defeat the communists everywhere.

Edu Montesanti: What were the real reasons behind the US Cold War with the Soviet Union?

Peter Kuznick: George Kennan, the U.S. State Department official who provided the theoretical rationale for the containment theory, laid out the economic motives behind the Cold War in a very illuminating memo in 1948 in which he said, “We have about 50 percent of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population…we cannot fail to be the object of envying resentment.

Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity.” The U.S. pursued this task. Sometimes that required supporting brutal dictatorships. Sometimes it required supporting democratic regimes. The fight occurred on the cultural as well as the political, ideological, and economic realms.

Henry Luce, the publisher of Time and Life Magazines, said, in 1941, that the 20th century must be the American Century. The U.S. would dominate the world. The U.S. set out to do so. The Soviets, having been invaded twice through Eastern Europe, wanted a buffer zone between themselves and Germany. The U.S. was opposed to such economic and political spheres that limited U.S. economic penetration.

Although the U.S. and the U.S.S.R, never went to war, they fought many dangerous proxy wars. Human beings are lucky to have survived this dismal era.

Edu Montesanti: How do you see US politics towards Cuba since the Cuban Revolution, and towards Latin America in general since the Cold War?

Peter Kuznick: The U.S. completely controlled the Cuban economy and politics from the 1890s until the 1959 revolution. Batista carried water for U.S. investors. The U.S. had intervened repeatedly in Latin American affairs between 1890 and 1933 and then often again in the 1950s. Castro represented the first major break in that cycle.

The U.S. wanted to destroy him and make sure that no one else in Latin America would follow his example. It failed. It didn’t destroy his revolution, but it guaranteed that it would not succeed economically or create the people’s democracy many hoped for.

However, it has succeeded in other ways. And the revolution has survived throughout the Cold War and since. It has inspired other Latin American revolutionaries despite all the U.S.-backed and U.S.-trained death squads that have patrolled the continent, leaving hundreds of thousands of dead in their wake.

The U.S. School for the Americas has been instrumental in training the death squad leaders. Hugo Chavez and others have picked up where Fidel left off in inspiring the Latin American left. But many progressive leaders have been brought down in recent years.

Today Dilma Rouseff is fighting for her life but Evo Morales and Alvaro Garcie Linera in Bolivia are standing proud and standing tall to resist U.S. efforts to again dominate and exploit Latin America. But across Latin America, progressive leaders have either been toppled or are being weakened by scandals. U.S.-backed neoliberals are poised once again to loot local economies in the interest of foreign and domestic capitalists. It is not a pretty picture. The people will suffer immensely while some get rich.

Edu Montesanti: According to your researches, Professor Kuznick, who killed President John Kennedy? What interests were behind that magnicide?

Peter Kuznick: Oliver made a great movie about the Kennedy assassination–JFK. We didn’t feel that we needed to revisit those issues in our books and documentaries. We focused instead on what was lost to humanity when Kennedy was stolen from us. He had grown immensely during his short time in office.

He began as a Cold Warrior. By the end of his life, following the lessons he learned during the first two years of his administration and punctuated by the Cuban Missile Crisis, he wanted desperately to end the Cold War and nuclear arms race. Had he lived, as Robert McNamara stated, the world would have been fundamentally different.

The U.S. would have withdrawn from Vietnam. Military expenditures would have dropped sharply. The U.S. and the Soviets would have explored ways to work together. The arms race would have been transformed into a peace race. But he had his enemies in the military and intelligence communities and in the military sector of the economy.

He was also hated by the Southern segregationists, the Mafia, and the reactionary Cuban exile community. But those behind his assassination would much more likely have come from the military and intelligence wing.

We don’t know who did it, but we know whose interests were advanced by the assassination. Given all the holes in the official story as detailed by the Warren Commission, it is difficult to believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and that the magic bullet did all that damage.

Edu Montesanti: Do you think US imperialism against the region today, especially attacks against progressive countries are in essence the same policy during the Cold War?

Peter Kuznick: I don’t think the U.S. wants a new cold war with a real rival that can compete around the globe. As the neocons proclaimed after the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S. really wants a unipolar world in which there is only one superpower and no rivals.

Progressive countries have fewer major allies today than they had during the Cold War. Russia and China provide some balance to the U.S., but they are not really progressive countries challenging the world capitalist order. They both are beset by their own internal problems and inequalities.

There are few democratic socialist models for the world to follow. The U.S. has managed to subvert and sabotage most of the forward thinking and visionary governments. Hugo, despite all his excesses, was one such role model. He achieved great things for the poor in Venezuela. But if we look at what is happening now in Brazil, Argentina, Honduras, it is a very sad picture.

A new revolutionary wave is needed across the third world with new leaders committed to rooting out corruption and fighting for social justice. I am personally excited by recent developments in Bolivia, despite the results of the latest election.

Edu Montesanti: How do you see the Cold War culture influences US and world society today, Professor Kuznick? What role the Washington regime and the mainstream media play on it?

Peter Kuznick: The media are part of the problem. They have served to obfuscate rather than educate and enlighten. They inculcate the sense that there are dangers and enemies lurking everywhere, but they offer no positive solutions.

As, a result, people are driven by fear and respond irrationally. Former U.S. Vice President Henry Wallace, one of America’s leading visionaries in the 20th century, responded to Winston Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech in 1946 by warning,

“The source of all our mistakes is fear… If these fears continue, the day will come when our sons and grandsons will pay for these fears with rivers of blood… Out of fear great nations have been acting like cornered beasts, thinking only of survival.”

This also operates on the personal level where people will sacrifice their freedoms to achieve greater security. We saw that play out in the U.S. after 9/11. We’re seeing that now in France and Belgium.

The world is moving in the wrong direction. Inequality is growing. The richest 62 people in the world now have more wealth than the poorest 3.6 billion. That is obscene. There is no excuse for poverty and hunger in a world of such abundant resources. In this world, the media serve several purposes, the least of which is to inform the people and arm them with the information they need to change their societies and the world.

The media instead magnify people’s fears so that they will accept authoritarian regimes and militaristic solutions to problems that have no military solutions, provide mindless entertainment to distract people from real problems, and narcotize people into somnambulence and apathy.

This is especially a problem in the United States where many people believe there is a “free” press. Where there is a controlled press, people learn to approach the media with skepticism. Many gullible Americans don’t understand the more subtle forms of manipulation and deception.

In the U.S., the mainstream media rarely offer perspectives that challenge conventional thinking. For example, I’m constantly getting interviewed by leading media outlets in Russia, China, Japan, Europe, and elsewhere, but I’m rarely interviewed by media in the United States.

Nor do my progressive colleagues get invited onto mainstream U.S. shows. So, yes, there is a certain measure of press freedom in the United States, but that freedom is undermined not by the government as much as it is by self-censorship and silencing of progressive voices. Much of the rest of the world is more open to criticizing the U.S. but not as forthright when it comes to criticizing their own governments’ policies.

Edu Montesanti: What could you say about the ideia that the current US “War on Terror” and even “War on Drugs” especially in Latin America are ways the US has found to replace the Cold War, and so expand its military power and world domination?

Peter Kuznick: The U.S. rejects the methods of the old colonial regimes. It has created a new kind of empire undergirded by between 800 and 1,000 overseas military bases from which U.S. special forces operate in more than 130 countries each year.

Instead of invading forces consisting of large land armies, which has proven not to work in country after country, the U.S. operates in more covert and less heavy-handed ways. Obama’s preferred method of killing is by drones.

These are of dubious legality and produce questionable results. They are certainly effective in killing people, but there is lots of evidence to suggest that for every “terrorist” they kill, they create 10 more in his or her place.

The War on Terror that the U.S. and its allies have waged for the past 15 years has only created more terrorists. Military solutions rarely work. Different approaches are needed and they will have to begin with redistribution of the world’s resources in order to make people want to live rather than to kill and die. People need hope.

They need a sense of connection. They need to believe that a better life is possible for them and their children. Too many feel hopeless and alienated. The failure of the Soviet model has produced a vacuum in its place. As Marx warned long ago, Russia was too culturally and economically backward to serve as a model for global socialist development.

The Revolution was challenged from the start by invading capitalist forces. Problems abounded from the beginning. Then Stalinism brought its own spate of horrors. To the extent that the Soviet model became the world standard for revolutionary change, there was little hope for creating a decent world. Nor did the Chinese model provide a better standard.

So some have turned to radical Islam, which brings its own nightmare vision. As progressive governments continue to stumble and fall, U.S. hegemony strengthens. But the U.S. has had little positive to offer the world. Future generations will look back at this Pax Americana not as a period of enlightenment but one of constant war and growing inequality.

Democracy is great in principle but less uplifting in practice. And now with the nuclear threat intensifying and climate change also threatening the future existence of humanity, the future remains uncertain. The U.S. will cling to wars on terror and wars on drugs to maintain the disparities that George Kennan outlined 68 years ago. But that is not the way forward.

The world may look upon U.S. internal politics as a descent into lunacy–an amusing sign of the complete failure of American democracy–but the outsider success of Bernie Sanders and even the anti-establishment revolt among the Republican grassroots shows that Americans are hungry for change. Both Hillary Clinton and the Republican establishment, with their Wall Street ties and militaristic solutions, do not command respect outside of certain limited segments of the population.

They may win now, but their time is limited. People everywhere are desperate for new positive, progressive answers. Some, clearly, as we see now across Europe, will turn to rightwing demagogues in times of crisis, but that is at least in part because the left has failed to provide the leadership the world needs.

A revitalized left is the key to saving this planet. We’re running out of time though. The road ahead will not be easy. But we can and must prevail.

Posted in USAComments Off on The Untold History of US War Crimes

Who Is the More Vicious Liar: Trump, or Obama?

NOVANEWS
 
President_Obama_delivers_the_State_of_the_Union_address_Jan._20,_2015

There was a drastic refocus by U.S. President Barack Obama away from being anti-jihadist and toward being anti-Russian, after his first Presidential term ended and as soon as his second Presidential term began; but the signs that Obama presented during his re-election campaign in 2012 were in exactly the opposite direction — that he was going to reduce, not increase, American armaments against Russia.

A major reason why the American people re-elected U.S. President Barack Obama, instead of elected a new President Mitt Romney, was Romney’s having said of Russia, on 26 March 2012,

“Russia, this is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe. They — they fight every cause for the world’s worst actors. … Russia is the — the geopolitical foe.”

Not just “a” geopolitical foe, but “the” geopolitical foe.” (Wow! In a world with growing jihadist movements, such as Al Qaeda and ISIS?)

Obama responded to that at the re-election campaign’s end, by springing this upon Romney during a debate, on 22 October 2012:

Governor Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that Al Qaida is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not Al Qaida; you said Russia. In the 1980s, they’re now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.

Obama’s campaign had very successfully presented himself as having killed Osama bin Laden and many other Al Qaeda leaders; and, though no polling has been done on whether the American public considered jihadists (fundamentalist-extremist Islamists who seek a global “Caliphate”) to be “our number one geopolitical foe,” or Russia to be that instead, the poor polling that has been done relating to that matter, suggests the majority of Americans would have selected “jihadists,” not “Russia,” as being “our number one geopolitical foe”; and, in the final analysis, the 2012 Presidential contest exit polls did show Obama (who was publicly less hostile toward Russia than Romney and the Republicans were) with a 42% to 36% advantage over Romney on the national-security question: “Who Do You Trust To Handle International Crisis?” The exit polls showed Obama winning the total vote by around 50% to 48%; so, “International Crisis” went for Obama, and against Romney, considerably more than did the overall exit-polled Presidential vote, and this at least suggests that Obama not Romney gained from this public disagreement over “our number one geopolitical foe.”

Regarding the incident on 26 March 2012, when Obama spoke with Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev at the South Korean “Nuclear Security Summit”Politifact reported:

In March 2012, at a summit in South Korea, Obama was caught in a “hot mic” incident. Without realizing he could be overheard, Obama told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have more ability to negotiate with the Russians about missile defense after the November election.

“On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved, but it’s important for him [the incoming President Putin] to give me space,” Obama was heard telling Medvedev, apparently referring to incoming Russian president Vladi­mir Putin.

“Yeah, I understand,” Medvedev replied.

Obama interjected, saying, “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”

So: Obama was telling Putin there, through Medvedev, that his next Administration would soften its stand on America’s installing in eastern Europe, near and even on Russia’s borders, missiles that are designed to disable Russia’s ability to retaliate against a U.S. nuclear first-strike — the U.S. ABM or anti-ballistic-missile system.

Obama wasn’t lying only to America’s voters; he was shown there privately lying to Putin, by indicating to Medvedev that instead of becoming more aggressive (by his planned ABMs) against Russia in a second term, he’d become less aggressive (by negotiating with Putin about the matter — as you can see there, the nub of it was George Herbert Walker Bush’s lie to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990).

The missile system to disable Russia’s retaliatory force is extremely aggressive (the termination of the nuclear balance — called “Mutually Assured Destruction,” or MAD — replacing that by nuclear weapons as instruments ofconquest), and Putin had been constantly making clear that he wouldn’t accept it without hiking Russia’s armaments so as to counter it, if Obama goes forward with it.

Obama’s double-lie there — both to Americans in public, and to Putin in private — was as vicious as can possibly be imagined, because it could produce a nuclear war, which is something that neither the American people want, nor the Russian people want, nor Vladimir Putin wants, even if Barack Obama might (and he’s certainly playing a bold game of poker over it, which is the most vicious part of this entire affair).

But actually, Obama’s lie was even worse than this, because, from the very moment when he entered the White House in 2009, he already was hoping to invade Syria so as to eliminate Russia’s ally there, Bashar al-Assad. And, furthermore, Obama at the very start of his second term began preparations to overthrow another key Russian ally, the democratically elected President of Russia’s next-door neighbor Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. The coup in Ukraine started being implemented on 1 March 2013, which was well before the excuse for it (Yanukovych’s 20 November 2013 turn-down of Ukrainian membership in the EU) had even occurred; so, the lie that Obama’s anti-Russian sanctions are because Russia accepted Crimea’s return to Russia, after Obama actually stole Ukraine from its former Russian alliance, after Yanukovych rejected the EU’s offer to sell, to Ukraine, EU membership for a cost of $160 billion to be borne solely by Ukrainians, after Obama had set all of that up almost immediately after his second term began, is actually a string of lies by Obama about what he was doing and about what Putin was doing, and about what it all meant — and means.

And then, when Obama did spring his coup, in February 2014, which was an extremely violent coup, it was very reasonably seen to be a dangerous threat to the regions of Ukraine (Crimea and Donbass) that had voted over 75% for the man whom Obama had just overthrown, and they seceded in Crimea and in Donbass, because not only of the very real threat (and the Obama-regime’s ethnic-cleansing campaign against Donbass), but because they saw no legitimacy in their being ruled by their enemies, who are fake proponents of ‘democracy’, but actually aspiring global dictators.

Does there exist any lying by Donald Trump which trumps that? I have never been a Republican, but I certainly won’t vote for Hillary Clinton, who, in all details, has been similar to Obama on each of these matters, only even more reckless about her aggression than Obama has been — she was the Administration’s “super-hawk”.

On 9 January 2012, the geostrategist F. William Engdahl presented relevant immediate background for Obama’s lie asserting his alleged disagreement with Romney about Russia, when Engdahl headlined “Why Washington Wants ‘Finito’ with Putin”, and he opened (and he was one of the first Westerners to have read correctly the tea leaves on this):

Washington clearly wants ‘finito’ with Russia’s Putin as in basta! or as they said in Egypt last spring, Kefaya — enough!.  Hillary Clinton and friends have apparently decided Russia’s prospective next president, Vladimir Putin, is a major obstacle to their plans. Few however understand why.

Russia today, in tandem with China and to a significant degree Iran, form the spine, however shaky, of the only effective global axis of resistance to a world dominated by one sole superpower [to clarify: dominated by U.S.-based international corporations].

On December 8 several days after election results for Russia’s parliamentary elections were announced, showing a sharp drop in popularity for Prime Minister Putin’s United Russia party, Putin accused the United States and specifically Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of fuelling the Russian opposition protesters and their election protests. Putin stated, “The (US) Secretary of State was quick to evaluate the elections, saying that they are unfair and unjust even before she received materials from the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (the OSCE international election monitors-w.e.) observers.”

Obama’s hostility against Russia, and his reasons for it, were known to his targets, but in America’s ‘democracy’, were not only kept secret from the electorate, but Obama blatantly lied to them about the matter, and he won re-election on the basis of lies such as this — lies such as his calling Romney on ugly designs that Obama too (though secretly) held.

It’s not enough for America’s voracious aristocracy to control their own country; they’re determined to control all others, regardless of how much bloodshed and misery (all otherwise entirely unnecessary, including in Libya — which, likewise, under Gaddafi, had been friendly toward Russia) they’re creating in the process. And that’s what the most vicious lying is really all about: to hide their psychopathic intent, and their fundamental ugliness, as they go about their dirty-work.

Posted in USAComments Off on Who Is the More Vicious Liar: Trump, or Obama?

America’s Imperial Empire: The Sun Never Sets but the Mote remains in the Emperor’s Eye

NOVANEWS
 
Amerique_latine-Empire-US

Post-colonial empires are complex organizations.  They are organized on a multi-tiered basis, ranging from relative autonomous national and regional allies to subservient vassal states, with variations in between.

In the contemporary period, the idea of empire does not operate as a stable global structure, though it may aspire and strive for such.  While the US is the major imperial power, it does not dominate some leading global political-economic and military powers, like Russia and China.

Imperial powers, like the US, have well-established regional satellites but have also suffered setbacks and retreats from independent local economic and political challengers.

Empire is not a fixed structure rigidly embedded in military or economic institutions.  It contains sets of competing forces and relations, which can change over time and circumstances.  Moreover, imperial allies and clients do not operate through fixed patterns of submission.  While there is submission to general agreements on ideology, military doctrine and economic policy identified with imperial rulers, there are cases of vassal states pursuing their own links with non-imperial markets, investors and exporters.

If the global world of imperial power is complex and indeterminate to some degree, so is the internal political, economic, administrative and military structure of the imperial state. The imperial political apparatus has become more heavily weighted on the side of security institutions, than diplomatic and representative bodies.  Economic institutions are organized for overseas markets dominated by multi-national corporations against local markets and producers.  ‘Market economy’ is a misnomer.

Military-security institutions and budgets utilize most state functionaries and public resources, subordinating markets and diplomatic institutions to military priorities.

While imperial state operations function through their military and civilian administrative apparatus, there are competitive socio-political-class, ethnic and military configurations to consider.

In analyzing the effective or ‘real power’ of the principle institutions of the imperial state, one must distinguish between goals and results, purpose and actual performance. Often commentators make sweeping statements about ‘imperial power and dominance’, while in fact, some policies may have ended in costly losses and retreats due to specific national, local or regional alignments.

Hence it is crucial to look closely at the imperial interaction between its various tiers of allies and adversaries in order to understand the immediate and long-term structures and direction of imperial state policy.

This essay will first describe the leader-follower imperial relationships in four zones: US-Western Europe-Canada, Asia-Pacific, Middle East-Africa and Latin America and identify the terrain of struggles and conflict.  This will be followed by an examination of the contemporary ‘map of empire’.  We will then contrast the alignment of forces between Western imperial allies and their current adversaries.  In the final section we will look at the sources of fragmentation between the imperial state and economic globalization as well as the fissures and fallout between imperial allies and followers.

Tiers of Imperial Allies in the West

Western imperialism is a complex pyramidal structure where the dominant United States interacts through a five-tier system.  There is a vertical and horizontal configuration of leader and follower states that cannot be understood through simplistic ‘solar system’ metaphors of ‘centers, semi-peripheries and peripheries’.

Western imperial power extends and overlaps from the first tier to the second, that is, from the United States to France, England, Germany, Italy and Canada.  The scope and depth of US military, bureaucratic, political and economic institutions form the framework within which the followers operate.

The second tier of empire ties the top tier to the bottom tiers by providing military support and economic linkages, while securing autonomous levers to enlarge its own geo-political spheres.

The third tier of imperialism in the West comprises Poland, Scandinavia, the Low Countries and Baltic States.  These are geographically and economically within the sphere of Western Europe and militarily dependent on US-NATO military dominance.  The third tier is a heterogeneous group, ranging from highly advanced and sophisticated welfare-states like Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Holland and Belgium to relatively backward Baltic dependencies like Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania and Poland.  They exercise few independent power initiatives and depend on protection from the Tier 1 and 2 imperial centers.

Tier four’ states include countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania.  These are essentially satellite nations, who follow the leader imperial countries, providing bases, troops and tourist resorts.  In general, they have no independent voice or decision-making presence in regional or global conflicts.  Despite their instability and the occasional outbursts of radical dissent, , the lower tier countries have yet to break with the higher tiers controlled by the EU and NATO hierarchy.

The fifth-tier satellites include recently fabricated mini-states like Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Slovenia and Croatia, which act as military bases, tourist havens and economic dependencies.  They are the outcome of the first-tier and second-tier policies of ‘regime change’ and state dismemberment through NATO-led wars designed to destroy any remnant of the multi-ethnic social welfare states and degrade Russian influence, especially in Yugoslavia.

Mapping the leader-follower structure of the Western empire depends on the distribution of military resources and their location along the Russian border.  The US-EU Empire faces the problem of meeting rising economic demands from the multi-tiered empire, which has exceeded their capacity.  This had led to shifting trade alliances and independent pressure to ‘go beyond’the dictates of the imperial leaders.

Leader imperial states have tightened economic and political control over their followers – especially when the military consequences of empire have disrupted everyday life, security and the economy.  An ongoing example is the flood of millions of desperate refugees entering Europe, as a result of US imperial war policies in the Middle East and North Africa.  This mass influx threatens the political and social stability of Europe.  Following the US putsch in the Ukraine and the inevitable response from Moscow, Washington ordered an economic blockade of Russia.  The economic consequences of US-imposed sanctions against the giant Russian market has severely affected European exports, especially agriculture and heavy industry and caused instability in the energy market which was dominated by the now banned Russian petroleum and gas producers.

The Eastern Imperial Empire

The US imperial design in East Asia is vastly different in structure, allies and adversaries from that in the West.  The leaders and followers are very heterogeneous in the East.  The multi-tier US Empire in Asia is designed to undermine and eventually dominate North Korea and China.

Since the Second World War, the US has been the center of the Pacific empire. It also suffered serious military setbacks in Korea and Indo-China.  With the aid of its multi-tiered auxiliaries, the US has recovered its influence in Indo-China and South Korea.

The US position, as the first-tier imperial power, is sustained by second-tier imperial allies, such as Australia, New Zealand, India and Japan.

These second-tier allies are diverse entities.  For example, the Indian regime is a reticent latecomer to the US Empire and still retains a higher degree of autonomy in dealing with China.  In contrast, while Australia and New Zealand retained their dependent military ties with the US, they are increasingly dependent on Chinese commodity markets and investments.

Japan, a powerful traditional economic ally of the US, remains a weak military satellite of the US-Asian Empire.

Third-tier countries include South Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.  South Korea is the US’s most important military dependency, despite which it has moved steadily closer to the Chinese market, as has the populous Indonesian Republic.

Taiwan, while a military dependency of the US, has stronger ethnic and economic links to China than the US.

The Philippines is a backward US military vassal-state and former colony, which retains its legacy as an imperial enclave against China.  Thailand and Malaysia have remained as third-tier imperial auxiliaries, subject to occasional nationalist or democratic popular upsurges.

The fourth-tier countries within US East Asian Empire are the least reliable because they are relatively ‘new associates’.   Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar have transformed from independent statist economies to US-Japanese and Chinese-centered markets, financial and military dependencies.

The US Empire has focus on confronting China through its military, controlling its South China trading routes and trying to form regional economic trade agreements, which exclude China.  However, the imperial multi-tiered structure has been mostly limited to various US military harassment and joint ‘war games’ exercises with its clients and ‘allies’.  This has had minimal economic input from even their closest allies.  The US Eastern Empire has lost significant economic counterparts because of its confrontational approach to China.  Its provocative trade-pacts have failed to undermine China’s dynamic economy and trade.

The US Eastern Empire may dominate its multi-tiered allies, vassals and recent converts through its military.  It may succeed in provoking a serious military confrontation with China.  But it has failed to re-establish a dominant structure within Asia to sustain US imperial superiority in the event of a war.

China drives the growth and dynamism of Asia and is the vital market for regional products as well as a crucial supplier of minerals, precious metals, industrial products, high tech and service activity throughout the region.

The US has occasionally turned to its  ‘fifth-tier’ allies among non-state entities in Tibet and Hong Kong and among ethno-Islamist terrorist-separatist groups in Western China, using ‘human rights’ propaganda, but these have had no significant impact in weakening China or undermining its regional influence.

The Eastern Empire can wield none of the economic leverage in China that the Western empire has with Russia.  China has established more effective economic relations in Asia than Russia has with the West.  However, Russia has greater military capability and a more committed political will to push back Western imperial military threats than China. In recent years, Beijing has adopted a policy of strengthening its high tech military and maritime capabilities.  In the wake of the US putsch in the Ukraine and the West’s economic sanctions against Russia, Moscow has been forced to bolster strategic military-economic ties with China.  Joint security exercises between Russia and China , as well as greater trade, pose formidable counter-weights to the multi-tiered alliances linking the US and EU to Japan, Australia and South Korea.

In other words, the diverse geographic multi-tiered US imperial structures in the East do not and cannot, dominate a strategic top-tiered alliance of Russia and China, despite their lack of other strong military allies and client states.

If we look beyond European and Asian spheres of Empire to the Middle East and Latin America, the US imperial presence is subject to rapidly evolving power relations.  We cannot simply add or subtract from the US and Russian and Chinese rivalries, because these do not necessarily add up to a new ‘imperial’ or ‘autonomous’ center of power.

Imperial Power in the Middle East:  The Multi-Tiered Empire in Retreat

The US imperial empire in the Middle East occupies a pivotal point between West and East; between the top and secondary tiers of empire; between Islamic and anti-Islamic alliances.

If we extend the ‘Middle East’ to include South Asia and North Africa we capture the dimensions of the Western imperial quest for supremacy.

The imperial empire in the Middle East reflects US and Western European tiers of power as they interact with local counterparts and satellite states.

The US-EU top tiers link their goals of encircling and undermining Russia and regional adversaries, like Iran, with the regional ambitions of their NATO ally, Turkey.

Imperial powers in the Middle East and North Africa operate through local allies, auxiliaries and satellites as they compete for territorial fragments and power bases following the US ‘wars for regime changes’.

With the US at the top, the European Union, Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia comprise the second-tier allies.  Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq and Jordan, which are financial and political dependencies of the empire, rank as third-tier.  The fourth-tier includes the Gulf states, the Kurd war lords, Lebanese and Yemeni local puppets of the Saudi Monarchy and Israel’s client Palestinian Bantustan in the West Bank.

Saudi and Western-funded regional terrorist groups aspire to fourth-tier membership following a successful ‘regime change’ and territorial fragmentation in Syria.

The terrorist enclaves are located in Syria, Iraq and Libya and play a ‘specific and multi-purpose’ role in undermining adversaries in order to restore imperial dominance.

The Middle East Empire is the least stable region and the most susceptible to internal rivalries.

Israel exercises a unique and unrivaled voice in securing US financial and military resources and political support for its brutal colonial control over Palestine and Syrian territories and captive populations.  Saudi Arabia finances and arms autonomous Islamist terrorist groups as part of their policy of advancing the kingdom’s political- territorial designs in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Iran and the Gulf.  Turkey has its own regional ambitions and terrorist mercenaries. Within this volatile context, the US Empire finds itself competing with its auxiliaries for control over the same Middle East clients.

The Middle East Empire is fraught with powerful adversaries at each point of contention.  The huge, independent nation of Iran stands as a powerful obstacle to the West, Saudis, and Israel and competes for influence among satellites in the Gulf, Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.  Hezbollah, a powerful nationalist group within Lebanon, has played a crucial role defending Syria against dismemberment and is linked with Iran against Israeli intervention.     Russia has military and trade relations with Syria and Iran in opposition to the Western imperial alliance.  Meanwhile, the US imperial satellite states in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Egypt are rapidly disintegrating in the face of gross corruption, Islamist resurgence, policy incompetence and economic crises.

To speak formally of a ‘Western imperial empire’ in vast sections of the Middle East and North Africa is a misnomer for several reasons:

In Afghanistan, the Nationalist-Islamist Taliban and its allies control most of the country except for a few garrison cities.

Yemen, Libya and Iraq are battleground states, contested terrain with nothing remotely resembling a functioning imperial domain.  Iraq is under siege from the North by Kurds, the center by ISIS, the South by nationalist Shi’a militias and mass organizations in contention with grossly corrupt US imperial-backed puppets in Baghdad.

The US-EU mercenaries in Syria have been defeated by Syrian-Russian-Hezbollah-Iranian forces aided by independent Kurds.

Israel behaves more like a militarist ‘settler’ predator usurping historical Palestine than a reliable imperial collaborator.

So far, the empire project in the Middle East and North Africa has been the costliest and least successful for Western imperialism.  First and foremost, responsibility for the current Middle East imperial debacle falls directly on the top tier political and military leaders who have pursued policies and strategies (regime change and national dismemberment) incompatible with imperial precepts that normally guide empires.

The top tier of the US imperial-military elite follows Israeli military prerogatives, as dictated by the Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) embedded within the US state apparatus.  Their policy has been to destroy Islamic and Arab-nationalist structures and institutions of power – not conquer and reconfigure them to be absorbed into Western imperial institutions . . . as the US was able to do in Asia and Europe.  This parrots the Israeli- settler policy of ‘erasure’ and has made the region totally unstable for imperial trade.  The wanton dismemberment of the whole social-political-security institutional structure of Iraq is a prime example of the Israeli policy of ‘erasure’ promoted by US Zionist advisers on a grand scale.  The same advisers remain within the top tier imperial decision-making apparatus despite 15 years of abject failure.

Western empire’s multi-tier structure, from the US and Western Europe at the top to Kosovo at the bottom, have followed imperial imperatives.  In contrast Israeli imperatives direct US military power into perpetual war in the Middle East through the influential ZPC.

This divergent path and the inability to change course and rectify imperial policy has brought disastrous defeats, which have repercussions throughout the global empire, especially freeing up competitors and rivals in Asia and Latin America.

Tiers of Empire in Latin America

The US imperial empire expanded in Central America and the Caribbean during most of the 19th CENTURY and reigned supreme in the first half of the 20th century.  The exceptions included the nationalist revolutions in Haiti in the early 19th century and Paraguay in the mid-19th century.   After the US Civil War, the British Empire in Latin America was replaced by the US, which established a dominant position in the region, except during the successful Mexican Revolution.

Several major challenges have emerged to US imperial dominations in the middle of the 20th century.

The centerpiece of anti-imperialism was the Cuban Revolution in 1959, which provided political, ideological and material backing to a continent-wide challenge.  Earlier a socialist government emerged in Guyana in 1953 but was overthrown.

In 1965, the Dominican Revolution challenged a brutal US backed-dictator but was defeated by a direct US invasion.

In 1970-73 a democratic socialist government was elected in Chile and overthrown by a bloody CIA coup.

In 1971 a ‘workers and peasants’ coalition backed a nationalist military government in Bolivia only to be ousted by a US-backed military coup.

In Argentina (Peron), Brazil (Goulart) and Peru (Alvarez), nationalist-populist governments, opposed to US imperialism, were elected between the middle 1960’s to the mid 1970’s.  Each were overthrown by US-military coups.  Apart from the Cuban revolution, the US Empire successfully counter-attacked, relying on US and local business elites to back the military juntas in repressing anti-imperialist and nationalist political parties and movements.

The US Empire re-established its hegemony, based on a multi-tiered military and market directorate, headed at the top by the US.  Argentina, Brazil and Chile comprised the second-tier, a group of military dictatorships engaged in large-scale state terror and death squad assassinations and forcing hundreds of thousands into exile and prison.

The third-tier was based on US surrogates, generals and oligarch-families in Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The fourth-tier of satellite regimes included Central-America, except Nicaragua, and all of the Caribbean, except Cuba and (briefly) Grenada.

The US Empire ruled through predator allies and satellite oligarchs and successfully imposed a uniform imperial structure based on neo-liberal policies.  US-centered regional trade, investment and military pacts ensured its imperial supremacy, through which they sought to blockade and overthrow the Cuban revolution.  The US imperialist system reached its high point between the mid-1970’s to the late 1990’s – the Golden Age of Plunder.  After the pillage of the 1990’s, the empire faced a massive wave of challenges from popular uprisings, electoral changes and the collapse of the corrupt auxiliary neo-liberal regimes.

The US imperial empire faced powerful challenges from popular-nationalist regimes from 1999 to 2006 in Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador.  Dissident liberal-nationalist governments in Uruguay, Honduras and Paraguay posed their own challenges to imperial control.

The US empire was bogged down in multiple imperial wars in the Middle East (Iraq, Libya, Syria) Asia (Afghanistan) and Europe (Ukraine, Georgia, Yugoslavia), which undermined its capacity to intervene militarily in Latin America.

Cuba, the hemispheric center of the anti-imperialist politics, received economic aid from Venezuela and strengthened its diplomatic, trade and security alliances with the anti-interventionist center-left.  This provided an impetus to the formation of independent regional trade organizations, which traded heavily with US imperial rivals, China, Iran and Russia during the ‘commodity boom’.

While the US imperial empire in Latin America was in retreat, it had not suffered a strategic defeat because it maintained its powerful business, political and state auxiliary structures, which were ready to regroup and counter-attack at the ‘right moment’ – the end of the ‘global commodity boom’.

By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the US Empire counter-attacked, with their political-military clients taking power in the weakest links, Honduras and Paraguay.  Since then, neo-liberal extremists have been elected to the presidency in Argentina; a corrupt oligarch-led congress has impeached the President of Brazil; and the ground is being prepared to seize control in Venezuela.

The US Empire re-emerged in Latin America after a decade-long hiatus with a new or re-invigorated multi-tier structure.

At the top-tier is the United States, dependent on enforcement of its control through satellite military and business elites among the second-tier countries, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.

At the third-tier are Chile, Peru, Uruguay and the business-political elites in Venezuela, linked to the US and tier-twocountries.

The fourth-tier is dominated by weak submissive regimes in Central America (Panama, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador), the Caribbean (especially Santa Domingo, Haiti and Jamaica) and Paraguay.

The US has re-assembled its imperial structure in Latin American rapidly, creating an assemblage which is extremely fragile, incoherent and subject to disintegration.

The new neo-liberal regime in Argentine, the centerpiece of the empire, immediately faces the triple threat of mass unrest, economic crisis and a weak regime under siege.

Brazil’s new US neo-liberal constellation of characters are all under indictment for corruption and facing trials, while economic recession and social polarization is undermining their ability to consolidate imperial control.

Venezuela’s rightwing auxiliaries lack the economic resources to escape the demise of the oil economy, hyperinflation and the virulent internecine conflicts within the Right.

The US imperial empire in Latin America could best operate through links with the Asian-Pacific trade pact.  However, even with new Asian ties the Latin satellites exhibit none of their Asian counterparts’ stability.  Moreover, China’s dominant economic role in both regions has limited US hegemony over the principal props of the empire.

The Myth of a US Global Empire

The ‘narrative’ of a US global empire is based on several profound misconceptions, which have distorted the capacity of the US to dominate world politics.  The US regional empires operate in contested universes where powerful counter forces limit imperial dominance.

In Europe, Russia is a powerful counterforce, bolstered by its growing alliances in Asia (China), the Middle East (Iran) and, to a limited extent, by the BRIC countries.

Moreover, Washington’s multi-tiered allies in Europe have occasionally followed autonomous policies, which include Germany’s oil-gas independent agreements with Russia, eroding US efforts to undermine Moscow.

While it may appear that the ‘imperial military, banking, multi-national corporate structure’, at a high level of abstraction, operates within a common imperial enterprise, on issues of everyday policy-making, budgeting, war policies, trade agreements, diplomacy, subversion and the capitalist market-place there are multiple countervailing forces.

The empire’s multi-tiered allies have their own demands as well as sacrifices imposed on the US imperial center.

Internal members of the imperial structure define competing priorities via domestic power wielders.

The US Empire has extended its military operations to over 700 bases across the world but each operation has been subject to restraints and reversals.

            US multi-nationals have multi-billion dollar operations but they are forced to adjust to the demands of counter-imperial powers (China).  They evade almost a trillion dollars of US taxes while absorbing massive assets from the US Treasury in the form of subsidies, infrastructure and security arrangements.

            In sum, while the sun may never set on the empire, the emperors have lost their sight.

Posted in USAComments Off on America’s Imperial Empire: The Sun Never Sets but the Mote remains in the Emperor’s Eye

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