Archive | October 21st, 2019

India Is Confused; Where Does It Go from Here?

By Andre Vltchek

Global Research,

At J. Nehru University, most students know about China and Russia only from the BBC, Reuters and other Western media outlets. Even those individuals who claim they belong to the left are not immune; influenced mainly by the British propaganda.

It has been like this for years: usual confusion, all around India: tough nationalistic, even chauvinistic rhetoric, mixed with almost religious economic submission to the West, and often, to Western geo-political interests.

During the last few years, nationalism, as well as Hindu religious dogmatism have been gaining ground, while capitalism, often in its most vulgar and grotesque form, has been turned into a worshipped and bulletproof demagogy.

Gone are the days of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi. Now, there is no flirtation with socialism, anymore, and no attempt to create a country that would serve all of its citizens.

Like in Thailand, which is now the country with the most unequally distributed income on earth, Indian elites are thriving on their exceptionalism, on being separated from the poor majority by entire galaxies.

Here, Bentley and Jaguar showrooms rub shoulders with terrible, impenetrable slums. Expensive private hospitals are shamelessly seducing foreigners into “cheap” medical tourism, while the local poor are dying in pain and misery, often with no help at all.

*

For many years, I have been writing about this country, from Kerala and Tamil Nadu to the oppressed Northeast and Kashmir. I have encountered, and worked with, many local thinkers, opposition figures and artists.

Then, four years ago, after covering Kashmir, Assam and the deprived villages north of Delhi, something broke inside me, and I couldn’t stand what I saw here, anymore. I could not deal with the gang rapes, with people being tortured and forced to eat their own flesh. And I refused to be subjected to the most grotesque “security”measurements and bullying on earth.

“Democracy!”, people laughed at me, when I mentioned the word. “Yes, democracy, for them, for the rich. We the poor only stick pieces of paper into a box, take small bribes and alcohol from various political parties, before elections. We get beaten up if we do something the rulers and the rich consider wrong.”

I have had enough of the farce: in India, Indonesia, Thailand – wherever the brutal, nihilist regimes which have been reducing the majority of the population into beggars, have been clinging, almost unopposed, to power.

*

Then two months ago, the Student Association at Jawaharlal Nehru University, wrote me a letter, inviting me back to speak, this time about China and the conflict between the PRC and the United States.

The email exchange with the Students Union Leaders included a piece of information which I was actually aware of:

“The International Relations field is being completely taken over by pro US / pro NATO people here…”

“Everybody here is occupied with JNU student union elections next week. It is one of the most important places of ideological resistance to the current Fascist government in India. “

Modi… Yes. They hate Modi at JNU. Many do. But then later, in Delhi, after accepting the invitation, in an Uber from my hotel to the university, I was told, bluntly:

Your friends, including Arundhati Roy and a Kashmiri documentary film director Sanjay Kak, used to speak at this university, often. Now they cannot even show their faces here, or there would be a riot organized by the RSS.”

At that moment I knew that I am on my own. Ready to face the students at the school which could be still considered the best public university in India, but which was hostile to even the most luminous intellectuals this nation has recently produced.India: Living in the Pocket of Uncle Sam

I recalled how, four years ago, in a café in New Delhi, sitting at a table with Arundhati Roy and Sanjay Kak, I committed an indiscretion, exclaiming:

But India has such great opposition figures!”

Arundhati looked at me, sarcastically, and uttered:

Yes, and most of us are sitting, right now here, at this table.”

*

My encounter with the JNU students and researchers was colorful; from the beginning to the end. They wanted me to speak about the “Global South”, and about the conflict between the West and both China and Russia.

I did. But I also wanted to “take the pulse”, to understand, from their questions and statements, what they actually know, and what they would like to learn from exchanges like this.

For two full hours we faced each other, and these were not always pleasant moments.

I spoke about China and Russia as I knew them, experienced, and wrote about. They were shooting many questions at me, questions that were often shaped by the Western propaganda language, and by mass media jargon.

“Human rights”, “democracy”, “why does China do this?”, “why does Russia do that?”

I stood my ground.

“Why did China do nothing to help Cuba?”

I patiently explained that China saved Cuba, after the Soviet Union decomposed under Gorbachev and Yeltsin. Sarcastic sounds followed.

“Fidel Castro quoted me, and wrote that I was correct,” I uttered. This restored order. There was not much to add.

There were questions about Hong Kong. Confrontational questions. Definitely not questions that are asked among comrades. I did not lose my temper. Patiently, I explained what I recently witnessed in Hong Kong: the confusion of the rioters backed by European and North American countries. Violence and hate; destruction.

At the end, one young man asked me, with a smile: “And what about Iranian imperialism?”

“Iranian imperialism?” I couldn’t understand. I still did not fully comprehend that this was different India that I knew in quite a recent past.

“Yes. Iranian imperialism… You know: supporting Yemeni rebels, and brutal Assad’s dictatorship…”

I recalled how I was approached: [JNU] is one of the most important places of ideological resistance to the current Fascist government in India.

One of the left-activists and research scholars at JNU who asked not to be identified, and who was present during my presentation, later wrote for this essay:

“On the extreme right-wing violence kind of things like lynching, riots, hate speech, Hindutva interpretation of history etc. – there is some resistance from a section of liberal elites. Or resistance on caste issues from people who care about these issues.

But on long term policies of Indian state – pro-US foreign policy, neoliberal economic policies, etc – there is hardly any understanding or resistance. 

I even heard one ex-WTO guy in a seminar here – who was surprised to see the consensus among students on the ‘rule-based international trading system’ in contrast to fierce disagreements when he came a few years back. 

There are few teachers who are exceptions – but in general a far-right shift (in economic and foreign policy) is unfortunately true.”

That is obviously and unfortunately what is happening. I witnessed it at JNU, I was told this by my friends, and I felt it on the street.

*

Binu Mathew, the legendary Editor of “Countercurrents” magazine, based in Kerala, explained:

“During the cold war India was one of the conscience keepers of the world. It took a moral stand on world issues. Jawaharlal Nehru was one of the founders of the Non Aligned Movement during the Cold War. It was a huge moral force during those maddening times. It has completely lost now. It was done by the very followers of Nehru’s Congress party. They made India a minion of the USA by signing a military strategic partnership in 2008. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which came to power after the Congress-led government, took it to another level. In 2016, the US designated India a “Major Defense Partner”. Now India is following the dictate from Washington… I think the USA is using India as a bulwark against the growing Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Narendra Modi used to be the Chief Minister of Gujarat, during those brutal massacres that I covered. The right-wing, Hindu nationalist, paramilitary volunteer organization, RSS, responsible for those massacres, is now a major force on the Indian political scene. Mr. Modi is held responsible for the pogroms. The academic view of the “events” is summarized by Martha Nussbaum, who said:

“There is by now a broad consensus that the Gujarat violence was a form of ethnic cleansing, that in many ways it was premeditated, and that it was carried out with the complicity of the state government and officers of the law.”

Mr. Modi is now Prime Minister of India. Under his rule, the misery of the poor (the majority of the nation) is deepening. The shameful cast system is still firmly in place.

*

Leaving India for Thailand, I watched the extremely long Hindi film, called “Guru”. Melodramatic, badly acted and directed, but it was still worth watching.

Nowhere else in the world, would such films be possible to make a film glorifying capitalist, thuggish cronyism and corruption, a feel-good film about an ambitious young man becoming the owner of an industrial empire. In India, no one laughs at such propaganda, turbo-capitalist monstrosities. Such films are actually admired. People are dreaming to be like the main character.

While right-wing publications were lying everywhere, I couldn’t find or purchase the relatively progressive weekly news magazine Frontline; in my hotel, at the airport or on board the airplane.

A few years ago, I wrote an essay: “India Is Where? On Two Chairs!” Now, it is clearly sitting on the lap of the West. It has found “its place”.

The Global South? BRICS? Just words; at least for now. A few great individuals, like Arundhati Roy, are still fighting, but they are locked out, even from the J. Nehru University.

It is painful to accept, but it is the reality.

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US Democrats Helped Cultivate the Barbarism of ISIS

By Global Research News

Global Research, like many independent voices all over the globe, is feeling the effects of online measures set up to curtail access to our website, and by consequence, hinder our finances. We sail on despite the unpredictable currents and unfavourable forecasts. We can’t steer this ship alone however, we need your help!

We would be greatly indebted to you for any donation large or small. Can you contribute to help us meet our monthly running costs? Make no mistake, we intend to be here for years to come, but for the time being we ask for your help to stay afloat as we ride the storm out. 

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Tulsi Gabbard Is Right, and Nancy Pelosi Wrong. It Was US Democrats Who Helped Cultivate the Barbarism of ISIS

By Jonathan Cook,

Islamic State, or Isis, didn’t emerge out of nowhere. It was entirely a creation of two decades of US interference in the Middle East. And I’m not even referring to the mountains of evidence that US officials backed their Saudi allies in directly funding and arming Isis – just as their predecessors in Washington, in their enthusiasm to oust the Soviets from the region, assisted the jihadists who went on to become al-Qaeda.

Fifty Years Ago Today, US Soldiers Joined the Vietnam Moratorium Protests in Mass Numbers

By Derek Seidman,

Millions turned out across the United States in a historic day of action. Nothing else so conveyed the breadth of the antiwar movement. Life magazine described the Moratorium as “a display without historic parallel, the largest expression of public dissent ever seen in this country.” With the Moratorium, wrote Fred Halstead, “the antiwar movement for the first time reached the level of a full-fledged mass movement.”

Peace Restored in Ecuador. But Is Trust Restored?

By Nino Pagliccia,

The tipping point has been decree 883 that forced a series of measures such as removal of subsidies for gasoline and diesel fuels deregulating their price, which caused a price increase of 20 percent up to more than 100 percent. Other costs were in turn affected together with everything that relies on transportation like food. Additional aspects of the decree included the elimination of import duties and the lay-off of thousands of public employees. This was viewed as part of a set of austerity measuresimposed on the country by the IMF, which Ecuadoreans referred to as “paquetazo” (big package). In exchange, the Moreno government was to receive more than $4 billion from the IMF at t

Ecuadorean General Strike Wins Concession on Fuel Subsidies

By Abayomi Azikiwe,

The government of Lenin Moreno, adhering to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditionality, announced the new economic program which resulted in the sharp rise in the price of diesel by 100% and petroleum by 30%. These price increases happened over night making it impossible for many working people and farmers to pay for their household expenses. These hyperinflationary trends also resulted in the rise in food prices and the cost of transportation. The Moreno government initially rejected the demands of the unions and mass organizations saying that fuel subsidies had cost the country over $60 Billion.

Bolivia at the Crossroads: Choosing Between Continued Success or Handover to US Hegemony

By Peter Koenig,

The United States has not stopped trying to change public opinion with false propaganda and making incredibly ludicrous promises to the population. For example, US Embassy people – maybe Fifth Columnists on US payroll, promised the population of the poor Yungas region of Bolivia, new and asphalted roads, if they didn’t support Evo Morales in the upcoming elections. There are also flagrant lies circulating, that Evo and his families had stolen hundreds of millions of dollars and deposited them in a secret account in the Bank of the Vatican.  Similar lies as are being spread about Nicolas Maduro, the Castro family, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, the leaders of Iran and Syria and many more, who oppose the dictate of Washington.

US Interventions in Canada – A Brief History

By Larry Romanoff,

The US has always maintained a dream of annexing Canada and expanding the American homeland empire to include the entire length and breadth of the North American continent. The ambition to take territorial control of Canada has existed since before the founding of the US and has not measurably diminished since then. The US has invaded Canada five times, the last attempt involving plans to bury most of Canada in poison gas. In the 1970s the US launched an extensive program of propaganda and violence intended to fragment and dismember Canada as a prelude to swallowing it, and is again trying to absorb Canada today through its misbegotten “Fortress America” scheme. A forcible military option disappeared from the radar for some time, but could easily reappear in the future especially as the US begins to increasingly covet Canada’s fresh-water resources.

The Road to Damascus: How the Syria War Was Won

By Pepe Escobar,

Starting in 1963, the Baath party, secular and nationalist, took over Syria, finally consolidating its power in 1970 with Hafez al-Assad, who instead of just relying on his Alawite minority, built a humongous, hyper-centralized state machinery mixed with a police state. The key actors who refused to play the game were the Muslim Brotherhood, all the way to being massacred during the hardcore 1982 Hama repression.

Posted in USA, Middle EastComments Off on US Democrats Helped Cultivate the Barbarism of ISIS

Behind the US-backed Venezuelan opposition’s massive corruption scandal

PUSHBACK WITH AARON MATÉ

On Pushback with Aaron Maté, The Grayzone’s Anya Parampil explains how the Trump-backed right-wing opposition has essentially liquidated Venezuela’s most valuable foreign asset, Citgo, enriching US and Canadian corporations.

Video by Ben Norton

Read Anya Parampil’s report “The Citgo conspiracy: Opposition figures accuse Guaidó officials of ‘scam’ to liquidate Venezuela’s most prized international asset

Anya Parampil explains that “the Citgo conspiracy is the central piece” of the corruption scandal, showing “the true face of the Guaidó shadow regime.”

“It really just exposes the corrupt nature of the Venezuelan opposition, but also how US sanctions have enabled the theft of Venezuela’s most value international asset,” she said.

“It’s because those assets in the United States were frozen and turned over to this gang of officials claiming to represent Guaidó, while he meanwhile represents no material government in Caracas, that has allowed for, in the very near future perhaps, Citgo to be completely liquidated, to cease to exist as we know it, and for companies like Exxon and Crystallex to benefit financially from the Trump coup.”

Parampil added, “If they can’t win support on the ground in Venezuela, and they are never going to actually change the government, they can at least steal all of Venezuela’s assets, and essentially turn it over to US corporations.”

Posted in USA, VenezuelaComments Off on Behind the US-backed Venezuelan opposition’s massive corruption scandal

Longest-held US political prisoner sends support from Puerto Rico to Venezuela

The world’s longest-held political prisoner, Puerto Rican revolutionary Oscar López Rivera, who was incarcerated in the US for 36 years, sent a message of solidarity to Venezuela

Video and translation by Ben Norton

The Grayzone@GrayzoneProject

The world’s longest-held political prisoner, Puerto Rican revolutionary Oscar López Rivera—who was incarcerated in the US for 36 years—sent a message of solidarity to Venezuela:

“We cannot allow the US government to continue with this practice of wanting to dominate and control”

2609:19 PM – Oct 20, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy173 people are talking about this

Transcript

A greeting, with a lot of love, to all of the Venezuelan people. And an enormous memory in this Boricua (Puerto Rican) heart of Commander Hugo Chávez Frías.

I want to let the Venezuelan people know that the interference of the US government doesn’t matter; you can always, always, count on our support and solidarity.

And if the US government causes discomfort for the Venezuelan people, we are going to feel that discomfort, and we are going to be with that people.

I have defended the position of the President Nicolás Maduro, when I have been criticized, because I support Venezuela. Our support for Venezuela is mandatory.

We cannot allow the US government to continue with this practice of wanting to dominate and control it. This is not going to happen.

And I celebrate what the Venezuelan people have done until now, and I believe that the future of Venezuela is secure.

Ben Norton

Ben Norton is a journalist, writer, and filmmaker. He is the assistant editor of The Grayzone, and the producer of the Moderate Rebels podcast, which he co-hosts with editor Max Blumenthal. His website is BenNorton.com and he tweets at @BenjaminNorton.https://bennorton.com

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Tulsi Gabbard Is Right, and Nancy Pelosi Wrong. It Was US Democrats Who Helped Cultivate the Barbarism of ISIS

By Jonathan Cook

Global Research,

There is something profoundly deceitful in the way the Democratic Party and the corporate media are framing Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria.

One does not need to defend Trump’s actions or ignore the dangers posed to the Kurds, at least in the short-term, by the departure of US forces from northern Syria to understand that the coverage is being crafted in such a way as to entirely overlook the bigger picture.

The problem is neatly illustrated in this line from a report by the Guardian newspaper of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s meeting this week with Trump, who is described as having had a “meltdown”. Explaining why she and other senior Democrats stormed out, the paper writes that “it became clear the president had no plan to deal with a potential revival of Isis in the Middle East”.

Hang on a minute! Let’s pull back a little, and not pretend – as the media and Democratic party leadership wish us to – that the last 20 years did not actually happen. Many of us lived through those events. Our memories are not so short.

Islamic State, or Isis, didn’t emerge out of nowhere. It was entirely a creation of two decades of US interference in the Middle East. And I’m not even referring to the mountains of evidence that US officials backed their Saudi allies in directly funding and arming Isis – just as their predecessors in Washington, in their enthusiasm to oust the Soviets from the region, assisted the jihadists who went on to become al-Qaeda.

No, I’m talking about the fact that in destroying three key Arab states – Iraq, Libya and Syria – that refused to submit to the joint regional hegemony of Saudi Arabia and Israel, Washington’s local client states, the US created a giant void of governance at the heart of the Middle East. They knew that that void would be filled soon enough by religious extremists like Islamic State – and they didn’t care.

Overthrow, not regime change

You don’t have to be a Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi or Bashar Assad apologist to accept this point. You don’t even have to be concerned that these so-called “humanitarian” wars violated each state’s integrity and sovereignty, and are therefore defined in international law as “the supreme war crime”.

The bigger picture – the one no one appears to want us thinking about – is that the US intentionally sought to destroy these states with no obvious plan for the day after. As I explained in my book Israel and the Clash of Civilisations, these haven’t so much been regime-change wars as nation-state dismantling operations – what I have termed overthrow wars.

The logic was a horrifying hybrid of two schools of thought that meshed neatly in the psychopathic foreign policy goals embodied in the ideology of neoconservatism – the so-called “Washington consensus” since 9/11.

The first was Israel’s long-standing approach to the Palestinians. By constantly devastating any emerging Palestinian institution or social structures, Israel produced a divide-and-rule model on steroids, creating a leaderless, ravaged, enfeebled society that sucked out all the local population’s energy. That strategy proved very appealing to the neoconservatives, who saw it as one they could export to non-compliant states in the region.

The second was the Chicago school’s Shock Doctrine, as explained in Naomi Klein’s book of that name. The chaotic campaign of destruction, the psychological trauma and the sense of dislocation created by these overthrow wars were supposed to engender a far more malleable population that would be ripe for a US-controlled “colour revolution”.

The recalcitrant states would be made an example of, broken apart, asset-stripped of their resources and eventually remade as new dependent markets for US goods. That was what George W Bush, Dick Cheney and Halliburton really meant when they talked about building a New Middle East and exporting democracy.

Even judged by the vile aims of its proponents, the Shock Doctrine has been a half-century story of dismal economic failure everywhere it has been attempted – from Pinochet’s Chile to Yeltsin’s Russia. But let us not credit the architects of this policy with any kind of acumen for learning from past errors. As Bush’s senior adviser Karl Rove explained to a journalist whom he rebuked for being part of the “reality-based community”: “We’re an empire now and, when we act, we create our own reality.”US to Set Up 30,000-strong “Border Force” in Syria

The birth of Islamic State

The barely veiled aim of the attacks on Iraq, Libya and Syria was to destroy the institutions and structures that held these societies together, however imperfectly. Though no one likes to mention it nowadays, these states – deeply authoritarian though they were – were also secular, and had well-developed welfare states that ensured high rates of literacy and some of the region’s finest public health services.

One can argue about the initial causes of the uprising against Assad that erupted in Syria in 2011. Did it start as a popular struggle for liberation from the Assad government’s authoritarianism? Or was it a sectarian insurgency by those who wished to replace Shia minority rule with Sunni majority rule? Or was it driven by something else: as a largely economic protest by an under-class suffering from food shortages as climate change led to repeated crop failures? Or are all these factors relevant to some degree?

Given how closed a society Syria was and is, and how difficult it therefore is to weigh the evidence in ways that are likely to prove convincing to those not already persuaded, let us set that issue aside too. Anyway, it is irrelevant to the bigger picture I want to address.

The indisputable fact is that Washington and its Gulf allies wished to exploit this initial unrest as an opportunity to create a void in Syria – just as they had earlier done in Iraq, where there were no uprisings, nor even the WMDs the US promised would be found and that served as the pretext for Bush’s campaign of Shock and Awe.

The limited uprisings in Syria quickly turned into a much larger and far more vicious war because the Gulf states, with US backing, flooded the country with proxy fighters and arms in an effort to overthrow Assad and thereby weaken Iranian and Shia influence in the region. The events in Syria and earlier in Iraq gradually transformed the Sunni religious extremists of al-Qaeda into the even more barbaric, more nihilistic extremists of Islamic State.

A dark US vanity project

After Rove and Cheney had their fill playing around with reality, nature got on with honouring the maxim that it always abhors a vacuum. Islamic State filled the vacuum Washington’s policy had engineered.

The clue, after all, was in the name. With the US and Gulf states using oil money to wage a proxy war against Assad, Isis saw its chance to establish a state inspired by a variety of Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabist dogma. Isis needed territory for their planned state, and the Saudis and US obliged by destroying Syria.

This barbarian army, one that murdered other religious groups as infidels and killed fellow Sunnis who refused to bow before their absolute rule, became the west’s chief allies in Syria. Directly and covertly, we gave them money and weapons to begin building their state on parts of Syria.

Again, let us ignore the fact that the US, in helping to destroy a sovereign nation, committed the supreme war crime, one that in a rightly ordered world would ensure every senior Washington official faces their own Nuremberg Trial. Let us ignore too for the moment that the US, consciously through its actions, brought to life a monster that sowed death and destruction everywhere it went.

The fact is that at the moment Assad called in Russia to help him survive, the battle the US and the Gulf states were waging through Islamic State and other proxies was lost. It was only a matter of time before Assad would reassert his rule.

From that point onwards, every single person who was killed and every single Syrian made homeless – and there were hundreds of thousands of them – suffered their terrible fate for no possible gain in US policy goals. A vastly destructive overthrow war became instead something darker still: a neoconservative vanity project that ravaged countless Syrian lives.

A giant red herring

Trump now appears to be ending part of that policy. He may be doing so for the wrong reasons. But very belatedly – and possibly only temporarily – he is seeking to close a small chapter in a horrifying story of western-sponsored barbarism in the Middle East, one intimately tied to Islamic State.

What of the supposed concerns of Pelosi and the Democratic Party under whose watch the barbarism in Syria took place. They should have no credibility on the matter to begin with.

But their claims that Trump has “no plan to deal with a potential revival of Isis in the Middle East” is a giant red herring they are viciously slapping us in the face with in the hope the spray of seawater blinds us.

First, Washington sowed the seeds of Islamic State by engineering a vacuum in Syria that Isis – or something very like it – was inevitably going to fill. Then, it allowed those seeds to flourish by assisting its Gulf allies in showering fighters in Syria with money and arms that came with only one string attached – a commitment to Sunni jihadist ideology inspired by Saudi Wahhabism.

Isis was made in Washington as much as it was in Riyadh. For that reason, the only certain strategy for preventing the revival of Islamic State is preventing the US and the Gulf states from interfering in Syria again.

With the Syrian army in charge of Syrian territory, there will be no vacuum for Isis to fill. The jihadists’ state-building project is now unrealisable, at least in Syria. Islamic State will continue to wither, as it would have done years before if the US and its Gulf allies had not fuelled it in a proxy war they knew could not be won.

Doomed Great Game

The same lesson can be drawn by looking at the experience of the Syrian Kurds. The Rojava fiefdom they managed to carve out in northern Syria during the war survived till now only because of continuing US military support. With a US departure, and the Kurds too weak to maintain their improvised statelet, a vacuum was again created that this time has risked sucking in the Turkish army, which fears a base for Kurdish nationalism on its doorstep.

The Syrian Kurds’ predicament is simple: face a takeover by Turkey or seek Assad’s protection to foil Turkish ambitions. The best hope for the Kurds looks to be the Syrian army’s return, filling the vacuum and regaining a chance of long-term stability.

That could have been the case for all of Syria many tens of thousands of deaths ago. Whatever the corporate media suggest, those deaths were lost not in a failed heroic battle for freedom, which, even if it was an early aspiration for some fighters, quickly became a goal that was impossible for them to realise. No, those deaths were entirely pointless. They were sacrificed by a western military-industrial complex in a US-Saudi Great Game that dragged on for many years after everyone knew it was doomed.

Nancy Pelosi’s purported worries about Isis reviving because of Trump’s Syria withdrawal are simply crocodile fears. If she is really so worried about Islamic State, then why did she and other senior Democrats stand silently by as the US under Barack Obama spent years spawning, cultivating and financing Isis to destroy Syria, a state that was best placed to serve as a bulwark against the head-chopping extremists?

Axios@axios

Tulsi Gabbard calls The New York Times and CNN — the hosts of the debate — “completely despicable” for alleging she is a Russian asset and Assad apologist.19.7K2:19 AM – Oct 16, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy6,698 people are talking about this

Pelosi and the Democratic leadership’s bad faith – and that of the corporate media – are revealed in their ongoing efforts to silence and smear Tulsi Gabbard, the party’s only candidate for the presidential nomination who has pointed out the harsh political realities in Syria, and tried to expose their years of lies.

Pelosi and most of the Democratic leadership don’t care about Syria, or its population’s welfare. They don’t care about Assad, or Isis. They care only about the maintenance and expansion of American power – and the personal wealth and influence it continues to bestow on them.

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US Syria Pullout? A Saigon Moment?

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research,

The 1972 Church/Case amendment ended congressional funding for US military operations in Southeast Asia — except for withdrawal of Pentagon forces, subject to release of prisoners of war.

In June 1973, congressional legislation ended all funding after August 15. After escalating Southeast Asia war to Cambodia and Laos, wanting it ended was a key reason why US dark forces sought Nixon’s removal from office.

Threatening entrenched military/industrial/security and other interests marked him for removal — Trump targeted the same way now. Dems, CIA elements, and supportive media also want revenge for winning an election he was supposed to lose.

On April 30, 1975, US forces completed their withdrawal from the rooftop of its Saigon embassy, ending over a decade of aggression against a nonbelligerent state threatening no one.

The 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution authorized war without declaring it, based on a false flag incident.

All wars are based on Big Lies and deception. Truth and full disclosure would destroy pretexts for launching them.

Congress can end all US wars of aggression today the way lawmakers acted in the 1970s by cutting off funding without which they can’t be waged.

Congressional profiles in courage are few and far between — Tulsi Gabbard the only anti-war/progressive presidential aspirant for world peace, stability and social justice in either wing of the one-party state.

The vast majority of House and Senate members support endless US wars. Since the Clinton co-presidency’s rape of Yugoslavia, countless trillions of dollars were spent for militarism, warmaking, and the Pentagon’s global empire of bases, used as platforms for war if ordered — at the expense of vital homeland needs and eroding social justice.

The US came to all its war theaters to stay — directly the way Douglas MacArthur ran Japan from 1945 – 1951, by installing puppet regimes serving its interests, or a combination of both strategies as in Afghanistan and Iraq, their people exploited and otherwise abused.

According to US war secretary Mark Esper, Pentagon forces in northern Syria aren’t coming home. They’re being redeployed cross-border to (occupied) Iraq.

US troops illegally occupying and controlling southern areas in Syria near the Iraqi and Jordanian borders remain in place.

Esper falsely claimed that redeployed US forces to Western Iraq will protect the country and combat ISIS, saying:

The plan “is to help defend Iraq (sic) and…to perform a counter-ISIS mission (sic) as we sort through the next steps. Things could change between now and whenever we complete the withdrawal, but that’s the game plan right now.”

Asked if US special forces will remain in Syria after the northern cross-border redeployment, Esper said it’s an option to be discussed with US (imperial) allies, adding: “(W)e have to work through those details.”Trump U-Turning on Syria Pullout?

Since Bush/Cheney’s 2003 Iraq aggression, US forces continue to illegally occupy and exploit the country, a puppet regime serving its interests.

Along with al-Qaeda, its al-Nusra offshoot in Syria, and likeminded terrorist groups, the US created ISIS, supporting the scourge as proxy troops it pretends to combat — backed by Pentagon-led terror-bombing, including destruction of vital infrastructure in Syria and elsewhere.

Since Obama launched aggression on Syria in early 2011, US plans for wanting overwhelmingly popular Bashar al-Assad replaced by pro-Western puppet rule remain unchanged.

It’s part of a greater US/NATO/Israeli strategy to redraw the Middle East map, what the scourge of imperialism is all about, including horrendous human rights abuses against affected populations.

The road to Tehran runs through Damascus. In August 2011, Michel Chossudovsky explained the following:

“The Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003 (falsely)  categorizes Syria as a ‘rogue state,’ as a country which supports terrorism,” adding:

“A US-NATO sponsored war on Iran would involve, as a first step, a destabilization campaign (‘regime change’) including covert intelligence operations in support of rebel forces directed against the Syrian government.”

“An extended Middle East Central Asian war has been on the Pentagon’s drawing board since the mid-1990s.”

“As part of this extended war scenario, the US-NATO alliance plans to wage a military campaign against Syria under a UN sponsored ‘humanitarian mandate.’ ”

Things haven’t gone as planned, mainly because of Russia’s September 2015 intervention at the request of Damascus to aid its military combat US-supported terrorists.

Moscow’s involvement changed the dynamic on the ground, preventing Washington from gaining control of Syria and isolating Iran regionally.

Most of the country was liberated from US-supported terrorists, Idlib province controlled by thousands of al-Nusra jihadists the main exception.

US tactics for controlling Syria changed because of Russia’s involvement, not its war party’s imperial objectives — aiming for unchallenged regional control by replacing sovereign governments in the Syrian Arab Republic and Iran with pro-Western puppet regimes, similar to US control of Afghanistan and Iraq.

That’s where things now stand. Russia foiled the best laid US plans. Yet bipartisan policymakers in Washington support endless war, rejecting restoration of peace and stability to Syria and other US war theaters.

Trump falsely claimed he’s “(b)ringing soldiers home” from Syria. Around 3,000 more are heading to Saudi Arabia, increasing the Pentagon’s regional footprint.

Note: The US/Turkey deal announced last week includes no restrictions on Pentagon-led NATO/IDF terror-bombing of Syrian sites.

It’s further evidence of endless US-led war in Syria — begun nine years ago next March with no near-term prospect for resolution.

A Final Comment

There are world’s apart differences between US 1960s/70s Southeast Asia war and its involvement in Syria today.

Notably, there were hundreds of thousands of Pentagon forces involved in Vietnam combat, thousands returned home in body bags, reported by US media — especially by CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite.

On February 27, 1968 at the end of his nightly newscast, he editorialized on air for three minutes against the war, ending his anti-war commentary, saying:

“(I)t is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out…will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people…This is Walter Cronkite. Good night.”

At the time, Lyndon Johnson said if he lost Cronkite, he lost middle America. Shortly afterwards, he announced that he wouldn’t seek reelection in November 1968.

No Walter Cronkites in the US report on air or in print today, a major difference between earlier and now.

The main difference between both eras is how Washington wages wars — earlier with US combat troops on the ground in large numbers through Bush/Cheney’s 2003 Iraq aggression.

Since then, ISIS and other terrorists serve as US proxy forces, small numbers of Pentagon troops supporting them, along with terror-bombing by US and allied warplanes.

In addition, reporters are embedded with US troops in various venues, their war reporting amounting to Pentagon press releases.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

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Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZI, SyriaComments Off on US Syria Pullout? A Saigon Moment?

Fifty Years Ago Today, US Soldiers Joined the Vietnam Moratorium Protests in Mass Numbers

By Derek Seidman

Global Research,

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the October 15, 1969 Moratorium, perhaps the most important US protest during the war against Vietnam.

Millions turned out across the United States in a historic day of action. Nothing else so conveyed the breadth of the antiwar movement. Life magazine described the Moratorium as “a display without historic parallel, the largest expression of public dissent ever seen in this country.” With the Moratorium, wrote Fred Halstead, “the antiwar movement for the first time reached the level of a full-fledged mass movement.”

The Moratorium’s organizers urged people across the country to dedicate October 15 to protesting the war. With the hawkish Nixon in the Oval Office, and with the war showing no end in sight, antiwar forces needed to make a powerful statement that would jolt the political climate in the United States.

When October 15 came, some two million people across two hundred cities took part. There were the expected huge demonstrations — a quarter-million people each in New York City and Washington, DC, and another hundred thousand in Boston, for example. But the scope of antiwar sentiment was also reflected in the many local expressions the Moratorium took across the nation. As one historian described it:

Everywhere, black armbands; everywhere, flags at half staff; church services, film showings, teach-ins, neighbor-to-neighbor canvasses. In North Newton, Kansas, a bell tolled every four seconds, each clang memorializing a fallen soldier; in Columbia, Maryland, an electronic sign counted the day’s war deaths. Milwaukee staged a downtown noontime funeral procession. Hastings College, an 850-student Presbyterian school in Nebraska, suspended operations. Madison, Ann Arbor, and New Haven were only a few of the college towns to draw out a quarter of their populations or more.

Throughout 1969, Nixon had tried to paint the growing antiwar movement as the fringe of the Left. But the Moratorium proved that that the movement was undeniably mainstream, a core pole of American life, able to influence the terms of political debate over the war.

But to understand the true extent of the Moratorium, we must look closely at an oft-overlooked group of participants: the US soldiers serving in the military’s ranks who were made to fight the war.

Police halt an effort to throw a casket over the White House fence protesting the Vietnam War October 15, 1969 as part of the Moratorium Against the War. Washington Area Spark / FlickrHundreds, and perhaps thousands, of GIs actively took part in Moratorium actions, both in October 1969 as well as in further Moratorium protests later in the year. Some attended off-base demonstrations. Many signed their names to public statements against the war. Others wore black armbands. Some educated and organized fellow troops in solidarity with the Moratorium. Dozens wrote letters to antiwar papers and groups to express their sympathy with the protests. And many worked alongside civilian allies to take their antiwar stance.This is history that flies in the face of popular memory, shaped and politicized by right-wing myths, that pit Vietnam War–era soldiers against the antiwar movement, posit that peace protests at home demoralized troops in Vietnam, or claim that protesters spit upon GIs.

The history of GI protest during the Vietnam War — and the affinity that many soldiers felt with the Moratorium actions — tells another story. Many troops were part of the antiwar movement. The horrible war they were fighting, and the harassment and racism they endured from the military brass, was hurting their morale. And civilian antiwar organizers viewed them with sympathy and solidarity, offered various forms of support, and, most of all, worked tirelessly with them to try to end the war.

This all may seem to be remote history at this point, but it’s still deeply relevant. The construction of the mainstream memory of the Vietnam War in the United States has been a deeply political and ideological process. Conservative efforts to define the Vietnam War–era US soldier as “spit upon” and “stabbed in the back” by antiwar protesters have gone hand in hand with manufacturing popular consent for war-making over the past half-century.

But the history of GI resistance during the Vietnam War — and during the Moratorium — tells another story that challenges these militarist narratives: that soldiers weren’t pitted against the antiwar movement. Many were part of it.

The GI Movement

Active-duty GIs had been protesting the war as early as 1965, and by 1969, that protest had evolved into a full-on movement. The GI movement — as it was called — was an effort by active-duty soldiers and veterans, working closely with civilian allies, to organize troops to oppose the war, resist the military brass, fight racism, and protect GI civil liberties. While often local, sporadic, and decentralized, the resistance that made up the GI movement was loosely tied together by common symbols, narratives, organizing vehicles, and outside support.

Thousands of soldiers plugged into and participated in the GI movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They signed petitions, joined antiwar marches, and donned peace symbol necklaces. They formed their own soldier antiwar groups with names like GIs for Peace, the American Servicemen’s Union, and Movement for a Democratic Military. They flocked to off-base antiwar coffeehouses and circulated hundreds of subversive newspapers deep into the military’s ranks.

And all this was just the more organized expression of a much larger reservoir of disobedience and rebellion throughout the ranks of the armed forces — leading, for example, journalist John Pilger to film a 1970 documentary on US soldiers in Vietnam titled The Quiet Mutiny, and a famed Marine colonel to declare the “collapse of the armed forces” in the pages of the Armed Forces Journal in June 1971. (For more background on the GI movement, see the new book, Waging Peace in Vietnam: US Soldiers and Veterans Who Opposed the War, as well as David Cortright’s Soldiers in Revolt, David Parsons’ recent book on GI coffeehouses, and the documentary Sir! No Sir!).

A crucial factor in building the GI movement was the solidarity between dissident soldiers and the antiwar civilians who helped them organize. This is important, because the history of the GI movement dispels the notion that the antiwar movement hated soldiers. Rather, many peace activists sympathized with the plight of US troops and helped organize them to end the war.

They fundraised for the GI movement, offered legal help, and aided in the staffing of coffeehouses and the production of GI papers. Some tensions may have existed between antiwar civilians and GIs, but their relationship was far from what scholar Jerry Lembcke has called the “spitting image,” the myth that peace activists spit on US soldiers, would have us believe. Rather, the spitting image was a trope that was mobilized after the war for conservative political gain and to serve a revived American militarism.

By the time the October 15, 1969 Moratorium rolled around, then, GIs were not only increasingly seen as a crucial constituency within the wider antiwar movement, but they had already succeeded in organizing themselves into their own loose antiwar movement that stretched across the globe.

The October Moratorium

via History Workshop UK.In the leadup to the October Moratorium, civilian antiwar groups like the Student Mobilization Committee (SMC) and the Vietnam Moratorium Committee (VMC) sought to recruit GIs into the action. For example, Jerry Lembcke cites a memorandum that the VMC sent widely to GI antiwar newspapers that read:

We are eager to have servicemen join our national campaign to maximize public pressure for peace. We are writing for your help in getting GIs to participate in a ‘recurring moratorium’ on “business as usual.”

The memo gave suggestions for actions GIs could take, such as holding on-base meetings to discuss GI rights, sending letters to elected officials, and holding fasts during the day of the Moratorium. The VMC also offered legal help to soldiers that made the decision to protest, since this could invite punishment from the military brass.

GIs across the world answered the call to participate in the October Moratorium. Some joined or held stateside protests. For example, seventy-five soldiers stationed at Fort Carson participated in a protest in Colorado Springs, while around 150 soldiers at Fort Sam Houston signed a petition to protest on base. When their request was denied, they held their protest in downtown San Antonio. Hundreds of other GIs elsewhere also took part in Moratorium events.

These dissident troops made their antiwar stance known to the wider movement. For example, twenty-three GIs at Fort Sam Houston signed a Western Union Telegram sent to the New Mobilization Committee that read:

WE THE UNDERSIGNED MEMBERS OF COMPANY E 4TH BN US A MTC FORT SAM HOUSTON TEXAS SUPPORT YOUR EFFORTS IN BRINGING ABOUT A SPEEDY END TO THE WAR IN VIET NAM PS AND LOTS MORE WHO COULD NOT AFFORD TO LIST.

But GIs didn’t just protest stateside. They also joined the Moratorium from Vietnam.

“In the foothills south of Danang,” wrote the the New York Times, “about 15 members of a platoon of the Americal Division wore black armbands as they marched on patrol. ‘It’s my way of protesting,’ one soldier told a reporter. ‘We wanted to do something, and this was the only thing we could think of.’”

The high stakes of the war for these GIs was not lost in the Times’s reporting. “Before the day was out,” the article said, “four of the protesting soldiers had been wounded by Vietcong booby traps.”

Historian Tom Wells writes that another half-dozen troops “donned armbands at the gigantic Tan Son Nhut air base.” Wells also quotes draft resister Michael Ferber, who visited with some US psy-war troops in Vietnam before the protest:

Between drags of “unbelievable” Cambodian grass, the GIs “wanted to know all about the Moratorium,” Ferber recalled. “They were all against the war … I was amazed that morale had degenerated to that extent.”

Lembcke also writes that Life reporter Hal Wingo interviewed around a hundred GIs around the time of the October Moratorium. One of them was Private Jim Beck of the Army’s 101st Division. His brother had been killed in Khe San, and Beck had gone to Vietnam to seek revenge, but he told Wingo “[t]he demonstrators are right to speak up because this war is wrong and it must be stopped.”

Another soldier Wingo who spoke to was PFC Chris Yapp. “I think the protesters may be the only ones who really give a damn about what’s happening,” Yapp told Wingo.

Wingo observed that many GIs in Vietnam did not view the antiwar movement as “anti-soldier”; just the opposite. “Many soldiers regard the organized antiwar campaign in the US with open and outspoken sympathy,” Wingo wrote; and he noted that “the protests in the US are not demoralizing troops in the field.”

Lembcke quotes a letter from one servicemember, Sergeant James C. Ruh, who expressed his support for the October 15 Moratorium and blasted the notion that the antiwar movement was hurting troop morale.

“It has been argued by people, such as Vice President Agnew, that the peace demonstrations are demoralizing and dispiriting to those fighting in Vietnam and therefore should not take place,” wrote Ruh. But he found “nothing to be further from the truth”:

In my own infantry company, which I believe to be fairly representative, the Moratorium has wide support. It was, in fact, very much a morale builder. The men are intelligent enough to realize that the peace demonstrations are on their behalf. They realize that the greater the pressure kept on President Nixon, the sooner they’ll get home. Even more importantly, the fewer will be their friend who do not return.

Ruh also criticized the argument that that “unless you’ve been to Vietnam, you don’t know what is really going on there, and have no right to criticize it,” and turned it on its head while invoking the October Moratorium:

While this is an obviously fallacious argument, being there does add a personal perspective to the situation, which makes many of your men fighting in Vietnam the biggest critics of the war. They can see what is going on, not what is screened through the media. While many wore armbands for the October 15 Moratorium, they are for the large part prevented from demonstrating their feelings on the war. They can give only moral support to the Peace Moratorium, and hope that it is successful.

It’s significant that both Wingo and Sgt. Ruh bring up the relationship between GI morale and the antiwar movement. While pro-war forces claimed the movement was demoralizing soldiers in Vietnam, GIs often saw the existence of the peace movement as a morale booster. It was the horrible war itself, the careerist military brass above GIs, and the racism that many soldiers endured, that was hurting morale.

Beyond October

While October 15 saw the height of the Moratorium protests, similar actions, as well as GI participation in them, continued throughout 1969.

Civilians antiwar organizers intensified their outreach efforts to GIs for the follow-up Moratorium on November 15, while GIs themselves stepped up their protest efforts in the days after the October action. For example, an October 20 on-base meeting of GIs at Fort Lewis, organized by the American Servicemen’s Union, was raided by military police, leading to thirty-five arrests.

On October 28, a captain stationed in Long Binh wrote the Moratorium Day Committee, and after praising the October Moratorium and criticizing his own “cowardice” in failing to protest the war, he declared:

It is time, however belated … that the members of the Armed Forces stood up, raised their voices, and informed the world that they are at one with both the method and the goal of the Vietnam Moratorium. The Moratorium transcends politics. They very humanity of my race is threatened, and no longer can I sit back and laud people who raise their voices without adding mine. This I do now!

Nor was the captain just making a verbal declaration. He was starting to organize. He included a petition with over eighty troop signatures under the heading: “We, the undersigned, agree in spirit with the Vietnam moratorium and urge the immediate and total withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops from SE Asia.” He even included a follow up letter: “You may use both the petitions and my personal letter in whatever way you see fit … Inform all those who will listen that American troops can and should be supported only through support for the Moratorium.”

But perhaps the most significant GI antiwar expression was a November 9, 1969 full-page antiwar ad, published in the New York Times, and signed by an astounding 1,366 active duty GIs from across eighty bases and ships, including nearly two hundred stationed in Vietnam.

The ad was sponsored by the GI Press Service, a “news bulletin and information center” for GI antiwar newspapers that was overseen by the Student Mobilization Committee. The SMC had a “GI task force,” coordinated by ex-GI and Young Socialist Alliance member Allen Myers, that edited the ad.

The ad’s message was clear: it was a bold and direct statement against the war and a call to support the November 15 Moratorium. “We are opposed American involvement in the war in Vietnam,” it read. “We resent the needless wasting of lives to save face for the politicians in Washington. We speak, believing our views are shared by many of our fellow servicemen. Join Us!” The ad also carried a message for supporters of antiwar GIs:

GI’s, as American citizens, have the constitutional right to join these demonstrations. In the past, however, military authorities have often restricted servicemen to their bases, thus effectively preventing them from participating in demonstrations against the war. We ask you to write to the President and your representatives in Congress to demand that GI’s not be prevented from participating in the November 15 demonstrations.

Some GIs organized within their military units to turn out support for both the Times ad and the November Moratorium. David Cortright was stationed at Fort Hamilton, New York, at the time. Despite the threat of reprisals, thirty-five out of sixty soldiers in his unit signed added their names, and a dozen Fort Hamilton troops attended the Moratorium protest in DC, along with hundreds of other GIs.

Cortright recalled that the ad had a “dramatic impact” and helped to “build momentum” for the November Moratorium. Indeed, GI participation on November 15 may have surpassed that of the October protests. Over 200 GIs led the DC protest, which numbered around a quarter-million.

There were also more local expressions of Moratorium organizing. For example, troops at Fort Bliss, who had organized a vibrant chapter of GIs for Peace, held a prayer meeting at a chapel. Francis Lenski, who was stationed at Fort Bliss, recalls another GI action.

“During the lead up to the Moratorium demonstrations,” Lenski said, “members of GIs for Peace decided to make a statement against the war that all of El Paso would see.” He went on:

Located on the side of the Franklin Mountains facing El Paso and Fort Bliss were some hollow drums, painted white by students from a local school. We decided to adapt those drums for another purpose. Working mostly under the cover of darkness, we relocated them to form the shape of the peace sign, filled them with fuel, and set them ablaze. The fiery scene above the city and environs spoke for itself (and us) and was the talk of the town and base for days to come.

Meanwhile, evidence of GI sympathy with and direct participation in the November Moratorium, expressed through letters, poured into the offices of protest organizers. One soldier stationed in Georgia, probably at Fort Benning, wrote to a Moratorium organizer declaring: “I desire to help in any manner I can in the cause of peace and especially on November 13, 14, 15.” He went on, expressing his deep desire to organize against the war:

Saving face is not worth the price, 40,000 + live. I desire to do anything I can to help end this American tragedy and useless killing. The Columbus, Ga. area is in need of some organization and information. There are many others, who like myself would like to work for peace but are ignorant as to just what we can do. Many of us have wives who are eager to do their part and who are better able to fully participate because of their civilian status. Any information and advice and/or material you could send will be greatly appreciated.

Another servicemember wrote to the VMC from his ship, the USS Sanctuary. “Those of us stationed aboard this ship who support your efforts and goals would like to participate in events on November 15, 1969,” he announced. He said that he and his shipmates planned “to wear black armbands,” though they had no plans to disrupt “the normal routine on board the ship,” seemingly in fear of reprisal.

Yet another soldier wrote the Cleveland Area Peace Action Council to express regret that he had “little way of supporting the Movement” from Vietnam, where he was stationed, but he sent $16 for the group to “send someone to DC who can’t afford it” on November 15. This GI explained his donation by saying he “would like to do my share for my country via the Movement.”

Historian Richard Moser cites Dave Blalock, a communications specialist stationed at Camp Long Thanh North, to show how the Times ad inspired GI protest in Vietnam around the November Moratorium. “One night we were sitting around the barracks in Vietnam” said Blalock, “and passing around this full-page ad in the New York Times that a guy had just come back from R & R in Hawaii had clipped out.”

Blalock recalled that everyone started saying “Why don’t we do something on this date, November 15,” and the GIs “came to a decision that we’re going to wear black armbands and we’re going to refuse to go out on patrol.” He continued:

The next day we went around … and put out the word … It seemed like everybody was doing it … The morning of the 15th we wake up at about five in the morning, and instead of playing the military shit, they put Jimi Hendrix’s “Star-spangled Banner” on …

So we went to formation with our new commanding officer. The former CO was blown away … he was killed, fragged … So we went out in morning formation and we’re all wearing black armbands. It was like 100 percent of the enlisted men. .. Including some of the war doctors and the helicopter pilots. The CO comes out as says … “I think we’re going to give you guys a day off.” He was real slick with it.

(Blalock’s full account can also be read in Waging Peace in Vietnam: US Soldiers and Veterans Who Opposed the War.)

These are just a few examples among many others, revealed in interviews, firsthand accounts, the GI underground press, and in letters that soldiers sent to antiwar groups and GI papers of the extent of soldier sympathy with and participation in the Moratorium protests.

The momentum from the November 15 continued to propel GI protest in the weeks that followed. For example, fifty marines from Camp Pendleton led an antiwar protest in Los Angeles days after the November Moratorium, while a few hundred GIs from Fort Bliss led an antiwar march the following Saturday in El Paso, Texas.

And while the Moratorium tapered off by the end of 1969, there were some last gasp attempts to carry out December activities. GIs participated in them. Penny Lewis notes that a thousand marines staged a Moratorium march in Oceanside, California, near Camp Pendleton, on December 14, 1969, while Cortright writes that two hundred soldiers at Fort Bragg also protested in a December action.

One soldier from the Army’s 33rd Signal Battalion wrote to an antiwar GI paper on New Year’s Eve, 1969, to request copies. He declared: “I have close to 500 names of G.I.’s that want to read it and become a part of the Peace things that are happening with the moratorium committee.” He noted that a single copy of an antiwar paper “can travel through 20 and 30 people in one day.” Another soldier from the Army’s 199th Infantry Brigade wrote to the VMC on December 13, 1969. His moving letter read:

For the past seven months I have served in Vietnam in an infantry company. During that time I have come to know the war in terms so personal and so filled with incredulity and sorrow that it is difficult for me to express my feelings about it without becoming either emotional or angry.

My country has let me down. It has sent me here to fight an impossible war; it has witnessed the death of my friends with nothing but vague talk of “commitments” and “silent majorities”; and refused to admit it. It is statistically freighting that the United States could commit 40,000 American lives to so unnecessary a war, but to those of us who must fight this war it is an almost unbearable reality.

I’m hoping that in the coming year our leaders will have the courage and humanity to extricate us from this senseless bloodbath. Too many men, good men, men who deserved to life, have been sacrificed already.

He ended his letter with an authorization from the VMC to “print this letter in full or in part in the N.Y. Times.”

Even into 1970, some GIs still wrote to the Moratorium committee with antiwar missives. A marine wrote a letter to an antiwar paper on behalf of his fellow troops. “We are active as possible here,” he declared. “59 Marines and 1 corpsman signed our petition for Xmas moratorium and we have more planned for this month.

Legacy

Remembering the antiwar efforts of GIs during the Moratorium days, and the GI movement more broadly, isn’t just an exercise in historical memory. The Vietnam War–era GI movement left an important model of resistance for later generations of antiwar soldiers and veterans, including up to the present.

Some scholars have also argued that the huge extent of soldier protest, defiance, and disobedience played a role in bringing the war to an end. The history of the GI movement also discredits the trope of a civilian antiwar movement that hated and spit upon soldiers.

Finally, remembering the history of GI protest during the US war on Vietnam is politically important, because it pushes back against popular narratives surrounding the war and soldiers that have been used to serve elite, militarist aims.What It Means When You Kill People On the Other Side of the Planet and No One Notices

As I wrote for Monthly Review in 2016, the construction of historical memory is a deeply ideological process through which different political interests contend to shape our “common sense” about the past. Conservative and militarist forces have sought to define cultural icons like “the soldier” in ways that will benefit their own political agendas. This has been particularly trueregarding the memory of the Vietnam War.

However, the history of GI protest during the Vietnam War, the actual widespread examples of soldier resistance that have been largely erased from popular memory, pushes back against efforts to link the memory of US troops from the war with disdain for antiwar politics and support for war and militarism today.

Rather, soldiers themselves — in huge numbers, from the United States to Vietnam, often in solidarity with civilians peace activists — were actively involved in the antiwar movement or strongly supported it. For many, the antiwar movement and antiwar politics didn’t demoralize them; rather, this was their movement and their politics. A half-century since the October Moratorium, which GIs participated in and supported, this is history worth remembering.

*

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Derek Seidman is a power researcher and historian who lives in Buffalo, New York. He works as a research analyst for the Public Accountability Initiative and littlesis.org.

Featured image: Vietnam War protestors march at the Pentagon in Washington, DC on October 21, 1967.
Photo credit: Frank Wolfe / LBJ Library / WikimediaThe original source of this article is JacobinCopyright © Derek SeidmanJacobin, 2019


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Peace Restored in Ecuador. But Is Trust Restored?

By Nino Pagliccia

Global Research,

After ten people were reported killed on the streets of Ecuador, together with about 2,000 people injured and a large number imprisoned, an agreement was reached between the Lenin Moreno government and protesters against a controversial Decree 883 that had the footprint of the neoliberal austerity policies of the IMF.

For the time being the “dialogue” that lead to the derogation of the decree has defused the danger of an escalation of the general strike that was looming over the Moreno administration. But for how long?

It was a matter of time before the situation in Ecuador reached the point of political tension experienced in the last few weeks. The people of Ecuador have massively organised protests in rejection of the economic policies taken by the Lenin Moreno government at the beginning of October; protests that have been met by government  imposed military curfew and repression.

The tipping point has been decree 883 that forced a series of measures such as removal of subsidies for gasoline and diesel fuels deregulating their price, which caused a price increase of 20 percent up to more than 100 percent. Other costs were in turn affected together with everything that relies on transportation like food. Additional aspects of the decree included the elimination of import duties and the lay-off of thousands of public employees. This was viewed as part of a set of austerity measures imposed on the country by the IMF, which Ecuadoreans referred to as “paquetazo” (big package). In exchange, the Moreno government was to receive more than $4 billion from the IMF at the same time that it exonerated corporations from paying a similar amount in overdue taxation. 

The reaction has been immediate led by thousands of indigenous people from all provinces of Ecuador represented, among other groups, by the Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador, CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador). This is important to emphasise because there has been an obvious attempt to discredit this genuine movement suggesting that Rafael Correa was behind it with the intention of triggering a coup. CONAIE made it a point to distance themselves from Correa.Sell Out: How Corruption, Voter Fraud and a Neoliberal Turn Led Ecuador’s President Moreno to Give Up Assange

Support for Moreno came promptly and more directly from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a group of former Latin American presidents who issued a declaration denouncing “foreign-induced acts of people’s violence” naming  specifically Venezuela’s “dictatorship” and its “ally” the FARC. All in the attempt to politicise a genuine popular reaction and, in so doing, defend the sole culprits, the Lenin Moreno administration plus the IMF.

Lenin Moreno won the presidential elections of 2017 for the centre-left PAIS Alliance Party. He was Correa’s vice president and was considered the natural choice for the continuation of what was mostly a progressive government with a considerable support by Ecuadoreans.

However, after he became president Lenin Moreno soon started showing signs of straying from the previous administration, which was seen by many as a betrayal of everything he was elected for. It is not clear if his was a planned deceit or if there were any contributing circumstances including political pressure. But his quick turn around that initially came as a surprise, showed an aggressive motive with accusations of corruption of former president Rafael Correa.  He appointed several judges in the judiciary that would have ensured a prosecution. Consequently, Correa opted to leave the country becoming an opposition voice against his former vice president. Moreno’s appointments would also guarantee that he could not be prosecuted since after all he was part of the Correa administration for ten years. He soon established close ties with Washington that included purchases of military equipment and granting rights to “U.S. anti-drug overflights to land in the environmentally sensitive Galapagos Islands.”

The deal reached last October 13 between Lenin Moreno’s government and leaders of the indigenous people, represented by CONAIE’s president Jaime Vargas, was mediated by the UN and the Catholic church. Decree 883 was revoked and a commission to include indigenous reps will write a new proposal to replace it. This was quite a change of position from the embattled Moreno of a few days prior who had emphatically announced that he would not withdraw the decree. But the deepest moral divide was noted when Moreno shockingly stated in an interview: “with all respect for human life, but I believe that the dignity of a state is much more than that.” The lack of sensitivity for indigenous people’s dignity was not ignored by the protesters who stated that the lost lives would rest on his conscience.

Street celebrations followed the announcement of the deal that was seen as a major victory not only for indigenous people but also for all Ecuadoreans. It was certainly a victory for peace. But this needs to be a cautious celebration. Has trust been restored? Can Ecuadoreans rely on a government that betrayed them since the elections of 2017? Only time will tell.

Posted in EcuadorComments Off on Peace Restored in Ecuador. But Is Trust Restored?

Ceasefire Ends, Talks on Syria Between Erdogan and Putin Begin

By Sarah Abed

Global Research,

Monday marks the thirteenth day since Turkey began its third cross border military operation in Syria ironically named “Operation Peace Spring”. In the past two weeks civilian and militant lives on both sides have been lost, a large exodus has taken place, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a resolution that opposes US troop withdrawal, a five-day ceasefire was brokered between Turkey and the United States, and Kurdish militias have withdrawn from the “safe-zone”.

On Wednesday, there was overwhelming bipartisan approval for a measure that opposes President Trump’s U.S. forces withdrawal from Syria. The resolution was introduced by Reps. Michael McCaul, Republican from Texas and Eliot Engel, Democrat from NY and it calls on the White House to put forth a plan for the “enduring defeat” of Daesh and demand that Turkey cease its military operations in Syria.

The measure which passed 354-60 with four members voting present and all sixty of the nays coming from Republican’s stated,

“An abrupt withdrawal of United States military personnel from certain parts of Northeast Syria is beneficial to adversaries of the United States government, including Syria, Iran and Russia.”

It’s absurd that there’s outrage about ending a war and allowing Syria to handle its own domestic affairs. However, nothing of the sort happened when Nobel Peace Prize winner and former US President Barack Obama was bombing seven countries and creating some of the wars that President Trump has inherited including Syria. Bipartisan support for carrying on with endless wars is mind-boggling.

On Thursday, a ceasefire was brokered between the United States and Turkey. This pause was meant to for the Kurdish militias to dismantle their posts and retreat from the 32km “safe zone” and in response the US would not impose any new sanctions on Turkey. However, there’s a lesser mentioned point that prompted the ceasefire and that’s the entrapment of US/UK Coalition Joint Special Operations Task forces in northern Syria. It was necessary for hostilities to cease long enough for them to withdrawal out of harm’s way.Turkey’s Safe-zone and Refugee Peace-corridor in Syria Is a Cover for Encroachment and Territorial Expansion

Washington and Turkey do not want the Kurdish militias to work in conjunction with the Syrian Arab Army, but for different reasons. The US would rather see them stay independent from the SAA and keep them as an ally in case US troops return. Remember northeast Syria is advantageous to the US because they can keep an eye on Iran and protect Israel plus there’s oil. Turkey would like to see the Kurdish militias dissolved along with any separatist Kurdish hopes and dreams of establishing an independent Kurdistan on its border.

Ankara has made it clear that if the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) plans on protecting the YPG/SDF that this will be considered an “act of war”. The Turkish administration is worried that the SAA will enter Manbij, Ayn al-Arab, and Qamishli to protect the Kurdish militias, but that wouldn’t be in the Syrian governments best interest.

There’s been some disagreement among the Kurdish militias as to where they need to be withdrawing from, Turkey is demanding that they entirely vacate the 32km border, and not just some of their posts. If the Kurdish militias entirely withdrawal from Turkey’s “safe zone” by the ceasefire deadline, what excuse will Ankara have to continue their military operation? None.

In the past week or so Syrian troops have made significant progress in regaining territory previously occupied by Kurdish militia’s in northern Syria, and Russia tried to broker negotiations between the Kurdish militias and the Syrian government.

Turkey’s stated goals are to fight the terrorist organizations on their southern border, create a safe-zone, and a “peace corridor” for the resettlement of 1-2 million Syrian refugees. They have stated that they are not looking to land grab or encroach but if we know anything about Turkey’s politics it’s that surprises lie behind every corner, much like the United States.

It’s no coincidence that the 120-hour ceasefire ends on Tuesday, and that’s precisely when President Erdogan will be going to Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin. President Putin has taken on the role of negotiator and is usually the most level-headed adult in the room when it comes to the Syria conflict and dealing with Turkey, Syria, the Kurdish militias, and yes even the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia along with other players.

I assume the seasoned politician serving his fourth term in office will handle the Sochi meeting on Tuesday with Turkey, in the same polite and diplomatic manner we’ve grown accustomed to.

There were some questions as to whether the ceasefire will continue till then, due to violations on both sides. Turkey defense ministry stated on Sunday that one of their soldiers was killed and that the Kurdish militias violated the ceasefire over 20 times in the past three days. The SDF is stating that 16 of their fighters have been killed. Also, as part of the agreement between the US and Turkey, an 86- vehicle Kurdish convoy left Ras al-Ayn toward the town of Tal Tamr this weekend.

On Sunday, hundreds of trucks carrying almost 500 US personnel were seen withdrawing troops near Al Hasakah to Iraq’s border. It’s also been noted that US troops are destroying their own airfields and equipment before fleeing.

It appears that out of the supposed 1,000 US troops that about 500-700 will be sent to Iraq and about 200-300 will remain in Syria to perform what a senior US official referred to as a “counter Daesh mission”. Back in December President Trump had said he wanted to bring all 2,000 troops back home, and now it doesn’t seem like any of them will be coming back home anytime soon.

Related Articles

The Four A’s of American Policy Failure in Syria

US Syria Pullout? A Saigon Moment?

The US Has Backed 21 of the 28 ‘Crazy’ Militias Leading Turkey’s Brutal Invasion of Northern Syria

Turkey Deal on Syria, Like Carving Up Cuba Scene from the Godfather Trilogy

Aggression Only OK for US If Led by the Pentagon and Partners

The Syrian Debacle Is Actually Well Planned Chaos

Posted in Middle East, Syria, TurkeyComments Off on Ceasefire Ends, Talks on Syria Between Erdogan and Putin Begin

Indigenous Rising in Ecuador and International Solidarity

By Kasim Tirmizey

Global Research,

While many Canadians were celebrating Thanksgiving weekend, events in Ecuador generally did not catch media attention. After 11 days of an indigenous-led national general strike and state repression, an agreement was achieved by both parties on the night of October 13th that reversed one aspect of the paquetazo (package) of austerity measures. Those events seem very disconnected with the rhythms of life in Canada, but in many ways there are significant connections. Further, while the general strike has been called off, there is an important need to build or revitalize movements of international solidarity at the contemporary conjuncture.

From October 3rd to 13th tens of thousands of people under the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) organized a national general strike. This action centered on paralyzing the country’s capital, Quito, but protests, blockades, and occupation of public spaces and government buildings occurred across multiple sites in the country. Such an intensive and extensive movement was possible because of the widespread mobilization among the country’s various indigenous nations.

The general strike was called in response to austerity measures taken by the Ecuadorian government as part of conditionalities of signing a $4.2-billion loan with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Government reforms included the removal of subsidies on gasoline prices (Decree 883), that temporary contracts be renewed with a 20% reduction in wages, and public employees be no longer given 30 days of vacation but 15 days. An anti-austerity movement coalesced through the leadership of the CONAIE and brought together student, feminist, environmental justice, and labour movements. In addition, there have been solidarity actions across the world, including La Paz, Buenos Aires, Valencia, Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, México, Paris, Montreal and New York. Actions in several places included protests outside of the offices of Ecuadorian embassies and consulates.

Cracking Down on Protesters

The Ecuadorian state, under president Lenin Moreno, responded to these protests by declaring a state of exception, which gave significant liberty to the armed forces to repress protesters and censor media critical of the government. From the 3rd to 13th of October, 1192 protesters were detained, 8 were killed, and 1340 injured.1 It has to be remembered that the state repression was unprecedented when considering the immediate past. The previous national indigenous uprisings of 1990, 1994, 1997, and 2000 did not witness such brute force. In the present struggle, this has included the military and police terrorizing indigenous men, women, and children who received refuge in Quito’s universities by throwing tear gas bombs. The armed forces invaded indigenous communal territories in the middle of the night and rounded up their leadership. In multiple cases protesters were beaten, tortured, and trampled upon.

During the dialogue between the CONAIE and the government, Miriam Cisneros, the presidenta of the Sarayaku community in the Amazon, spoke with strength directly to the President:

Photo of Miriam Cisneros, president of the community of Sarayaku. Translation: “I don’t feel alone because this struggle has been alongside the mestizo, afro, and indigenous communities. We have struggled together. We demand that our sisters detained in the prison be liberated, and that our leaders no longer be persecuted when this is over.” Photo Credit: CONAIE.

“Our brothers and sisters have died. This means that our president [of Ecuador] has sent men with arms to kill when we come as a non-violent movement. We have left our children in the jungle [to come to Quito] without knowing that they are eating well. Instead, we have passed 12 days on the streets, Mr. President. […] Our sisters have suffered by being stepped on and beaten by the police and military. Last night when we were staying at the Casa de la Cultura,2 they were not compassionate with us, Mr. President. Doesn’t it hurt you to know that the military and police comes to confront women and children? This is what I have come to tell you as an Amazonica woman, Mr. President. I hope that these assassinations remain in your conscious.”

The power of the general strike was first felt when the government temporarily shifted the seat of its power from Quito to Guayaquil, an important commercial port city that has in the recent past been dominated by conservative forces. And then on October 13th, the government agreed to meet the demand of the CONAIE to remove Decree 883. While much of the Ecuadorian media has focused on the question of the removal of gasoline subsidies for consumers, the CONAIE has emphasized that this movement goes beyond the question of gasoline prices as such.

The national general strike was provoked by IMF conditionalities and this frames the recent direct actions. The movement is confronting how government reforms will further exasperate unequal social relations into the future. On the seventh day of the national general strike the CONIAE wrote:

“The capitalist class sells our homeland and is pro-imperialist, they want to secure the loans of the International Monetary Fund so that their debts and economic crisis is paid by the working class, the indigenous people, and the popular sectors.

“This fight is not only about the conditions of today, nor is it just about the price of gasoline. Our struggle is to prevent that they mortgage our future, such that our next two and three generations will pay with more hunger and poverty for what we didn’t stop today.”3

Austerity and Dispossession

The neoliberal project represented in the austerity paquetazo is also a colonial project. It is difficult not to think about these actions without remembering that 527 years ago on October 12th was the beginning of colonialism in the Americas.4 Contemporary social stratification is a product of historical processes of organizing society based on racial categories (e.g. white, mestizo, indigenous, black). These processes are still ongoing, but through less explicit mechanisms. During the national general strike, the Ecuadorian government and a section of the white elite and mestizo middle class delegitimized the movement through racist discourse. For example, Jaime Nebot, the mayor of Guayaquil, questioned why indigenous people were invading the cities when their place in society were the highlands (paramo). The general image in Ecuadorian society was that the “indian,” the “savage,” had no place in urban civilized life and their presence was an unnecessary inconvenience.

Jaime Vargas, president of CONAIE. “The country is being governed by the Right and the IMF”. Photo Credit: CONAIE.

But, the issue is more then just words, as this discourse develops consensus around social organization on the basis of racial hierarchies. Indigenous people’s experience of neoliberalization has been the loss of land and environmental damage through further mining and oil exploration in their territories against their consent. The CONAIE has emphasized that at issue is the liberalization of the economy for the benefit of national and transnational capital that includes the ongoing dispossession of indigenous peoples. During the dialogue process with the government, CONIAE president Jaime Vargas emphasized that “the country is being governed by right-wing forces and the IMF.” All efforts are being made by the current government to maintain the rate of profit of the capitalist class by violently reducing the compensation received for the labour of indigenous people, peasants, and workers. Just as neoliberalization is part of a colonial-capitalist project, this indigenous-led movement against the IMF and the Ecuadorian government is anti-colonial and anti-capitalist.

The CONAIE outlined in a recent report how displacement, dispossession, and exploitation are the mechanisms for violently accumulating more by compensating people less:

“The Government has launched permanent public campaigns to position the so-called ‘benefits’ of mining and extractivism among corporate media, such as El Comercio and Televistazo, and with the support of government institutions. This is all the while advancing the dispossession of the territories and suffering among the population. This includes, but is not limited to the following:

  1. The imposition of the oil concession of block 28 in the province of Pastaza.
  2. Conflicts over the start of mining in the subtropical zones of the Cotopaxi and Bolívar provinces, in Intag (on the border between the provinces of Imbabura and Pichincha) and in Río Blanco (Molleturo, Azuay province).
  3. The beginning of the exploitation phase of mining concessions in the Cordillera del Cóndor and Shuar territory.
  4. The abuses by the shrimp companies in the area of the Gulf of Guayaquil and on the Puná Island against their workers and against the adjacent communes that were previously stripped of their territories.
  5. The persecution of labour leaders in the banana sector and the covering up the abuses committed among workers on large landholdings (haciendas).”5

The Moreno government was able to convince international funding institutions to provide Ecuador with a loan by demonstrating that the country was open for mining exploitation by foreign companies. The IMF advised the Ecuadorian government to change their tax regime to favour mining companies.6

Acción Ecológica, an Ecuadorian environmental justice NGO, has argued that:

“The agreement with the IMF implies that the country’s debt will be financed through mining and petroleum exploitation, thus exasperating the extractivist model, aggravated by economic measures that generate greater poverty to the Ecuadorian people and destroying nature.”7

As part of the IMF austerity package, the Ministries of Production and Agriculture announced that import tariffs would be reduced between 50 and 100% for 200 products that include raw materials and capital goods for the agricultural sector. While this appears as providing benefits to small-scale peasants by reducing the cost of agricultural inputs, the reality is that this liberalization only benefits capital-intensive, large-scale, and export-oriented agro-businesses, and transnational agricultural and food corporations. The effect of this measure is that the government is subsidizing capitalist agriculture.8

The Local Struggles and International Solidarity

The indigenous-led anti-austerity movement forced the government to revoke the executive decree removing petroleum subsidies. This is indeed a major victory given that peasants and workers would have otherwise seen an increase in the cost of living. It also reversed a trend that forced working people to pay for the country’s debt and subsidize national and transnational capital. Yet, the other aspects of the austerity paquetazo remain intact. Acción Ecológica has argued that what is behind the austerity measures are the expanding mining, petroleum and agro-business frontiers. They call for struggling against this expansion to get at the root of the austerity project.9

In this sense, the struggle is not over. Indigenous communities in the Amazon continue to resist the expansion of the frontiers of petroleum exploitation. Banana workers continue to fight for better working conditions. The struggle continues since the IMF package enables the continued dispossession and exploitation of working people by national and transnational capital. Given the international connections that are embedded in the IMF package, a corresponding international response of solidarity with the struggles of indigenous people, workers, and peasants is necessary. In the Canadian context, given that the country’s mining companies are significant players in Ecuador and are set to benefit from the IMF package, it is imperative for international solidarity groups in Canada to make these links.

The uncontrolled military force that repressed the national general strike is a signal of the increasing authoritarian character in defense of imperialist interests and capitalist development in the region, from Brazil to Colombia. It should be remembered that the recent authoritarian neoliberal moment builds upon the history of colonialism. That there was little global denunciation of state violence is another reason why movements for international solidarity need to organize.

Acknowledgments: I want to thank Gladys Calvopiña for feedback and comments. The cited texts are my own translations from Spanish. All errors are my own.

Posted in EcuadorComments Off on Indigenous Rising in Ecuador and International Solidarity


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