Archive | November 28th, 2019

Get Trump First, But Then…

by ANDREW LEVINE

Photograph Source: Paul Sableman – CC BY 2.0

Were Donald Trump and the Republicans who support him slightly less relentless in giving reasons to despair for the human race, it would be a lot harder than it now is to maintain a proper perspective.

Trump and those hideous GOP House members defending him on TV are so execrable and pose such a clear and present danger to so much that is crucial to maintain, that we dare not forget that even mainstream Democrats, for all their many failings, are still by far less odious.

Therefore, with the impeachment hearings that Democrats are leading now bringing to center stage the several Cold War narratives they have been actively promoting since even before Barack Obama’s second term, Trump’s announcement, that he intends, if he can, to terminate the DACA program and deport all the “dreamers” his police can round up, is not entirely without a silver lining.

Lacking moral outrages of that degree or worse, people intent on keeping an annihilating nuclear war at bay might find themselves in danger of forgetting which party actually is the lesser evil.

Democrats, after all, have been working overtime, along with the base and servile “experts” and media flunkies on the liberal cable channels, to promote myopic and flagrantly misleading understandings of Russian and Ukrainian politics and history, while doing all they can to revive the anti-Russian animosities that flourished on the American side during the original Cold War.

To hear them tell it, the United States is a paragon of international morality and respect for international law that seeks only to make the lands and peoples of the world better off, while “Putin,” their term of choice for the Russian government, almost makes Stalin look good.

The level of hypocrisy is stupefying, as is the degree of ignorance required to buy into it.

But it does help donors and party stalwarts sustain the dead center of their wretched party, even if only by keeping the national conversation focused more on Trump’s “high crimes and misdemeanors” and his all too obvious unfitness for the office he holds than on the ways that Democrats, from the final days of the Carter presidency on, have helped make Trump’s rise to power possible and even inevitable.

Ordinary citizens who buy into the line that the only way to rid the world of Trump and Trumpism is for the Democrats to field candidates like Joe Biden or Pete Buttigieg, candidates who reek of “moderation,” have a lot to answer for too.

Questions about how to rid the world of Trumpism, and how to assure that, under more capable hands, something like it or worse does not come rebounding back, get short shrift too, again to the advantage of the Democratic Party establishment.

To be sure, Trump is worse by many orders of magnitude, but this is a “high crime and misdemeanor” in its own right – perhaps not in the quasi-legal “originalist” sense that has somehow come to dominate our political discourse, but according to the simple meaning of the words.

Of course, the most urgent task now is to get Trump – even if that involves tactical alliances with Cold War revivalists of the Clinton and Obama variety. Much good came from the anti-fascist popular fronts of the late thirties; something like that is called for now.

But to keep it all from going astray, even as opposition to Trump’s reelection takes precedence, it is crucial, at the same time, to keep another eye on another prize – the radical transformation and reconstruction of the Democratic Party.

Trump and Trumpism must go; so too must the Democratic Party “as we know it.” These exigencies are distinct, but notwithstanding the efforts of corporate media to promote the opposite view they can be mutually reinforcing. It is better on both counts when they are.

***

With that thought in mind, and with the 2020 election about to suck up even more political oxygen than it already does, it is timely to point out that there are only two Democrats contending for their party’s presidential nomination who deserve to be taken seriously. Of the two, I prefer Bernie Sanders to Elizabeth Warren, notwithstanding the fact that, being roughly eight years younger, she stands a better chance of keeping at it for a full eight years.

For all Sanders’ talk of a “political revolution,” efforts to implement genuinely new departures in American politics will take a lot longer than that to secure. Even if all goes better than we have any right to expect, a one term president could barely move what can only be a protracted process beyond its opening phases; other things equal, a two-term president could do better.

Also, I fear that Sanders’ election would risk unleashing an anti-Semitic scourge of a kin that had been practically unthinkable in the United States since Nazism suffered an historic defeat at the end of World War II.

This would not have been anything like the problem it now is had the DNC not rigged the nomination process in 2016 in Hillary Clinton’s favor. Had the process been more fair, Sanders would likely have become the nominee.

Then, more likely than not, he would have gone on to see to it that Trump would go back to being an ordinary hyper-rich sleazeball, and “the darker angels of our nature” would likely now be as neutered and inert as they recently were.

But, with a little help from her friends, Clinton won the nomination, and so, to everybody’s amazement, including his own, Trump became president.

In that capacity, he soon started turning over the rocks under which long dormant, effectively moribund, anti-Semitic demons slept.

With friends like Sheldon Adelson and others of his ilk, advisors like Steven Miller, and grandchildren fathered by Jared Kushner, that may not have been his intention.

But anti-Semitism was bound to revive once Trump’s vile words and viler deeds directed against Muslims, Hispanics, and black and brown people generally let vileness reign.

Those are reasons to prefer Warren, but I prefer Sanders, nevertheless.

The main reason why I do is that I think he is more instinctively on the right side of the long dormant but never even remotely superseded class struggle that has defined world politics since the days of the French Revolution; the right side is, of course, the left side. Since the middle of the nineteenth century, the left side has been mainly the side of the working class.

My belief that Sanders is more securely there than Warren has more to do with intangible atmospherics than substance. At a policy level, there is not much light between them.

The difference that is talked about most is that he is, by his own account, a “democratic socialist,” while she says that she favors an indefinite continuation of a modified version of the existing capitalist order. Her more or less self-declared aim is, like FDR’s, to save capitalism from the capitalists.

Like FDR too, she, as much as he, elicits the hostility of those capitalists whose greed and venality put capitalism at risk; also, like FDR, she welcomes their hatred.

Sanders, I would expect, welcomes it too – as much or more.

In FDR’s case, the hatred was undergirded, in part, by the fact that he was, and was perceived to be, a “class traitor.” No one can accuse either Sanders or Warren of that. Both came from humble beginnings.

But this does not cause the rich and heinous to hate them any less. Neither does it cause the Democratic Party establishment to fear them less.

What a pitiful lot those Democrats are; just watch them on the liberal cable channels and read what they have to say in The Washington Post and The New York Times. They claim that their great fear is losing to Trump; what they actually fear is losing power to their party’s rising leftwing.

Their fear is so great that even one or two billionaires have thrown their hats in the ring. Imagine a President Michael Bloomberg, and cringe accordingly; only the likes of a Thomas Friedman, the Times’ sententious nitwit extraordinaire, could go for that! Now add, God help us, Deval Patrick to the list.

Listen Democrats! Get serious! Even if all you want is to defeat Trump, the way to do it is not to restore the conditions that created him. It is to start moving the country forward again.

***

Ultimately, the differences between Sanders and Warren are more verbal than substantive, but they are important nevertheless.

Sanders, not Warren, has put socialism – the word and therefore potentially some of the ideas behind it — on the mainstream agenda. Bravo to him for that. This is reason enough to prefer him to her.

It must be said, though, that, strictly speaking, Warren is the one who gets it right. Sanders’ “socialism” and her “capitalism” come to much the same, essentially capitalist, thing. They both advocate policies that have socialist aspects, but neither has proposed anything that would fundamentally alter underlying capitalist property relations.

Sometimes nowadays, Sanders – and Warren too, though less so – are called “social democrats.” This is not exactly wrong, but, applied to them, the term is anachronistic; it can also be misleading.

From the 1880s until the First World War and the Russian Revolution put European and then world history on a new track, most socialists in Europe and elsewhere, including the United States, were members of political parties affiliated with the Second, the Socialist, International. They called themselves and others called them “Social Democrats.”

After the Bolshevik led October (November in the new calendar) Revolution and later the formation of a Third, Communist, International, the term came to designate political formations descended from those Second International political parties that had rejected, and often actively opposed, Third International Bolshevism.

Before long, the term also came to describe political parties with different histories. This would include some that did not even exist when the Second International split apart. The term nowadays also designates generic political orientations associated with the Social Democratic movement.

For the most part, Social Democratic parties were and often still are closely affiliated with the labor movements of their respective countries. They were generally also nominally anti-capitalist.

Thus, they would sometimes endorse public ownership of principal means of production, though, in practice, this seldom amounted to more than helping private capital out when it was too weak to get by on its own.

Nevertheless, for a long time, they did try to maintain the pretense that their long-term goal was to overcome capitalism, not to save it. Almost without exception, they no longer try anymore. There is still a thriving Social Democratic left in northern Europe and elsewhere, but contemporary Social Democracy has ceased to be anti-capitalist, even in theory only.

This rightward drift is not as extreme as might appear. In large part, Social Democratic anti-capitalism was less an aspiration than a gimmick, concocted to keep workers who wanted a genuinely socialist economic order from defecting to Communist parties believed, not too unreasonably, to outflank them from the left.

Of course, before long, those parties became bureaucratized, denatured, and neutered, their revolutionary origins amounting to little or nothing at all. But they still served as beacons of hope for workers and others around the world, and their existence kept Social Democracy on course. After Communism imploded, that could no longer be the case; Social Democrats no longer needed to dissimulate.

But even when the need to seem anti-capitalist was at its strongest, Social Democrats seldom opposed capitalist market relations as such. They did however strongly support the establishment of state institutions to do what markets can only do poorly or not at all. They still do. This is enough, it seems, to make our leading capitalists and pro-capitalist ideologues tremble at the very thought of Social Democracy coming to the USA.

Sanders talks a lot about “democratic socialism” in the Scandinavian countries; they are, it seems, his lodestar. Good for him. Their Social Democratic achievements have lately fallen on hard times, and their Social Democracy is not quite what it used to be, but the Scandinavian countries are still home to some of the most progressive and successful egalitarian policies and institutional arrangements on the planet — even now, with forward progress stalled by the global neoliberal turn, and with xenophobia on the rise there, just as it is everywhere else.

Strictly speaking, “democratic socialism” and “Social Democracy” are not the same. The democratic socialist societies that Sanders – and militants in the DSA, the Democratic Socialists of America, and most other self-declared socialists of the so-called millennial generation – are bastions of Social Democracy, but by calling their political orientation “democratic socialist,” the intent is not so much to stress that side of them, but rather to contrast the socialism they defend with the authoritarian socialisms of the former Communist countries and with the several self-described socialisms of the less developed world.

Democratic socialism is more of a political than an economic designation; in Social Democracy the emphasis is reversed.

Perhaps when self-described democratic socialists speak of “socialism,” they are taking Social Democracy for granted, while homing in on the political forms of the states that sustain it. This would seem theoretically impoverishing inasmuch as no one nowadays defends Soviet-style Communism, but then, absent a continuously developing socialist tradition, it can become necessary, especially after a long hiatus, in whole or in part, to reinvent the wheel.

Or perhaps, wittingly or not, Sanders and the others are tapping into some of the most advanced strains of Scandinavian Social Democracy in its glory years. For a while in the 1970s, Swedish socialists did envision the Social Democratic advances they proposed – using pension fund money to buy up shares in capitalist enterprises, instituting forms of worker self-management in capitalist and state owned firms, equilibrating salaries – as ways of peacefully euthanizing the old capitalist order, and moving on, gradually but inexorably, to bona fide socialist property relations.

With the demise of the three decades long period of capitalist expansion that followed the end of the Second World War, that experiment was, unfortunately but inevitably, cut short. It was then done in more definitively by the worldwide neoliberal turn.

In any case, Sanders’ socialism is more like an up-dated version of the most progressive strains of New Deal liberalism than of Swedish or any other form of Social Democracy. Warren’s capitalism is even more plainly cut from that cloth.

Fearing a return to Depression era economic conditions after World War II, and seeing no other way to avoid that outcome except by maintaining military spending at or near wartime levels, American presidents of both parties, military Keynesians all, supported what Dwight Eisenhower called “the military industrial complex”– by keeping inordinately large chunks of public monies flowing their way.

If only Eisenhower had stood up against what he warned against while he still could have done something about it! Instead, he waited until the very last moment of his final term to speak out. This was hardly to his credit. Nevertheless, it puts him way ahead of most other contemporaneous Democrats and Republicans.

For the Pentagon brass and the death merchants to have their way, they needed a worthy enemy, frightening enough to keep a public cheated out of much of their nation’s economic surplus on board. The Soviet Union was good for that.

Thus, Truman’s Fair Deal, Kennedy’s New Frontier, and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society strayed from the course Roosevelt had set, encouraging a transformation of New Deal liberalism into Cold War Anti-Communism.

Roosevelt’s Vice President in his third term, Henry Wallace, was a liberal in the best tradition of the Roosevelt era. Had conservatives in the Democratic Party not prevailed upon FDR in 1944 to run Truman for Vice President in his stead, or had Cold War anti-Communists not quashed his run for the White House in 1948 on the Progressive Party ticket, who knows what perils might have been avoided, and how much better off the world would now be.

However, Cold Warriors got their way instead. The Great Society did advance New Deal style liberalism in domestic affairs; it even partly overcame the modus vivendi that had existed between New Dealers and Southern white supremacists from the dawn of the Roosevelt era. But Johnson, like Kennedy before him, was an unreconstructed Cold Warrior. It is both fitting and telling that his best efforts ultimately came to grief in the jungles of Vietnam.

The original Cold War ended, or seemed to end, when Communism imploded, and the Soviet Union split apart. The threat to our Masters of War, and to an economic system dependent upon wasteful and socially maleficent public expenditures was palpable. However, our economic elites and our political class succeeded somehow in keeping the anticipated “peace dividend” at bay, and keeping the bottom lines of major capitalist firms on solid ground.

Russia did not fare nearly as well. Homegrown kleptocrats and liberal ideologues — some of them supported by American money, others actually coming from the United States – exacerbated the inevitable problems inherent in that country’s regression to capitalism.

The former Soviet republics endured similar difficulties, made worse by the fascists and quasi-fascists, in Ukraine and elsewhere, let loose by the demise of Soviet control.

And so, in the Clinton era and for a few years into the tenure of Bush 43, Russia was, for all practical purposes, a basket case that not even the most ardent anti-Communist or the most venal military-industrial complex promoter could turn into a credible threat.

But that was then. Now that Russia is at least somewhat back on track – though still with an economy smaller than Italy’s – Truman, not Wallace, style liberal foreign policy has returned with a vengeance, even as, on the domestic front, Democrats have become so profoundly coopted by Wall Street and corporate America that even Eisenhower Republicans look good in comparison.

If you have the stomach for it, watch a few minutes of MSNBC or CNN in the evenings, and see what I mean.

***

In his many years in public life, Sanders has sided with the U.S. foreign policy establishment more often than not – he is hardly a principled anti-imperialist like. say, Jeremy Corbyn in the UK. He is no Henry Wallace either.

I am fairly confident that, throughout most of her life, Warren was as bad or worse. It is hard to say for sure however, since, before being elected to the Senate in 2012, she really had no involvement with foreign affairs, and she has not shown a great deal of interest since.

On this too, then, my slight preference for Sanders is more atmospheric than substantive.

It is also on that basis that I believe that, with the possible exception of Tulsi Gabbard, who has no chance at all to be the Democratic nominee, either of them would be better than any of the other, more “moderate,” contenders.

The only sure thing is that anti-Trumpers – and who except the most deplorable of our fellow citizens is not an anti-Trumper nowadays! –would do well to bear in mind how, in 2016 and perhaps even still, Trump’s appeal depended, to at least some extent, on the fact that, to his credit, he was less bellicose and interventionist than his very bellicose and interventionist rival, even if it was already plain three years ago that nothing much of substance would come of it.

By making impeachment hinge on fatuous mainstream foreign policy establishment narratives about Russian malevolence and plucky, virtuous Ukrainians, not a fascist among them, yearning to breathe free — confabulations that Clinton shamelessly promoted and that she and her co-thinkers continue to endorse — Congressional Democrats are again doing what might otherwise seem impossible: making the greater evil seem the lesser of the two.

Making the Democratic Party part of the solution, not part of the problem – not, of course, as much as the GOP is, but still to a considerable extent — will be no easy feat. But with the impeachment process now finally on and the caucuses and primaries not too far off, the time to start working on that, since yesterday is no longer possible, is now.

Posted in USAComments Off on Get Trump First, But Then…

A Gangster for Capitalism: Next Up, Bolivia

by KATHLEEN WALLACE

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

“War is a racket. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.”

This sounds like a modern day comment from the US far left, but the source is hardly that. It’s from a man who was the most decorated Marine ever at the time of his death. He was an expert on the topic. He served in WW I as well as the Mexican Revolution. Smedley Butler was doomed to be a largely forgotten voice in the rush to gloss over the true causes of war and regime change. He pointed out the techniques used to win public approval and the subsequent serving of the corporate needs by entering these ever-repeating violent conflicts. He described his military career as that of “a high class muscleman for Big Business, Wall Street, and the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”

This man mapped it all out for us around a hundred years ago, yet the jingoism prevails. The latest bipolar foreign policy evidenced in Bolivia is just the latest chapter of the US pushing for and actively installing those who would further the interests of Big Business. Always at the cost of the poor. In this case, the cure for the bipolar policy is probably going to be lithium.

The moment that leaders begin to step out of a corporate-friendly lane, shit gets real. Fast. A treasured ally becomes the perpetrator of election fraud or the nexus of humanitarian affronts to their people. True, pretty much anyone who ascends to a leadership position has issues that can be dissected and critiqued, but even the most horrible actions can be quietly dismissed as quickly as a bone saw can dispatch a pudgy journalist to pieces—if you play the game. Amazing and graphic affronts to decency are ignored when the leaders keep the machinery oiled. Literally oiled.

Gaddafi was a bit of a back and forth US darling until he flirted too much with a gold-based dinar currency aimed at competing with the petrodollar. But things are much better now that he was murdered in the open-air and now Libya can be an open-air slave market. “We came, we saw, he died.” Hilarious. Now those that took over have some very easily refinable oil, if not refined manners.

Saddam Hussein was a similar friend to the US, even an ally– his behavior during the war with Iran was considered nifty. I don’t recall the US going in when he gassed the Kurds either. Maybe someone in DC frowned? Those Kurds sure don’t ever get a fair deal, do they? I can understand why they only trust mountains. And the moves that seemed to be regime threatening in Iraq involved that pesky petrodollar again.

I guess we’ve moved to a greener foreign policy when lithium regime change is replacing petroleum regime change. Thank you green economy.

Didn’t Morales recently step out of a joint deal  with a German firm to export lithium (which Bolivia claims to have over 70% of the world’s reserves)?  I think he did that like a second before he was discarded. Nationalized resources are not okay and the global south is supposed to be a poverty-stricken supplier. Teslas are for well-heeled Northern Californians, not Bolivians wearing those bowler hats! Ridiculous.

And all through the meddling, as well as the overt actions that cause increased misery in the world, the US public largely continues to believe in it all. The examples are all around us.

Something I noticed recently: This Veteran’s Day a spot on PBS spoke to issues of Native American participation in the military. The slant was broadly complimentary to military service (duh, of course it was on V-Day), but it was perhaps one of the worst widespread examples of Stockholm Syndrome I’ve seen. They were glorifying the sacrifices made by Natives in serving the US government, taking these dignified and proud individuals and supplanting the US Imperialism on the young people who had signed up. Don’t get me wrong, the tribal members were totally having it, deriving enormous self-worth from the experience. Even at the expense of PTSD and lost family members. It was a mind-fuck for sure. I worked on the White Mountain Apache reservation long ago and saw the manipulation first-hand–the desire many had to fit into the broader culture that had back-stabbed them and their ancestors. The end of the piece did a bit on individuals fighting against fracking and made mention that Standing Rock didn’t stop the pipeline, that the government prevailed, but it was framed like this was part of a personal journey for the veterans.  I would say this was an example of a warrior culture using that power to try to protect something sacred, the environment—to battle for something that matters, not being hijacked to go kill ________ (insert poor people of choice in latest military misadventure). It was a confused piece, made to tug at the heartstrings. Clearly you can be a minority in this country if you are a useful part of the machine is what I got out of it. This is how consent is manufactured, of course. You are revered if you do what you are supposed to do in that it helps the business of business. They get control of resources and you might get a body bag, but they will frame it as beautiful sacrifice and those of us who aren’t buying it are the ogres who hate rainbows,sunshine and motherhood. And this is just one small arena of propaganda.

The corporate agenda will continue to be pushed and despite all evidence, the average American won’t wonder why one ally can perpetrate horrific acts and another gets cast out for Trumped up reasons. Hell, most people are so tired they can’t think straight, let alone think critically.

Bolivia had a record of success in lifting many out of poverty and illiteracy. This will certainly go the other direction now that Jeanine Añez is at the helm. She seems to be quite adversarial to the indigenous, and they comprise 65% of Bolivia’s population. She has the saccharine hucksterism of a 40’s bible salesman. Definitely Trump ally material, maybe even Trump wife material?

Much like the scientific process strives to look towards the truth of how things really work, Smedley Butler gave us a framework that should be taken seriously—he described correctly how it all works and how these similar situations keep producing repeatable miserable results that keep the world in line for business extraction. He was a principled man who deserves to be remembered—his prescient warning regarding additional regime meddling and outright war have not lost the luster of truth. It’s going on as we speak.

Posted in USA, BoliviaComments Off on A Gangster for Capitalism: Next Up, Bolivia

The Violence of Fascist Leaders, Then and Now

Although lacking internet, the Nazis knew the value of film in order to get their message to the people.

by: Christopher Brauchli

In a video recently screened at an event hosted at one of his luxury properties, and with his Donald Trump Jr. in attendance, the U.S. President—his head superimposed on video game character—walks down the aisle he stops, pulls out a gun, and opens fire on parishioners who have the faces of his critics, or the logos of media organizations superimposed on their bodies. (Photo: Screengrab)

In a video recently screened at an event hosted at one of his luxury properties, and with his Donald Trump Jr. in attendance, the U.S. President—his head superimposed on video game character—walks down the aisle he stops, pulls out a gun, and opens fire on parishioners who have the faces of his critics, or the logos of media organizations superimposed on their bodies. (Photo: Screengrab)

“[A]fter the final destruction of the Nazi tyranny, they hope to see established a peace. . . which will afford assurance that all the men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want.” —Atlantic Charter issued August 14, 1941

It was all in good fun It took place for trump supporters the weekend of October 14, 2019, at the Trump National Doral Miami. That was the trump owned resort that was to be the site of the G-7 meeting in 2020, until it wasn’t. It had been selected by trump for the meeting of the G7 because, as Mick Mulvaney, Acting Chief of Staff explained: “Trump still considers himself to be in the hospitality business.”

The event was organized by American Priority, a group that pretends to promote free speech. It was attended by, among others, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and Donald Trump Jr. In a room adjacent to the main ballroom at the hotel, a video that was produced by an anonymous person operating under the name of: “The GeekzTeam” was shown on a revolving loop. The video includes the logo for the trump 2020 campaign. According to the New York Times’ description of the video, Mr. Trump’s head is superimposed on the body of a man entering the “Church of Fake News. ” As he walks down the aisle he stops, pulls out a gun, and opens fire on parishioners who have the faces of his critics, or the logos of media organizations superimposed on their bodies. Among his victims are “Black Lives Matter”, and “Vice News.” He continues walking down the aisle and as he approaches the alter, he is shown striking John McCain in the back of the neck, hitting Rosie O’Donnell in the face, and then stabbing her in the head. He sets fire to Bernie Sanders hair. The video ends with trump standing on the church altar and admiring the victims of his violent behavior.

Reports suggest that there are many similar memes, as they are known, available on the internet, all depicting violent acts against critics of trump. Trump himself tweeted a video in which he participates in a wrestling match and body slams and beats up the CNN logo. That tweet went viral among his supporters.

Although lacking internet, the Nazis knew the value of film in order to get their message to the people. In 1930 the party established a film department. In Mein Kampf Hitler wrote that: “The picture, in all its forms, including the film, has better prospects. In a much shorter time, at one stroke I might say, people will understand a pictorial presentation of something which it would take them a long and laborious effort of reading to understand.”

In 1932, Hans Traub, a Nazi propagandist, said that film is a “formidable means of propaganda.” Explaining its importance he said that: “Achieving propagandistic influence has always demanded a ‘language’ which forms a memorable and passionate plot with a simple narrative. . . . the most effective is the moving picture. . . . it has an unimaginable richness of rhythm for intensifying or dispelling emotions.”

Discussing films made in Nazi Germany, “Facing History and Ourselves” observes that although many films were made to glorify the Nazis, others were made to “dehumanize, criminalize, and demonize vulnerable minorities-particularly Jews.” The trump and his supporters know how that works.

Noel King of NPR conducted an interview of Taika Waititi, the director of the movie, “Jojo Rabbit” on October 18, 2019, the date the movie was released. The movie is a satire of Nazi Germany, and is about a 10-year old boy named Jojo Rabbit. Jojo is in the Hitler Youth Movement and he wants to be the best Nazi he can be. In the film Jojo says “I swear to devote all my energies and my strength to the savior of our country, Adolf Hitler.”

The NPR interview concludes with a lengthy commentary from Mr. Waititi, that is especially timely in today’s world. “So we think we live in the safety of 2019? Yes, we don’t have to worry about Hitler and his retribution on us for making jokes about him. [But} I mean, this film shouldn’t really need to be made. In 2019 do I really need to make a film with the heart of the message being, you shouldn’t be a Nazi. At the end of World War II, there was a very clear and simple law. If you’re a Nazi, you go to jail because there’s no room in this world for you and those ideas. Now, sadly, in America and other places, the law now is, if you’re a Nazi feel free to go down to the town square and have a little rally because we’ve got this thing called freedom of speech. And you can sort of say what you want, and you’re protected by that. It’s become very twisted. And if anyone says [about this movie] “oh, well, another World War II film-we get it. That was 80 years ago.” Well, we obviously don’t get it-because we’re getting dangerously close to this sort of thing happening again. And we’re living in a world where there are world leaders who are very happy to promote hate and intolerance and ideas that were prevalent in the ‘30s.’” Mr. Waititi got that right. Think Orban, Assad, Duterte, Putin, Xi, el Sisi, Erdogan, and, Trump, the spoiled, petulant, mendacious occupant of the White House, to name just a few. It’s frightening.

Posted in Germany, PoliticsComments Off on The Violence of Fascist Leaders, Then and Now

America’s Arms Sales Addiction

by WILLIAM HARTUNG

Photograph Source: Stacks of shells in the shell filling factory at Chilwell during World War I – Public Domain

It’s no secret that Donald Trump is one of the most aggressive arms salesmen in history. How do we know? Because he tells us so at every conceivable opportunity. It started with his much exaggerated “$110 billion arms deal” with Saudi Arabia, announced on his first foreign trip as president. It continued with his White House photo op with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in which he brandished a map with a state-by-state rundown of American jobs supposedly tied to arms sales to the kingdom. And it’s never ended. In these years in office, in fact, the president has been a staunch advocate for his good friends at Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and General Dynamics — the main corporate beneficiaries of the U.S.-Saudi arms trade (unlike the thousands of American soldiers the president recently sentinto that country’s desert landscapes to defend its oil facilities).

All the American arms sales to the Middle East have had a severe and lasting set of consequences in the region in, as a start, the brutal Saudi/United Arab Emirates war in Yemen, which has killed thousands of civilians via air strikes using U.S. weaponry and pushed millions of Yemenis to the brink of famine. And don’t forget the recent Turkish invasion of Syria in which both the Turkish forces and the Kurdish-led militias they attacked relied heavily on U.S.-supplied weaponry.

Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear that he cares far more about making deals for that weaponry than who uses any of it against whom. It’s important to note, however, that, historically speaking, he’s been anything but unique in his obsession with promoting such weapons exports (though he is uniquely loud about doing so).

Despite its supposedly strained relationship with the Saudi regime, the Obama administration, for example, still managed to offer the royals of that kingdom a record $136 billion in U.S. weapons between 2009 and 2017. Not all of those offers resulted in final sales, but striking numbers did. Items soldincluded Boeing F-15 combat aircraft and Apache attack helicopters, General Dynamics M-1 tanks, Raytheon precision-guided bombs, and Lockheed Martin bombs, combat ships, and missile defense systems. Many of those weapons have since been put to use in the war in Yemen.

To its credit, the Obama administration did at least have an internal debate on the wisdom of continuing such a trade. In December 2016, late in his second term, the president finally did suspend the sale of precision-guided bombs to the Royal Saudi Air Force due to a mounting toll of Yemeni civilian deaths in U.S.-supplied Saudi air strikes. This was, however, truly late in the game, given that the Saudi regime first intervened in Yemen in March 2015 and the slaughter of civilians began soon after that.

By then, of course, Washington’s dominance of the Mideast arms trade was taken for granted, despite an occasional large British or French deal like the scandal-plagued Al Yamamah sale of fighter planes and other equipment to the Saudis, the largest arms deal in the history of the United Kingdom. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, from 2014 to 2018 the United States accounted for more than 54% of known arms deliveries to the Middle East. Russia lagged far behind with a 9.5% share of the trade, followed by France (8.6%), England (7.2%), and Germany (4.6%). China, often cited as a possible substitute supplier, should the U.S. ever decide to stop arming repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia, came in at less than 1%.

The U.S. government’s stated rationales for pouring arms into that ever-more-embattled region include: building partnerships with countries theoretically willing to fight alongside U.S. forces in a crisis; swapping arms for access to military bases in Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and other Persian Gulf states; creating “stability” by building up allied militaries to be stronger than those of potential adversaries like Iran; and generating revenue for U.S. weapons contractors, as well as jobs for American workers. Of course, such sales have indeed benefited those contractors and secured access to bases in the region, but when it comes to promoting stability and security, historically it’s been another story entirely.

The Nixon Doctrine and the Initial Surge in Mideast Arms Sales

Washington’s role as the Middle East’s top arms supplier has its roots in remarks made by Richard Nixon half a century ago on the island of Guam. It was the Vietnam War era and the president was on his way to South Vietnam. Casualties there were mounting rapidly with no clear end to the conflict in sight. During that stopover in Guam, Nixon assured reporters accompanying him that it was high time to end the practice of sending large numbers of U.S troops to overseas battlefields. To “avoid another war like Vietnam anywhere in the world,” he was instead putting a new policy in place, later described by a Pentagon official as “sending arms instead of sending troops.”

The core of what came to be known as the Nixon Doctrine was the arming of regional surrogates, countries with sympathetic rulers or governments that could promote U.S. interests without major contingents of the American military being on hand. Of such potential surrogates at that moment, the most importantwas the Shah of Iran, with whom a CIA-British intelligence coup replaced a civilian government back in 1953 and who proved to have an insatiable appetite for top-of-the-line U.S. weaponry.

The Shah’s idea of a good time was curling up with the latest copy of Aviation Week and Space Technology and perusing glossy photos of combat planes. Egged on by the Nixon administration, his was the first and only country to buy the costly Grumman F-14 combat aircraft at a time when that company desperately needed foreign sales to bolster the program. And the Shah put his U.S.-supplied weapons to use, too, helping, for instance, to put down an anti-government uprising in nearby Oman (a short skip across the Persian Gulf), while repressing his own population at the same time.

In the Nixon years, Saudi Arabia, too, became a major weapons client of Washington, not so much because it feared its regional neighbors then, but because it had seemingly limitless oil funds to subsidize U.S. weapons makers at a time when the Pentagon budget was beginning to be reduced. In addition, Saudi sales helped recoup some of the revenue streaming out of the U.S. to pay for higher energy prices exacted by the newly formed OPEC oil cartel. It was a process then quaintly known as “recycling petrodollars.”

The Carter Years and the Quest for Restraint

The freewheeling arms trade of the Nixon years eventually prompted a backlash. In 1976, for the first (and last) time, a presidential candidate — Jimmy Carter — made reining in the arms trade a central theme of his 1976 campaign for the White House. He called for imposing greater human-rights scrutiny on arms exports, reducing the total volume of arms transfers, and initiating talks with the Soviet Union on curbing sales to regions of tension like the Middle East.

Meanwhile, members of Congress, led by Democratic Senators Gaylord Nelson and Hubert Humphrey, felt that it was long past time for Capitol Hill to have a role in decision-making when it came to weapons sales. Too often Congressional representatives found out about major deals only by reading news reports in the papers long after such matters had been settled. Among the major concerns driving their actions: the Nixon-era surge of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, then still an avowed adversary of Israel; the use of U.S.-supplied weapons by both sides in the Greek-Turkish conflict over the island of Cyprus; and covert sales to extremist right-wing forces in southern Africa, notably the South African-backed Union for the Total Independence of Angola. The answer was the passage of the Arms Export Control Act of 1978, which required that Congress be notified of any major sales in advance and asserted that it had the power to veto any of them viewed as dangerous or unnecessary.

As it happened, though, neither President Carter’s initiative nor the new legislation put a significant dent in such arms trafficking. In the end, for instance, Carter decided to exempt the Shah’s Iran from serious human-rights strictures and his hardline national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, undercut those talks with the Soviet Union on reducing arms sales.

Carter also wanted to get the new Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) he established — which eventually morphed into the U.S. Central Command — access to military bases in the Persian Gulf region and was willing to use arms deals to do so. The RDF was to be the centerpiece of the Carter Doctrine, a response to the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the fall of the Shah of Iran. As the president made clear in his 1980 State of the Union address: “An attempt by any outside forces to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States. It will be repelled by use of any means necessary, including the use of force.” Selling arms in the region would prove a central pillar of his new doctrine.

Meanwhile, most major sales continued to sail through Congress with barely a discouraging word.

Who Armed Saddam Hussein?

While the volume of those arms sales didn’t spike dramatically under President Ronald Reagan, his determination to weaponize anti-communist “freedom fighters” from Afghanistan to Nicaragua sparked the Iran-Contra scandal. At its heart lay a bizarre and elaborate covert effort led by National Security Council staff member Oliver North and a band of shadowy middlemen to supply U.S. weapons to the hostile regime of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran. The hope was to gain Tehran’s help in freeing U.S. hostages in Lebanon. North and company then used the proceeds from those sales to arm anti-government Contra rebels in Nicaragua in violation of an explicit Congressional ban on such aid.

Worse yet, the Reagan administration transferred arms and provided training to extremist mujahedeen factions in Afghanistan, acts which would, in the end, help arm groups and individuals that later formed al-Qaeda (and similar groups). That would, of course, prove a colossal example of the kind of blowback that unrestricted arms trading too often generates.

Even as the exposure of North’s operation highlighted U.S. arms transfers to Iran, the Reagan administration and the following one of President George H.W. Bush would directly and indirectly supply nearly half a billion dollars worth of arms and arms-making technology to Iran’s sworn enemy, Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein. Those arms would bolster Saddam’s regime both in its war with Iran in the 1980s and in its 1991 invasion of Kuwait that led to Washington’s first Gulf War. The U.S. was admittedly hardly alone in fueling the buildup of the Iraqi military. All five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (the U.S., the Soviet Union, France, the United Kingdom, and China) provided weapons or weapons technology to that country in the run-up to its intervention in Kuwait.

The embarrassment and public criticism generated by the revelation that the U.S. and other major suppliers had helped arm the Iraqi military created a new opening for restraint. Leaders in the U.S., Great Britain, and other arms-trading nations pledged to do better in the future by increasing information about and scrutiny of their sales to the region. This resulted in two main initiatives: the United Nations arms trade register, where member states were urged to voluntarily report their arms imports and exports, and talks among those five Security Council members (the largest suppliers of weapons to the Middle East) on limiting arms sales to the region.

However, the P-5 talks, as they were called, quickly fell apart when China decided to sell a medium-range missile system to Saudi Arabia and President Bill Clinton’s administration began making new regional weapons deals at a pace of more than $1 billion per month while negotiations were underway. The other suppliers concluded that the Clinton arms surge violated the spirit of the talks, which soon collapsed, leading in the presidency of George W. Bush to a whole new Iraqi debacle.

The most important series of arms deals during the George W. Bush years involved the training and equipping of the Iraqi military in the wake of the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. But $25 billion in U.S. arms and training was not enough to create a force capable of defeating the modestly armed militants of ISIS, when they swept into northern Iraq in 2014 and captured large swaths of territory and major cities, including Mosul. Iraqi security forces, short on food and equipment due to corruption and incompetence, were also short on morale, and in some cases virtually abandoned their posts (and U.S. weaponry) in the face of those ISIS attacks.

The Addiction Continues

Donald Trump has carried on the practice of offering weaponry in quantity to allies in the Middle East, especially the Saudis, though his major rationale for the deals is to generate domestic jobs and revenues for the major weapons contractors. In fact, investing money and effort in almost anything else, from infrastructure to renewable energy technologies, would produce more jobs in the U.S. No matter though, the beat just goes on.

One notable development of the Trump years has been a revived Congressional interest in curbing weapons sales, with a particular focus on ending support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. (Watching Turkish and Kurdish forces face off, each armed in a major way by the U.S., should certainly add to that desire.) Under the leadership of Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA), and Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA), Congress has voted to block bomb sales and other forms of military support for Saudi Arabia, only to have their efforts vetoed by President Trump, that country’s main protector in Washington. Still, congressional action on Saudi sales has been unprecedented in its persistence and scope. It may yet prevail, if a Democrat wins the presidency in 2020. After all, every one of the major presidential contenders has pledged to end arms sales that support the Saudi war effort in Yemen.

Such deals with Saudi Arabia and other Mideast states may be hugely popular with the companies that profit from the trade, but the vast majority of Americans oppose runaway arms trading on the sensible grounds that it makes the world less safe. The question now is: Will Congress play a greater role in attempting to block such weapons deals with the Saudis and human-rights abusers or will America’s weapons-sales addiction and its monopoly position in the Middle Eastern arms trade simply continue, setting the stage for future disasters of every sort?

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Christianity is the Religion of Imperialism

by MICHAEL WELTON


Saba Mahmood is a very talented scholar who has assimilated a post-colonial sensibility. She has learned to look at the world through the eyes of those who have been the pedagogical objects of European colonialism. The literature on Orientalism is vast; and the evidence suggests that Europe cannot easily shake off the deep-seated assumption that its way of life and scholarly products are the Archimedean point for comprehending the entire world. Tomoko Masuzawa (The invention of world religions [2005]) demonstrated provocatively that the idea of “world religion” is an intellectual construction that implicitly assumes that Christianity is the only universal religion that breaks free from locale and particularity.

Even in its secular modern form, it is supposed to be superior to all other ways of life, suffused as they are by a non-Christian religion. Mahmood (“Can secularism be Other-wise? In M. Warner, J. VanAntwerpen and C. Calhoun [Eds.]. Varieties of secularism in the secular age [2010]) begins her critical questioning of Taylor’s A secular age (2007) by declaring that he “delineates his object of study: a coherent religious tradition, coextensive with a spatial geography, whose historical unfolding can be plotted without accounting for non-Christian religious traditions that have coexisted within that very space of ‘Latin Christendom’” (p. 285).

Mahmood raises two salient points. For one thing, Latin Christendom is not as homogenous as Taylor makes out and, secondly, it is not understandable without grasping its encounters with others in new worlds. “These encounters,” she observes, “did not simply leave Christianity untouched but transformed it from within, a transformation that should be internal to any self-understanding of Christianity. Omission of this story is akin to the omission of the history of slavery and colonialism from accounts of post-Enlightenment modernity—an omission that enables a progressivist notion of history and normative claims about who is qualified to be ‘modern’ or ‘civilized’” (p. 286). This is devastating and intriguing commentary.

Many thoughts are now triggered. Early Christianity (embodied in St. Paul) shapes its self-understanding in relation to the Jewish and pagan other. Over time, its apologetics take form in the often violent encounter with Islam (as well as receiving Aristotle) through the medieval period. When Europe ventures out to colonize the world, its own self-understanding is imbricated with its sense of civilizational superiority. That is, Christianity becomes yoked to its twin: civilization. One cannot have one without the other. To become Christian is to be civilized (in sensibility and moral outlook). But if we reject the idea that Christianity is a universal essence that floats above history and culture, we can see the power and impact of Mahmood’s critical insights. The iconic French explorer Jacques Cartier (who arrived in Canada in 1534) naturally assumed that Catholic Christendom ought to be extended to the entire world. He was relatively unaffected by the dogmatism of the counter-reformation and the new rationalism. His mystical faith made little distinction between natural and supernatural worlds.

Although this latter belief placed him on common ground with native peoples, he had “no doubt that the line between France and Canada, between civilization and savagery, was sharply drawn and that civilization was on the march” (R. Cook, “Introduction.” In H.P. Biggar, The voyages of Jacques Cartier [1993], p. xv). Cartier could not conceive of “equal and different.” The native people he encountered had no government and no culture or religion to speak of, so Cartier simply assumed that he had the right to claim the land for France. He had the right to seize the land from native peoples and protect and promote “Catholicism against the threat of ‘wicked Lutherans, apostates, and imitators of Mahomet’ and to ‘these lands of yours,’ ‘your possessions,’ and ‘those lands and territories of yours’” (as cited, Cook, 1993, p. 38).

Explorers like Columbus and Cartier did not see who and what was before them; the discordance between what was before them and their mental categories opened the door for new ways of seeing and being in the world. But even through European Christendom was fracturing irrevocably, the Christian cosmography did not yet allow for a radical acceptance of the other. Indeed, we would have to await the fullness of the scientific revolution and the blooming of the enlightenment—as well as significant resistance from those deemed as objects of Euro-pedagogy—to accomplish the corrosion of Euro-superiority and deepen its self-critique.

Mahmood’s powerful core idea is that Christianity’s self-understanding was increasingly shaped by its “enmeshment in an imperial world order” (p. 287). Missionary work, then, was “important to developments within Christianity and to many of the central ideas and institutions of Latin Christendom” (ibid.). Mahmood points out that missionaries shaped educational systems, bringing in forms of western-styled rationalism and ways of thinking about the world. Mahmood states that in the period from 1858-1914, the zenith of colonial power, every corner of the globe was penetrated by Christian missions. “Importantly, these missions did not simply pave the way for colonial rule (as if often noted) but played a crucial role in shaping and redefining modern Christianity to fit the requirements of an emergent liberal social and political order in Europe” (p. 287).

In a sense, western Imperialism empties out the primal message of Christianity, replacing the content with core values and practices of Euro-centric notions of superiority and rationality. In Canada, the creation of residential schools was the instrument to empty Indigenous spirituality of its power and to fill the vacuum with new content, appropriate to the Native’s destined role as subordinate and deracinated humans.

For Mahmood, Taylor fails to “acknowledge the immense ideological force the ‘empirical history’ of Christianity commands in securing what constitutes as the properly religious and secular in the analytical domain” (p. 289). But this securing, Mahmood argues, comes at great cost. It is to “engage in a practice through which the ‘North Atlantic’ has historically secured its exceptionality—the simultaneous uniqueness and universality of its religious forms and the superiority of is civilization” (p. 290). Western secular modernity, then, retains traces of its Euro-Christian origins.

This latter phenomenon occurs, for example, in the way France’s arrogant understanding of the precise role any existing form of religion ought to play. The sovereignty of the secular state provisions the power to “regulate religious life through a variety of disciplinary practices that are political as well as ethical” (p. 293). We see this process played out in contemporary Quebec with its controversial Bill 21 which prohibits public servants from wearing religious headgear and other symbols.

“To inhabit this founding gesture uncritically (as Taylor does), by which the West consolidates its epistemic and historical privilege, is not simply to describe a discursive structure but to write from within its concepts and ambitions—one might even say to further its aims and presuppositions. The fact that Taylor sometimes inhabits this discourse ironically (evident in his acknowledgement of other possible accounts one could give of secularism) does not undermine the force of this discourse but only makes it more palatable to a post-imperialist audience” (ibid.).

This is tour de force criticism.

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Silencing the Beast of Bolivian Populism

by JASON HIRTHLER

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

The risible tension between the tailored elitism of the Bolivian bourgeoisie and the restive pueblo of indigenous peasants was memorably captured in the 2005 film Our Brand Is Crisis. The documentary colorfully exposes the sleazy underbelly of American political influence. Yes, the very thing our wizened mandarins in Washington have been raising such a clamor over since the wrong candidate was elected by the dull, unseeing demos. Congressional luminaries like the walleyed Adam Schiff, presiding like a demented pontiff over his carnival of moral outrage, continually effect, with little effect, the most astonished reactions to claims of Russian meddling.

(As an aside, it should be noted that ‘meddling’ is the softer form of ‘interference’, which itself is the diminutive of ‘active measures.’ We are delusional by degrees. The meddler crowd have in them a trace of lost sanity. The active measures of adherents are simply lost. It is something like the difference between Tucker Carlson and John Brennan: one faintly aware of a bright reality, the other living wholly and adventurously in a world of windmills and apparitions.)

Schiff and his tentpole pals have evidently no awareness of America’s storied track record of international regime-change efforts. They’ve not watched Our Brand Is Crisis nor seen serpentine Clintonite James Carville teach amoral Bolivian careerists to massage the narrative against young Evo Morales. They succeed in planting an elite-groomed handmaiden of American capital in the presidency, leaving the riveting provocateur Morales to wait another couple of years. The cocalero with the sheaf of sable hair and the sun-warmed smile would soon be carried into power on the backs of rural campesinos. His 12-year reign atop the scrum pile of Bolivian politics led to hemispheric growth records, near eradication of deep poverty, and a shunning of the economic hitmen and finance jackals of extractive neoliberalism.

But that is all over now. Carville worked his fell magic once, but the sight of Morales winning a fourth term was too much for the beltway puppeteers to abide. And so, a coup d’état. But when one looks at the state of our corporate media and its recent coverage of Bolivia, it is understandable why asylum escapees like Schiff and Nancy Pelosi are so madly unmoored from the fact-based universe. Here are some of the particulars:

* In its celebrated fashion, the deeply reactionary New York Times delivered a raft of obfuscation to readers following the coup d’état in La Paz. It claimed the vanishment of Evo Morales from power signaled the ‘End of Tyranny.’ The merest familiarity with Bolivian politics would disabuse any reader of this cookie-cutter trope applied with utter failure of imagination by the soi disant ‘paper of record.’ A man, like Hugo Chavez, who won election after election by wide margins because he followed the will of his people, can hardly be characterized as a dictator. Unless of course, you live in a deconstructionist world of moral and material relativity.

* Likewise, the Times chirped its standard line that there was “mounting evidence of electoral fraud” and that the recent election was “widely seen as rigged”. Yet no evidence has actually surfaced of fraud, let alone fraud committed by Morales’ own party, the Movement Toward Socialist (MAS). Only the Washington-funded OAS raised ‘grave’ concerns about the election, rehearsing the standard beltway tactic of seeding doubt in the institutional integrity of foreign electoral processes. One tactic to that end was conducting early reporting of results before votes from rural strongholds of MAS support were counted.

* The Grey Lady also parrots the de rigeur step-plan from the regime-change playbook, which is for ‘reputable’ western institutions to clamor for ‘fresh elections’ even though the actual election just had was legitimate. It just produced the wrong result again. The EU’s High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy aped Hillary Clinton after the 2009 Honduran coup, calling for “new credible elections” that express the “democratic will” of Bolivians. As though this hadn’t just been done.

* This is exactly how it went down in Honduras in 2009 and what was attempted in Venezuela in the last two years. In fact, here’s a shortlist of Washington-backed coups in the last several decades. According to journalist Sarah Abdallah, this is the 20th Washington-backed coup d’état in Latin America and the Caribbean since 1954.

* Morales was said to “defy term limits” to run for a fourth term last month. However, the supreme court overturned the term-limit legislation long before the election. Like it or not, his campaign was strictly legal.

* Many of the objections to suspension of term limits come from supporters of ‘democracy’ who fundamentally misunderstand that socialists like those of the MAS are more interested in establishing a dictatorship of workers instead of a duopoly of elites. Because it is really one or the other. There is no mythical middle ground; the state serves one class or another. The so-called democracies of the western world feature the institutional trappings of the textbook democracy but have cleverly resided control of the economy in an autocracy of monopoly capital. This situation leaves the majority facing neoliberal outcomes including, as Medea Benjamin expertly put it, “…high rents, stagnant wages, cradle-to-grave debt, ever-rising economic inequality, privatized healthcare, a shredded social safety net, abysmal public transportation, systemic political corruption and endless war.”

* Meanwhile, US interference, from funding false polling to supporting the tiresome street theater of protest, to training all of the coup plotters, has been exposed as it is nearly everywhere a beltway-backed putsch occurs. It follows the same unimaginative script first laid out by Gene Sharp in his destabilization handbook From Dictatorship to Democracy. Create violent protests in the streets, make outsized demands including a change of government, and hope for government repression. Then let western media handle the rest. First, it will portray any government response as a ‘brutal crackdown’ and a shift toward ‘authoritarian measures’. It will also assume that protests, of whatever size, represent the collective will of the people. These protests implicitly replace elections as the true avatar of popular intent, particularly as doubt is cast upon ‘incorrect’ election results.

* None of the mainstream publications appeared to declare the coup to be a coup. The Times predictably substituted various terms to evade the damning ‘coup’ usage. Morales had “resigned” and “steps down” and “quit” and “lost his grip on power.” None bothered to mention he was forced out by the military with backing from the US. There were plenty of “accusations” and “allegations” being circulated about Morales and the election that were never validated. This is simply another way of saying that MSM supports coups.

* And, of course, lurking silently in the background is the ever-present bounty: unbeknownst to almost everyone, Bolivia has stupendous reserves of lithium, that lightest of metals so excellent for the electric cars of tomorrow.

* Evo Morales even offered to redo the elections to satisfy the histrionic outcries from Washington puppet protestors. He offered to bring all sides together in dialogue to plot a path forward. As the regime-change playbook prescribes, attempts at dialogue are to be ignored or brushed aside.

* Jeanine Anez, the legislator who appointed herself president of Bolivia in Morales’ absence, has been suitably whitewashed by the Times and lapdog mainstream media, which has avoided any discussion of her anti-indigenous racism and clear class prejudice against Morales’ Movement Toward Socialist (MAS).

* Anez may be legitimated once the Congress approves Morales removal. No doubt they will be given that the coup police are aggressively preventing leading MAS representatives from even entering the halls of power. President of the Senate Adriana Salvatierra was driven back by ferocious police when she tried to enter her rightful workplace. The visuals are conspicuous: On the one hand, unarmed popular representatives, looking like average civilians, harmlessly approaching their workplace. On the other, the designed-to-intimidate wardrobes of la policia, the neofascist all-blacks with their spit-polished boots, trusty truncheons, and smoked visors.

* Now, as was entirely predictable, right-wing police are rounding up indigenous members of the MAS, literally smoking them out of their dwellings, carting them off in rickety paddy wagons, like some Dickensian scene from Victorian London. It has all the hallmarks of a right-wing purge rooted in a centuries-old racist impulse of colonial power.

* It’s inspiring to see indigenous citizens, like a stout, brave matron wrapped in a hand-knitted shawl, lecturing the jack-boot neofascist brigades, lined up in stony silence. Reminds you that for all the official histories about our ‘postcolonial’ world, the usurpers are still suppressing the indigenous. Just with guns not swords.

* Fortunately, Morales has been sheltered in Mexico. One half expected to see him unearthed in a ditch by bloodthirsty regime-change fanatics wound tight by Washington propaganda and greenbacks, a la Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein. There’s a reason leaders like Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad fight so vociferously for their survival and those of their allies. They understand the personal brutality that awaits them should they relent.

Grim Alternatives

When you see one socialist project after another unraveled by the naked avarice of western capitalist vanguards, it makes you wonder what the alternatives are? Siege socialism is real and very poorly understood. As soon as a country like the USSR or China erect defenses against the siege of the imperial capital, such as capital controls or denying NGO status to various organizations, the western press cries, “Authoritarianism!” and issue calls for ‘free-market reforms’. Naive westerners, awash in commodities and comforts in the comparative calm of the metropole, post pious demands for freedoms for the distant oppressed nations, ignoring the unexampled crimes of their own nations–and their nation’s role in triggering foreign unrest. Few can truly articulate what freedoms violent Hong Kong mobs are missing as they clamor unwittingly for a return to some sort of proxy British colonialism. Nearly every form of western subversion of left-leaning governments is supported by the entire US establishment: the steady-state, both parties, and its media. Identity politics liberalism and the freedom of markets is the Janus-faced disguise that hides the reality of global class warfare.

Mass Deception

There is clearly no bottom to the guile and mendacity of the corporate media in preserving its hallowed neoliberal ideology. Here’s George Orwell on the complex relationship between serving as a purveyor of false historical narratives and believing one’s own lies:

The process [of mass-media deception] has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt… To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies – all this is indispensably necessary.

—George Orwell, 1984

In the film version of Our Brand Is Crisis, an uber-confident Sandra Bullock rolls into a conference room to declare her ingenious device for swinging the election from the populist to the strongman. As she warms into her oratory, the brilliance of which becalms everyone in the room, she argues that the candidate mustn’t change, only the narrative. The population must be made to fear the populist (i.e., champion of their cause) by stirring up notions of chaos and collapse. The narrative thus becomes “crisis” rather than “hope” and the strongman is duly elected to thwart a mythic national implosion. It may be nauseating to see how cavalierly the publicists shape their storylines, but plotlines of this sort are being massaged every day. How many refer to the Hong Kong terrorists and vandals as ‘pro-democracy protesters’? We all do, reflexively. They are anything but, just as the ‘voluntary resignation’ of Evo Morales was anything but a willful concession, and was rather a coup d’état designed to speed Bolivian wealth and power into the nervy grip of the neoliberal north.

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Repeal the Nearly Two-Decade-Old War Authorizations

by MATTHEW HOH

U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan – Public Domain

In 2001 and in 2002 Congress passed authorizations for war. While not declarations of war, these mandates, each titled an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) provided the legal framework for attacks against al-Qaeda in 2001 and in 2002 for the Iraq War. Both AUMFs are still in effect today. As Congress considers its annual authorization to fund the Pentagon our current members of Congress, both in the House and the Senate, are in positions of responsibility and ability to repeal these AUMFs.

The effect of the AUMFs:

Based on FBI and journalist investigations, al Qaeda had between 200-400 members worldwide in September of 2001. Al Qaeda now has affiliates in every corner of the world, their strength measures in the tens of thousands of members, and they control territory in Yemen, Syria and parts of Africa. In Afghanistan, the Taliban now control as much as 60 percent of the territory and, with regards to international terrorism, where there was one international terror group in Afghanistan in 2001, the Pentagon now reports twenty such groups.

ISIS was formerly al Qaeda in Iraq, an organization that came into existence solely due to the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the United States. US militaryintelligence agencies, journalists and other international organizations continually report that the reason people join such groups is not out of ideology or religious devotion, but out of resistance to invasion and occupation, and in response to the killing of family, friends and neighbors by foreign and government forces. It is clear the AUMFs have worsened terrorism, not defeated it.

The cost of the AUMFs:

More than 7,000 US service members have been killed and more than 50,000 wounded in the wars since 9/11. Of the 2.5 million troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as many as 20% percent are afflicted with PTSD, while 20 percent more may have traumatic brain injury. The Veterans Administration reports Afghan and Iraq veterans have rates of suicide 4-10 times higher than their civilian peers. This means almost two Afghan and Iraq veterans are die by suicide every day. Do the math and it is clear more Afghan and Iraq veterans are dying by suicide than by combat. The cost to the people overseas to whom we have brought these wars is hard to grasp. Between one and four million people have been killed, directly and indirectly, by these wars, while tens of millions more have been wounded or psychologically traumatized, and tens of millions more made homeless – the cause of the worst refugee crisis since WWII.

Financially, the cost of these wars is immense, at least $6 trillion. Of a vast many statistics that compose this incomprehensible figure of $6 trillion, is that nearly $1 trillion of it is simply just interest and debt payments. For any American, Democrat, Republican or independent, these interest and debt payments alone should cause them to reconsider these wars.

The AUMFs have allowed for wars to be waged without end by the executive branch, wars the American people, including veterans, say have not been worth fighting. Congress has the ability and responsibility to help bring about an end to these wars by ensuring the repeal of the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs.

Posted in Middle East, USA, AfghanistanComments Off on Repeal the Nearly Two-Decade-Old War Authorizations

The Coup in Bolivia: Who is Responsible?

by W. T. WHITNEY

Image Source: Kingsif – CC BY-SA 4.0

Brighter days were ahead for Bolivia in early 2006. Elected overwhelmingly, Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, took office in company with Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linare. They’d been candidates of the Movement toward Socialism party and would build a political revolution with socialist characteristics. It ended abruptly on November 10 with their forced removal. It was a coup, and the U.S. government was in charge.

The Morales government had nationalized key industries and oil and gas production, carried out land reform, provided constitutional rights for indigenous peoples, and extended education, health care, and old-age security. Women would end up holding more than half the public offices; 68 percent of them were indigenous. Illiteracy has almost disappeared.

GDP per capita doubled. The economy expanded by 400 percent over the years – the highest rate in Latin America.  The government built “more than 15,500 miles of highways, 134 hospitals, 7.191 sport centers, 1.100 schools. The minimum salary increased 1000 percent.” Poverty dropped from 60.6 percent in 2005 to 36.4 percent in 2018, extreme poverty from 38.2 percent to 15.2 percent.

Signs of trouble surfaced early: separatist agitation, attacks on indigenous people, and a failed assassination attempt against Morales in 2008. Anti-Morales agitation has been strongest in the eastern departments of Pando, Beni, Tarija, and particularly Santa Cruz. This is the region where Bolivia’s production of oil, natural gas, and soy and its wealth are concentrated.

Power brokers there used their so-called Civic Committees to oppose the government and carry out racist attacks. They still do. The Bolivian government accused U.S. embassy officials of conspiring with the Civic Committees. By 2013, the U.S. ambassador, Drug Enforcement Agency, and US Agency for International Development had been expelled.

For more than two years, Morales’s intention to seek a fourth term provoked opposition.  He continued on despite constitutionally-imposed limits on presidential terms and despite the narrow defeat in February 1916 of a referendum that would have allowed extra terms. Morales and Vice President Garcia Linare did win on October 20 with 47 percent of the vote. Their 10.6 percent plurality over the next candidate in line satisfied the constitutional requirement for a first term victory.

Between the elections on October 20 and Morales’s resignation on November 10, the campaign against him moved into high gear. What happened provides evidence that the U.S. government was instrumental in causing his government to disappear.

In an unofficial report on the day of the elections, the Organization of American States (OAS) identified voting irregularities. The United States echoed these concerns. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal’s announcement on October 24 of the election results provoked tumultuous protests. The government responded by asking the OAS to assess the outcome. Conclusions were announced on November 10, earlier than expected. The OSA again cited voting irregularities and recommended new elections. Morales convoked them, but it was too late.

Violent protests led by reactionaries, by the Civic Committees mostly, had been building. The Santa Clara Civic Committee leader Luis Fernando Camacho was now leading them. The wealthy Camacho once led his committee’s violent youth wing and now owns natural gas and agricultural operations. Protestant evangelical fervor fuels his animus against the indigenous. On November 4 he demanded that Morales resign within 24 hours. The same day the helicopter carrying Morales “incurred an accident” and hit the ground from 15 meters up.

Civic Committee hoodlums spearheaded violent rampages against indigenous Bolivians and MAS members. Eventually they burned the houses of Morales, his sister, and other MAS politicians.

Security forces delivered the coup de grace. Police mutinies began on November 8. The top Army general asked Morales to resign. Morales departed along with other MAS officials and parliamentarians. Morales indicated he wanted to spare the country bloodshed.

The performance of the OAS was consistent with the idea that the U.S. government had charge of the coup. In May 2019 OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro gave Morales the go-ahead for a fourth term even though the referendum that would have allowed Morales an extra term had been defeated. When Morales asked the OAS to review the elections of October 20, he may have expected a balanced appraisal. Maybe, however, he had been tricked into a suppliant’s role.

The OAS, with offices in Washington, came into existence under U.S. auspices in 1948 as a supposed shield against communist infection. Under Almagro, the OAS has assisted the United States in trying to get rid of President Nicolas Maduro’s progressive Venezuelan government. The OAS evidently serves U.S. purposes. That was its job in regard to the elections in Bolivia.

Incidentally, the OAS erred in questioning the integrity of the elections. Walter Mebane and colleagues at the University of Michigan looked at the data and concluded that “fraudulent votes in the election were not decisive for the result.” The Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research performed a detailed study demonstrating the same.

The U.S. government took great advantage of its hold on Bolivia’s police and military forces. Top Army officers did confer with both Luis Fernando Camacho and U.S. Embassy officials. But the principal way the U.S. government manipulated the Bolivian security forces was the building of ties with individual military and police leaders.

That process had been underway for decades as Latin American military personnel were receiving training and indoctrination at the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas, now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation… Analyst Jeb Sprague reports that, “At least six of the key coup plotters are alumni of the infamous School of the Americas, while [General] Kaliman and another figure served in the past as Bolivia’s military and police attachés in Washington.”

Sprague adds that the police commanders associated with the police mutinies received training at the Washington-based Latin American police exchange program known as APALA – its initials in Spanish.

The military head who asked Morales to resign was General Williams Kaliman. Afterwards, Kaliman himself quickly resigned.  Citing unconfirmed information, Sullkata M. Quilla of theLatin American Center for Strategic Analysis explains that Kaliman and other military chiefs each received $1 million, top police officers each received $500,000, and Kaliman moved to the United States. Transactions involving the money were arranged by U.S. Chargee d’affaires Bruce Williamson and took place in Jujuy Province, in Argentina, under the auspices of Governor Geraldo Morales. The story first appeared on the website Tvmundus.com.ar.

Interviewed on Democracy Now, Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations Sacha Llorenti – a Morales supporter – stated that prior to Morales’s departure   “some loyal members of his security team showed him messages in which people were offering them $50,000 if they would hand him over.”  Money was apparently flowing and its origin may be surmised.

A central motivation for U.S. intervention seemingly has to do with control over Bolivian lithium deposits that amount to almost 70 percent of the world’s total. Lithium is “essential to a battery-filled world” observes the National Geographic – think electric cars, electronic devices, computers, and smart phones. Collaborating with China, Bolivia’s government was preparing to manufacture its own batteries.

According to Reuters, China “produces nearly two-thirds of the world’s lithium-ion batteries – compared to 5 percent for the United States – and controls most of the world’s lithium processing facilities.”  The United States sees lithium availability as essential to its economy and national security, says the report.

Transnational corporations based in Europe and Canada had sought to exploit Bolivia’s Lithium. In Bolivia, however, proceeds from mining and oil production have paid for social development. The Morales government has demanded majority control of foreign mining operations. Any foreign companies processing Bolivia’s lithium must do so in conjunction with one of two state-owned Bolivian companies. So contracts with the foreign companies broke down or never came to fruition.

But two Chinese companies looked to be on the verge of making arrangements. China, it seemed, might end up with exclusive access to Bolivia’s lithium. As if to emphasize the point, that government on November 4 canceled a contract with a German company. According to analyst Vijay Prashad, “The idea that there might be a new social compact for the lithium was unacceptable to the main transnational mining companies.”

It’s clear that the U.S. government sponsored a coup in Bolivia. A few more items are relevant:

1. Prior to the elections President Morales charged that U.S. Embassy officials bribed people in the countryside to reject him at the polls. For example, they traveled to the Yungas region on October 16 with pay-offs to disaffected coca farmers.

2. Weapons shipments from the United States arrived at the Chilean port of Iquique apparently on their way to a militarized political opposition group in Bolivia.

3. The State Department allocated $100,000 to enable a company called “CLS Strategies” to mount a disinformation campaign through social media.

4. The CIA station in La Paz reportedly assumed control of the Whatsapp network in the country in order to leak false information.  More than 68,000 fake anti-Morales tweets were released.

5. Mariane Scott and Rolf A. Olson, U.S. Embassy officials in La Paz, met with diplomatic counterparts from Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina to coordinate destabilization efforts and “to deliver U.S. financing to local opposition forces.”

6. For many years the Santa Cruz Civic Committee and its proto-fascist Youth Union have received funding from the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy. According to analyst Eva Golinger, the USAID provided $84 million to Bolivian opposition groups.

7. In mid-October “political consultant” George Eli Birnbaun arrived in Santa Cruz from Washington with a team of military and civilian personnel. His job was to support the presidential candidacy of Oscar Ortiz, preferred by the U.S. government, and to “destabilize the country politically and socially after the elections.” He was providing support for Santa Cruz Civic Committee’s youth organization and also supervising the U.S.- financed “Standing Rivers” NGO, engaged in spreading disinformation.

8. A collection of 16 audio recordings of the plotters’ pre-election conversations were leaked and then appeared on the internet. Several of the voices mentioned contacts with the U.S. Embassy and with U.S. Senators Ted Cruz, Robert Menendez, and Marco Rubio. Sprague reports that four of the ex-military plotters on the calls had attended the School of the Americas.

Conclusions are in order:

1. Easily accessed facts are consistent with the imperialist U.S. government having successfully notched another in a long list of coups aimed at stabilizing the capitalist world order. This one took some doing, sort of like Guatemala (1954) and Chile (1973).

2. The project of using elections to reach socialism or get rid of capitalism faces long odds. A determining factor is the role played by armies and police in support of reaction.

3. Media in the United States were complicit as regards the Bolivia coup.  According to a survey by Fair.org, “No establishment outlet framed the action [in Bolivia] as a coup.”

4. Once more President Donald Trump lies: “The resignation yesterday of Bolivian President Evo Morales is a significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere.”

Posted in BoliviaComments Off on The Coup in Bolivia: Who is Responsible?

Hunger Games: Food Abundance and Twisted Truths

by COLIN TODHUNTER

Farm, Young’s Bay, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

The world already produces enough food to feed 10 billion people but over two billion are experiencing micronutrient deficiencies (of which 821 million were classed as chronically undernourished in 2018). However, supporters of genetic engineering (GE) crops continually push the narrative that GE technology is required if we are to feed the world and properly support farmers.  

First of all, it must be stressed that there is already sufficient evidence to question the efficacy of GE crops; however, despite this, conventional options and innovations that outperform GE crops are in danger of being sidelined in a rush by powerful, publicly unaccountable private interests like the Gates Foundation to facilitate the introduction of GE into global agriculture; crops whose main ‘added value’ is the financial rewards accrued by the corporations behind them.

Secondly, even if we are to accept that at some stage GE can supplement conventional practices, we must acknowledge that from the outset of the GMO project, the sidelining of serious concerns about the technology has occurred and despite industry claims to the contrary, there is no scientific consensus on the health impacts of GE crops.

Both the Cartagena Protocol and Codex share a precautionary approach to GE crops and foods, in that they agree that GE differs from conventional breeding. There is sufficient reason to hold back on commercialising GE crops and to subject each GMO to independent, transparent environmental, social, economic and health impact evaluations.

To evaluate the pro-GMO lobby’s rhetoric that GE is needed to ‘feed the world’, we first need to understand the dynamics of a globalized food system that fuels hunger and malnutrition against a backdrop of food overproduction. As Andrew Smolski describes it: capitalism’s production of ‘hunger in abundance’.

Over the last 50 years, we have seen the consolidation of an emerging global food regime based on agro-export mono-cropping (often with non-food commodities taking up prime agricultural land) and linked to sovereign debt repayment and World Bank/IMF ‘structural adjustment’ directives. The outcomes have included a displacement of a food-producing peasantry, the consolidation of Western agri-food oligopolies and the transformation of many countries from food self-sufficiency into food deficit areas.

As long as these dynamics persist and food injustice remains an inherent feature of the global food regime, the rhetoric of GM being necessary for feeding the world is merely ideology and bluster. Furthermore, if we continue to regard food as a commodity in a globalized capitalist food system, we shall continue to see the comprehensive contamination of food with sugar, bad fats, synthetic additives, GMOs and pesticides and rising rates of diseases and serious health conditions, including surges in obesity, diabetes and cancer incidence, but no let-up in the under-nutrition of those too poor to join in the over-consumption.

Looking at India as an example, although it continues to do poorly in world hunger rankings, the country has achieved self-sufficiency in food grains and has ensured there is enough food available to feed its entire population. It is the world’s largest producer of milk, pulses and millets and the second-largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, groundnuts, vegetables, fruit and cotton.

Farmers therefore produce enough food. It stands to reason that hunger and malnutrition result from other factors (such as inadequate food distribution, inequality and poverty). It is again a case of ‘scarcity’ amid abundance. The country even continues to export food while millions remain hungry.

While the pro-GMO lobby says GE will boost productivity and help secure cultivators a better income, this too is misleading as it again ignores crucial political and economic contexts; with bumper harvests, Indian farmers still find themselves in financial distress.

India’s farmers are not experiencing hardship due to low productivity. They are reeling from the effects of neoliberal policies, years of neglect and a deliberate strategy to displace smallholder agriculture at the behest of the World Bank and predatory global agri-food corporations. It’s for good reason that the calorie and essential nutrient intake of the rural poor has drastically fallen.

And yet, the pro-GMO lobby wastes no time in wrenching these issues from their political contexts to use the notions of ‘helping farmers’ and ‘feeding the world’ as lynchpins of its promotional strategy.

Agroecological principles

Many of the traditional practices of small farmers are now recognised as sophisticated and appropriate for high-productive, sustainable agriculture. These practices involve an integrated low-input systems approach to agriculture that emphasises, among other things, local food security and sovereignty, diverse nutrition production per acre, water table stability, climate resilience and good soil structure. Agroecology represents a shift away from the reductionist yield-output industrial paradigm, which results in enormous pressures on health and the environment.

A recent FAO high-level report called for agroecology and smallholder farmers to be prioritised and invested in to achieve global sustainable food security. Smallholder (non-GMO) farming using low-input methods tends to be more productive in total output than large-scale industrial farms and can be more profitable and resilient to climate change.

Despite the fact that globally industrial agriculture grabs 80 per cent of subsidies and 90 per cent of research funds, smallholder agriculture plays a major role in feeding the world. At the same time, these massive subsidies and funds support a system that is only made profitable because agri-food oligopolies externalize the massive health, social and environmental costs of their operations.

These corporations leverage their financial clout, lobby networks, funded science and political influence to cement a ‘thick legitimacy’ among policy makers for their vision of agriculture. In turn,  World Bank ‘enabling the business of agriculture’ directives, the World Trade Organization ‘agreement on agriculture’ and trade related intellectual property rights help secure their interests.

In the meantime, supporters of GMO agriculture continue to display a willful ignorance of the structure of the food system which produces the very problem it claims it can resolve. The pro-GMO scientific lobby arrogantly pushes its ideological agenda while ignoring the root causes of poverty, hunger and malnutrition and denigrating genuine solutions centred on food sovereignty.

Posted in Human Rights, Politics, WorldComments Off on Hunger Games: Food Abundance and Twisted Truths

Waging War Against the Rule of Law

by:  LAWRENCE DAVIDSON

Mosaic representing both the judicial and legislative aspects of law designed by Frederick Dielman – Public Domain

There is no doubt about it: at our present moment in history it is embarrassingly hard to be a defender of the rule of law. This is particularly so when such laws seek to assert and protect human rights. It is embarrassing because being supportive of such regulations should be a “no-brainer.” Instead, it pits you against the U.S. government and its closest ally, Israel.

Thus, there is the fact that while there are many countries that take no heed of international law in this regard, if you happen to be an outspoken humanitarian Jewish American, you are really going to have a tough time of it. You are assailed on one side by powerful American leaders who attack international law with manifestly faulty reasoning (see below). On the other side, one is confronted by Zionist Jews, both inside and outside of Israel, who would destroy not only the international law that stands in the way of their territorial greed, but the ethical and moral integrity of the Jewish people as well. For all those Jewish Americans who see value in defending human rights and the rule of law, I truly commiserate: it is not easy being us!

In its latest assault on the rule of law, the Trump administration has declared that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories are legitimate. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a self-described advocate of “Christian diplomacy” has led the way in this. He stated that: “After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate, this administration agrees with President Reagan [who, back in 1980, expressed a similar sentiment]. The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.”

No details were given on the “careful study” Pompeo claims to have been made. And, frankly, it is hard to take this assertion seriously because the Trump folks are not known to be objective, or even attentive, when it comes to detail. No information was given on what basis Ronald Reagan came to his opinion. Nor is it known whether or not Reagan was senile at the time he spoke. And, no elaboration was made as to what “per se” means in the context of Pompeo’s declaration.

The Secretary of State went on: “The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace. This is a complex political problem that can only be solved by negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.”

This bit of conjecture is dubious at best, and if such conclusions are the product of the Secretary’s “careful study,” we can conclude that Pompeo is either being disingenuous or is ignorant to the point of incompetence. Here is what I mean:

+ The conclusion that “there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict” is a contrived one. Pompeo should certainly know that there are readily discernible reasons, most of them coming from the U.S.-Israeli side, why attempts to apply international law as the basis of a settlement have so far failed. Actually, there are at least forty three reasons—that is the number of vetos the United States has cast in the UN Security Council to protect Israel, largely from international law, between 1972 and 2017. In addition, one should never say “never.”

+ The assertion that “arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace” is also contrived. Again, you cannot acquiesce    in seventy-one years of Israeli behavior, much of it in violation of international law, all the while protecting, as most U.S. governments have done, the criminal party, and then say “international law will not bring peace.” Obviously, the historical context means nothing to Pompeo.

+ Pompeo’s final conclusion that “this is a complex political problem that can only be solved by negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians” is simply a throwaway line that has no meaning given the history of those “negotiations” that have been attempted.

Perhaps the most egregious assertion made by Secretary Pompeo was that all the U.S. is doing is “recognizing the reality on the ground.” This same excuse was used by the Trump administration when it blessed the occupation of the Golan Heights. Subsequently, some people assigned to the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem have claimed that all Trump was doing was recognizing the “truth.”

These claims oversimplify and distort the current situation to the point of absurdity. Mr. Pompeo and those folks at the embassy are not dabbling in some field of physics here. They have not come along and discovered a new naturally occurring phenomenon. The fact is that in our social, economic and political worlds we humans do not discover reality, we create our own constantly fluctuating “reality.” And, as touched on above, today’s variation on fluctuating “reality” in places like Gaza, Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank are the result of Israeli actions that defy international law. That makes those acts and their consequences—their “reality”—by definition, criminal. At the same time, as we have seen, the folks in Washington gave the necessary assistance that allowed the Israelis to get away with their criminal behavior. That makes the people in Washington who provided this cover, criminals as well.

So what we have here is the Secretary of State of a country that has acted as an accomplice to years of illicit behavior throwing up his hands and saying “the law has failed”—while not mentioning the fact that he and others before him, acting in their official government capacities, helped to arrange that outcome.

This bit of sleight of hand was no doubt made easier for Mike Pompeo given that he has ridden the coattails of a boss who is himself lawless. That fast-and-loose attitude toward the rule of law is a main reason Donald Trump is going to be impeached.

Despite all, the struggle of the Palestinians and their allies will go on. Applying the appropriate biblical comparisons, the BDS movement (the boycott of Israel) has become the “light unto the nations” that Israel itself was mythically supposed to be. And outspoken anti-Zionist Jews, like some of those Old Testament prophets, are now the last bastion against Israel’s racist idolatry.

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Waging War Against the Rule of Law

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