ISIS Is Proof of the Failed “War on Terror”

NOVANEWS

ISIS is the child of the war against terrorism waged by the west. (Photo: Reuters)

Today al-Qaeda-type movements rule a vast area in northern and western Iraq and eastern and northern Syria, several hundred times larger than any territory ever controlled by Osama bin Laden. It is since bin Laden’s death that al-Qaeda affiliates or clones have had their greatest successes, including the capture of Raqqa in the eastern part of Syria, the only provincial capital in that country to fall to the rebels, in March 2013. In January 2014, ISIS took over Fallujah just forty miles west of Baghdad, a city famously besieged and stormed by US Marines ten years earlier. Within a few months they had also captured Mosul and Tikrit. The battle lines may continue to change, but the overall expansion of their power will be difficult to reverse. With their swift and multipronged assault across central and northern Iraq in June 2014, the ISIS militants had superseded al-Qaeda as the most powerful and effective jihadi group in the world.

These developments came as a shock to many in the West, including politicians and specialists whose view of what was happening often seemed outpaced by events. One reason for this was that it was too risky for journalists and outside observers to visit the areas where ISIS was operating, because of the extreme danger of being kidnapped or murdered. “Those who used to protect the foreign media can no longer protect themselves,” one intrepid correspondent told me, explaining why he would not be returning to rebel-held Syria.

This lack of coverage had been convenient for the US and other Western governments because it enabled them to play down the extent to which the “war on terror” had failed so catastrophically in the years since 9/11. This failure is also masked by deceptions and self-deceptions on the part of governments. Speaking at West Point on America’s role in the world on May 28, 2014, President Obama said that the main threat to the US no longer came from al-Qaeda central but from “decentralized al-Qaeda affiliates and extremists, many with agendas focused on the countries where they operate.” He added that “as the Syrian civil war spills across borders, the capacity of battle-hardened extremist groups to come after us only increases.” This was true enough, but Obama’s solution to the danger was, as he put it, “to ramp up support for those in the Syrian opposition who offer the best alternative to terrorists.” By June he was asking Congress for $500 million to train and equip “appropriately vetted” members of the Syrian opposition. It is here that there was a real intention to deceive, because, as Biden was to admit five months later, the Syrian military opposition is dominated by ISIS and by Jabhat al-Nusra, the official al-Qaeda representative, in addition to other extreme jihadi groups. In reality, there is no dividing wall between them and America’s supposedly moderate opposition allies.

An intelligence officer from a Middle Eastern country neighboring Syria told me that ISIS members “say they are always pleased when sophisticated weapons are sent to anti-Assad groups of any kind, because they can always get the arms off them by threats of force or cash payments.” These are not empty boasts. Arms supplied by US allies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar to anti-Assad forces in Syria have been captured regularly in Iraq. I experienced a small example of the consequences of this inflow of weapons even before the fall of Mosul, when, in the summer of 2014, I tried to book a flight to Baghdad on the same efficient European airline that I had used a year earlier. I was told it had discontinued flights to the Iraqi capital, because it feared that insurgents had obtained shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles originally supplied to anti-Assad forces in Syria and would use them against commercial aircraft flying into Baghdad International Airport. Western support for the Syrian opposition may have failed to overthrow Assad, but it has been successful in destabilizing Iraq, as Iraqi politicians had long predicted.

The failure of the “war on terror” and the resurgence of al-Qaeda is further explained by a phenomenon which had become apparent within hours of the 9/11 attacks. The first moves from Washington made it clear that the anti-terror war would be waged without any confrontation with Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, two close US allies, despite the fact that without the involvement of these two countries 9/11 was unlikely to have happened. Of the nineteen hijackers that day, fifteen were Saudi. Bin Laden came from the Saudi elite. Subsequent US official documents stress repeatedly that financing for al-Qaeda and jihadi groups came from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies. As for Pakistan, its army and military service had played a central role since the early 1990s in propelling the Taliban into power in Afghanistan where they hosted bin Laden and al-Qaeda. After a brief hiatus during and after 9/11, Pakistan resumed its support for the Afghan Taliban. Speaking of the central role of Pakistan in backing the Taliban, the late Richard C. Holbrooke, US special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, said: “We may be fighting the wrong enemy in the wrong country.”

The importance of Saudi Arabia in the rise and return of al-Qaeda is often misunderstood and understated. Saudi Arabia is influential because its oil and vast wealth make it powerful in the Middle East and beyond. But it is not financial resources alone that make it such an important player. Another factor is its propagating of Wahhabism, the fundamentalist, eighteenth-century version of Islam that imposes sharia law, relegates women to the status of second-class citizens, and regards Shia and Sufi Muslims as non-Muslims to be persecuted along with Christians and Jews.

This religious intolerance and political authoritarianism, which in its readiness to use violence has many similarities with European fascism in the 1930s, is getting worse rather than better. For example, in recent years, a Saudi who set up a liberal website on which clerics could be criticized was sentenced to a thousand lashes and seven years in prison. The ideology of al-Qaeda and ISIS draws a great deal from Wahhabism. Critics of this new trend in Islam from elsewhere in the Muslim world do not survive long; they are forced to flee or are murdered. Denouncing jihadi leaders in Kabul in 2003, an Afghan editor described them as “holy fascists” who were misusing Islam as “an instrument to take over power.” Unsurprisingly, he was accused of insulting Islam and had to leave the country.

A striking development in the Islamic world in recent decades is the way in which Wahhabism is taking over mainstream Sunni Islam. In one country after another Saudi Arabia is putting up the money for the training of preachers and the building of mosques. A result of this is the spread of sectarian strife between Sunni and Shia. The latter find themselves targeted with unprecedented viciousness, from Tunisia to Indonesia. Such sectarianism is not confined to country villages outside Aleppo or in the Punjab; it is poisoning relations between the two sects in every Islamic grouping. A Muslim friend in London told me: “Go through the address books of any Sunni or Shia in Britain and you will find very few names belonging to people outside their own community.”

Even before Mosul, President Obama was coming to realize that al-Qaeda–type groups were far stronger than they had been previously, but his recipe for dealing with them repeats and exacerbates earlier mistakes. “We need partners to fight terrorists alongside us,” he told his audience at West Point. But who are these partners going to be? Saudi Arabia and Qatar were not mentioned by him, since they remain close and active US allies in Syria. Obama instead singled out “Jordan and Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq” as partners to receive aid in “confronting terrorists working across Syria’s borders.”

There is something absurd about this, since the foreign jihadis in Syria and Iraq, the people whom Obama admits are the greatest threat, can only get to these countries because they are able to cross the 510-mile-long Turkish-Syrian border without hindrance from the Turkish authorities. Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Jordan may now be frightened by the Frankenstein’s monster they have helped to create, but there is little they can do to restrain it. An unspoken purpose of the US insistence that Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, and Bahrain take part or assist in the air strikes on Syria in September was to force them to break their former links with the jihadis in Syria.

There was always something fantastical about the US and its Western allies teaming up with the theocratic Sunni absolute monarchies of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf to spread democracy and enhance human rights in Syria, Iraq, and Libya. The US was a weaker power in the Middle East in 2011 than it had been in 2003, because its armies had failed to achieve their aims in Iraq and Afghanistan. Come the uprisings of 2011, it was the jihadi and Sunni-sectarian, militarized wing of rebel movements that received massive injections of money from the kings and emirs of the Gulf. The secular, nonsectarian opponents of the long-established police states were soon marginalized, reduced to silence, or killed. The international media was very slow to pick up on how the nature of these uprisings had changed, though the Islamists were very open about their sectarian priorities: in Libya, one of the first acts of the triumphant rebels was to call for the legalization of polygamy, which had been banned under the old regime.

ISIS is the child of war. Its members seek to reshape the world around them by acts of violence. The movement’s toxic but potent mix of extreme religious beliefs and military skill is the outcome of the war in Iraq since the US invasion of 2003 and the war in Syria since 2011. Just as the violence in Iraq was ebbing, the war was revived by the Sunni Arabs in Syria. It is the government and media consensus in the West that the civil war in Iraq was reignited by the sectarian policies of Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad. In reality, it was the war in Syria that destabilized Iraq when jihadi groups like ISIS, then called al-Qaeda in Iraq, found a new battlefield where they could fight and flourish.

It was the US, Europe, and their regional allies in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and United Arab Emirates that created the conditions for the rise of ISIS. They kept the war going in Syria, though it was obvious from 2012 that Assad would not fall. He never controlled less than thirteen out of fourteen Syrian provincial capitals and was backed by Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah. Nevertheless, the only peace terms he was offered at the Geneva II peace talks in January 2014 was to leave power. He was not about to go, and ideal conditions were created for ISIS to prosper. The US and its allies are now trying to turn the Sunni communities in Iraq and Syria against the militants, but this will be difficult to do while these countries are convulsed by war.

The resurgence of al-Qaeda–type groups is not a threat confined to Syria, Iraq, and their near neighbors. What is happening in these countries, combined with the growing dominance of intolerant and exclusive Wahhabite beliefs within the worldwide Sunni community, means that all 1.6 billion Muslims, almost a quarter of the world’s population, will be increasingly affected. It seems unlikely that non-Muslims, including many in the West, will be untouched by the conflict. Today’s resurgent jihadism, having shifted the political terrain in Iraq and Syria, is already having far-reaching effects on global politics, with dire consequences for us all.

Posted in Middle East, USA0 Comments

US Spin on Middle East Violence Must Be Changed

NOVANEWS

On why Obama’s recent admission on the ‘root causes of violence’ is not enough

US Marines from the 15th MEU during the initial stage of the Iraq invasion on March 23, 2003. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Truly, US President Barack Obama’s recent call to address the root causes of violence, including that of the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) and al-Qaeda was a step in the right direction, but still miles away from taking the least responsibility for the mayhem that has afflicted the Middle East since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

“The link is undeniable,” Obama said in a speech at the State Department on 19 February.“When people are oppressed and human rights are denied – particularly along sectarian lines or ethnic lines – when dissent is silenced, it feeds violent extremism. It creates an environment that is ripe for terrorists to exploit.”

Of course, he is right. Every word. However, the underlying message is also clear: it’s everyone else’s fault but ours. Now, that’s hardly true, and Obama, once a strong critic of his predecessor’s war, knows it well.

Writing at MSNBC.com, Sarah Leah Whitson went a step further. In Why the Fight Against ISIS is Failing, Whitson, criticized the anti-IS alliance for predicating its strategy on militarily defeating the group, without any redress of the grievances of oppressed Iraqi Sunnis, who, last year welcomed IS fighters as “liberators”.

“But let’s not forget how Iraq got to that point,” she wrote, “with the U.S.-led Iraq war that displaced a dictator but resulted in an abusive occupation and destructive civil war, leaving more than a million dead.”

Spot on, well, almost. Whitson considered “displacing of a dictator,” as a plus for the U.S. war, as if the whole military venture had anything to do with overcoming dictatorship. In fact, the “abusive occupation and destructive civil war” was very much part of the U.S. strategy of divide and conquer. Many wrote about this to the extent that the argument itself is in fact, history.

At least, however, both arguments are a significant departure from the pseudo-intellectualism that has occupied the larger share of mainstream media thinking about terrorism and violence. Not only does the conventional wisdom in U.S. media blame the bloody exploits of IS on the region itself, as if the U.S. and western interventionism are not, in anyway, factors, at least worth pondering. (In fact, for them U.S. intervention is a force of good, rarely self-seeking and exploitative.) Worse, no matter how they unravel the argument, Islam somehow ends up being the root of all evil—a reductionist, silly and irresponsible argument, to say the least.

Also a dangerous one, for it infers the kind of conclusions that will constantly point the arrow to the direction of a self-destructive foreign policy, the kind that has set the Middle East ablaze in the first place.

But that is not your everyday diatribe. The constant injection of all sorts of bizarre arguments, like that of Graeme Wood’s recent piece in the Atlantic, is aimed at creating distractions, blaming religion and its zealots for their “apocalyptic” view of the world. Wood’s argument, designed to be a methodical and detached academic examination of the roots of IS is misconstrued at best, disingenuous at worst.

“That the Islamic State holds the imminent fulfillment of prophecy as a matter of dogma at least tells us the mettle of our opponent. It is ready to cheer its own near-obliteration, and to remain confident, even when surrounded, that it will receive divine succor if it stays true to the Prophetic model,” Wood concluded with the type of liberal positivism that has become as galling as religious zeal.

Mohamed Ghilan, an Islamic law scholar dissected Wood’s argument with integrity based on real, authentic knowledge of both Islam and the Middle East region. “An analysis of what ISIS is about and what it wants that looks to Islam as a causal source of their behavior is not only misguided, but also harmful,” he wrote.

“It obscures the root causes for why we have an ISIS, an al-Qaeda, an Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, and any of the other groups that have risen and continue to arise. It creates further confusion and contributes to a rising Islamophobic sentiment in the West. And when given the guise of academic rigor, it accomplishes all of this rather perniciously.”

Indeed, the age-old ailment of hallow, lacking writing about the complex and involved reality in the Middle East persists, even after 25 years of full American military engrossment in the region.

Since the first Iraq war (1990-91) until this day, America’s mainstream intellectuals and journalists refuse to accept the most prevalent truth about the roots of the current crisis; that military intervention is not a virtue, that war begets chaos and violence, that military invasion is not a harbingers of a stable democracy, but invite a desperately violent polices predicated on winning, regardless of the cost.

Nonetheless, that very admission came from former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, who, by virtue of his previous position should indeed be able to assess the link between the U.S. war on Iraq and the current upheaval. Although he rightly blamed regional powers for exasperating the conflict, he laid the blame where it surly belongs: the Iraq war, invasion and the way the occupation was handled afterwards. “I was against this invasion and my fears have been founded. The break-up of the Iraqi forces poured hundreds if not thousands of disgruntled soldiers and police officers onto the streets,” he said.

That was indeed the backbone of the initial home-grown resistance in Iraq, which forced the U.S. to shift strategy by igniting the powder keg of sectarianism. The hope then was that the “disgruntled soldiers” of Iraqi resistance would be consumed in a civil war inferno involving Sunni-based resistance against Shiite-based militias, themselves working for or allied with the U.S. and U.S.-imposed Shiite government in Baghdad.

“The aim of creating democracy without the existing institutions ushered in corrupt sectarian governments,” Annan said. For Annan, the war and invasion come first, followed by the sectarian-mismanagement of Iraq, also by the Americans, an admission that is rarely echoed by U.S. officials and media as demonstrated by the obstinately deficient media coverage.

One is rarely proposing to ignore existing fault lines in Middle Eastern societies, standing sectarianism, fundamentalism, brewing, unresolved conflicts, and of course the monster of authoritarianism and corruption. None of this should be unheeded, if indeed a peaceful future is to be made possible. On the other hand, the argument that desperately seeks every possible pretense – from blaming Islam and believers of some strange apocalypse to everyone else but the U.S. and its allies – is a poor attempt at escaping a heavy moral, but also political responsibly.

The danger of that argument lies in the fact that its promoters don’t mind seeing yet another war, like the one that was visited upon the Middle East a decade or so ago, the one that wrought al-Qaeda to the region, and orchestrated the rise of IS, and the bloodbath that followed.

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Predator Drones for Sale! (Human Rights, International Law Optional)

NOVANEWS

The U.S. State Department has just announced that armed Predator and Reaper drones will be available for sale to carefully vetted and selected allies around the world. (Image: Wikimedia/with overlay)

My drone is yours, compadre! Or so Washington has now decided. The latest promise of good times in the arms trade comes from an administration that has pioneered a robotic assassination regime organized out of the White House (though credit for groundbreaking drone assassination work should go to Israel as well). Run largely by the CIA, the U.S. drone campaigns across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa have weekly taken out suspected enemies or even “targets” that exhibit (in the judgment of people thousands of miles away and from another culture) enemy-like behavior. In the process, the Bush and Obama administrations also pioneered the crossing of sovereign borders without permission for an ongoing killing process not defined as war and which, despite much bragging about “precision,” has regularly taken out ordinary civilians, including significant numbers of children. In the process, it has brought a sense of daily terror to peasant populations in the backlands of the planet.  Now, Washington is ready to spread the wealth.  The State Department has just announced that armed Predator and Reaper drones will be available for sale to carefully vetted and selected allies around the world.  This is, of course, splendid news for U.S. arms makers in a market that, over the next decade, is expected to more than double in size from $5.2 billion to $11.6 billion.  However, as the Washington Post reports, this new program will build “on the Obama administration’s update last year to rules on conventional weapons transfers, which emphasize human rights protections in decisions about arms sales.”

For such sales, Washington, as the planetary “human rights” leader, is planning to set up proper use or “end use” rules when it comes to assassination by drone. Here’s a typical Washington rule of the road: if you buy an armed drone from the U.S., you must agree not to use “unlawful force against… domestic populations” — that is, you must not kill your own citizens in your own country. (Translation: Turkey could theoretically not use such drones against its Kurdish population.) Implied exception: You can target and assassinate your own citizens by drone as long as they are not within your own boundaries. This is a rule of the road that Washington has already definitively pioneered, so far killing four of its own citizens by drone in Yemen and Pakistan, which means assumedly that Turkey could indeed kill a Turkish Kurd as soon as he or she stepped across any border.

Among the things Washington has established with its presidential drone assassination forces is that you can indeed kill both the leaders and the followers of terror outfits, or simply of any organization you consider to be your enemy (while causing considerable collateral damage”).  In the process, Washington has proved one thing: that drones will drive large groups of terrorized and vengeful peasants into the arms of those same terror outfits, increasing their strength and fragmenting societies.

Now, the U.S. is preparing to “export” the drone paradigm it has spent so much time building in this young century. China and Israel have already entered the armed drone market as well. Other countries will follow. Drones will be bought in quantity.  Borders will be crossed, according to the latest Washington-pioneered rules, by ever more dronified states organizing their own assassination campaigns.  If the Washington model proves true, this will further fragment whole societies, create yet more religiously based extremism, and make our world an even less appetizing place. Think of this as the twenty-first-century version (now forming) of the Washington Consensus and keep it in mind as you read The Real American Exceptionalism,” the latest piece by historian Alfred McCoy, author of Torture & Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation, on all the rules of the road Washington has so enthusiastically been writing in these years and just where they are likely to take us.

 

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US Aggression Against Venezuela

NOVANEWS

Fact Not Fiction

Global Research
venezuela-us43

Recently, several different spokespersons for the Obama administration have firmly claimed the United States government is not intervening in Venezuelan affairs. Department of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki went so far as to declare, “The allegations made by the Venezuelan government that the United States is involved in coup plotting and destabilization are baseless and false.” Psaki then reiterated a bizarrely erroneous statement she had made during a daily press briefing just a day before: “The United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means”.

Anyone with minimal knowlege of Latin America and world history knows Psaki’s claim is false, and calls into question the veracity of any of her prior statements. The U.S. government has backed, encouraged and supported coup d’etats in Latin America and around the world for over a century. Some of the more notorious ones that have been openly acknowledged by former U.S. presidents and high level officials include coup d’etats against Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, Patrice Lumumba in the Congo in 1960, Joao Goulart of Brazil in 1964 and Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973. More recently, in the twenty-first century, the U.S. government openly supported the coups against President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in 2002, Jean Bertrand Aristide of Haiti in 2004 and Jose Manuel Zelaya of Honduras in 2009. Ample evidence of CIA and other U.S. agency involvement in all of these unconstitutional overthrows of democratically-elected governments abounds. What all of the overthrown leaders had in common was their unwillingness to bow to U.S. interests.

Despite bogus U.S. government claims, after Hugo Chavez was elected president of Venezuela by an overwhelming majority in 1998, and subsequently refused to take orders from Washington, he became a fast target of U.S. aggression. Though a U.S.-supported coup d’etat briefly overthrew Chavez in 2002, his subsequent rescue by millions of Venezuelans and loyal armed forces, and his return to power, only increased U.S. hostility towards the oil-rich nation. After Chavez’s death in 2013 from cancer, his democratically-elected successor, Nicolas Maduro, became the brunt of these attacks.

What follows is a brief summary and selection of U.S. aggression towards Venezuela that clearly shows a one-sided war. Venezuela has never threatened or taken any kind of action to harm the United States or its interests. Nonetheless, Venezuela, under both Chavez and Maduro – two presidents who have exerted Venezuela’s sovereignty and right to self-determination – has been the ongoing victim of continuous, hostile and increasingly unfriendly actions from Washington.

2002-2004

A coup d’etat against Chávez was carried out on April 11, 2002. Documents obtained under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) evidence a clear role of the U.S. government in the coup, as well as financial and political support for those Venezuelans involved.[1]

A “lockout” and economic sabotage of Venezuela’s oil industry was imposed from December 2002 to February 2003. After the defeat of the coup against Chavez, the U.S. State Department issued a special fund via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to help the opposition continue efforts to overthrow Chavez. USAID set up an Office for Transition Initiatives (OTI) in Caracas, subcontracting U.S. defense contractor Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI) to oversee Venezuela operations and distribute millions of dollars to anti-government groups. The result was the “national strike” launched in December 2002 that brought the oil industry to the ground and devastated the economy. It lasted 64 days and caused more than $20 billion in damages. Nonetheless, the efforts failed to destabilize the Chavez government.

The “guarimbas” of 2004: On February 27, 2004, extremist anti-government groups initiated violent protests in Caracas aimed at overthrowing Chavez. They lasted 4 days and caused multiple deaths. The leaders of these protests had received training from the U.S. Albert Einstein Institute (AEI), which specializes in regime change tactics and strategies.

The Recall Referendum of 2004: Both NED and USAID channeled millions of dollars into a campaign to recall President Chavez through a national recall referendum. With the funds, the group Sumate, led by multi-millionaire Maria Corina Machado, was formed to oversee the efforts. Chavez won the referendum in a landslide 60-40 victory.

2005

After the victory of President Chavez in the recall referendum of 2004, the US toughened its position towards Venezuela and increased its public hostility and aggression against the Venezuelan government. Here are a selection of statements made about Venezuela by U.S. officials:

January 2005: “Hugo Chavez is a negative force in the region.” -Condoleezza Rice.

March 2005: “Venezuela is one of the most unstable and dangerous ‘hot spots’ in Latin America.” -Porter Goss, ex-Director of the CIA.

“Venezuela is starting a dangerous arms race that threatens regional security.” -Donald Rumsfeld, ex-Secretary of Defense.

“I am concerned about Venezuela’s influence in the area of responsibility…SOUTHCOM supports the position of the Joint Chiefs to maintain ‘military to military’ contact with the Venezuelan military…we need an inter-agency focus to deal with Venezuela.” -General Bantz Craddock, ex-Commander of SOUTHCOM.

July 2005: “Cuba and Venezuela are promoting instability in Latin America…There is no doubt that President Chavez is funding radical forces in Bolivia.” -Rogelio Pardo-Maurer, Assistant Sub-Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere.

“Venezuela and Cuba are promoting radicalism in the region…Venezuela is trying to undermine the democratic governments in the region to impede CAFTA.” -Donald Rumsfeld, ex-Secretary of Defense.

August 2005: “Venezuelan territory is a safe haven for Colombian terrorists.” -Tom Casey, State Department spokesman.

September 2005: “The problem of working with President Chavez is serious and continuous, as it is in other parts of the relationship.” -John Walters, Director of the National Policy Office for Drug Control.

November 2005: “The assault on democratic institutions in Venezuela continues and the system is in serious danger.” -Thomas Shannon, Sub-secretary of State.

2006

February 2006: “President Chavez continues to use his control to repress the opposition, reduce freedom of the press and restrict democracy….it’s a threat.” -John Negroponte, ex-Director of National Intelligence.

“We have Chavez in Venezuela with a lot of money from oil. He is a person who was elected legally, just like Adolf Hitler…” – Donald Rumsfeld, ex-Secretary of Defense.

March 2006: “In Venezuela, a demagogue full of oil money is undermining democracy and trying to destabilize the region.” -George W. Bush.

U.S. officials try to link Venezuela to Terrorism:

June 2006: “Venezuela’s cooperation in the international campaign against terrorism continues to be insignificant…It’s not clear to what point the Venezuelan government offered material support to Colombian terrorists.” – Annual Report on Terrorism, Department of State.

June 2006: The U.S. government through the Commerce Department and U.S. Treasury imposes sanctions against Venezuela for its alleged role in terrorism and prohibits the sale of military equipment to the country.

July 2006: “Venezuela, under President Hugo Chavez, has tolerated terrorists in its territory…” -Subcommittee on International Terrorism, House of Representatives.

U.S. increases its Military Presence in Latin America:

March-July 2006: The US military engages in four major exercises off the coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea, with support from NATO, and based at the US air force base in Curaçao. A permanent military presence is established in the Dominican Republic and the bases in Curaçao and Aruba are reinforced.

The US Embassy in Caracas establishes the “American Corners” in 5 Venezuelan States (Lara, Monagas, Bolívar, Anzoátegui, Nueva Esparta), to act as centers of propaganda, subversion, espionage and infiltration.

U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield intensifies his public hostility towards the Venezuelan government, making frequent sarcastic and unfriendly comments in opposition-controlled media.

NED and USAID increase funding to anti-government groups in Venezuela.

2007

At the beginning of 2007, Venezuela is severely attacked in the international media & by U.S. government spokespersons for its decision to nationalize Cantv (the only national telephone company), the Electricity of Caracas and the Faja Orinoco oil fields.

In May 2007 the attack intensifies when the government decides not to renew the public broadcasting concession to popular opposition television station, RCTV.

A powerful international media campaign is initiated against Venezuela and President Chavez, referring to him as a dictator.

Private distributors and companies begin hoarding food and other essential consumer products in order to create shortages and panic amongst the population.

USAID, NED and the State Department via the Embassy in Caracas foment, fund and encourage the emergence of a right-wing youth movement and help to project its favorable image to the international community in order to distort the perception of President Chavez’s popularity amongst youth.

Groups such as Human Rights Watch, Inter-American Press Association and Reporters without Borders accuse Venezuela of violating human rights and freedom of expression.

September 2007: President George W. Bush classifies Venezuela as a nation “not cooperating” with the war against drug trafficking, for the third year in a row, imposing additional economic sanctions.

September 2007: Condoleezza Rice declares the U.S. is “concerned about the destructive populism” of Chavez.

2008

January 2008: Admiral Mike Mullen, Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. Armed Forces meets with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, then Minister of Defense Juan Manuel Santos, U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield and the Commander General of the Colombian Armed Forces Freddy Padilla de Leon and declares during a press conference that he is “concerned about the arms purchases made by Chavez” and expresses that this could “destabilize the region.”

John Walters, the U.S. Anti-Drug Czar meets with Uribe in Colombia, together with 5 U.S. congresspersons and Ambassador Brownfield, and declares Venezuela a nation “complicit with drug trafficking” that presents “a threat to the US and the region”. He also expresses his wish that the Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and Colombia be ratified by Congress soon.

Condoleezza Rice visits Colombia, together with Sub-Secretary of State Thomas Shannon and 10 congress members from the democratic party to push the FTA and back Colombia in its conflict with Venezuela.

President George W. Bush in his State of the Union address emphasizes the importance of the FTA with Colombia alerts to the threat of “populist” and “undemocratic” governments in the region.

February 2008: SOUTHCOM sends the Navy’s “4th fleet” to the Caribbean Sea (a group of war ships, submarines and aircraft carriers that haven’t been in those waters since the Cold War).

The Director of National Intelligence, General Mike McConnell, publishes the Annual Threat Report, which classifies Venezuela as the “principal threat against the US in the hemisphere”.

Exxon-Mobil tries to “freeze” $12 billion of Venezuelan assets in London, Holland and the Dutch Antilles.

A Report on Present Threats to National Security of the Defense Intelligence Agency classifies Venezuela as a “national security threat” to the U.S.

A Department of State report accuses Venezuela of being a country that permits “the transit of illegal drugs”, “money laundering” and being “complicit with drug trafficking.”

The U.S. Department of Treasury classifies three high level Venezuelan officials as “drug kingpins”, presenting no formal evidence. The head of Venezuela’s military intelligence, General Hugo Carvajal, the head of Venezuela’s civil intelligence force, General Henry Rangel Silva, and former Minister of Interior and Justice, Ramon Rodriguez Chacin are sanctioned by the U.S. government and placed on a terrorist list.

Rear Admiral Joseph Nimmich, Director of the US Joint Interagency Task Force, meets in Bogota with the Commander General of the Colombian Armed Forces.

March 2008: The Colombian army invades Ecuadorian territory and assassinates Raul Reyes and a dozen others, including 4 Mexicans, at a FARC camp in the jungle near the border.

General Jorge Naranjo, Commander of Colombia’s National Police, declares that laptop computers rescued from the scene of the bombing that killed Reyes and others evidence that President Chavez gave more than $300 million to the FARC along with a quantity of uranium and weapons. No other evidence is produced or shown to the public. Ecuador is also accused of supporting the FARC.

Venezuela mobilizes troops to the border with Colombia.

The US Navy sends the Aircraft Carrier “Harry Truman” to the Caribbean Sea to engage in military exercises to prevent potential terrorist attacks and eventual conflicts in the region.President Bush states the U.S. will defend Colombia against the “provocations” from Venezuela.

Uribe announces he will bring a claim before the International Criminal Court against President Chavez for “sponsoring genocide and terrorism”.

March: President Bush requests his team of lawyers and advisors review the possibility of placing Venezuela on the list of “STATE SPONSORS OF TERRORISM” together with Cuba, Iran, Syria and North Korea.

2009

May: A document from the U.S. Air Force shows the construction of a U.S. military base in Palanquero, Colombia, to combat the “anti-American” governments in the region. The Palanquero base is part of the 7 military bases that the U.S. planned to build in Colombia under an agreement with the Colombian government for a ten-year period.

2010

February: The U.S. Director of National Intelligence declares Venezuela the “anti-American leader” in the region in its annual report on worldwide threats.

February: The State Department authorizes more than $15 million via NED and USAID to anti-government groups in Venezuela.

June: A report from the FRIDE Institute in Spain, funded by NED, evidences that international agencies channel between $40-50 million a year to anti-government groups in Venezuela.

September: Washington ratifies sanctions against Venezuela for allegedly not cooperating with counter-narcotics efforts or the war on terror.

2011-2015

President Obama authorizes a special fund of $5 million in his annual budget to support anti-government groups in Venezuela. In 2015, Obama increases this amount to $5.5 million.

NED continues to fund anti-government groups in Venezuela with about $2 million annually.

Each year, the US government includes Venezuela on a list of countries that do not cooperate with counter-narcotics efforts or the war on terror. Also in its annual human rights report, the State Department classifies Venezuela as a “violator” of human rights.

Subsequent to President Chavez’s death from cancer on March 5, 2013, new elections are held and Nicolas Maduro wins the presidency. Opposition leaders hold violent demonstrations that result in the deaths of more than a dozen people.

In February 2014, the violent protests resume, led by Leopoldo Lopez and Maria Corina Machado, who openly call for the overthrow of President Maduro, and over 40 people are killed. Lopez turns himself in to authorities and faces charges for his role in the violence. The U.S. government calls for his immediate release.

In December 2014, President Obama imposed sanctions on more than 50 Venezuelan officials and their relatives, accusing them of violating human rights and engaging in corruption. No evidence has been presented to date to support these serious allegations. The Commerce Department also expanded sanctions against Venezuela, prohibiting the sale of “any products” that could be destined for “military use” due to alleged human rights violations committed by the Venezuelan Armed Forces.

January 2015: Vice President Joe Biden warns Caribbean countries that the government of President Nicolas Maduro will soon be “defeated” and therefore they should abandon their discounted oil program with Venezuela, PetroCaribe.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki condemns the alleged “criminalization of political dissent” in Venezuela.

February 2015: President Obama unveils his new National Security Strategy and names Venezuela as a threat and stresses support for Venezuelan “citizens” living in a country where “democracy is at risk.”

Anti-government leaders circulate a document for a “transitional government agreement” which warns President Maduro’s government is in its “final stage” and pledges to overhaul the entire government and socialist system in place, replacing it with a neoliberal, pro-business model. The document is signed by Maria Corina Machado, jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma, mayor of Metropolitan Caracas.

Days later, a coup plot against President Nicolas Maduro is thwarted and 10 active Venezuelan military officers are detained. Antonio Ledezma is arrested and charged with conspiracy to overthrow the government and the U.S. State Department issues a harsh condemnation of his detention, calling on regional governments to take action against the Maduro administration.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest denies any U.S. government role in the coup attempt against Maduro, calling such allegations “ludicrous”, but further reveals, “The Treasury Department and the State Department are considering tools that may be available that could better steer the Venezuelan government in the direction that we believe they should be headed”.

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Venezuelan Opposition Mayor, Alias “The Vampire,” Arrested for Role in Blue Coup Plot

NOVANEWS
Global Research,
Venezuela-Antonio-Ledezma

Image: Opposition politician, Antonio Ledezma, was arrested by SEBIN on Thursday afternoon (Telesur).

Caracas, February 19th 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) Venezuelan opposition Mayor and longtime rightwing politician, Antonio Ledezma, has been arrested by the country’s intelligence services, SEBIN, for his alleged role in plotting to stage a coup against the democratically elected government of Nicolas Maduro. 

The planned coup was uncovered last week by security forces, just hours before several US backed Air Force officials had planned to partake in a bombing spree of strategic targets in the capital. They had hoped this would lead to the assassination of the country’s president and bring about regime change in the South American country.

“Antonio Ledezma who, today, by order of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, was captured and is going to be prosecuted by the Venezuelan justice system, to make him answer to all of the crimes committed against the peace and security of the country and the Constitution… We’ve had enough of conspiracies, we want to work in peace!”

announced Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, amidst a chorus of cheers from onlookers.

Last week, Ledezma, who is current Mayor of the Metropolitan Capital District of Caracas, signed a statement calling for a “National Transition Agreement” alongside opposition politicians, Maria Corina Machado and currently detained leader of the Popular Will party, Leopoldo Lopez.

The document calls on Venezuelans to unite behind a plan to remove elected President Nicolas Maduro and sets out an action programme for the would be provisional government. This includes facilitating the return of “exiled” Venezuelans, prosecuting current members of government and reaching out to international financial lending agencies such as the International Monetary Fund.

Circulated on February 11th, the statement was disclosed just a day before the attempted coup was set to unfold and was reportedly the signal to set the plan in motion.

“It has no base in any juridic text, it is a putschist act of conspiracy that is unfortunately to the liking of thousands of opposition militants who have been indoctrinated to attack democracy,” Constitutional Lawyer, Jesus Silva, told Venezuelanalysis.

Ledezma’s detention comes in the wake of several other arrests, including those of a number of airforce officials implicated in the plan.

According to revelations made by the President of the National Assembly, Diosadado Cabello, on Wednesday night, Ledezma has since been named by one of the arrested officials under questioning.

The confession links Ledezma to a plan to “eliminate” opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez last year in order to create “chaos” and destabilise the government. Fellow opposition politician and National Assembly legislator, Julio Borges, is also implicated in the assassination plan, which forced an intervention by the government in early 2014. At the time, Lopez’s wife, Lilian Tintori, stated that the government had acted to protect her husband’s safety.

Unlike, Ledezma, Borges cannot be prosecuted as National Assembly legislators are protected by political immunity.

The “Blue” Coup 

Although details surrounding Ledezma’s exact role in the recently discovered “Blue” coup plot are still unclear, it appears that the opposition politician is implicated beyond his call for a transitional government.

Following the announcement of the coup plot last Thursday, the Maduro administration suggested that further arrests were to be made once there was sufficient evidence to prosecute the political ringleaders of the plan.

“In these intelligence investigations, we have discovered a codified message, in another language,  by an important leader of a party. On translating it, we found that it gave the details, the elements of the coup. We are about to capture the person who brought the script that they were going to read, the script they were going to read out was already written, and circulated by a person who I will name at the correct moment”

said Maduro, referencing a preplanned statement which was to be read out to the public following the aerial bombardment, announcing a “rebellion” of the armed forces against the government.

Arrest and possible prosecution

Although international press has widely reported that the Mayor was manhandled when SEBIN officers entered his office, a video of the detention has emerged appearing to show a reticent but unharmed Ledezma being escorted from his office by several armed guards. Photos published of glass on the floor in Ledezma’s office by news agency, Ultimas Noticias, appear to show that SEBIN forcibly entered the building.

He has since been transferred to the SEBIN’s head office in Plaza Venezuela, Caracas, where a few hundred of his supporters gathered outside in protest in the early evening. They were joined by former presidential candidate and current Governor of Miranda State, Henrique Capriles Radonski. Streets were clear by around 10pm.

It is expected that the opposition politician will now await a hearing before a judge to decide whether there is sufficient evident to proceed with the case against him.

“Ledezma is Mayor and for that reason he does not bear the Constitutional right to impunity as legislators, governors and the heads of national public powers do. Legally speaking, he should be presented before a judge, along with a public prosecutor and his defence lawyer within the next 48 hours,”

Silva informed us.

It is not the first time that Ledezma has been implicated in a plan to violently overthrow the government. In 2002, he participated in an attempted coup which saw socialist president of the time, Hugo Chavez, ousted for a period of 47 hours. Last year, he was also named several times as a “principal ally” by currently detained terror plotter, Lorent Saleh. Saleh was one of the main underground activists fuelling the armed barricades known as guarimbas which last year claimed the lives of at least 43 Venezuelans. He had planned to go on a killing spree with the help of Colombian paramilitaries but was arrested before the plan could take place.

Political trajectory  

Popularly known as “the vampire”, Ledezma began his political career in 1973 as a member of the “Democratic Action” Party. In 1989, he infamously became Governor of the Federal District of Caracas, when he oversaw one of the most violent periods in the history of the Caracas Metropolitan Police.

The police body, which was since disbanded in 2010 due to its human rights violations, regularly opened fire on unarmed student protests, systematically repressed street vendors, pensioners and the unemployed, as well as regularly disappeared political activists.

During this period he also oversaw the “Caracazo,” when up to 3000 people were killed and disappeared by security forces in the wake of violent protests against a government imposed austerity programme.

This particular period of Ledezma’s career earnt him the reputation of “student killer” amongst working class Venezuelans. He is founder and current leader of the rightwing party known as the “Brave People’s Alliance”.

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The Stage Is Set For The Syrian Invasion

NOVANEWS
 Image result for CIA LOGO

Submitted by Tyler Durden

One week ago, when reporting on the latest bizarre plan presented by the Pentagon, namely providing Syrian rebels (but only the moderate ones, not the jihadists like al Nusra, or, well, ISIS) with B-1B Bomber air support in their attacks on ISIS, when we wrote that this “means in the coming weeks and months look forward to a surge in false flag “attacks” blamed on the Assad regime, aiming to give Obama validation to expand the “War against ISIS” to include Syria’s regime as well.”

We didn’t have long to wait: in an entirely unsourced Time article written today by Aryn Baker, the Middle East Bureau Chief, the stage for the second attempt at invading Assad regime is finally set.

The article, titled Why Bashar Assad Won’t Fight ISIS is essentially an essay that, as the title suggests “proves” that the Syrian leader is, in fact, quite close with ISIS and derives strategis benefits from his relationship, which is why he won’t attack them, and thus by implication is just as bad as ISIS and worthy of America’s wrath.

How does Baker build up her propaganda? First, she cits a “Sunni businessman who is close to the regime but wants to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions from both ISIS supporters and the regime” and who “trades goods all over the country so his drivers have regular interactions with ISIS supporters and members in Raqqa, the ISIS stronghold in Syria, and in ISIS-controlled areas like Dier-ezzor.” According to this Syrian version of Amazon:

The regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad has long had a pragmatic approach to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. Even from the early days the regime purchased fuel from ISIS-controlled oil facilities, and it has maintained that relationship throughout the conflict. “Honestly speaking, the regime has always had dealings with ISIS, out of necessity.”

“Honestly speaking” of course being used quite loosely, considering that it is by now no secret that ISIS, in the words of General Wesley Clark, “got started through funding from our friends and allies, most notably Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and according to some even the CIA is involved so, no: honestly speaking, if anything, the Assad regime has been doing its best to stay away from ISIS, which at least on paper, was created as a result of extremist Al Nusra factions, who were fighting Assad in 2013, and were funded and weaponized by the US.

Of course, none of that is mentioned. What is, however, duly emphasized is the goalseeked conclusion that Assad and the Islamic State are like two peas in a pod:

Assad does not see ISIS as his primary problem, the businessman says. “The regime fears the Free Syrian Army and the Nusra Front, not ISIS. They [the FSA and Nusra] state their goal is to remove the President. But ISIS doesn’t say that. They have never directly threatened Damascus.” As the businessman notes, the strikes on ISIS targets are minimal. “If the regime were serious about getting rid of ISIS, they would have bombed Raqqa by now. Instead they bomb other cities, where the FSA is strong.” That said, the businessman does not believe that the regime has a formal relationship with ISIS, just a pragmatic one. “The more powerful ISIS grows, the more they are useful for the regime. They make America nervous, and the Americans in turn see the regime as a kind of bulwark against ISIS.”

Actually, the “Americans” see ISIS as the perfect false flag placeholder to build up yet another case about invading Damascus, after the humiliation of the bumbled attempt to use a doctored YouTube clip showing paid actors following what the CIA guaranteed was an Assad “chemical weapon” attack as a pretext to launch an invasion on Syria in the first attempt to topple Assad. It took an escalation that involved numerous Russian ships side by side with US cruisers in the Mediterranean before John Kerry realized that building Qatar’s nat gas pipeline to Europe is not worth rising World War III over, and promptly backed off.

This time, ISIS is the bait.

Back to the Time article, where next we get the next “source” of information:

A senior Western diplomat who specializes in the Syrian civil war agrees that ISIS is seen as an asset by Assad. “They will do whatever it takes to devalue the opposition, even if it means strengthening ISIS. They know that if it comes to choosing between the black flag [of ISIS] and Damascus, the international community will choose Damascus.” And the strategy has worked extremely well. “The way it’s going now, it’s a matter of months, not even a year,that the moderate opposition is so weakened that it won’t be a factor anymore. So in just a few months from now the regime will be able to achieve its strategic goal of forcing the world to choose between Damascus and the black flags.”

Actually, according to that logic, the “international community” will choose both Damascus and the “black flags”, in fact the community will be delighted to have the “flags” as a cover in an invasion, both air, sea and ground, toppling Assad and replacing him with yet another US-puppet regime (whose fate, following such sterling examples as Egypt, Libya and Iraq will be just spectacular), one which will be glad to accept Qatar and Syria hush money, while thousands of kilometers of pipes are laid under the territory in attempt to dethrone Gazprom as the provider of first and last resort to Europe… which as a reminder is what it is all about.

The anonymous “western diplomat” continues:

… by ignoring the conflict between the Syrian opposition and the Assad regime to focus purely on ISIS may solve problems in the short term, says the diplomat, “but there will be more problems to come. These are the ingredients for a further escalation of the conflict — alienating large parts of the Sunni population, so that they have no choice but to join ISIS. Not for ideological reasons, but because they will do whatever it takes to overthrow the regime in Damascus.” Not only that, it will widen the geographical boundaries of the conflict by making this a fight of all Sunnis. “It’s a clear recipe for further escalation well beyond the geographical boundaries of the current conflict.”

Which is why in order to prevent further escalation in the future, the US will be delighted to provide much more escalation right now.

And here is the piece de resistance of the article that may as well have been written by a 6th grader who is about to flunk propaganda class:

Damascus believes that once it has neutralized most of the opposition, it can then defeat ISIS with ease. “ISIS alone, the regime can deal with them. What Assad wants is international recognition of his legitimacy as Syria’s President,” says the businessman. “When the war is over, he can easily handle ISIS with the help of Hizballah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.”

So let’s get this straight:

  1. A “terrorist” group which was created and funded by US allies in the middle east (there are many) is fighting a war on behalf of a regime that the US and its allies in the middle east are desperately trying to topple; a “terrorist” group which until recently did not exist and which, inexplicably according to the author, Assad refuses to fight because…. unlike the US he has not seen the dreadful beheading movies which lead to so much daily water cooler talk across the US?
  2. Ths US now believes that “ISIS is seen as an asset by Assad” and that the moderate (this distinction is key: their flag has a pink skull and crossbones as opposed to the red one used by the “non-moderate”) opposition which spawned ISIS in the power vacuum following the incomplete first US invasion of Syria in the symmer of 2013, is about to be destroyed by the same ISIS.
  3. Assad is confident he can “defeat ISIS with ease” once he has destroyed his so-called moderate enemies; the same ISIS which the US has been “fighting” now for half a year, and achieved absolutely nothing.
  4. We know all those due to an essay of amateur propaganda caliber, which derives its entire narrative and conclusions based on two anonymous sources.

At this point we probably speak for everyone when we say: just invade Syria already, and let’s proceed to the inevitable, and quite understandable, Russian retaliation, because frankly this endless propaganda and false-flaggery is now as obvious and pathetic as the Greek default which is also about 5 years overdue.

 

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Uruguay in Haiti: The poorest president of a mercenary army?

NOVANEWS
By Fernando Moyano
 Meeting with H.E. Mr. José Mujica, President of the Republic, (President’s Office – 11th floor Torre Ejecutiva)

Outgoing Uruguayan President José Mujica with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in Montevideo in June 2011. Credit: Evan Schneider/UN Photo

“Uruguayans participate with 13% to 15% of our armed forces in peace missions. For years and years, we have always accepted the places assigned to us. But however you decide and allocate resources, do not consider us to be there just to serve coffee.

Uruguayan President José Mujica, United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 25, 2013.

Ten years ago, a leftist party came to power for the first time in Uruguay, the Frente Amplio (Broad Front). Five years ago, the party won again, and it has recently won for the third time. In all three elections, the Frente Amplio (FA) won an absolute parliamentary majority. José Mujica (“Pepe”), the president elected five years ago, is stepping down to make way for his FA successor, Tabaré Vázquez.

Uruguayan UN soldiers in Port-au-Prince during a food distribution in 2010. Increasingly, Uruguay has exported its soldiers as "political goods" to assist "democratic colonialism." Credit: Marco Dormino/UN Photo

Uruguayan UN soldiers in Port-au-Prince during a food distribution in 2010. Increasingly, Uruguay has exported its soldiers as “political goods” to assist “democratic colonialism.” Credit: Marco Dormino/UN Photo

Mujica has been termed, “the poorest president in the world.” He drives a 1967 Volkswagon Beetle, is a former guerrilla and was a political prisoner of the civilian/military dictatorships that ruled Uruguay from 1973 to 1985. His outgoing government has legalized marijuana, abortion rights and gay marriage and has welcomed refugees from Syria as well as six foreign prisoners from the US gulag in Guantanamo, Cuba.

Mujica donates his salary to a voluntary plan for housing construction by a militant labor association of workers. The Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica is making a film about him titled The Last Hero. But there is another side.

Uruguay and the phenomenon of UN military missions

For 10 years, Uruguay has maintained troops in Haiti as part of the United Nations police and military occupation force known as MINUSTAH (1)
.
Uruguay not only participates in MINUSTAH, it is the second-largest component of the force, by numbers, after Brazil.

Latin American countries are a key pillar of this occupation, contributing about half of its foot soldiers. The Latin American participants in MINUSTAH contribute an average of 10 soldiers per one million inhabitants. But at the peak of its participation, Uruguay, a country of 3.4 million, had 330 soldiers per million of its population!

UN “peacekeeping missions” are becoming ever more clearly the “colonialist screen” that was denounced long ago by Patricio Lumumba, the first, post-colonial leader of Congo. He was assassinated in January 1961, only eight months after being elected prime minister of that country of fabulous natural wealth.

These missions are not neutral forces. They typically support one side against another in times of political and social conflict with imperialism or its local representatives. This was the case in Congo in 1960-61 and it is the case today in Haiti and more recently in Mali. Their function is not “peace” but, rather, to maintain imperial order in points of disturbance on the global, capitalist periphery.

“Peacekeeping” missions of the UN Security Council have a twofold function. One, they are shrouded in the legitimacy of the UN name, and they assist the imperialist powers from becoming overextended in their military efforts to maintain their world order. They also confer a seeming legality to the maintenance of an imperialist order of permanent war. The United States is the prime beneficiary of this service.

Haiti is a special case. There was no armed conflict there in 2004, when MINUSTAH was established (in June of that year). There has been no armed conflict for the 10-plus years of MINUSTAH’s presence. But the “possibility” of violence is used as a convenient pretext for intervention and containment by military means against an eminently political and social conflict.

This aspect of Uruguayan foreign policy—enthusiastic participation in foreign military adventures—requires some explanation.

On the one hand, in common with other leftist Latin American governments participating in MINUSTAH, the government in Uruguay has not broken with imperialism. It and other soft-left governments in Latin America today, including Brazil and Argentina, are still beholden to capitalism. One expression of this is their participation in the occupation of Haiti.

Even Bolivia and Ecuador have participated in MINUSTAH, although with smaller forces compared to others. Ecuador has recently withdrawn from the force, but its military base in Haiti was transferred to the authoritarian government of Haitian President Michel Martelly, and in 2013, Ecuador provided training to some 40 Haitian paramilitaries, whom Haitians fear will form the nucleus of a revived Haitian army. The reviled, human rights-violating former army was disbanded in 1995 by the pacifist president of the day, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay have played major roles in MINUSTAH. Chile joined with the United States, Canada and France in landing troops in March 2004 to consolidate the violent overthrow of Aristide, then serving his second, elected term as president. Brazil uses these missions to train its troops in military control of its civilian population. For several years, the Brazilian army has militarily occupied the favelas (poor districts) of Rio de Janeiro. The World Cup tournament of 2014 prompted the extension of that occupation to other cities in Brazil.

This contrasts with the attitude of Cuba and Venezuela, which have no military presence in Haiti but, instead, have provided very substantial humanitarian assistance, before and after the devastating earthquake in 2010. Cuba has extensive medical brigades in Haiti and has also assisted with agriculture, fishing and road construction. Venezuela has also assisted with construction and is a key energy supplier. These two countries operate without military support from MINUSTAH, thus refuting the claims of other foreign governments, particularly those of Europe and North America, that armed protection from the Haitian people is required for large aid efforts.

Why Uruguay?

The Mujica period in Uruguay has been characterized by a deepening of the capitalist, extractive economic model and a continual search for foreign, direct investment. The accompanying, mercenary foreign policy is not new. What is new, for several decades now, is the degree to which the military institution and its wishes shape that foreign policy.

For geographic and historical reasons, the Uruguayan bourgeoisie is weaker than others in the region. It has always been drawn toward close ties with whatever empire is dominant. That is an historical constant.

In an earlier era, Uruguay exported agricultural products needed by English industry. But in the Yankee era, the United States does not need or desire such products. Increasingly, Uruguay has resorted to the export of “political goods” that can assist “democratic colonialism.” That is today’s “Product of Uruguay” commercial stamp.

To understand further the new militaristic aspect of Uruguayan foreign policy, it is necessary to understand the historical role of the military in this country.

Uruguay is a small country without great resources. It is surrounded by much larger, friendly countries. Its only borders are with Argentina and Brazil. It has no national conflict hypothesis, no history of wars and no need for armed forces for territorial defense. In any event, armed forces would be useless in the case of real war with its much larger neighbors.

But this small country, pacifist and without enemies, is one of the most militarized in Latin America. Its army counts eight soldiers per 1,000 inhabitants, triple the proportions of Argentina and Brazil.

The bloated and useless army has played a vital role historically in intimidating and deterring social rebellion, despite seeming to be much more passive than elsewhere on the continent. The system of social domination in Uruguay cannot run without the army. This is the counterpoint to democratic political rule in Uruguay—what is termed the “buffer society.” (2)

But the cost of the armed forces is a heavy burden on the government’s budget. As armaments become outmoded, it is very costly to modernize them. Participation in “peacekeeping” abroad is a way to share these costs with the imperialist world system, by providing a mercenary police service as a commodity. It also promotes an international image of a country committed to world peace, all the while obtaining direct financial benefits and indirect political ones from militarism.

The full scale (and cost) of Uruguay’s overseas missions includes the soldiers who are serving, those preparing to replace them, and returnees who are in recovery. To this must also be added the permanent staff of logistics services and again, their replacement and recovery. Fully 40 percent of the armed force is thus engaged at any one time. Ninety percent of Uruguay’s armed forces have passed through a foreign mission at some time.

Uruguay has outsourced its armed forces to the point where they would not be present for the country should a real war arise.

The country depends on its foreign roles even to pay the salaries of its soldiers. It receives $50 million per year for the missions in which it participates, including $18 million for Haiti. Eleven million of that pays for salaries; the remainder is supposed to pay for ammunition and equipment maintenance. It’s an inexpensive army, but the costs of maintaining it are inflated by corruption in the spending of its resources. In one renowned case, it cost more to sail two naval vessels to Haiti than the cost of the vessels themselves. There have been several prosecutions of military officials, but the exact degree of corruption and diversion of funds by officials is difficult to quantify.

Uruguay must purchase its own weapons and equipment. The UN pays for the maintenance of equipment during its time in operation. The remainder of the revenue Uruguay earns is used by the Ministry of Defense, whose budget is about $300 million. A Uruguayan soldier earns $400 per month; if he goes abroad on a mission, he earns a total of $1,000 thanks to the stipend paid by the UN. The financial incentive for soldiers to volunteer abroad is thus very considerable. An added incentive is the right to travel to Europe or North America on UN-issued visas.

Military officers, who already earn very high salaries, pensions and additional funds, also boost their salaries when they go on missions. They are already an inflated, upper segment of an inflated army.

It is shameful to hear arguments that have been made by Frente Amplio parliamentarians or senators that participation by Uruguayan soldiers in UN missions allows the soldiers to then buy a small house. Or worse, they argue that missions provide opportunities in actual combat, conveniently overlooking who it is (this is, local populations) that are killed or injured by such “opportunities.”

Haiti threatens a good thing

This comfortable business in foreign military missions has always been challenged by the MINUSTAH mission in Haiti for a host of reasons:

• The Haitian people have consistently rejected foreign occupation of their country.

• The government of President Martelly is increasingly taking shape as a dictatorship.

• The Uruguayan social organizations, including the national trade union center, have always demanded complete and immediate withdrawal of Uruguayan troops from Haiti. Each year, Parliament must approve the extension of Uruguay’s participation in MINUSTAH (the Security Council itself must approve the mission in a vote each year). In these annual votes, the Frente Amplio has imposed a military discipline on its parliamentary bloc (the notorious, “hand in a cast” votes). (3)

This has led to the resignation of three FA deputies in the recent period, who refused out of principle, to vote for keeping troops in Haiti. This is the only issue in the FA over which internal differences have come to such a point. (4)

• On top of all this, Uruguayan forces in Haiti have displayed the worst forms of conduct. There has been corruption in military purchases and ineptitude of military aviators, causing a crash with fatal consequences (the ministry of defense falsified the record of flying hours of pilots serving in Haiti to have their credentials accepted by the UN). The whole world viewed on the internet the scandalous images of Uruguayan soldiers anally raping a young Haitian at a Uruguayan naval base in Haiti. That has turned out to be the lasting image of Uruguay in Haiti.

Faced with all these difficulties, the Mujica government is attempting an intermediate solution. It is conducting a gradual withdrawal, in stages, already completed in part. From its peak of 1,100 soldiers, the number is now 240. To deal with the increasingly embarrassing evidence of the authoritarian drift of the government of Martelly, Uruguay is joining with other foreign powers to pressure Martelly into an agreement with the political opposition in Haiti for the holding of elections to the Senate and Chamber of Deputies. The electoral mandates of deputies and senators have expired, and Martelly threatens to rule by decree.

Uruguayan Foreign Minister Luis Almagro has virtually extorted Martelly with the threat of immediate withdrawal of the Uruguayan troops if the political deadlock is not solved, a rather unusual diplomatic style for a small country, to say the least. Meanwhile, President Mujica has stated emphatically that Uruguay “will not be a praetorian guard of a dictatorship.”

Uruguayans who are truly anti-colonialist do not agree with any “imposition of liberty” on Haiti from abroad. They are demanding unconditional and unilateral withdrawal of troops. But even if we treat the gestures of Mujica and Almagro as signs of good intention, these have failed. Why? Because Martelly does not govern Haiti.

Martelly and his government are nothing more than Yankee puppets. What’s more, they have lost control of the situation. They no longer have anything to offer to Haitians short of Martelly’s resignation. This is what the Haitian people are now demanding in street protests and in other forms of struggle, day after day.

Prospects for Haiti, for MINUSTAH, and for Uruguay’s role

So what is happening in Haiti? There is no agreement between the government and the political opposition. The Parliament [Senate] is no longer functional because there have been no elections as the mandates of senators and deputies expired. Martelly’s government now rules by decree as [is] a dictatorship; the people are demanding his resignation as well as the departure of foreign occupation troops. Popular mobilizations are growing.

In Uruguay, Mujica’s government now faces a very big dilemma: to act as a praetorian guard of a dictatorship, or use the law approved by Parliament in December (proposed by Mujica himself) which contains the option of a complete withdrawal of the troops.

Mujica’s government will end at end of February. His successor Tabaré Vázquez, also FA, will return to the presidency, having served from 2005-10. He wants a political rapprochement with the United States. The situation in Haiti has provoked internal tension and debate in the government.

There is still no Uruguayan decision on withdrawal from Haiti. The government is “watching” to see if a dictatorship becomes installed in Haiti or whether this can be averted.

Defense Minister Fernandez Huidobro defends the position of keeping the troops. Like Mujica, he is a former guerrilla of the Tupamaros movement. But in the early 1970s, after he was captured and imprisoned and while the Tupamaros were still operating under the command of its legendary founder Raul Sendic, Huidobro began negotiations with the military. He said he wanted the military government to adopt a “nationalist agenda” and accord better treatment of prisoners. In exchange, he would advocate that the guerillas give up their arms. No accord materialized, and Huidobro’s efforts served to camouflage the ongoing military dictatorship.

Today, Huidobro is a strong supporter of maintaining the status quo with the military, including leaving its privileges untouched and not to lift the impunity it was granted for the crimes of the military dictatorships of the 1970s and 80s. There are only a half dozen military officials who were convicted for past crimes, and they are residing in a luxurious “VIP prison” built with funds remaining from overseas “missions.”Huidobro (and also Mujica) wants them freed in deference to their advanced age.

There are at least 400 military personnel implicated in past torture and murders who remain unpunished. Unlike the luxurious conditions of genocidal military officers, overcrowding of common prisoners in Uruguay’s prisons is a serious problem that has been reported by the UN’s special rapporteur against torture.

Huidobro has just been through a bruising controversy with human rights organizations who accuse him of obstruction of justice by not providing information files. A recent report of the International Commission of Jurists (an office of the UN) says the same.

Huidobro’s argument in favor of MINUSTAH is that it is preferable to have an “anti-imperialist intervention” instead of a “Yankee invasion.” When the 2010 earthquake happened, 10,000 additional US soldiers, including 2,000 marines, entered Haiti unilaterally. Within days of the 2010 earthquake, 20,000 US troops were amassed in Haiti. The “anti-imperialist” MINUSTAH did nothing to stop that, of course. MINUSTAH’s own forces swelled from 9,000 to 12,000.

The Uruguayan army has a keen interest in keeping the money earned from foreign missions flowing. The challenge facing the government in a withdrawal from Haiti is to first get a pledge from the UN for “new work for the guys.”

Uruguay has just received the support of the countries of Latin America for one of the 10, nonpermanent, rotating seats on the Security Council. Foreign Minister Almgro is a strong candidate for a posting as General Secretary of the Organization of American States. What policies will Uruguay pursue though in these institutions? Will the country vote for an end to the occupation of Haiti and for the UN to take responsibility for the damage of cholera that it brought to the country? Or will it be there “just to serve coffee” while others make the decisions?

The business of praetorian guards requires customers to be successful. That means serving dictatorships, of course. Democratic and popular regimes, on the other hand, do not require such a service. It’s not only in Haiti that “peacekeeping” serves the worst national and social interests. It’s also in Uruguay.

As Frederick Engels once wrote, “A people which oppresses another cannot emancipate itself.”

This article was first published by Truthout on Feb. 11, 2015. 

Fernando Moyano is a Marxist political activist in Uruguay and a longtime writer and editor in left-wing media in Latin America media, including the journal of Marxist theory Alfaguara. He began his political activity in the late 1960s in the Proletarian Socialist Unification Movement, a detachment of the Socialist Party. He joined other political organizations, including the Popular Participation Movement, led today by outgoing Uruguayan President José Mujica. He was a founder of the Coordination of Social Organisations for Withdrawal of Troops in Haiti and a member of the Uruguay Free of Strip Mining movement.

Notes

1. MINUSTAH is the French acronym for “United Nations International Mission for Stability in Haiti.”

2. The “buffer society” is a term coined by Carlos Real Azúa (1916-1977), a lawyer, professor of literature and aesthetics, literary critic, historian and essayist. He is considered the foremost pioneer of political science in Uruguay. His term is a metaphor for Uruguay and its people in which social and political changes do not explode; they are contained by social commitments and nonviolent forms of domination.

3. The “hand in a cast” (mano de yeso) is a metaphor used in Uruguay to refer to a party imposing a rigid discipline on its parliamentary deputies in voting on matters deemed vital to the interests of the party hierarchy.

4. When MINUSTAH was created in June 2004 and Uruguay joined in, the Frente Amplio was in opposition and voted against it. One of those MPs who was emphatic in rejecting the mission was current defense minister, Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro. A year later, the FA was in government, and it voted to continue Uruguay’s participation. A veteran socialist deputy and leading figure on the political left in Uruguay, Guillermo Chifflet, refused to vote in favor and gave up his seat. In the following years, no one challenged the party discipline. But in 2012, another deputy, Esteban Pérez, like Mujica a former guerrilla and political prisoner of the military dictatorship, refused to vote in favor during the annual vote to extend participation, and he was forced to leave the FA. Last December, a third rebel deputy, Luis Puig, came out in opposition. He is a leader of a small political organization affiliated to the FA with deep roots in the labor movement.

Posted in South America0 Comments

Capitalism kills: unemployment cause of 45K suicides per year

NOVANEWS
By IV Sta
Capitalism kills: unemployment cause of 45K suicides per year

It is almost common sense that loss of a job or prolonged unemployment has a negative affect on mental health, leading in some cased to suicide.  But how many deaths by suicide are actually caused by unemployment? According to a new study published in Lancet Psychiatry, unemployment caused approximately 45,000 suicides each year between 2000 and 2011. Through a longitudinal assessment of the World Health Organization’s mortality database and the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook database, it was discovered that these rates remained consistent regardless of economic stability.

The study was conducted in 63 countries in four world regions. One of the goals of the study was to see if there was a difference in the impact of unemployment on suicide rates before and after a recession. Using statistical analysis, the researchers deduced that unemployment was the cause of 41,148 suicides in 2007 and 46,131 in 2009. Therefore, they reasoned that the recession in 2008 caused 4,983 additional suicides.

Additionally, it was found that suicide rates increase six months before unemployment rates rise, which indicates the complexity of the process of job loss: unemployment often begins as underemployment, wage theft and abuse on the job.

Suicide intervention is not enough

Carlos Nordt, a leading researcher who conducted the study, said that the implications of this study are that suicide intervention resources need to be made more available during times of high unemployment. “Besides specific therapeutic interventions,” Nordt adds, “sufficient investment by governments in active labor market policies that enhance the efficiency of labor markets could help generate additional jobs and reduce the unemployment rate, helping to offset the impact on suicide.”

For a researcher involved in making such an important discovery, Nordt’s proposed solution could not be further from the mark. Suicide intervention and other mental health resources, while crucial, are only band-aids on a deeper problem.

As for Nordt’s trickle-down solution for the deeper problem, that theory has been debunked time and again. Propping up wealthy capitalists in hopes of making jobs and higher wages a possibility for workers simply does not work. When another study laid the change in unemployment rate against the top tax rate from 1954 to 2002, the four largest decreases in unemployment were observed to have occurred when the top marginal tax rate was 91 percent.

Workers know from experience that giving tax cuts, bailouts and support to so-called “job creators” does nothing but line the pockets of those bosses. It does not by any means incentivize bosses to somehow develop morality and give more to their workers: if anything, the statistics show that it does the opposite.

The solution: end capitalism

Capitalism promotes the idea that the owners of capital are infallible, their interests come first and anyone struggling in life only has themselves to blame for it. It is not set up to value working and oppressed people’s lives. The success of the tiny few that benefit from capitalism is ensured by the uncertainty of survival for the majority. Products of that mandatory disenfranchisement are both high unemployment rates and an incompetent mental health system that does not serve oppressed people.

When the average person calls most lifelines, they are usually not given resources to help them resolve the issues they have. They are listened to and told to feel better. If they mention that they are thinking about harming themselves, police are called. Police are not trained to treat mentally ill people—particularly marginalized communities—with respect. There are several occasions on which someone intending to kill themselves were killed by a cop for having a weapon.

Despite efforts made by communities to create support networks of their own (such as the free Trans Lifeline, run by and for trans people with a strict no-police-involvement policy), no helpline or therapeutic resource can solve the underlying economic issues plaguing workers. In order for mental health resources to be truly effective, we need to cut out the cancer of capitalism.

It has been proven that the only thing that “inspires” bosses to treat workers adequately is organized fightback by workers. It has also been proven that the only path to a real system that guarantees employment, education, health care and basic resources for all is by overthrowing capitalism.

Posted in USA0 Comments

Obama, Naziyahu and the management of empire

NOVANEWS
Obama, Netanyahu and the management of empire

Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress on March 3. Netanyahu’s visit and the controversy surrounding it brings to sharp focus the divisions in the U.S. ruling class on its approach towards Iran, and more broadly its strategy on the Middle East.

Much of the media focus has been on the effect of the visit on partisan politics in the U.S. and the Israeli elections. Netanyahu will be visiting Washington in the lead up to the upcoming March 17 elections in Israel. By appearing strong on his opposition to Iran in taking his case to the U.S. Congress, Netanyahu hopes to gain an advantage in the Israeli elections.

Infighting between ruling class parties in U.S.

Within the U.S. political establishment, Netanyahu’s visit has sharpened the in-fighting between the two ruling-class parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. It is unprecedented for a foreign leader to be invited to address Congress without coordination and consent from the president, constitutionally in charge of conducting foreign policy. House Speaker John Boehner has invited Netanyahu precisely because he will attack President Obama’s policy of negotiations with Iran.

Obama has said that he would not meet with Netanyahu during his U.S. visit. Joe Biden, who as vice president is expected to preside over joint sessions of Congress, has said that he will be on a trip to Latin America – originally the announcement from his office was that he would be away on a trip to an undisclosed country.

An increasing number of Democratic members of Congress have stated that they would not be present at the session. Even some Republican members of Congress have expressed reservations about Netanyahu’s scheduled address. There have been many calls on Netanyahu, including calls within Israel, to cancel or postpone his U.S. visit.

Netanyahu is expected to call on Congress to introduce new sanctions on Iran. New sanctions, if passed by Congress and not vetoed by Obama, is sure to bring an end to negotiations, as Iran has announced repeatedly. Netanyahu has been an outspoken critic of the negotiations, ongoing between the P5+1, the five permanent UN Security Council member countries, the U.S., the U.K., France, Russia and China, along with Germany. Netanyahu does not want the U.S. to reach any sort of agreement with Iran.

U.S. and Israel’s foreign policies not identical

The fact that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East today is not identical to Israel’s is not a surprise. There are those who falsely claim that Israel and/or the Zionist lobby – e.g. AIPAC –dictate U.S. foreign policy. The current open conflict between Washington and Tel Aviv is proof that this is not the case. But even under the administration of George W. Bush, one of the most pro-Israel presidents, Washington steered clear from following Israel’s line, especially when it came to Iran.

However, the level of open conflict between the administrations of Obama and Netanyahu is unprecedented in relations between the U.S. and Israel in recent decades. Up to now, differences were kept behind closed doors. On Feb. 18, the Obama administration announced that it would no longer provide Israel with classified information on its negotiations with Iran.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest characterized Israel’s statements and leaks as motivated by an attempt to sabotage the negotiations:”There’s no question that some of the things that the Israelis have said in characterizing our negotiating position have not been accurate…We see that there is a continued practice of cherry-picking specific pieces of information and using them out of context to distort the negotiating position of the United States.”

Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Israel has been strongly advocating for the U.S. to attack Iran militarily. Netanyahu has campaigned for the destruction of Iran, a country he claims presents to be “existential threat” to Israel. Israel has repeatedly threatened to take the initiative to bomb Iran itself. But not only did the Bush administration not follow this advice, it explicitly warned Israel against taking any action on its own. The Obama administration, as well as the leadership of other imperialist states, have not bought into Netanyahu’s hyperbole and, instead, have sought to use comprehensive sanctions to bring Iran under control.

From the perspective of Israel’s ruling class, bombing Iran would be a low-risk proposition. Once military action in any shape or form is launched, it will be the U.S., not Israel, that will bear the risks and the costs. Israel does not have the capability to invade Iran or launch an extended air campaign. But any reaction from Iran would force the U.S. to get involved.

What is the current division in U.S. ruling class?

Why the United States, under both the Bush II and Obama administrations, has refused to bomb or invade Iran goes to the heart of the current division within the U.S. ruling class. There is no question that all the factions of the U.S. ruling class would like nothing more than regime change in Iran.

Following the downfall of the Soviet Union, U.S. imperialism pursued the goal of removing the remaining independent states in the Middle East, at the time Iran, Iraq, Syria and Libya (in North Africa). Since that time, the U.S. has overthrown the state in Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011. Syria is in the midst of a civil war that the U.S. has done much to foment. Whether or not Syria survives, it is unlikely to emerge as a strong state from the ravages of its catastrophic civil war. Post-occupation Iraq did not turn out to be a client state, which is what the U.S. hoped the occupation would achieve.

Still, Iraq is a weak state in a heavily fragmented country, much of it currently under the control of the Islamic State (ISIS). So there are no more strong independent states in the region that the U.S. needs to worry about, other than Iran.Today, in many ways Iran is the lynchpin of resistance to imperialist domination of the Middle East. It provides vital financial and military support to Syria. Iran’s support is key to the continued strength of Hezbollah, a Lebanese resistance force that delivered a crushing blow to Israel’s myth of invincibility in 2006. Iran also supports Palestinian resistance against Israel’s criminal state. Iran’s removal from the scene would be a most welcome development for the U.S. and Israel alike.

But, along with many establishment foreign policy analysts, the Obama administration has come to terms with the fact that regime change is not a realistic goal in the foreseeable future. An invasion and occupation of Iran is not feasible because, given Iran’s size and population, it would require more than double the troop numbers that were required for the occupation of Iraq.

An aerial bombing campaign, no matter how intense and extended, will not result in the downfall of the Islamic Republic and carries great risks for the U.S., its client Gulf states and Israel. And the right-wing Green Movement, that appeared to be a promising prospect for internal developments leading to regime change in 2009, has long since evaporated.

Two approaches to ‘managing’ Iran

Recognizing that regime change is not in the cards, the Obama administration is now working on engaging with and containing Iran through negotiations and agreements. This is in sharp contrast to the Bush administration, whose only engagement with Iran was issuing threats and ultimatums. An agreement with Iran would strengthen the more conciliatory faction of the Iranian political establishment, currently led by President Rouhani. Reaching a deal with Iran could potentially help the U.S. deal with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Facing a March 31 deadline, in the last week of February, Secretary of State John Kerry and other Western diplomats are scheduled to continue negotiations with Iran. In November 2013,an interim agreement was reached under which Iran would reduce its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium in exchange for limited sanctions relief, allowing Iran limited access to some of its own funds frozen in foreign banks.

It is not clear what the exact terms of the negotiations are. Nor is it clear whether or not an agreement will be ultimately reached. But it is clear that, unlike previous U.S. administrations, the Obama administration does in fact want to reach a deal.

The U.S. position used to be that Iran should essentially shut down its entire nuclear operations. Its precondition for negotiations used to be that Iran should halt uranium enrichment altogether. But now the main sticking point of the negotiations is whether or not Iran is allowed uranium enriched to 20 percent purity, and if so how much. Iran has forced the U.S. to concede to its demand that it continue its nuclear program under the watch of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

To keep an overall perspective, whatever conditions are imposed on Iran are unjust. Countries armed with thousands of nuclear bombs are imposing sanctions and severe restrictions on a country only now developing its nuclear program – a program that years of sanctions have not turned up a shred of evidence that it has a nuclear weapons component. Still, if an agreement is reached, it represents a major concession on the part of U.S. imperialism. It will be a recognition of Iran as a regional power, one that cannot be pushed around the same way that U.S. client states are.

Some factions of the U.S. ruling class are unwilling to accept this retreat. For them, stopping short of imposing the U.S. will on an independent state through threats, bombings or invasions, is an admission of imperialist weakness. The image of invincibility, the message to oppressed peoples that they should succumb to the power of empire or face annihilation, is important to maintaining the world order in the interests of the giant banks and corporations Washington serves.

Differences are real, may create an opportunity for progressives

The rift between Obama and Netanyahu is real and important. But Obama’s opposition to Netanyahu’s ultra-right wing cabinet, and the more militaristic factions of the U.S. ruling class, should not be confused with a progressive position. Obama and his wing of ruling-class politicians are pursuing a path they see as best serving imperialist interests.

Cracks in the ruling class often create openings for revolutionaries. Protests, movements and positions that would otherwise be shut out of the mainstream bourgeois media might get some exposure. The current conflict between Washington and Tel Aviv might open a discussion on the relations of the two countries. It might raise the question of why the U.S. gives billions of dollars of annual aid to Israel.

The ANSWER Coalition, of which the Party for Socialism and Liberation is a member organization, is joining with other forces to protest Netanyahu’s U.S. visit, not because he is undermining Obama but because of the crimes that he and his state commits against the Palestinians and other people in the region.

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

The movement against racist police terror and the need for revolution

NOVANEWS

By Eugene Puryear

Eugene Puryear of the Party for Socialism and Liberation spoke at a Black History Forum in San Francisco on Feb. 13.

Posted in USA0 Comments

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