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Canada Embraces US War Threats against North Korea. “Epic Fail” of Vancouver Group

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Yesterday (2017-01-16) Canada hosted a meeting of Foreign Ministers to discuss the situation concerning North Korea and nuclear weapons. What it amounted to was a bunch of U.S. sock puppets gathering to display subservience to the incredible double standards and lies promulgated by the U.S. It should be noted that the 20 invitees were the countries that had militarily supported the UN vote as the U.S. took advantage of a boycott by the USSR and the absence of China in order to start the international part of the war in the first place. Except of course, Russia and China, who also participated in the war, with the latter handing the U.S. one of its largest battlefield defeats in the process, were not invited.

As host of the event, Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland welcomed the participants, and in particular noted the presence of “Rex Tillerson, my friend.” She then laid out the clear parameters of U.S. foreign policy, saying

“No true progress can be made in addressing instability in the Korean peninsula until North Korea commits to changing course and verifiably and irreversibly abandoning all of its weapons of mass destruction.”

Umm, where to start? Perhaps we could start with Libya, who voluntarily gave up their nuclear program and ended up on the hit list of a U.S. created no fly zone. Well sure, they had oil, and Chinese investments, and a plan to create a gold based African currency, but really what we wanted was democracy and freedom – you know, the kind that the al-Qaeda group in eastern Libya were attempting to set up.

Or we could go back to Iraq, where there was no nuclear program, no weapons of mass destruction, no al-Qaeda, no Taliban, nothing to do with 9/11. There was only the lying and conniving of the U.S. as it sought to destroy another ‘regime’ – oh, and oil, and a bit of gold, and again the desire to sell oil not using the U.S. petrodollar.

But maybe one should simply look at the incredible double standard of the U.S. As the only country to ever have used nuclear weapons – unnecessarily as current historians indicate (it was about Russia – oh wait, it still is in the global picture – one of Freeland’s favorite bête noires) – a signatory to the NPT which states,

“Article VI – Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

The U.S. has abrogated that section and others on an ongoing basis, with actions against Iran and Russia, and for Israel, indicating as usual that their word is not worth the ink their names are signed with.

Later she commented,

“We in Canada understand…that it is vital that we come together…to confront aggression. Nowhere in the world do we see the proliferation of weapons and materials of mass destruction on the scale of North Korea’s programs.”

First off, “we” do not understand your perspective, other than as a shill for the U.S. empire. North Korea’s nuclear program is miniscule when compared to that of the U.S., Russia, Israel, Pakistan and India (the latter three are also outside the NPT). The U.S. in particular, under both Obama and Trump, have started a huge process of recalibrating their nuclear forces, the largest sector of the U.S. economy.

Freeland continues,

“We cannot stand by and let this threat persist. At stake are the safety and security of all the people of the world.”

Actually, that is true, but not for Freeland’s intentions. Yes, safety and security are at stake but mainly because of the U.S. known “first strike” nuclear planning, their known tendency to bomb the shit out of countries that don’t obey them (thus they become “shitholes”), and the general ignorance, hubris, arrogance, and lack of critical thought in all U.S. state agencies.

Sorry, I interrupted Ms Freeland,

“As a global community we have shown both by word and in deed that we will not accept North Korea as a nuclear threat to the world.”

Yes, in deed “we” certainly have. The U.S. signed on to the Iranian treaty that puts upon Iran the most stringent inspection terms of any IAEA actions in the world. At the same time Trump threatens to pull out of the treaty every six months which effectively kills any desire for other countries to invest in Iran, thus further limiting their economy. At the same time, old sanctions (an act of war in itself) are not removed, and new ones are imposed and threatened.

Did I mention Iraq and Libya? Yes I think I did.

It is the U.S. posturing, its arrogance, superciliousness, and above all its stated first strike nuclear policy that is the greatest threat to world peace today. The global community – in this case in Vancouver consisting of 20 countries, (admittedly a bit better than the 9 that supported the U.S. on the Jerusalem embassy vote) – has not shown anything by word and deed, but generally has been the victim by word and deed of many, many U.S. imperial actions against those that do not kowtow to their military/industrial/corporate/financial/political complex.

More from Freeland,

“Our message is clear. The pursuit of nuclearization will bring you neither security nor prosperity. Investing in nuclear weapons will lead only to more sanctions and to perpetual instability on the peninsula.”

Once again, all too true for the wrong intentions. That instability is brought about by U.S. interference in the region, aimed not so much at North Korea as at China and Russia. The history of South Korea indicates that prosperity is brought about by killing thousands of one’s own citizens who disagree with whichever U.S. supported dictator is in place at the time, supported by Japanese military functionaries, and then said dictators support the large Korean oligarchs – the chaebols – that control the largest businesses of all kinds in South Korea.

That would be North Korea’s fate if it gives up its nuclear weapons – an imposed dictatorship of some kind after another incredibly cruel and brutal U.S. attack . Having suffered complete devastation by the U.S. air force at the end of the Korean war, and now witnessing current actions against Iraq and Libya, the North Koreans would be well advised to keep their nuclear arsenal.

Canada and the U.S. always invoke the “international community” and “global community” aspects of their wishes and desires, wilfully oblivious to the information that indicates that these communities see the U.S. as the largest threat to world peace today. As the U.S. empire continues to slowly degrade itself to the level of a “shithole” country, Ms Freeland, on Canada’s behalf, is very willing to kiss her “friend’s” ass and take Canada down the hole with them.

Posted in USA, Canada0 Comments

Canada Should Play Conscientious Role in Korea

NOVANEWS

Featured image: A family eats ice cream in North Korea (Source: Eva Bartlett)

Lawyer Chris Black and Prof. Graeme MacQueen are helping build a revitalized peace movement. Part of that involves standing up to the barrage of propaganda on North Korea, and demanding that our government play a more positive role in defusing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. We discuss their recent op-ed article in the Toronto Star, the less-known reality of Korea, and the U.S. as a stopping block to peace.

Posted in Canada, South Korea0 Comments

The US Is Meddling in Mexico’s Election by Accusing Russia of Doing So

US National Security Advisor McMaster claimed that Russia is meddling in the upcoming Mexican elections.

This explosive news was shared by Reuters, which in turn was reporting on a mid-December video of a speech that McMasters gave to the Jamestown Foundation and which was just posted on a Mexican journalist’s Twitter account over the weekend. In it, one of the US’ most influential security figures says in relation to the unsubstantiated claims of Russian interference in foreign elections that “you’ve seen, actually, initial signs of it in the Mexican presidential campaign already”, but to Reuters’ credit they added that he didn’t elaborate on this afterwards and even cited an expert who remarked that “so far, it’s just speculation”.

That said, Reuters attempted to propel the paranoia forward by remarking that the leftist populist-nationalist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, commonly known by his abbreviated initials as AMLO, is “seen by some analysts as the Kremlin’s favorite, given the positive coverage he has received from government-funded media outlets like Sputnik and Russia Today”, thus relying on the conspiracy theory that everything on Russia’s publicly funded international media outlets is apparently aired on direct orders of the Kremlin, which isn’t true at all. Nor, for that matter, is the inference in the report that Russia is backing AMLO because of its desire to sow problems between the US and Mexico.

There’s credence to the forecast that AMLO’s potential victory would complicate US-Mexican relations because of the contradictory visions of their two leaders in that case, but this, as well as Russian international media’s detailed coverage of the leftist populist-nationalist candidate, don’t in and of themselves “prove” anything about Moscow’s alleged meddling in the upcoming elections. Rather, McMaster’s hysterical claim seems to be part of a preemptive infowar designed to discredit AMLO’s potential victory just like the Clintons tried to do with Trump’s over the same issue of alleged “Russian interference”, thereby suggesting that the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (or “deep state”) assess his odds of winning to be much higher than is publicly being reported.

That would explain why one of the top decision makers in the Trump Administration is already rolling out the weaponized narrative that Russia is supposedly backing AMLO, since they also want to add ammunition to the right-wing’s arsenal of personalized attacks in order to scare the electorate away from voting for him. Thus, it’s actually the US that’s openly interfering in the Mexican elections, just as it always has to one extent or another, and not Russia, with McMaster’s clumsily blatant hypocrisy emphasizing just how high Washington believes the geostrategic stakes to its security to be if “the wrong guy” gets into power and how desperate the US is to stop that from happening.

The post presented is the partial transcript of the CONTEXT COUNTDOWN radio program on Sputnik News, aired on Friday Jan 12, 2018:

Audio Player

 

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Posted in USA, Mexico0 Comments

Canada Should Play Conscientious Role in Korea

NOVANEWS
 

Featured image: A family eats ice cream in North Korea (Source: Eva Bartlett)

Lawyer Chris Black and Prof. Graeme MacQueen are helping build a revitalized peace movement. Part of that involves standing up to the barrage of propaganda on North Korea, and demanding that our government play a more positive role in defusing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. We discuss their recent op-ed article in the Toronto Star, the less-known reality of Korea, and the U.S. as a stopping block to peace.

Posted in Canada, North Korea, South Korea0 Comments

Jailhouse Interview: Denied Asylum, Mexican Reporter Emilio Gutiérrez

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Jailhouse Interview: Denied Asylum, Mexican Reporter Emilio Gutiérrez Faces Death If ICE Deports Him

We look at the danger facing journalists in Mexico and how the U.S. has responded to one of them. This week, Mexican journalist Gumaro Pérez Aguinaldo was assassinated in the southern state of Veracruz, becoming at least the 12th journalist to be killed in Mexico so far this year. Reporters Without Borders says the killing puts Mexico alongside Syria as the most murderous country for journalists. In a broadcast exclusive jailhouse interview, we speak by phone with another Mexican journalist: Emilio Gutiérrez Soto, who is fighting his deportation to Mexico as he is being held in a U.S. detention center in El Paso, Texas. Gutiérrez first sought asylum in the United States in 2008 after receiving death threats for reporting on alleged corruption in the Mexican military. He was detained then and eventually released while his asylum appeal was pending. The Trump administration denied asylum to the award-winning reporter last week. We also speak with his lawyer, Eduardo Beckett.

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We turn now to the danger facing journalists in Mexico and how the U.S. has responded to one of them. This week, Mexican journalist Gumaro Pérez Aguinaldo was assassinated in the southern state of Veracruz, becoming at least the 12th journalist to be killed in Mexico so far this year. He was attending a Christmas pageant at his son’s school in the city of Acayucan, when armed men burst into the classroom and murdered him in front of a room filled with schoolchildren. Pérez covered police for multiple outlets, including the news site he founded, La Voz del Sur, or The Voice of the South. He is at least the third journalist murdered in the city of Acayucan in recent months. His death marked the 12th murder of a media worker in Mexico in 2017, according to the press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders. The killing puts Mexico alongside Syria as the most murderous country for journalists, according to RSF.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, in a broadcast exclusive today, we conducted a jailhouse interview by phone with another Mexican journalist: Emilio Gutiérrez Soto, who is fighting his deportation to Mexico as he’s being held in a U.S. detention center in El Paso, Texas. Gutiérrez first sought asylum in the United States in 2008 after receiving death threats for reporting on alleged corruption in the Mexican military. He was detained then, eventually released while his asylum appeal was pending. Well, last week, his asylum appeal was denied. He now faces deportation back to Mexico, one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. Democracy Now!’s Juan González and I had a chance to speak with Gutiérrez directly in detention, where he is in jail in El Paso.

EMILIO GUTIÉRREZ SOTO: [translated] Look, Juan, I wrote some articles where I described how the military acting in the northwest of Chihuahua, specifically in the municipality of Ascensión, Chihuahua, and particularly the population of Palomas, which is by the border with the state of New Mexico. This caused disgust at the Ministry of Defense, which sent the head of the 5th Military Zone in Chihuahua, General García Vega, to threaten me, saying I had already written three articles noting corruption and assaults against the population by members of the military. And he sentenced me. He said, “You’ve written three articles, and there’s not going to be a fourth one.” And, of course, there was a fourth article. And I filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission and also with the Office of the Attorney General for the state. As a result, for a time after those threats, they sought some sort of reconciliation with me, but the terms never came about. In this state of affairs, I was somewhat fearful in the face of a serious warning by a general, a high-level commander from the Mexican Army.

Back in 2008, the Army forcibly entered my home, knocking down the main door, threatening us with their firearms. They threw me to the floor. And they said they were searching for weapons and drugs. They destroyed our home. And, of course, they found nothing, nothing at all. And once again, great fear has come, such that I had to stay up all night while my son was sleeping. I had to look out the window to see who might be coming by. And my sleep—well, I would catch up on my sleep at the office, while at the same time doing my work as a journalist. A month later, on May 5th, at night, after they broke into our house and had destroyed our house, we took more precautions.

And on June 16th, 2008, we decided to enter the United States seeking political asylum. First, we said that the military were keeping close surveillance over me and that a friend of mine told me that a relative of hers in the repeat response elite group told my friend—told her that there was a plan to kill me. Obviously, I had to quickly take what I needed from my home. I went to a friend of a home where my son was. There was a religious service going on there. And we went to a ranch on Saturday, July 14th. And on the 16th, we opted to cross into the United States at the border post of Berrendo into the state of New Mexico, where we placed ourselves at the disposal of U.S. immigration officials, seeking political asylum.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Was it your intention to move to the United States, or did you just feel that you had to as a result of the threats to your life?

EMILIO GUTIÉRREZ SOTO: [translated] No. We did this with the intention of moving permanently, because when there is a threat by the military, it’s very serious. Plus, there were already antecedents in terms of how the military were acting, and, in some cases, people would not appear again.

AMY GOODMAN: Emilio, can you talk about what deportation would mean? First, describe where you are in the El Paso jail. And then, what would it mean if you were sent back to Mexico?

EMILIO GUTIÉRREZ SOTO: [translated] Well, if we are deported, that obviously implies death. Why? Because ICE, under the Department of Homeland Security of the United States, by law, must give a report to the immigration authorities of Mexico and the consulate. And the immigration officials in Mexico have no credibility. It’s impossible to trust in them. To the contrary, many of those officials, many personnel at the consulate or immigration service, are caught up with organized crime. And organized crime is precisely the Mexican government. If the government didn’t give its consent for criminal groups to work with impunity, certainly the conditions would be different. But the government of Mexico facilitates the work of criminal groups who operate with total impunity. The government of Mexico, we all know, is the most corrupt government in the hemisphere and obviously enjoys no credibility.

Now, the conditions we find ourselves at this ICE jail in El Paso are truly denigrating. We have seen—my son and myself—most of the immigrants detained here are from Central and South America, the majority. We’re not so many Mexicans here at this jail. Now, given the extreme poverty, well, of course, that is experienced in Mexico, but even more so in Central and South America. For many of the persons detained, it seems that the conditions are adequate, are pleasant. But they are denigrating. The food is poor nutritionally. And it is not pleasant at all to eat the food here. Not at all. Plus, the rations, the portions are too small.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Emilio, the immigration authorities here in the United States are saying that you have no proof, no documentary proof, of your claims or that no witnesses have appeared to back up your claims. How do you respond to that?

EMILIO GUTIÉRREZ SOTO: [translated] I believe that the immigration authorities are an institution based on lies. It would appear that I would need to enter the United States with bullet holes on the front and back of my body or mutilated, which is what the institutional criminal group—the Mexican government—generally does.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto, speaking in an exclusive jailhouse broadcast interview from a U.S. detention center in El Paso, where he is fighting his deportation to Mexico, one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Gutiérrez first sought asylum in the United States in 2008 after receiving death threats for reporting on alleged corruption in the Mexican military. He was detained then and eventually released when his asylum appeal was pending. He lived free in the U.S. for nearly a decade. Last week, the Trump administration denied his asylum appeal.

Well, for more, we’re joined in El Paso, Texas, via Democracy Now! video stream by his lawyer, Eduardo Beckett.

Eduardo Beckett, could you tell us with the situation is now with your client, Emilio Gutiérrez?

EDUARDO BECKETT: Yes, good morning. It’s an honor to be here.

My client’s asylum claim was actually denied on July 19th of 2017. He filed an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals. The appeal was dismissed on a technicality. At that moment, he could be deported anytime, so we filed a stay, a stay removal, both with the original immigration judge, with a motion to reopen, a stay with ICE, and both of them were denied by the judge and denied by ICE. So we filed an emergency stay with the Board of Immigration Appeals and a motion to reopen. The stay removal by the Board of Immigration Appeals was granted, and his motion to reopen his asylum case is pending.

What we’re doing right now, we’re trying to get him released on humanitarian parole. And as my client has told you, you know, right now we’re—ICE is operating basically on steroids. And I would say that my client is a prototypical example of someone who should have been granted asylum. He’s a journalist. He has openly criticized the Mexican government for years and years, nonstop. His life is in great danger upon deportation. He has no criminal history. He entered legally, and yet ICE is treating him like a criminal. So this is the criminalization of asylum seekers. So that’s the situation right now.

AMY GOODMAN: Eduardo Beckett, explain the grounds on which he was denied his claim for political—his request for political asylum here. I mean, we just reported today in our headlines and in this segment about yet another Mexican journalist who was gunned down in Mexico. As you heard in this interview, Emilio Gutiérrez fears, of course, if he is deported, that that is what will happen to him: He’ll be assassinated. He’s being detained with his son. Can you talk about the denial under the Trump administration? And what is his recourse now?

EDUARDO BECKETT: Of course. So, the denial was basically like a 30-page document, where the judge makes an analysis of the conditions in Mexico. And as you stated, the eyewitnesses from Mexico did not show up to the court, did not want to cooperate. And I understand 100 percent, because they live in Mexico, so I believe that the witnesses were scared to come forward or to send an affidavit. Nevertheless, my client submitted many, many expert witness documents, corroborating evidence, overwhelming evidence, of the conditions of Mexico. And, you know, like you mentioned, 12 journalists have been executed—a couple days ago, one in Veracruz in front of his children at a Christmas party. When I told my client what happened, he was crying, and he was shaking, and he was saying that he felt bad, that he knows that it’s going to happen to him.

So, in this case, the judge got it wrong. So his recourse is to file a motion to reopen the case, and we’re going to, hopefully, get to redo his whole case again, because I think the judge got it wrong. And the message that the judge is sending is basically saying, “We don’t want to protect journalists, and we don’t think, you know, that you corroborated your asylum claim.” But the U.S. Supreme Court only requires a 10 percent chance that upon deportation to Mexico, that you will be tortured or executed or persecuted. The REAL ID Act of 2005 does require corroborating evidence, if it’s readily available and within reason. In this case, to force a witness to come forward, at the risk that that witness might be executed, is unreasonable. So those are the types of things that we’re going to be asking the Board of Immigration Appeals to examine and overrule the judge and hopefully give us a new—the opportunity to retry his asylum claim.

AMY GOODMAN: And the role of the local congressmember? Has he been visited by anyone locally in El Paso?

EDUARDO BECKETT: So, what we’re doing also, we’re doing a campaign to shed light. You know, under the Trump administration, as you mentioned, we feel the erosion of due process in an exaggerated rate. We’re asking our local congressman, we’re asking our clergy, we’re asking the community to support my client and to ask for his release. I did have a conversation with my congressman in Washington, D.C., yesterday, his staff. And we asked him to—

AMY GOODMAN: And he is who?

EDUARDO BECKETT: Congressman Beto O’Rourke. Beto O’Rourke.

AMY GOODMAN: Yes.

EDUARDO BECKETT: So, we had a meeting with him on the phone. I did not get to speak to him directly, but I—you know, through his staff. And we asked him to support us and to put pressure on ICE to get my client released. Like I said, no criminal history. He’s always complied with all the—with the law. And, you know, it’s sad that he’s being detained like a criminal. This is a guy that promotes democracy. This is a guy that we want here in the United States. And so, we’re reaching out not only to him, but to other senators and congressmen and anyone who wants to help. Journalists around the world have called us. So we have a lot of people that are supporting us. And that’s why we’re here today, to highlight this.

AMY GOODMAN: Eduardo Beckett, I want to thank you so much for being with us, lawyer for the detained journalist Emilio Gutiérrez. He’s detained in an immigration jail in El Paso, Texas. He applied for political asylum. He was just denied by the Trump administration. He is appealing that decision. He is in jail with his son. We will continue to follow this story. If you want to hear the whole interview with Emilio Gutiérrez that I did with Juan González, you can go to democracynow.org. This is Democracy Now! Stay with us.

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Canada Becomes Party to Ukraine’s Conflict

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Image result for CANADA FLAG CARTOON
By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation 

The Canadian government has given the green light for national defence contractors to sell weapons to Ukraine. This makes Canada a party to the conflict with all ensuing consequences. The decision sets no preconditions for selling the armaments to Ukraine. It has been taken despite the fact that Project Ploughshare and Amnesty International Canada opposed the plan, saying Kiev has so far failed to improve the human rights situation. Canada’s Standing Committee on National Defense has published a report entitled “Canada’s Support to Ukraine in Crisis and Armed Conflict,” which recommends that the government provide lethal weapons to Ukraine if it demonstrates active work on fighting corruption in the country. The recommendations include providing lethal weapons, intelligence exchange, cooperation in defense industry, support in countering cyberattacks, and in resisting to the dissemination of foreign propaganda and disinformation through the media. Granting visa-free travel to Canada for Ukrainians and promotion of Ukrainian interests at the G7 is also on the recommendations’ list.

The Canadian Cabinet hopes its decision will influence the US Administration to follow suit. The move puts Canada out ahead of the United States, which is considering its own arms sales. Kurt Volker, the US Special Representative to Ukraine, believes there’s no reason to continue the prohibition on delivering lethal weapons.

Ukraine is particularly interested in anti-tank weapons, counter-battery artillery radar, and armoured patrol vehicles like the US-made Humvees.

On December 12, US President Donald Trump signed a defense budget for 2018 providing for the possibility of offering Ukraine lethal weapons of a “defensive nature”. Congress has approved $500 million in “defensive lethal assistance” to Ukraine. Congress authorized $350 million more than the $150 million originally proposed by the administration. Now, the president can start arms supplies any time he chooses. Former President Barack Obama was unconvinced that granting Ukraine lethal defensive weapons would be the right decision in view of corruption widespread in Ukraine.

The two events – Canada’s decision and signing the US defense budget bill into law – come in the context of the failed US-Russia talks on the recently proposed UN peacekeeping mission in Donbass. Now the US weapons could be exported to Ukraine through Canada, including the much-desired Javelin anti-tank systems. “After this government decree, Canada can sell or transfer Javelin to Ukraine,” said James Bezan, Canadian MP from the Conservative Party. The US has been sending to Ukraine a variety of non-lethal military help, including equipment like Humvees, medical supplies, bulletproof vests, and radars to track the hundreds of artillery shells.

North America’s assistance to Ukraine is not limited to weapons only; it encompasses other domains as well. The Ukraine Cybersecurity Cooperation Act [H.R. 1997], the bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-8) and Brendan F. Boyle (PA-13), unanimously passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Dec. 14. The bill encourages cooperation between the United States and Ukraine on matters of cybersecurity and requires State Department reporting to Congress on best practices to protect against future cyber-attacks. “Helping Ukraine buttress its cyber defenses will also help the United States in developing new and more effective technologies and strategies in dealing with cyber security on the modern battlefield,” said Boyle, explaining the goal to be achieved, if the legislation becomes law. It will make Ukraine a part of NATO cyber warfare effort being implemented according to its Cyber Defense Pledge.

The bloc is implementing the Capability Package 120 which aims by 2024 to fund everything from encryption for tactical radios to cloud-integrated storage for the millions of cyber events. Eventually, NATO will move to the public cloud for virtually everything that it does as an alliance. The “centralized patch management” will control all the cyber activities.

For more than two years, the US military’s contingent of roughly 300 military instructors have been quietly training Ukrainian military in the western part of the country to prepare them for fighting in the east. Every 55 days a new Ukrainian battalion comes in to go through a training course at Yavoriv Combat Training Center in western Ukraine. Since 2014, the US and partner militaries have helped grow Ukraine’s forces from just over 100,000 troops to nearly 250,000 today. The US-run maritime operations center at Ochakov Naval Base, Ukraine, became operational in July to serve as a major planning and operational hub during future military exercises hosted by Ukraine. A US military facility near Russia’s borders is a very serious threat to regional security. Its presence turns the Black Sea into a hot spot. US warships visit the sea regularly to provide NATO with long-range first strike capability. The Romania-based Aegis Ashore BMD system uses the Mk-41 launcher capable of firing Tomahawk long-range precision-guided missiles against land targets.

Also in July, two US Navy warships, a P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft, and a Navy SEALs team took part in the 12-day Sea Breeze 2017 joint NATO naval exercise off Ukraine. The multinational war games took place in the northwestern part of the Black Sea, near the Ukrainian port city of Odessa. 17 nations took part in the training event. The preparations are on the way to hold another Sea Breeze exercise in 2018. Step by step, Ukraine is becoming an element of NATO’s military infrastructure, which could be used as a springboard for a cross-border attack against Russia.

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Canada Follows Orders on Anti-Russian Sanctions: The Kremlin Reacts

Canada’s decision to extend its anti-Russia sanctions under the false pretext of hypocritically championing human rights is absolutely pointless and reprehensible,” read a November 3 statement from the Russian embassy in Ottawa.

Pointless and reprehensible. Reprehensible this action is but there is a point, the point being to create as much anti-Russian feeling among Canadians as possible and to support the American governments tightening economic blockade of Russia in retaliation for insisting on its own sovereignty, the right to run its own affairs and for insisting on protecting its own international interests as in Syria and along its borders.

On Friday November 3, Canada invoked the so-called Magnitsky Law to slap sanctions on 52 people, 30 linked to Russia, and aside from a couple from South Sudanese, the rest linked Venezuela, including President Maduro.

The new Canadian law, the official name of which is the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, won final approval in the Canadian Parliament two weeks ago. It allows the Canadian government to freeze Canadian assets of corrupt foreign officials and prevent them from entering Canada and mirrors a similar put into effect in the USA.

Russian President Putin responded to the law strongly accusing Canada of playing “unconstructive political games,” which it certainly is. In fact the Russian embassy in Ottawa stated correctly that Canada is “isolating itself from one of the key global powers.” The statement added, according to Tass that dozens of Canadians have now been banned from entering Russia.

Maria Zakharova, speaking for the Russian Foreign Ministry said,

We have repeatedly warned the Canadian authorities against attempts to exert pressure by imposing sanctions on Russia. We told them that such actions would not remain unanswered. To our great regret, Ottawa again introduced restrictions on our citizens under the pretext of the recently adopted Magnitsky Act.

We have to act in kind. Proceeding from the principle of reciprocity, the Russian Federation prohibits entry to many Canadian citizens. The list is long and contains dozens of names the Russophobic Canadian citizens that have been systematically destroying bilateral relations.

This raises the question: Is this what Ottawa wanted to achieve? Do its politicians really think that it is possible to put pressure on Russia? Or are they simply pampering their political ambitions?

If our Canadian partners like to play sanctions games, we will have to respond, although we certainly prefer to develop constructive cooperation on the issues important for the peoples of both countries. We hope the political circles of Canada will have a stroke of insight and they will give up the destructive policy that further exacerbates bilateral relations.”

Good questions but the answer can only be found in Washington that calls the shots, not in Ottawa, where the Canadian governments sits waiting to take American orders.

This is clear from the Canadian foreign minister’s statement. Chrystia Freeland stated,

Today’s announcement sends a clear message that Canada will take action against individuals who have profited from acts of significant corruption or who have been involved in gross violations of human rights,”

Instead of naming President Trump, Bill or Hilary Clinton, Tony Blair or a thousand others she could have named as paragons of corruption and whose violations of human rights around the world are legendary, she targeted President Maduro of Venezuela who has risked his life fighting the corruption and criminality of the finance and business oligarchs that want to retain their powers to fleece the Venezuelan people. President Putin’s government, which is targeted, has done more to eliminate corruption in Russia country that anyone since the fall of the USSR.

We can look at the other names too but the point is made. Why they threw in a couple of names from South Sudan is anyone’s guess as it is difficult to learn the details. Perhaps to make it look like they were spreading things around a bit. But no one is fooled. The aim of this action is not to go after the corrupt but to make propaganda.

And who is it that is presuming to make these people targets of an anti-corruption campaign, a campaign for human rights? Why, the very Canadian foreign minister who meets with and supports Nazis in the government of the Poroshenko regime in Ukraine; a foreign minister who has lied about her grandfathers Nazi past. No, this is not about human rights but a display of the Canadian government’s smug hypocrisy veiling its own crimes.

Just a few weeks ago the Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau devoted his entire UN speech to the General Assembly apologising for the gross human rights violations carried out by successive Canadian governments against the original peoples of Canada who, despite the apology continue to live lives of terrible desperation, desperation so terrible that native youth have resorted to incidents of mass suicide.

I wrote once and will repeat that Canada has once again revealed itself as a country without any existential existence. It is a regional backwater of the United States of America, the remaining vestiges of sovereignty and independence submerged in the swamp of American imperialism and culture.

Long gone are the glory days when a Canadian actually felt distinct in North America, when Canada tried to maintain an independent foreign policy and a national culture born out of the richness of the three founding peoples, the First Nations, the French and the English.

Canada remained a formal colony of British capital until 1867 when it was finally organised as a self governing state within the British empire after a series of internal struggles for more self rule by the growing mercantile and industrial elites but it only achieved any real independence as a country in the 1930’s as Britain’s power rapidly declined after its huge losses of the First World War. But the establishment of a country more independent of Britain did not result in an independent nation. Canada relied on foreign capital to build its infrastructure, its continental railway systems, its hydro-electric projects, its factories, its cities and where British capital could not supply the need it was quickly replaced by American capital.

The domination of the country by the Americans accelerated after the Second World War but it was countered by a rising nationalist feeling generated in part by Canada’s disproportionately large contribution to fighting the fascists in Europe.

A nation of eleven million people fielded military forces of almost a million and in 1945 Canada had the third largest navy in the world. After the war the working classes, many of whom viewed the Soviet Union as the most progressive nation in the world, despite the elites’ anti-Russian and anti-socialist propaganda, supported socialist ideals that resulted in the establishment of free national health care and low cost education, affordable housing and were enthusiastic about Canadian artists and writers.

They saw how a nation like Russia had rapidly developed its industrial and societal resources in a landmass that was very similar to Canada and realised that they could do the same. But it was not to be. Soon the American dominance began to be felt, with the forced dumping of Hollywood films in Canadian theatres, the take over of oil and gas exploration and pipeline construction, the stifling of any really independent steps to national development and of course the fateful decision under US pressure to join the NATO alliance.

The years of the late 50’s and 60’s saw Canadian leaders trying to act independently of the American power. In one famous episode, Prime Minister Lester Pearson declined U.S. requests to send Canadian combat troops into the Vietnam War. Pearson spoke at Temple University in Philadelphia on 2 April 1965 and called for a pause in the American bombing of North Vietnam, so that a diplomatic solution to the war could be found. President Johnson, who rose to power through the coup d’état against President Kennedy in 1963, saw this criticism of American foreign policy on American soil as an intolerable sin. Before Pearson had finished his speech, he was summoned to Camp David, Maryland, to meet with Johnson the next day. Johnson, a very large man, who was a notorious thug, reportedly picked up Pearson, a very small man, by the lapels and shouted, “Don’t you come into my living room and piss on my rug.”

The last gasp of Canadian attempts at real independence took place under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who, though not withdrawing from NATO, tried to create a foreign policy in Canadian interests and was one of the first western leaders to open the door to China, long before Nixon, and remained friends with Fidel Castro all his life. It was Trudeau that finally negotiated with the British for the repatriation of the Canadian Constitution in 1982, finally severing the last legal ties to British rule. He called for the creation of a “Just Society” with real participatory democracy and concern for the collective good and for Canada to become more engaged with the rest of the world instead of just being fixated on the United States. But the fall of Trudeau and the rise of the right wing in Canada in the late 80’s led to the rise of the continentalists, that is those Canadians financiers and industrialists who saw their interests lying in New York instead of Toronto. The counter-revolution in the USSR accelerated this process as neo-liberalism and free trade became the dominant doctrine and, in a series of free trade and security agreements, starting in 1993, Canada quickly surrendered its hard won sovereignty almost overnight to the interests of American capital.

The lesson to be drawn from all this is that any nation that surrenders its sovereignty to a dominant power becomes the tool of that power. The interests of its own people count for nothing. International law and peace count for nothing. Human life counts for nothing.

Nations like Canada can choose their own path, their own destiny in peaceful cooperation with the nations and peoples of the world, with Russia and Venezuela. The problem is how the people of Canada, and, indeed, all nations, can escape this domination and survive it. Unfortunately, with the continentalists still in control in Washington and Ottawa, New York and Toronto, and with American control of the economic resources at an intolerable level, the situation looks bleak for the immediate future. Canadians are nothing more than servants in their own house, when, to use the phrase of the Quebec nationalists in their struggle for self determination, we should be “maître chez nous,” masters of our own house. Instead our government is a servant of Washington and will suffer any humiliation and disadvantage that these sanctions will undoubtedly bring upon us in order to lick the hand that pats its head.

Posted in Canada, RussiaComments Off on Canada Follows Orders on Anti-Russian Sanctions: The Kremlin Reacts

Chrystia Freeland: Canada Doesn’t Engage in “Regime Change”

NOVANEWS

A huge surprise to the people of Libya, Haiti, Honduras, Chile, Democratic Rep. Congo, Ghana, Uganda, Guatemala, and …

It may walk and quack like a regime-change-promoting duck, but Ottawa’s unilateral sanctions and support for Venezuela’s opposition is actually just a cuddly Canadian beaver, says Chrystia Freeland.

Canada has never been an imperialist power. It’s even almost funny to say that phrase: we’ve been the colony,” said the journalist turned politician after a Toronto meeting of foreign ministers opposed to the Venezuelan government.

The above declaration was part of the Canadian foreign minister’s response to a question about Chavismo’s continued popularity, which was prefaced by a mention of protesters denouncing Ottawa’s interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs. Freeland added that “one of the strengths Canada brings to its international affairs” is that it doesn’t engage in “regime change”.

Notwithstanding her government’s violation of the UN and Organization of American States charters’ in Venezuela, Freeland’s claim that Ottawa doesn’t engage in “regime change” is laughable. Is she unaware that a Canadian General commanded the NATO force, which included Canadian fighter jets, naval vessels and special forces, that killed Muammar Gaddafi in Libya six years ago?

Sticking to contexts more directly applicable to the situation in Venezuela, Ottawa has repeatedly endorsed US-backed military coups against progressive elected leaders. Canada passively supported the ouster of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953, Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz in 1954, Ugandan President Milton Obote (by Idi Amin) in 1971 and Chilean President Salvador Allende in 1973.

In a more substantial contribution to undermining electoral democracy, Ottawa backed the Honduran military’s removal of elected president Manuel Zelaya. Before his 2009 ouster Canadian officials criticized Zelaya and afterwards condemned his attempts to return to the country. Failing to suspend its military training program, Canada was also the only major donor to Honduras — the largest recipient of Canadian assistance in Central America — that failed to sever any aid to the military government. Six months after the coup Ottawa endorsed an electoral farce and immediately recognized the new right-wing government.

In the 1960s Ottawa played a more substantial role in the ouster of pan-Africanist independence leaders Kwame Nkrumah and Patrice Lumumba. In 1966 Ghana’s Canadian-trained army overthrew Nkrumah. In an internal memo to External Affairs just after Nkrumah was ousted, Canadian high commissioner in Accra, C.E. McGaughey wrote “a wonderful thing has happened for the West in Ghana and Canada has played a worthy part.” Soon after the coup, Ottawa informed the military junta that Canada intended to carry on normal relations and Canada sent $1.82 million ($15 million today) worth of flour to Ghana.

Ottawa had a strong hand in Patrice Lumumba’s demise. Canadian signals officers oversaw intelligence positions in the UN mission supposed to protect the territorial integrity of the newly independent Congo, but which Washington used to undermine the progressive independence leader. Canadian Colonel Jean Berthiaume assisted Lumumba’s political enemies by helping recapture him. The UN chief of staff, who was kept in place by Ottawa despite being labelled an “imperialist tool” by Lumumba’s advisers, tracked the deposed prime minister and informed army head Joseph Mobutu of Lumumba’s whereabouts. Soon after Lumumba was killed and Canadian officials celebrated the demise of an individual Prime Minister John Diefenbaker privately called a “major threat to Western interests”.

It’s in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation where Canada was most aggressive in opposing a progressive government. On January 31 and February 1, 2003, Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government organized an international gathering to discuss overthrowing Haiti’s elected government. No Haitian officials were invited to the “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti” where high-level US, Canadian and French officials decided that president Jean-Bertrand Aristide “must go”, the dreaded army should be recreated and that the country would be put under a Kosovo-like UN trusteeship.

Thirteen months after the “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti” meeting Aristide and most other elected officials were pushed out and a quasi UN trusteeship had begun. The Haitian National Police was also heavily militarized.

Canadian special forces “secured” the airport from which Aristide was bundled (“kidnapped” in his words) onto a plane by US Marines and deposited in the Central African Republic. Five hundred Canadian troops occupied Haiti for the next six months.

After cutting off aid to Haiti’s elected government, Ottawa provided tens of millions of dollars in foreign aid to the installed government, publicly supported coup officials and employed numerous officials within coup government ministries. Haiti’s deputy justice minister for the first 15 months of the foreign-installed government, Philippe Vixamarwas on the Canadian International Development Agency’s payroll and was later replaced by another CIDA employee (the minister was a USAID employee). Paul Martin made the first ever trip by a Canadian prime minister to Haiti to support the violent post-coup dictatorship.

Dismissing criticism of Ottawa’s regime change efforts in Venezuela by claiming Canada has been a benevolent international actor is wholly unconvincing. In fact, a serious look at this country’s foreign policy past gives every reason to believe that Ottawa is seeking to unseat an elected government that has angered many among the corporate set.

Anyone with their eyes open can tell the difference between a beaver and a duck.

Posted in CanadaComments Off on Chrystia Freeland: Canada Doesn’t Engage in “Regime Change”

The Unimaginable: Canada, Missile Defence and Nuclear War

The Invictus Games, attended by Prince Harry and many celebrities in Toronto last month, overshadowed another big military story: a September 19 report in the Toronto Star that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has “cracked open the door to joining the U.S. ballistic missile defence program, [and] reversing Canada’s long-standing opposition in the face of North Korea’s new capabilities to strike North America.”

In view of past public opposition to missile defence, the “crack” in the door may just be a feeler to measure public reaction, as the Trudeau government, which has promised additional billions for the military, pursues a “hard power” foreign policy. But the idea of missile defence is deceptive.

Missile defence technology, which emerged after the Korean War, was initially envisioned to intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) carrying nuclear weapons. ICBMs can travel at enormous speeds, so missile defence is most effective if it intercepts missiles just after launch or when they re-enter the atmosphere at lower speed.

In the past, the fear of “mutually assured destruction” (MAD) through a retaliatory attack served as a deterrence. However, eliminating the means for nuclear retaliation through missile defence could actually provide an inducement to attack with nuclear weapons.

Increase the Likelihood of Nuclear War?

Theodore Postol, professor emeritus of science, technology and international security at MIT, says that missile defence increases the likelihood of nuclear war by contributing to the American military’s dangerous belief that a nuclear war is winnable, and that nuclear weapons can be used like conventional weapons.

Scarier still says Postol is that superior U.S. technology in the form of missile defence would force opposing nuclear weapon states to decide within minutes, with insufficient information, whether there are incoming missiles and whether to launch a counterattack.

Under these circumstances there is a high potential for accidental nuclear war, says author Eric Schlosser, who has written about the fragility and illusion of safety in his book Command And Control: Nuclear Weapons, The Damascus Accident, And The Illusion Of Safety.

The Star article states that there is “long-standing opposition” to missile defence in Canada, but Mel Hurtig’s 2004 book, Rushing To Armageddon: The Shocking Truth About Canada, Missile Defence, And Star Wars, extensively quotes former Prime Minister Paul Martin and Minister of Foreign Affairs Bill Graham supporting missile defence.

In the last months of his presidency, Barack Obama refused to take nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert. This means that within as little as six minutes, Donald Trump can launch a nuclear strike on North Korea, with weapons deployed from submarines surrounding the Korean peninsula.

The threat to use nuclear weapons, as Trump did in his speech at the United Nations recently, is a violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, according to the advisory opinion of International Court of Justice. Intercepting missiles in space also violates the Outer Space Treaty, which was ratified 50 years ago to maintain space as a global commons for peaceful purposes.

It is a dangerous time. Canadians must challenge Canada’s willing participation in this madness.

Posted in CanadaComments Off on The Unimaginable: Canada, Missile Defence and Nuclear War

Trump Is Trying to Make NAFTA Even Worse

NOVANEWS
 

Featured image: A North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Logo. (Source: Nicoguaro / Wikimedia Commons)

First published by GR in July 2017

Many on the Left have been deeply critical of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) since before it was fast-tracked into law by former President Bill Clinton in 1994. Now, President Donald Trump’s current plan to renegotiate NAFTA is poised to make the massive trade deal even worse.

In late May, a loose coalition of civil society groups gathered in Mexico City to discuss this upcoming renegotiation. Participants included the AFL-CIO, Canadian Labour Congress and over one hundred other labour, environmental, and immigrant rights organizations from across Mexico, the United States and Canada. The meeting produced a joint declaration opposing a Trump-led NAFTA renegotiation and marked the kickoff of the latest international campaign against free-trade deals that benefit corporations and political elites at the expense of workers, communities and our shared environment.

NAFTA’s legacy is marred by lost jobs, lower wages, increased inequality and a litany of environmentally destructive practices. While the people who gathered in Mexico City have long opposed NAFTA for its pro-corporate bent, a consensus emerged that President Trump and his team are cooking up something even worse.

Two questions follow from this judgment: What can we do to stop Trump, and how can we use the moment to challenge the powerful interests that he represents?

The Dangers of a Trump-led Renegotiation

Trump campaigned and won the U.S. presidential election in no small part due to his anti-free-trade positions. He galvanized millions of voters for whom the considerable promises of globalization have long since given way to the stark realities of rising inequality and declining living standards.

After assuming the presidency, Trump decided it was politically necessary to kill off the wildly neoliberal Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to appease his popular base. This decision was met with dismay by nearly all big corporations and elites from both political parties.

But now, in an act of political judo, Trump is trying to use the same anti-establishment, pro-American rhetoric from his campaign to craft a neoliberal NAFTA renegotiation that will include everything demanded in the recently scuttled TPP – and more. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, as well as others in Trump’s administration, have been surprisingly straightforward about these intentions.

Source: Socialist Project

Formal notice of the intent to renegotiate was submitted to Congress on May 18. Following an obligatory 90-day “consultation period,” negotiations are expected to commence in the second half of August. A draft list of the Trump administration’s priorities, submitted to Congress in late March, gives us a window into what we should expect.

A Trump-led renegotiation will mean a strengthening of heinous Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms, which allow corporations to sue governments that “infringe” on profit-making opportunities, for example, by daring to introduce anti-tobacco legislation. It will mean stronger copyright and intellectual property laws, in case you’re not already spending enough on your medications. It will also mean further privatization of the internet, greater corporate control of e-commerce, and most likely a new broadside against net neutrality.

Meanwhile, “investor incentives” will increase the liberalization of capital flows and lead to the offshoring of many thousands of jobs, in the ongoing global race to find the most exploitative labour conditions possible. And, of course, this ceremony will be sealed with the ritual sacrifice of labour, human rights and environmental regulations in each of the three signatory countries.

And let us not forget that, while the TPP accounted for 40 per cent of the world’s GDP, NAFTA still represents approximately 25 per cent. In 1994, NAFTA set the standard for two decades of terrible international trade agreements, and power brokers across the world hope this renegotiation will restore business as usual and set a new standard for decades to come.

Given the power of the United States vis-à-vis its negotiating partners, this panorama might at first glance appear depressing. But we also should not forget the insurgent campaign of Democratic primary challenger Bernie Sanders, which brought together millions of people in opposition to these types of free trade deals. While there are major differences between Trump and Sanders voters, there is real agreement that these corporate-led deals are bad for ordinary people.

Herein lies a real political opportunity that absolutely terrifies elites on both sides of the aisle. Around the NAFTA renegotiation there exists a genuine possibility, in an otherwise badly fractured political landscape, for a bipartisan consensus against corporate and elite power.

Throwing Sand in the Gears

Knowing that the renegotiation of NAFTA may well die at the ballot box – just as TPP and TTIP were killed off by popular demand in the past year – the main goal for its proponents is to conclude talks as quickly as possible. This has been stated clearly by lead trade representatives in each of the three countries. Now, the first major challenge comes not from the United States, but from Mexico.

Mexican general elections are scheduled for July 2018, with primaries and the accompanying political jockeying beginning this fall. With President Enrique Peña Nieto’s approval ratings sinking below 20 per cent, the position of his “institutional revolutionary” PRI, which has dominated Mexican politics for nearly 100 years, is considered vulnerable.

The early frontrunner for the upcoming presidential race, popular former Mexico City Mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has staked out a populist, anti-establishment position that places greater emphasis on labour and environmental rights, as well as national sovereignty. As his campaign advances, he is widely expected to take aim at a U.S.-led NAFTA renegotiation as a winning political wedge issue.

In this context, progressive groups opposed to a corporate-led NAFTA renegotiation must adopt the same strategy that was so successful in the battle against the TPP: throwing sand in the gears. While it was Trump who dealt the TPP its death blow, it was the hard work of progressive civil society that shed light on this secretive deal, slowed its advance and ultimately entangled it in the 2016 election – correctly anticipating that popular consensus would reject the agreement.

In Mexico, this aim can be achieved by emphasizing Trump’s calls to “build the wall,” as well as his racist characterizations of Mexicans as rapists, criminals and job stealers. It can be done by pounding the suddenly-vulnerable Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) as a bunch of robber-baron elites who are looking for one last score before they are flushed from power.

In Canada, a similar strategy can be pursued by emphasizing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s tendencies towards a politics of symbolic resistance and substantive acquiescence. In this style of governance there exists a gap that civil society can exploit. Trudeau very much values his carefully cultivated public image, but Canadians have seen the material impacts of NAFTA on their country, and they now oppose the deal by a four-to-one margin.

In the United States, at least for now, the focus should be on the tremendous lack of transparency that has characterized early negotiations. 500 corporate trade advisors and TPP veterans are being actively consulted, while labour and civil society organizations remain completely shut out of the process. And of course, there is the historically unpopular figure of Trump himself.

As Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division, has argued:

“Trump’s conflicts of interest and self-dealing opportunities with NAFTA renegotiation are not hypothetical; the sprawling Trump business empire has 14 Canadian and two Mexican investments. Some of Trump’s clothing line is made in Mexico. Trump won’t divest his business holdings or release his tax returns, so unless he reveals his full Mexican and Canadian business dealings, we won’t even know in whose interest these NAFTA talks are being conducted.”

Forging a New Progressive Consensus

These are some of the early strategic lines for opposing NAFTA and contesting a Trump-led renegotiation. But to build a more integral politics beyond mere opposition, it behooves us to go a step further. If you accept the argument that trade policy could become a fertile terrain for growing new coalitions, it is only by articulating positive alternatives that we will be able to make these coalitions take root.

We must begin with a political frame that creates space for Trump’s supporters without making any concessions around the xenophobic rhetoric that the President has thus far employed. This is not about Mexicans, or anybody else, stealing U.S. jobs. It is rather about big corporations and political elites excluding the rest of us – from all three countries – from our fair share of the pie.

To create this broad space for political convergence, we must demand an open consultation process. This requires that labour and climate justice groups, rank-and-file workers, immigrants, farmworkers, and small and mid-sized business owners have an opportunity to weigh in with their concerns. In addition to these formal consultations, civil society should help to amplify these voices of concern through people’s tribunals and other public hearings. And this input should form the basis of an alternative vision for cooperation between the three countries.

We should not meekly request that NAFTA’s unenforceable side agreements on labour and environmental standards be strengthened around the edges. Rather, we must demand that worker and climate justice in all three countries be built into the foundations of all subsequent commercial agreements.

In addition, we must call for the deeply unpopular ISDS mechanisms to be either eliminated or opened up so that community groups, individuals and governments can bring lawsuits against corporations for labour and environmental malfeasance. Consumer protection must replace corporate interests as the principal factor in the renegotiation of intellectual property laws, as well as the coming regulation of e-commerce. Investor incentives should be vanquished, and instead of simply requesting that we “buy (corporate) American,” we should demand that all three countries “buy union,” that they buy sustainably, and that they support local, social and solidarity economies when possible.

Prominent labourfair trade and environmental groups have outlined these and other demands in great detail. Crucially, these proposals are broadly popular with the majority of people in all three countries. The upcoming NAFTA fight thus presents an opportunity to deal a blow to Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric and neoliberal blueprint – and to begin the hard work of forging a new progressive consensus.

Posted in USA, Canada, MexicoComments Off on Trump Is Trying to Make NAFTA Even Worse

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