The Fake News about Humanitarian Aid and Venezuela

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In recent times the international media, including many who promised to “resist” the dangerous commander-in-chief Donald Trump, have been awash with stories about Nicolas Maduro blocking US “humanitarian aid” reaching Venezuela. Maduro is said to have even blocked a bridge in his desperation to starve his own people (see, for example, CNNCBCAssociated PressBBCNPRABCBloombergThe Guardian). A constant flow of stories such as this have served to establish a narrative of a dictator blocking a benevolent US government from helping its desperate people. Something must be done!

Virtually unreported in the humanitarian aid story are several inconvenient truths that contradict the official US government narrative the media is so closely parroting. Firstly, the “aid” is not recognized as such at all. For shipments to qualify as aid, they must be given indiscriminately. The US “aid” appears destined only for Juan Guaidó, the US-backed self-appointed president. The Red Cross and the United Nations have refused to help the US or to recognize Trump’s shipments as aid. Indeed, the United Nations has formally condemned the US’ actions in Venezuela. For their part, the Venezuelan government has been very eager to accept genuine aid, and is currently working with the UN to distribute supplies.

The UN Human Rights Council denounced Trump’s sanctions (illegal even under OAS law), noting that they specifically target “the poor and most vulnerable classes”, calling on all member states to break them and even began discussing reparations that the US should pay to Venezuela. The sanctions have had a devastating effect on the country’s economy, reducing its oil output by 50 percent, according to the opposition’s own economics czar. Furthermore, Trump has threatened anyone breaking the sanctions with up to 30 years imprisonment. One UN special rapporteur described the sanctions as akin to a medieval siege and declared them a “crime against humanity.” Thus, much of Venezuela’s crisis is actually manufactured in Washington, though you would be extremely hard pressed to understand that from mainstream coverage.

The appointment of the notorious Elliott Abrams should be a major red flag for anyone believing that the US government’s actions are benign. Abrams was responsible for organizing death squads across the region in the 1980s that carried out mass slaughters and genocide in Central America and was also prosecuted for selling arms to Iran to fund the Contra death squads, famously sending them weapons under the guise of humanitarian aid. History now repeats itself, as the Venezuelan government intercepted a shipment from Miami containing assault weapons, ammunition and military-grade radios on a Boeing 767 that had made nearly 40 round trips from the US to the region this year alone. Thus, the person famously caught for sending guns under the cover of aid to Nicaragua may already be sending guns under the cover of aid to Venezuela.

In short, there is more than ample reason for Venezuelans to be highly skeptical of any help the US claims to be offering, especially considering the terrible harm the US has wrought on its economy. The $20 million shipment of “aid” is a drop in the ocean in comparison to the effect of the sanctions, estimated to be tens of billions of dollars. The “aid” therefore constitutes about what Venezuela loses every eight hours due to the sanctions. The very obvious thing any American with a genuine desire to help the Venezuelan people would advocate is to end the illegal sanctions and begin paying reparations.

Yet all this has been almost completely ignored by the mainstream media, marching in lockstep with the Trump administration’s regime change agenda. Instead it presents a socialist dictatorship intent on spurning good faith US efforts to help its stricken people in an attempt to establish the grounds for escalation of US actions in the country. In 2017 the US blocked genuine Venezuelan aid to the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Yet this was not seen as the justification for an invasion of the US.

The final piece in this farcical puzzle is that the bridge Maduro supposedly blocked to stop aid reaching the country has, in fact, never been opened and the barriers blocking the way have been in place since at least 2016, as five minutes on Google would have shown. Yet virtually the entire media – so obsessed with fact-checking everything Donald Trump says – went along with his administration’s PR stunt. That it was immediately exposed as a hoax meant nothing to the media outlets in question, who have not deleted or modified their stories since publication. Printing fake news about official enemies will not result in a ban from Twitter or deletion from Facebook, it seems. However, merely expressing an alternative opinionhas done.

The Venezuelan case proves the lie that the media genuinely cares about honest reporting, countering fake news and resisting Trump. When it comes to serving an imperial agenda, all is jettisoned out the window in favor of regime change propaganda. 

Reprinted with permission from American Herald Tribune.

Canadian Policy on Venezuela and Haiti reveals Hypocrisy that Media Ignores

If the dominant media was serious about holding the Canadian government to account for its foreign policy decisions, there would be numerous stories pointing out the hypocrisy of Ottawa’s response to recent political developments in Haiti and Venezuela.

Instead silence, or worse, cheer-leading.

Venezuela is a deeply divided society. Maybe a quarter of Venezuelans want the president removed by (almost) any means. A similar proportion backs Nicolas Maduro. A larger share of the population oscillates between these two poles, though they generally prefer the president to opposition forces that support economic sanctions and a possible invasion.

There are many legitimate criticisms of Maduro, including questions about his electoral bonafides after a presidential recall referendum was scuttled and the Constituent Assembly usurped the power of the opposition dominated National Assembly (of course, many opposition actors’ democratic credentials are far more tainted). But, the presidential election in May demonstrates that Maduro and his PSUV party maintain considerable support. Despite the opposition boycott, the turnout was over 40% and Maduro received a higher proportion of the overall vote than leaders in the US, Canada and elsewhere. Additionally, Venezuela has an efficient and transparent electoral system — “best in the world” according to Jimmy Carter in 2012 — and it was the government that requested more international electoral observers.

Unlike Venezuela, Haiti is not divided. Basically, everyone wants the current “president” to go. While the slums have made that clear for months, important segments of the establishment (Reginald Boulos, Youri Latortue, Chamber of Commerce, etc) have turned on Jovenel Moïse. Reliable polling is limited, but it’s possible 9 in 10 Haitians want President Moïse to leave immediately. Many of them are strongly committed to that view, which is why the country’s urban areas have been largely paralyzed since February 7.

In a bid to squelch the protests, government forces (and their allies) have killed dozens in recent months. If you include the terrible massacre reported here and here in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of La Saline on November 11-13 that number rises far above 100.

Even prior to recent protests the president’s claim to legitimacy was paper-thin. Moïse assumed the job through voter suppression and electoral fraud. Voter turnout was 18%.  His predecessor and sponsor, Michel Martelly, only held elections after significant protests. For his part, Martelly took office with about 16 per cent of the vote, since the election was largely boycotted. After the first round, US and Canadian representatives pressured the electoral council to replace the second-place candidate, Jude Celestin, with Martelly in the runoff.

While you won’t have read about it in the mainstream media, recent protests in Haiti are connected to Venezuela. The protesters’ main demand is accountability for the billions of dollars pilfered from Petrocaribe, a discounted oil program set up by Venezuela in 2006. In the summer demonstrators forced out Moïse’s prime minister over an effort to eliminate fuel subsidies and calls for the president to go have swelled since then. Adding to popular disgust with Moïse, his government succumbed to US/Canadian pressure to vote against Venezuela at the OAS last month.

So what has been Ottawa’s response to the popular protests in Haiti? Has Global Affairs Canada released a statement supporting the will of the people? Has Canada built a regional coalition to remove the president? Has Canada’s PM called other international leaders to lobby them to join his effort to remove Haiti’s President? Have they made a major aid announcement designed to elicit regime change? Have they asked the International Criminal Court to investigate the Haitian government? Has Justin Trudeau called the Haitian President a “brutal dictator”?

In fact, it’s the exact opposite to the situation in Venezuela. The only reason the Haitian president is hanging on is because of support from the so-called “Core Group” of “Friends of Haiti”. Comprising the ambassadors of Canada, France, Brazil, Germany and the US, as well as representatives of Spain, EU and OAS, the “Core Group” released a statement last week “acknowledging the professionalism shown by the Haitian National Police.” The statement condescendingly “reiterated the fact that in a democracy change must come through the ballot box, and not through violence.” The “Core Group’s” previous responses to the protests expressed stronger support of the unpopular government. As I detailed10 weeks ago in a story headlined “Canada backs Haitian government, even as police force kills demonstrators”, Ottawa has provided countless forms of support to Moïse’s unpopular government. Since then Justin Trudeau had a “very productive meeting” with Haitian Prime Minister Jean Henry Ceant, International development minister Marie-Claude Bibeau‏ declared a desire to “come to the aid” of the Haitian government and Global Affairs Canada released a statement declaring that “acts of political violence have no place in the democratic process.” Trudeau’s government has provided various forms of support to the repressive police that maintains Moïse’s rule. Since Paul Martin’s Liberals played an important role in violently ousting Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s government in 2004 Canada has financed, trained and overseen the Haitian National Police. As took place the night Aristide was forced out of the country by US Marines, Canadian troops were recently photographed patrolling the Port-au-Prince airport.

Taking their cue from Ottawa, the dominant media have downplayed the scope of the recent protests and repression in Haiti. There have been few (any?) stories about protesters putting their bodies on the line for freedom and the greater good. Instead the media has focused on the difficulties faced by a small number of Canadian tourists, missionaries and aid workers. While the long-impoverished country of 12 million people is going through a very important political moment, Canada’s racist/nationalist media is engrossed in the plight of Canucks stuck at an all-inclusive resort!

The incredible hypocrisy in Ottawa’s response to recent political developments in Haiti and Venezuela is shameful. Why has no major media dared contrast the two?

Russian Mediation: The Critical Messages of the Hamas-Fatah Talks in Moscow

The Russian-sponsored Palestinian unity talks in Moscow on February 11 were neither a success nor failure. Uniting Palestinian factions was not the main objective of the Moscow conference in the first place.

Instead, the nature of the event, the host country and the clear messages sent to Washington and Tel Aviv were all meant to communicate something else entirely. And they did.

The head of the Fatah delegation to the conference, Azzam al-Ahmed, apologized to his hosts on behalf of Palestinians for failing to achieve political reconciliation.

But that apology could have been prepared in advance. It would not have been rational to expect that a conference organized in such haste, with few preliminary meetings or intense prior consultations, could have achieved the coveted unity.

If one is to also consider the various unity agreements, signed between Fatah and Hamas in the past – but never honored – and bearing in mind the additional punitive measures slapped by the Palestinian Authority against Gaza recently, a unity deal in Russia would be nothing less than a miracle.

So why did the Russians hold the conference in the first place and why did the Palestinians agree to attend, if its failure was a foretold conclusion?

The answer lies elsewhere, specifically in Warsaw, Poland.

Around the same time that Palestinians met in Moscow under the auspices of the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, the US was holding its own conference in Warsaw, Poland.

The Warsaw meet was the US’ attempt at drawing a new political paradigm to replace the defunct ‘peace process’, which, itself, was an American political invention.

While the ‘peace process’, thanks to US blind support of Israel, has failed terribly, Warsaw, too, is unlikely to deliver any meaningful or long-term political vision in the Middle East. The conference was the equivalent of a public American declaration that only Israel matters and that Washington’s commitment to Tel Aviv is paramount to all else.

Even the Authority of Mahmoud Abbas, known for its political subservience to Washington, was repulsed by the US’ new, brazen political approach. Time and again, the Donald Trump Administration has made it clear to its former Palestinian ally that Palestinian political aspirations are no longer a subject worthy of even mere consideration by the US. The relocating of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Washington in May last year was one of many such signs.

Abbas, who is now increasing pressure on his Hamas rivals in Gaza, and is plotting against his own Fatah rivals in the West Bank, agreed to allow Fatah participation in the Moscow conference because he, too, has a message for the US, the gist of which is “we too have a new strategy and political alternatives.’

Knowing in advance that Trump’s so-called “deal of the century’ is likely to be consistent with the new, more aggressive US foreign policy approach to the Middle East, Fatah is keen to preclude the announcement of the ‘deal’ by seeking different routes that do not  necessarily go through Washington.

For Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian factions, freeing Fatah from Washington’s grip is something they can also all agree on.

A Hamas official, Hussam Badran, was very clear regarding the consensus of all Palestinian participants in denouncing the “deal of the century (and) all conspiracies to eliminate the Palestinian cause.”

Musa Abu Marzouk, who led the Hamas delegation, declared from Moscow that all Palestinians factions will work together to “confront the deal of the century.”

Fatah’s position was of one and the same.

For Russia, a unified Palestinian call to defeat the latest US political stratagem in the region is consistent with Moscow’s ongoing efforts to undermine Washington’s once uncontested role in the Middle East.

True, the Palestinian factions failed to agree on a final statement written on behalf of all parties, but the disagreements were of little relevance to their political outlook concerned with Washington’s political ploys. The Islamic Jihad refuses to consider a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, and, along with Hamas, does not see the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the one and only representative of all Palestinians, as the draft of the final statement proposed.

These positions are hardly new, especially since Hamas and the Islamic Jihad are not yet part of the PLO. Palestinian factions would need more than a two-day conference in Moscow to iron out the numerous details of such complex issues.

Russia, too, had its own messages to send. Aside from a message to the US-led Warsaw conference that Russia is ready to fill the gap left open by the US departure from the ‘peace process’, another Russian-hosted political summit in Sochi carried layers of direct and subtle meanings.

The tripartite Sochi summit brought Russia, Turkey and Iran together to discuss the future of Syria following the US withdrawal.

For Russia to be heavily involved in two major political processes and conflicts concerning the Middle East at the same time is unprecedented since the end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Russian-Soviet led socialist bloc.

Those in Washington who see Moscow as an adversary must have been particularly unpleased by the new developments. The US-Russian rivalry is definitely at its highest point in many years.

Hamas and other Palestinian factions, save Fatah, would have welcomed Russia’s re-engagement, regardless of any specific political contexts. Hamas has been under massive pressure and near-complete isolation in Gaza for many years, and a political outlet of this nature is, for the Movement, a welcome development.

Hamas is now ready to upgrade its ties with Russia, especially after the Movement’s leader, Ismail Haniyeh, received an official invitation to include Russia on his next trip outside of besieged Gaza.

The major change in the political equation, however, is that Fatah has been recently dropped from the US political sponsorship list, and is desperately seeking new political and financial patrons.

Mahmoud Abbas is likely to wait for further indications of the changing American position before completely abandoning his quest of an American sponsored ‘peace’ with Israel.

All three conferences – Warsaw, Moscow and Sochi – should be enough of an indication that the new political paradigm, which has been in the making for years, is unlikely to be reversed, at least, not any time soon.

It is imperative to halt the imperialist military adventure against Venezuela

The Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Cuba condemns the escalation of ‎pressures and actions of the US government in preparation for a military adventure ‎under the guise of a “humanitarian intervention” in the Bolivarian Republic of ‎Venezuela and calls on the international community to mobilize in order to prevent its ‎consummation.‎ Between February 6 and 10 of 2019, several military transport aircraft have been flying ‎to the Rafael Miranda Airport in Puerto Rico; the San Isidro Air (...)

Whistling Past NATO’s Graveyard, With Special Guest Tom Luongo

The recent Warsaw and Munich summits have proven disastrous to Trump's foreign policy as pursued by his neocon top advisors. They were supposed to line up for war on Iran and further isolation of Russia and China, yet none of the war bugles sounded. Have the Europeans had enough of "US global dominance"? Geopolitical analyst Tom Luongo joins today's Liberty Report:

The CIA is using Turkey to pressure China, by Thierry Meyssan

While Turkey has fostered economic links with China in order to solve its economic crisis, it has also publicly denounced the repression of the Uyghurs, basing its accusations on false information. Beijing sent a very cold reply. Everything is happening, now that Daesh has disappeared from Iraq and Syria, as if Ankara was once again running secret operations on behalf of the CIA, this time in Xinjiang.

What’s in store for Afghanistan?

Where’s the voting booth?

It’s time to think about the likely future of poor Afghanistan. It isn’t terribly bright, but we have to, so the sooner, the better.

There are probably still a few neocons dreaming of a happy puppet state emerging from the shambles. The “grand strategy” was laid out by PNAC (Project for a New American Century) in 2000, calling for the US to maintain its unrivaled superpower status. This required a “new Pearl Harbor” to justify launching preemptive wars against suspect nations (after Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Somalia, Libya, Sudan, Iran and Yemen).

This Pearl Harbor II just happened to come along a year later, prompting Bush II to coin “the Axis of evil” to include Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and “Beyond the Axis of Evil” to include Cuba, Libya, and Syria. The plan was to bring all these countries under US hegemony by installing western-friendly regimes under a patina of electoral democracy.

US military ‘successes’

A skeptic might point out that none of these countries is any friendlier to the US twenty years later. There have been drastic changes, but so far only for the worse. That skeptic would point out that, in fact, the US has had a very spotty military record since WWII, which it ‘won’ in Europe only after the Soviet army had subdued the Nazis, and against Japan only by using the first (and hopefully last) weapon of mass destruction on a massive scale, leveling two cities and killing 200,000 people in a few seconds.

There have been no ‘wars’ since WWII. The Korea ‘war’ was really just an invasion of a war-devastated nation to assert American control. It was actually a continuation of WWII, since no peace was signed with the Korean liberators, and is still ongoing, as Kim Jong Un stubbornly insists on pointing out. At least it was called a war and congress dutifully supported it.

Vietnam was a similar invasion to prop up the French colonial regime, but was never declared as a ‘war’. Despite attempts to rehabilitate it as an honourable war, no rational person sees it other than a huge stain on the US. 60,000 Americans died. The fallout continues, as the survivors among the 600,000 draftees are still getting treatment for battle injuries, especially  PTSD.

Then there was the turkey shoot in 1991, called the first Iraq war. Again, it was not a war, but a loudly trumpeted and meticulously planned invasion, killing 100,000 turkeys (sorry, Iraqis), but only 383 Americans.

“We have finally kicked the Vietnam syndrome,” Bush I famously bragged. A new, leaner, meaner US military was tooted. It looked like the post-Soviet period, the 1990s, would be a useful “unipolar moment” to proceed with regime change, a blank check after 9/11 to cleanse the world of those evil axis types.

Reality is never kind. The unipolar moment disappeared without a trace (sorry, forgot Kosovo). The world in 2000 was in far worse shape than it was before the Soviet Union collapsed, before that unipolar moment came along.

PNAC and the 9/11 blank check was a last-ditch attempt to bring the world under US control. Yet another war was declared, ‘the war against terrorism’, another blank check, a war against a feeling (of dread). First stop, Afghanistan.

And, in fact, almost all the nasties were invaded. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria all experienced US soldiers, bombs and drones, and are all more or less paralyzed and devastated. Iran is too big a mouthful and has only had a very cold shoulder, plus subversion and support for Iranian terrorists. So far, it got off lucky.

Do a Nixon?

Afghanistan was supposed to be simple. Poof! The Taliban just disappeared and the US set up shop. But then the Taliban resurged. The strategy to hold on was Vietnam-style counterinsurgency, but that didn’t work then or now.

What to do? There is only one way out now for Trump. Do a Nixon: negotiate, declare victory, and leave. The Taliban haven’t budged on their terms. They demanded direct talks with the US to arrange their departure. Only then would they talk to the current ‘government’. This was their position 18 years ago.

That is essentially what Nixon did in 1975 for Vietnam, though he carried out carpet bombing in Laos and Cambodia at the very end, hoping to cow the Vietnamese. It’s unlikely Trump will do that, but who knows?

What post-occupation scenario awaits Afghanis?

There will be a settling of accounts with the US-installed regime. The Taliban is still the official government (though only Saudi Arabia and Pakistan officially recognized them). The current Northern Alliance led government will not just disappear, but it will not have an easy time finding a place.

In an attempt to give its invasion credibility and erase the memory of Taliban rule, the US parachuted in the last King of Afghanistan, Mohammed Zahir Shah, in 2002 to preside over a Loya Jirga, but then panicked, as many of the delegates were prepared to vote for Zahir Shah and block the US-backed Hamid Karzai. The US, ably represented by Zalmay Khalilzad, were able to twist enough arms to prevail.

The leaders since 2001 can only be described as US puppets. Hamid Karzai was a fundraiser in the 1980s for the mujahideen, Ashraf Ghani, an anthropology prof in the US, and in the 1990s, a WB official. At least Karzai recognized the Taliban initially, and was even requested by the Taliban to serve as their ambassador but refused, telling friends that he felt Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was wrongly using them.

When Karzai threw in his lot with the Northern Alliance, the Taliban assassinated his father. Ghani was working for the World Bank at the time. Not surprisingly, the Taliban did not negotiate with Karzai and are not likely to have a heart-to-heart reconciliation with Ghani.

The Taliban have not unveiled any election-ready platform. But what the Taliban has in mind is probably something along the lines of Iran: a modest electoral system under sharia law. They are salafi, mostly trained in Deobandi madrassahs in Pakistan, not as extreme as the Saudis, and with no tribal/ monarchical pretensions. They never thought much of the Saudis, seen as compromised by their alliance with the US.

Despite (or because of) their intimate geopolitical ties with Pakistan, they are unlikely to take much advice from there. Pashtunistan is still a sore point, and Pakistan has little to offer, itself in dire economic straits. India, Iran and Russia will be the most important regional actors, the UN the umbrella, though the Taliban will look to the Saudis for financing reconstruction. The Taliban have few foreign friends anymore, so they will have to do some serious rethinking.

There is no room for the US (or al-Qaeda) in this, except as part of an international program of reconstruction. If Syria is anything to go by (or Vietnam), that means zilch. The US motto in its ‘wars’: ‘Let them clean up the mess we made.’

How to get there

The Taliban attended a conference in Moscow of regional countries China, Iran, India, and Pakistan in February, the first in which they have participated. The United States attended in an observer capacity, while the Kabul sent members of a government-appointed Peace Council.

The Taliban did not indulge in any negotiations with its foes, but merely called for the United States to undertake a number of “confidence-building measures”, starting with a deadline for a full withdrawal from the country.

It is fitting that the Taliban came to Moscow, capital of the Soviet invaders who the mujahideen expelled, and that Zamir Kabulov, the last Soviet ambassador to Afghanistan, was the messenger who would tell the current invaders, the US, (no doubt with a feeling of schadenfreude) to get the hell out.

Kabulov passed on the bad news: “All political prisoners [must] be freed and anti-Taliban sanctions, which were imposed back in 1997, be lifted. … With participation in the meeting, the international status of the Islamic Emirate will be strengthened even further.”

This, of course, is what the Taliban insisted on 18 years ago. So 18 years, $1.07 trillion, 2,372 US soldiers dead — for nothing?  The US State Department is furious. Not only the dastardly Russians, Chinese and Iranians, but wild card Trump himself — all are ganging up against the US hegemon, undermining …

What are they undermining? A failed state on US life-support?

‘State’ just doesn’t get it. The Russians, Iranians, Indians, Pakistanis et al are the regional powers who can make or break Afghanistan. The US has had almost two decades and all the counterinsurgency in the world isn’t going to help. Time to leave. Period.

Mr. Niet

Former US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker calls this “a surrender negotiation”; i.e., the US surrender to the Taliban. Better to keep the troops there as long as necessary to get the conditions the US wants; i.e., the Taliban must recognize the US-installed government as the official government. The best the Taliban could expect is to be allowed to play at western-style elections, which can always be arranged or cancelled.

This is what’s left of the PNAC plan for all the axis-of-evil types. It sort of worked in Iraq (until the Iranians came along). It didn’t work at all in Syria (what is Lebanon doing in the list?) or Somalia. It required destroying Libya and Yemen. Sudan and Iran are on hold.

So can Trump just pull a Nixon on all of them? Declare victory and leave? Stop trying to be the world hegemon? Israel has Jerusalem. Isn’t that parting gift enough?

Grenada: 40th Anniversary of the Revolution

Forty years ago this March, the Caribbean island nation of Grenada, population 110,000, made a revolution.

Prime Minister Eric Gairy had for years headed a neocolonial dictatorship on behalf of Grenada’s minute capitalist class and British and US interests. A private and brutal militia known as the Mongoose Gang was tasked to silence Gairy’s political opponents. Though the island was rich in agricultural resources, like nutmeg, mace, cacao and bananas, too much of its population lived in poverty.

On March 13, 1979, after years of unarmed struggle, the New Jewel Movement, under the charismatic leadership of Maurice Bishop, successfully executed a nearly bloodless coup. The new government built a mixed economy on socialist principles. With the organizational, administrative and economic planning genius of Bernard Coard, Bishop’s childhood friend, Grenada made rapid social progress. The revolution became immensely popular, with good reason.

With the new government, aided and advised by Cuba, literacy rose from 85% to 98%; the ratio of doctors to patients doubled; new labor laws brought 80% of the population into unions; unemployment plummeted from half the population to 14%; new laws criminalized the sexual victimization of women, ensured equal pay for equal work and mandated maternity leave. Free health care and secondary education were introduced, and scholarships provided free college education abroad.

In the first four years of the revolution, Grenada’s economy grew by 9%, in the midst of a worldwide recession. Agricultural diversification brought significant reductions in food imports and increased exports.

But from its birth, the revolution was menaced by the US. Though tiny, Grenada greatly troubled the US. State Department memos revealed why: Grenada’s population spoke English and was predominantly of African descent, so the revolution and its success would have special appeal to African Americans.

President Carter’s administration welcomed exiled ex-Prime Minister Gairy to the US, where he made broadcasts against the Grenadian government. The Carter administration also worked to cut US tourism to the island and denied recognition to Grenada’s ambassador.  President Reagan’s administration followed suit, blocking economic development assistance from international finance institutions.

The US invasion and takeover of the island on October 25, 1983 was plotted years in advance, rehearsed in exercises called “Amber and the Ambergines,” a transparent reference to Grenada and the nearby Grenadine islands. 100s were killed battling the invasion, including two Soviet military officers and 24 Cuban engineers.

Bishop and other leaders were killed in a tragic conflict within the government days before the invasion.  After the invasion, soldiers and surviving political leaders, including Coard, were tried for the killings on scant and dubious evidence.  The trial was paid for and managed by the US and denounced by Amnesty International. The defendants, known as the Grenada 17, spent decades in prison.  The circumstances of the killings remain mysterious, in part because of the US theft and concealment of much documentary evidence.

But for a time a tiny nation in the belly of the beast made a beautiful revolution.

The Grenadian Revolution, ¡Presente!

Trump Administration Threatens Families Of Venezuelan Military

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“Today, President Trump presented Venezuela’s military officers with a choice — work for a democratic future for all Venezuelans or see the financial circle close for their families and loved ones,” tweeted US National Security Advisor John Bolton today following a Miami speech by the president.

If you know anything about John Bolton, you just know he typed “noose” first instead of “circle”.

This would be the same John Bolton, for the record, who once threatened to murder an international official’s children for obstructing his attempts to manufacture support for the Iraq invasion which killed a million human beings and plunged the region into terrorism and chaos. A man named José Bustani was the director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in early 2002, during which time The Intercept reports he came under fire for having too much success in diplomacy with the Iraqi government, which undermined the case for an invasion. So Bolton attempted to scare him off.

From The Intercept:
'Cheney wants you out,' Bustani recalled Bolton saying, referring to the then-vice president of the United States. 'We can’t accept your management style.'

Bolton continued, according to Bustani’s recollections: 'You have 24 hours to leave the organization, and if you don’t comply with this decision by Washington, we have ways to retaliate against you.'

There was a pause.

'We know where your kids live. You have two sons in New York.'
And now we see this same psychopath threatening to starve and impoverish the families of a sovereign nation’s military if they don’t facilitate a coup by the most violent government on earth in the most oil-rich nation on the planet. All in the name of spreading Freedom and Democracy™, of course.

Bolton, who was in attendance at the president’s speech, gave a more direct and honest summary of what was happening than the one Trump’s speechwriters fed him:
'We seek a peaceful transition of power, but all options are open,' Trump said of the US-led Venezuela coup agenda. 'We want to restore Venezuelan democracy, and we believe that the Venezuelan military and its leadership have a vital role to play in this process. If you choose this path, you have an opportunity to help forge a safe and prosperous future for all of the people of Venezuela. Or you can choose the second path: continuing to support Maduro. If you choose this path, you will find no safe harbor, no easy exit, and no way out. You will lose everything.'
This would be the same President Trump, for the record, who just hours earlier tweeted about “an illegal coup attempt on the President of the United States,” regarding statements made by former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe that there had been discussions among top officials at the Justice Department and the FBI about possibly using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. This same man who is outraged about an attempt to oust him early on in his administration using laws and bureaucracy has no qualms about ousting the government of a sovereign nation using starvation sanctions, CIA ops, an aggressive campaign to delegitimize Maduro, and now outright threats to the nation’s military personnel.

Trump has also been tweeting furiously about the “lies” McCabe told about him, who wrote the following in his new book about a 2017 Oval Office meeting:
Then the president talked about Venezuela. That’s the country we should be going to war with, he said. They have all that oil and they’re right on our back door. He continued on, rambling and spitballing about whatever came to mind.
I am sure that McCabe is as much of a deceitful sleaze as every other FBI boss, but that part at least sounds truthful.

For the rest of Trump’s speech he very tediously introduced all his loyal sycophants backing his Venezuela agendas, he bloviated repeatedly about the horrible horrifying terror of socialism, he kept referring to Venezuela’s elected leader as “Dictator Maduro” and some rando that fewer than one in five Venezuelans had even heard of until last month as “President Guaidó”, he tossed out nonsensical red herrings about Venezuela being controlled by Cuba, and he repeated his administration’s braindead talking point about the Venezuelan government refusing to let in US “humanitarian aid”, which the Red Cross, the UN, and even war-happy NPR recognize as a transparent ploy to foment regime change.

These are the people you’re meant to believe are the “good guys” coming to the rescue, America. The guys who threaten to kill the families of officials if they aren’t given their way. The guys who threaten to starve the families of military officials who don’t turn on their government and kill anyone who tries to stop them. The guys who pick mass murder facilitator Elliott Abrams to spearhead Venezuela’s transition to Freedom and Democracy™. The guys who helped murder a million Iraqis and plunge us into a new era of military expansionism and Orwellian surveillance. Those guys.

Sometimes it’s hard to say what’s more frustrating: the fact that these deadly imperialist regime change power grabs keep happening, or the fact that people keep buying the same tired old stories that are used to sell them.

Reprinted with permission from Medium.com.

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NATO’s Atlantic Council Hijacks Munich Conference With Revisionist ‘Principles’ Declaration

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Taking over the annual Munich security conference, the Atlantic Council has come out with a declaration of principles that seeks to legitimize the rogue behavior of the West after the Cold War as a "rules-based" world order.

For almost three decades now, Washington and its numerous clients and allies have insisted they were only upholding a “rules-based international order” against those who seek to challenge it, be it “rogue states” such as North Korea and Iran or great powers such as Russia and China. In the process, this self-styled “international community” trampled actual rules and laws to sanction, bomb, invade, occupy, and regime-change countries that stood in its way – while claiming to be acting in the interests of the peace, democracy and commerce.

Back in 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin stood up at the Munich Security Conference in Germany and denounced this behavior, arguing that the US has “overstepped its national borders in every way,” imposing “economic, political, cultural and educational policies” on other nations while holding itself exempt from any rules and limitations.

This past weekend, the Atlantic Council – a think-tank backed by the US, NATO and other allied governments – used the platform of the Munich conference to announce a “declaration of principles” that explicitly seeks to revise the international order along the very lines Putin criticized, essentially establishing its signatories as the judge, jury and executioner of international law as they write it.

In the words of John Bellinger, one of the declaration’s authors, it was “loosely modeled on the Atlantic Charter,” the WWII-era document establishing the US-UK alliance. Yet the new document has far more in common with the goals of Germany, Italy and Japan in that it is explicitly revisionist, saying:
We will seek to revise and strengthen the international system to reflect these principles and advance them on the basis of international law.

Those undersigned are endorsing a 'standing mechanism' that would track 'compliance' with the principles outlined in the declaration and 'urge our governments to act when these principles are violated.'
Wasn’t that supposed to be the job of the United Nations? And how is it respectful of others’ freedom and sovereignty to impose values on them at gunpoint? The declaration creates more questions than it purports to answer.

The seven-point platform pays lip service to “freedom and justice, democracy and self-determination, peace and security, free markets and equal opportunity.” It also demands of signatories to “support an open global economy.”

Point Four somehow managed to advocate for private property and capitalism as well as welfare state and open borders, asserting the right to “own property, purchase goods and services, and invest in free and open markets” as well as “free and fair flow of trade and investment” – but also demanding of governments to “facilitate access to food, water, shelter, medical services, and education for their own citizens and others in need” (emphasis added).

Point Five also talks about an “open and healthy planet” in vague terms that combine overarching global environmentalism and migration across only nominally controlled borders.

The true gem is Point Six, the “right of assistance” that would require governments to “allow their citizens to receive assistance from others to advance these principles, including, in non-free societies, support to non-violent groups, political parties, and individuals aiming to foster democracy or human rights” but also the signatories to intervene “where governments or other actors are unwilling or unable to cease or remedy flagrant or systematic violations.”

Who would define “non-free societies”? Why of course, the signatories of the Atlantic Council declaration!

The commitment to peace and security in Point Three asks the signatories to “refrain from the use of force, except as just and necessary to advance these principles.” (emphasis added) The devil is in the details, as they say – in this case, in that qualifying clause.

There is a massive amount of hypocrisy in the US and its allies advocating for free markets and open flow of goods and services, while being the world’s leading source of sanctions, blacklists and blockades against those who resist their demands.

Likewise, the notion of initiating force in order to promote the values of this declaration is a total mockery of values advocated by the champions of modern democracy – though it might be easily recognizable to ancient Athenians, who demanded the surrender of Melos with the argument that “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”

Perhaps the most pernicious notion in the declaration, however, is that it expands the duty to uphold its values from governments to "private entities and individuals where they are able.” It is not hard to see how this is a direct attempt to lend legitimacy to the legion of quasi-NGOs backed by Western governments and their “philanthropist” hitmen like George Soros.

There is only one tiny little problem with this: it upends the entire international order based on the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, which gave governments the monopoly on force within their territory. The preceding Thirty Years War had seen much of Europe devastated by a conflict that started as a dynastic dispute only to spiral into a religious war characterized by widespread massacres and atrocities committed by official militaries as much as militias and mercenaries.

Looking at the committee that drafted this declaration, it becomes clear why it seeks to legitimize the lawlessness of the post-Cold War behavior by the bombers of Yugoslavia, invaders of Iraq, and regime-changers of Libya. Among the co-chairs of the drafting commission are former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and former George W. Bush national security advisor Stephen Hadley, uniting the neoliberals and neoconservatives around the idea of a US-led global hegemony.

The list of former government officials who signed the declaration also reads as a who’s who of US empire boosters, from former NATO GenSec Anders Fogh Rasmussen (Denmark) to former foreign ministers Tzipi Livni (Israel), Radek Sikorski (Poland), and David Miliband and Malcolm Rifkind – Labour and Tory, respectively – of the UK.

Other notable names include Munich Conference chair Wolfgang Ischinger, former deputy FM of Germany, as well as former Australian FM Alexander Downer, best known for his 2016 role in claiming Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos was somehow connected to the phantom “Trump-Russia collusion.”

The world could do worse than to take their declarations with a large chunk of salt.

Reprinted with permission from RT.