All posts by Ajamu Baraka

Will a Biden Foreign Policy Make a Difference for the World?

The “left” rationalization for collaborating with the neoliberal wing of the democrat party is premised on the argument that a win for the national Democrat candidate translates into better possible policy outcomes for the “people” and nation. More importantly though, they assert, Trump’s defeat will alter the rightist trajectory of U.S. politics away from what they refer to as Trump’s neofascist inclinations.

I will not attempt to address this argument here. I have dealt with this cartoonish and idealistic conception of fascism in other places. I have also raised questions with my friends in the left regarding the basis of their confidence that Biden and the neoliberal class forces he represents are in possession of any ideas or policies that will address the irreconcilable contradictions of the late stage of monopoly capitalism known as neoliberalism.

Of course, on this last question, the response from my materialist friends is sentimental gibberish about holding someone’s feet to the fire.

Here I just want to briefly focus on the very simple question that many in the global South are raising in connection with the upcoming U.S. elections. And that is, if Biden wins, what might the people of the global South expect from a Biden Administration? To examine that question, I believe that the Afghanistan situation and the process for arriving at the current peace talks between the Taliban, the Afghanistan government and the United States offers some useful indicators for how that question might be answered.

The Trump Anti-War Feign

Defying the popular conception of Republicans as the party of war, and to the surprise of an incredulous Democratic Party and liberal media, candidate Trump told his supporters and the world that pulling the U.S. out of “endless wars” would be a major priority for his administration if elected.

This claim was mocked by the Clinton campaign partly because it upset the carefully constructed narrative prepared by her campaign to paint Trump as a dangerous pro-war threat because of his inexperience and unstable character. Not that the Clinton campaign was projecting itself as Anti-war, especially with the powerful pro-war economic interests that were coalescing around her campaign. Objectively, there was a ruling class consensus that increased spending on the military and militarism was going to be a central component of U.S. global policies going forward. Trump’s rhetoric was seen as a threat, even if he was not serious about following through once he became president.

After Trump’s surprising win and before he could focus on addressing Afghanistan and the reinvasion of Iraq that occurred during Obama’s second term, a manufactured crisis with Syria was presented to him that politically required a military response.

The box in which his generals and the intelligence agencies placed him on Syria would characterize the contentious and contradictory relationship between Trump and those elements of the state throughout his presidency, even after he signaled his support for militarism with the submission of record increases in military spending.

From North Korea and NATO to withdrawing U.S. personnel from Syria, the Democrats and some members of his own party conspired to oppose any changes that might threaten the deeply entrenched agenda of the military-industrial-intelligence complex.

However, the efforts to undermine any progress toward extricating the U.S. from the 19-year quagmire of Afghanistan on the part of Democrats represented a new low in cynicism and moral corruption.

The Normalized Quagmire of Afghanistan

Shortly after the Trump Administration began, it broke with longstanding policy of not talking directly to Taliban. Administration representatives engaged in a series of covert, but direct talks, without the knowledge and participation of their supposed ally, the Afghan government.

By early 2019, the Administration’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, initiated a series of overt direct talks with the Taliban in Doha. The government of India and many elements within the foreign policy establishment were either opposed to direct talks with Taliban or were reticent.

In those talks, Khalilzad had to address the Taliban’s demand for complete withdrawal of U.S. troops and the U.S. demand that the Taliban guarantee that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for terrorism.

Other important issues that had to be included in a framework for discussion and eventual agreement included the issue of a ceasefire, prisoner exchanges and the sensitive issue of inter-Afghan talks, because the Taliban did not recognize the legitimacy of what they saw as a U.S. puppet government.

The talks with the Taliban, and an important meeting in Moscow in April 2019 between the U.S., Russia and China, resulted in an “agreement in principle” announced at the end of August 2019.

It was agreed in principle that the issues of a U.S. withdrawal, a ceasefire, and the knotty issue of inter-Afghan negotiations would be discussed in a follow-up meeting to be scheduled for February 2020. A significant diplomatic victory that was largely ignored in the U.S. press.

The February 2020 meeting in Doha resulted in a signed agreement to engage in a peace process.

The agreement reflected the various steps that the Taliban, U.S., and Afghan sides were expected to address during the negotiations: The U.S. demand that the Taliban are to prevent their territory from hosting groups or individuals who might threaten the U.S. and their allies; the Taliban demand for a timeline for the withdrawal of all U.S. and coalition forces; and the commencement of talks between the Afghan government and Taliban forces at the conclusion of U.S. military withdrawal and the establishment of a comprehensive cease-fire.

On March 10, the UN Security Council gave the U.S.-sponsored resolution supporting the deal their unanimous blessing. But rhat was not the end of the story. Unfortunately, for Democrats, peace and a diplomatic victory for Trump had to be contested.

Powerful forces in the state and foreign policy community opposed the February agreement. Publicly, they couched their concerns in security terms related to terrorism. They argued that it is only through increase military pressure that the Taliban would denounce al-Qaeda and agree to verifiably sever links with the group.

But the terrorism concern was only a subterfuge. President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, along with his close Indian allies, did not want to see any U.S. military withdrawal. Other elements in the U.S. state were focused on the estimated one trillion dollars in precious metals that are currently unexploited in that country. And there was the Chinese issue and their Belt and Road initiative (BRI). Maintaining U.S. forces in the region would not only potentially make those precious resources available to U.S. companies but would also serve as a block to the BRI path through Central Asia.

Those elements and President Ghani were in a panic. National reconciliation and peace represented a real threat to their interests. The solution? Another domestic psyop.

Democrats sacrifice Peace for Politics

By the end of June, a disinformation campaign was launched by New York Times and was quickly followed up by the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal that focused on lurid but unsubstantiated reports of the Russians paying bounties to Taliban soldiers to kill U.S. personnel.

In typical fashion, “anonymous sources” were quoted. The reasons why the Russians would engage in this activity and why the Taliban who had essentially defeated the U.S. needed further incentives to fight the U.S. were marginal to the story. It was the headlines that were needed in order to evoke the emotional and psychological response that good propaganda has as its objective. Reason is a casualty when the objective is short-term confusion.

In this case, the objective was to evoke an outcry from the public, to be followed with legislation undermining Trump’s ability to withdraw U.S. personnel from the country and, if possible, to scuttle the process until after the election, if at all.

On cue, Democrat Congressman Jason Crow teamed up with Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney (daughter of the former vice president) to prohibit the president from withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

And when Trump refused to take the bait and undermine his own peace process, Joe Biden accused Trump of “dereliction of duty” and “continuing his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin.”

Afghan Deception is not only Harbinger of Things to Come Under Biden

On September 12th, despite the machinations of the Democrats and other state forces, the Taliban and Afghan government representatives met in Doha to enter the difficult discussions on how to finally bring a resolution to the U.S. war and occupation of their country.

Neoliberals accuse Trump of cynically calculating every decision based on his own needs while neoliberals only operate from a pristine moral position. According to CNN, the peace agreement “was signed in February — at all costs with the goal of helping Trump fulfill his long-stated campaign promise of removing American troops from Afghanistan.”

If Trump was only concerned about his reelection, and there is no doubt that was a major consideration for most of his decisions, how do we characterize the moves made by the corporate press in collusion with the Democrats and Biden campaign — an objective concern for the security of the U.S.?

Two months after the Russia bounty story, the Clinton News Network (CNN) floated another bounty story. This time it was the Iranians! And almost four months after the original bounty story, NBC news reported that no one has been able to verify the story.

But one story that can be reasonably argued is that for the people of the world subjected to U.S. state criminality, the reoccupation of the Executive Branch by the democrats will not bring any change in U.S. behavior. Both parties support the imperatives of U.S. imperialism reflected in Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy that centers an adversarial relationship with Russia and China and committed to maintaining U.S. global hegemony. Both parties supported the obscene increases in military spending, with Biden promising that he will spend even more!

The rightist character of the Democratic Party is such that at their national convention the alignment of right-wing neocons and neoliberals is not even being hidden.

So, while the fear is supposed to be around a further growth of “fascist” forces represented by Trump domestically, for the people of the world the real fascism of anti-democratic, brutal regimes supported by the U.S., murderous sanctions, starvation in Yemen, and right-wing coups in support of fascist forces in Honduras, Brazil and Venezuela will continue unabated.

This is precisely why from the perspective of oppressed nations and peoples’ in the global South, it should not be surprising that some might see progressive and radical support for either colonial/capitalist party as an immoral and counterrevolutionary position.

The post Will a Biden Foreign Policy Make a Difference for the World? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Will a Biden Foreign Policy Make a Difference for the World?

The “left” rationalization for collaborating with the neoliberal wing of the democrat party is premised on the argument that a win for the national Democrat candidate translates into better possible policy outcomes for the “people” and nation. More importantly though, they assert, Trump’s defeat will alter the rightist trajectory of U.S. politics away from what they refer to as Trump’s neofascist inclinations.

I will not attempt to address this argument here. I have dealt with this cartoonish and idealistic conception of fascism in other places. I have also raised questions with my friends in the left regarding the basis of their confidence that Biden and the neoliberal class forces he represents are in possession of any ideas or policies that will address the irreconcilable contradictions of the late stage of monopoly capitalism known as neoliberalism.

Of course, on this last question, the response from my materialist friends is sentimental gibberish about holding someone’s feet to the fire.

Here I just want to briefly focus on the very simple question that many in the global South are raising in connection with the upcoming U.S. elections. And that is, if Biden wins, what might the people of the global South expect from a Biden Administration? To examine that question, I believe that the Afghanistan situation and the process for arriving at the current peace talks between the Taliban, the Afghanistan government and the United States offers some useful indicators for how that question might be answered.

The Trump Anti-War Feign

Defying the popular conception of Republicans as the party of war, and to the surprise of an incredulous Democratic Party and liberal media, candidate Trump told his supporters and the world that pulling the U.S. out of “endless wars” would be a major priority for his administration if elected.

This claim was mocked by the Clinton campaign partly because it upset the carefully constructed narrative prepared by her campaign to paint Trump as a dangerous pro-war threat because of his inexperience and unstable character. Not that the Clinton campaign was projecting itself as Anti-war, especially with the powerful pro-war economic interests that were coalescing around her campaign. Objectively, there was a ruling class consensus that increased spending on the military and militarism was going to be a central component of U.S. global policies going forward. Trump’s rhetoric was seen as a threat, even if he was not serious about following through once he became president.

After Trump’s surprising win and before he could focus on addressing Afghanistan and the reinvasion of Iraq that occurred during Obama’s second term, a manufactured crisis with Syria was presented to him that politically required a military response.

The box in which his generals and the intelligence agencies placed him on Syria would characterize the contentious and contradictory relationship between Trump and those elements of the state throughout his presidency, even after he signaled his support for militarism with the submission of record increases in military spending.

From North Korea and NATO to withdrawing U.S. personnel from Syria, the Democrats and some members of his own party conspired to oppose any changes that might threaten the deeply entrenched agenda of the military-industrial-intelligence complex.

However, the efforts to undermine any progress toward extricating the U.S. from the 19-year quagmire of Afghanistan on the part of Democrats represented a new low in cynicism and moral corruption.

The Normalized Quagmire of Afghanistan

Shortly after the Trump Administration began, it broke with longstanding policy of not talking directly to Taliban. Administration representatives engaged in a series of covert, but direct talks, without the knowledge and participation of their supposed ally, the Afghan government.

By early 2019, the Administration’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, initiated a series of overt direct talks with the Taliban in Doha. The government of India and many elements within the foreign policy establishment were either opposed to direct talks with Taliban or were reticent.

In those talks, Khalilzad had to address the Taliban’s demand for complete withdrawal of U.S. troops and the U.S. demand that the Taliban guarantee that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for terrorism.

Other important issues that had to be included in a framework for discussion and eventual agreement included the issue of a ceasefire, prisoner exchanges and the sensitive issue of inter-Afghan talks, because the Taliban did not recognize the legitimacy of what they saw as a U.S. puppet government.

The talks with the Taliban, and an important meeting in Moscow in April 2019 between the U.S., Russia and China, resulted in an “agreement in principle” announced at the end of August 2019.

It was agreed in principle that the issues of a U.S. withdrawal, a ceasefire, and the knotty issue of inter-Afghan negotiations would be discussed in a follow-up meeting to be scheduled for February 2020. A significant diplomatic victory that was largely ignored in the U.S. press.

The February 2020 meeting in Doha resulted in a signed agreement to engage in a peace process.

The agreement reflected the various steps that the Taliban, U.S., and Afghan sides were expected to address during the negotiations: The U.S. demand that the Taliban are to prevent their territory from hosting groups or individuals who might threaten the U.S. and their allies; the Taliban demand for a timeline for the withdrawal of all U.S. and coalition forces; and the commencement of talks between the Afghan government and Taliban forces at the conclusion of U.S. military withdrawal and the establishment of a comprehensive cease-fire.

On March 10, the UN Security Council gave the U.S.-sponsored resolution supporting the deal their unanimous blessing. But rhat was not the end of the story. Unfortunately, for Democrats, peace and a diplomatic victory for Trump had to be contested.

Powerful forces in the state and foreign policy community opposed the February agreement. Publicly, they couched their concerns in security terms related to terrorism. They argued that it is only through increase military pressure that the Taliban would denounce al-Qaeda and agree to verifiably sever links with the group.

But the terrorism concern was only a subterfuge. President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, along with his close Indian allies, did not want to see any U.S. military withdrawal. Other elements in the U.S. state were focused on the estimated one trillion dollars in precious metals that are currently unexploited in that country. And there was the Chinese issue and their Belt and Road initiative (BRI). Maintaining U.S. forces in the region would not only potentially make those precious resources available to U.S. companies but would also serve as a block to the BRI path through Central Asia.

Those elements and President Ghani were in a panic. National reconciliation and peace represented a real threat to their interests. The solution? Another domestic psyop.

Democrats sacrifice Peace for Politics

By the end of June, a disinformation campaign was launched by New York Times and was quickly followed up by the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal that focused on lurid but unsubstantiated reports of the Russians paying bounties to Taliban soldiers to kill U.S. personnel.

In typical fashion, “anonymous sources” were quoted. The reasons why the Russians would engage in this activity and why the Taliban who had essentially defeated the U.S. needed further incentives to fight the U.S. were marginal to the story. It was the headlines that were needed in order to evoke the emotional and psychological response that good propaganda has as its objective. Reason is a casualty when the objective is short-term confusion.

In this case, the objective was to evoke an outcry from the public, to be followed with legislation undermining Trump’s ability to withdraw U.S. personnel from the country and, if possible, to scuttle the process until after the election, if at all.

On cue, Democrat Congressman Jason Crow teamed up with Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney (daughter of the former vice president) to prohibit the president from withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

And when Trump refused to take the bait and undermine his own peace process, Joe Biden accused Trump of “dereliction of duty” and “continuing his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin.”

Afghan Deception is not only Harbinger of Things to Come Under Biden

On September 12th, despite the machinations of the Democrats and other state forces, the Taliban and Afghan government representatives met in Doha to enter the difficult discussions on how to finally bring a resolution to the U.S. war and occupation of their country.

Neoliberals accuse Trump of cynically calculating every decision based on his own needs while neoliberals only operate from a pristine moral position. According to CNN, the peace agreement “was signed in February — at all costs with the goal of helping Trump fulfill his long-stated campaign promise of removing American troops from Afghanistan.”

If Trump was only concerned about his reelection, and there is no doubt that was a major consideration for most of his decisions, how do we characterize the moves made by the corporate press in collusion with the Democrats and Biden campaign — an objective concern for the security of the U.S.?

Two months after the Russia bounty story, the Clinton News Network (CNN) floated another bounty story. This time it was the Iranians! And almost four months after the original bounty story, NBC news reported that no one has been able to verify the story.

But one story that can be reasonably argued is that for the people of the world subjected to U.S. state criminality, the reoccupation of the Executive Branch by the democrats will not bring any change in U.S. behavior. Both parties support the imperatives of U.S. imperialism reflected in Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy that centers an adversarial relationship with Russia and China and committed to maintaining U.S. global hegemony. Both parties supported the obscene increases in military spending, with Biden promising that he will spend even more!

The rightist character of the Democratic Party is such that at their national convention the alignment of right-wing neocons and neoliberals is not even being hidden.

So, while the fear is supposed to be around a further growth of “fascist” forces represented by Trump domestically, for the people of the world the real fascism of anti-democratic, brutal regimes supported by the U.S., murderous sanctions, starvation in Yemen, and right-wing coups in support of fascist forces in Honduras, Brazil and Venezuela will continue unabated.

This is precisely why from the perspective of oppressed nations and peoples’ in the global South, it should not be surprising that some might see progressive and radical support for either colonial/capitalist party as an immoral and counterrevolutionary position.

The post Will a Biden Foreign Policy Make a Difference for the World? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Responsibility to Protect? Bipartisan Crimes Against Humanity in the U.S.

Hundreds of people are unnecessarily dying every day with African Americans representing a disproportionate number of those deaths. 80 million people are now without health coverage, millions are unemployed, over the next two months evictions will resume with an expected explosion of homelessness. And what is the response from the state that is tasked with the responsibility to promote and protect the fundamental human rights of its population?

While trillions of dollars were transferred to the corporate sector though the CARES Act meant to support the economy through the crisis, the state continues to ignore the existential crisis faced by millions of workers.

The zeal to save the economy at the cost of the systematic violation of every idea of a social contract to safeguard the rights of the people, along with the deliberate decisions not to marshal the resources of the state to ensure that everyone had access to the full range of medical care available, constitutes crimes against humanity by the U.S. state.

The right to health is a human right. However, in blatant disregard for that right, the Trump Administration, with the full cooperation of the corporate sector, advocated opening the economy amid rising cases of COVID-19. Trump even used the power of the state to force workers to report to work at meat processing plants that were inundated with COVID-19 infections. These policies not only represented a cruel and inhumane disregard for the health and lives of workers but are international crimes.

Yet, one of the most egregious examples of the heartless contempt for the humanity and the human rights of the people since world-war two was occurring right before our eyes with impunity, until the people went to the streets sparked by the gruesome murder of George Floyd.

But with the focus on George Floyd and the series of murders by the police, the demand raised for something called justice, and by extension some kind of police reform process, obscured the gravity of the human rights violations and crimes against humanity that were occurring. This focus had the effect of shifting attention away from the systemic violence of capitalist oppression that created the underlying conditions and comorbidity in which COVID-19 overwhelmed the Black community with death.

The shift in focus was largely accidental. The people erupted in righteous anger in a wave of opposition that caught the authorities by surprise by its scope and intensity. Communities, large and small, expressed their outrage at the injustice with acts of solidarity.

Ironically, however, these beautiful acts of solidarity and struggle not only helped to almost disappear the issue of COVID-19 and its devastating impact on the Black community, the focus on “racial justice” and police reform allowed the state to subtly turn the discourse into a system-affirming discourse of potential change and a “we are the world” moment of national solidarity. Everyone from the head of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff to the most reactionary corporate CEOs voiced their support for “Black Lives Matter.”

Public relations stunts like cops kneeling with protestors or even joining the demos were crude but surprisingly effective attempts to colonize the opposition in some areas and control the narrative. Those attempts were to be expected. However, the ease in which the narrative was refocused toward dead-end policy issues and an anti-Trumpism by the liberal corporate press was troubling.

Return to Human Rights Frame

There would be calls for international prosecutions and even a change in government if any other state outside of the U.S. so egregiously violated its responsibility to protect the human rights of its population. We should demand one standard for all states and embrace the human rights frame.

More than two weeks ago the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) called for United Nations scrutiny related to the ongoing and deepening human rights crisis in the U.S. There were three factors that compelled that call:

— The failure of the U.S. state to protect the human rights of African Americans, who were disproportionately dying from COVID-19.

— The decision to drive workers back to work despite inadequate protections and a gross disregard for their lives in industries like meat processing, which were experiencing high levels of COVID-19 infections among the largely African American migrant work force.

— And statements made by the President of the United States that indicated he was prepared to use disproportionate force against protestors demonstrating against the murder of George Floyd.

The BAP call was quickly followed up with a communication from groups and individuals from around the world to the UN Human Rights Council making a similar call but with the focus being primarily on the issue of police killings and impunity.

The 54 nation African Group of the United Nations submitted a resolution to the Human Rights Council calling for an urgent debate and an independent international commission of inquiry. The focus of the inquiry would be to investigate systemic racism, systemic violence against African Americans, impunity, and the disproportionate use of police force against Africans and People of African Descent in the United States and other parts of the world.

The U.S. responded aggressively to the challenge and pressured members of the Council to reject the idea of an international commission of inquiry which would have been historic for the United Nations. The result that was not unexpected was that the Council issued a strong statement and called for an investigation from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The lesson here and the space that still exists on this issue is that the focus by civil society groups, and even the African Group, on the issue of police killings allowed the U.S. to argue that this issue did not raise to the level that required an international inquiry, which has been reserved for more egregious human rights crimes.

For example, while the letter initiated by the U.S. Human Rights Network (USHRN) and the ACLU, and supported by a number of the families of victims of police killings to the UN Human Rights Commission, correctly stated that the police killings in the U.S. were “diverting the gaze of the global community” away from the over 100,000 people who died from coronavirus, the letter’s emphasis on disproportionate responses by police authorities and ongoing police killings with impunity, highlighted those legitimate concerns over the unnecessary death of thousands as a result of government policies.

The U.S. argument that this issue did not raise to level of a special inquiry, especially when compared to government crack downs and police violence in places like Brazil and even France, was embraced by a number of European states and others who subsequently rejected the idea of a special commission.

Had the lead been the decisions by the U.S. state to sacrifice the human rights of its citizens and residents by not providing adequate protections of their rights and consciously making decisions that were obvious would result in sickness and death for vulnerable sectors of the U.S. population, with the issue of police killings and impunity as part of a pattern of racist human rights abuses over time that was fully documented by various human rights treaty monitoring bodies, it might have been much more difficult for the U.S. and their European allies to argue against a commission.

Transcending Legalistic State-Centric Human Rights:

The decision by the Human Rights Council should not eliminate the idea of an international commission of inquiry, or the framing of the situation in the U.S. as crimes against humanity and for human rights.

Operating from the Black radical human rights tradition that we have labelled the People(s)-Centered Human Rights framework (PCHR), we do not rely on state-centered international bodies to define, legitimize, or protect human rights.

People(s)-Centered Human Rights (PCHR) are defined as “those non-oppressive rights that reflect the highest commitment to universal human dignity and social justice that individuals and collectives define and secure for themselves through social struggle.”

Therefore, we the people can construct an international commission of inquiry that examines the ongoing crimes against humanity occurring at every level of government in the U.S. with the full assistance of the corporate sector.

But while correctly reframing and exposing the situation in the U.S. is important in the ideological fight, the PCHR approach proceeds from the assumption that the genesis of the assaults on human dignity that are at the core of human rights violations are located in the relationships of oppression.

The PCHRs’ recognizes that the oppressed can petition, expose, get resolutions passed or establish commissions of inquiry, but ultimately the realization of human rights can only be achieved when there is a fundamental alteration of the relations of power and the people rule.

That is, when there is a social revolution.

Trump wins! Completing Obama’s Pivot to Asia and the Confrontation with China

Even before becoming the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump had one consistent foreign enemy – China. Partly fueled by his intrinsic white supremacy and his antipathy for the liberal elite “globalists” who evoked his personal inferiority complex, Trump has never waivered from his fierce opposition to what he saw as the “yellow peril” from China.

So when the Obama Administration announced in 2011 that the US would make “a strategic pivot” in its foreign policy to focus its military and political attention on the Asia-Pacific, particularly Southeast Asia, which meant China, it was one time that Trump supported Obama’s position – but for very different reasons.

For Trump, the problem was the cozy relationship between finance capital and the transnational corporations they funded during the neoliberal period of rapid and deepening globalization of production. The result of that relationship was that much of the industrial base of the U.S. economy was transferred first to Mexico and then mainland China. Altering that relationship and bringing those jobs “back home” as part of his “America first” position became a campaign issue and his intended first order of business once he assumed the presidency.  Shifting trade relations in favor of his capitalist base in the U.S. was a primary objective with Chinese containment being a necessary but almost secondary objective.

Trump’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the “gold standard of trade deals” according to Hilary Clinton before she pretended to oppose the treaty during her 2016 campaign, was seen by the elite as the signature deal that would provide the leverage to contain China’s ambitions in the Asia-Pacific region and globally, while also ensuring the continuity of economic relationships for U.S. transnational capital to utilize China as a profitable zone for the production of goods and services for the U.S. and European markets.

Trump’s opposition to the TPP and his comments regarding the entire architecture of the global neoliberal project of the last forty years was seen as reckless and made him a threat. The financial and corporate transnational elite moved swiftly operating though the state and media to destabilize his administration, even before he took office. That fraction couldn’t care less about his rhetoric on race, Muslims and immigration; in fact, his theatrics became a very valuable distraction while they completed the strengthening of the national security state under Bush and Obama and plotted to either get rid of Trump or impose the discipline of their agenda on his administration.

As Trump saw it, completing the pivot to Asia required one strategic angle – reducing tensions with Russia with the intent to bring them into the fold of “Europe” in order for the U.S. and Europe to combine forces to discipline China. What Trump hadn’t anticipated and was clearly unprepared for, was the ferocity of the efforts to make it impossible for him to govern. Russiagate became the issue that would block his plan to reconcile with Russia and bring the full force of the state against China.

But, today, after having survived the unprecedented efforts by unelected power to undermine his presidency perhaps in the history of the U.S. nation/state short of actual assassination, Trump has the support of a growing coalition of forces across the ruling class spectrum that represent a new and growing consensus that China is out of control and is a real threat to U.S. global hegemony.

What changed?

Limiting China to a specific role in the international division of labor was always part of the plan even when China received “most favored Nations status” in the 90s and membership in the World trade Organization.

The relationship between U.S. transnational capital and the Chinese state was seen as a win-win. China served as platform to produce goods and services for U.S. markets providing jobs for Chinese labor and revenue for the state while providing price competitive products for U.S. consumers. In the process it was assumed that China’s integration and participation in the global capitalist order would result in the “liberalization” of their economy and political system and open up an enormous new market for U.S. capital.

The problem, of course, was that the Chinese had their own plans.

The new bipartisan, ruling class consensus that more aggressive measures were needed to contain China was captured in the now infamous “pivot to Asia” announced by Barack Obama in 2011.

Today the growing ruling class consensus that has given new life to Trump’s anti-China campaign is reflected in the positions that say economic integration with China did not result in any transformation of China into a “regular” capitalist nation. And with the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) introduced by Chinese president Xi Jinping, China is an existential threat that can only be countered by military means.

War Against China, COVID-19, and Black Working-Class Position

“Not One Drop of Blood from the Working Class and Poor to Defend the Interests of the Capitalist Dictatorship” (Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) Slogan)

The psychopathology of white supremacy blinds U.S. policymakers to the political, economic, and geopolitical reality that the U.S. is in irreversible decline as a global power.  The deep structural contradictions of the U.S. economy and state was exposed by the weak and confused response to COVID-19 and the inability of the state to provide minimum protections for its citizens and residents. But even in decline, the U.S. has a vast military structure that it can use to threaten and cause massive death and destruction.

This makes the U.S. a threat to the planet and collective humanity because U.S policy-makers appear to be in the grip of a death-wish in which they are prepared to destroy the world before voluntarily relinquishing power, especially to a non-European power like China.

For example, when Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo declared in public that the United States and its Western European allies must put China in “its proper place,” this represents a white supremacist mindset that inevitably will lead to monumental errors of judgment.

This white supremacist, colonialist mentality is unable to accept the full and equal humanity of non-Europeans and, therefore, are driven to an irrational obsession with preventing what is now inevitable – global hegemony passing to China.

To prevent this objective eventuality, U.S. policymakers are openly advocating war with China. Not only war, but a war that some of them argue must take place before 2025!

And this is not some wild construction from the Trump Administration.

More than a decade ago military strategists war-gamed on how to defeat the Chinese concentrating on fuel supplies and trade routes. The RAND Corporation described during the Obama Administration how the U.S. could defeat China in a conventional war and in 2011, the Council of Foreign Relations began to urge the U.S. to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF )Treaty which it did in 2019 in order to redeploy intermediate range missiles off the coast of China.

COVID-19, that the Trump Administration constantly refers to as the Chinese virus, and the blame game being played, is preparing the public to support conflict with China.

However, The Chinese are aware of the dangerous turn of events with COVID-19 and are preparing accordingly. And here is the real danger.  Forces within the Chinese Communist Party and military are warning that the nation must prepare itself for all contingencies, including armed conflict.

For African Americans we must resist all efforts to draw us into a conflict that has nothing to do with us. We must be clear that we are not going to allow our sons and daughters to be sacrificed in yet another war of aggression on behalf of white capitalist/colonial power.

We must reject anti-China propaganda being directed at our communities using lurid stories of Chinese anti-black racism in China and the alleged attempts by the Chinese to “colonize” Africa, a position that is both absurd and insulting in how it trivializes the brutal reality of European colonization that the continent has yet to recovery from.

Trump is winning the propaganda war on the Chinese issue because at its core the U.S. is susceptible to appeals to cross-class white racial solidarity against the uncivilized hordes. Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations did not just resonate with right-wing audiences but was an acceptable commentary on the challenges of Western modernity.

However, we must remain clear about who our enemy is. It is not the Chinese who are beating us down in the streets for not social distancing, who have denied us medical care, imprisoned us, killed us, poisoned our water, and forced us to face death on a job just to survive.  We got a historical beef, but it ain’t with China, Russia, or any of the enemies of the U.S.

COVID-19: The Capitalist Emperor has no Clothes

As the capitalist emperor strolls down the avenue of U.S. public opinion butt-naked but for the first time since the 1930s, more and more people are starting to realize that they were not crazy. The brutal failures of the capitalist system that they saw were not a figment of their imagination or a diversion from their own personal failures. Instead, they were the awful reality of degradation, dehumanization and social insecurity embedded in the system. Many could see that reality but wouldn’t allow themselves to believe their own eyes and experiences. They couldn’t call it out like the kid in the fable – until now.

The claim that the U.S. was an exceptional nation and that the capitalist order represented the highest expression of human development has been shattered by the second global collapse of the capitalist order within twelve years. Millions thrown out of work, global supply chains disrupted, trillions disappeared in the capitalist casino euphemistically called the stock market… The state’s feeble and class biased response to COVID-19 has resulted in a costly lesson in class politics for the U.S. public.

The dictatorship of the capitalist class has survived because the class reality of the dictatorship has been obscured. Limited democracy, social democracy, white nationalism in the form of patriotism, the corruption of unions, the post-war compromise between capital and labor, state subsidies for the expansion of the white middle-class, debt-driven consumption and cross-class white suppression of the democratic and human rights of African Americans provided the material and ideological basis for the perpetuation of the dictatorship throughout most of the 20th century and into the 21st.

However, the systemic failure of the capitalist order trigged by the coronavirus has reinforced the growing awareness among the population that extreme wealth inequality is not just a temporary quirk that can be remedied with tax and some redistributive policies but a fundamental characteristic of the system.

For example, the debate that took place leading up to the passing of the legislation by Congress to address COVID-19’s impact dramatically exposed a capitalist class agenda that was objectively opposed to the interest of the entire working class, the poor, and the declining middle-class.

The people saw that billions of dollars were allocated to business while millions of people are facing an increasingly desperate situation. They are facing their second pay period without a full check and they are weeks away from receiving any kind of meaningful relief. But the peoples’ bills continue to mount up while the multinational corporations get bailed out. April rent and mortgage payments are due and with everyone home and eating more but with less money for food, thousands are being forced to go without or rely on food pantries. The $1,200 payoff is an insult.

And with the tragic reality of the shamefully inadequate public healthcare system in the U.S. and the rumors that private insurance healthcare premiums might increase 40% next year, the capitalists want to shut down any discussion around Medicare for All along with any discussion on nationalizing the healthcare industry.

While millions are losing their employer-based healthcare coverage, Biden says that nothing has changed his opposition to Medicare for All. Another neoliberal Democrat.

This is not being missed by many people.

The demystification of capitalism and a realistic understanding of the role of the U.S. in the global order is a good thing and that will be the silver lining coming out of this current crisis.

The precipitous decline of U.S. power and prestige is visible for all to see. The world sees that it is the Chinese who are sending ventilators to Europe. The world also sees that several states and U.S. federal agencies like FEMA are being forced to buy ventilators and face masks from China.

The world also recognizes that the U.S. lost its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, despite its enormous war machine and the failed attempt to effect regime change in Syria.

The public outside of the U.S. know that there is absolutely nothing exceptional about this nation, except for its inability, up until now, to see itself the way that millions see it – as a declining power that is morally corrupt and a danger to itself and the world.

The ability to see the emperor and all his nakedness and know they are seeing the truth, reflects the loss of what Danny Haiphong and Robert Sirvent call the ideology of “American exceptionalism and American innocence.”

That shift in consciousness is occurring slowly and unevenly. But let there be no doubt what this change in consciousness will result in. It will not mean that the rulers will surrender power to the aroused masses without a fight. No, it only means that the subjective factor – a revolutionary consciousness – will catch up with the objective factor of the ongoing crisis of the Pan-European white supremacist colonial/capitalist patriarchy. These are the conditions for a revolutionary advance.

That moment is on the horizon. Can you see it?

As Biden Racks up Delegates the Crisis Among Black Folks and Democrat Party Deepens

Biden wins key state of Michigan and the Democrat Party establishment can barely contain its joy. I am happy also but for a different reason. No matter what happens with this twisted Democrat Party nomination drama, I welcome this period as a period of absolute political clarity. Why? Because for the internal debate and struggles among Black people, the lines of political and ideological demarcation between the interests of the Black neoliberal political class and the masses of Black workers and the poor have never been clearer.

I will provide some points to support this claim.

Success for Black candidates, beginning in the 1970s to Obama’s run in 2007-08, was dependent upon strong appeals to racial solidarity, directly or, in the case of Obama, indirectly. However, there was one very important element to this success that very few talked about. From Cleveland and Atlanta to Detroit and beyond, the appeal to Black solidarity for electoral victory marginalized, or in most cases completely erased, the devastating impact that the neoliberal project of the late 70s, 80s and 90s was having on the Black working class.

The Black working class was under enormous stress as a result of the changing role of Black labor generated by neoliberal macroeconomic restructuring.  Yet, politically, the class interests and demands of the Black working class and poor were absent. Radical Black working class-based and/or -oriented organizations suffered tremendous repression. They were the first victims of the counterrevolutionary assaults by the state during the same period of electoral ascendancy by the new and expanded Black petit bourgeoisie in the 70s. The Black working class voice was missing and these ascendants were a force in their silence.

Class, therefore, was “disappeared” as a theoretical and analytical category, as well as a structural reality, by this ascendant class of managers, administrators and petty entrepreneurs. This was at a time when it was most needed to help explain the profound changes that were occurring with the turn to neoliberalism, and the political and social changes that were taking place within the Black population.

Today, however, they have lived the experience of the ongoing and deepening crisis of neoliberal capitalism. With housing shortages, displacement, lost jobs, and the impoverishment of large sectors of the Black population, the ideological mystifications that blunted the hard realities of the grind, that is capitalism, has failed to convince new generations, especially today’s young people, that hard work and pulling one’s self up by one’s bootstraps is the formula for realizing the “American dream.”

For the young Black workers forced to flip burgers or work at Walmart, and for older Black workers downsized into service sector jobs when their union jobs were shipped to low-wage countries along with much of the industrial base of the U.S. economy, there is a growing awareness that the current economic system is unable to deliver the goods.

This is the fertile ground upon which a radical politics could emerge; and that is why the rulers are so concerned with the soft social democracy of the Sanders campaign. Adolph Reed points out that one of the main roles of the “Black brokerage stratum,” which we refer to at BAR as the Black Misleadership class, is to separate the Black masses from the broader struggles for social transformation.

That certainly seems to be the case in the Democrat Party nomination process. But the effectiveness of the Black misleadership class has been bolstered by a new sector within the Black population.

The emerging intergenerational class convergence

Much has been written about the supposed generational divide among Black people between older Biden supporters and younger voters who are supporting or leaning toward Sanders. Much of this is high priced consultant hype coming from the Biden camp and is dependent on a racist conception of Black tribalism. In this construction Black folks have “leaders” who speak for us and tell us what we are supposed to do, and we fall in line. So, some old, irrelevant Negro that most Black folks have never heard of named James Clyburn is supposed to have turned the tide for Biden, not only in South Carolina but across the South during Super-Tuesday and even in Michigan.

I don’t want to get into that nonsense in this essay. But I do want to suggest that there is another phenomenon that very few are talking about, which does involve Clyburn and rest of the Black Misleadership class. I am referring here to the intergenerational class collaboration within the Black petit bourgeoisie between the old guard and a whole new class of young, slick operatives in the campaigns of Joe Biden, Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren.

This new group has enthusiastically taken up the brokerage politics and careerism of the more senior members of the misleadership class and are lending their skills, at a price, to the various campaigns, no matter what impact it might have on Black people. Let me give you an example.  The Democratic Party establishment, with the active assistance of the liberal corporate media, engineered a new momentum for Biden coming out of Super-Tuesday. They pressured the two moderates who were splitting votes off from Biden to drop out and sent a new infusion of cash to Warren in order to give her the incentive to stay in the race through Super-Tuesday to split the progressive vote thus engineering, also, Sanders loss. When Sanders voiced this rather obvious truth the Biden campaign responded with a slick framing that suggested Sanders was criticizing the voters, and in particular black voters, as being part of the “establishment.”

The problem with this tactic is that it may be effective as a short-term objective if you are trying to get the candidate you are consulting over the finish line. But for Black people, who continue to be used as political football, obscuring the fact that the Democratic Party is, in fact, controlled by powerful white imperialist interests is reactionary. Black folks, in particular Black workers, need to understand that the ruling elements that support the Democratic Party are the establishment and that they have interests completely counter to those of Black workers and the poor.

But this reality is of no interest to this sector of hustlers. They are there for the highest bidder to parlay their “insider knowledge” of our folks into big paychecks and symbolic influence. And they have a material incentive to reduce everything to race and “Blacksplaining” the mysterious contours of a “Black Agenda” that was produced by even more mysterious forces.

The good news is that unfortunately for the new class of race hustlers, they are staking their claim to influence at a historical moment when more of our folks now understand the role of the race pimps, and have already lived through the disappointing lack of progress with the election of Black mayors and eight years of the ultimate pimp — Barack Obama. Black folks today, especially the youth, have learned through painful experience about the limitations of capitalism, and understand that there is a difference between anti-racism and the struggle against the structures of white capitalist supremacy. There is a growing sophistication about the inherent exploitative logic of capitalism and its drive for war, and Black people’s relationship to this system and the state that it represents. So, it will be much harder for this new generation of opportunists to play the role that their opportunist elders played for so long.

There is a growing recognition that if these hustlers, many of whom pass themselves off as radicals, were really interested in confronting the system responsible for untold crimes against Black people — not only in the U.S. but globally — they could not, in good conscience, give uncritical support to any of these candidates. All of them have, without an ounce of shame, embraced the assumptions and goals of U.S. Full Spectrum Dominance, whose policies have resulted in the death of tens of thousands of Black people and the destruction of whole nations like Libya.

But this is the role of the Black Misleaders: to give cover to and divert our people’s attention away from the agenda and practices of white colonial/capitalist power domestically and abroad. James Clyburn, the CBC, and the new Negro race hustlers are all part of a dying but still dangerous political trend meant to demobilize radical Black opposition to capital, and to keep any spontaneous struggles against the state that might emerge, safely within the reformist boundaries of the existing power relations

This is the clarity that we are arriving at. The irreconcilable contradictions of racial capitalism have created conditions in which the traditional obscurantist role of the Black Misleaders is no longer tenable. They have been outed and are systematically outing themselves every day. They serve the enemy and we will deal with them as the enemy, because they are, and they can never hide again.

Sheep-dogging on Steroids: The New Democratic Party Anti-War Activists

In the cynical spectacle that is called politics in the United States, the latest insult to the intelligence of the people is the Democrats who are posturing as Anti-war champions in reaction to the Trump Administration’s assassination of Qassem Soleimani and the possibility of further attacks on Iran.

We are supposed to buy that the Democrats are concerned about war with Iran. The same Democrats who opposed de-escalation with North Korea; who blocked any attempt to remove U.S. occupation forces from South Korea; who continue to champion the NATO white supremacist structure; who were silent on Obama’s war on Yemen; who supported the assault on Libya; who  were unmoved by the over 40,000 people who reportedly have died from U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuela; and who gave the Trump Administration another obscene increase in military spending.

It is common knowledge that there has always been a bipartisan antipathy to Iran, not because of anything that Iran has done to the U.S., but because of the geopolitics of the so-called Middle East in which the U.S. has sought to dominate. The Democrats had some of the loudest voices supporting confrontation with Iran up until the Obama-Rohani nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that Trump abrogated. That is what makes the Anti-war posture of the Democrats – even the progressive ones – so incredible.

Therefore, since it is clear that the Democrats didn’t have any less of an appetite for war and global U.S. dominance than the Republicans, how should we understand this newly discovered “anti-warism”?

The Opposition is anti-Trump, not Anti-war!

Nancy Pelosi correctly understood that the politics of impeachment was a dead-end that would only result in satisfying the Democratic base but held out very little prospects for the longer-term strategy of defeating Trump in November 2020. She understood that politically the Democrats had gotten all they could from the Russiagate silliness when they reclaimed the majority in the House of Representatives.

But an essential element of the Democratic party messaging leading up to the mid-term vote in 2018 was the implication that with a Democratic majority in the House the primary item on the party’s agenda would be the impeachment of Donald Trump.  When that majority was achieved, Pelosi and the party establishment found themselves under tremendous pressure to find a way to impeachment. All their eggs for impeachment were in the Mueller report basket that had been held until after the mid-term election.

Unfortunately for the Democrats, the report, like Mueller himself, was a flop.  The report failed to ignite a groundswell of impeachment fever beyond the increasingly irrational demands from the liberal base of the party.  However, one of the unforeseen results of the 2018 mid-term for Pelosi and centrist Democrats was the emergence of a group of “progressives” who wouldn’t let the impeachment ploy fade away.

Consequently, Ukraine-gate became the issue for the foregone conclusion that there would be an impeachment. Pelosi and House leadership delivered on impeachment knowing that there would be no removal by the Senate. They could, however, claim that they met their supposed Constitutional duty, but importantly, their political imperative to impeach.  The second act of this diversionary drama was scheduled to begin when the Congress came back into session in January – that is, before the current crisis with the possibility of war with Iran.

War with Iran: Everyone wins!

Pelosi wins because she delivered on impeachment and can now switch tactics and allow the progressives to take the lead with the new messaging that Trump’s recklessness and unfitness for office is now threatening the possibility of a new war. The hawks in the U.S. foreign policy community win. Those elements have always wanted a conflict with Iran and believed that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to limit Iran’s nuclear capacity was a mistake.

Liberals win. Even though the more rational ones knew Trump was not going to be removed by the Senate, the developing crisis with Iran allows them to exploit the issue of a possible war with Iran to drive home the idea that Trump is a threat to global peace and should not be trusted with a second term. Trump wins. Iran shifted the focus from the impeachment trial in the Senate and the possibility, as remote as that might have been, that “new” information might flip the requisite number of republican senators to vote with democrats to remove him.  Moreover, if the situation with Iran doesn’t escalate out of control, he can claim this as another victory for a muscle assertion of U.S. power and strong leadership. The U.S. state wins with the possibility that Iran will be obliterated and with it Chinese interests harmed with the cut-off of oil but also with the disruption of shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.

The only elements that don’t win are the working class soldiers of the U.S. military who will be put in harm’s way for yet another war of choice, and the many thousands of innocents in Iran who may have their lives snuffed out by this crazed rogue state. But who cares about either of those elements?

There is a growing war-weariness that Trump understood and tapped into during his campaign. Trump never claimed to be Anti-war or pro-peace. However, being an anti-globalist, “pro-American,” white nationalist, he understood the sentiments and orientation of his base who had grown tied of sending their sons and, now daughters, off on multiple deployments to fight for what they saw as an elite agenda of never ending wars for the “liberal bankers” (his base understood that coded reference).

That same war-weariness existed in the working class base of democrat party voters also with some 79% of Democrats supporting a general roll-back in U.S. foreign commitments, but the pro-imperialist elitists in the party could not recognize that position and speak to it from a progressive perspective.

Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee, and even the queen of pandering Elizabeth Warren and a few others on the liberal-left of the Democratic party have started to understand the growing importance of U.S. foreign policy issues and specifically the issue of war for the public, even if the corporate press, party establishment, and most of the candidates running for that party’s nomination haven’t given much attention to those subjects.

The progressives are not taking comprehensive Anti-war positions and certainly have not embraced anti-imperialist positions.  Their positions have not deviated that far from the party establishment that continues to take the morally dubious and legally unsupportable position that somehow the U.S. has a right to murder the general of a nation that the U.S. was not at war with if only Trump had consulted with Congress and had thought through all of the consequences of a possible war with Iran.

That is why this party is not the party that is capable of resisting U.S. imperialism.  The rhetoric of the progressives only gives cover to the ongoing criminality of the U.S. state and its commitment to permanent war – with Congressional approval!

The role of these progressives is to keep the people on the Democratic party plantation.  The only countervailing force to U.S. gangsterism are the independently organized working class, nationally oppressed and all marginalized and exploited and oppressed people. This past weekend we saw the beginning of that resistance with demonstrations in close to 80 cities across the country in opposition to the possibility of war with Iran.

As the Black Alliance for Peace stated:

The Trump Administration along with the democrats are united in their objective interests, despite the impeachment charade, to support white power in the form of their imperialist agenda. But they need us – the people – as the cannon fodder and the passive supporters.

Obama was the ultimate sheep dog that not only kept progressives and even radicals on the democrat party plantation but gave a new respectability to U.S. imperialist criminality.  We will not fall for that again, not from the “squad” Sanders or anyone else.

Syria: Exposing Western Radical Collaboration with Imperialism

Despite so many self-defined radicals’ reading and claims to understand Gramsci’s corrective to Marxism-Leninism’s mechanistic understanding of the relationship between the base and the ideological superstructure, the ease by which some radicals are manipulated by the crude ideological machinations of the ruling class is truly astonishing. It is quite understandable that liberals would be manipulated by fairly innovative ideological gimmicks like the notion of “humanitarian intervention” and the “responsibility to protect,” which relied on the assumption, proving correct, that the liberal consciousness would react favorably to appeals to oppose “authoritarians” and authoritarian systems. However, I suspect that state propagandists didn’t realize the potential effectiveness of this ideological device when they first began to disseminate this framework for its ability to also mobilize radicals to the side of the bourgeois state and imperialist adventures.

The latest misadventures in Syria over the last few weeks revealed just how effective the bourgeois ideological apparatus has been in winning over not only liberals to support the “regime change” policies of the Obama administration in Syria, but also radicals and self-defined revolutionaries throughout the Western world.

The construction of the narrative in which street demonstrations against the Assad government would go from supposedly non-violent demonstrations to a “justifiable” call for armed struggle in a matter of weeks and gain support from Western radicals was an amazing feat.

Without rehashing the details and timeline of this sad spectacle — which resulted in millions internally displaced and as refugees, hundreds of thousands dead, the Syrian nation divided by sectarianism, and the state constricted with its territory occupied – it is, however, important to be reminded that the armed wing of the rebellion that received uncritical support from liberals and Westernized radicals was the “Free Syrian Army (FSA).”

When some of us warned Western radicals that they were being manipulated, that the so-called revolution in Syria had become fraudulent because it lacked an organic, independent social base, and was being driven by imperialist forces who cared little about democratic reforms, the working class or Syria as an independent sovereign state, we were condemned as “Assadists” and “Putin puppets.”

Expunged from acceptable discourse was any consideration of the relationship between oppressor and oppressed states, the real geostrategic and economic class and national interests in contention in Syria and the region, or the legality of intervention outside the framework of the United Nations Charter.

Instead, the hegemonic framing of Syria was driven by the convergence of a Left-Right, paternalistic form of white saviorism ethically legitimized by the concept of humanitarian intervention, itself constructed on the normalized belief in the superiority of  the white West, be it in its’ current capitalist form or its’ imagined socialist future. Politically, the logical stance for both versions of this Eurocentric self-delusion is that any people striving to emulate either of those Eurocentric visions should be supported.

However, in the case of Syria, that carefully constructed ideological framing is now imploding as a result of its own internal contradictions. The white supremacist “responsibility to protect,” the 21st century version of the “white man’s burden,” requires an adolescent bad guy-good guy framing. The dictator/authoritarian figure and the suffering people longing for freedom – Western style freedom that is- provided a familiar cultural framing for this epic struggle between “good” and “evil.”

In Syria, Assad was the villain and the Kurds the virtuous other who took on the savage forces of ISIS — that appeared out of nowhere according to this version of the story. While the Kurds were saving Western civilization from ISIS — and that is how it was framed because it is the only way real support is generated for non-European life (you have to be saving white folks) — the good guy revolutionaries and moderate opposition in the form of the FSA were fighting Assad to liberate the millions of people who didn’t seem to understand that they were being oppressed by Assad.

But all of that has now been turned on its head with the Trump administration’s decision to abandon the Kurds and give a green light to the illegal invasion of Syria by Turkey, with none other than the FSA acting as the point of the spear operating with the Turkish army to crush the Kurds.

In the anger toward Trump, the corporate press forgot the memo that the FSA were the good guys who had been supported by U.S. authorities from the very beginning of the manufactured war. The new framing became the “Turkish supported FSA,” especially after gruesome videos began to circulate that demonstrated in graphic images what many of us knew, along with the CIA and most of the honest foreign policy community, that the FSA was always al-Qaeda’s Syria operation in the form of Jabhat al-Nusra and other jihadist militias.

Independent journalist Aaron Mate, who was one of the many journalist smeared as an Assadist simply because he attempted to raise objective questions about what was unfolding in Syria and the impact of U.S. policies in the region, suggests that now that it is no longer viable to pretend that the FSA and the so-called moderate rebels ever existed, all those who smeared independent analysts on this question should apologize.

I am confident that an apology of that sort will never happen; nor do I think Aaron believes that either because arrogance and self-righteousness is so deeply ingrained into the cultural DNA of most Westerners. Similarly to how U.S. radicals desperately tried to find a revolutionary entity to support in Syria to justify their objective alignment with U.S. imperialism, they will find a way to explain away what everyone can clearly see today, that the war on the people of Syria was a monstrous crime against humanity.

Instead of apologies, real justice demands that there should be international prosecutions beginning with Obama, Clinton and all the Western leaders who perpetrated this crime.

The ideological struggle is real. It shapes consciousness and informs actions. There is no middle ground. Western radicals must take a consistent anti-imperialist position despite the internal contradictions or problems that exist within a state in the Global South. This is their task and responsibility, especially of those individuals and organizations that reside at the center of the empire.

What distinguishes the Western radical from its counterparts in the global South is the fact that Southern-based radicals understand that any nation that finds itself in the crosshairs of U.S. and Western imperialism is a nation that, in one way or another, is considered a threat to imperialist domination. Its time Western radicals understood this as well and stopped aligning themselves with the enemies of collective humanity.

Trump and Black Misleadership Class

In a case that finally started to receive national attention over the last few weeks, Baltimore prosecutors finally achieved their desired goal after three attempts, a conviction of Keith Davis Jr., a young Black working class resident of Baltimore, who his supporters say, was set up by Baltimore police, for the murder of Kevin Jones.  Two trials ended in hung juries and another resulted in the judge overturning the conviction of Davis.

Community supporters of Davis said that the aggressive prosecution was just another example of the heavy-handed use of state power by local Black authorities that the residents of the city have come to expect in Baltimore.

When social pimp Rev Al Sharpton showed up in Baltimore standing with members of the Black petit-bourgeoisie to defend their “great city” from the unfair attacks by Donald Trump, no one raised any doubt about the fairness of Keith Davis Jr’s conviction. They didn’t talk about the over 40,000 abandoned properties in the city, the massive displacement of Black residents aided and abetted by the Black overseers of Baltimore. And no one dared to mention Freddie Gray.

Yet, in another bazaar example of “Trump derangement syndrome” the national Black community is supposed to defend these opportunists and servants of white capital just because they were called out by Trump.

After the Keith Davis verdict, Baltimore state prosecutor Marilyn Mosby issued a statement in which she said that “this case has been — and was always — about the pursuit of justice for Kevin Jones,” she wrote. “I truly hope Kevin’s loved ones can finally close this gruesome chapter of grief and find their path to healing.”

But what about the family of Freddie Gray? Doesn’t his life matter, don’t they deserve some justice also?

After one trial that led to an acquittal, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby said that it would not be worth it to pursue cases against the other officers accused of killing Gray. So, all charges were dropped. And since the Obama Department of Justice also didn’t think Gray’s life was worth a Federal investigation, the killers walked, no convictions, no justice for the Gray family.

When Elijah Cummings, the new darling of liberals who one would think was some champion of social justice and principled Black leadership, was asked if there should be a Federal investigation of the officers after charges were dropped against the officers, Cummings said he didn’t have an opinion!

The controversy that has emerged from Trump’s comments on Baltimore reflects three interrelated theoretical and practical issues among Black/African peoples in the United States: The continued hegemonic standing of liberalism within mainstream Black political thought, the subordination of what is defined as Black politics to the dictates and agenda of the democrat party and the class consciousness of the Black petit-bourgeoisie and the lack of class consciousness among the Black working class.

It is understandable that a negative comment from Donald Trump regarding a major city in the country under the political leadership of Black people might spark an initial defensive reaction by many in the country because of his pattern of disparaging non-European peoples, regardless of their legal status in the U.S.

However, to try to advance an argument in opposition to Trump that frames life for African Americans in Baltimore as anything more than desperate, deprived and destitute requires a flight from reality that only members of the elite have the luxury to engage in. For Cummings, who has gone from having difficulty paying child support at the time he was first elected to Congress to today being a multi-millionaire, and his friends in the Black professional/managerial/administrative petit-bourgeois things are just fine in Baltimore.

But for the Black working class and poor who have been subjected to the systematic ravages of neoliberalism that devastated Baltimore’s industrial base, including the Baltimore port that was a hub for good paying jobs for the working class, facilitated massive displacement with urban recolonization (gentrification) and created a low-wage, de-skilled Black labor poor that is largely economically redundant, Baltimore in reality resembles the city that Trump referred to, and all the crying in the world will not change that reality.

The reality of Baltimore is the reality of decaying and dying cities and rural areas across this nation. These conditions are the conditions of late state, neoliberal capitalism that has de-centered capitalist industrial production and supply chains from the metropoles to the peripheral nations of the system. Many of the nation’s largest urban areas that have been devastated by these policies over the last few decades are also the areas with the greatest concentrations of African Americans with political leadership, but not economic power, in the hands of a Black overseer class.

When a Donald Trump with his own racist agenda distorts these systemic issues it does not follow that we should reinforce that by offering an analysis of Baltimore or any of these other cities where neoliberal Black democrats serve white power, that reduces an explanation of systemic issues to just one of the pigmentation of political class in charge in the cities or in the White House.

The Black petit-bourgeoisie as a “class for itself” is highly offended by Trump’s comments but because its class interests are in alignment with a sector of big-bourgeoisie, it is silent when Obama refers to the resisters in Baltimore as “thugs and criminals” and unleashes U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein on the people of Baltimore. Yes, the same Rosenstein at the center of Russigate.

While the DOJ only intervened into one case of killer-cops under Obama, Rosenstein made a special request to prosecute the poor, Black working-class individuals charged with various crimes during the Baltimore uprising. The result was draconian sentences that received no mention and no support because even the NGOs supposedly working on criminal justice reform went silent. Rosenstein’s position was clear and a warning to anyone who might resist state power “Anyone in the future who participates in a ‘riot’ should know that police, prosecutors and citizens will track them down and send them to prison.”

The Black misleadership class, liberal and centrist democrats, the forces grouped around Trump and even some radicals, have one essential thing in common, they all believe in the legitimacy of the U.S. state, the capitalist/imperialist system and are ready to fight to the last drop of your blood and mine to preserve this system.

The objective political and class ties of these elements is reflected in the unanimity of positions of “Full spectrum dominance, support for Israel, animosity toward the government in Venezuela, support for Department of Defense 1033 program responsible for militarizing police forces across the country, and the expansion of AFRICOM on the African continent.

This is the madness and reality of U.S. political culture. Scratch a liberal and not only do you find an imperialist supporter but a Donald Trump.

In the U.S. they are never called human rights violations

Trump’s 2020 budget proposal reflects another significant increase in military spending along with corresponding cuts in spending by Federal agencies tasked with the responsibility for providing critical services and income support policies for working class and poor people. Trump’s call for budget cuts by Federal agencies is mirrored by the statutorily imposed austerity policies in most states and many municipalities. Those cuts represent the continuing imposition of neoliberal policies in the U.S. even though the “A” word for austerity is almost never used to describe those policies.

Yet, austerity has been a central component of state policy at every level of government in the U.S. and in Europe for the last four decades. In Europe, as the consequences of neoliberal policies imposed on workers began to be felt and understood, the result was intense opposition.  However, in the U.S. the unevenness of how austerity policies were being applied, in particular the elimination or reduction in social services that were perceived to be primarily directed at racialized workers, political opposition was slow to materialize.

Today, however, relatively privileged workers who were silent as the neoliberal “Washington consensus” was imposed on the laboring classes in the global South — through draconian structural adjustment policies that result in severe cutbacks in state expenditures for education, healthcare, state employment and other vital needs — have now come to understand that the neoliberal program of labor discipline and intensified extraction of value from workers, did not spare them.

The deregulation of capital, privatization of state functions — from road construction to prisons, the dramatic reduction in state spending that results in cuts in state supported social services and goods like housing and access to reproductive services for the poor — represent the politics of austerity and the role of the neoliberal state.

This materialist analysis is vitally important for understanding the dialectical relationship between the general plight of workers in the U.S. and the bipartisan collaboration to raid the Federal budget and to reduce social spending in order to increase spending on the military. This perspective is also important for understanding the imposition of those policies as a violation of the fundamental human rights of workers, the poor and the oppressed.

For the neoliberal state, the concept of human rights does not exist.

As I have called to attention before, a monumental rip-off is about to take place once again. Both the Democrats and Republicans are united in their commitment to continue to feed the U.S. war machine with dollars extracted — to the tune of 750 billion dollars — from the working class and transferred to the pockets of the military/industrial complex.

The only point of debate is now whether or not the Pentagon will get the full 750 billion or around 733 billion. But whether it is 750 billion or 733 billion, the one sector that is not part of this debate is the public. The attention of the public has been adroitly diverted by the absurd reality show that is Russiagate. But this week, even though the budget debate has been disappeared by corporate media, Congress is set to begin debate on aspects of the budget and specifically on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Raising the alarm on this issue is especially critical at this moment. As tensions escalate in the Persian Gulf, the corporate media is once again abdicating its public responsibility to bring unbiased, objective information to the public and instead is helping to generate support for war with Iran.

The Democrats, who have led the way with anti-Iran policies over the last few decades, will be under enormous pressure not to appear to be against enhancing military preparedness and are likely to find a way to give Trump and the Pentagon everything they want.

Support for Human Rights and Support for Empire is an Irreconcilable Contradiction

The assumption of post-war capitalist order was that the state would be an instrument to blunt the more contradictory aspects of capitalism. It would regulate the private sector, provide social welfare support to the most marginal elements of working class, and create conditions for full employment. This was the Keynesian logic and approach that informed liberal state policies beginning in the 1930s.

The idea of reforming human rights fits neatly into that paradigm.

As seen, a state’s legitimacy was based on the extent to which it recognized, protected and fulfilled the human rights of all its citizens and residents. Those rights included not only the right to information, assembly, speech and to participation in the national political life of the nation but also the right to food, water, healthcare, education, employment, substantial social security throughout life, and not just as a senior citizen.

The counterrevolutionary program of the late 60s and 70s, especially the turn to neoliberalism which began in the 70s, would reject this paradigm and redefine the role of the state. The obligation of the state to recognize, protect and fulfill human rights was eliminated from the role of the state under neoliberalism.

Today the consequences of four decades of neoliberalism in the global South and now in the cosmopolitan North have created a crisis of legitimacy that has made state policies more dependent on force and militarism than in any other time, including the civil war and the turmoil of the 1930s.

The ideological glue provided by the ability of capitalism to deliver the goods to enough of the population which guaranteed loyalty and support has been severely weakened by four decades of stagnant wages, increasing debt, a shrinking middle-class, obscene economic inequality and never-ending wars that have been disproportionately shouldered by the working class.

Today, contrary to the claims of capitalism to guarantee the human right to a living wage ensuring “an existence worthy of human dignity,” the average worker is making, adjusted for inflation, less than in 1973; i.e., some 46 years-ago. 140 million are either poor or have low-income; 80% living paycheck to paycheck; 34 million are still without health insurance; 40 million live in “official poverty;” and more in unofficial poverty as measured by alternative supplemental poverty (SPM).  And more than half of those over 55 years-old have no retirement funds other than Social Security.

In a report, Philp Alston, the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, points out that: the US is one of the world’s wealthiest countries. It spends more on national defense than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United Kingdom, India, France and Japan combined.

However, that choice in public expenditures must be seen in comparison to the other factors he lays out:

  • US infant mortality rates in 2013 were the highest in the developed world.
  • Americans can expect to live shorter and sicker lives, compared to people living in any other rich democracy, and the “health gap” between the US and its peer countries continues to grow.
  • US inequality levels are far higher than those in most European countries
  • In terms of access to water and sanitation the US ranks 36th in the world.
  • The youth poverty rate in the United States is the highest across the OECD with one quarter of youth living in poverty compared to less than 14% across the OECD.

For African Americans in particular, neoliberalism has meant, jobs lost, hollowed out communities as industries relocated first to the South and then to Mexico and China, the disappearance of affordable housing, schools and hospital closings, infant and maternal mortality at global South levels, and mass incarceration as the unskilled, low-wage Black labor has become economically redundant.

This is the backdrop and context for the budget “debate” and Trump’s call to cut spendings to Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Education, Labor, Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, and even the State Department.

The U.S. could find 6 trillion dollars for war since 2003 and 16 trillion to bail out the banks after the financial sector crashed the economy, but it can’t find money to secure the human rights of the people.

This is the one-sided class war that we find ourselves in; a war with real deaths and slower, systematic structural violence. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans can be depended on to secure our rights or protect the world from the U.S. atrocities. That responsibility falls on the people who reside at the center of the Empire to not only struggle for ourselves but to put a brake on the Empire’s ability to spread death and destruction across the planet.