Category Archives: Barack Obama

“Total Reset” is Wishful Thinking: The Daunting Task of Reordering US Foreign Policy

A new term has imposed itself on the conversation regarding the impending presidency of US President-elect, Joe Biden: “The Total Reset”. Many headlines have already promised that the Biden Presidency is ready to ‘reset’ US foreign policy across the globe, as if the matter is dependent solely on an American desire and decision.

While a ‘total reset’ is, perhaps, possible in some aspects of US policies – for example, a reversal of the Donald Trump Administration’s decision to abandon the Paris Agreement on climate change – it is highly unlikely that the US can simply reclaim its position in many other geopolitical battles around the globe.

President Trump was often accused of leading an ‘isolationist’ foreign policy, a misleading term that, according to Stephen Wertheim’s Tomorrow, the World: The Birth of U.S. Global Supremacy, was deliberately coined to silence those who dared challenge the advocates of military adventurism and interventionism in the first half of the twentieth century.

Trump was hardly an ‘isolationist’ in that sense, for he merely invested more in economic warfare than firepower. However, traditional US foreign policy makers felt that an American ‘retreat’ from crucial geopolitical fights, especially in the Middle East, has undermined US influence and emboldened regional and international contenders to fill in the political vacancy resulting from that alleged retreat.

Even if that were true and that a Biden Administration is keen on reclaiming the US position in the Middle East and within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), such a task will not be easy.

It is convenient to assume that US foreign policy is entirely dictated by a single administration. While, indeed, each American president is often affiliated with a particular ‘doctrine’ that serves the purpose of defining him and his presidency, the truth, backed by historical facts, is rather different.

For example, President George W. Bush launched a war on Iraq in 2003, which associated him with the ‘preemptive war’ doctrine. Yet, it was also Bush who ordered the final ‘military surge’ in Iraq as a prelude to a subsequent withdrawal, a process that continued during Barack Obama’s two terms in office and, again, under Trump. In other words, US behavior in Iraq followed a blueprint that, despite the seemingly contradicting rhetoric, was adhered to by different administrations.

In 2012, Obama declared his own version of the ‘total reset’ by announcing the ‘Pivot to Asia’ plan. This seismic move was meant to illustrate a growing belief that America’s real geopolitical challenge lies in the Pacific region, not in the Middle East. Obama’s ‘doctrine’ at the time was, itself, an outcome of burgeoning discourse championed by US foreign policy think-tanks with allegiances to both Democratic and Republican policymakers.

While Trump is often ridiculed for his over-emphasis on China as America’s greatest threat, Obama, too, made the trade war with China a centerpiece in his foreign policy agenda, especially during his second term at the White House. Obama’s frequent visits to Asia and many decisive speeches at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conferences were largely meant to solidify an American-led Asia-Pacific alliance with the single aim of torpedoing China’s perceived military and economic expansionism in the region.

Trump’s economic war on China was, undoubtedly, an American escalation which translated growing frustration among Washington’s elites into practical steps, however hasty and, at times, self-defeating. Still, the anti-China policy was hardly the brainchild of President Trump or his administration.

With that in mind, one wonders how would Biden be able to achieve a ‘total reset’ when US foreign policy is but the total aggregation of previous policies under past administrations? Even if one is to assume that Biden intends to author a whole new doctrine independent from those of his predecessors, such a task is still too daunting.

Indeed, the world is vastly changing, leaving the US with the opportunity to merely renegotiate its positions as a central global power – but, certainly not as the world’s only hegemon.

Just look at the Middle East region of the last few years to appreciate the US dichotomy. What started as a political feud between Turkey and Russia in Syria and almost escalated into an all-out military confrontation, eventually subsided, bringing Ankara and Moscow closer together.

While Turkey has, for years, charted a whole new political course, cautiously walking away from the declining NATO alliance, while looking to create its own zones of influence in Syria, Libya, Eastern Mediterranean and, finally, in the New Caucasus region, Russia too was asserting itself as a global power in these same regions and beyond.

Certainly, Turkey and Russia still stand at different ends of the spectrum regarding various geopolitical conflicts. However, they have learned that they must coordinate to fill the vacuum created by the US-NATO absence. Their cooperation has, indeed, already delivered concrete results and allowed both countries to claim victories by relatively stabilizing the situation in Syria, largely marginalizing NATO in Libya and, finally, achieving a ceasefire in the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno Karabakh.

If Biden is to reinsert the US back into these conflicts, his administration will find itself in the position of fighting on multiple fronts, against friends and foes alike.

While it is too early to determine the nature of Biden’s foreign policy doctrine, it behooves the new administration to alter its perception of itself and the world at large, and to understand that sheer military power is no longer a guarantor of political and economic influence.

Instead of advancing such wishful thinking as a ‘total reset’, it is far more practical and beneficial to consider an alternative that is predicated on dialogue and a multilateral approach to political and economic conflicts.

The post "Total Reset" is Wishful Thinking: The Daunting Task of Reordering US Foreign Policy first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Imperative To Achieve National Improved Medicare For All

NOTE: The Kevin Zeese Emerging Activists Fund is accepting applicants for an unrestricted grant of $20,000 until December 13, 2020. Learn more at PopularResistance.org/kevin-zeese/. And join us for a webinar with Venezuelan social movements on November 18 to hear about their upcoming elections and how we can support their struggle against US intervention. Details at bit.ly/VZvotes.

Health care will be a major issue early in the new Biden/Harris administration. Unemployment is still high with over a million people applying for unemployment benefits last week and 42.6% of working age people without a job.

In the United States, losing employment often means losing health insurance. On top of the 30 million people who are already uninsured, it is estimated that nearly 15 million people lost their health insurance due to becoming unemployed as of June. The current number of people without health insurance is not known, but as Biden takes office, it could surpass the 44 million who were uninsured when Obama took office in 2008.

Biden’s healthcare plan looks like a replay of the health reform process of 2009-10 when the Democrats effectively divided the movement in support of national improved Medicare for all and pushed through the so-called Affordable Care Act (ACA), which passed without Republican support.  Health insurance and pharmaceutical corporate profits have soared since then while people struggle to afford healthcare.

In a time of the COVID-19 pandemic when over 250,000 people have already died and the University of Washington predicts over 500,000 deaths by the end of February, we cannot allow a repeat of the failed ACA. It is unconscionable to create anything less than a universal single payer healthcare system.

2012, rally outside the Supreme Court. Popular Resistance.

The ACA Challenge in the Supreme Court

This week, oral arguments in a case against the ACA were heard by the US Supreme Court. This is the third Constitutional challenge to the law and the second time the individual mandate, which requires people to have health insurance or pay a penalty, has been questioned.

During the first challenge, I was part of a group of fifty physicians and lawyers who filed an amicus brief with the court arguing that national improved Medicare for all is the most Constitutionally-sound healthcare system. Read the open letter here: amicus-brief-open-letter

Traditional Medicare has been our national healthcare system for seniors and people with certain health conditions since 1965. It meets the definition of “taxation for the general welfare” in Article 1 section 8 of the Constitution. On the other hand, the ACA uses our public dollars to subsidize private health insurers with hundreds of billions of dollars every year. Those health insurers then pay their CEOs multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses and dividends to their stockholders. The Congressional Budget Office estimates those subsidies will be $920 billion in 2021.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, private health insurers are taking over our public insurances, Medicaid and Medicare. Most Medicaid enrollees are in plans managed by private insurers. Over a third of seniors are in private “Medicare Advantage” plans that rip them off when they have health problems. Private insurers are working aggressively to increase their Medicare takeover. Private insurers also provide health plans to public employees and the military. Modern Healthcare reports that by 2017, 50% or more of the revenue of the top health insurance corporations came from the government.

Many of us saw what the ACA actually was, a bailout for the private insurance industry that had raised premiums so high people couldn’t afford them. The ACA not only subsidized people purchasing health insurance, it required the government to sell the plans and forced people to buy them with the individual mandate.

Ten years after its passage, the ACA has left our healthcare system in a similar state to when it began. Healthcare costs are too high. People are delaying and avoiding necessary care. Hundreds of thousands of households still become bankrupt each year due to medical illness. And at a time when support for national improved Medicare for all is high, the incoming president is advocating for more of the same.

Understanding the Biden Health Plan

During the 2009-10 health reform process, the Obama/Biden administration used the idea of a “public option” to divide progressives away from the movement for national improved Medicare for all. Tens of millions of dollars went to unions and so-called progressive organizations whose task was to convince people that national improved Medicare for all was asking for too much but what was “on the table” was a public option that they argued was achievable and could lead to single payer healthcare.

None of what they said made sense from a health policy perspective but with enough groups saying it, people were convinced it was true. In reality, adding one more insurance to the mix of thousands of plans doesn’t change much. As exists with Medicare and Medicare advantage plans, the healthy population is courted for the private plans and when people become ill, they leave those private plans for the public plan. This puts the burden of paying for care on the underfunded public plan. When it struggles, this is used to reinforce the myth that private is better.

If a public option, the foundation of the Biden plan, were created, it would struggle to compete with the well-marketed private plans. Eventually, it would turn into a high-risk pool and fail. If anything, it would be a relief valve for the private insurers where they could offload expensive patients.

What was most striking during the last health reform process is that all along the widely-promoted “public option” was never intended to be in the final legislation. It was a ploy to keep progressives from demanding single payer healthcare. In December, 2009, when the Senate was being pressured by groups to include a public option in their legislation, as the House had done, the White House started pushing the Senate not to include it. Their plan, which they executed, was to have two different bills from the House and Senate so the final legislation would be crafted in a conference of a select group from the House and Senate in order to pick and choose what was in it. And, of course, the public option was not in the final bill.

Biden claims that he will take action to reduce the costs of pharmaceuticals. The most effective way to do this is through a national single payer healthcare system. When the government is the single purchase of goods, like medicines, it has the most leverage to reduce the prices. Without that, reducing prices in one part of the healthcare system, such as Medicare, which Biden proposes, will result in higher prices in another sector. The pharmaceutical corporations have a legal responsibility to protect their investors’ interests. They always find a way.

A single payer system also has the ability to nationalize parts or the whole pharmaceutical industry if needed to protect the public good. Imagine if production of lifesaving medications like insulin was public. Nobody would have to ration their doses or die because they couldn’t afford it. Imagine if a COVID-19 vaccine were publicly manufactured. The government could increase production and instead of selling to the highest bidder, it could prioritize giving the vaccine to those who need it the most. This is how other nations operate their healthcare systems.

A final point is that, as happened in 2009-10, an important issue will be used to win the support of Democratic Party voters and convince them to support it. Last time, they used pre-existing conditions and the cost of healthcare for women. This time, it is reproductive rights. People will be pushed to support an inadequate reform because they will be told that not supporting it means they will take away reproductive rights. This issue will also be used to differentiate the Democrats from the Republicans.

What we ought to be demanding is what we need: a national universal publicly-financed healthcare system such as national improved Medicare for all or a fully public system as exists in the United Kingdom that includes all necessary care, which means reproductive care. We must not allow the Democrats to weaken our demand that every person in the United States have access to the care they need without fear of financial ruin. The private health insurers must go. They are parasites sucking the blood out of our healthcare system and they will never be satisfied until they have it all.

How We Win Universal Healthcare

The Democrats are using the same tactics they used in the last go-round because they work. People cannot allow themselves to be fooled again. How to avoid that was the subject of last week’s newsletter. It is critical that people know what those tactics are, recognize them when they are being used and take action to counter them.

If we are able to hold firm in our demand that we will accept nothing less than healthcare for everyone, not promises of healthcare for everyone but an actual healthcare system that can deliver that, then we will win. At every turn, when the Democrats offer less than that, their offer must be forcefully rejected.

Over the years, the biggest impediment to not achieving a universal healthcare system is that people don’t believe we have the power to win it. They believe the excuses that are used such as it is asking for too much or there isn’t the “political will” to pass it. Who creates “political will”? The people do!

The majority of people in the United States support a universal healthcare system. The opportunity to win it is now because the recession means our uninsured numbers will soar and the current healthcare system cannot address the COVID-19 crisis. As the crisis worsens, our voices must be louder. Universal healthcare is imperative.

And when we win this struggle, it will have two major impacts that will lead to more victories. First, it will demonstrate that people have power to achieve transformational systemic change. And second, it will create a social solidarity – everyone rich or poor in the same system – which will demonstrate that universal systems are superior to the privatized and complicated mess we have now. When we are all in the same system, we all have an interest in making it the best it can be instead of poor systems for the poor and high-quality systems for the rich. We will go on to demand other universal rights such as housing, education, internet access, jobs with a living wage and more.

This time around, the “Yes we can” slogan so common under Obama must mean that, yes, the people can overcome the plutocrats and put people over profits.

The post The Imperative To Achieve National Improved Medicare For All first appeared on Dissident Voice.

A Dedicated Obsession: Washington’s Continuing Iran Sanctions Regime

One dogma that is likely to persist in US foreign policy during a Biden presidency will be the sanctions regime adopted towards Iran.  Every messianic state craves clearly scripted enemies, and the demonology about the Islamic Republic is not going to go begging.  Elliot Abrahams, the current US special representative for Iran, told Associated Press on November 12 that, “Even if you went back to the (nuclear deal) and even if the Iranians were willing to return … this newly enriched uranium, you would not have solved these fundamental questions of whether Iran is going to be permitted to violate long-term commitments it has made to the world community.”

It is worth pointing out that it was President Donald Trump who proved so itchy to renege on the nuclear deal to begin with.  In May 2018, his administration formally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the long negotiated harvest of the Obama administration in July 2015.  Over the course of 120 days, it re-imposed all previously lifted economic sanctions, including “secondary sanctions” on non-US entities conducting financial or commercial transactions with Iran. A unilateral shredding of Washington’s own undertakings was made while still expecting the mullahs to continue in sweet compliance.

The less than compliant response from Tehran has not made this one of Trump’s finer moments: an abandonment of nuclear limits marked out by the agreement; a resumption of the nuclear program; an increasingly emboldened stance in the Middle East.  According to UN inspectors, Iran’s enriched stockpile currently lies at 2,440 kilograms.  Under the deal, it would have been under 300 kilograms.  All of this took place despite the precipitous fall in oil exports, a decline in currency value and a steep rise in inflation.

Even before the pandemic, human rights organisations were already warning about the broader health implications of a brutal sanctions regime.  As Human Rights Watch explained in an October 2019 report, the consequences of such sanctions “pose a serious threat to Iranians’ right to health and access to essential medicines – and has almost certainly contributed to documented shortages – ranging from a lack of critical drugs for epilepsy patients to limited chemotherapy medications for Iranians with cancer.”

The US State Department and the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control continue to maintain that humanitarian goods, which also covers medicine and medical supplies, are exempt in the sanctions policy.  A rosily inaccurate picture, given the imposition of sanctions on 18 Iranian banks including those entities engaged in financing foods and medicines.  To this comes the added complication of what the US considers “dual use” items: hazmat suits, face shields, oxygen generators, air filters.  Decisions to grant exemptions, the purview of bureaucrats, are tardily made.

The advent of the novel coronavirus pandemic inspired a ghoulish train of thought in the Trump administration.  Easing sanctions to better enable Iran to cope with COVID-19 was never entertained.  Instead, as Djavad Salehi-Isfahani of the Brookings Institute observed, “the US piled on more sanctions, and chose to ignore calls from world leaders, former US diplomats, and the United Nations to ease sanctions.”  Such a bloodthirsty sentiment was captured by the Wall Street Journal in March 2020, whose editors decided that sanctions should continue, despite Iran becoming a pandemic hotspot.  “If American sanctions were the culprit, it might be reasonable to consider lifting them.  But the regime’s incompetence and self-interest are to blame.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif thought differently of it, accusing the US of “medical terrorism” in blunting Tehran’s efforts to access financial resources during the COVID-19 crisis.  Hadi Yazdani, a physician and a member of the reformist Union of Islamic People Party, sports a more nuanced view: US sanctions have well hobbled the government’s pandemic policy, but so has inefficiency and habitual bureaucratic mismanagement.

The dedicatedly nasty sanctions regime encouraged and enforced by the United States is now frustrating efforts in the country to make advance payment to the COVAX facility, created to assist in providing future COVID-19 vaccines to more indigent states.  This will become more pressing, given rising death tolls.  (On November 13, 461 were reported in the state media.)

The rate of COVID-19 infections is also scorching: 11,737 cases over 24 hours from Friday, according to Sima Sadat Lari, a health ministry spokeswoman who has become the regular herald of doom.  She also admitted that various questions on the vaccines remained unanswered, notably in terms of “how effective the vaccine is and for what groups it is more effective.”

During the transition period in US politics, we can expect the Trump administration to be particularly testy about modifying its position on sanctions.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continues to busy himself with blacklisting Iranian entities.  The Treasury Department, for instance, recently placed a supply chain network on the list, claiming it “facilitated the procurement of sensitive goods, including US-origin electronic components” for an Iranian entity linked to the production of “military communication systems, avionics, information technology, electronic warfare, and missile launchers.”

Pompeo — and in this, he has a few devotees — argues that a return to the nuclear deal would be dotty and dangerous.  “It’s a crazy idea to think that you’re going to get back into a deal that permitted a clean pathway for the Iranians to have a nuclear weapon by which they could terrorize the entire world.”  President-elect Joe Biden, for his part, insists that Iran “must return to strict compliance with the deal.  If it does so, I would rejoin the agreement and use our renewed commitment to diplomacy to work with our allies to strengthen and extend it, while more effectively pushing back against Iran’s other destabilizing activities.”

The statements of the president-elect suggest nothing comforting to health specialists and policy makers bearing witness to the suffering caused by sanctions.  Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy might be abandoned in name, but will continue exerting a haunting influence.  The hawks in the Republican Party will be sharpening their talons, ever watchful of any softening towards Tehran.

The post A Dedicated Obsession: Washington’s Continuing Iran Sanctions Regime first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Confronting Bipartisan Repression and the U.S./EU/NATO Axis of Domination Beyond Election Day

Chaos, violence, legal challenges, voter suppression and party suppression all culminated in the pathetic display of democratic degeneration on Election Day. After two decades of losing wars, plus the economic collapse of 2008, the response to COVID-19, and now the election debacle, if there were any doubts the U.S. is a morally exhausted empire in irreversible decline, they would have been erased with yesterday’s anti-democratic spectacle.

Democratic Party propagandists and “frightened” leftists are desperate. They tell their supporters and the public that the republic will not survive another term of Donald Trump. They point to his despicable, racist descriptions of undocumented migrant workers from Mexico; his characterization of some global South nations; his misogyny; his crude and obvious white supremacy; his authoritarian proclivities; and his pathological dishonesty—among his many character flaws—as reasons why he must be stopped.

However, for those of us who have been historically subjected to the colonial fascism that is the U.S. settler project, the liberal-left argument that the Trump regime represents some fundamental departure from previous administrations that were equally committed to white power and that he is an existential threat (to whom, we are not clear) remains unpersuasive.

As the Biden and Trump drama plays out, we ask from our experiences some simple questions on what might happen when a victor emerges:

  • Will either candidate really have the ability to restore the millions of jobs lost during the current economic crisis?
  • Will the illegal subversion of Venezuela and Nicaragua stop, and the blockade of Cuba end?
  • Will the prison-industrial complex that is housing ten of thousands of the Black and Brown economically redundant be closed?
  • Will the charges be dropped against Edward Snowden and the extradition demand for Julian Assange end?
  • Will Gaza continue to be the largest open-air prison on the planet?
  • Will the U.S. reverse its decision to deploy new intermediate-range missiles that will be equipped with nuclear warheads targeting Russia in Europe and China in the Asia-Pacific?
  • Will the Saudi and Obama-originated war on Yemen end?
  • Will the U.S. settler-colonial state really defund the police and the military?

What is this “new fascism” the latte-left talks about? What is this “existential threat”? For most of us, the threat has always been existential. When colonial Nazism that was inspired by the U.S. Jim Crow South was applied in Europe—with its violence and racism—it was only then that it took on a different moral and political characterization.

The racist French government launches a domestic terror campaign against Muslims in the country, while they are not bombing Africans in Africa and overthrowing their governments. The European Union gives a human rights award to a political opposition in Venezuela that burns Black people alive because those Black people are seen as Maduro supporters. Meanwhile, NATO, the military wing of U.S. and European white supremacy, expands into South America to support the Monroe Doctrine that morally justifies U.S. regional domination. But fascism is coming to the U.S., they cry!

For those of us who reside in the colonized spaces of empire, leading with uncritical emotionalism as we confront and attempt to deal with the Trump phenomenon, is a self-indulgent diversion we cannot afford. That is because, for us, the consequences truly are life threatening.

In occupied Palestine, Venezuela, Yemen, the South-side of Chicago, Haiti, the concentration camps for Indigenous peoples called “reservations,” as well as “Cancer Alley” in Louisiana, our survival depends on seeing this violent, barbarian behemoth for what it is. We must have no sentimental delusions about the difference between the governance of either of the two ruling class-dominated parties.

For us, both parties are ongoing criminal enterprises that are committed to one thing and one thing only: Ultimately serving the interests of the capitalist ruling class—by any means necessary!

It is in that commitment that we, the colonized, the excluded, the killable, who experience the murderous sanctions that deny us food and life preserving medicines, the killer cops who slowly snuff out our lives with their knee on our necks, the deadly military attacks on our nations, destroy our ancient nations and turn us into refugees, the subversion of our political systems, the theft of our precious resources, and the literal draining of the value of our lives through the super-exploitation of our labor.

For us, we ask, what will be the difference if Biden wins? Wasn’t Biden part of the administration that conspired with the Department of Homeland Security and Democratic mayors to repress the Occupy movement once it became clear the movement could not be co-opted?

Didn’t Obama place Assata Shakur as the first woman on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” list and increase the bounty on her head? A recent release of FBI documents revealed it was during the Obama-Biden years that the “Black Identity Extremist” label was created.

The illegal subversion of Venezuela began with Bush, but intensified under Obama. The sanctions slapped on that country—that were expanded under Trump—have resulted in tens of thousands of innocent people dying from lack of medicines. It was the Obama-Biden administration that decided to devote over $1 trillion to upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal over the next decade.

Democratic and Republican strategists support the white supremacist NATO structure, the “Pivot to Asia,” and the insane theory being advanced by military strategists, who are wargaming a nuclear “first-strike” strategy against Russia and China that they believe can be successful in destroying those countries’ intercontinental ballistic missiles while the missiles are still in their launchers. That is why the Trump administration pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and has so far failed to renew the START nuclear treaty with Russia, scheduled to end in February 2021.

Not being confused by the liberal framework that advances a cartoonish understanding of fascism that Trump’s bombastic theatrics evokes in the public imagination, it is clear the threat of increased authoritarianism, the use of military force, repression, subversion, illegal sanctions, theft, and rogue state gangsterism is on the agenda of both capitalist parties in the U.S. and the Western European colonizer states.

No matter who sits in the white peoples’ house after the election, we will have to continue to fight for social justice, democracy, and People(s)-Centered Human Rights.

It is important to re-state that last sentence because the left in the U.S. is experiencing extreme anxiety with the events around the election. They want and need to have order, stability and good feelings about their nation again. But for those of us from the colonized zones of non-being, anything that creates psychological chaos, disorder, delegitimization, disruption of the settler-colonial state and demoralization of its supporters is of no concern for us.

Unlike the house slave who will fight harder than the Massa to put out the flames in the plantation house, we call to the ancestors to send a strong breeze.

The post Confronting Bipartisan Repression and the U.S./EU/NATO Axis of Domination Beyond Election Day first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Ending Regime Change in Bolivia and the World

Bolivian woman votes in October 18 election

Less than a year after the United States and the U.S.-backed Organization of American States (OAS) supported a violent military coup to overthrow the government of Bolivia, the Bolivian people have reelected the Movement for Socialism (MAS) and restored it to power.

In the long history of U.S.-backed “regime changes” in countries around the world, rarely have a people and a country so firmly and democratically repudiated U.S. efforts to dictate how they will be governed. Post-coup interim president Jeanine Añez has reportedly requested 350 U.S. visas for herself and others who may face prosecution in Bolivia for their roles in the coup.

The narrative of a rigged election in 2019 that the U.S. and the OAS peddled to support the coup in Bolivia has been thoroughly debunked. MAS’s support is mainly from indigenous Bolivians in the countryside, so it takes longer for their ballots to be collected and counted than those of the better-off city dwellers who support MAS’s right-wing, neoliberal opponents.

As the votes come in from rural areas, there is a swing to MAS in the vote count. By pretending that this predictable and normal pattern in Bolivia’s election results was evidence of election fraud in 2019, the OAS bears responsibility for unleashing a wave of violence against indigenous MAS supporters that, in the end, has only delegitimized the OAS itself.

It is instructive that the failed U.S.-backed coup in Bolivia has led to a more democratic outcome than U.S. regime change operations that succeeded in removing a government from power. Domestic debates over U.S. foreign policy routinely presume that the U.S. has the right, or even an obligation, to deploy an arsenal of military, economic and political weapons to force political change in countries that resist its imperial dictates.

In practice, this means either full-scale war (as in Iraq and Afghanistan), a coup d’etat (as in Haiti in 2004, Honduras in 2009 and Ukraine in 2014), covert and proxy wars (as in Somalia, Libya, Syria and Yemen) or punitive economic sanctions (as against Cuba, Iran and Venezuela) — all of which violate the sovereignty of the targeted countries and are therefore illegal under international law.

No matter which instrument of regime change the U.S. has deployed, these U.S. interventions have not made life better for the people of any of those countries, nor countless others in the past. William Blum’s brilliant 1995 book, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, catalogues 55 U.S. regime change operations in 50 years between 1945 and 1995. As Blum’s detailed accounts make clear, most of these operations involved U.S. efforts to remove popularly elected governments from power, as in Bolivia, and often replaced them with U.S.-backed dictatorships: like the Shah of Iran; Mobutu in the Congo; Suharto in Indonesia; and General Pinochet in Chile.

Even when the targeted government is a violent, repressive one, U.S. intervention usually leads to even greater violence. Nineteen years after removing the Taliban government in Afghanistan, the United States has dropped 80,000 bombs and missiles on Afghan fighters and civilians, conducted tens of thousands of “kill or capture” night raids, and the war has killed hundreds of thousands of Afghans.

In December 2019, the Washington Post published a trove of Pentagon documents revealing that none of this violence is based on a real strategy to bring peace or stability to Afghanistan — it’s all just a brutal kind of “muddling along,” as U.S. General McChrystal put it. Now the U.S.-backed Afghan government is finally in peace talks with the Taliban on a political power-sharing plan to bring an end to this “endless” war, because only a political solution can provide Afghanistan and its people with the viable, peaceful future that decades of war have denied them.

In Libya, it has been nine years since the U.S. and its NATO and Arab monarchist allies launched a proxy war backed by a covert invasion and NATO bombing campaign that led to the horrific sodomy and assassination of Libya’s long time anti-colonial leader, Muammar Gaddafi. That plunged Libya into chaos and civil war between the various proxy forces that the U.S. and its allies armed, trained and worked with to overthrow Gaddafi.

A parliamentary inquiry in the U.K. found that, “a limited intervention to protect civilians drifted into an opportunist policy of regime change by military means,” which led to “political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of Gaddafi regime weapons across the region and the growth of Isil [Islamic State] in north Africa.”

The various Libyan warring factions are now engaged in peace talks aimed at a permanent ceasefire and, according to the UN envoy “holding national elections in the shortest possible timeframe to restore Libya’s sovereignty”—the very sovereignty that the NATO intervention destroyed.

Senator Bernie Sanders’ foreign policy adviser Matthew Duss has called for the next U.S. administration to conduct a comprehensive review of the post-9/11 “War on Terror,” so that we can finally turn the page on this bloody chapter in our history.

Duss wants an independent commission to judge these two decades of war based on “the standards of international humanitarian law that the United States helped to establish after World War II,” which are spelled out in the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions. He hopes that this review will “stimulate vigorous public debate about the conditions and legal authorities under which the United States uses military violence.”

Such a review is overdue and badly needed, but it must confront the reality that, from its very beginning, the “War on Terror” was designed to provide cover for a massive escalation of U.S. “regime change” operations against a diverse range of countries, most of which were governed by secular governments that had nothing to do with the rise of Al Qaeda or the crimes of September 11th.

Notes taken by senior policy official Stephen Cambone from a meeting in the still damaged and smoking Pentagon on the afternoon of September 11, 2001 summarized Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld’s orders to get “…best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time – not only UBL [Osama Bin Laden]… Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.”

At the cost of horrific military violence and mass casualties, the resulting global reign of terror has installed quasi-governments in countries around the world that have proved more corrupt, less legitimate and less able to protect their territory and their people than the governments that U.S. actions removed. Instead of consolidating and expanding U.S. imperial power as intended, these illegal and destructive uses of military, diplomatic and financial coercion have had the opposite effect, leaving the U.S. ever more isolated and impotent in an evolving multipolar world.

Today, the U.S., China and the European Union are roughly equal in the size of their economies and international trade, but even their combined activity accounts for less than half of global economic activity and external trade. No single imperial power economically dominates today’s world as overconfident American leaders hoped to do at the end of the Cold War, nor is it divided by a binary struggle between rival empires as during the Cold War. This is the multipolar world we are already living in, not one that may emerge at some point in the future.

This multipolar world has been moving forward, forging new agreements on our most critical common problems, from nuclear and conventional weapons to the climate crisis to the rights of women and children. The United States’ systematic violations of international law and rejection of multilateral treaties have made it an outlier and a problem, certainly not a leader, as American politicians claim.

Joe Biden talks about restoring American international leadership if he is elected, but that will be easier said than done. The American empire rose to international leadership by harnessing its economic and military power to a rules-based international order in the first half of the 20th century, culminating in the post-World War II rules of international law. But the United States has gradually deteriorated through the Cold War and post-Cold War triumphalism to a flailing, decadent empire that now threatens the world with a doctrine of “might makes right” and “my way or the highway.”

When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, much of the world still saw Bush, Cheney and the “War on Terror” as exceptional, rather than a new normal in American policy. Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize based on a few speeches and the world’s desperate hopes for a “peace president.” But eight years of Obama, Biden, Terror Tuesdays and Kill Lists followed by four years of Trump, Pence, children in cages and the New Cold War with China have confirmed the world’s worst fears that the dark side of American imperialism seen under Bush and Cheney was no aberration.

Amid America’s botched regime changes and lost wars, the most concrete evidence of its seemingly unshakeable commitment to aggression and militarism is that the U.S. Military-Industrial Complex is still outspending the ten next largest military powers in the world combined, clearly out of all proportion to America’s legitimate defense needs.

So the concrete things we must do if we want peace are to stop bombing and sanctioning our neighbors and trying to overthrow their governments; to withdraw most American troops and close military bases around the world; and to reduce our armed forces and our military budget to what we really need to defend our country, not to wage illegal wars of aggression half-way round the world.

For the sake of people around the world who are building mass movements to overthrow repressive regimes and struggling to construct new models of governing that are not replications of failed neoliberal regimes, we must stop our government — no matter who is in the White House — from trying to impose its will.

Bolivia’s triumph over U.S.-backed regime change is an affirmation of the emerging people-power of our new multipolar world, and the struggle to move the U.S. to a post-imperial future is in the interest of the American people as well. As the late Venezuela leader Hugo Chavez once told a visiting U.S. delegation, “If we work together with oppressed people inside the United States to overcome the empire, we will not only be liberating ourselves, but also the people of Martin Luther King.”

The post Ending Regime Change in Bolivia and the World first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The World is Changing: China Launches Campaign for Superpower Status 

The outdated notion that China ‘just wants to do business’ should be completely erased from our understanding of the rising global power’s political outlook.

Simply put, Beijing has long realized that, in order for it to sustain its economic growth unhindered, it has to develop the necessary tools to protect itself, its allies and their combined interests.

The need for a strong China is not a novel idea developed by the current Chinese President, Xi Jinping. It goes back many decades, spanning various nationalist movements and, ultimately, the Communist Party. What sets Xi apart from the rest is that, thanks to the unprecedented global influence acquired by Beijing during his incumbency (2013 – present), China is now left with no alternative but to match its ‘economic miracle’ with a military one.

US President, Donald Trump, made the trade deficit between his country and China a cornerstone in his foreign policy agenda even before his rise to power. That aside, it is the military deficit that concerns China most. While world media often focuses on China’s military encroachment in the South China Sea – often dubbed ‘provocations’ – little is dedicated to the massive US military presence all around China.

Tens of thousands of US troops are stationed in the West Pacific and in other regions, creating an encirclement, all with the aim of cutting off the possibility of any Chinese strategic expansion. Numerous US military bases dot the Asia-Pacific map, stationed mostly in Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Guam and Australia.

In response to China’s military maneuvers in the South China Sea, the US composed the 2018 National Defense Strategy, which is raising the prospects of military confrontations between the US and its Asian allies on the one hand, and China, on the other. US military expansion soon followed. On September 8, the Wall Street Journal, citing US officials, reported that the Republic of Palau has “asked the Pentagon to build ports, bases and airfields on the island nation”.

It is obvious that the Pentagon would not base such a consequential decision on the wishes of a tiny republic like Palau. The immensely strategic value of the country – spread over hundreds of islands in the Philippine Sea, with close ties to China’s arch-enemy and US ally, Taiwan – makes Palau a perfect choice for yet more US military bases.

This is not new. The rise of China, and its clear intentions to expand its military influence in the Pacific, has irked the US for years. Barack Obama’s administration’s ‘Pivot to Asia’ in 2012 was the genesis of the new American belief regarding the imminent challenges awaiting it in that region. The National Defense Strategy of two years ago was a further confirmation that the focal point of US foreign policy has largely shifted away from the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific.

The compromising language that became a feature in China’s foreign policy throughout the 1980s and 90s is now being supplanted by a different discourse, one of political resolve and unprecedented military ambitions. In his speech at the historic October 2017 Communist Party Congress in Beijing, Xi declared the dawn of a “new era”, one where development and strength must synchronize.

“The Chinese nation … has stood up, grown rich, and become strong. It will be an era that sees China moving closer to center stage and making greater contributions to mankind,” he said.

Since then, Xi has tirelessly aimed to strike the balance between strength, bravery and victory with that of progress, ingenuity and wealth. For the “China dream” to be realized, “it will take more than drum beating and gong clanging to get there.”

The Chinese quest to reach its coveted ‘center stage’ has already been launched in earnest. In the economic realm, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is in full swing. Announced by Xi in 2013, the giant plan hopes to outweigh all traditional trade channels that have been put in place over the course of many years. When completed, the China-led infrastructure network will establish connectivity throughout Asia as well as the Middle East and Africa. If successful, a future China could, once more, become a world-leading hub of trade, technological renovation and, of course, political power.

In contrast, the US has solidified its global dominance largely based on military might. This is why the US counter-strategy is now intently focused on military expansionism. On October 6, US Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, said that his country’s navy requires more than 500 ships to counter China. Of this number, 355 traditional warfighting vessels are needed by 2035. This future fleet is dubbed “Battle Force 2045”.

Particularly intriguing in Esper’s recent announcement is the claim that by 2045, “Beijing wants to achieve parity with the United States Navy, if not exceed our capabilities in certain areas and to offset our overmatch in several others.” In fact, Beijing already has. China currently has the largest navy in the world and, according to the Pentagon, “is the top ship-producing nation in the world by tonnage.”

By China’s own calculations, Beijing does not need 25 more years to fully change the rules of the game. On October 15, President Xi told the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Marine Corps to focus their energy on “preparing for war”. Many interpretations have already been made of his statement, some linking it to the US, others to Taiwan, to various South China Sea conflicts and even to India. Regardless, Xi’s language indicates that China does not ‘just want to do business’, but is ready to do much more to protect its interests, even if this means an all-out war.

China’s foreign policy under Xi seems to portray an entirely different country. China now wields enough wealth, economic strategic influence – thus political power – to start the process of strategic maneuvering, not only in the Asia Pacific but in the Middle East and Africa, as well.

Another central piece in Xi’s strategy is to copy the American model and to rebrand China as a stately power, a defender of international law and against global crises. The US’ growing isolationism and failed leadership at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic have been Xi’s perfect opportunity for this new China debut.

The world is changing before our eyes. In the coming years, we are likely to, once more, speak of a bipolar – or, possibly, tri-polar — world, one in which Washington and its allies no longer shape the world for their benefit. In some way, China is well on its way to reclaim its new status.

The post The World is Changing: China Launches Campaign for Superpower Status  first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Reflections on white elections

In less than four weeks a nation that loves nostalgia will be entertaining an election not unlike those a century ago. The election on 3 November 2020 will be fundamentally a “white man’s election”, the penumbra of protest notwithstanding.

Donald Trump captured the Republican nomination and the election four years ago by appealing to the populist elements that were opposed to what can actually be called the Bush-Clinton gang in the GOP. With the necessary money and a salesman’s astute sense of how to hawk, he overwhelmed the GOP establishment candidates and placed himself on the wave of those who rightly hated Clinton and certainly had no love for Obama.

Neither Hillary Clinton’s horrid personality nor her legacy could possibly appeal to anyone except party diehards, gravy train parasites and the academic faux gauche; i.e., those who bought the synthetic brand Obama in 2008 and became addicted to the product.

Mr Trump’s unexpected win — although not surprising for those who had a sober view of Clinton — caused considerable upset in the Establishment. As I have noted, but apparently few others have, while Donald Trump is unsurprisingly rich, he is, in fact, the first POTUS to be elected in at least a century who was not previously a senior civil servant, military officer or professional politician. That, of course, means that he was not “trained” how to behave or instructed as to who really makes decisions for the White House. Although the mass media have focused on his business career and his wealth, they conspicuously ignore the fact that he is also the first person in the White House since 1980 not controlled by the Bush family!1

Since in the US no one likes to talk about power as it is really exercised and by whom, four years have been spent attacking a mediocre New York real estate gangster for stage performances that were largely spoiled by the crew behind the curtains. Never mind any virtues or defects of Donald Trump’s ostensible program or policies since these are not really important. The most serious problem has been that there was a policy and program adopted prior to his election that Ms Clinton was supposed to represent and failure to elect her meant this policy and program had to be pushed without her– against Mr Trump, if necessary.

Donald Trump’s failure to cooperate with those who, in fact, make policy was manifest in the frequent changes to high office appointments. Since the only power Mr Trump actually has had — not unlike Jimmy Carter — is to appoint and dismiss cabinet officers and some other senior bureaucrats, this is what he did. Although his appointments did not give him more control over the relevant departments, they did cause considerable irritation throughout senior echelons of the federal bureaucracy. The most obvious disruption arises when people whose careers have advanced by following certain superiors in a given structure find that they have a new boss and perhaps even that they are transferred to some part of the organisation less favourable to their future promotion. For outsiders these changes are scarcely noticeable but for career civil servants at the higher management levels such disruption is taken very seriously. The programs that were dependent for their smooth implementation on continuity from the Obama-Clinton management were now subject to administrative delays or even budgetary obstacles. Thus layers of official Washington had reasons to aggravate the obstructions and contribute to the attack on Trump.

As the impeachment proceedings finally demonstrated, the principal objections to Donald Trump were nothing more than his frustration of the Establishment program to which the Bush-Clinton gang was committed. Every effort has been made to show that Donald Trump as POTUS is neither entitled nor competent to exercise executive authority. Nor is he allowed to change Establishment policy (in the form of initiatives under his predecessors). Yet the US Constitution does not name failure to adhere to the policies of a previous administration as a violation of the law or an impeachable offense. None of those who claim that Mr Trump is the “worst ever” POTUS seem to have any recollection of George W Bush, a semi-literate son of the ruling dynasty, re-elected by blatant election fraud with at least one illegal war to his credit, not to mention the demonstrable corruption in office. No matter how mediocre he may be, Donald Trump’s record is snow white compared to that of his predecessors.

Failing impeachment and removal from office, the immediate effects of the 2015 pandemic plan were then turned against Mr Trump in a last ditch attempt to show that he is incompetent, if not the cause of the faux pandemic.2  Clearly a project, which under Ms Clinton would have been launched earlier (no doubt to profile her “leadership”), was now implemented in the hope that it would foil Donald Trump’s re-election chances. However, that was not sticking either.

A serving POTUS rarely has to seek party re-nomination for a second term, the micro-convention held by the Republicans was therefore a formality. For years,  however, the Democratic Party has had to contend with its dissident left wing (in the US sense of the word). Again Bernie Sanders was let into the bullring to take a few stabs at a Trump effigy to keep the restless in their seats until a suitable nominee could be appointed.

The lockdown — apparently supported mainly by Establishment jurisdictions — was bound to create a variety of social tensions. Hence the situation was ripe for some creative counter-insurgency work. It is no secret that police officers, especially — but not only — in urban forces, perform contract murders frequently for those who run the drug business in the area. It takes little fantasy to imagine that Mr Floyd was assassinated for propaganda reasons. The rather unusual spread of simultaneous demonstrations following his murder was quicker than even the Ferguson or Charleston killings several years ago could trigger.3 Moreover careful attention to the locations and the composition of the demonstrations ought to have raised suspicions.

The demonstrations in predominantly white cities like Portland, while forty years ago perhaps sensible venues, were selected for media-effectiveness. White folks demonstrating in cities, where Blacks form an insignificant portion of the population, that “Black lives matter” also makes sense. It is comparable to the US motivation for dropping atomic bombs on cities that had not yet been attacked. These demonstration venues also have advantages: The absence of any other distracting activity made the demonstrations the easy focus of cameras. There were no embarrassing Black neighbourhoods to film and maybe raise questions that did not fit the script. The scope of Black issues could be carefully defined without any real Blacks involved.

One of the tactics of counter-insurgency developed and refined from the Phoenix Program is the creation of armed propaganda teams that appear and behave like the enemy. BLM is such an organisation, as is Antifa. Remarkable about the conduct of these two groups — exhibiting traits of CANVAS coaching — is that they perform a mirror of what whites thought they saw in the 60s.4 The propaganda team composed the language by borrowing heavily from “white” depictions of the Civil Rights movement protests. The point of the operations was not to mobilize Blacks — on the contrary. The primary aim of the operation is consolidation of white votes for the Democratic Party. Instead of dressing like the Klan to intimidate Blacks, they are costumed like Civil Rights protesters to intimidate Whites who might vote for Trump.

There is another aspect of this campaign that is even more provocative. As the escalation of sexual identity/ gender based politics has overwhelmed nearly all other opposition issues, the classical and wholly unresolved issues of economic justice, the plantation prison system, housing and education, not to mention the militarism that drives US foreign (and domestic policy) have been obscured. If one considers the positions taken by arguably the most radical Black American of his day, Malcolm X, there is nothing in any of his speeches that would justify or promote the conduct under the banners of BLM and Antifa.5 Ironically — but I believe intentionally — the excited attention given to Black Lives Matter and its allies actually serves to suppress the fundamental issues of white supremacy upon which the US is based and that people like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King consistently raised.

Historically elections have been fought for marginal shifts in the allegiance of white voters. Since the 50s these shifts were occasionally magnified by whether Blacks were able to vote or not. One could say that Black votes became the “swing” constituency in presidential elections. This was always a source of conflict within the historically racist Democratic Party. The mobilisation of Black voters was so contentious that it had even split the party.

Barack Obama conspicuously avoided mentioning King’s name in any of his speeches during the 2008 presidential campaign. Yet his speeches were saturated with subliminals that surely triggered the name in the heads of liberal listeners. (I frequently had to show people the speeches afterwards to prove that he had never said “King”.) This practice continued throughout his two-terms. Surely he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize so quickly to consecrate his election as if he were “Martin Luther King”, without being him. At the same time the “right Black man” was finally given the prize.

Black Lives Matter consortium was invented and funded to promote virtual Black protest with subliminal messages aimed at white voters in the same way the Obama campaign was contrived. In the view of the Establishment, real Black Americans are too offensive to whites and too unreliable politically. Moreover there is a standing policy in the Democratic Party not to mobilize Blacks except under the most controlled conditions. Ideally these are the conditions under which what Black Agenda Report calls the “Misleadership Class” can manipulate them. So what we have, in fact, is the product of a long-standing practice of the historical Democratic Party, a Black movement without any Blacks. The core of this armed propaganda has modernised the minstrel show in a violent and destructive manner.

These Democratic Party covert operations are designed to smear Donald Trump without staining the Democrats themselves. It is another strategy for capturing the “swing vote” without any obligation to serve the constituency whose ballots it needs. It aims — like in elections a century ago — to stuff the ballots for a Southern racist (Biden) against a carpetbagger (Trump) and, regardless of who wins, leave everything else just as the Establishment wants it.

  1. This author contends that essentially from the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 until 2016, the Bush family has directly or indirectly controlled the White House. GHW Bush exercised this control as vice president for two terms, as POTUS for one. Bill Clinton was essentially co-opted into the Bush gang while governor of Arkansas when the state was being used as a hub for drug running by CIA assets. GW Bush then served two terms and was relieved by Barack Obama, a person with a long and intimate relationship to the US intelligence services with which the Bush family also enjoys a historically strong connection. Hence “bipartisanship” in the US has been based upon domination of both major parties by an alliance of the Bush family and the Clinton couple. However, were the same configuration to be identified in another country; e.g., the Soviet Union/ Russia, the conclusion would be reached immediately that the intelligence agencies or even criminal syndicates have undue control over the executive. For example, it has been commonplace to identify Russian President Vladimir Putin as a former KGB officer. It was very rare that US President GHW Bush was introduced as a former head of the CIA. By treating the entire US system as sui generis there is virtually no analysis of power relationships and structures pertaining to the USA in categories or concepts that permit comparison with other regimes. This is deliberate and not accidental, another aspect of so-called “exceptionalism”.
  2. Although the extent to which prior planning exercises occurred and public statements were made by various prominent individuals suggest that the conditions for the so-called pandemic in 2020 could have been man-made, any culpability remains deniable.
  3. On 9 August 2014, Michael Brown was murdered by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, a town in Greater St. Louis. On 17 July 2015, nine parishioners were murdered in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, including the senior pastor, by one Dylann Roof.
  4. CANVAS, the Center for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies, is the successor organisation to OTPOR, a Serbian consultancy specialised in training for revolutions. It played a major role during the NATO war against Yugoslavia, coaching civilian opposition to the Serbian government.  Also see The Revolution Business.
  5. Malcolm X delivered a speech at the Oxford Union, 3 December 1964.

The post Reflections on white elections first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Black Lives Should Always Matter: Delinking Social Justice from Seasonal US Politics 

After viewing the first US Presidential debate on September 29, one is left with no doubt about the degenerating political discourse among America’s ruling elites.

Following the debate between US President, Donald Trump, and Democratic Presidential nominee, Joe Biden, most analyses focused mainly on the personal insults and name-calling, which, deservedly, earned the event the title ‘worst Presidential debate in recent memory’.

Supporters of both parties, however, rushed to minimize the damage inflicted by the poor performance of their candidate, elevating certain points and conveniently omitting others.

However, some issues were thoroughly discussed, thus allowing us to formulate educated opinions on both candidates’ stances on certain subjects, such as racism and police brutality.

Ongoing mass protests, occasional riots and persistent police violence across many American cities should have elevated the conversation to the point where racism in America contributed greatly in the formulation of questions and answers in the Thursday night debate. However, the opposite happened.

Although President Trump plainly failed to condemn “white supremacists and militia groups”, giving the benefit of the doubt to such despicable associations such as the ‘Proud Boys’, Biden did not fare much better.

Trump’s position was not particularly shocking. After all, in 2015 he accused Mexico of sending criminals, drugs and “rapists” to the US, issued the ‘Muslim ban’ in 2017 and, more recently, referred to the Black Lives Matter social justice movement as “a symbol of hate”.

It is Biden’s position in the debate that has proven truly precarious, however. Aside from his occasional jabs at Trump, calling him a “racist”, Biden has failed dismally at articulating a coherent racial justice program that would prioritize the struggle for equality and rights for Black people and other US minorities.

Shockingly, there was no reference to the intrinsically racist travel ban on people coming from predominantly Muslim countries. Worse, not a single reference to Islam, Muslims or Islamophobia, the latter being the key factor unifying most ultra-nationalist, racist groups in the US and elsewhere in the world.

Instead, Biden attempted to find a compromise that would allow him to brand himself as the anti-Trump alternative on race, yet without appearing too ‘radical’ in the eyes of his White voters. The outcome was a bashful and marginal acceptance of responsibility concerning the “systemic injustice in this country”, yet without earnestly confronting the White establishment that has constructed and profited from the systemic racism.

Certainly, nobody expected that Biden, who spearheaded the 1994 crime bill during the Bill Clinton Administration — which led to the mass incarceration of mostly Black people — would be suddenly transformed in his passion and eloquence regarding social justice into the figure of Cornel West, Noam Chomsky or Angela Davis. However, his failure to enunciate the minimally-required program that could reassure Black and other minority voters, was still astounding.

His first remarks seemed feeble, as if he was trying to refrain from outright condemnation of anti-Black racism in the country. He spoke about “equity and equality”, about “decency”, “the Constitution” and never walking away “from trying to require equity for everyone, equality for the whole of America.”

But with respect to specifics, he seemed to gag, only referencing gangs of White protesters “spewing anti-Semitic bile” and, later, bemoaning the discrimination against “Irish Catholics”.

What about anti-Black racism?

Black men are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than any other group in the United States, although Black people are twice as likely to be unarmed than White people when fatally shot. Moreover, according to a major study cited in Nature Magazine, “white officers dispatched to Black neighborhoods fired their guns five times as often as Black officers dispatched for similar calls to the same neighborhoods.”

Consequently, reducing the discussion of racism in America to solely police brutality is, itself, covertly racist, for it insists on ignoring the roots of racism which range from social and economic marginalization to cultural stereotypes.

Not only did Biden, often exalted as the ‘progressive’ choice, miss the opportunity to recognize the social and class conflicts as major underpinnings in America’s ‘systemic racism’, he also downplayed the causes and magnitude of police brutality altogether. “Look, the vast majority of police officers are good, decent, honorable men and women. They risk their lives every day to take care of us, but there are some bad apples. And when they occur, when they find them, they have to be sorted out,” Biden said. Such non-committal language is hardly comforting to the families of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and thousands of other African-American families who have lost loved ones in recent years due to racially-motivated police violence.

Of course, anti-Black racism and police violence are not isolated events but are an integral part of a far-reaching ailment that has plagued America for much too long.

Furthermore, neither Trump nor the Republican Party alone should be held accountable for the anti-Black, anti-minorities, anti-immigration attitudes that have defined every US administration in recent history. It may be sobering to remember that it was President Barack Obama who referred to Black protesters in Baltimore as “criminals and thugs who tore up the place”, leading him to impose a military-enforced lockdown in the city in April 2015.

Equally relevant, it was also the Democratic Obama Administration that, between 2009 and 2015, deported more than 2.5 million people through immigration orders, “more than the sum of all the presidents of the 20th century,” according to ABCNews.com.

This is not to argue whether Republicans are better or worse than Democrats regarding the consequential subjects of racism, social injustice and immigration. However, judging by the legacies of the current and previous administrations — representing both parties — it is clear that America’s ruling elites are either unconcerned by the plight of minorities or playing the race card as a political tactic which serves their fleeting agendas during election time.

Namely, whether Trump clinches another term at the White House or whether Biden stages a major upset next month, the struggle for social justice should carry on, unabated.

The post Black Lives Should Always Matter: Delinking Social Justice from Seasonal US Politics  first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Imagine Trump or Biden in Church Praying for Yemeni Children Facing Starvation and US Missiles?

Thousands of precious Yemeni children are being starved to death, dying of cholera, or being blown to bits by US made and managed missiles. Can Americans glued to their TV sets, straining to understand what is happening to their country, imagine Trump or Biden in church praying for Yemeni children facing starvation and US missiles?

No, corporate media has reported President Trump as wanting to continue the lucrative sale of billions of dollars of sophisticated US weaponry to the Saudis and continue American military personnel assisting their raining down upon targets in Yemen, the poorest nation in the world. The President vetoed a bipartisan resolution of Congress calling for an end to American military involvement in Saudi Arabia’s civil war in Yemen.

As to Democratic candidate for president Joe Biden, he called for an end to U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen, but only after the entire Senate Democratic caucus and several Republicans had passed a resolution spearheaded by his opponent candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders calling for the U.S. to pull its backing from the Saudi military campaign in Yemen. In March of 2015, Biden, then Vice-President, backed the initial Saudi led military attack in Yemen when Yemen’s corrupt, Saudi-allied president was overthrown. The United States provided intelligence and logistical support, including aerial refueling for the intervention which initially consisted of a bombing campaign on Houthi rebels by fighter jets and or ground forces from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, with the participation of Blackwater mercenaries1 made infamous for their atrocities in Iraq, the genocidal US invasion of which Biden had championed as chairman of the of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee back in 2003.

This 1915 begun crime against humanity in Yemen was officiated by President Barak Obama. As to the possibility of finding Obama in church praying for the dear Yemeni surviving children facing starvation and US missiles, the reader might view the video on Youtube of Obama professing his having Jesus Christ as his Lord and savior.

Previously, your author wrote,

When you bombed these brothers and sisters of mine, you bombed me,’ says Jesus in Matthew chapter 25, (paraphrased of course). Obama, as presidents before him, followed the instructions of his promoters, the ruling investors, and disregarding the teaching and warnings of his ‘personal savior,’ gave to the rich at home, bombed abroad to be able to take from the poor everywhere, and lied that this is necessary and good.

The many bloody and thieving wars ordered by President Obama should make people recall how Obama as a candidate for president ran as a peace candidate, and so be cautioned not to be fooled with the present promising of both this years candidates to end America’s forever wars. Recently, President Trump allegedly called the Vietnam War a stupid war. Anyone who went was a sucker.”

With all President Trump’s macabre and bizarre use of US military, including assassination and deadly sanctions, and the corporate media’s consistent war promoting, the world is prone to forget how candidate Trump was the most dramatic American denouncer of US wars in history.

Candidate Trump, with wars promoting media either ridiculing him or making a blatant over the top show of frightened opposition, maintained among other things that the five trillion dollars spent on wars for regime change in the Middle East should have been spent in the US rebuilding its infrastructure; that NATO is obsolete; that the US should seek friendship with China and Russia; that he likes Xi Jinping and Putin, (America’s perennial and sacrosanct mortal enemies!) and would get along fine with them. Trump called the last two-term Republican President, George Bush, a liar for having lied about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction and has voiced suspicion about the 9/11 attack that happened so easily on Bush’s watch. Trump rejected hailing Senator John McCain, 2008 Republican presidential candidate, as a hero for having been shot down in Vietnam, and condemned and ridiculed eighty percent of media’s reporters and commentators as pathetic liars (what is in reality that hundred percent, who are willing to preposterously describe America’s running crimes against humanity as heroic deeds in defense of American freedom). Trump asked, “why must the United States lead the world everywhere on the globe and play the role of the world’s policeman, now for example in Ukraine?” Trump asked, “why does the United States always pursue regime changes – Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, and now it wants a regime change in Syria, Damascus, when the result is disaster.” Trump’s wholesale attack on the ‘patriotic’ war establishment was unheard of.

But once Trump was elected, just imagine how powerful war industry deep pockets brought about the reality of their control over him. Trump, once in office, immediately ordered military action in Yemen. Condoleezza Rice, of US genocide in Iraq fame, was among the first to visit the White House.

On Sundays, in how many churches throughout the USA could one find Americans praying for Yemeni children dying in a war American military are actively participating in while US weapons manufacturing corporations make a fortune in profits? The question is rhetorical. Firstly, what one prays is intensely personal. Secondly, Americans are indoctrinated from childhood by the huge CIA overseen giant entertainment/news telecasting and publishing corporations to see their government’s armed forces as above the law, including religious laws, and deviation from this canard seen to be unpatriotic.

In 2019, PBS and most other major newscasters reported on their evening news programs that between 2016 and 2018, as a result the Saudi coalition bombing infrastructure and blockading ports, 85,000 Yemeni children had died.

In March 2019, one headline read: “How To Enjoy Dinner Knowing Fellow Americans Have Caused 85,000 Yemeni Kids to Starve to Death?.” The news that one’s compatriots have brought death to 85,000 darling Yemeni children being hard to stomach, the author wonders how other Americans feel or manage not to feel.

I looked down at the food on my plate, and wished I hadn’t just heard PBS’s News anchor Judy Woodruff report that the war in Yemen had already caused 85,000 children to starve to death. She read the one liner with emphasis on the number, but almost without taking a breath, went on to a local news item, as if the 85,000 dead kids had nothing to do with her American audience. Problem for me is I had already known for years that a murderous, even genocidal bombing by a Saudi Arabian coalition is USA backed, that U.S. military jets refuel those coalition bombers and fighter jets, and US military personnel are involved in running the high tech targeting systems using US missiles and guided bombs sold to the Saudis, who have agreed to buy ever more billions of dollars worth.

I put my fork down, and stared at a framed photo of my four year old great granddaughter on the wall. I thought, most every one of those 85,000 was an adorable child, and had moms and dads, siblings, and other family members and friends who loved them.

A more candid treatment of the subject of child genocide in Yemen quoted prominent Americans:

3rd World must demand justice for her kids! Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s, cry “God bless America? No, no, God damn America for her crimes against humanity!” And American film maker Michael Moore’s “sick and twisted violent people that we’ve been for hundreds of years, it’s something that’s just in our craw, just in our DNA. Americans kill people, because that’s what we do. We invade countries. We send drones in to kill civilians.”

How to stomach the American public’s indifference to the death of millions of precious children caused by their sons and daughters in uniform having criminally invaded someone else’s beloved country. I know there are Americans who feel as bad about this as I do.

So I write articles that might encourage readers to talk about their concern among family, friends and acquaintances, for nothing ever gets done before it becomes a burning topic of conversation. May all independent journalism devote itself to awaking an eventual universal outcry sooner than otherwise. Children are dying as we read this and the destiny of those who will live depends on our seeking justice for those who already have perished for our indifference. Only when those profiting from their deaths are made to pay the billions in compensation, indemnity and reparations will the forever wars and the collateral taking
of children’s lives cease.

  1. Blackwater, an American private military company founded in 1997 by former Navy SEAL officer Erik Prince renamed itself Xe Services in 2009 and known as Academi since 2011 after the company was acquired by a group of private investors. “The ‘Academi’ in Yemen: 400 Blackwater persons fighting with Saudi-Led forces,” American Herald Tribune, 1/28/2020.

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