Category Archives: Barack Obama

Stalled Out on the Road to Damascus, Syria

The pump don’t work ’cause the vandals took the handles

— Bob Dylan, “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” 1965

A lot of folks, including this writer, were surprised to learn in the Spring of 2018 that the United States had a significant troop presence on Syrian soil.  Of course, America had shot some “Home of the Brave!” cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield only the Arab Spring before (April 7, 2017), marking the first time in the 6-year old conflict that the USA had officially attacked Syria.  The administration of Donald Trumpistan was quite new at the time, and the Corporate Press that was already addicted to Russia-phobing his novel presidency was falling all over themselves with praise for this unhinged action.  Why?  The cruise missile strike was explicitly framed as an “appropriate” response to an alleged Syrian chemical weapons attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun, a claim that has since come under considerable scrutiny; indeed, so much so that employees walking the halls of the OPCW HQ are constantly shifting their eyes, wondering who will blow the whistle next…

Official American involvement, or threat of involvement, really began during the Summer of 2012, when Trump’s Nobel Peace Prize winning predecessor, Barack Obushma, declared that any Syrian use of WMD would constitute a “red line” for direct U.S. intervention.  Suddenly, visions of another “Iraq” were swirling in the foggy, Mesopotomac air.  The nimble Obama, however, quickly pivoted to assure all and sundry that any American response to such a dastardly deed would not involve “boots on the ground.”  Curiously enough, one year later, an alleged chemweaps attack occurred in the Damascus suburb of Gouta, the blame for which was immediately pinned on the forces of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.  Well, we all know what happened next: nada. Obama cited a lack of Congressional support (like he “needed” it) for punitive action against Syria, and thus his bold “red line” vanished like a desert mirage over Syrian sands…

The timelines in the Syrian conflict — or conflicts — tend to be a bit more than blurry, but the Obama administration was clearly playing a double game with the American public over Syria.  While blowing some “red line” smoke across mainstream airwaves, Obama, in late 2012, had secretly authorized a CIA mission — Operation Timber Sycamore — to train, then arm, jihadi-style mercenaries for the violent overthrow of the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.  Of course, the American people and their elected representatives were kept in the dark about all of this Syrian skullduggery while a compliant Corporate Press spewed whatever anti-al-Assad talking points they were fed that day.  The Syrian regime change operation became — or always had been — a pet project of the Obushma administration and those crazy gun-slingers at the CIA, no doubt emboldened by the “success” of the Libya operation.  Timber Sycamore would eventually be phased out by Trump in 2017, but by then the Pentagon was doing most of the heavy lifting for regime change in Syria because — any guesses? — the U.S. already had a few thousand “boots on the ground” there, doing whatever American “boots on the ground” do in countries where they have been covertly “inserted,” and– definitely not invited

This clandestine, and obviously illegal, American invasion of Syria occurred no later than the end of 2015, but the record is still not clear due to official obfuscation on the subject; indeed, most Americans are still not aware that the Obama administration invaded Syria in the first place, nor that, under the Trump-following administration of Joe “Malarkey,” a large contingent of U.S. troops are still in Syria today, “guarding” 70% of Syria’s oil production against…Well, anyone “We don’t like!”, including the Syrian government.

Incidentally, the phrase “Syrian Civil War” is totally a Western propaganda construct.  There may have been an iota of credence to this description in 2011, due to the defection of some Syrian military members to the “rebellion” then, but it seems pretty clear by now that this conflict has been overwhelmingly driven by foreign actors.  The major players include, in no particular order:  Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the UK, France (“Hey, shout out to Sykes-Picot!”), U$A, Russia, Qatar, Israel, and Iran.  Wow, but how truly “International” this war is!  Of course, various al-Qaeda affiliates and whatever’s left of ISIS — that somewhat nebulous Islamomorphic phenomenon — should be listed as well, except that:  If we followed the money, we’d find that their “jihadist business ventures” are entirely traceable to donors who comprise all of the major international sponsors of this catastrophic conflict, catalogued above.  Considering the fact that American, Russian, Turkish, and Iranian troops operate inside of Syria, while the Israelis have been bombing Syrian “targets” with impunity for years, the myth of a “Syrian Civil War” evaporates under the most cursory inspection.

“But, What about all of those Terribly Trump-Abandoned Syrian Kurds I heard so much about on NPR in the Fall of 2019?”

Nevertheless, to return to the issue of American “boots on the ground” in Syria, where they are still, tending to most of Syria’s sacred oil wells, a “humanitarian” mission if ever there was one…It is noteworthy that His Orangeness made a Big Noise about withdrawing all American Forces from Syria in December 2019.  In the event, the Corporate Press was horrified by this “abandonment” of “so Ancient an Ally!” as the Kurds of Syria, and the Pentagon quickly moved to ignore Trump’s blustering on the subject; after all, the Death Star’s in charge these post-9/11 days.  The War Drum Beat goes on, no matter whose Reality Show Starring, or Zombie-ing, in the current case, the Oval Office.

The power of propaganda for the War Machine after 9/11, of course, cannot be exaggerated; this is especially true of the Syrian Regime Change Operation which, hopefully, represents the last of the 9/11-sprung regime change wars in the “Greater Middle East.”  As a real world example of the power of this propaganda, particularly in the Syrian context, I cite a disputative experience I had with two “Blue-Check Liberal” friends at an Open Mic venue in December of 2019 pertaining to the “Trump withdrawal” of violently trespassing American troops in Syria.  Apparently, NPR, along with every other mainstream Corporate Media outlet, had been blaring the message that Trump was “Abandoning the Kurds!” all day.  Of course, this is a “War Cry!” seldom heard in American media, but there it was, in all of its newly minted talking point glory.

Not initiating the conversation, as I had not been subjected to this particular propaganda bombardment in toto, I naively commented that the military Americans in Syria had no right to be there in the first place; therefore, it was quite an easy — thus correct and rational — decision to remove these American crisis facilitators from that foreign country.  Both of my friends, who were almost “violently” disagreeing with me, are absolute peaceniks, at least according to their own understandings of their respective “politics,” as far as I can tell.  The most amazing or bizarre a priori fact of this “conversation” is that any acknowledgement of the illegality of an American troop presence in Syria was completely off-limits, or out-of-bounds.  Quite obviously, American soldiers were not illegally inserted on to Syrian soil for the express purpose of shielding Syrian Kurds from harm; instead, they were “infiltrated” there specifically to boost a longstanding effort to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad.  By the way, it almost goes without saying, my two Bluetocratic, anti-Trump peacenik friends had probably never had a single solitary thought about the plight of Syrian Kurds — not to mention any other Kurds! — in the entire consciousness of their lengthy lives.  Such is the power of the post-9/11 propaganda for the War Machine, the Death Star, that is currently stoking a “fake crisis” over Ukraine (more on this in a moment–), with Taiwan waiting in the wings…

Syria, perhaps, provides the most ironic of all possible bookends to the 9/11-inspired regime change War Regime.  As in Afghanistan, ultimately, after two murderously long decades, the Regime Change War Series seems to have finally crapped out.  Bashar al-Assad’s still in power in Damascus, and the Caliban Taliban are once again the force to be reckoned with in Afghanistan (truth be told, to any Pentagonal Prosperos out there listening, the Taliban never went away, despite the best laid plans of General David Patreus and the Obushma “surge”…).  Iran, of course, as always, is seen as the ultimate “prize” in this latest, post-9/11est rendering of the “Great Game.”  That “game” is obviously up, over, kaput, and doneski.  Small question, a bit rhetorical:  Can the “boys in power” finally grow up and take some responsibility for the World they keep blowing up but pretend to rule by “Rule of Law”?

Further Note: a Correction

This piece was originally written back in January 2022, when talk or chatter about a Russian move into Ukraine was just that.  At that time I saw this Media circus — or typical hysterical hype — through a “wag the dog” lens, thus the above phrase “fake crisis over Ukraine.”  After all, one year into the current American regime, it was abundantly obvious that the administration of Joe “Bidenopolous” is a clear and present failure, a political fact that even some of the sleepiest walkers among us are waking up to…

Well, lo and we were Western Intel Agency told, Mr Putin actually launched his “Special Military Operation” into Ukraine on February 24.  Many an analyst missed the boat on this “special launch,” and for all sorts of reasons, like the possibility of Nuclear War, depending on NATO’s counter-move, or the threat of Russian economy-crippling sanctions, among others.  However, in retrospect, I think it’s worth noting that the initial “wag the dog” optical returns were spectacular for the “Collective West” and Mr Biden, absent-mindedly skippering our economic Titanic.  Suddenly, all of the TransAtlanticans’ self-inflicted problems were “Mad Vlad’s” fault.  Inflation going Weimar-style sideways bonkers?  Hey, no worries, because it’s just “Putin’s Price Hike!”  Yet, this distraction airy spin has worn quite thin by now, it seems.  Far from crushing the Russian economy, an avalanche of Western sanctions has badly boomeranged, leaving Western leaders scrambling amidst the shambling of their own economies, while the Russian military gobbles up more of Ukraine every day, one morsel at a time.  Until further notice, Mr Putin is calling the shots, not Brussels, London, nor the DC regime change crew.

The other “Thing” to note here, perhaps, is the collapse of the Covid Regime and the attempt to splice its sorry remains into a “Putin’s the Virus!” kind of narrative, with Taiwan still “waiting in the wings.”  Many commentators have emphasized this baton pass, from Covid to Putin, of official Western ideology; CJ Hopkins and Fabio Vighi immediately spring to mind in this context.

But to return to Syria:  With some degree of geopolitical justice it can be said that the current conflict in Ukraine can be described as “Syria 2.0”.  Many of the same players are in play, including the Oscar-winning “White Helmets” (according to reports) in this Ukrainian showdown although, quite notably, not Israel.  So, what’s up with America’s BFF in the Middle Easternlands?  Well, many a Saul has been blinded “on the road to Damascus,” but the crazy Israelis know a thing or two, and they apparently value their “condominium” with Russia over Syria above their “special relationship” with the United $tates in regard to Ukraine.  Saudi Arabia, too, as well as China, India, and the list goes on and on.  Wasn’t the whole idea to “isolate” Russia?  It would appear that the West is “isolating” itself, instead.

“Something’s happening here,” as the late 1960s band Buffalo Springfield once sang (“For What It’s Worth”), and it certainly looks like a “paradigm shift” of geo-tectonic proportions is presently playing out upon this Planet.  Who’s to say who “wins,” but maybe, just maybe, “winning” the “Great White Western Way” isn’t the only Game in Town these days?

The post Stalled Out on the Road to Damascus, Syria first appeared on Dissident Voice.

For Biden’s Summit of the Americas, Obama’s Handshake With Raúl Castro Shows the Way

On May 16, the Biden administration announced new measures to “increase support for the Cuban people.” They included easing travel restrictions and helping Cuban-Americans support and connect with their families. They mark a step forward but a baby step, given that most U.S. sanctions on Cuba remain in place. Also in place is a ridiculous Biden administration policy of trying to isolate Cuba, as well as Nicaragua and Venezuela, from the rest of the hemisphere by excluding them from the upcoming Summit of the Americas that will take place in June in Los Angeles.

This is the first time since its inaugural gathering in 1994 that the event, which is held every three years, will take place on U.S. soil. But rather than bringing the Western Hemisphere together, the Biden administration seems intent on pulling it apart by threatening to exclude three nations that are certainly part of the Americas.

For months, the Biden administration has been hinting that these governments would be excluded. So far, they have not been invited to any of the preparatory meetings and the Summit itself is now less than a month away. While former White House press secretary Jen Psaki and State Department spokesman Ned Price have repeated that “no decisions” have been made, Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols said in an interview on Colombian TV that countries that “do not respect democracy are not going to receive invitations.”

Biden’s plan to pick and choose which countries can attend the Summit has set off regional fireworks. Unlike in the past, when the U.S. had an easier time imposing its will on Latin America, nowadays there is a fierce sense of independence, especially with a resurgence of progressive governments. Another factor is China. While the U.S. still has a major economic presence, China has surpassed the U.S. as the number one trading partner, giving Latin American countries more freedom to defy the United States or at least stake out a middle ground between the two superpowers.

The hemispheric reaction to the exclusion of three regional states is a reflection of that independence, even among small Caribbean nations. In fact, the first words of defiance came from members of the 15-nation Caribbean Community, or Caricom, which threatened to boycott the Summit. Then came regional heavyweight, Mexican President Manuel López Obrador, who stunned and delighted people around the continent when he announced that, if all countries were not invited, he would not attend. The presidents of Bolivia and Honduras soon followed with similar statements.

The Biden administration has put itself in a bind. Either it backs down and issues the invitations, tossing red meat to right-wing U.S. politicians like Senator Marco Rubio for being “soft on communism,” or it stands firm and risks sinking the Summit and U.S. influence in the region.

Biden’s failure at regional diplomacy is all the more inexplicable given the lesson he should have learned as vice president when Barack Obama faced a similar dilemma.

That was 2015, when, after two decades of excluding Cuba from these Summits, the countries of the region put down their collective feet and demanded that Cuba be invited. Obama had to decide whether to skip the meeting and lose influence in Latin America, or go and contend with the domestic fallout. He decided to go.

I remember that Summit vividly because I was among the bevy of journalists jostling to get a front seat when President Barack Obama would be forced to greet Cuba’s President Raúl Castro, who came into power after his brother Fidel Castro stepped down. The momentous handshake, the first contact between leaders of the two countries in decades, was the high point of the summit.

Obama was not only obligated to shake Castro’s hand, he also had to listen to a long history lesson. Raúl Castro’s speech was a no-holds-barred recounting of past U.S. attacks on Cuba—including the 1901 Platt Amendment that made Cuba a virtual U.S. protectorate, U.S. support for Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in the 1950s, the disastrous 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion and the scandalous U.S. prison in Guantanamo. But Castro was also gracious to President Obama, saying he was not to blame for this legacy and calling him an “honest man” of humble origins.

The meeting marked a new era between the U.S. and Cuba, as the two nations began to normalize relations. It was a win-win, with more trade, more cultural exchanges, more resources for the Cuban people, and fewer Cubans migrating to the United States. The handshake led to an actual visit by Obama to Havana, a trip so memorable that it still brings big smiles to the faces of Cubans on the island.

Then came Donald Trump, who skipped the next Summit of the Americas and imposed draconian new sanctions that left the Cuban economy in tatters, especially once COVID hit and dried up the tourist industry.

Until recently, Biden has been following Trump’s slash-and-burn policies that have led to tremendous shortages and a new migration crisis, instead of reverting to Obama’s win-win policy of engagement. The May 16 measures to expand flights to Cuba and resume family reunifications are helpful, but not enough to mark a real change in policy—especially if Biden insists on making the Summit a “limited-invite only.”

Biden needs to move quickly. He should invite all the nations of the Americas to the Summit. He should shake the hands of every head of state and, more importantly, engage in serious discussions on burning hemispheric issues such as the brutal economic recession caused by the pandemic, climate change that is affecting food supplies, and the terrifying gun violence–all of which are fueling the migration crisis. Otherwise, Biden’s #RoadtotheSummit, which is the Summit’s twitter handle, will only lead to a dead end.

The post For Biden’s Summit of the Americas, Obama’s Handshake With Raúl Castro Shows the Way first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Obama: Hope, Change and Propaganda

“Today, we occupy entirely different media realities, fed directly into our phones. You don’t even have to look up. And it’s made all of us more prone to what psychologists call confirmation bias, the tendency to select facts and opinions that reinforce our preexisting worldviews and filter out those that don’t.

“So inside our personal information bubbles, our assumptions, our blind spots, our prejudices aren’t challenged, they’re reinforced. And naturally, we’re more likely to react negatively to those consuming different facts and opinions.”

The words above may appear as standard rhetoric from yours truly on Post-Woke. In this case, however, they were penned by Barack Obama’s speechwriters (bonus points for including the word “occupy”). They were delivered by the Pope of Hope on April 21, 2022, at Stanford University — in the heart [sic] of Silicon Valley.

The bulk of that speech was designed to demonize Russia, whitewash U.S. history, and paint censorship as freedom. Feel free to read the transcript for yourself. What interested me more was the speech’s opening section. That’s where Obama offered the above excerpt and proceeded to show off his chops as a propagandist

The current state of the web, says Mr. Yes We Can, is “a constant feed of content where useful factual information and happy diversions, and cat videos, flow alongside lies, conspiracy theories, junk science, quackery, White supremacist, racist tracts, misogynist screeds.”

Do you see what he did there? Right out of the same World Economic Forum playbook Justin Trudeau used earlier this year. Conflate alleged “conspiracy theories, junk science, quackery” with “White supremacist, racist tracts, misogynist screeds.” Such a state, he continues, makes it impossible to “tell the difference between, say, a peer-reviewed article by Dr. Anthony Fauci and a miracle cure being pitched by a huckster.”

This pathetic, self-serving, and inaccurate segue allows the former president to go into full mendacity mode: “The fact that scientists developed safe, effective vaccines in record time is an unbelievable achievement. And yet despite the fact that we’ve now, essentially clinically tested the vaccine on billions of people worldwide, around 1 in 5 Americans is still willing to put themselves at risk and put their families at risk rather than get vaccinated.”

He is careful to punctuate his lies with an undeniable fact: “People are dying because of misinformation.” Of course, which deaths he is referencing and what he deems to be “misinformation” is the entire point here.

After those opening remarks, he launches into his proposed “solutions.” All of which are designed to create an even greater monopoly of information and control for the power elites (regardless of their party affiliation).

“Reject the evidence of your eyes and ears,” he concluded. Just kidding. Actually, that’s from Orwell’s 1984. I’m just seeing who’s paying attention.

In this most recent speech, Obama mentioned the U.S. Constitution twice. But right before leaving office, Barack signed Executive Order 12333 which gave the National Security Agency (NSA) even more power than it already had. Obama enabled them to share a raw stream of the communications it regularly intercepts. The “intercepting” part was nothing new. The “raw” part was.

The NSA no longer has to screen the data and/or filter out personal information that could put innocent people in danger. Instead, they could now immediately share the unedited data with agencies like the FBI, the DEA, and the Department of Homeland Security. How many people had their privacy violated, how many people have been exposed unnecessarily, and how many lives were ruined by this unconstitutional salvo?

Obama talks of data being “fed directly into our phones.” Can you imagine what will happen when they can literally monitor your bodily functions and your thoughts?

Stand up now before it’s too late…

The post Obama: Hope, Change and Propaganda first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Don’t Let Them Get Us All Killed

It was a climate of unquestioned moral righteousness. The enemy was Fascism. The brutalities of Fascism were undisguised by pretense:  the concentration camps, the murder of opponents, the tortures by secret police, the burning of books, the total control of information, the roving gangs of thugs in the streets, the designation of “inferior” races deserving extermination, the infallible leader, the mass hysteria, the glorification of war, the invasion of other countries, the bombing of civilians. No literary work of imagination could create a more monstrous evil… But it is precisely that situation—where the enemy is undebatably evil—that produces a righteousness dangerous not only to the enemy but to ourselves, to countless innocent bystanders, and to future generations.

— Howard Zinn, The Bomb (City Lights, 2010), p. 29.

Nuclear War:  The Unimaginable and Real Threat

Aware that Ukraine could well become the next Afghanistan, and that we face the chance of a nuclear war and subsequent “nuclear winter” in which 2 billion people are at risk of starvation, voices of peace around the world continue to protest the militarism of irresponsible leaders of the governments of the NATO states, Russia, Japan, and other countries. There is even criticism of U.S. and Canadian support for Nazis in Ukraine. Now, when they should be focused on repairing relations between Russia and Ukraine, as well as between Russia and the NATO states, and thereby increasing the chances of humanity’s decent survival, instead these leaders are focused on “winning” their petty macho fest in Ukraine. For example, on the 6th of March, the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said that plans for Poland to send fighter jets to Ukraine have gotten “the green light” from the U.S. Luckily for our species, Biden did not listen to Blinken, and instead listened to the Secretary of Defense Lloyd James Austin III, a four-star general.

“Could the Russian invasion of Ukraine escalate to nuclear war? It’s unlikely but not impossible. That should terrify us,” writes foreign correspondent Stephen Kinzer. “Unlikely but not impossible.” This is a common view today among serious international affairs analysts.

Many U.S. generals have never really been keen on the notion of nuclear war, in fact. “In 1945 the United States had eight five-star admirals and generals. Of the eight, seven are on the record saying the atomic bomb [dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki] was either militarily unnecessary, morally reprehensible, or both.”

Although “GHQ” (the General Headquarters of the Allied Powers) imposed strict censorship on discussions and photographs of the atomic bombs and its victims, the news did eventually spread via word of mouth, underground publications, etc., and people found out about the results of this U.S. experiment on the bodies of Japanese and Koreans. And over the course of the last three-quarters of a century, historians in Japan, the U.S., and other countries, such as Peter Kuznick, have done painstaking research to uncover the fact that one can say, in retrospect, that these two bombings were stupid and barbaric.

Most of us who are aware of the history of the bombings and who campaign for peace would agree with Stephen Bryen that “beyond all the rhetoric, and the sanctions [over the violence in Ukraine], Washington had better clear its head and start to think straight. That’s not happening right now but it is essential for our future security and well-being.”

By this time, our leaders should have learned from humanity’s past mistakes. Theodore A. Postol, a nuclear weapons technology expert and professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has asserted that “over the course of several U.S. administrations failing to take into account Russia’s core security concerns… ‘there’s no reflection at all’.” (Author’s italics). We are being led by ignorant, violent, reckless, macho-men.

Our Leaders Are Leading Us toward the Precipice of Global Dystopia

Here in Japan we are told that, for no reason, China could invade Taiwan at any moment, just as Russia invaded Ukraine, and that the best way to create security for ourselves would be for the U.S. and Japan to continue to build military bases on Ryukyu Islands. These are bases that are equipped with all kinds of lethal weapons, soldiers, and Osprey aircraft (for transporting such weapons and troops to places like China). They are building a new base in Henoko (on the main island of Uchinaa/Okinawa), on Miyako Island, and other Ryukyu Islands, all close to Taiwan. These two states are continually militarizing the islands of this region and putting our lives in jeopardy. One can, in fact, see the high mountains of Taiwan from Yonaguni Island (at the southernmost island of the Ryukyu Island chain, where a new base now sits) on a clear day, as the island is only 111 kilometers from Taiwan. In other words, they want us to believe that holding China by the throat with one hand, and a knife in the other, will improve our security.

In the U.S. and other countries, people are told that only Big Brother knows best, that only he can keep us, the ignorant masses, safe from overseas villains. Unfortunately, for those who tell this tall tale, the U.S. has been threatening Russians, ever since the end of the Second World War, at a point in time right after the Soviet Union had lost millions of people fighting against Nazis. There was a time when “Official U.S. war plans, approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and President Dwight Eisenhower, stated that, if so much as a single Soviet tank division crossed into allied territory, the United States would respond with nukes.” Such was our government’s posture then toward our former ally the Soviet Union. And our message to Russians even now is essentially that they “better watch out.” After years of steady success with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), NATO’s official nuclear policy is “flexible response,” which allows the alliance to be “the first to introduce nuclear weapons into a conflict, including in reply to an attack with conventional weapons.”

It surely has not been lost on Russians that former president Barack Obama, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, set aside $1 trillion of our tax dollars for nukes, to be spent over a span of 30 years, nor has it been lost on many Japanese that he did not apologize on our behalf when he visited Hiroshima. Some have even noticed that he actually clapped while watching footage of a mushroom cloud during that trip.

Biden has gone “full steam ahead” with increasing our reliance on nuclear weapons, following in the footsteps of his predecessors Trump and Obama. Yet, back in early December, Republican Senator Roger Wicker, perhaps feeling that Biden was not spooking Russians enough, made things extra clear with his words, “Military action could mean that we stand off with our ships in the black sea and we rain destruction on Russia capability, it could mean that,” and added, “We don’t rule out first-use nuclear action, we don’t think it will happen but there are certain things in negotiations, if you are going to be tough, that you don’t take off the table.” It is this toxic masculinity, this being “tough,” that could get us all killed.

Since our nukes were equipped in recent years with new super fuses that can destroy a large portion of Russia’s nukes even in their silos, Russia has been put into a situation where they must “use ‘em or lose ‘em” in the event that they are threatened with an imminent nuclear attack from the U.S. Unlike in the past, U.S. nuclear warheads now have “hard target kill capability.” This means it is possible to destroy “Russian and Chinese nuclear-tipped missiles and command posts in hardened silos or mountain sanctuaries, or to obliterate hardened military command and storage bunkers in North Korea, also considered a potential US nuclear target.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar, a lone voice of sanity in the U.S. Congress, said she was moved by the Ukrainians, as well as by the Russians who are standing up for peace and said, “We must avoid the knee-jerk calls to make this conflict worse.”

Unlike established politicians in many other countries, very few in the U.S. have the foresight of Rep. Omar. U.S. politicians lack understanding of what happens in wars, and especially of the suffering produced by wars. Their sons are not foot soldiers, they are ignorant of U.S.-Russia relations, they do not know U.S. history, and they have the attitude of “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” with respect to what Americans long ago did to the Japanese and Koreans in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Thus we cannot rest easy, trusting that our lives are in good hands. They are not going to go out of their way to avoid unnecessary killing in Ukraine, whether of Ukrainians or Russians. As Bob Dylan’s song goes, “I’ve learned to hate Russians, all through my whole life. If another war comes, it’s them we must fight. To hate them and fear them, to run and to hide. You never ask questions, when God’s on your side.” (Starts at 4:00 in “With God on Our Side.” Such is our mentality in the U.S. after a half century of Cold War indoctrination, years of Roman Empire-like exaggeration of national security threats, two decades of the “war on terror,” and Russiagate.

Now, turning to their leaders, on the “enemy” side:  “Asked if Putin would use nuclear weapons, Mr [Leonid] Volkov [the former chief of staff for jailed Putin critic Alexei Navalny] replied: “As he is crazy enough, we can expect unfortunately everything’.”

A Putin ally has specifically warned us of nuclear dystopia:  “Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council who also previously served as the country’s president and prime minister, wrote in a post on Russian social networking site VK.com that Russia has been ‘the target of the same mediocre and primitive game’ since the collapse of the Soviet Union. ‘This means that Russia must be humiliated, limited, shaken, divided and destroyed’… if Americans succeed in that objective, ‘here is the result: the largest nuclear power with an unstable political regime, weak leadership, a collapsed economy and the maximum number of nuclear warheads aimed at targets in the US and Europe’.” Hearing such words, some macho Americans will say as they always do that it is “time to get tough.” This is what happens when our foreign policies are decided by tough men like Biden and Putin.

It is not really reassuring to know that a “small number of [nuclear] bombs are reportedly kept under U.S. Air Force guard at six airbases in five European countries, ready to be delivered by respective national fighter planes,” and that we have nuclear missiles on submarines prowling the sea near Russia. It is not necessarily comforting that within striking range of Russia, there are missiles that could kill millions of people over there within days of the start of a nuclear war. The “nuclear weapons should have been removed from Turkey long ago. Now, whether they’re taken out or kept in, they are going to play some kind of role in the escalating tensions.” Those words were written in 2019. Could it be possible that the presence of nukes in several European countries did worry many Russians and actually increased the chances of war in Ukraine? Could it be true that “there are any number of scenarios in which Russian military doctrine foresees the use of nuclear weapons as a rational move, wars on its border being only one such example”?

The state of U.S. political culture and education is shameful. “60 percent of Americans would approve of killing 2 million Iranian civilians [with our nukes] to prevent an invasion of Iran that might kill 20,000 U.S. soldiers.” One single man, respected and selected by a small number of Democratic Party elites, a man named Joe Biden, has the authority to initiate nuclear strikes at any time on Russia.

Political scientist John Mearsheimer has argued for years that “the U.S., in pushing to expand NATO eastward and establishing friendly relations with Ukraine, has increased the likelihood of war between nuclear-armed powers and laid the groundwork for Vladimir Putin’s aggressive position toward Ukraine.”

“By means of shrewd lies, unremittingly repeated, it is possible to make people believe that heaven is hell—and hell heaven. The greater the lie, the more readily it will be believed.” This quote has been ascribed to Adolf Hitler. A similar sentiment was expressed by Bob Marley as you “think you’re in heaven, but you’re living in hell.”

Help Needed:  War Resisters

Unlike the government leaders in the rich and powerful countries, and unlike the millions whose eyes are glued to TV and computer screens, some people are fully awake and aware, and are doing what they can to stop the war in Ukraine and build world peace. The activism and writings of Howard Zinn taught us there are always such people who stand up for social justice even in the darkest of times. The anti-nuclear weapons movement of the postwar period, extending from people like Peggy Duff and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) all the way to the anti-nuke protests of the 1980s, when tens of millions of Japanese signed antinuclear petitions, achieved significant victories, especially in terms of preventing the spread, testing, and use of nuclear weapons. The existence of various kinds of weapons of mass destruction, including new techniques of mass killing such as AI-controlled and cyber weapons, and new weapons made possible by nanotechnology, is making it more and more obvious that our choice is between ending the institution of war, or ending ourselves. In Japan, the elderly who know all about war, like the hibakusha, as well as the young, who know very little beyond what they learned from the mass media and their school textbooks, are beginning to take a stand. It is a beginning, and we have a long way to go to re-build the movement. All hands on deck!

Of course, we have to pressure our government officials to end this war. And if they do not start listening to our demands very soon, then we will have to kick them out of office, and replace them with leaders who do listen, and do respond. Every day of inaction brings us closer to the brink of global destruction, closer to the edge of the cliff towards which they have been pushing us all. Here are three of the tasks that our movement must take on:

(1) We have to raise public awareness of the dire need for peace.

(2) We need lots of people out on the streets and other visible places who are committed to tenaciously working on the project of increasing the costs of state violence. Right now, it is easy to start wars, while starting peace is difficult; we need to turn that around. The anti-nuke and peace movements of the past “brought about political pressure to end nuclear testing and stop the spread of the Bomb by mobilizing protesters—ranging from tens of thousands to even millions at its peak—that took to the streets in Western Europe, the United States, Canada, and Australia.” (Naturally, Japan also once had a large anti-nuclear weapons movement, as documented by Lawrence Wittner).

(3) CodePink brought us speeches from Abby Martin, Lee Camp, and Chris Hedges the other day that emphasized the importance of protecting freedom of expression, thereby joining other dissidents who warned earlier about censorship, such as Dissident Voice writer Rick Sterling. Not only advocates of global death and destruction have the right to speak but also advocates of life, the “greatest gift of all.” “We are the world, we are the children,” who have the right to not be nuked. Some elite extremists in government will soon start spouting lies, claiming that peace advocates are dangerous, that we are aiding and abetting our nations’ enemies in Russia, etc. The very word “peace” could become taboo. They want to silence and censor, and prevent our rational, humanitarian voices from being heard.

With millions of people now craving vengeance against Russia, and even against disempowered and disadvantaged Russians, let us build a global movement, people who refuse to take up weapons, who actively make it difficult for others to take up weapons, and who know that war is never the answer.

The post Don’t Let Them Get Us All Killed first appeared on Dissident Voice.

That time Obama made it legal to propagandize his own people

The U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 — a.k.a. the Smith–Mundt Act — was first introduced by Congressman Karl E. Mundt (R-SD) in January 1945. It was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman on January 27, 1948. According to the always-reliable Wikipedia, “The Act was developed to regulate broadcasting of programs for foreign audiences produced under the guidance of the State Department, and it prohibited domestic dissemination of materials produced by such programs as one of its provisions.”

Translation: When the State Department and other nefarious agencies produced propaganda to be used in the name of programming “foreigners” (in the early days of the Cold War), Congress decided against the U.S. also propagandizing its own citizens. How quaint.

Fast-Forward to Barack Obama’s second term. Here’s how Foreign Policy described it in an article entitled, “U.S. Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News to Americans,” on July 14, 2013:

“For decades, a so-called anti-propaganda law prevented the U.S. government’s mammoth broadcasting arm from delivering programming to American audiences. But on July 2, that came silently to an end with the implementation of a new reform passed in January. The result: an unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption in a reform initially criticized as a green light for U.S. domestic propaganda efforts.”

While you debate Democrat vs. Republican or Fox vs. CNN, the elites own your mind… unless, of course, you keep yer guard up.

The post That time Obama made it legal to propagandize his own people first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Regime Change: Up Close and Personal

Let me start out by openly and unequivocally stating that most of the individuals who are in the decision-making and decision-influencing positions which determine U.S. foreign policy and drive its recklessness are a truly shameful bunch. They are morally bankrupt, ignorant, myopic, barbaric, drunk on power, and as far as I can tell, without any redeeming merit.

There are too many examples to cite here. But there’s one who comes to mind because of rumors which recently started circulating.

Hillary Clinton is one of the most vile, disgusting, inhumane, homicidal, hypocritical, sociopathic persons to ever hold high office.

And yes, she’s back in the news, and as cruelly absurd as such matters can be, threatening a redux of the presidential campaign debacle of 2016.

Let’s objectively look at what a full-blown psychopath does when pulling the levers of power.

It’s easy to get glassy-eyed when phrases like ‘regime change’ and ‘responsibility to protect’ are tossed around by politicians and pundits. Which is how such slick terminology is used to cover the ugliest of sins: blatant, pre-meditated war crimes; homicidal, genocidal, spiteful, nation-destroying terrorism; greedy, barbaric, raid-and-plunder of other countries. Hillary Clinton and her ilk love to hide behind such high sounding euphemisms.

So let’s unpack this, make it less abstract, more “up close and personal”. Let’s see what ‘regime change’ looks like on the ground to everyday citizens, the victims of such geopolitical ploys, as everything familiar and comfortable crumbles around them.

First off, I’m going to confess total prior ignorance of what I’m about to describe here. Until, of course, it was too late. Like 99% of the public, yours truly was totally brainwashed at the time. Most still are. Not that I personally could have stopped what happened. But if enough of us had been aware of the truth, there’s some off-chance we could have mounted some opposition. Or at least gone on record. But like good Germans, we smiled and cheered on the destroyers.

I’m talking about …

Libya 2011. Installing “democracy”. Rescuing a country ruled by a “brutal dictator”. (Now there’s a phrase, wantonly and often maliciously floated for public consumption, I don’t need to hear again.)

History will record that Hillary Clinton was instrumental in the overthrow and assassination of Muammar Gaddafi. Don’t take my word for it. Listen to the words of this war criminal, the sick lady herself, in an interview that perfectly illustrates her lack of character, diabolical sense of humor, and deranged world view.

“We came, we saw, he died.” (Or here in case that posting is removed.)

The ‘he’ she was referring to was Gaddafi. Classy, eh? She was Secretary of State at the time. For some reason, she didn’t get the Nobel Peace Prize that year.

Now, to give you “up close and personal” exactly what the calculated, callous, criminal overthrow of the Gaddafi government meant, let me put some questions to you. Simple questions. And just relax! You’re not on trial. There’s nothing confrontational about any of this. I’m just making some comparisons to give a sense of the situation in Libya when Gaddafi was in power, and what changed along with his regime. Spoiler alert: The people there now are not at all pleased with the chaos, civil wars, criminal gangs, and what now passes for a government in Libya.

So …

What do you pay for gasoline? Ballpark. If you’re in California $4.65? In North Dakota $3.30?

Under Gaddafi, the price of gasoline was 42 cents a gallon. Now it would be maybe 65 cents. Libya was and is an oil-rich country. Under Gaddafi the oil wealth was owned by the state. Every cent of profit went into the public coffers to benefit citizens.

Which reminds me, cars are so darn expensive these days. How much did the government help you in purchasing a car? Nothing, you say?

Under Gaddafi, whenever a Libyan bought a car, the government subsidized 50% of the price.

What about electricity? I realize this varies from place to place and season to season. Overall, I don’t hear many people saying anything heartwarming about the amount of money they have to lay out for this most basic form of energy.

Well, under Gaddafi, electricity was FREE to everyone. Period.

How about bank loans, credit cards, other forms of credit? I realize that interest rates are pretty low right now. But credit card interest always seems excessive, would you agree?

Under Gaddafi, there was no interest on loans, banks in Libya were state-owned and loans given to all its citizens at zero percent interest by law.

How about when you got married? How big was the check from the U.S. Treasury as a wedding present? You didn’t get one. What a surprise!

Under Gaddafi, all newlyweds in Libya received $60,000 dinar ($50,000 USD) from the government to buy their first apartment, and to help start their family.

How much do you pay for health insurance?

Under Gaddafi, all health care was completely free to everyone.

How much did you pay for your education? Or how much are you paying for your kids?

Under Gaddafi, all education was free, right up through university. Before Gaddafi, only 25% of Libyans were literate. When he was assassinated, the figure was 83%. 25% of Libyans had a college degree.

Side note: If Libyans could not find the education or medical care they needed, the government funded them to go abroad. Not only did they pay for the medical treatments and education in full, Libyans abroad got the equivalent of $2,300/month USD for accommodation and car allowance.

Then there’s the problem young people graduating from college have finding a job. I read that kids are living at home until they’re 30, unable to support themselves, even with impressive college credentials. What is the U.S. government doing to address this? Anything? You know the answer.

Under Gaddafi, if a new college graduate was unable to find employment, the state would pay the average salary of the profession they studied for, until proper employment was found.

How about government assistance for becoming an independent farmer? We, of course, know the government has given tens of billions in farm subsidies over the past three decades, almost all of which ends up in the bank accounts of huge agricultural corporations. Essentially a hand-out to agri-conglomerates for doing nothing. But how about the family farmer?

Under Gaddafi, when citizens wanted to take up a farming career, they received from the Libyan government farm land, a farm house, all necessary equipment, seeds and livestock, everything needed to kick start their farms . . . ALL FOR FREE!

Of course, families are the core of a healthy society. When you or someone you know had children, how much did the folks in Washington DC send you to help with expenses? Still checking the mailbox?

Under Gaddafi, a mother who gave birth to a child received $5,000 USD.

How about having a place to live? We all know about the homelessness problem in the U.S. with an estimated 552,830 people living on the streets, in the alleys, behind dumpsters.

Under Gaddafi, having a home was considered a human right.

Of course, under Gaddafi Libya was one of those horrible socialist governments. You know how they are. Gaddafi put his own extreme twist on this cruel form of dictatorial rule, with its boot constantly on the necks of its citizens. Libya was and still is an oil-rich country. So …

Under Gaddafi, a portion of every oil sale was credited directly to the bank accounts of all Libyan citizens.

The guy just didn’t know when to quit, eh? What an a**hole!

But the U.S. and its NATO allies took care of all that. Thanks to the efforts of Hillary Clinton and a generous and decisive dose of regime change, all of that is gone now. The U.S. brought the American Way to Libya and now all that we’re lacking here, they’re lacking there. Success! And, lo and behold, ready for a euphemism to justify our war crimes? We knew that under Gaddafi, the people were craving “democracy”. So we brought “democracy” to them. Go Team America!

Having said all of that, I will concede that the new “liberated” Libya does has one new thing going on, which they didn’t have before. This is something we don’t even have here … not yet anyway.

Let me illustrate by asking one more set of questions.

Have you bought a slave lately? Maybe as a Christmas gift? Or maybe to just have some help around the house? Think of how SURPRISED someone would be if you bought them a slave for their birthday!

Because now that Gaddafi, the “evil dictator” is gone, there are open slave markets in Tripoli. You could fly there, pick up some sandals and a hijab for the lady, then buy a black man or woman as your own personal slave. Do as you see fit. You could work them to the bone or maybe f*ck them when you get the urge. Maybe both! That’s how slaves are treated.

Ladies, gentlemen, non-binaries, bi-binaries, multi-genders, snowflakes, trollers and ghost bots …

This is the “up close and personal” face of regime change. In real time. In real lives. People like you and me going from day to day, trying for a decent life for ourselves and those we love. This is what the U.S. under the enlightened leadership of people like Killary and Obomber inflict on real people.

The reality is, it’s not at all abstract on the ground. We might see a change in the color on a map. Or hear mention in the media of “new leadership”. People in those countries see their lives destroyed, their hopes vanquished, their dreams trashed.

Hillary Clinton in 2024? If this is not fake news, and there are enough people out there supporting her candidacy to make it happen, then there’s only one possible conclusion …

THE U.S. HAS BECOME COMPLETELY UNHINGED! MORALLY BANKRUPT AND CLINICALLY INSANE!

The post Regime Change: Up Close and Personal first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Hemispheric Gangsterism: The US Embargo Against Cuba Turns 60

It all seems worn, part of an aspic approach to foreign policy.  But US President Joe Biden is keen to ensure that old and lingering mistakes retain their flavour.  Towards Cuba, it is now 60 years since President John F. Kennedy’s Presidential Proclamation 3447 imposed an embargo on all trade with the island state.

The proclamation was packed with Cold War righteousness and much sanctimony.  Cuba, under the revolutionary Fidel Castro, fresh from overthrowing a Washington favourite and blood-smeared thug, Fulgencio Batista, was “incompatible with the principles and objectives of the Inter-American system”.  The US was “prepared to take all necessary actions to promote national and hemispheric security by isolating the present Government of Cuba and thereby reducing the threat posed by its alignment with communist powers.”

A year later, Kennedy invoked the Trading with the Enemy Act with the purpose of expanding the scope of the embargo, covering trade, travel, and financial transactions except those licensed by the Secretary of the Treasury, as directed by the president.

Prior to inking the prohibition of the importation into the US of all goods of Cuban origin and all goods imported from or through Cuba, Kennedy had a particular vice that needed feeding.  The resourceful press secretary Pierre Salinger was ordered to scour Washington and gather as many Cuban cigars (the H. Upmann Petit Upmann was a favourite) as he could by the morning.  The mission was a success: 1,200 cigars were found.

Acting with suitable presidential hypocrisy, Kennedy could then authorise the proclamation.  As Salinger recalls, “Kennedy smiled, and opened up his desk.  He took out a long paper which he immediately signed.  It was the decree banning all Cuban products from the United States.  Cuban cigars were now illegal in our country.”

It was very much in keeping with Kennedy’s own family’s tradition of self-enrichment and opportunism.  His father, Joe Kennedy, used his efforts in the latter part of 1933 to nab British importation acts to distribute a range of spirits, including Gordon’s gin, Haig & Haig Scotch whiskey, and Dewar’s.  Father Kennedy’s nose had picked up the right political scent: the disastrous era of Prohibition was coming to an end, and he was hardly going to miss out capitalising on it.  By the end of 1934, net profits had quadrupled.

The embargo began a series of justifications and rationales for a venal system that has proven to be bankrupt and, in large measure, ineffective.  Cuba has been the hemisphere’s villain so designated by the biggest of them all, at various points condemned for its relationship with the Soviet Union, its socialism, human rights abuses, and its lending of support for revolutions in Africa and Latin America.

Even before Kennedy came to power, the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower had concluded that the Castro regime could only be deprived of its support “through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship.”  The April 1960 memorandum from Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Lestor D. Mallory, seeking to justify an unlawful interference in the affairs of a sovereign state, suggested that such policies be adopted in an “adroit and inconspicuous” way to make “the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation, and overthrow government.”  This, in the argot of international relations, was the language of war.

At points, US officials could pettily gloat about the various effects of the embargo.  The prohibition of food sales to Cuba during Lyndon B. Johnson’s Presidency (Kennedy had exempted them) saw a delighted Gordon Chase, member of the National Security Council staff between 1962 and 1966, praise the “effective control over lard supplies.”  Cuba had resorted to importing “an inedible product from the Netherlands and then turn into an edible product.  It is low quality and the Cubans don’t like it.”  A truly mighty outcome.

The sanctions regime has, for the most, been in place for six decades.  There have been brief spells of tinkering.  In 1975, for instance, the embargo on trade between Cuba and the companies of US subsidiaries working in third countries, was lifted.  Two years later, under the Carter administration, the complete travel ban was lifted, and remittances to family members based on the island permitted.

But more typical were the apoplectic responses such as that of President Ronald Reagan, who re-imposed the travel ban and placed Cuba on the US State Department’s list of State Sponsors of International Terrorism.  Both Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton pushed the democratic fetish with some aggression, including the Cuba Democracy Act of 1992 and the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996.  This was hemispheric gangsterism in plain sight.

In 1982, despite admitting that the sanctions had initially done significant damage to “Cuba’s growth and general development”, a CIA case study had to concede that the embargo had fallen short in meeting its objectives.  Cuba’s capital base had diversified, making use of Soviet, East and Western European, and Japanese machinery and equipment.  Havana had guilefully resorted to front companies “to obtain various types of US products, particularly consumer goods.”

While falling short of admitting it had been a crude failure, the same study prosaically remarked that Castro’s position remained unchanged.  “Sanctions implied a grave external threat, which Castro exploited to carry out the radicalization of all Cuban political, economic, and social institutions.”

In 2012, at the five-decade point of US-Cuba sanctions, the Obama administration made some modest concessions to allowing US businesses to establish themselves in Cuba.  This policy shift had its own Trojan Horse element to it.  “By further easing these sanctions,” US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew reasoned at the time, “the United States is helping to support the Cuban people in their effort to achieve the political and economic freedom necessary to build a democratic, prosperous and stable Cuba.”

On December 17, 2014, President Barack Obama announced that he would be “ending an outdated policy that had failed to advance US interests and support reform and a better life for the Cuban people on the island over several decades.”  The new normalisation policy would increase engagements between Washington and Havana in “areas of mutual interest, and increase travel to, commerce with, and the free flow of information to Cuba.”  Rabid opponents foamily insisted that no measure should aid this satanic communist State.

The Trump administration proceeded to reverse what adjustments had been made to the US-Cuban relationship.  Individual travel by US citizens to Cuba for educational and cultural changes was prohibited.  Most functions of the US embassy in Havana were suspended.  Trump even went so far as to deem Cuba a state sponsor of international terrorism under the Export Administration Act of 1979.

President Biden has shown an almost soporific lack of interest in challenging the sanctions regime.  When it has acted, it has kept the system in place, going so far as to impose specific sanctions on Cuban security and interior ministry officials.  Responding to claims of Cuban government brutality in suppressing protests, Biden declared last July that the “United States will continue to sanction individuals responsible for oppression of the Cuban people.”

Some members of that mendacious class known as Congress are urging a trimming of sanctions, though their views remain modest and calculating in the name of benevolent self-interest.  In mid-December, 114 members or so sent a letter to the President calling for “humanitarian actions” to lift economic sanctions on food, medicine and other forms of humanitarian assistance.  “Engagement is more likely to enable the political, economic and social openings that Cubans may desire, and to ease the hardships that Cubans face today.”

Whichever group in Congress is consulted, from the vociferous Cuban American lobby in Florida to the claimed progressives in the metropolitan centres, all agree with one objective, however achieved: regime change.  The hemispheric gangster is simply biding its time.

The post Hemispheric Gangsterism: The US Embargo Against Cuba Turns 60 first appeared on Dissident Voice.

After a Year of Biden, Why Do We Still Have Trump’s Foreign Policy?

Getty Images

President Biden and the Democrats were highly critical of President Trump’s foreign policy, so it was reasonable to expect that Biden would quickly remedy its worst impacts. As a senior member of the Obama administration, Biden surely needed no schooling on Obama’s diplomatic agreements with Cuba and Iran, both of which began to resolve long-standing foreign policy problems and provided models for the renewed emphasis on diplomacy that Biden was promising.

Tragically for America and the world, Biden has failed to restore Obama’s progressive initiatives, and has instead doubled down on many of Trump’s most dangerous and destabilizing policies. It is especially ironic and sad that a president who ran so stridently on being different from Trump has been so reluctant to reverse his regressive policies. Now the Democrats’ failure to deliver on their promises with respect to both domestic and foreign policy is undermining their prospects in November’s midterm election.

Here is our assessment of Biden’s handling of ten critical foreign policy issues:

  1. Prolonging the agony of the people of Afghanistan. It is perhaps symptomatic of Biden’s foreign policy problems that the signal achievement of his first year in office was an initiative launched by Trump, to withdraw the United States from its 20-year war in Afghanistan. But Biden’s implementation of this policy was tainted by the same failure to understand Afghanistan that doomed and dogged at least three prior administrations and the U.S.’s hostile military occupation for 20 years, leading to the speedy restoration of the Taliban government and the televised chaos of the U.S. withdrawal.

Now, instead of helping the Afghan people recover from two decades of U.S.-inflicted destruction, Biden has seized $9.4 billion in Afghan foreign currency reserves, while the people of Afghanistan suffer through a desperate humanitarian crisis. It is hard to imagine how even Donald Trump could be more cruel or vindictive.

  1. Provoking a crisis with Russia over Ukraine. Biden’s first year in office is ending with a dangerous escalation of tensions at the Russia/Ukraine border, a situation that threatens to devolve into a military conflict between the world’s two most heavily armed nuclear states–the United States and Russia. The United States bears much responsibility for this crisis by supporting the violent overthrow of the elected government of Ukraine in 2014, backing NATO expansion right up to Russia’s border, and arming and training Ukrainian forces.

Biden’s failure to acknowledge Russia’s legitimate security concerns has led to the present impasse, and Cold Warriors within his administration are threatening Russia instead of proposing concrete measures to de-escalate the situation.

  1. Escalating Cold War tensions and a dangerous arms race with China. President Trump launched a tariff war with China that economically damaged both countries, and reignited a dangerous Cold War and arms race with China and Russia to justify an ever-increasing U.S. military budget.

After a decade of unprecedented U.S. military spending and aggressive military expansion under Bush II and Obama, the U.S. “pivot to Asia” militarily encircled China, forcing it to invest in more robust defense forces and advanced weapons. Trump, in turn, used China’s strengthened defenses as a pretext for further increases in U.S. military spending, launching a new arms race that has raised the existential risk of nuclear war to a new level.

Biden has only exacerbated these dangerous international tensions. Alongside the risk of war, his aggressive policies toward China have led to an ominous rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans, and created obstacles to much-needed cooperation with China to address climate change, the pandemic and other global problems.

  1. Abandoning Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran. After President Obama’s sanctions against Iran utterly failed to force it to halt its civilian nuclear program, he finally took a progressive, diplomatic approach, which led to the JCPOA nuclear agreement in 2015. Iran scrupulously met all its obligations under the treaty, but Trump withdrew the United States from the JCPOA in 2018. Trump’s withdrawal was vigorously condemned by Democrats, including candidate Biden, and Senator Sanders promised to rejoin the JCPOA on his first day in office if he became president.

Instead of immediately rejoining an agreement that worked for all parties, the Biden administration thought it could pressure Iran to negotiate a “better deal.” Exasperated Iranians instead elected a more conservative government and Iran moved forward on enhancing its nuclear program.

A year later, and after eight rounds of shuttle diplomacy in Vienna, Biden has still not rejoined the agreement. Ending his first year in the White House with the threat of another Middle East war is enough to give Biden an “F” in diplomacy.

  1. Backing Big Pharma over a People’s Vaccine. Biden took office as the first Covid vaccines were being approved and rolled out across the United States and the world. Severe inequities in global vaccine distribution between rich and poor countries were immediately apparent and became known as “vaccine apartheid.”

Instead of manufacturing and distributing vaccines on a non-profit basis to tackle the pandemic as the global public health crisis that it is, the United States and other Western countries chose to maintain the neoliberal regime of patents and corporate monopolies on vaccine manufacture and distribution. The failure to open up the manufacture and distribution of vaccines to poorer countries gave the Covid virus free rein to spread and mutate, leading to new global waves of infection and death from the Delta and Omicron variants

Biden belatedly agreed to support a patent waiver for Covid vaccines under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, but with no real plan for a “People’s Vaccine,” Biden’s concession has made no impact on millions of preventable deaths.

  1. Ensuring catastrophic global warming at COP26 in Glasgow. After Trump stubbornly ignored the climate crisis for four years, environmentalists were encouraged when Biden used his first days in office to rejoin the Paris climate accord and cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline.

But by the time Biden got to Glasgow, he had let the centerpiece of his own climate plan, the Clean Energy Performance Program (CEPP), be stripped out of the Build Back Better bill in Congress at the behest of fossil-fuel industry sock-puppet Joe Manchin, turning the U.S. pledge of a 50% cut from 2005 emissions by 2030 into an empty promise.

Biden’s speech in Glasgow highlighted China and Russia’s failures, neglecting to mention that the United States has higher emissions per capita than either of them. Even as COP26 was taking place, the Biden administration infuriated activists by putting oil and gas leases up for auction for 730,000 acres of the American West and 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico. At the one-year mark, Biden has talked the talk, but when it comes to confronting Big Oil, he is not walking the walk, and the whole world is paying the price.

  1. Political prosecutions of Julian Assange, Daniel Hale and Guantanamo torture victims. Under President Biden, the United States remains a country where the systematic killing of civilians and other war crimes go unpunished, while whistleblowers who muster the courage to expose these horrific crimes to the public are prosecuted and jailed as political prisoners.

In July 2021, former drone pilot Daniel Hale was sentenced to 45 months in prison for exposing the killing of civilians in America’s drone wars. WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange still languishes in Belmarsh Prison in England, after 11 years fighting extradition to the United States for exposing U.S. war crimes.

Twenty years after it set up an illegal concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to imprison 779 mostly innocent people kidnapped around the world, 39 prisoners remain there in illegal, extrajudicial detention. Despite promises to close this sordid chapter of U.S. history, the prison is still functioning and Biden is allowing the Pentagon to actually build a new, closed courtroom at Guantanamo to more easily keep the workings of this gulag hidden from public scrutiny.

  1. Economic siege warfare against the people of Cuba, Venezuela and other countries. Trump unilaterally rolled back Obama’s reforms on Cuba and recognized unelected Juan Guaidó as the “president” of Venezuela, as the United States tightened the screws on its economy with “maximum pressure” sanctions.

Biden has continued Trump’s failed economic siege warfare against countries that resist U.S. imperial dictates, inflicting endless pain on their people without seriously imperiling, let alone bringing down, their governments. Brutal U.S. sanctions and efforts at regime change have universally failed for decades, serving mainly to undermine the United States’s own democratic and human rights credentials.

Juan Guaidó is now the least popular opposition figure in Venezuela, and genuine grassroots movements opposed to U.S. intervention are bringing popular democratic and socialist governments to power across Latin America, in Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Honduras – and maybe Brazil in 2022.

  1. Still supporting Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen and its repressive ruler. Under Trump, Democrats and a minority of Republicans in Congress gradually built a bipartisan majority that voted to withdraw from the Saudi-led coalition attacking Yemen and stop sending arms to Saudi Arabia. Trump vetoed their efforts, but the Democratic election victory in 2020 should have led to an end to the war and humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

Instead, Biden only issued an order to stop selling “offensive” weapons to Saudi Arabia, without clearly defining that term, and went on to okay a $650 million weapons sale. The United States still supports the Saudi war, even as the resulting humanitarian crisis kills thousands of Yemeni children. And despite Biden’s pledge to treat the Saudis’ cruel leader, MBS, as a pariah, Biden refused to even sanction MBS for his barbaric murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

  1. Still complicit in illegal Israeli occupation, settlements and war crimes. The United States is Israel’s largest arms supplier, and Israel is the world’s largest recipient of U.S. military aid (approximately $4 billion annually), despite its illegal occupation of Palestine, widely condemned war crimes in Gaza and illegal settlement building. U.S. military aid and arms sales to Israel clearly violate the U.S. Leahy Laws and Arms Export Control Act.

Donald Trump was flagrant in his disdain for Palestinian rights, including tranferring the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to a property in Jerusalem that is only partly within Israel’s internationally recognized border, a move that infuriated Palestinians and drew international condemnation.

But nothing has changed under Biden. The U.S. position on Israel and Palestine is as illegitimate and contradictory as ever, and the U.S. Embassy to Israel remains on illegally occupied land. In May, Biden supported the latest Israeli assault on Gaza, which killed 256 Palestinians, half of them civilians, including 66 children.

Conclusion

Each part of this foreign policy fiasco costs human lives and creates regional–even global–instability. In every case, progressive alternative policies are readily available. The only thing lacking is political will and independence from corrupt vested interests.

The United States has squandered unprecedented wealth, global goodwill and a historic position of international leadership to pursue unattainable imperial ambitions, using military force and other forms of violence and coercion in flagrant violation of the UN Charter and international law.

Candidate Biden promised to restore America’s position of global leadership, but has instead doubled down on the policies through which the United States lost that position in the first place, under a succession of Republican and Democratic administrations. Trump was only the latest iteration in America’s race to the bottom.

Biden has wasted a vital year doubling down on Trump’s failed policies. In the coming year, we hope that the public will remind Biden of its deep-seated aversion to war and that he will respond—albeit reluctantly—by adopting more dovish and rational ways.

The post After a Year of Biden, Why Do We Still Have Trump’s Foreign Policy? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Why Washington’s Focus on “Credibility” is a Recipe for War

The most pressing threat to global security right now isn’t so-called “provocations” by either Russia or China. It is the United States’ misplaced obsession with its own “credibility”.

This rallying cry by Washington officials – echoed by the media and allies in London and elsewhere – is code for allowing the US to act like a global gangster while claiming to be the world’s policeman. US “credibility” was apparently thrown into question last summer – and only when President Joe Biden held firm to a pledge to pull US troops out of Afghanistan.

Prominent critics, including in the Pentagon, objected that any troop withdrawal would both suggest the US was backing off from a commitment to maintain the so-called “international order” and further embolden the West’s “enemies” – from the Taliban and Islamic State (IS) group to Russia and China.

In a postmortem in September, General Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, echoed a view common in Washington: “I think that our credibility with allies and partners around the world, and with adversaries, is being intensely reviewed by them to see which way this is going to go – and I think that damage is one word that could be used.”

At the same time, a former defence official in the George W Bush administration judged US credibility after the Afghanistan withdrawal at “rock bottom“.

The only way this understanding of US “credibility” makes sense is if one disregards the disastrous previous two decades of Washington’s role in Afghanistan. Those were the years in which the US army propped up a bunch of wildly unpopular kleptocrats in Kabul who ransacked the public coffers as the US launched an arms’ length drone war that ended up killing large numbers of Afghan civilians.

To bolster its apparently diminished “credibility” after the troop withdrawal, the US has imposed crushing sanctions on Afghanistan, deepening its current famine. There have also been reports of CIA efforts to run covert operations against the Taliban by aiding its opponents.

Cold War relic

Washington’s “credibility” was also seemingly in peril when US and Russian officials met in Geneva this week for negotiations in the midst of a diplomatic, and potential military, standoff over Ukraine.

The background are demands from Moscow that Washington stops encircling Russia with military bases and that Nato end its relentless advancement towards Russia’s borders. Nato should be a relic of a Cold War-era that officially ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991. Moscow dissolved its own version of Nato, the Warsaw Pact, more than three decades ago.

Russia had been given verbal assurances in 1990 by George HW Bush’s administration that Nato would not expand militarily beyond the borders of what was then West Germany. Seven years later, President Bill Clinton signed the Nato-Russia Founding Act on Mutual Relations, which committed Russia and Nato not to treat each other “as adversaries”, while Nato reiterated that there would be no “additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces” in former Eastern bloc states.

Every subsequent US administration has flagrantly broken both of these pledges, with Nato troops now stationed across eastern Europe. Perhaps not surprisingly, Moscow feels as menaced by Nato’s aggressive posturing, which serves to revive its Cold War fears, as Washington would if Russia placed military bases in Cuba and Mexico.

No one should forget that the US was prepared to bring the world to the brink of armageddon in a nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union in 1962 to prevent Moscow from stationing nuclear missiles in Cuba.

Historic alliance

Despite the current clamour about the need for the US to maintain its “credibility”, Washington was in fact only being asked at the Geneva talks to start honouring, 30 years late, commitments it made long ago and has repeatedly violated.

The latest flashpoint is Ukraine, Russia’s neighbour, which has been roiling since a coup in 2014 overthrew the elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of Moscow. The deeply divided country is split between those who want to prioritise their historic ties with Russia and those who want to be embraced by the European Union.

Moscow – and a proportion of Ukrainians – believe Washington and Europe are exploiting the push for an economic pact to engineer Ukraine’s subordination to Nato security policies, directed against Russia. Such fears are not misplaced. Each of what were formerly Soviet states that became an EU member has also been recruited to Nato. In fact, since 2009 it has been an official requirement, through the Treaty of Lisbon, that EU member states align their security policies with Nato.

Now US “credibility” apparently depends on its determination to bring Nato to Russia’s front door, via Ukraine.

US perfidy

Reporting on a working dinner with Russian diplomats last Sunday, before the Geneva meeting, Wendy Sherman, the US deputy secretary of state, recast that perfidy as the US stressing its commitment to “the freedom of sovereign nations to choose their own alliances”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, is being widely made out to be the aggressor after he posted tens of thousands of troops at the border with Ukraine.

One can argue whether those soldiers are massed for an invasion of Ukraine, as is being widely assumed in the western media, or as a show of force against a US-led Nato that believes it can do whatever it pleases in Russia’s backyard. Either way, a miscalculation by either side could prove disastrous.

According to the New York Times, General Milley has warned the Russians that an invasion force would face a prolonged insurgency backed by US weaponry. There are reports that Stinger anti-aircraft missiles have already been delivered to Ukraine.

Similarly, Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, has threatened“confrontation and massive consequences for Russia if it renews its aggression on Ukraine”.

Drumbeat of war

This reckless way of projecting “credibility” – and thereby making confrontations and war more, not less, likely – is currently on show in relation to another nuclear-armed power, China. For many months, the Biden administration has been playing what looks like a game of chicken with Beijing over China’s continuing assertion of a right to use force against Taiwan, a self-governing island off the coast of China that Beijing claims as its territory.

Few countries formally recognise Taiwan as a state, and nothing in relations between Taipei and China is settled. That includes heated disagreements over the division of airspace, with Taiwan – backed by the US – claiming that a whole chunk of southeast mainland China falls within its “defence zone”. That means the scaremongering headlines about record numbers of Chinese warplanes flying over Taiwan need to be taken with a large pinch of salt.

The same disputes apply to China and Taiwan’s respective claims to territorial waters, with a similar potential for provocation. The pair’s conflicting views of what constitutes their security and sovereignty are a ready hair-trigger for war – and in circumstances where one party possesses a large nuclear arsenal.

Nonetheless, the Biden administration has stomped into this long-simmering feud by feeding the media with alarmist headlines and security analysts with talking points about a possible US war with China over Taiwan. Top Pentagon officials have also stoked concerns of an imminent invasion of Taiwan by China.

Diplomatically, President Biden snubbed his nose at Beijing by inviting Taiwan to attend his so-called “democracy summit” last month. The event further inflamed Chinese indignation by showing Taiwan and China in separate colours on a regional map.

The CIA has announced the establishment of a new espionage centre with an exclusive focus on China. According to CIA director William Burns, it is necessary because the US is faced with “an increasingly adversarial Chinese government”. That “adversary”, however, poses no direct threat to US security – unless Washington chooses provocatively to bring Taiwan under its security umbrella.

Washington’s drumbeat has been so constant that a recent poll showed more than half of Americans supported sending US troops to defend Taiwan.

Nuclear hard line

The picture is the same with Iran. US “credibility” is being cited as the reason why Washington needs to take a hard line against Tehran – goaded, as ever, by Israel – on its presumed ambitions to build a nuclear bomb.

Israel, of course, has had its own large arsenal of nuclear weapons for decades – entirely unmonitored and in violation of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Both the US and Israel fear Iran wants to level the nuclear playing field in the Middle East. Israel is determined to make sure that only it has the power to make nuclear-backed threats, either against others in the region or as leverage in Washington to get its way.

President Barack Obama’s administration signed an agreement with Iran in 2015 placing strict limits on Tehran’s development of nuclear technology. In return, Washington lifted some of the most punishing sanctions on the country. Three years later, however, President Donald Trump reneged on the deal.

Now Iran suffers the worst of both worlds. The US has again intensified the sanctions regime while demanding that Tehran renew the deal on worse terms – and with no promise, according to US Secretary of State Blinken, that the next US administration won’t tear up the agreement anyway.

US “credibility” does not depend, it seems, on Washington being required to keep its word.

In the background, as ever, is the threat of joint military reprisals from Israel and the US. In October, Biden reportedly asked his national security adviser to review Pentagon plans for a military strike if this one-sided “diplomatic process” failed. A month later, Israel approved $1.5bn for precisely such an eventuality.

Drunk on power

Washington’s emphasis on its “credibility” is actually a story the US elite tells itself and western publics to obscure the truth. What is really prized is America’s ability to enforce its economic interests and military superiority unchallenged across the globe.

After the Korean and Vietnam wars, and the US overthrow of the elected government of Iran to reinstall its dictator-monarch, there is barely a corner of the planet where the US has not meddled. In Lebanon, the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria and its so-called “backyard”, Latin America, US “credibility” has required interventions and war as an alternative to diplomacy.

In October 2019, as Trump suggested that US troops would be pulled out of Syria – where they had no authorisation from the United Nations to be in the first place – Leon Panetta, a former defence secretary and former head of the CIA, observed that the decision had “weakened the US” and “undercut our credibility in the world”.

He added: “There isn’t an ally that we’ve around the world that doesn’t now distrust us and worry about whether or not we will stand by our word.”

But this kind of credibility is built not on principle, on respecting others’ national sovereignty, or on peace-building, but on the gangsterism of a superpower drunk on its own power and its ability to intimidate and crush rivals.

Washington’s “word” is only selectively kept, as its treatment of Russia and Iran highlight. And enforcement of its “credibility” – from breaking commitments to threatening war – has had a predictable effect: they have driven Washington’s “enemies” into an opposition camp out of necessity.

The US has created a more menacing adversary, as Russia and China, two nuclear powers, have found a common purpose in asserting a countervailing pressure on Washington. Since the late summer, the two have held a series of war games and joint military exercises, each of them a first.

The world is entering what looks like a new, even more complex cold war, in which any misunderstanding, mishap or false move could rapidly escalate into nuclear confrontation. If it happens, the pursuit of US “credibility” will have played a central part in the catastrophe.

First published in Middle East Eye

The post Why Washington’s Focus on “Credibility” is a Recipe for War first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Enduring Stain: The Guantánamo Military Prison Turns Twenty

Anniversaries for detention centres, concentration camps and torture facilities are not the relishable calendar events in the canon of human worth.  But not remembering them, when they were used, and how they continue being used, would be unpardonable amnesia.

On January 11, 2002, the first prisoners of the absurdly named “War on Terror”, declared with such confused understanding by US President George W. Bush, began arriving at the newly constructed Camp X-Ray prison at the US naval base in Guantánamo Bay.  Structurally crude, it was intended as a temporary facility, remote and out of sight.  Instead, it became a permanent and singular contribution of US political and legal practice, withering due process and civil liberties along the way.

After two decades, 779 prisoners have spent time there, many of whom were low level operatives of minimal importance.  Prior to being sent to the camp, the detainees endured abductions, disappearances, and torture in US-operated centres in allied countries.  The previous director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gina Aspel, had more than a nodding acquaintance with this process, having overseen operations at a black site in Thailand specialising in interrogating al-Qaeda suspects.

Guantánamo Bay was a mad, cruel experiment about how legal limbos and forged purgatories of the law can function to dehumanise and degrade.  It was developed by people supposedly versed in a liberal legal tradition but keen to make exceptions in battling a supposedly novel enemy.  The detainees were deemed “unlawful enemy combatants” – as if there was such a thing – thereby placing them outside the formal protections of humanitarian law.  They were subjected to sleep deprivation, forced feeding, lengthy detainment, beatings, stress positions and an assortment of other torture methods.

In 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney sneered at suggestions that the inmates were being mistreated.  “They’re living in the tropics.  They’re well fed.  They’ve got everything they could possibly want.  There wasn’t any other nation in the world that would treat people who were determined to kill Americans the way we’re treating these people.”

The closure of the facility has been constantly urged with minimal return.  It was one of the electoral messages of the presidential campaign in 2007.  Barack Obama and his rival, Hillary Clinton, endorsed the idea.  As did the Republican contender for the White House, John McCain.  As Obama declared at the time, “In the dark halls of Abu Ghraib and the detention cells of Guantánamo, we have compromised our most precious values.”

A joint US-European Union statement from June 15, 2009 noted, with welcome, the decision by President Obama to affect a closure by January 22 the following year.  But it also acknowledged what has been a persistent problem: returning detainees to their countries of origin or a third country that might be willing to accept them.

In the dying days of the Obama administration, the facility, despite a reduction in the inmate population, remained functional.  Congress proved recalcitrant and obstructive on the issue but there was also opposition to the closure from various arms of government, including the Pentagon.  Lee Wolosky, formerly Obama’s Special Envoy for Guantánamo Closure, could only marvel darkly at this seemingly indestructible piece of legal infrastructure.  “In large part,” he wrote, this mess had been “self-inflicted – a result of our own decisions to engage in torture, hold detainees indefinitely without charge, set up dysfunctional military commissions and attempt to avoid oversight by the federal courts.”

In 2016, Donald Trump, the eventual victor of that year’s presidential contest, repeatedly insisted that he would “load it with some bad dudes”.  In 2018, he signed a new executive order keeping the military prison open, reiterating the line that terrorists were not merely “criminals” but “unlawful enemy combatants”.  Releasing any such individuals from Guantánamo had been, he observed gravely, a mistake.  “In the past, we have foolishly released hundred and hundreds of dangerous terrorists only to meet them again on the battlefield, including the ISIS leader, [Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi, who we captured, who we had, who we released.”

On the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the camp’s opening, Agnès Callamard, secretary-general of Amnesty International, was yet another voice to urge its closure.  “President Joe Biden, like President Barack Obama before him, has promised to close it, but so far has failed to do so.”  She insisted that each detainee’s case be resolved, be it through transfer and release, or via “a regularly constituted federal court without recourse to the death penalty.”

Despite being an enduring blot on the country’s credibility, the facility remains ingloriously open, a reminder that there are legal provinces where the US is willing to detain people indefinitely, without trial or scrutiny.  Thirty-nine men remain, thirteen of whom are in indefinite detention.  This is despite the latter having had their transfers out of the facility approved a decade ago.  The calls for the military prison’s closure reach occasional crescendos, but these eventually diminish before the machinery of stifling bureaucracy.  Tragically, there is every risk that the Guantánamo experiment will be replicated rather than abolished.  Such creations, once brought into being, can prove deathless.

The post Enduring Stain: The Guantánamo Military Prison Turns Twenty first appeared on Dissident Voice.