Category Archives: Imperialism

The South China Sea: What’s Really at Issue

The South China Sea is basically China’s export waterway to Africa and to Europe (among other markets), but in order for China’s enemy (aspiring conqueror), America, to harm and weaken China maximally, and to use the United Nations assisting in that aggression, America and its allies have cast this vital trade-waterway as being instead basically just an area to be exploited for oil and gas, and minerals, and fishing. The American Government’s aggression — its effort to strangulate China’s international commerce — thus becomes ignored by the U.N., which is consequently handling the entire issue under its law which pertains to a nation’s (China’s) rights to exploit the natural resources of and under a given waterway.

The international legal issue, which is being applied, is therefore the 1982 U.N. Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This treaty (law) has been ratified, or at least signed, by all countries except the United States, whose hold-out for 12 years had blocked the Convention even from coming into effect. Then, finally (when Guyana, on 16 November 1993, did, after so much delay, become the requisite 60th country to ratify the Convention, so as to bring it into actual effect), the U.S., on 29 July 1994, went through the mere formality of signing the Agreement, because Part XI of the Convention (“to authorize seabed exploration and mining and collect and distribute the seabed mining royalty”) had, by this time, become modified, to the satisfaction of Exxon and other U.S. oil-and-gas corporations, so that U.S. President Bill Clinton had UNCLOS signed by the U.S. — but not sufficiently satisfied to have it ratified by the U.S., which nation therefore still remains the lone holdout amongst the 179 U.N. member nations that had been invited to join it. (Some countries are entirely landlocked.) So, ironically, the lone holdout-nation, U.S., is now militarily threatening China (one of the Convention’s actual member-nations), for its allegedly violating that Convention, in regard to what is, in fact, China’s essential exportation (and importation) waterway, even more important to China than its being a potential Chinese natural-resource asset.

Furthermore, China has long wanted to reduce much of its need to ship through the South China Sea, by means of building what for China would be equivalent to what the Panama Canal is for the U.S., but this new canal would be located in Thailand, which America conquered in its 1948 coup — the CIA’s first. If built, this Thai Canal would significantly reduce China’s costs of importing oil from Iran and Arabia, as well as its costs of exporting goods to India, and to Europe and Africa. Therefore, the U.S. regime is willing to pay whatever the cost might be in order to bribe Thai leaders to continue saying no to that canal-proposal. (But, will China ultimately outbid America? There is a tug-of-war in Thailand about whether to participate in China’s proposal.)

The U.S. thus blocks China, both via the UNCLOS, and via China’s main potential method of avoiding its need to rely so heavily upon its usage of the South China Sea — the Thai Canal.

This is consequently a good example of how the imperialistic U.S. Government, which is uniquely hostile toward the United Nations, nonetheless exploits the U.N., and yet still receives deferential treatment from it — so that the U.S. can actually use the U.N. as a tool to advance its own imperialistic objectives of conquering yet more territory, additional vassal-nations or ‘allies’.

The U.N. is, furthermore, exceptionally proud of its achievement in having finally passed UNCLOS into international law. As it says, “‘Possibly the most significant legal instrument of this century’ is how the United Nations Secretary-General described the treaty after its signing.”

None of this can be understood outside the context of international law itself, which is tragically corrupt, as a result of the following history, the backstory here:

Though the U.N. was invented and even named by America’s President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), he died just before it started, and his successor Harry S. Truman shaped it by modifying FDR’s plan, so that the U.N. would gradually fail, and, instead, the U.S. Government would itself emerge effectively as being the global government over all other governments — America’s Government would become a global dictatorship over nations, instead of the U.N. coming into existence as the global democratic republic of nations (FDR’s U.N.) that FDR had aimed for it to be, controlling international relations after World War II, in such a manner as to prevent a WW III.

We thus live in Truman’s post-WW-II world, definitely not in FDR’s.

After World War II (in which the U.S. and UK were allied with the U.S.S.R. against the fascist powers that had invaded countries which had not even been threatening them), America soon launched a string of coups and invasions — overthrowing and replacing governments that hadn’t even posed any threat, at all, to America’s national security — and the world thereby became increasingly accustomed to the fact that America’s military and CIA are, in fact, the world’s new invading military force, replacing Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and the Emperor’s Japan, in that capacity, as international dictators. (That’s something which FDR had been planning to prevent any nation from being.) The first four U.S. coups were against Thailand in 1948, Syria in 1949, Iran in 1953, and Guatemala in 1954; and each American coup replaced a moderate leader with a brutal fascist regime, crushing democracy there. (The U.S. takeover in Syria lasted only a few years.) America also engaged in numerous outright military invasions, many of them using hired proxy forces (U.S.-funded mercenaries), instead of using U.S. soldiers, as being the U.S. regime’s “boots on the ground,” to do the actual killing and dying. America thereby became the invading country throughout the world, which is what the fascist powers had been in World War II.

The post-WW-II America thus emerged as standing above international law, ever since the 1945 end of WW II. In effect, America’s Government has internationally become the world’s government — by force of arms. Other countries are subject to international law, but the U.S. is not. The U.S. has emerged as the international empire, taking over, and dominating, in more and more countries, until it now openly demands compliance from all countries, and even threatens Iraq’s Government, that if Iraq tries to expel the U.S. occupying forces, the U.S. will permanently destroy Iraq.

America’s imperialist fascism has become so bold, for so long, so that news-media don’t even report it. If one lays a WW II ideological template over the world’s nations today, then today’s U.S. and its allies are much more fitting the mold and form of the Axis powers, than of the Allied powers; but, this time, instead of there being Germany and its allies as the imperialistic fascists, we today have America and its allies, as constituting the imperialistic fascist nations. America assumed this role gradually, first as that role was ‘justified’ supposedly as being an ideological contest between democracy versus communism (which, on the U.S. side, was merely an excuse, not an authentic explanation); but, then, increasingly, without any such ideological excuse, as being, simply, America’s alleged ‘superiority’ (such as the recent U.S. President, Barack Obama, repeatedly asserted, that “The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation,” which means that every other nation is “dispensable”; only America is not). It is now as flagrant with America as it had been with Hitler’s Germany (“Deutschland über alles,” etc.). The gloves have finally been taken off, by today’s U.S. imperialist fascist regime. The U.S. even has the world’s highest percentage of its own population being in prisons, a higher imprisonment-rate than that of any other country. This is very appropriate for the world’s most totalitarian country. So, the dictatorship isn’t only international — it is even intranational, inside the U.S. And it very much is in control over the nation’s news media. It’s a two-Party dictatorship.

When U.S. President FDR died as WW II was ending, his dream for the future was that America and its allies in WW II would create a democratic super-nation controlled by all nations, a United Nations that would have the military force throughout the world to enforce international laws, which would be made democratically by the U.N., through its Security Council and General Assembly. But, nowadays, instead, the U.S. and its allies are free to invade anywhere they wish, and — unlike what happened to the fascist leaders during WW II — the U.S.-and-allied leaders get away with it, and they aren’t even charged by the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. They stand above international law: precisely the sort of situation that FDR had aimed to prohibit.

For example, one of America’s allies — and thus immune to international law — is Israel; and, on September 3rd, the international news site South Front headlined “Israeli Forces Rain Down Missiles on Syria”, and reported that:

The Israeli Air Force conducted a second round of missiles strikes on Syria in less than a week.
Late on September 2, Israeli warplanes launched missiles at the T4 airport in the province of Homs. According to Syria’s state media, the strikes were conducted from the direction of the US-controlled zone of al-Tanf on the Syrian-Iraqi border. Syrian pro-government sources claimed that a large part of the missiles was intercepted. …
The most recent previous Israeli strike on Syria took place on August 31 targeting the countryside of Damascus city and the province of Daraa.

Syria does not invade Israel, but Israel routinely invades Syria, and long has done so — and yet Israel’s leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, is not being strung up and executed by an international criminal court, like the leaders of Germany and Japan were supposed to have been, after WW II. That Judgment at Nuremberg, and similar trials against some of Japan’s leaders, were actually only victors’ ‘justice’ against some of Germany’s and Japan’s leaders, but (at the time) the victorious Allies claimed it to be the start of international justice, and to be the enforcement of international law — even though the trials were held only against Germany’s and Japan’s leaders, but not also against Italy’s. (Italy had signed with the Allies the Armistice of Cassabile surrendering on 8 September 1943, and this was part of that deal — Italy’s Government wasn’t quite as horrific as the other two, which held out till the bitter end.) These trials were prosecuting against “aggressive war”: the charge was that the imperialistic fascists had invaded countries that hadn’t invaded them — exactly what the U.S. and its allies constantly and now routinely do, after WW II (overthrowing and replacing governments that had not even so much as threatened the U.S. and its allies).

The U.S. and its allies are today’s imperialistic fascists, and the U.N. can do nothing against them. The U.N. can do nothing against the leaders of America and its allies for doing what had been done by the leaders of Germany and Japan during WW II.

Hitler’s and Hirohito’s spirits thus now rule in the self-styled (but now only formally) ‘democratic’ countries, whose rulers reign with far nicer rhetoric — far more hypocrisy — than their 1930s fascist predecessors had done. And the U.N. is dead, because it became created by Harry S. Truman, instead of by FDR.

Consequently, let’s consider, in more depth here, the example of China:

China is a communist country, but its communism is drastically changed from the time when Mao Zedong founded it, and its Marxism is unrecognizable, no longer a “dictatorship by the proletariat,” but instead one-Party rule by a Party that anyone, of any economic class, is invited to join, and which is widely considered by the Chinese people to be a “democracy.” (A far larger percentage of Chinese consider their Government to be a “democracy” than the percentage of Americans who consider America’s Government to be a “democracy.” Chinese don’t consider the number of political parties to be any indication of whether the nation is a democracy as opposed to a dictatorship. They are correct in that. In fact: America’s own Founders had aimed to be creating a nation which would have no parties at all.)

FDR made a clear distinction between a national democracy and an international democracy. He believed that international relations should be an international democracy of independent nations that deal with each other on a cooperative instead of coercive basis, and that international laws should govern this, coming from and being enforced by the United Nations. By contrast, national democracy was to be a choice that only the people within a given nation should determine, and the U.N. should have no relevance to, or control over, that. “Human rights” are individuals’ rights, and are an internal matter within each nation, whereas the rights of nations are very different, and are the purview exclusively of the U.N., as FDR was planning it. This was how he planned for there to be a post-WW-II world which would have no World War III.

By contrast, today’s U.S. regime claims, for example, the authority to dictate what countries should control which international waterways. This is clearly infringing on the U.N.’s area of authority; and, so, Truman’s U.N. has no control over the matter, though it does have vague laws which pertain to it. Today’s U.N.’s laws ignore one cardinal position — a cardinal geostrategic principle, the Westphalian principle — that FDR and the Soviet Union’s dictator, Joseph Stalin, agreed upon and which Winston Churchill opposed: the view that each of the major world powers should be allowed to intervene in the internal affairs of a foreign nation only if that foreign nation is on its borders or at least nearby (which was undefined). This was the Westphalian system, but enhanced so as to be explicitly anti-imperialistic, because both FDR and Stalin believed that both World Wars had resulted from imperialism. Both leaders rejected imperialism but accepted that there exists a distinction between major and minor powers, such that the nearby surrounds of a major power need to be entirely nations that are allied with that major power, or, at least not hostile toward it — not allied with any major power that is hostile toward itself. In other words: both men rejected Churchill’s demand that empires be allowed, which could extend beyond a major world power’s own “neighborhood.” Churchill wanted to continue the British Empire. Truman accepted Churchill’s view, and rejected the view of both FDR and Stalin. Consequently, Truman and Churchill agreed together to move forward toward an all-encompassing U.S.-UK Empire. (Though, nominally, the Westphalian principle had already become a part of the U.N.’s subsequent Charter — because of FDR — as being Chapter 1, Article 2, Paragraph 7, it was ignored from the outset, and the U.N. organization itself became set up so as to hide the entire Charter from the public. The numerous deficiencies in the Charter — such as its failure to include any clause describing a process by which the Charter could be amended — thus have likewise been hidden from the public, and not debated, nor discussed; and, thereby, the U.S. and UK have been able to have their way: the system for future global dictatorship was thus born.)

Consequently, geostrategic issues were prohibited by the U.S. regime from being subjects of international law. Though international law allowed vague references to “aggressive war,” simply because FDR’s U.S. had already established the system to pursue and hang German and Japanese leaders for their having done that, the concept of “aggression” became smudged in international law, instead of defined; and, so, aggression is practically absent as a topic of international law as it currently exists. This is how the South China Sea issue came to be treated only as being an issue of natural-resource rights. The U.N.’s Charter is essentially irrelevant to what is the most important. (Even its Westphalian clause — which is only the original, weaker, empire-accepting, form of Westphalianism — is irrelevant, since it’s ignored.)

China’s ability to ship its products westward via the South China Sea is crucial to China’s economy. Consequently, the imperialist fascist regime and its allies are trying to reduce that ability. Because this is Truman’s, instead of FDR’s, post-WW-II world, the existing relevant international laws lack sufficient clarity, and the U.S. and its allies can, under existing law, gradually choke-off China’s exports.

Katherine Morton’s 20 July 2016 article, “China’s ambition in the South China Sea”, in the journal International Affairs, argues that China’s ambition in the South China Sea is primarily driven by China’s thousands-of-years-old commercial policy, of being a maritime nation, a nation whose economy is based upon international trade. This is not imperialistic, but it instead concerns international rights that every nation ought to have. (Until 1912, China was ruled by imperialistic Emperors, but afterwards it was no longer imperialistic and has instead been defending itself against imperialistic powers.) Morton argues that China’s objective is not any grand design to achieve maritime hegemony — such as the U.S. regime has, and such as England, Holland, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Germany, and Japan, previously had done. It’s not imperial rule over countries that aren’t in their own neighborhood. It’s not conquest; it is instead self-defense. America and its allies do the coups, invasions, and international economic sanctions (economic blockades, even), but China does not. That, basically, is Morton’s argument (though she doesn’t put it in those clear terms). She says that China’s “attention is primarily focused upon demonstrating political resolve to defend China’s maritime periphery. Yet conclusive evidence that the Chinese leadership is intent upon dominating the South China Sea for the broader purpose of building a Sino‐centric maritime order in east Asia is difficult to find.” (The obtuseness — if not self-contradictoriness — of her writing might be due to her desire not to offend the U.S. regime’s own imperialistic sensibilities. Such a style is common amongst international-affairs scholars in the U.S.-and-allied world.)

However, the U.S. regime claims that China, instead of America, is the imperialistic power. The U.S. regime, as usual, claims to have the international right to enforce its will in international affairs anywhere on the planet. Sometimes, today’s U.N.-based international laws are in favor of outcomes that the U.S. regime wants. Thus, we have the matter of the South China Sea, where the U.N. body, UNCLOS, ruled on 12 July 2016 that the only relevant question is which nation is the nearest to a given part of a waterway (so as to have the right to explore and exploit there). The international laws by today’s U.N. ignore geostrategic issues, such as both FDR and Stalin wanted to include in them, but Churchill and Truman wanted international laws to ignore such matters so that UK and now U.S. could jointly pursue world-conquest. Since the UNCLOS ruling in 2016 opposed China’s claims, by ignoring its major-power concerns about its self-defense, the U.S., under the hyper-aggressive ruler, Donald Trump, recently came out publicly committed to enforcing that 2016 ruling by the U.N. body. On September 1st, Reuters headlined “Special Report: Pentagon’s latest salvo against China’s growing might — Cold War bombers”, and reported that:

On July 21, two U.S Air Force B-1B bombers took off from Guam and headed west over the Pacific Ocean to the hotly contested South China Sea. The sleek jets made a low-level pass over the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its escorting fleet, which was exercising nearby in the Philippines Sea, according to images released by the U.S. military. The operation was part of the Trump administration’s intensifying challenge to China’s ruling Communist Party and its sweeping territorial claims over one of the world’s most important strategic waterways. While senior Trump officials launch diplomatic and rhetorical broadsides at Beijing, the U.S. Defense Department is turning to the firepower of its heavily armed, long-range bombers as it seeks to counter Beijing’s bid to control the seas off the Chinese coast. …
The U.S. Army also intends to spread forces through the first island chain and other outposts in the Western Pacific. It is planning a series of major exercises this year and next where troops would deploy to islands in the region, according to senior commanders and top Pentagon officials.

The U.S. regime is using, as its excuse, its backing the territorial claims of what it claims to be its ‘allies’ against China — such as Vietnam. Meanwhile, the regime is applying diplomacy and other means, in order to encourage those ‘allies’ to insist upon, and not to compromise or weaken, those claims. Vietnam quickly responded to America’s active backing, by “Vietnam Threatens China with Litigation over the South China Sea”.

What’s at issue there is underwater oil-and-gas exploration-and-development rights of the various nations’ corporations. If China truly does not place its corporations’ commercial interests above the Chinese nation’s self-defense interests, then it will sacrifice the former for the latter, and it will cede those other nations’ rights to exploit that oil and gas, and will settle with its neighbors, for an agreement by all of America’s ‘allies’ to support and endorse China’s rights to traverse unimpeded through those waterways.

If the U.S. regime then would continue its heavy military fortifications surrounding China, then China would (in accord with its agreements that it will have reached with Vietnam and those other neighboring nations) be receiving, from those nations’ endorsements of China’s rights in that regard (for China’s self-defense), and from those nations’ public requests for U.S. forces to depart from their region, support for China’s shipping rights, which would be at least as valuable to China as whatever the natural resources there are worth.

In regards to the 12 July 2016 ruling by UNCLOS, it concerned specifically the case between China and the Philippines, and it presented the Philippines’ challenging China’s claims, which claims were/are based on arguments such as (regarding “Scarborough Shoal”) that “Since the Yuan Dynasty, the Chinese people have never stopped developing and exploiting Huangyan Island and its surrounding waters and the Chinese government has exercised effective management and jurisdiction over their activities all these years.” The ruling replied to that assertion by saying, “The Tribunal’s conclusions with respect to” that area are “independent of the question of sovereignty.” But, whatever the ruling was based upon, what’s relevant here is that the U.S. Government has no right to be sending its warships and other weapons into the South China Sea in order to ‘enforce’ UNCLOS’s ruling. And whatever China’s claims are or were in this matter, they cover(ed) a very large area, which encompasses almost all of the South China Sea — it encompasses the area that’s within the “nine-dash line,” which is shown here in green. Although UNCLOS (actually the U.N.-authorized body that administers it, the International Seabed Authority) is legitimately involved in this matter; the U.S. Government is the opposite: it is instead an international-law violator and has no right to be involved, at all, and is illegally throwing its weight around where it doesn’t belong and should be expelled — and would be expelled if this were FDR’s U.N., instead of Truman’s U.N.

Another way that Truman’s U.N. helps the U.S. regime geostrategically against China is the issue of Hong Kong — an internal Chinese matter, which wouldn’t even be a U.N. concern if the U.N. had been created instead by the U.N.’s inventor, FDR. (Even the original, weaker, form of the Westphalian principle — the version that’s in the U.N.’s Charter — would prohibit outside involvement in this matter.) As Reuters headlined on September 3rd, “U.N. experts decry Hong Kong security law in open letter to China”. Any U.N. that gets involved in any nation’s internal affairs, and in such things as ‘human rights’, should be simply dissolved, because it is advancing imperialism, instead of preventing it.

Basically, today’s U.N. is just a talking-forum, a PR vehicle for its member-nations; but, actually, at the deepest level, it’s a propaganda-agency for imperialism. That’s what it was designed for.

If China can win the support of its neighbors in the region to kick America out, then the sacrifice of such assets as oil and gas there would be a relatively inconsequential price for China to pay. Unfortunately, today’s U.N. must be eliminated and replaced by one that builds upon FDR’s intentions, because today’s U.N. — Truman’s U.N. — is exactly the opposite.

America’s having its weaponry and forces on and near China’s borders is even worse than when in 1962 the Soviet Union placed its forces in Cuba — and nearly precipitated WW III. America has no right to be there. And today’s U.N. has no justification to continue its existence — a replacement of it is direly needed.

Details of the existing U.N.’s deficiency in the present situation will here be summarily stated: UNCLOS asserts: “Every State has the right to establish the breadth of its territorial sea up to a limit not exceeding 12 nautical miles.” That’s the outermost limit of any coastal nation’s “sovereignty.” Furthermore: “Non-compliance by warships with the laws and regulations of the coastal State. If any warship does not comply with the laws and regulations of the coastal State concerning passage through the territorial sea and disregards any request for compliance therewith which is made to it, the coastal State may require it to leave the territorial sea immediately.” But Truman’s U.N. possesses no military force of its own and therefore that “coastal State” is provided no protection by today’s U.N. Furthermore: UNCLOS even allows an enemy nation’s naval vessels into that 12-mile limit, but “submarines and other underwater vehicles are required to navigate on the surface and to show their flag.” There is no limit upon how near the shore an enemy’s warships are allowed to come. Yet the U.S. violates UNCLOS routinely. What military force exists against its doing so? What legal tribunal exists that covers this? Furthermore: The agreement by FDR and Stalin, that any major world power needs to have some sort of right to veto or block any nearby nation from coordinating with any other major power that is hostile toward that given major world power, is entirely absent from the existing U.N. — existing international law. Consequently, for example: The U.S., under JFK in 1962, was acting in violation of the subsequent 1982 UNCLOS, when he ordered the Soviet military to depart from Cuba — that was beyond the 12-mile limit. Existing international law has to be replaced. It ignores essential geostrategic concerns to prohibit imperialism and to minimize any likelihood of a WW III. It needs to be replaced.

And that’s not the only reason why the current system of international laws needs to be replaced. The existing international dictatorship, which is the U.S. regime, is even more conservative than is Truman’s U.N. For example: As of October 2019, there are 37 “Treaties Pending in the Senate” (the U.S. Senate). These U.N.-backed treaties all are of a progressive nature, asserting the rights of workers and obligations of employers, etc.; and, in fact, the first three of these treaties deal specifically with workers’ rights. The earliest of them, activated in 1949, is the “International Labor Organization Convention No. 87 Concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, adopted by the International Labor Conference at its 31st Session held at San Francisco, June 17 – July 10, 1948 (Treaty Doc.: Ex. S, 81st Cong., 1st Sess.); submitted to Senate August 27, 1949.” President Truman could not get Republicans to back it, because they opposed workers’ rights. They still do, and the Treaty still isn’t joined by the U.S. regime. Indeed, as Roncevert Ganan Almond noted, in his 24 May 2017 article in support of “U.S. Ratification of the Law of the Sea Convention”, “Even treaties that flow from American leadership, in areas like protecting rights for persons with disabilities, are rejected.” They’re always being rejected by Senate Republicans. (Truman, of course, was a Democrat; and, on most issues, the leadership of that Party is less conservative than is the leadership of the Republican Party.) Thus, though Truman’s U.N. is conservative, it isn’t as conservative as is the U.S. regime itself, which is even more conservative than Truman himself was. Physically, Hitler and Hirohito lost WW II; but, spiritually, they turned out to have won it. The reason is that FDR tragically died too early.

  • Originally posted at Strategic Culture.
  • The post The South China Sea: What’s Really at Issue first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    The Current Impasse in Belarus and the Peace Alternative 

    Back in the 1970s, the left and even many liberals were clear that Nixon’s dropping napalm on Vietnamese villages was an abomination. By the 1990s, some thought Bill Clinton’s bombing of Yugoslavia was, perhaps, humanitarian. Fast forward to the present, there is sentiment that the US has a global “responsibility to protect” the less enlightened lands in the name of “democracy.” Some on the liberal-left fail to recognize the fallacy of what Jean Bricmont exposes as “humanitarian imperialism – using human rights to sell war.”

    In response to a peace organization advocating no foreign intervention in the internal affairs of Belarus, a US commentator protested: “[T]here has been no US intervention in the country. There’s nothing wrong, intrinsically, with external support of democracy. Your support for someone who seems like a bloody dictator is dismaying.” So, several inevitable questions arise. What is a dictator? Has there been foreign intervention in Belarus? Who has the right to intervene? And does advocating non-intervention implicitly support a presumptive dictator?

    The Belarusian presidential election as a catalyst for regime change

    Opposition elements in Belarus had long planned to use the September 9 presidential election as a catalyst for regime change. Their main base is with upwardly mobile white-collar professionals. However, they would have not been able to rally the tens of thousands of demonstrators had there not been broad and genuine discontent with President Alexander Lukashenko.

    Elements of the opposition leadership in Belarus are partly financed by the European Union and the US and reflect those political interests. They have adopted the red and white flag, flown during the Nazi occupation. Their Resuscitation Reform Package, modeled after a nearly identical program for Ukraine, calls for the complete neoliberal privatization of the economy and an alignment with the NATO west.

    Exit polls, conducted by the opposition, were cited to claim gross electoral fraud with Lukashenko garnering only 3% of the vote. Other observers accepted that Lukashenko won a majority but not by the official count of 80%. Golos, a pro-opposition election monitoring organization using data collected by US-backed youth organizations, reported Lukashenko winning with 61.7%.

    BBC News laments that the election in Belarus had “no independent observers invited.” Yet there was an election observation delegation from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which reported the August 9 election “was open and competitive and ensured that Belarus citizens could freely express their will.” But the CIS report did not have the kind conclusion or “independence” sought by the BBC, itself a quasi-governmental corporation of the British state and funded by a mandatory state levy.

    The voices of political tendencies and parties in Belarus and elsewhere in Europe that consider themselves socialist or communist, but are critical of their home governments, are excluded by western media. Even leftish outlets such as Democracy Now! follow the flag repeating the US/NATO regime change narrative, without providing alternative views. DN! laments the “massive crackdown on any kind of independent reporting” in Belarus, while serving as an information gatekeeper in the homeland of the empire.

    Objectively, no one authoritatively knows the real outcome of the vote.

    Convenient definitions of a dictator

    Being unelected or fraudulently elected is not the only definition of a dictator. The functional definition for the US government is a leader disloyal to the empire.

    Washington considers the democratically elected President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro a dictator. While Juan Guaidó, who proclaimed himself president of Venezuela on a Caracas street corner and was immediately recognized by the US government, is considered a legitimate head of state.

    The monarch of Saudi Arabia is considered legitimate by Washington, even though the ruling House of Saud does not even bother to conduct sham elections. This is a country where women do not have basic rights, where slavery is practiced, and where those who run afoul with the law are routinely beheaded. But Saudi Arabia is the largest purchaser of US military equipment in the world, eclipsing the next contender by a factor of 2.6. So, the Saudi monarch is not on the official US list of dictators.

    Then there are the leaders chosen and installed by the US after coups, such as Ukraine in 2014. There, the US literally handpicked the post-coup leader for Ukraine from a rogue’s gallery of neo-Nazis.

    Intervention in Belarus by the West

    The US does not have boots on the ground in Belarus and, so far, has refrained from drone attacks on funerals or wedding parties. Despite this praiseworthy restraint by the world’s sole superpower, it would be wrong to assume that the US is not intervening in Belarus. A US hybrid warfare program has been in effect since at least 2004 when the US passed the Belarus Democracy Act creating anti-government NGOs in Belarus and prohibiting loans.

    Belarus is under unilateral US sanctions, illegal under international law, but justified by a presidential declaration, which bogusly claims a “national emergency” because Belarus “constitute[s] an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

    The USAID, the above-ground face of the CIA, states in Orwellian language the US regime change plans for Belarus:

    “[P]romote the emergence of a… market-oriented Belarus… USAID works… to stimulate the country’s transition to a market-based economy through programs that support… private business.”

    Such is the imperial mindset that the US brazenly takes upon itself to “transition” a supposedly sovereign state into a neoliberal dependency.

    The website of the quasi-governmental National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a CIA cutout, lists some three dozen current projects in Belarus for what are euphemistically called strengthening “independent” online media, civil society, culture, and public discourse. NED’s years of hard work were on display in the media sophistication of the opposition in Belarus.

    The runner-up in the Belarus presidential election with 10% of the official vote, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, fled to Lithuania, where she met with US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun. Although self-described as apolitical with no prior political experience, she proclaimed herself ready to lead Belarus. Indeed the 37-year-old has all the qualifications for a puppet president, being photogenic and speaking English. On September 4, she addressed the UN Security Council calling for punishing sanctions on her own people.

    The European Union is playing an even more overt role in promoting regime change in Belarus and is planning to extend sanctions. The openly anti-Semitic government of Poland, with which Belarus shares a border, has an irredentist interest in “recovering” portions of the country which were once part of a Polish empire.

    The Russian legacy 

    Belarus was a Soviet republic, which did not become a sovereign country until 1990 after the breakup of the USSR. Belarus has strong historical and cultural affinities with its Russian neighbor to the east. Some 70% of Belarusians speak Russian at home. In 2000, Belarus and Russia established the Union State, a supranational confederation for economic integration and common defense.

    The US and the European Union yearn to use the color revolution in Belarus to complete the military occupation of Russia’s western border. Belarus is the last piece in that puzzle now that Latvia and Estonia are in the NATO camp and Ukraine is on its way.

    Russia’s involvement has largely been in reaction to this hostile military encirclement. Escalation of tensions only motivates Russia to be more defensive. The best antidote to Russian intrusion is détente rather than a new cold war. Besides, the government that the US peace movement can best influence is its own.

    The current impasse in Belarus

    The color revolution in Belarus is now stalled and the opposing forces appear to be stalemated. Without getting into a debate over Lukashenko, the salient question is how the working people of Belarus can best determine their destiny.

    The opposition claims Lukashenko’s 26-year rule of Belarus has degenerated with questionable elections, mismanagement, and corruption. But the cure could be worse than the disease, as in the case of Libya, especially if it is left up to the tender mercies of the US empire to dictate the new “democratic” leader and the form of government to follow.

    Belarus has enjoyed a low level of unemployment, public housing, almost no homelessness, and accessible and affordable healthcare and education. These social welfare factors compare favorably to the harsh neoliberal austerity and civil disintegration of its neighbors, now drawn into the NATO bloc. The critical issue is how can the Belarusians defend their gains in a contentious international milieu.

    Tony Kevin, the former Australian ambassador to Poland, sums up the current impasse:

    Belarus is at risk, because in the Lukashenko political twilight there is confusion and fear: the people have lost their ideological moorings, and there is no coherent national vision as was recovered in Russia under Vladimir Putin starting in 2000.  Belarusians hopefully are coming to see the danger they will be in if they depose Lukashenko without knowing what comes after.

    Regardless of what the security forces might do, Lukashenko could easily be deposed if the workers in the major industrial enterprises went on a wildcat strike. Some discontented workers have walked off their jobs, but a majority look to the cautionary examples of the turncoat Solidarity in Poland, the sellout Yeltsin in Russia, and the neo-Nazis in Ukraine.

    In those and other examples, state enterprises were sold off at bargain basement prices to new oligarchs and western financiers. Factory equipment was ransacked, work forces drastically downsized, and labor rights abrogated. Absent the specter of another US-backed coup like in Ukraine with its severe neoliberal austerity, Lukashenko would likely have been history.

    The peace alternative: no foreign intervention in Belarus

    The principle of non-intervention is enshrined in the UN Charter. There is no unilateral right to intervene into the internal affairs of another sovereign state. The greatest violator of this fundamental international law is the world’s sole superpower. The consequence, according to the late Uruguayan political analyst Eduardo Galeano has been: “Every time the US ‘saves’ a country, it converts it into either an insane asylum or a cemetery.”

    A non-interventionist stance should not be confused with an endorsement of Lukashenko. Opposing US/NATO interventionism is no more an endorsement of Lukashenko than opposing the invasion of Iraq was an endorsement of Saddam Hussein. Belarus needs more than the binary choice of Lukashenko and the failed Ukrainian option. To have that space requires no foreign intervention in Belarus.

    For those of us in the US, that means keeping our own government from fishing in troubled waters and letting the people of Belarus decide. They have the power and don’t need to be told what democracy looks like by those of us who will choose between Trump or Biden in November.

    The post The Current Impasse in Belarus and the Peace Alternative  first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    USA’s Militarization of Latin America

    Maj. Gen. Andrew Croft, the commander of 12th Air Force, wrote on 22 August: “I have seen an increasingly contested strategic space where Beijing and Moscow are aggressively investing time and resources in Latin America to support their authoritarian models of governance. The Air Force must reinforce the strength of our longstanding commitment to the Western Hemisphere. We lose ground when we are unable to commit to spending the time and resources to fly our aircraft south and train alongside our partners.”

    Croft’s statement reflects the growing American hysteria against the presence of any extra-regional actors in the Latin American continent. For US policy-makers, Latin America is not an aggregation of sovereign nations but a large lump of subordinated states constituting “America’s backyard”. Consequently, this conceptualization of Latin America as a natural extension of the American empire has led to viewing the engagement of any South American country with China, Russia and Iran as a “threat” to peace and security.

    On February 7, 2019, Admiral Craig S. Faller – the commander of the United States Southern Command – told the Congress that the Western Hemisphere is facing “a troubling array of challenges and threats”. These threats included alarmist assertions about the growing dominance of China, Russia and Iran and a general demonization of the socialist governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua: “China has accelerated expansion of its Belt and Road Initiative at a pace that may one day overshadow its expansion in Southeast Asia and Africa. Russia supports multiple information outlets spreading its false narrative of world events and U.S. intentions. Iran has deepened its anti-U.S. Spanish language media coverage and has exported its state support for terrorism into our hemisphere. Russia and China also support the autocratic regimes in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua, which are counter to democracy and U.S. interests. We are monitoring the latest events in Venezuela and look forward to welcoming that country back into the hemisphere’s community of democracies.”

    In response to the perceived threats posed by the China-Russia-Iran nexus, the Secretary of Defense has decided to conduct an assessment of the sufficiency of resources available to the U.S. Southern Command, the U.S. Northern Command, the Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to carry out their respective missions in the Western Hemisphere. This assessment is required to include “a list of investments, programs, or partnerships in the Western Hemisphere by China, Iran, Russia, or other adversarial groups or countries that threaten the national security of the United States.”

    In addition to warlike preparations, USA has also pursued a policy of increased militarization wherein it has tried to ensure “technological superiority” with regard to “anti-US actors”. In March, 2020, USA decided to send additional ships, aircraft and forces to South America and Central America in order to combat the influence of Russia and China. According to Navy Adm. Craig Faller, commander of Southern Command, “This really was born out of a recognition of the threats in the region,”. Along with the mobilization of the Southern Command, USA has substantially enlarged its security aid to Latin America: From $527,706,000 in 2019, US security aid to Latin America has increased by 10% to $581,270,000.

    Chinese Footprint

    The present-day US militarization of Latin America is rhetorically driven by an imperialist discourse framing the continent as a possession of the American empire which China, Russia and Iran are trying to appropriate. To take an example, R. Evan Ellis, a Latin America Research Professor at the US Army War College, told before the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission that China’s engagement with Latin America “threatens the position of the United States, our security and prosperity, and the democratic values, rights, institutions and laws on which we depend.” To substantiate his statements, Ellis enunciated various strategies through which China is undermining USA’s dominance:

    • “Trade with, loans to, investment in, and other forms of economic and other support to anti-US regimes, indirectly enabling their criminal activities and contributions to regional instability”.
    • “Through providing an alternative to commerce, loans and investment from the West, making governments of the region less inclined to support the US on political, commercial, or security issues, or to stand up for rule of law, democracy or human rights, particularly where it might offend the PRC;”

    In both these points, one can observe the imperialistic high-handedness with which Ellis is declaiming his pro-US rhetoric. While Beijing’s efforts to engage with sovereign nations and construct an alternative to the global American empire are regarded as enabling “regional instability”, no questions are asked about USA’s expansionist quest to imperialize the entire world through militaristic tactics.

    In order to vilify China and smear its non-aggressive foreign policy, hawkish security experts have framed the country’s diplomatic involvement with various Latin American nations as a type of authoritarian tactic. Using this line of reasoning, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) writes: “Beijing has now officially established its own version of soft power… which emanates from its undemocratic system and rests on its ability to shape the viewpoints of others through co-optation and persuasion.” Not having any empirical evidence to prove its unconvincing statements, NED talks vaguely about the “hypnotic effects” exercised by “Chinese-style warm welcome”: “The Chinese-style warm welcome, the carefully selected tours that include visits to sites with symbolic historical and cultural significance, and ad hoc friendly discourse delivered by the Chinese hosts can have hypnotic effects on their foreign guests.” This is an indication of the extent to which America hysteria against China can reach.

    In the same way as NED, the Brookings Institution has also tried to slander China’s diplomatic initiatives in Latin America to preserve the coercive dominance of USA in the continent. As per the think tank, “it would be fair to assume that China’s growing economic power and ambitions of global leadership, coupled with its inherently closed and repressive model of political control, will hurt the region’s prospects for strengthening its liberal democratic systems and respect for human rights.” While saying this, the Brooking Institution conveniently forgets that it the US, with its Western-styled liberal democracy, that has hurt the region most in the form of coups, violence and overt brutality against social movements. Most recently, a US-backed coup in Bolivia has resulted in two massacres and massive repression of social movements.

    The Iranian Connection

    Like China, Iran, too, experiences American hostility towards its engagement with Latin American countries. Lieutenant Andrew Kramer of the U.S. Navy terms Iranian support for the “economically backward governments” of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela as efforts “to maintain pockets of instability and hostility close to U.S. borders.” Echoing this perspective, William Preston McLaughlin, a Colonel (Ret.) of U.S. Marine Corps and Magdalena Defort, an Intern Analyst at the Foundation of Defense of Democracies, argue that “Iran’s presence in Latin America is an imminent threat to peace and political stability in the Western Hemisphere because its forces interact with Latin America’s deeply rooted revolutionary ideology and various well-intentioned but flawed “liberation theology” social movements.” Here, both of the analysts are merely parroting the imperialist “Monroe Doctrine” that subverted the sovereignty of Latin American nations and tethered the people of the continent to the whims of the American empire. Through the Monroe Doctrine, USA relegated the entire Latin American continent to the status of the empire’s handmaiden and constantly used its military muscles to overpower any regional initiatives challenging the dynamics of subjugation. Now, when Iran is lending support to the anti-imperialist administrations of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, it has come under the radar of USA for ostensibly destroying peace and political stability in the Western Hemisphere. In August 2020, for instance, USA confiscated four Iranian fuel shipments that had been bound for Venezuela, making it clear that it would not tolerate anti-imperialist opposition in Latin America.

    In addition to portraying Iran as a threat to global peace, both the analysts also used a shrill, scaremongering rhetoric to over-exaggerate the strength of the country. According to the analysts, “Iran has used every agency within its borders to help extend Iranian tentacles into the political, cultural, economic, and military life of Latin America.” This bears striking resemblance to the traditional war-mongering US narrative that frames Hezbollah as a menace to justify the militarizary raising funds, seeking recruits, probing for our weaknesses and challenging our defenses,”. Through these discourses, USA seeks to unleash a new war against the anti-imperialist axis of Latin America which is standing up to militaristic predatoriness of the global hegemon.

    Russian Presence

    Besides Iran and China, Russia is another nation perceived as a “threat” to US security. General John Kelly, commander of the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) noted in his Congressional testimony, “it has been over three decades since we last saw this type of high-profile Russian presence” in Latin America. In his command’s 2015 Posture Statement, Kelly added: “Periodically since 2008, Russia has pursued an increased presence in Latin America through propaganda, military arms and equipment sales, counterdrug agreements, and trade. Under President Putin, however, we have seen a clear return to Cold War tactics. As part of its global strategy, Russia is using power projection in an attempt to erode U.S. leadership and challenge U.S. influence in the Western Hemisphere.”

    John Kelly’s representation of Russia as a military threat has been repeated by the Commander of US Southern Command, Admiral Kurt W. Tidd who said in his February 2018 Posture Statement to the US Senate Armed Services Committee that: “Russia’s increased role in our hemisphere is particularly concerning, given its intelligence and cyber capabilities, intent to upend international stability and order, and discredit democratic institutions…Left unchecked, Russian access and placement could eventually transition from a regional spoiler to a critical threat to the U.S. homeland.” With the help this narrative, USA has aggressively pushed forward the agenda of greater militarism in Latin America as it strives to maintain “technological superiority” in relation to Russia and expand its already large military expenditure.

    On the top of depicting Russia as a military threat, US analysts have additionally portrayed the country’s support of socialist governments in Latin America as a danger to the economically empty liberal democracies of the West. According to IBI Consultants, a National Security consulting company specializing in Latin America, Russia’s growing presence in Latin America “is now an integral part of an alliance of state and nonstate actors that have shown their hostility toward the United States in their ideology, criminalized behavior, and anti-democratic nature.” Reiterating this point, on July 9, 2019, Admiral Faller declared before the Congress that “Russia seeks to sow disunity and distrust, propping up autocratic regimes in Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, which are counter to democracy and U.S. interests.” For Faller, those nations which don’t doggedly toe America’s imperialist line automatically become “threats” to democracy and if Russia shows solidarity with these anti-imperialist nations, it, too, classifies as a threat to US interests.

    As USA continues to militarize Latin America, it is increasingly becoming clear that it wants to protect its old, imperial structures from being challenged by anyone. It has been explicitly acknowledged even by pro-US analysts such as Ellis that US military assistance in Latin America “potentially serves U.S. strategic interests by helping to inoculate receiving states against radical or anti-democratic [read “socialist”] solutions which find receptivity when populations lose faith in the ability of a democratic political system and a free market economy to effectively address the corruption, inequality, injustice, and other dysfunctionalities plaguing their country [Emphasis mine].” US military assistance, therefore, is not apolitical and is ideologically tarnished with the objectives of stabilizing free market economies-bourgeoisie democracies and subverting socialist countries.

    The United States Intelligence Community’s assessment of threats to US national security had stated in 2019 that “anti-US autocrats [in the Western Hemisphere]will present continuing challenges to US interests, as US adversaries and strategic competitors seek greater influence in the region.” Here, “anti-US autocrats” refers to the socialist administrations of three Latin American countries: Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. These three countries have been facing strong US belligerence for their anti-imperialist stance. US sanctions against Cuba have tightened during the pandemic; USA’s hybrid war against Venezuela has intensified as Trump has decided to use frozen funds to topple Nicolas Maduro and USAID (United States Agency for International Development) has strengthened its regime change operations against the Sandinista government of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua. Due to the support lent by China, Russia and Iran to the socialist governments of Latin America, USA has decided to eradicate these extra-regional actors from its “own” backyard and re-proclaim a complete American dominance in the region. In times like these, the international community needs to oppose the militarism of USA against new regional alliances in Latin America.

    How the Israel-UAE Deal puts the Bogus Peace Industry Back in Business

    If there is one conclusion to draw from the agreement this week between Israel and the United Arab Emirates – with Israel temporarily “suspending” its threat to illegally annex parts of the West Bank, in return for “full normalisation” with the Gulf state – it is this: The peace industry is back in business.

    But this time, unlike the interminable Oslo Accords signed a quarter of a century ago, there won’t even be the pretence that Palestinians are needed for “Middle East peace” to proceed. This is a process that takes place over their heads, a dialogue from which they are entirely absent.

    This peace process is not between Palestinians and Israel, Washington’s client in the region. It is between Israel and oil-rich Arab states loyal to the US. It is a process that allows them to end the pretence that they are enemies of Israel. It means that they can stop feigning support for the Palestinian struggle for a state – even one on the last remnants of Palestinians’ homeland.

    This is a peace process that effectively rubber-stamps the occupation and the many dozens of illegal Jewish settlements Israel has built to steal Palestinian land over many decades.

    This is a peace process that moves the ostensible goal posts from permanently ending the occupation to simply postponing – for a little longer – Israel’s ambition to permanently annex those Palestinian lands it has already stolen.

    In short, this is a peace process in which Arab states, led by the UAE, formally join Israel in waging war on Palestinians.

    ‘Outside-in’ strategy

    In that sense, this is a continuation of the process begun by Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s Middle East adviser and son-in-law, in developing the so-called “deal of the century”.

    From the start, Kushner turned to the Gulf – to which he and the rest of the US political and economic elite have long been personally close – and sought to craft what became known as the “outside-in” strategy.

    That meant recruiting as many Arab regimes as possible, starting with the oil-rich Gulf states, to sign up to the Trump “peace plan” and use their weight – and money – to strong-arm Palestinians into surrendering to Israeli diktats.

    A White House dedicated to the politics of the used-car lot was bound to imagine that economics could be used to bludgeon Palestinians into compliance. That was why Kushner held an economic conference in Bahrain early last summer, even before he had a peace plan to unveil.

    Saudis next in line?

    Sensing how this was playing out, the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas refused early on to engage with the Trump plan, and soon cut off all ties to Washington. It made no difference. This was a peace plan that did not need the Palestinian people to be involved in the haggling over their future.

    The Trump plan, unveiled earlier in the year, offered Palestinians the promise of an eventual state on shards of the West Bank, after Israel had been allowed to annex swaths of their territory.

    Now, Israel has put this move on temporary hold in return for normalisation with the UAE. Kushner says other states are expected to follow. Bahrain and Oman are likely to be close behind.

    The agreement states: “The United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates are confident that additional diplomatic breakthroughs with other nations are possible, and will work together to achieve this goal.”

    The real coup would be Saudi Arabia, which is presumably waiting to see how the deal with the UAE is received. It is hard to imagine, however, that the UAE’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, took this step without first getting the green light from Riyadh.

    By contrast, the previous Saudi ruler, King Abdullah, championed a regional peace agreement in 2002 that offered Israel full recognition by the Arab states in return for Israel conceding Palestinian statehood in the occupied territories.

    That offer exposed the true colours of Israel and Washington. Israeli leaders ignored the Saudi plan, and, taking their cue from Tel Aviv, US leaders refused to seize the opportunity to advance the bold Saudi offer as the basis for a peace agreement.

    Biden jumps on board

    Under Trump, things have rapidly worsened for Palestinians. Millions of refugees have been starved of aid; the US embassy has been moved to Jerusalem; Israel’s illegal annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights has been approved; and illegal settlements have continued to expand.

    And yet, Israeli intransigence is paying off. The Gulf is ready to offer Israel normalisation not just without any meaningful concessions, but at the same time as the situation for Palestinians deteriorates significantly.

    Trump has called the Israeli-UAE pact “a historic peace agreement between our two great friends”. Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, described the UAE’s normalisation with Israel as “a significant step forward for peace in the Middle East”.

    But anyone who imagines that this is simply a floundering, implausible last move by a lame-duck president – assuming Trump fails to win the presidential election in November – is likely to be in for a disappointment.

    Joe Biden, his Democratic challenger, has also excitedly jumped on board. He described the agreement as “a welcome, brave, and badly needed act of statesmanship”, adding that the alternative – annexation – “would be a body blow to the cause of peace”.

    Bitter victory

    In one sense, this is a victory, even if a very bitter one, for the Palestinian leadership. They denounced the agreement. Palestinians’ belated refusal to engage with the Trump plan – after long colluding in a US-dictated Oslo peace process that was designed from the outset to negate their right to live in dignity in their homeland – has flushed the real US-Israeli agenda out into the open.

    Even with the best interpretation of the Oslo Accords, Palestinians were never going to be allowed the semblance of a sovereign state, even on the remnants of their original homeland.

    They were to have no control over their borders, their airspace, the electromagnetic spectrum, or their diplomatic relations with other states. And of course, they were most definitely not going to be allowed an army.

    The peace process was always about keeping Israel in control of the entire space, with a segment of Palestinians allowed to live there as a caged, dependent people. They could either willingly agree to their subordination, or face further repression from Israel to crush their spirit.

    Now, all of this is no longer being disguised, even if politicians and diplomats in Washington and the Gulf wish to mislead the rest of the world that this should still be called a “peace process”.

    Signs that they may get away with this monumental deception were evident in the responses of major European capitals, which welcomed the agreement. Germany called it “an important contribution to peace in the region”, while Boris Johnson in the UK said it was “hugely good news”.

    The message sent by Israel, the US and the UAE is that committing war crimes and violating international humanitarian law can pay handsome dividends over the long run.

    A shared agenda

    The gains in this deal for the UAE and the other Gulf states – assuming, as seems likely, that they follow suit – are simple. The Sunni Gulf has long wanted fuller integration into the US-Israeli security nexus in the Middle East.

    The US, Israel and the Gulf states share a deep hostility towards Iran and its Shia coreligionist factions in the region – from Lebanon and Syria to Iraq and Yemen.

    Israel opposes these Shia actors because they have proved most ready to resist it, as well as Washington’s imperial designs, centred on control over the region’s oil.

    The Gulf, meanwhile, as the birthplace of Sunni Islam and the supposed guardian of its honour, has a separate interest in securing its sectarian hegemony in the region. Gulf states have been developing close, if semi-covert, ties to Israel in recent years while engaging more actively in wars across the region, either through proxies in Syria and Iraq or directly in Yemen.

    They have been keen to go public with normalisation so that they can gain greater access to US-Israeli intelligence and improved military technology, which would naturally flow from increased levels of trust.

    Imperial agenda

    Aside from the bland, positive diplomatic wording, the agreement does not veil this goal: A new “Strategic Agenda for the Middle East” will be developed to “expand diplomatic, trade, and security cooperation”. The US, Israel and the UAE “share a similar outlook regarding the threats and opportunities in the region, as well as a shared commitment to promoting stability”.

    Repackaging its role in this entirely self-interested deal, the UAE can also still present itself as the champion of the Palestinian cause and the two-state solution, delaying annexation to another day.

    The advantages to the Gulf run deeper still, however. Washington’s imperial agenda inevitably feeds and needs enemies, especially in an oil-rich region such as the Middle East, to justify endless wars and endless profits for its “defence” industries.

    The Gulf states want to be on the right side of that military-industrial divide as the US moves into choppier waters ahead, facing oil shortages, a deterioration in the global climate, and the rise of China as a superpower.

    Diplomatic coup

    Washington’s interests in the deal, and Trump’s, are similarly clear. Pushing ahead with annexation has proved much harder than the Trump administration expected. European and Arab capitals were adamantly opposed to a move that would deprive them of the two-state cover story that, for more than two decades, had allowed them to pretend they were committed to Middle East peace.

    And it became ever harder for Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to muster support from the Israeli public for annexation as the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changed priorities.

    Months from a presidential election he is predicted to lose, Trump needed a diplomatic coup in the Middle East after promising so much and achieving so little with his much-trumpeted “deal of the century”. Now he has it.

    This move will placate his large Christian evangelical electoral base, which is devoted to Israel and supports whatever it wants. Evangelical leaders lost no time in saying they were “elated” by the announcement.

    It can also be spun, as his officials began vigorously doing from the outset, as an “historic peace agreement” – equivalent to the deals Israel signed previously with Egypt and Jordan. That can be used on the campaign trail to sell Trump to the wider electorate as one of the great US statesmen.

    Sharpening the battle lines

    But there are wider benefits for the bipartisan Washington foreign policy elite. They have long wished to cement ties between Israel and the Gulf states, having the US’ two most reliable regional allies publicly cooperating.

    As the Gulf states have become more deeply and obviously enmeshed in wars across the Middle East – from Syria to Yemen – an agreement allying them to Israel helps Washington’s improbable narrative that they are really the good guys. It will sharpen the region’s battle lines and, it is hoped, convey greater legitimacy on these theocratic dictatorships.

    The US hopes, too, that the agreement with the UAE – and other Gulf states later – will once again provide a plausible cover story as Israel entrenches its occupation, steals more Palestinian land and intensifies its repression of Palestinians.

    It will allow Washington to revive its bogus claims of being an “honest broker”, seeking the best for Palestinians, even if their leaders are supposedly too dimwitted to understand what is good for them.

    Pitting the Palestinian leadership against the Gulf – as well as other Arab states, such as Jordan and Egypt, that dare not antagonise their oil-rich neighbours – will further isolate Palestinians. They can now be presented more convincingly as entrenched opponents of peace, at best – or, if they resist, as terrorists.

    Netanyahu bailed out

    Lastly, Netanyahu, who is in deep trouble at home, hopes this agreement can dig him out of his hole. He is up against a wave of protests that have rallied large sections of Israeli society, including on the right. He faces an unprecedented corruption trial. His handling of the Covid-19 pandemic looks increasingly catastrophic. The Israeli economy is imploding.

    In this context, his focus on West Bank annexation alienated much of the Israeli public, and even failed to satisfy sections of the settler community, who want all of the Palestinian territories, not just large parts. A deal with the UAE – and implicitly one with the rest of the Gulf – allows him to climb down from an unpopular annexation plan.

    Netanyahu has long declared himself Mr. Security, the protector of Israel’s interests, and the only Israeli leader capable of making dramatic moves on the global stage. Here, he appears to have done both. It has even forced his political opponents to praise his achievement.

    Netanyahu has managed to pull all this off while being able to argue that annexation is still “on the table”, placating his supporters among the settlers.

    The agreement may yet set the stage for him to win a winter election he is widely reported to be preparing for.

    No price to pay

    The abandonment of annexation – temporarily or otherwise – will not, of course, interrupt Israel’s continuing capture of ever more Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, nor its relentless campaign of ethnic cleansing.

    Netanyahu has demonstrated to Israelis that he was right. Israel could violate international law, steal land, commit war crimes – and western and Arab states would stomach it all. Israel would have to pay no price for its behaviour.

    Haaretz recalled on Friday that, when asked in 2018 whether concessions to Palestinians initiated in the Oslo Accords had gradually led to improvements in relations with the Arab world, Netanyahu responded that it was the “exact opposite”.

    By first recruiting the West and Arab regimes to Israel’s side, he said, Israel would “become so strong” that it would force Palestinians to “understand that they have no choice but to compromise with us” – his term for absolute submission.

    For Netanyahu, a strategic alliance with the Gulf – at the expense of Palestinians – has always been about more than just grabbing the occupied territories. It is central to his vision of an unreformed, maximalist, ethnic supremacist, Israeli state secure in the Middle East, serving as a regional hegemon alongside US global power.

    Now, with this deal, Netanyahu believes he is in sight of the finishing line.

    • First published in Middle East Eye

    US: Crimes against Humanity at Home and Abroad

    Photo Credit:  Albert Eisenstaedt

    This month marks the second year since former President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, announced to the world a campaign promoted by a group of Latin American writers and academics to declare August 9 as International Day of US Crimes against Humanity. Appropriately the day is to remember the second nuclear bomb dropped in 1945 on Nagasaki, Japan that came just three days after the first nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Imagine how depraved and cold-blooded the then Democratic President Truman could be to find that he had incinerated 150,000 people on one day and turned right around and did it again in Nagasaki instantly killing 65,000 more human beings. US historical accounts love to turn truth on its head by saying how many lives those nuclear bombs saved when Japan was already defeated before the bombs were dropped after 67 Japanese cities had been leveled to the ground by relentless US aerial fire bombings.

    The people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were sacrificed as an exclamation point on a proclamation to the world announcing the arrival of the US as the world’s new pre-eminent super power. It also served as an example that the US would commit any murderous crime of any proportion to maintain that imperial position of dominance and they have demonstrated that to be true time and time again. Even now in decline the US has never apologized for this unnecessary crime because that could convey a sign of weakness and a step back from a policy of nuclear blackmail held over the nations of the world. Obama had the chance to do that in the final year of his presidency when he had nothing to lose in a 2016 visit to Hiroshima. Instead of apologizing to the people of Japan or easing tensions in the world Obama, in eloquent fluffy double talk, said, “Mere words cannot give voice to such suffering. But we have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again.”

    The responsibility for the majority of suffering in the world was then, and continues to be, on an imperialist policy and its inherent neoliberal engine that violently throttles the ability of countries to develop in a way that would bring health and prosperity for the benefit of their majorities. In the end it is an unsustainable system that only benefits a sliver of privileged society.

    The US crimes against humanity did not begin or end with the dropping of the nuclear bombs on Japan. As militant civil rights leader Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (formerly H. Rap Brown) pointed out years ago, “Violence is as American as cherry pie.” Since its inception the US has been ingrained with a motor force of violent oppression against everyone and every country that stood in the way of its expansion for control of resources and its entitlement to limitless accumulation of vast wealth for a few.

    The original thirteen colonies that rebelled against England were not motivated solely by being taxed without representation but more for the restrictions that King George had placed on the unbridled greed of the white settlers to expand and steal the lands of the indigenous nations and communities and to establish a system of slavery which was the main source of capitalist accumulation especially for the southern colonies. At the time of the revolution close to 20% of the population consisted of Black slaves.  Slavery actually ran contrary to British Common Law so the only way the emerging class of landowners in the colonies could flourish was to secede from the British Empire. In doing so it established a pivotal component of the original DNA of the United States; structural racism as a means to justify any level of discrimination and oppression with a deeply embedded belief in the inferiority of any race not white and Christian. The cries of Black Lives Matter in the streets of all the major cities and towns of the US today are a resounding echo of resistance that comes from the plantations and the slave ships that came from Africa.

    The genocide of indigenous people in the US was its initial crime wave against humanity as it expanded westward destined by God to exercise their Manifest Destiny. The early history of this country is littered with hundreds of massacres of the original caretakers of the land from the Atlantic to the Pacific. And that crime continues to this day with Native Americans suffering from the highest infection rates of Covid-19 in the country as a direct result of government neglect and broken treaties that keep the reservations in grinding poverty including in many areas where there is not even running water.

    On July 21 Congress passed a $740 billion military appropriations bill, the biggest ever, and $2 billion more than last year. The United States spends more on national defense than the next 11 largest militaries combined.  A well intended but feeble attempt by sections of the Democratic Party to cut 10% of the budget to go to health and human services failed because ultimately funding the 800 US military installations that occupy territory in more than 70 countries around the world takes precedence over something so basic and human as subsidized food programs. Meanwhile approximately 20% of the families in this country are struggling to obtain nutritious food every day just as one example of the growing social and health needs.

    Wars and occupations are expensive and that money goes right down the drain. It does not recycle through the economy; rather it is equipment and operations meant to destroy and terrorize, and the only part of it that is reused is the militarization of police forces in the US who are geared out in advanced equipment for the wars at home not even normally seen in theaters of war abroad.

    When Obama took over from Bush junior he vowed to end the war in Afghanistan and instead left office with the unique distinction of having had a war going every day of his 8 years in office. He launched airstrikes or military raids in at least seven countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan and Trump came in and did not miss a beat and has carried the war of death, destruction and destabilization of Afghanistan into its twentieth year. The Pentagon knows that the days of outright winning a war are over and relies now on hybrid wars that are perhaps even more criminal. It is now wars of attrition with proxy and contract armies, aerial bombardment, sabotage of infrastructure that turns into endless wars, the intent of which is to make sure that a country is imbalanced, exhausted and does not become independent or develop and use its resources for the benefit of its own people.

    This, of course, is not the only type of criminal warfare in the Empire’s arsenal. Economic sanctions are just as much a crime against humanity as military attacks. No one should ever forget the 10 years of the US orchestrated UN sanctions against Iraq in the 1990’s that were responsible for the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children.  Primarily through executive order Trump has put some sort of sanctions on around one third of the countries of the world ranging in severity starting with the 60 year old unilateral blockade of Cuba for the crime of insisting on its sovereignty just 90 miles away, to the sanctioning of medicines and food to Venezuela causing the deaths of 40,000 people, the outright stealing of billions of dollars of their assets out of banks, and organizing coup plots against the democratically elected President, Nicolas Maduro.

    Now the chickens have come to roost with Trump sending shadowy military units of federal agents into cities like Portland, Seattle and other cities like it was a military invasion of some poor country, barging in uninvited not to bring order and peace but to brutalize, escalate and provoke people in the streets who for months now have been demanding real justice and equality. The combination of the failure of the Trump Administration to confront the pandemic with any sort of will or a national science based plan, the existing economic crisis with its glaring separation of wealth and the endless murdering of people of color as normal police policy has exposed the system like never before. The growing consciousness of a majority of the US population that now seem to be getting that there has to be fundamental change will be the catalyst for real change to happen. It will not come from a government that does not reflect their interests but only through a unity of struggle will we be pointed in a direction that will push US crimes against humanity, at home and abroad, to become a thing of the past.

    The United States, Diego Garcia, and International Law

    There are few more righteous sights than the paunchy US Secretary of State savaging the People’s Republic of China with his next volley on Chinese territorial aspirations. In July, Mike Pompeo released a statement putting any uncertain minds at ease on where Washington stood on the matter. “We are making clear: Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them.”

    International politics, for all that confidence, rides on the stead of hypocrisy. The more vehement a condemnation regarding a course of conduct, the more likely the stead is about to turn. For all the promises of freedom of navigation and repudiation of Chinese claims to the South China Sea, the United States nurses its own questionable readings of international law. The term “rule based order” is a lovely one seemingly shorn of realpolitik (nothing of the sort), but collapses on closer inspection.

    When it comes to the matter of alleged Chinese violations of maritime law in the South China Sea, odd messages bubble from the mouths of US officials on, for instance, violations of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Pompeo speaks of preserving “peace and stability”, upholding “freedom of the seas in a manner consistent with international law, maintain the unimpeded flow of commerce” and opposing “any attempt to use coercion or force to settle disputes.” He also refers to UNCLOS, a document the United States has not ratified despite President Barack Obama’s previous plea that the Senate, were it to do so, “should help strengthen our case [against China’s actions in the South China Sea].” Smugly, Pompeo cites the ruling of the Arbitral Tribunal constituted in accordance with UNCLOS, as its finding on July 12, 2016 rejecting “the PRC’s maritime claims as having no basis in international law.”

    The same can be said of the enormous air base known as Diego Garcia, located in the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. It is worth noting that predatory behaviour was very much part of the policy towards the indigenous populace of the island, which had been a dependency of the British colony of Mauritius. In 1965, the Chagos Islands was separated from Mauritius in exchange for an “indemnity” of £3 million. What was created in its place was a legal misnomer of some nastiness: the British Indian Ocean Territory.

    In 1966, the US was promised a strategic tenancy on Diego Garcia for five decades. The UK Permanent Under-Secretary promised to be “tough about this. The object of the exercise was to get some rocks which will remain ours; there will be no indigenous population except seagulls who have not yet got a Committee (the Status of Women does not cover the rights of Birds).” Very droll.

    This brutal endeavour was done as part of Britain’s continued need to feel relevant in the post-colonial power game, a supposedly sagacious proxy for the projection of US power. It was also done against the spirit of decolonisation stressed in UN General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV), which noted that “[a]ny attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

    The British authorities were true to their word: the indigenous population between 1967 and 1973 was forcibly relocated to Mauritius and the Seychelles, with the US paying $14 million for the effort. The way for the establishment of a military base was cleared but only after pockets of Chagossian resistance were crushed through threats and intimidation.

    Analysts from the US perspective look at this situation as one forced upon the United States and find China, as tends to be the pattern these days, the catalyst of encouragement. “The policy trigger,” writes retired Rear Admiral Michael McDevitt, “was the 1962 Sino-Indian war, when Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had pressed Washington for military assistance to India.” The Kennedy administration obliged by sending the USS Kitty Hawk, an aircraft carrier with the express purpose of deterring China in the event of any push towards Calcutta. The analysis by McDevitt is bloodless, mechanical, and makes no mention of the Chagossians. Absent are US methods of terroristic pummelling. What he does describe is the indispensable nature of the base, “perfect … for US Navy maritime patrol aircraft and especially US Air Force heavy bombers.”

    These were not views shared by many members of the UN General Assembly. In June 2017, the General Assembly, in resolution 71/292, requested an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on whether the decolonisation of Mauritius had been lawfully completed with regards the separation of the Chagos Archipelago. A second question also arose on the legal consequences of the UK’s “continued administration … of the Chagos Archipelago including with respect to the inability to implement a programme for the resettlement on the Chagos Archipelago of its nationals, in particular those of Chagossian origin”.

    In its February 25, 2019 opinion, the ICJ found that “the process of decolonisation of Mauritius was not lawfully completed when that country acceded to independence”. The UK was “under an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible.” The judges acknowledged resolution 1514 (XV) as “a defining moment in the consolidation of State practice on decolonisation” and that “[b]oth State practice and opinio juris at the relevant time confirm the customary law character of the right to territorial integrity of a non-self-governing territory as a corollary of the right to self-determination.” No evidence of approval of the practice of an administering power’s detachment of part of a non-self-governing territory, certainly for the purposes of maintaining colonial rule over it, was shown. “States have consistently emphasised that respect for the territorial integrity of a non-self-governing territory is a key element in the exercise of the right to self-determination under international law.”

    The UN affirmed the 13-1 opinion in May 2019, calling upon Britain to “withdraw its colonial administration” within six months and duly acknowledge Chagos as forming “an integral part” of Mauritius. Eviction orders received that month were ignored by the British, showing that the Anglo-American reverence for the sacred “rules-based international order” can be selectively profane when it needs to be. “The United Kingdom is not in doubt about our sovereignty over the British Ocean Territory,” insisted Britain’s ambassador to the UN, Karen Pierce. The territory had never been part of Mauritius and it had “freely entered into an agreement” covering fishing rights and marine resources. The question left begging here was how the entity could lawfully enter into any arrangements with Britain over Chagos if the territory had never formed the basis of Mauritian control. The spirit of Neville Chamberlain, one approving the ceding and dividing of territory not his own, is still very much alive.

    It is worth nothing that the approval of the ICJ findings, along with international law bodies in general, is very much dependent on favourability towards the great power. Playground bullies are always bound to ignore them; small states, less likely to. Just as China refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of international judicial rulings on its maritime claims, the US and Britain refuse to acknowledge determinations regarding the status of Diego Garcia and the Chagossians. That’s the rules-based order in international relations for you.

  • See related article: “Sovereignty in the South China Sea.”
  • Shedding a Foreign Policy Based on Imperialism

    Read Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V.

    Is the U.S. ripe for a real revolution, where the disenfranchised and repressed overthrow the enfranchised and privileged?

    Unfortunately, there are many weapons in the hands of the existing U.S. power structure. These include racism, control of the media, chauvinism, greed and more. These are all put into the service of weakening and dividing the population, and pitting them against each other, thus preventing the unity that might otherwise become the demise of the oligarchs and corporations.

    It is encouraging to see apparently sincere support for Black Lives Matter and resistance against the police and other forces of suppression, but how deep does this sincerity run? How concrete and effective will it be? Or will it become largely cosmetic, as with past attempts to fight racism and change our society in fundamental ways? Many fear, based on experience, that the current uprising will be insufficient by itself to make more than a token difference, that the consciousness raised will be largely temporary and less than meaningful.

    The present series of articles suggests a different – or at least complementary – approach. When the weak and disenfranchised attempt to take power, they need to be numerous, unified, determined and organized to succeed. That’s asking a lot, and few would argue that the movement in the U.S. possesses these traits at pressent.

    An alternate approach is to strengthen, enfranchise, unify and organize the society first through other means, creating a stronger base upon which to redesign and reconstruct it. Rather than seizing power and then using it for social justice, we can empower the citizenry first or concurrently, thus enabling them to better press their demands and effectively alter their society.

    One of the most pressing demands at present, voiced loudly and frequently in the demonstrations, is to tame police brutality, or even do away with the police altogether. Police brutality and endemic racism in the U.S. is in fact what motivated this series of proposals. Can we expect these demonstrations to have greater impact than previous movements, going back decades, generations and perhaps even centuries? What can we do to reach goals that continue to elude Blacks, Indigenous peoples and other disenfranchised populations?

    Significantly, none of the installments of the manifesto has yet addressed the issue of policing, which will probably be the last installment other than a concluding one. This is because the other elements are all essential in doing away with a repressive and racist police force, and must be addressed first (in terms of explanation). In fact, all the elements are interrelated. They can be addressed separately to a certain extent, but they need each other in order to be fully successful, and therefore deserve to be demanded simultaneously.

    A Foreign Po­­licy for the Masses

    Part V proposed measures for taming the power and influence of the U.S. military, the main tool in imperialist ambitions that exhaust the resources of the U.S. population and enhance the power of its ultra-elite. Hand in hand with the military is a highly aggressive U.S. foreign policy, which is what drives an imperialistic use of the military. One is an extension of the other. Its basis is the Wolfowitz doctrine of 1992, the Project for a New American Century and other neoconservative formulations. World domination, the subservience of other nations and the weakening of noncompliant nations is its primary object, by means of bullying, threatening and ultimately sabotaging and destroying other nations in order to remain in complete control. It matters not what sacrifices the American people make in order to feed such megalomania, nor those made by the victims of this policy. Whether they are peaceful or not, they must die in their millions and become refugees in the tens of millions to feed the bloodthirst of this policy. Imperialism always targets the disempowered, and especially Black and Brown peoples.

    Many of these traits of U.S. foreign policy may disappear or at least diminish in the absence of military projection, as discussed in Part V. Nevertheless, it is important to explicitly state how policy will change, which will in turn illustrate why the military is mostly superfluous to the welfare of the general population. A lot of the change is as simple as actually complying with international law, such as the Geneva Conventions and the UN Charter, to which the U.S. is already a signatory.

    The central obligation of international law is that no nation will attack another or violate its sovereign territory except in response to a direct attack from that state, or a threat of immediate attack. Today the U.S. violates this obligation everywhere that it sends its drones to assassinate targets or even conduct surveillance without the permission of the nation in whose territory these missions are conducted. But of course, the U.S. goes well beyond such measures. It attempts “regime change” against countries that are not sufficiently loyal or compliant, and do not open their doors for exploitation of their economies for the benefit of U.S. corporations and interests, nor assist in enforcing U.S. global objectives.

    Part of the problem is possibly that Congress has illegally abdicated its war powers under the U.S. Constitution. The Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) is unconstitutional because Congress cannot authorize modification of the Constitution by giving its power to the Executive branch of government, thereby abdicating its constitutional role. Only an approval by ¾ of the state legislatures can change the constitution. The AUMF must be abolished.

    The use of economic, financial or other sanctions upon other nations is also a form of warfare, and potentially a cruel and devastating one. Such policies are therefore also illegal unless undertaken to counter a direct threat, and subsequent to a declaration of war by the Congress.

    Other instruments of an imperialist foreign policy must also be dismantled. These include NATO, which is merely an association of gangsters, intended to enhance the ability of the U.S. to threaten and bully other nations. Similarly, the sole purpose of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation AKA School of the Americas is to assure that tiny power elites in countries that are under the domination of the U.S. will be able to suppress the rest of the population and thereby maintain their power for use in the service of the imperialist objectives of the U.S.

    Similarly, the instruments of financial and economic coercion and exploitation must be disbanded. All international trade relations and commerce as currently upheld by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) must be reformulated to protect the labor, human rights, economy, environment and domestic industry of partner and recipient nations so that the growth of local industry and agriculture has the advantage over foreign corporate domination. The WTO, IMF, and World Bank must be eliminated or replaced with new institutions that are democratic, transparent, and accountable to the citizens of all nations. All debts incurred by poor nations must be forgiven, and financial assistance structured so as to enhance a nation’s income and ability to provide for the welfare and prosperity of its people, rather than to provide income to the creditors.

    Finally, all weapons development, sales and military aid must cease being used to dominate other nations and to further imperialist interests. Foremost among these are nuclear weapons. They are simply too dangerous to be put into the service of geopolitical strategic objectives. Furthermore, they are an expenditure that in no way contributes to the welfare and prosperity of the American people. They should be abolished and all nuclear powers should mutually reduce stockpiles to this end. The U.S. should sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and end the research, testing and stockpiling of all nuclear weapons of any size. The same should apply to chemical and biological weapons and land mines. In addition, the U.S. should reverse its withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and honor its stipulations.

    In truth, the steps outlined in previous Manifesto installments, and especially number V (drastically reducing the role of the military) are likely to make the suggestions with regard to foreign policy relatively easy to implement. These effects will also become evident to a greater extent in the remaining installments.

    Bolivian Coup Government Calls for another Canada-backed Foreign Intervention in its Presidential Elections

    On July 15, Luis Fernando Camacho, leader of the violent coup against Bolivian president Evo Morales and current candidate for the Bolivian presidency, issued a desperate appeal to the Organization of American States.

    According to a poll done by Centro Estratégico Latinoamericano de Geopolítica, which was released on July 7, Camacho is polling at nine per cent. Meanwhile MAS (Movement for Socialism) candidate Luis Arce, Bolivia’s finance minister from 2006 until the coup, is polling at 42 per cent. To surpass Arce’s lead in the polls, Carlos Mesa, the unelected coup president Jeanine Anez, and Camacho would have to consolidate their votes, while two would need to drop out of the race.

    In the appeal, Camacho, who has direct connections to the Christo-fascist paramilitary group Unión Juvenil Cruceñista, argued that “we [Bolivia] must not allow the elections to become an act of resurrection” for MAS. This is an open call for the OAS to launch a second coup if Arce wins the presidential election, and violate the sovereignty of Bolivia yet again.

    In response to this news, Evo Morales spoke out on Twitter:

    Asking the OAS to rule on the suspension of the elections in Bolivia is a new blow against democracy, it is a form of intervention against the sovereignty of the State and the dignity of the people; and furthermore it is being asked by those responsible for the tragic events of 2019

    The Bolivian people are not giving up on democracy without a fight. Today, the main Bolivian workers federation, Central Obrera Boliviana (COB) demanded “adhesion to the September 6th election date as adopted by the TSE [Election authority].”

    How Canada, the US, and OAS allied to overthrow Morales

    On Nov. 29, 2017, Indigenous socialist president Evo Morales won a legal challenge to modify the Bolivian constitution, to allow Morales to run for a fourth term as the Bolivian president.

    Two years later, on Oct. 25, 2019, the winner of Bolivia’s presidential election was announced. Evo Morales won 47 per cent of the vote, while the main US-backed candidate, Carlos Mesa, won 36 per cent of the vote. Morales narrowly cleared the 10-point margin of victory required to avoid a second-round runoff election, and it seemed as if Morales was set to serve his fourth term in office.

    However, the OAS would have a key role in ensuring this did not happen. The OAS, described as the “U.S Ministry of the Colonies” by former Cuban president Fidel Castro, is supposed to “represent the 35 countries in the Western Hemisphere in defence of peace, equality and national sovereignty.” However, the organization has a long history of openly backing the United States’ imperialist agenda.

    In particular, during the US-led 2019 coup attempt against Venezuelan president Nicholas Maduro, false claims of election fraud were utilised to try to push the “US puppet” Juan Guaido into power. The (leader), Luis Almagro praised the protests repeatedly, and allowed Canada to set up the Lima Group, an alliance of countries wishing to overthrow the Venezuelan government, without any punishment.

    The OAS electoral mission to Bolivia soon claimed that they had found evidence of election fraud in Morales’ victory. Based on the claims of the electoral mission, Canada called for a run-off election to occur. On Oct. 31, the OAS began an audit of the Bolivian election.

    The Canadian and United States government ignored a Nov. 8 report from the Centre for Economic and Policy Research, a US-based think tank, who did a statistical analysis of Bolivia’s publicly available voting data which found no evidence of irregularities or fraud.

    Meanwhile, Canada refused to condemn the vicious attacks committed by opposition forces against Morales supporters and leftist politicians, led by Luis Camacho.

    On Nov. 10, the Bolivian election audit report was released by the OAS, in which they claimed that:

    “In the four factors reviewed (technology, chain of custody, integrity of the tally sheets, and statistical projections), irregularities were detected, ranging from very serious to indicative of something wrong.”

    The audit team “[could not] validate the results of this election and therefore recommends another electoral process.” They argued that “Any future process should be overseen by new electoral authorities to ensure the conduct of credible elections.”

    On the very day, Canada, declared its support for the electoral audit, stating that “It is clear that the will of the Bolivian people and the democratic process were not respected.” A day later, Morales resigned the presidency after pressure was mounted by military chief, Gen. Williams Kaliman, calling for him to immediately quit and permit the “restoration of peace and stability.”

    In a press release, Morales said:

    I decided to resign from my position so that Carlos Mesa and Luis Camacho stop abusing and harming thousands of brothers … I have the obligation to seek peace and it hurts a lot that we face Bolivians, for this reason, so I will send my letter of resignation to the Plurinational Assembly of Bolivia.

    Under severe pressure, Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera, the president of the Senate, Adriana Salvatierra of the MAS party, and the president of the Chamber of Deputies all resigned. As a result, the line of succession to the Bolivian presidency was broken.

    On Nov. 12, a Bolivian senator, Jeanine Áñez, declared herself the interim president of Bolivia in Congress, vowing to promptly hold new elections. Aljazeera reported that “this was done despite a lack of a quorum to appoint her in a legislative session that was boycotted by legislators from former President Evo Morales‘ left-wing party.”

    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo applauded the interim president in a statement on Nov. 13, saying that the U.S. looks forward to working with the OAS to stage “free and fair elections” by the end of 2019.

    Two days later, Canada announced its support for Áñez, and laughably called for a “democratic elections as soon as possible”.

    Bolivia in shambles without Morales, as elections are delayed until September 2020

    In January 2020, a now-deleted racist tweet from “interim president” Áñez was caught, in which she reportedly wrote: “I want a Bolivia free of satanic indigenous rituals. The city is not for the indigenous. They should go to the mountains or plains.” Áñez also called Morales a “poor Indian” in another tweet.

    Canadian mining companies have swiftly exploited the coup government’s pro-business stance to resume lithium mining projects, after Morales nationalized South American Silver Corp. lithium mining operation in 2012.

    A first-of-its kind deal was struck that month between Bolivia’s state mining company Comibol and Vancouver-based explorer New Pacific Metals, which allowed the company to begin mining for lithium and showed that “Bolivia is open to foreign investment,” according to NPM’s President, Gordon Neal.

    Nadia Cruz, Bolivia’s ombudsman, said that charges of “sedition” and “terrorism” are being brought for simply disagreeing with or questioning the Áñez administration.

    Michael Shifter, the president of the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue said, “There is unwillingness on the level of the Trump administration to hold Áñez to account, so she has a lot of room to do what she wants, including what seems to be the carrying out of vendettas.” Journalists have been arrested and intimidated, while Indigenous activists have been severely repressed.

    The promise of quick elections proved to be a lie, two months after the coup, that the Bolivian Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which was filled with Anez allies, and purged of former officials, determined the presidential election would occur on May 3. However, the Bolivian electoral court used the COVID-19 pandemic as cover to delay the elections until September 6. Now that Luis Camacho is urging the OAS to interfere in Bolivia’s elections yet again, the stage may be set for a second coup against a Movement for Socialism party’s presidential candidate within the last year.

    Even the narrative of flawed elections has fallen apart, as the New York Times and others have reported that the there was no election fraud, in the 2019 election that delivered Morales his fourth term as Bolivia’s president.

    Just as in the US-backed coup against Evo Morales and the 2004 US-led coup against Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Canada is almost certain to play a key role in the destruction of Bolivian democracy, staying true to its imperialist foreign policy.

    WE Charity Scandal and NGOs’ Role in Imperialism

    Once again the media focuses on salacious details rather than the big picture.

    While TV and newspapers have focused on the whiff of corruption surrounding the government’s $900 million contract with the WE Charity, some broader points have been ignored. Whatever the Trudeau and Morneau families have pocketed from WE, the deleterious impact that NGO has had on social services and young Canadians’ understanding of global inequities is much more significant.

    In a series of poignant tweets Simon Black highlighted how WE has directed young people towards ineffective political actions and a narrow understanding of doing good in the world. He noted, “teaching kids that ‘breaking the cycle of poverty’ (WE’s words) involves travelling to a ‘developing’ country to build a school and not marching on the IMF, World Bank, White House or Parliament Hill to demand the cancellation of global South debts. That’s the real #WEscam.” In fact, a little discussed reason the federal government funds NGOs is to co-opt internationalist minded young people into aligning with Canadian foreign policy.

    In another tweet Black mocks WE’s educational program. “Thanks to the Keilburgers and WE,” he writes, “a generation of kids have learned about ‘international development’ but still don’t know what an IMF structural adjustment program is.” Imposed by the Washington-based international financial institution, structural adjustment programs (SAPs) pushed indebted African, Asian and Latin American countries to privatize state assets, weaken labour regulations and liberalize trade and investment rules. Through the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s Canada channeled hundreds of millions of dollars in “aid” to support SAPs. Canadian mining companies greatly benefited from liberalized mining laws, but structural adjustment policies produced deep social and economic crises. Nutritional status, health, education and other social indicators declined in the wake of SAPs. For many African countries the structural adjustment period was worse than the Great Depression. International creditors argued that the flipside of this government downsizing would be increased aid, particularly to private sector NGOs. Ottawa asked the NGO sector to “undertake tasks previously performed by governments, such as the delivery of” health, sanitation and other services.

    The NGO as replacement for government service is another side of the current WE scandal. On Facebook Matthew Behrens explained, “the real crime, which the media has utterly failed to mention, is that Trudeau was essentially privatizing a chunk of the Canada Summer Jobs program — which provides summer jobs at minimum wage — to a private corporation”, which then planned to pay them below the legal minimum. Charity as replacement for social services is what WE and Canadian-government-funded NGOs do all over the world. In a country like Haiti, for instance, social services are almost entirely privatized, run by “charities” often based in other countries who decide whether one qualifies for assistance. Foreign-funded NGOs have contributed to a process that has undermined Haitian governmental capacity.

    This foisting of “charitable” international social services delivery systems on poor countries shouldn’t surprise Canadians since the same corporate interests that promote privatizations over there push similar efforts at home. In fact there have been hundreds of battles over many decades in every corner of the country against right wing efforts to dismantle public social services. Most Canadians understand what’s going on when pro-corporate forces argue for cutting social services. Yet when the federal government pushes similar policies elsewhere there has been little protest, mostly because the dominant media simply does not report what’s happening.

    If the media were interested in telling the real story it would broaden the discussion about #WEscam. Ottawa, WE and other NGOs’ role in undercutting social services and confusing young people about global inequities is a far bigger scandal than however much one charity paid the Trudeau family.

    U.S.-Backed Saudi Bombing in Yemen Continues as Coronavirus Spreads

    As the coronavirus spreads in Yemen, where the population already devastated by the world’s worst humanitarian crisis faces growing hunger and aid shortages, the Saudi-led, U.S.-backed coalition continues to drop bombs in the country. We speak to Yemeni scholar Shireen Al-Adeimi, who calls the ongoing crisis “Trump’s war.” “We’re seeing death rates that are just astronomical,” Al-Adeimi says. “The war continues, the bombing continues, the blockade is still enforced.”