Category Archives: Joe Biden

The King’s Man: Blinken’s Appointment Reassures Israel that Little Will Change under Biden

Right-wing Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has nothing to worry about as the man who will directly handle America’s foreign policy in the Middle East is a loyal friend of Israel. Crisis averted.

President-elect, Joe Biden’s appointment of Antony J. Blinken as his Secretary of State was a master stroke, according to the Biden Administration. Blinken is a State Department veteran, a strong believer in a US-led Western alliance and a true friend of Israel.

The immediate message that Biden wished to communicate through this particular appointment – and also the appointment of Jake Sullivan as the US’ new National Security Adviser – is that the United States will edge back to its default position as a global leader, and away from Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy agenda.

While the Europeans are excited to have their American benefactors back, Blinken’s appointment was geared mostly to appease Israel.

The defeat of Trump in the November elections led to much anxiety in Washington and Tel Aviv. The Israelis were nervous that Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’, which was essentially American acquiescence to all of Israel’s demands, would come to a halt. The Biden Administration, on the other hand, remains wary of the contentious relationship that Netanyahu had with the last Democratic administration under Barack Obama.

The selection of Blinken to fill the role of America’s top diplomat must have been considered within several political contexts: one, that Israel needed an immediate American reassurance that Biden will carry on with Trump’s legacy; two, that the new Secretary of State needed to match the love of Israel expressed by departing Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and three, that the Iran nuclear program file has to be handled with the utmost sensitivity.

Not only did Biden succeed in making the most opportune selection, but the Israelis are also absolutely delighted. Comments made by Israeli leaders from all main political parties have welcomed Biden’s gesture, declaring unanimously that Blinken is ‘good for Israel’.

Pro-Netanyahu politicians are particularly happy and eager to engage with a Blinken-led US foreign policy. Dore Gold, a close Netanyahu associate who also served as Israel’s Foreign Ministry director-general, told the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, that he was “impressed” with Blinken and “found him to be very professional and a good listener”.

Unlike the “simply difficult” attitudes of other officials in the Obama Administration, Gold found Blinken to be “very open”, without any “any kind of anti-Israel undertone”.

The meeting that Gold was referring to took place in the US State Department in 2016, when the top Israeli official concluded that Blinken “was a really good guy,” leading to the current opinion that Blinken “can be a very positive influence”.

Blinken left the meeting with similar amity. “In the face of unprecedented regional threats, affirmed ironclad support for (Israeli) security with Israel Foreign Ministry Director-General, Dore Gold,” Blinken tweeted at the time.

Other Israelis share the same sentiment as Gold, reflecting a collective understanding that Biden will not reverse any of the steps taken by his predecessor. Former Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, also expressed her optimism regarding the direction of US-Israeli relations. Like most Israelis, she had no qualms with the Trump-Pompeo generosity, and is now certain that the Biden-Blinken duo will be equally benevolent with Israel.

According to Haaretz, Livni believes that “Biden and Blinken will embrace and build on the steps taken by Trump that were ‘in accordance with Israel’s interests’.”

Since all pro-Israel measures taken by the Trump Administration were classified under the ‘Deal of the Century’, and remembering that Biden will unlikely reverse any of these measures, it follows that Trump’s political agenda will also be championed by the upcoming administration. While Israelis are reassured by this realization, the Palestinian leadership seems oblivious to it.

After speaking to Palestinian officials, TIME magazine summed up the Palestinian Authority’s expectations as merely technical and diplomatic gestures, such as the reopening of the Palestinian mission in Washington, the establishment of the US Consulate for Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the restoration of funding.

The Palestinian inability to appreciate the nature of the challenge was also reflected in the political discourse of Arab-Israeli politicians. Ayman Odeh, the leader of Israel’s large Arab political coalition, arrived at the conclusion that “Biden will take off the table the Deal of the Century,” although Odeh rightly points out that Biden will not put any pressure on Israel.

While it is true that Biden will unlikely borrow any of Trump’s divisive terminology, he will, most certainly, keep the spirit of the ‘Deal of the Century’ alive. The ‘Deal’ consisted of specific US measures aimed at validating Israel’s illegal claims over Occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights, and the delinking of Arab normalization with Israel from the subject of the Israeli occupation. None of this is likely to change even if the term ‘Deal of the Century’ is scrapped altogether.

This conclusion should not completely dismiss the possibility of a future clash between Tel Aviv and Washington. If a disagreement does take place, it will not be over Israel’s illegal actions in Palestine but over the likelihood that the US will restart talks with Iran regarding its nuclear program.

Regarding Iran, Netanyahu’s message to Biden is decisive and undiplomatic. “There can be no going back to the previous nuclear agreement,” the Israeli Prime Minister warned on November 22. That warning in mind, Blinken will find it extremely difficult to quell Israeli fears that, by diplomatically engaging Iran, the US will not be abandoning Israel. The American assurances to Israel are likely to come at the expense of Palestinians: a free Israeli hand in expanding illegal settlements, yet more cutting edge American weapons and unconditional US support at the United Nations.

Biden’s foreign policy is likely to be a continuation of Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’, though under a different designation. It is baffling that the Palestinian leadership is unable to see this, focusing instead, on steering the US back to a failed status quo, where Washington blindly supported Israel while paying Palestinians off for their silence.

The post The King’s Man: Blinken’s Appointment Reassures Israel that Little Will Change under Biden first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Eisenhower’s Ghost Haunts Biden’s Foreign Policy Team

In his first words as President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State, Antony  Blinken said, “we have to proceed with equal measures of humility and confidence.” Many around the world will welcome this promise of humility from the new administration, and Americans should too.

Biden’s foreign policy team will also need a special kind of confidence to confront the most serious challenge they face. That will not be a threat from a hostile foreign country, but the controlling and corrupting power of the Military-Industrial Complex, which President Eisenhower warned our grandparents about 60 years ago, but whose “unwarranted influence” has only grown ever since, as Eisenhower warned, and in spite of his warning.

The Covid pandemic is a tragic demonstration of why America’s new leaders should listen humbly to our neighbors around the world instead of trying to reassert American “leadership.” While the United States compromised with a deadly virus to protect corporate financial interests, abandoning Americans to both the pandemic and its economic effects, other countries put their people’s health first and contained, controlled or even eliminated the virus.

Many of those people have since returned to living normal, healthy lives. Biden and Blinken should listen humbly to their leaders and learn from them, instead of continuing to promote the U.S. neoliberal model that is failing us so badly.

As efforts to develop safe and effective vaccines begin to bear fruit, America is doubling down on its mistakes, relying on Big Pharma to produce expensive, profitable vaccines on an America First basis, even as China, Russia, the WHO’s Covax program and others are already starting to provide low-cost vaccines wherever they are needed around the world.

Chinese vaccines are already in use in Indonesia, Malaysia and the UAE, and China is making loans to poorer countries that can’t afford to pay for them up front. At the recent G20 summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned her Western colleagues that they are being eclipsed by China’s vaccine diplomacy.

Russia has orders from 50 countries for 1.2 billion doses of its Sputnik V vaccine. President Putin told the G20 that vaccines should be “common public assets,” universally available to rich and poor countries alike, and that Russia will provide them wherever they are needed.

The U.K. and Sweden’s Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine is another non-profit venture that will cost about $3 per dose, a small fraction of the U.S.’s Pfizer and Moderna products.

From the beginning of the pandemic, it was predictable that U.S. failures and other countries’ successes would reshape global leadership. When the world finally recovers from this pandemic, people around the world will thank China, Russia, Cuba and other countries for saving their lives and helping them in their hour of need.

The Biden administration must also help our neighbors to defeat the pandemic, and it must do better than Trump and his corporate mafia in that respect, but it is already too late to speak of American leadership in this context.

The neoliberal roots of U.S. bad behavior

Decades of U.S. bad behavior in other areas have already led to a broader decline in American global leadership. The U.S. refusal to join the Kyoto Protocol or any binding agreement on climate change has led to an otherwise avoidable existential crisis for the entire human race, even as the United States is still producing record amounts of oil and natural gas. Biden’s climate czar John Kerry now says that the agreement he negotiated in Paris as Secretary of State “is not enough,” but he has only himself and Obama to blame for that.

Obama’s policy was to boost fracked natural gas as a “bridge fuel” for U.S. power plants, and to quash any possibility of a binding climate treaty in Copenhagen or Paris. U.S. climate policy, like the U.S. response to Covid, is a corrupt compromise between science and self-serving corporate interests that has predictably proved to be no solution at all. If Biden and Kerry bring more of that kind of American leadership to the Glasgow climate conference in 2021, humanity must reject it as a matter of survival.

America’s post-9/11 “Global War on Terror,” more accurately a “global war of terror,” has fueled war, chaos and terrorism across the world. The absurd notion that widespread U.S military violence could somehow put an end to terrorism quickly devolved into a cynical pretext for “regime change” wars against any country that resisted the imperial dictates of the wannabe “superpower.”

Secretary of State Colin Powell privately dubbed his colleagues the “fucking crazies,” even as he lied to the UN Security Council and the world to advance their plans for illegal aggression against Iraq. Joe Biden’s critical role as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was to orchestrate hearings that promoted their lies and excluded dissident voices who would have challenged them.

The resulting spiral of violence has killed millions of people, from 7,037 American troop deaths to five assassinations of Iranian scientists (under Obama and now Trump). Most of the victims have been either innocent civilians or people just trying to defend themselves, their families or their countries from foreign invaders, U.S.-trained death squads or actual CIA-backed terrorists.

Former Nuremberg prosecutor Ben Ferencz told NPR only a week after the crimes of September 11th, “It can never be legitimate to punish people who are not responsible for the wrong done. We must make a distinction between punishing the guilty and punishing others.” Neither Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Pakistan, Palestine, Libya, Syria or Yemen was responsible for the crimes of September 11th, and yet U.S. and allied armed forces have filled miles upon miles of graveyards with the bodies of their innocent people.

Like the Covid pandemic and the climate crisis, the unimaginable horror of the “war on terror” is another calamitous case of corrupt U.S. policy-making leading to massive loss of life. The vested interests that dictate and pervert U.S. policy, in particular the supremely powerful Military-Industrial Complex, marginalized the inconvenient truths that none of these countries had attacked or even threatened to attack the United States, and that U.S. and allied attacks on them violated the most fundamental principles of international law.

If Biden and his team genuinely aspire for the United States to play a leading and constructive role in the world, they must find a way to turn the page on this ugly episode in the already bloody history of American foreign policy. Matt Duss, an advisor to Senator Bernie Sanders, has called for a formal commission to investigate how U.S. policymakers so deliberately and systematically violated and undermined the “rules-based international order” that their grandparents so carefully and wisely built after two world wars that killed a hundred million people.

Others have observed that the remedy provided for by that rules-based order would be to prosecute senior U.S. officials. That would probably include Biden and some of his team. Ben Ferencz has noted that the U.S. case for “preemptive” war is the same argument that the German defendants used to justify their crimes of aggression at Nuremberg.

“That argument was considered by three American judges at Nuremberg,” Ferencz explained, “and they sentenced Ohlendorf and twelve others to death by hanging. So it’s very disappointing to find that my government today is prepared to do something for which we hanged Germans as war criminals.”

Time to Break the Cross of Iron

Another critical problem facing the Biden team is the deterioration of U.S. relations with China and Russia. Both countries’ military forces are primarily defensive, and therefore cost a small fraction of what the U.S. spends on its global war machine – 9% in the case of Russia, and 36% for China. Russia, of all countries, has sound historical reasons to maintain strong defenses, and does so very cost-effectively.

As former President Carter reminded Trump, China has not been at war since a brief border war with Vietnam in 1979, and has instead focused on economic development and lifted 800 million people out of poverty, while the U.S. has been squandering its wealth on its lost wars. Is it any wonder that China’s economy is now healthier and more dynamic than ours?

For the United States to blame Russia and China for America’s unprecedented military spending and global militarism is a cynical reversal of cause and effect – as much of a nonsense and an injustice as using the crimes of September 11th as a pretext to attack countries and kill people who had nothing to do with the crimes committed.

So here too, Biden’s team face a stark choice between a policy based on objective reality and a deceptive one driven by the capture of U.S. policy by corrupt interests, in this case the most powerful of them all, Eisenhower’s infamous Military-Industrial Complex. Biden’s officials have spent their careers in a hall of mirrors and revolving doors that conflates and confuses defense with corrupt, self-serving militarism, but our future now depends on rescuing our country from that deal with the devil.

As the saying goes, the only tool the U.S. has invested in is a hammer, so every problem looks like a nail. The U.S. response to every dispute with another country is an expensive new weapons system, another U.S. military intervention, a coup, a covert operation, a proxy war, tighter sanctions or some other form of coercion, all based on the supposed power of the U.S. to impose its will on other countries, but all increasingly ineffective, destructive and impossible to undo once unleashed.

This has led to war without end in Afghanistan and Iraq; it has left Haiti, Honduras and Ukraine destabilized and mired in poverty as the result of U.S.-backed coups; it has destroyed Libya, Syria and Yemen with covert and proxy wars and resulting humanitarian crises; and to U.S. sanctions that affect a third of humanity.

So the first question for the first meeting of Biden’s foreign policy team should be whether they can sever their loyalties to the arms manufacturers, corporate-funded think tanks, lobbying and consultant firms, government contractors and corporations they have worked for or partnered with during their careers.

These conflicts of interest amount to a sickness at the roots of the most serious problems facing America and the world, and they will not be resolved without a clean break. Any member of Biden’s team who cannot make that commitment and mean it should resign now, before they do any more damage.

Long before his farewell speech in 1961, President Eisenhower made another speech, responding to the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953. He said, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed…This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

In his first year in office, Eisenhower ended the Korean War and cut military spending by 39% from its wartime peak. Then he resisted pressures to raise it again, despite his failure to end the Cold War.

Today, the Military-Industrial Complex is counting on a reversion to the Cold War against Russia and China as the key to its future power and profits, to keep us hanging from this rusty old cross of iron, squandering America’s wealth on trillion-dollar weapons programs as people go hungry, millions of Americans have no healthcare and our climate becomes unlivable.

Are Joe Biden, Tony Blinken and Jake Sullivan the kind of leaders to just say “No” to the Military-Industrial Complex and consign this cross of iron to the junkyard of history, where it belongs? We will find out very soon.

The post Eisenhower's Ghost Haunts Biden's Foreign Policy Team first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Past Lives On: The Elite Strategy To Divide and Conquer

“They call my people the White Lower Middle Class these days. It is an ugly, ice-cold phrase, the result, I suppose, of the missionary zeal of those sociologists who still think you can place human beings on charts.  It most certainly does not sound like a description of people on the edge of open, sustained and possibly violent revolt,” wrote the marvelous New York journalist, Pete Hamill in “The Revolt of the White Lower Middle Class” in New York magazine.  He added:

The White Lower Middle Class? Say that magic phrase at a cocktail party on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and monstrous images arise from the American demonology. Here comes the murderous rabble: fat, well-fed, bigoted, ignorant, an army of beer-soaked Irishmen, violence-loving Italians, hate-filled Poles. Lithuanians and Hungarians….Sometimes these brutes are referred to as ‘the ethnics’ or ‘the blue-collar types.’ But the bureaucratic, sociological phrase is White Lower Middle Class. Nobody calls it the Working Class anymore.

He wrote that on April 14, 1969. Yesterday. Little changes.

Transferred from NYC to the middle of the country half a century later, these people are referred to as Trump’s “deplorables.” They come in baskets, as Hillary Clinton said.  And even though they represent nearly half the voting public in the last two presidential elections – 70+ million Americans – their complaints are dismissed as the rantings of ignorant, conservative racists.

Name calling substitutes for understanding. This is not an accident.

Like Hamill, I am a NYC born and bred Irish-American – my working-class Bronx to Pete’s Brooklyn. We both attended the same Jesuit high school in different years. Unlike Hamill, known for his gritty street reporting, because I have been a college sociology professor, I could falsely be categorized as a northeastern liberal intellectual oozing with disdain for those who voted for Trump.  This is false, because, like Hamill, I see it as my intellectual duty to understand what motivates these voters, just as I do with those who voted for Biden.

I didn’t vote for Donald Trump, nor did I vote for Joseph Biden, or Hillary Clinton in 2016.  I am not one of those sociologists Hamill refers to; I use the term Working Class and am acutely aware of the social class nature of life in the U.S.A., where the economic system of neo-liberal capitalism is constructed to try to convince working Americans that the system cares for them, and if they grow disgusted with its lies and inequities and rage against the machine by voting for anyone who seems to be with them (even a super-rich reality TV real estate magnate named Trump who is not with them), they are dumb-ass bigots whose concerns should be brushed off.

The truth is that both the Trump voters and the Biden voters have been taken for a ride.  It is a game, a show, a movie, a spectacle.  It hasn’t changed much since 1969; the rich have gotten richer and the poor, working, and middle classes have gotten poorer and more desperate.  Those who have profited have embraced the fraud.

The Institute for Policy Studies has just released a new analysis showing that since the start of the Covid-19 “pandemic” in mid-March and the subsequent transfer upwards of $5 trillion to the wealthy and largest corporations through the Cares Act, approved 96-0 in the U.S. Senate, 650 U.S. billionaires have gained over a trillion dollars in eight months as the America people have suffered an economic catastrophe.  This shift upward of massive wealth under Trump is similar to Obama’s massive 2009 bailout of the banks on the backs of American workers. Both were justified through feats of legerdemain by both political parties, accomplices in the fleecing of regular people, many of whom continue to support the politicians that screw them while telling them they care.

If the Democrats and the Republicans are at war as is often claimed, it is only over who gets the larger part of the spoils. Trump and Biden work for the same bosses, those I call the Umbrella People (those who own and run the country through their intelligence/military/media operatives), who produce and direct the movie that keeps so many Americans on the edge of their seats in the hope that their chosen good guy wins in the end.

I am well aware that most people disagree with my analysis.  It does seem as if I am wrong and that because the Democrats and their accomplices have spent years attempting to oust Trump through Russia-gate, impeachment, etc. that what seems true is true and Trump is simply a crazy aberration who somehow slipped through the net of establishment control to rule for four years.  To those 146 + million people who voted for Biden and Trump this seems self-evident.  But if that is so, why, despite their superficial differences – and Obama’s, Hillary Clinton’s and George W. Bush’s for that matter – have the super-rich gotten richer and richer over the decades and the war on terror continued as the military budget has increased each year and the armament industries and the Wall Street crooks continued to rake in the money at the expense of everyone else?  These are a few facts that can’t be disputed. There are many more. So what’s changed under Trump?  We are talking about nuances, small changes.  A clown with a big mouth versus traditional, “dignified” con men.

If you were writing this script as part of long-term planning and average people were getting disgusted from decades of being screwed and were sick of politicians and their lying ways, wouldn’t you stop the reruns and create a new show?  Come on, this is Hollywood where creative showmen can dazzle our minds with plots so twisted that when you leave the theater you keep wondering what it was all about and arguing with your friends about the ending. So create a throwback film where the good guy versus the bad guy was seemingly very clear, and while the system ground on, people would be at each other’s throats over the obvious differences, even while they were fabricated.

Variety is necessary.  You wouldn’t want to repeat the film from 2008 when a well-spoken black man came into town out of nowhere to clean up the mess created by the poorly spoken white sheriff who loved war and then the black hero went on to wage war in seven countries while his fans sat contented in the audience loving the show and making believe they didn’t see what was happening on the screen even though their hero jailed whistle blowers and greatly expanded the surveillance state right in front of their eyes.

No, as the years passed, those two guys turned out to be buddies, and their wives hit it off, and a famous photograph appeared of the good guy’s wife hugging the bad guy, which was not a good thing for the script that has the Republicans warring against the Democrats.

A new story line was needed. How about an opéra bouffe, someone suggested, and the rest is history. Or pseudo-history. This is the real matrix. The most sophisticated mind control operation up to this point, with the coronavirus lockdown added to propel it to what the producers hope is a conclusion.

What more can I say?

Billy Joel said it:  “JFK blown away.”

The Towers pulverized. David Ray Griffin told us the truth repetitively.

Minds of this generation destroyed, as Allen Ginsberg said in Howl: “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness.”

It’s been many generations now.  There has been a form of social madness growing over the decades and it is everywhere now.  Look at people’s faces, if you can see them behind the masks; everywhere the strained and stressed looks, the scared rabbit eyes that you see on the wards of mental hospitals. The look that says: what the fuck has happened as they stare into a blank screen in a tumbling void, to paraphrase Don DeLillo from his new book Silence, where people speak gibberish once their digital world is mysteriously taken down and they wander in the dark.  We are in the dark now, even though the lights and screens are still shining for the time being.

Let those who think I am wrong about Trump and Biden being players in the same show, consider this. If Trump is truly the opponent of the Deep State, the Swamp, the corrupt establishment, he will pardon Julian Assange, Chelsey Manning, and Edward Snowden who have been persecuted by these forces.  He has nothing left to lose as he exits stage right.

The journalist Julian Assange has done more than anyone to expose the sick underbelly of the gangster state, its intelligence and military secrets, its illegal and immoral killings. That is why he has been hounded and locked away for so long. It’s a bipartisan persecution of an innocent man whose only “crime” has been to tell the truth that is allegedly the essence of a democratic society.

Chelsey Manning has also suffered tremendously for exposing the savagery of U.S. military operations.

And Edward Snowden has been forced into Russian exile for telling us about the vast global surveillance systems run by the NSA and CIA to spy on the American people.

Three innocent truth-tellers at war with the Deep-State forces that Donald Trump says he opposes.

If he is what his supporters claim, he will pardon these courageous three.  It’s all in his power. A simple, clear message as he goes out the door. If by the smallest chance he does pardon them, I will be very happy and publicly apologize.  If he doesn’t, as I expect, please don’t say a word in his defense.  My ears will be stuffed with wax.  For he won’t, because, like Biden, he is controlled by the very forces that these truth-tellers have exposed.

But back to the working class “deplorables” that voted for Trump. They aren’t going anywhere.  Their grievances remain. For decades, under Democratic and Republican administrations, their lives have been hollowed out, their livelihoods taken as corporate thieves have ravaged their towns and cities by closing down the factories where they worked and sending them overseas for greater profits. Small farmers have been “liquidated” for agribusiness.

As always, the coastal urbanites have considered rural people stupid, uncouth, and clownish, as the words clown, boor, and villain have all originally meant farmer or countryman or lower-class peasant.  Such hidden etymological social class prejudices have a way of persisting over the years.

Towns and small businesses disappear, traditional values are ridiculed, drug addiction and suicide increase, the fabric of traditions crumble, etc.  This list is long.  The people who voted for Trump feel betrayed; feel like victims. Of course, as Pete Hamill wrote of the NYC white working class in 1969, there are racists among them, and with all racists, they have their reasons, but these reasons are poison and despicable. But overall, these Trump voters are, in Hamill’s words, “actually in revolt against taxes, joyless work, the double standards and short memories of professional politicians, hypocrisy and what he considers the debasement of the American dream.”  Any politician, he added, who leaves these people out of the political equation, does so at a very large risk.  That risk has been growing over the decades.

Yet desperate people do desperate things, and for many Americans these are desperate times.  Everywhere you look, there are long lines at food pantries and soup kitchens.  The unemployment numbers are staggering. Homelessness. Suicides.  Drug and alcohol addictions rising.  Clear signs of social disintegration.  This is true not just in the United States but is happening around the world as neo-liberal economic policies are exacerbated by the widespread lockdowns that has given rise to massive protests worldwide, protests that the corporate press has failed to publicize since doing so would give the lie to their promotions of the lockdowns.

In England, the Mirror newspaper just printed the legendary Australian journalist John Pilger’s article about his 1975 interviews with impoverished English families with this lead:

John Pilger interviewed Irene Brunsden in Hackney, east London about only being able to feed her two-year-old a plate of cornflakes in 1975. Now he sees nervous women queueing at foodbanks with their children as it’s revealed 600,000 more kids are in poverty now than in 2012.

Vast numbers of people are suffering.

Many Trump voters no doubt know that Trump was never going to save them. But he said the right things, and desperation and disgust will grasp onto the slightest will-o’-the-wisp when disbelief in the whole rotten system is widespread.

Let’s not bullshit: everyone knows the game is rigged.

Trump is a liar.

Biden is a liar.

Great Britain’s Boris Johnson is a liar.

Fill in the names of the political charlatans.

The system is built on lies to keep the illusions brightening the screen of the great picture show, what Neil Gabler has rightly called “life the movie.”

Biden voters no doubt desperately hope that we can go back to some semblance of “normal,” even while knowing this is a losing game. Many of them try hard to conceal their true feelings, that their hatred for Trump and their love of living in times when imperialism is concealed as democracy is what they want. They don’t want to know. Concealment of the atrocious underbelly of normal is their hope and desire, even while they too are being fleeced and secretly know that the “new normal” will be far from their restorative dreams.  There are exceptions, of course, true believers who think Biden will significantly change things, but I would say they are a very small minority.  Many Biden voters say they have voted for the “lesser of two evils,” an old, worn-out excuse that in a rigged system will perdure.

Little changes. The past lives on.

Next year’s Academy Awards will be interesting.  A wit I know suggested that perhaps Trump and Biden will be nominees for the Best Actor in a Leading Role and they will tie for the Oscar.  That will be the second time that has ever happened.  The first was in 1932 when Fredric March and Wallace Beery shared the award.  March starred in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Beery in the boxing film, The Champ.

Both winners will be announced as starring in the same film, confusing the audience until it’s named: The American Nightmare.  Then raucous cheering will erupt from the jaded audience.  Dr. Jekyll will embrace Mr. Hyde and the melded Champ will take a bow as he winks for the cameras.

The post The Past Lives On: The Elite Strategy To Divide and Conquer first appeared on Dissident Voice.

System Fail #5: Sick of Winning

In this episode we look at the aftermath of the 2020 US Presidential elections, leading up to the so-called “Million MAGA March” in Washington, DC. We also feature an interview with Tom Nomad, author of The Masters Tools: Warfare & Insurgent Possibility.

CW: Graphic violence.

The post System Fail #5: Sick of Winning first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Planet Cannot Begin to Heal Until We Rip the Mask off the West’s War Machine

Making political sense of the world can be tricky unless one understands the role of the state in capitalist societies. The state is not primarily there to represent voters or uphold democratic rights and values; it is a vehicle for facilitating and legitimating the concentration of wealth and power into fewer and fewer hands.

In a recent post, I wrote about “externalities” – the ability of companies to offset the true costs inherent in the production process. The burden of these costs are covertly shifted on to wider society: that is, on to you and me. Or on to those far from view, in foreign lands. Or on to future generations. Externalising costs means that profits can be maximised for the wealth elite in the here and now.

Our own societies must deal with the externalised costs of industries ranging from tobacco and alcohol to chemicals and vehicles. Societies abroad must deal with the costs of the bombs dropped by our “defence” industries. And future generations will have to deal with the lethal costs incurred by corporations that for decades have been allowed to pump out their waste products into every corner of the globe.

Divine right to rule

In the past, the job of the corporate media was to shield those externalities from public view. More recently, as the costs have become impossible to ignore, especially with the climate crisis looming, the media’s role has changed. Its central task now is to obscure corporate responsibility for these externalities. That is hardly surprising. After all, the corporate media’s profits depend on externalising costs too, as well as hiding the externalised costs of their parent companies, their billionaire owners and their advertisers.

Once, monarchs rewarded the clerical class for persuading, through the doctrine of divine right, their subjects to passively submit to exploitation. Today, “mainstream” media are there to persuade us that capitalism, the profit motive, the accumulation of ever greater wealth by elites, and externalities destroying the planet are the natural order of things, that this is the best economic system imaginable.

Most of us are now so propagandised by the media that we can barely imagine a functioning world without capitalism. Our minds are primed to imagine, in the absence of capitalism, an immediate lurch back to Soviet-style bread queues or an evolutionary reversal to cave-dwelling. Those thoughts paralyse us, making us unable to contemplate what might be wrong or inherently unsustainable about how we live right now, or to imagine the suicidal future we are hurtling towards.

Lifeblood of empire

There is a reason that, as we rush lemming-like towards the cliff-edge, urged on by a capitalism that cannot operate at the level of sustainability or even of sanity, the push towards intensified war grows. Wars are the life blood of the corporate empire headquartered in the United States.

US imperialism is no different from earlier imperialisms in its aims or methods. But in late-stage capitalism, wealth and power are hugely concentrated. Technologies have reached a pinnacle of advancement. Disinformation and propaganda are sophisticated to an unprecedented degree. Surveillance is intrusive and aggressive, if well concealed. Capitalism’s destructive potential is unlimited. But even so, war’s appeal is not diminished.

As ever, wars allow for the capture and control of resources. Fossil fuels promise future growth, even if of the short-term, unsustainable kind.

Wars require the state to invest its money in the horrendously expensive and destructive products of the “defence” industries, from fighter planes to bombs, justifying the transfer of yet more public resources into private hands.

The lobbies associated with these “defence” industries have every incentive to push for aggressive foreign (and domestic) policies to justify more investment, greater expansion of “defensive” capabilities, and the use of weapons on the battlefield so that they need replenishing.

Whether public or covert, wars provide an opportunity to remake poorly defended, resistant societies – such as Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria – in ways that allow for resources to be seized, markets to be expanded and the reach of the corporate elite to be extended.

War is the ultimate growth industry, limited only by our ability to be persuaded of new enemies and new threats.

Fog of war

For the political class, the benefits of war are not simply economic. In a time of environmental collapse, war offers a temporary “Get out of jail” card. During wars, the public is encouraged to assent to new, ever greater sacrifices that allow public wealth to be transferred to the elite. War is the corporate world’s ultimate Ponzi scheme.

The “fog of war” does not just describe the difficulty of knowing what is happening in the immediate heat of battle. It is also the fear, generated by claims of an existential threat, that sets aside normal thinking, normal caution, normal scepticism. It is the invoking of a phantasmagorical enemy towards which public resentments can be directed, shielding from view the real culprits – the corporations and their political cronies at home.

The “fog of war” engineers the disruption of established systems of control and protocol to cope with the national emergency, shrouding and rationalising the accumulation by corporations of more wealth and power and the further capture of organs of the state. It is the licence provided for “exceptional” changes to the rules that quickly become normalised. It is the disinformation that passes for national responsibility and patriotism.

Permanent austerity

All of which explains why Boris Johnson, Britain’s prime minister, has just pledged an extra £16.5 billion in “defence” spending at a time when the UK is struggling to control a pandemic and when, faced by disease, Brexit and a new round of winter floods, the British economy is facing “systemic crisis”, according to a new Cabinet Office report. Figures released this week show the biggest economic contraction in the UK in three centuries.

If the British public is to stomach yet more cuts, to surrender to permanent austerity as the economy tanks, Johnson, ever the populist, knows he needs a good cover story. And that will involve further embellishment of existing, fearmongering narratives about Russia, Iran and China.

To make those narratives plausible, Johnson has to act as if the threats are real, which means massive spending on “defence”. Such expenditure, wholly counter-productive when the current challenge is sustainability, will line the pockets of the very corporations that help Johnson and his pals stay in power, not least by cheerleading him via their media arms.

New salesman needed

The cynical way this works was underscored in a classified 2010 CIA memorandum, known as “Red Cell”, leaked to Wikileaks, as the journalist Glenn Greenwald reminded us this week. The CIA memo addressed the fear in Washington that European publics were demonstrating little appetite for the US-led “war on terror” that followed 9/11. That, in turn, risked limiting the ability of European allies to support the US as it exercised its divine right to wage war.

The memo notes that European support for US wars after 9/11 had chiefly relied on “public apathy” – the fact that Europeans were kept largely ignorant by their own media of what those wars entailed. But with a rising tide of anti-war sentiment, the concern was that this might change. There was an urgent need to further manipulate public opinion more decisively in favour of war.

The US intelligence agency decided its wars needed a facelift. George W Bush, with his Texan, cowboy swagger, had proved a poor salesman. So the CIA turned to identity politics and faux “humanitarianism”, which they believed would play better with European publics.

Part of the solution was to accentuate the suffering of Afghan women to justify war. But the other part was to use President Barack Obama as the face of a new, “caring” approach to war. He had recently been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – even though he had done nothing for peace, and would go on to expand US wars – very possibly as part of this same effort to reinvent the “war on terror”. Polls showed support for existing wars increased markedly among Europeans when they were reminded that Obama backed these wars.

As Greenwald observes:

Obama’s most important value was in prettifying, marketing and prolonging wars, not ending them. They saw him for what U.S. Presidents really are: instruments to create a brand and image about the U.S. role in the world that can be effectively peddled to both the domestic population in the US and then on the global stage, and specifically to pretend that endless barbaric US wars are really humanitarian projects benevolently designed to help people — the pretext used to justify every war by every country in history.

Obama-style facelift

Once the state is understood as a vehicle for entrenching elite power – and war its most trusted tool for concentrating power – the world becomes far more intelligible. Western economies never stopped being colonial economies, but they were given an Obama-style facelift. War and plunder – even when they masquerade as “defence” or peace – are still the core western mission.

That is why Britons, believing days of empire are long behind them, may have been shocked to learn this week that the UK still operates 145 military bases in 42 countries around the globe, meaning it runs the second largest network of such bases after the US.

Such information is not made available in the UK “mainstream” media, of course. It has to be provided by an “alternative” investigative site, Declassified UK. In that way the vast majority of the British public are left clueless about how their taxes are being used at a time when they are told further belt-tightening is essential.

The UK’s network of bases, many of them in the Middle East, close to the world’s largest oil reserves, are what the much-vaunted “special relationship” with the US amounts to. Those bases are the reason the UK – whoever is prime minister – is never going to say “no” to a demand that Britain join Washington in waging war, as it did in attacking Iraq in 2003, or in aiding attacks on Libya, Syria and Yemen. The UK is not only a satellite of the US empire, it is a lynchpin of the western imperial war economy.

Ideological alchemy

Once that point is appreciated, the need for external enemies – for our own Eurasias and Eastasias – becomes clearer.

Some of those enemies, the minor ones, come and go, as demand dictates. Iraq dominated western attention for two decades. Now it has served its purpose, its killing fields and “terrorist” recruiting grounds have reverted to a mere footnote in the daily news. Likewise, the Libyan bogeyman Muammar Gaddafi was constantly paraded across news pages until he was bayonetted to death. Now the horror story that is today’s chaotic Libya, a corridor for arms-running and people-trafficking, can be safely ignored. For a decade, the entirely unexceptional Arab dictator Bashar Assad, of Syria, has been elevated to the status of a new Hitler, and he will continue to serve in that role for as long as it suits the needs of the western war economy.

Notably, Israel, another lynchpin of the US empire and one that serves as a kind of offshored weapons testing laboratory for the military-industrial complex, has played a vital role in rationalising these wars. Just as saving Afghan women from Middle Eastern patriarchy makes killing Afghans – men, women and children – more palatable to Europeans, so destroying Arab states can be presented as a humanitarian gesture if at the same time it crushes Israel’s enemies, and by extension, through a strange, implied ideological alchemy, the enemies of all Jews.

Quite how opportunistic – and divorced from reality – the western discourse about Israel and the Middle East has become is obvious the moment the relentless concerns about Syria’s Assad are weighed against the casual indifference towards the head-chopping rulers of Saudi Arabia, who for decades have been financing terror groups across the Middle East, including the jihadists in Syria.

During that time, Israel has covertly allied with oil-rich Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, because all of them are safely ensconced within the US war machine. Now, with the Palestinians completely sidelined diplomatically, and with all international solidarity with Palestinians browbeaten into silence by antisemitism smears, Israel and the Saudis are gradually going public with their alliance, like a pair of shy lovers. That included the convenient leak this week of a secret meeting between Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia.

The west also needs bigger, more menacing and more permanent enemies than Iraq or Syria. Helpfully one kind – nebulous “terrorism” – is the inevitable reaction to western war-making. The more brown people we kill, the more brown people we can justify killing because they carry out, or support, “terrorism” against us. Their hatred for our bombs is an irrationality, a primitivism we must keep stamping out with more bombs.

But concrete, identifiable enemies are needed too. Russia, Iran and China give superficial credence to the war machine’s presentation of itself as a “defence” industry. The UK’s bases around the globe and Boris Johnson’s £16 billion rise in spending on the UK’s war industries only make sense if Britain is under a constant, existential threat. Not just someone with a suspicious backpack on the London Tube, but a sophisticated, fiendish enemy that threatens to invade our lands, to steal resources to which we claim exclusive rights, to destroy our way of life through its masterful manipulation of the internet.

Crushed or tamed

Anyone of significance who questions these narratives that rationalise and perpetuate war is the enemy too. Current political and legal dramas in the US and UK reflect the perceived threat such actors pose to the war machine. They must either be crushed or tamed into subservience.

Trump was initially just such a figure that needed breaking in. The CIA and other intelligence agencies assisted in the organised opposition to Trump – helping to fuel the evidence-free Russiagate “scandal” – not because he was an awful human being or had authoritarian tendencies, but for two more specific reasons.

First, Trump’s political impulses, expressed in the early stages of his presidential campaign, were to withdraw from the very wars the US empire depends on. Despite open disdain for him from most of the media, he was criticised more often for failing to prosecute wars enthusiastically enough rather than for being too hawkish. And second, even as his isolationist impulses were largely subdued after the 2016 election by the permanent bureaucracy and his own officials, Trump proved to be an even more disastrous salesman for war than George W Bush. Trump made war look and sound exactly as it is, rather than packaging it as “intervention” intended to help women and people of colour.

But Trump’s amateurish isolationism paled in comparison to two far bigger threats to the war machine that emerged over the past decade. One was the danger – in our newly interconnected, digital world – of information leaks that risked stripping away the mask of US democracy, of the “shining city on the hill”, to reveal the tawdry reality underneath.

Julian Assange and his Wikileaks project proved just such a danger. The most memorable leak – at least as far as the general public was concerned – occurred in 2010, with publication of a classified video, titled Collateral Murder, showing a US air crew joking and celebrating as they murdered civilians far below in the streets of Baghdad. It gave a small taste of why western “humanitarianism” might prove so unpopular with those to whom we were busy supposedly bringing “democracy”.

The threat posed by Assange’s new transparency project was recognised instantly by US officials.

Exhibiting a carefully honed naivety, the political and media establishments have sought to uncouple the fact that Assange has spent most of the last decade in various forms of detention, and is currently locked up in a London high-security prison awaiting extradition to the US, from his success in exposing the war machine. Nonetheless, to ensure his incarceration till death in one of its super-max jails, the US empire has had to conflate the accepted definitions of “journalism” and “espionage”, and radically overhaul traditional understandings of the rights enshrined in the First Amendment.

Dress rehearsal for a coup

An equally grave threat to the war machine was posed by the emergence of Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of Britain’s Labour party. Corbyn presented as exceptional a problem as Assange.

Before Corbyn, Labour had never seriously challenged the UK’s dominant military-industrial complex, even if its support for war back in the 1960s and 1970s was often tempered by its then-social democratic politics. It was in this period, at the height of the Cold War, that Labour prime minister Harold Wilson was suspected by British elites of failing to share their anti-Communist and anti-Soviet paranoia, and was therefore viewed as a potential threat to their entrenched privileges.

As a BBC documentary from 2006 notes, Wilson faced the very real prospect of enforced “regime change”, coordinated by the military, the intelligence services and members of the royal family. It culminated in a show of force by the military as they briefly took over Heathrow airport without warning or coordination with Wilson’s government. Marcia Williams, his secretary, called it a “dress rehearsal” for a coup. Wilson resigned unexpectedly soon afterwards, apparently as the pressure started to take its toll.

‘Mutiny’ by the army

Subsequent Labour leaders, most notably Tony Blair, learnt the Wilson lesson: never, ever take on the “defence” establishment. The chief role of the UK is to serve as the US war machine’s attack dog. Defying that allotted role would be political suicide.

By contrast to Wilson, who posed a threat to the British establishment only in its overheated imagination, Corbyn was indeed a real danger to the militaristic status quo.

He was one of the founders of the Stop the War coalition that emerged specifically to challenge the premises of the “war on terror”. He explicitly demanded an end to Israel’s role as a forward base of the imperial war industries. In the face of massive opposition from his own party – and claims he was undermining “national security” – Corbyn urged a public debate about the deterrence claimed by the “defence” establishment for the UK’s Trident nuclear submarine programme, effectively under US control. It was also clear that Corbyn’s socialist agenda, were he ever to reach power, would require redirecting the many billions spent in maintaining the UK’s 145 military bases around the globe back into domestic social programmes.

In an age when the primacy of capitalism goes entirely unquestioned, Corbyn attracted even more immediate hostility from the power establishment than Wilson had. As soon as he was elected Labour leader, Corbyn’s own MPs – still loyal to Blairism – sought to oust him with a failed leadership challenge. If there was any doubt about how the power elite responded to Corbyn becoming head of the opposition, the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sunday Times newspaper soon offered a platform to an unnamed army general to make clear its concerns.

Weeks after Corbyn’s election as Labour leader, the general warned that the army would take “direct action” using “whatever means possible, fair or foul” to prevent Corbyn exercising power. There would be “mutiny”, he said. “The Army just wouldn’t stand for it.”

Such views about Corbyn were, of course, shared on the other side of the Atlantic. In a leaked recording of a conversation with American-Jewish organisations last year, Mike Pompeo, Trump’s secretary of state and a former CIA director, spoke of how Corbyn had been made to “run the gauntlet” as a way to ensure he would not be elected prime minister. The military metaphor was telling.

In relation to the danger of Corbyn winning the 2019 election, Pompeo added: “You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back. We will do our level best. It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened.”

This was from the man who said of his time heading the CIA: “We lied, we cheated, we stole. It’s – it was like – we had entire training courses.”

Smears and Brexit

After a 2017 election that Labour only narrowly lost, the Corbyn threat was decisively neutralised in the follow-up election two years later, after the Labour leader was floored by a mix of antisemitism slurs and a largely jingoistic Brexit campaign to leave Europe.

Claims that this prominent anti-racism campaigner had overseen a surge of antisemitism in Labour were unsupported by evidence, but the smears – amplified in the media – quickly gained a life of their own. The allegations often bled into broader – and more transparently weaponised – suggestions that Corbyn’s socialist platform and criticisms of capitalism were also antisemitic. (See here, here and here.) But the smears were nevertheless dramatically effective in removing the sheen of idealism that had propelled Corbyn on to the national stage.

By happy coincidence for the power establishment, Brexit also posed a deep political challenge to Corbyn. He was naturally antagonistic to keeping the UK trapped inside a neoliberal European project that, as a semi-detached ally of the US empire, would always eschew socialism. But Corbyn never had control over how the Brexit debate was framed. Helped by the corporate media, Dominic Cummings and Johnson centred that debate on simplistic claims that severing ties with Europe would liberate the UK socially, economically and culturally. But their concealed agenda was very different. An exit from Europe was not intended to liberate Britain but to incorporate it more fully into the US imperial war machine.

Which is one reason that Johnson’s cash-strapped Britain is now promising an extra £16bn on “defence”. The Tory government’s  priorities are to prove both its special usefulness to the imperial project and its ability to continue using war – as well as the unique circumstances of the pandemic – to channel billions from public coffers into the pockets of the establishment.

A Biden makeover

After four years of Trump, the war machine once again desperately needs a makeover. The once-confident, youthful Wikileaks is now less able to peek behind the curtain and listen in to the power establishment’s plans for a new administration under Joe Biden.

We can be sure nonetheless that its priorities are no different from those set out in the CIA memo of 2010. Biden’s cabinet, the media has been excitedly trumpeting, is the most “diverse” ever, with women especially prominent in the incoming foreign policy establishment.

There has been a huge investment by Pentagon officials and Congressional war hawks in pushing for Michèle Flournoy to be appointed as the first female defence secretary. Flournoy, like Biden’s pick for secretary of state, Tony Blinken, has played a central role in prosecuting every US war dating back to the Bill Clinton administration.

The other main contender for the spot is Jeh Johnson, who would become the first black defence secretary. As Biden dithers, his advisers’ assessment will focus on who will be best positioned to sell yet more war to a war-weary public.

The role of the imperial project is to use violence as a tool to capture and funnel ever greater wealth – whether it be resources seized in foreign lands or the communal wealth of domestic western populations – into the pockets of the power establishment, and to exercise that power covertly enough, or at a great enough distance, that no meaningful resistance is provoked.

A strong dose of identity politics may buy a little more time. But the war economy is as unsustainable as everything else our societies are currently founded on. Sooner or later the war machine is going to run out of fuel.

The post The Planet Cannot Begin to Heal Until We Rip the Mask off the West’s War Machine first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Will the World Community Condemn the Murder of Iran’s Nuclear Scientist?

Protesters burn U.S. and Israeli flags flags in Tehran after the killing of Fakhrizadeh. (Credit: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA, via Shutterstock)

Israel used all four years of Trump’s presidency to entrench its systems of occupation and apartheid. Now that Joe Biden has won the U.S. election, the assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, likely by Israel with the go-ahead from the US administration, is a desperate attempt to use Trump’s last days in office to sabotage Biden’s chances of successful diplomacy with Iran. Biden, Congress and the world community can’t let that happen.

On Friday November 27, Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was assassinated in the Iranian city of Absard outside of Tehran. First, a truck with explosives blew up near the car carrying Fakhrizadeh. Then, gunmen started firing on Fakhrizadeh’s car. The immediate speculation was that Israel had carried out the attack, perhaps with the support of the Iranian terrorist group the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (MEK). Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted that there were “serious indications of [an] Israeli role” in the assassination.

All indications indeed point to Israel. In 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu identified this scientist, Fakhrizadeh, as a target of his administration during a presentation in which he claimed that Israel had obtained secret Iranian files that alleged the country was not actually abiding by the Iran Nuclear Deal. “Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh. So here’s his directive, right here,” Netanyahu said.

Fakhrizadeh was far from the first assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist. Between 2010 and 2012, four Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinatedMasoud Alimohammadi, Majid Shahriari, Darioush Rezaeinejad and Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan. Though Israel never took official credit for the extrajudicial executions, reports were fairly conclusive that Israel, working with the MEK, were behind the killings. The Israeli government never denied the allegations.

The assassination of Fakhrizadeh also follows reports that the Israeli government recently instructed its senior military officials to prepare for a possible U.S. strike on Iran, likely referring to a narrowly averted plan by President Trump to bomb Iran’s Natanz nuclear site. Furthermore, there was a clandestine meeting between Netanyahu and Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman. Among the topics of conversation were normalization between the two countries and their shared antagonism towards Iran.

Israel’s attacks on Iran’s nuclear activities are particularly galling given that Israel, not Iran, is the only country in the Middle East in possession of nuclear weapons, and Israel refuses to sign the International Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Iran, on the other hand, doesn’t have nuclear weapons and it has opened itself up to the most intrusive international inspections ever implemented. Adding to this absurd double standard is the intense pressure on Iran from the United States—a nation that has more nuclear weapons than any country on earth.

Given the close relationship between Netanyahu and Trump, and the seriousness of this attack, it is very likely that this assassination was carried out with the green light from Trump himself. Trump has spent his time in the White House destroying the progress the Obama administration made in easing the conflict with Iran. He withdrew from the nuclear deal and imposed an unending stream of crippling sanctions that have affected everything from the price of food and housing, to Iran’s ability to obtain life-saving medicines during the pandemic. He has blocked Iran from getting an IMF $5 billion emergency loan to deal with the pandemic. In January, Trump brought the US to the brink of war by assassinating Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, and in an early November meeting with his top security advisors, and right before the assassination of Fakhrizadeh, Trump himself reportedly raised the possibility of a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

After the news broke of the assassination, Trump expressed implicit approval of the attack by retweeting Israeli journalist and expert on the Israeli Mossad intelligence service, Yossi Melman, who described the killing of Fahkrizadeh as a “major psychological and professional blow for Iran.”

Iran has responded to these intense provocations with extreme patience and reserve. The government was hoping for a change in the White House and Biden’s victory signaled the possibility of both the U.S. and Iran going back into compliance with the nuclear deal. This recent assassination, however, further strengthens the hands of Iranian hardliners who say it was a mistake to negotiate with the United States, and that Iran should just leave the nuclear deal and build a nuclear weapon for its own defense.

Iranian-American analyst Negar Mortazavi bemoaned the chilling effect the assassination will have on Iran’s political space. “The atmosphere will be even more securitized, civil society and political opposition will be pressured even more, and the anti-West discourse will be strengthened in Iran’s upcoming presidential election,” she tweeted.

The hardliners already won the majority of seats in the February parliamentary elections and are predicted to win the presidential elections scheduled for June. So the window for negotiations is a narrow one of four months immediately after Biden’s inauguration.  What happens between now and January 20 could derail negotiations before they even start.

Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council, said that US and Israeli efforts to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program “have now morphed into Trump & Netanyahu sabotaging the next US President. They are trying to goad Iran into provocations & accelerating nuclear work—exactly what they claim to oppose. Their real fear is US & Iran talking.”

That’s why U.S. members of Congress, and President-elect Joe Biden himself, must vigorously condemn this act and affirm their commitment to the US rejoining the nuclear deal. When Israel assassinated other nuclear scientists during the Obama administration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denounced the murders, understanding that such illegal actions made negotiations infinitely more difficult.

The European Union, as well as some important US figures have already condemned the attack. Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy pointed out the risks involved in normalizing assassinations, how the killing will make it harder to restart the Iran Nuclear agreement, and how the assassination of General Soleimani backfired from a security standpoint. Former Obama advisor Ben Rhodes tweeted that it was an “outrageous action aimed at undermining diplomacy,” and former CIA head John Brennan called the assassination “criminal” and “highly reckless,” risking “lethal retaliation and a new round of regional conflict,” but rather than putting the responsibility on the U.S. and Israel to stop the provocations, he called on Iran to “be wise” and “resist the urge to respond.”

Many on Twitter have raised the question of what the world response would be if the roles were reversed and Iran assassinated an Israeli nuclear scientist. Without a doubt, the U.S. administration, whether Democrat or Republican, would be outraged and supportive of a swift military response. But if we want to avoid escalation, then we must hope that Iran will not retaliate, at least not during Trump’s last days in office.

The only way to stop this crisis from spiraling out of control is for the world community to condemn the act, and demand a UN investigation and accountability for the perpetrators. The countries that joined Iran and the United States in signing  the 2015 nuclear agreement —Russia, China, Germany, the UK and France—must not only oppose the assassination but publicly recommit to upholding the nuclear deal. President-elect Joe Biden must send a clear message to Israel that under his administration, these illegal acts will have consequences. He must also send a clear message to Iran that he intends to quickly re-enter the nuclear deal, stop blocking Iran’s $5 billion IMF loan request, and begin a new era of diplomacy to dial back the intense conflict he inherited from Trump’s recklessness.

The post Will the World Community Condemn the Murder of Iran’s Nuclear Scientist? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

A U.S. Color Revolution “Comes Home to Roost” in the 2020 Election

It has been more than three weeks since election day and the incumbent U.S. president still has yet to concede defeat. Despite the media’s distraction over the perspiration of his personal attorney during a bizarre press conference, the legal team led by former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has actually done a decent job uncovering potential fraud in battleground states where vote counting was delayed for several days before the former vice president was declared a “winner” by the news media and Silicon Valley. Unfortunately, the 2020 election is not a sporting event or academic paper, therefore evidence that instances of fraud occurred will likely not be enough for the litigation to change the outcome, though it does appear his camp is finally facing up to leaving the White House come January. Then again, whether or not burden of proof was ever provided is immaterial, seeing as before he even took the oath of office a silent coup was underway to remove the democratically-elected government of Donald J. Trump that is now entering its final phase.

Trump found an unlikely voice of support contesting Biden’s premature declaration of victory in former six-term Democratic Congresswoman from Georgia and 2008 Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney, who this time was the running mate of former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura as a write-in entrant in some eligible states for the divided Greens who officially nominated labor activist Howie Hawkins. During the 2016 election, the Democrats scapegoated Jill Stein for Hillary Clinton’s unexpected loss, even baselessly implicating the Green Party nominee in the Russiagate hoax simply for having appeared at a 2015 Moscow gala for the RT television network where General Michael Flynn and Russian President Vladimir Putin were in attendance. Not only did the legislatures of swing states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin exclude Hawkins from the ballot at the behest of Democrats in a shameless act of voter suppression, but McKinney described the irregularities which plagued electronic voting machines in her home state of Georgia in 2020 as “déjà vu”, having been cheated out of Congress herself by such tactics in 2006. McKinney also previously penned an essay entitled “The Purple Revolution: U.S. Hybrid Warfare Comes Home to Roost?” on the establishment’s efforts to remove Trump which makes an apropos historical reference.

This November 22nd marked fifty-seven years since the assassination of John F. Kennedy. When asked for his reaction to the killing of the 35th president in Dallas back in 1963 and less than two years before his own public murder, civil rights leader Malcolm X famously stated that “chickens were coming home to roost”, alluding to the U.S. government’s interventions overseas such as the CIA-orchestrated assassination of the first Prime Minister of the Congo, Patrice Lumumba, in 1960 following its independence from Belgian colonial rule. His remarks in the wake of a national tragedy proved too controversial even for the Nation of Islam which publicly censured its most recognizable minister who would announce his departure from the black nationalist organization a few months later. The following year, he would be gunned down in Harlem in an assassination long-suspected to have been the work of the FBI’s counter-intelligence program (COINTELPRO) which had infiltrated his inner circle to frame the NOI for a mysterious death equally thought by the public to have been a state-sanctioned execution like that of JFK.

It is unclear whether the African-American Muslim leader believed the U.S. government was behind Kennedy’s death, but chances are he was not naïve enough to think that the same machinations used abroad could not be implemented by those very forces domestically to remove someone elected by the American people they opposed. If the Kennedy assassination was indeed a result of the “unwarranted influence of the military-industrial complex” which his predecessor Dwight D. Eisenhower even famously warned of during his farewell address, what took place was almost certainly a secret putsch. The president had already been undercut by his own Joint Chiefs of Staff and Central Intelligence Agency in trying to defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis and his back-channel negotiations with Nikita Khrushchev were sabotaged by hawkish officials within his own administration. The internal struggle that scuttled Kennedy’s attempts at détente parallels the vying factions which undermined Trump ’s diplomacy with North Korea to a near tee.

Political scientist Michael Parenti explained in his essay The JFK Assassination: Defending the Gangster State how the 35th president was targeted by the security state which perceived Kennedy as “soft on communism” and placating the Soviet Union in his diplomatic efforts following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion:

The dirty truth is that Kennedy was heartily hated by right-wing forces in this country, including many powerful people in the intelligence organizations. He had betrayed the national interest as they defined it, by refusing to go all out against Cuba, making overtures of rapproachment with Castro, and refusing to escalate the ground war in Vietnam. They also saw him as an anti-business liberal who was taking the country down the wrong path. Whether Kennedy really was all that liberal is another matter. What the national security rightists saw him to be was what counted.

While the widely perceived truth about the JFK assassination remains sealed from public view, the Church Committee and Rockefeller Commissions of the 1970s exposed the numerous CIA-backed juntas which unseated popular leaders in Guatemala, Syria, Iran, the Dominican Republic, the Congo, Brazil, Indonesia, Chile, and countless other nations in the global south. Ever since, the CIA’s preferred regime change stratagem has been to use what are paradoxically labeled non-governmental organizations (NGOs) — which actually receive U.S. government funding — as cutouts to destabilize noncompliant nations under the guise of supporting “pro-democracy” opposition movements. During the Cold War, the vast majority of states overthrown were left-leaning or socialist governments aligned with the Eastern Bloc, but in the post-Soviet world many of the toppled administrations have been far from left-wing and even conservative, with their only offense favoring economic ties with Russia or China and resisting Western hegemony.

Similarly, when domestic protest movements have taken shape at home in the U.S., the political establishment has used plutocratic foundations in Big Philanthropy and the Non-Profit Industrial Complex to defang them for its own agenda. Look no further than the way the nationwide mass demonstrations against racism and police brutality this year were rapidly transformed into a movement to elect Joe Biden, who drafted the senate version of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, with no substantial legislation passed to reform police. The corporatized Black Lives Matter movement, a recipient of $100 million dollar grants from the CIA’s philanthropic frontage in the Ford Foundation, grew out of the legacy of the short-lived Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011 which itself were coopted by reformist and pro-Democratic Party outfits. Not coincidentally, OWS was also infiltrated by Serbian political activist Srđa Popović of Otpor! (“Resistance!”) and the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) fame who previously led the Bulldozer Revolution which overthrew Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević in 2000.

A central component of the Gene Sharp-inspired ‘Color Revolution’ template is the engineering of contested election scenarios where leaders singled-out for regime change can be ousted after appearing to consolidate power, as seen in election-themed revolutions in Serbia (Bulldozer), Georgia (Rose), Ukraine (Orange), Kyrgyzstan (Tulip), Moldova (Grape), and other countries. The same manner in which Biden declared himself the victor in spite of the lawsuits filed in federal court was recently observed abroad in the disputed election aftermath in Belarus where U.S.-backed opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya announced herself the winner of its presidential contest in order to spark preplanned protests in Minsk against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. This was a replication of an unsuccessful blueprint from the 2009 Green Movement unrest in Iran during the incumbency of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as well as the presidential crisis in Venezuela last year, among others.

Trump‘s lawyer Rudy Giuliani appeared to be confused when he alleged that the e-voting irregularities involving the election software company Dominion Voting Systems had ties to diseased former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and international financier George Soros, who actually supports the U.S.-backed opposition to the Chavista government in Caracas. Giuliani may be mistaken but is pointing to something accurate, except in the contested U.S. election his client is in the position of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro while Biden would be the equivalent of self-appointed “interim president” Juan Guaidó. Sans a few exceptions such as Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (who certainly knows a rigged contest when he sees one), most of the “international community” congratulated Biden on his assumed win just like Venezuela’s illegitimate coup leader. Meanwhile, both the pseudo-left and conservative right seem to be equally misunderstood about Soros, who is neither the charitable billionaire or “globalist” bogeyman they imagine, but rather an anti-communist business tycoon who favors vulture capitalism and Western imperialism under the banner of liberal democracy.

As touched on by Cynthia McKinney, in the aftermath of Trump’s shocking triumph over Hillary Clinton in 2016, rumors began to swirl that a Soros-funded U.S. ‘Color Revolution’ was in the works — a ‘Purple Revolution’, monikered after the noticeable shade Mrs. Clinton chose to don in her concession speech as a combination of blue and red intended to symbolize bipartisan opposition to Trump. Whether or not that was true, it was in the wee hours following her loss that the Clinton campaign reportedly settled on placing the blame at the feet of unproven Russian interference for Trump’s unlikely victory. Or was it even earlier? Recently declassified CIA memorandums proved that months before the election in July 2016, Clinton had orchestrated a plan to whip up a smear campaign tying Trump to the alleged Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee email server. The documents also showed beyond a doubt how the Russia probe was launched even though both the FBI and CIA were privy to Clinton’s intent on linking Trump with the Kremlin.

The three-year Russia investigation and subsequent impeachment over the Ukraine scandal were only the beginning chapters in the slow-motion soft coup against Trump. When all else failed, the U.S. elite began to prepare for his ouster in the 2020 election. In fact, the possibility of a second Trump term was evidently too much of a nightmare for the establishment to even fathom, so they only prepared for his defeat and presupposed refusal to relinquish power instead. Quite literally, an exclusive cabal of Washington insiders, establishment Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans were gathered by a former high-ranking Pentagon official, Nils Gilman, to participate in role-playing “election simulation” scenarios and tabletop “war game” exercises predicting various election outcomes which anticipated that Trump would resist acknowledging defeat and transferring power, precipitating a constitutional crisis. It was called the Transition Integrity Project (TIP) and featured Clintonites John Podesta and Donna Brazile, who were joined by prominent neoconservative figures William Kristol, Max Boot, and the former George W. Bush speechwriter who coined the “Axis of Evil” phrase, war criminal David Frum.

Most telling is that among the scenarios considered, even in the postulated drill where the premise was a decisive victory for Trump, TIP determined that Biden should ignore the vote result and consider any measures necessary to attain the presidency, including provoking a constitutional crisis and possible civil war where Democratic-held states would be encouraged to secede from the Union, the electoral college abolished, and statehood awarded to Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Upon reading the TIP report, it is clear that the real purpose of the bipartisan exercise was to mastermind the very disputed election outcome and concentration of power it predicts would be triggered by Trump. It is also possible that the project enlisted mass media in its scheme. Just weeks before Election Day, a highly-publicized scandal broke at The New Yorker magazine after staff writer and CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin accidentally exposed himself during a Zoom video meeting with fellow employees. Many were too amused to notice the online conference call was revealed to be an “election simulation” featuring top columnists of the publication role-playing as participants.

It would not be out of the realm of possibility given the unprecedented extent to which corporate outlets and Big Tech companies have gone to influence the outcome of the election. Even those within legacy media such as The New York Post, one of the oldest newspapers in the United States, found itself censored by Twitter for publishing an explosive story which contained emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop of which not even the former vice president’s campaign denied the authenticity. When Trump delivered a press conference outlining his campaign’s allegations of election fraud, major news outlets not only made the Orwellian decision to “fact check” Trump live on-air but cut away from the speech in the middle of his remarks in coordinated unison. Then when the president’s own social media posts were censored and flagged as disinformation, the jig was truly up. It’s little wonder Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg openly bragged about how the platform was “partnering with the intelligence community” for censorship to be a soft power arm after the 2016 election. Lo and behold, rather than being broken up for violating anti-trust laws, Silicon Valley has already been rewarded for staying true to its roots in the national security state by Biden’s transition team which consists of executives from Airbnb, Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook, Dell, DropBox, Microsoft’s LinkedIn, Lyft, Stripe and Uber.

Can it really be that Trump is so hated because of his rejection of certain foreign policy orthodoxies like JFK alone? The truth is really so much more. It is because of his inclination to disgrace Washington’s sacred institutions for his own political gain which the entire establishment desperately needs to maintain the faith of the masses in its corrupt political system, rogue national security state, yellow press, and obsolete democratic process. It is imperative to preserve these bureaucratic cornerstones as above criticism because they are a linchpin to holding power. As a political outsider, Trump blazed his own trail to the presidency and in doing so undermined the hallowed bastions of power in Washington, promising to “drain the swamp” while eroding faith in the leading U.S. spy agencies as an unelected secret government or “deep state”, and most of all denouncing corporate media as “fake news” and the “enemy of the people.” Even though these were accuracies cynically told by Trump for his own advantage, they were misunderstood by his detractors to be falsehoods simply because he was the source.

Trump’s populist agitation even worried his own group of backers within the ruling elite who convinced him to soften his rhetoric and reverse many of his positions once he took office. Since the 2020 election has not resulted in a desirable outcome, he has only continued to increase popular distrust of the political order and its mechanisms which guarantee the status quo overrides the will of the people, signaling he is more than willing to take the whole system down with him. Indeed, polls indicate many Americans seem to agree with the president that the election was rigged in Biden’s favor. This is precisely why his rabble-rousing is viewed as dangerous by the elite which unleashed its media organs and intelligence agencies from day one to sabotage him — they knew that he is willing to lay bare the full corruption of the powers that be in order to help his own cause. For this reason, the media has resorted to the most deceitful and partisan methods to portray Trump as a unique danger that most be ousted at any cost.

It is no wonder how a coalition as incongruous as that behind Biden came into formation, from Lincoln Project “Never Trumper” Republicans to the Democratic Socialists of America, Big Tech monopolies to Black Lives Matter, Wall Street mega-donors to the remnants of Occupy Wall Street, Bush-era national security officials to the inappropriately-named Revolutionary Communist Party (Refuse Fascism), and so on. Or to really give an idea of just how absurd the ideological alliance was to ensure a Biden presidency, the Transition Integrity Project was even shamefully promoted by the likes of so-called “progressive” news outlets like Democracy Now! which made its journalistic name critically covering the very neoconservative figures from the Bush years behind TIP. Somehow, those in power managed to persuade the “anti-establishment” to side with them against the bad orange man as the supposed greater evil, tricking them into defending institutions they should oppose as inviolable and the archaic U.S. electoral system which deprives them of real democracy as unimpeachable. This is the real legacy of the Trump era — only time will tell if it is its lesson.

The post A U.S. Color Revolution "Comes Home to Roost" in the 2020 Election first appeared on Dissident Voice.

US Intervenes as Venezuela Prepares for High Stakes Election

The US finally appointed an ambassador to Venezuela after a decade hiatus and in the runup to the Venezuelan National Assembly elections. The new ambassador, James Story, was confirmed by US Senate voice vote on November 18 with Democrats supporting Trump’s nominee.

Ambassador Story took his post in Bogotá, Colombia. No, this is not another example of Trump’s bungling by sending his man to the wrong capital. The US government does not recognize the democratically elected government in Caracas.

Impasse of two Venezuelan presidents

US hostility to Venezuela started when Hugo Chávez became president in 1999 and continues to this day, according to Adán Chávez, the late president’s older brother and vice-president of the PSUV, the ruling socialist party in Venezuela. “For the last 21 years,” he commented, “the empire has been perfecting its attacks” on Venezuela.

The elder Chávez, spoke at an international online meeting with the US Chapter of the Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements in Defense of Humanity on November 19. Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, he explained, was not initially socialist, although it was against neoliberalism. The traditional parties in Venezuela in 1998 had lost their appeal to the voters. Hugo Chávez ran and won, looking for a “third way” that was neither capitalist nor socialist. What the revolution discovered was that there was no third way: either socialism or barbarism.

When in 2013, Venezuela elected President Nicolás Maduro and not the US-backed candidate, the US declared that election fraudulent and refused to recognize the winner. In the 2018 when Maduro was reelected, the US – not taking any chances – proclaimed fraud four months in advance of the vote.

Then in January 2019, US Vice President Pence telephoned the newly installed president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Juan Guaidó. The following morning Guaidó declared himself president of Venezuela on a Caracas street corner. Almost immediately Donald Trump recognized him as Venezuela’s de facto president.

Guaidó’s claim to the national presidency was based on being third in constitutional succession, overlooking that neither the Venezuelan president nor vice-president had vacated their offices. At the time, the 35-year-old was unknown to 81% of the Venezuelan people, according to a poll by a firm favorable to the opposition. Guaidó was not even a leader in his own far-right party, Popular Will. He had never run for national office and his previous “exposure” was just that. A photograph of his bare behind made the press when he dropped his pants at a demonstration against the government. The person, whose butt may have been better known than his face, only got to be president of the National Assembly by a scheme which rotated the office among the parties in the legislature.

But Juan Guaidó had one outstanding qualification to be the US-anointed puppet president of Venezuela – he was a trained US security asset.

Guaidó’s parallel government has named ambassadors without power and has colluded with the US to loot Venezuelan national assets, some $24 billion. His former attorney is now on the legal team working to take over CITGO, the oil company in the US owned by Venezuela.

“As time went on,” Mission Verdad reported from Venezuela, “support for Guaidó faded and his childish image became a laughable anecdote of Venezuelan politics.” After several failed coup attempts, corruption, embezzlement, resigning from his own party, and losing the presidency of the National Assembly, Guaidó’s last shred of legitimacy – his National Assembly seat – will be contested on December 6 with elections to the unicameral legislature.

US interference and sanctions on Venezuela

The extraordinary level of US interference in Venezuela’s electoral process highlights their importance. The US government has preemptively declared the upcoming National Assembly elections fraudulent.  Guaidó’s political party and others on the far right have dutifully obeyed Trump’s directive to boycott the contest.

However, other opposition elements have broken with the US strategy of extra-parliamentary regime change and are participating in the elections. They have also distanced themselves from Guaidó’s calls for ever harsher sanctions against his people and even for US military intervention.

To maintain discipline among the moderate opposition, the US has sanctioned some opposition party leaders for registering to run in the parliamentary elections. Nevertheless, 98 opposition parties and nine Chavista parties (supporters of the Bolivarian Revolution) will be contesting for 277 seats in the National Assembly.

Following the US’s lead, the European Union rejected the upcoming election and an invitation to send election observers. A long list of international figures including Noble Prize winners and former heads of state petitioned the EU: “This election represents, above all a democratic, legal and peaceful way out of the political and institutional crisis that was triggered in January 2019 by the self-appointment of Juan Guaidó as ‘interim president’ of Venezuela.”

The Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America (CEELA) and other internationals will be observing the election on December 6. CEELA Chairman Nicanor Moscoso noted: “We, as former magistrates and electoral authorities in Latin America, have organized elections and also participated in over 120 elections…Our aim is to accompany the Venezuelan people.”

The nine Chavista parties are not running on a unified slate. The new Popular Revolutionary Alternative coalition, which formed to run candidates independently, includes the Venezuelan Communist Party.

Communists normally would not get favorable ink in The New York Times. But when there are splits on the left, the empire’s newspaper of record exploits them: “They championed Venezuela’s revolution – they are now its latest victims.” The paper reports: “The repression is partly an outcome of Mr. Maduro’s decision to abandon the wealth redistribution policies of his late predecessor, Hugo Chávez, in favor of what amounts to crony capitalism to survive American sanctions [emphasis added].”

The key to deconstructing the Times’s hit piece is the phrase, “to survive American sanctions.” As Alfred de Zayas, the United Nations Human Rights Rapporteur on Venezuela, had observed even before the pandemic hit, the US sanctions on Venezuela are causing “economic asphyxiation.” Compromises have been necessitated.

President Maduro has survived a drone assassination attempt, mercenary invasions, and abortive coups. In this context, the ruling party realistically feels under siege.

Although running independent candidates, Communist Party leader Oscar Figuera states “we see imperialism as the main enemy of the Venezuelan people.” And on that the Chavista forces are united.

National Assembly elections as a referendum on the Venezuelan project

Venezuela’s Vice Foreign Minister Carlos Ron characterized the election as a referendum against the “brutal blockade” imposed by the US and its allies and against their effort to undermine Venezuela’s democracy by trying to prevent the election from being conducted. He spoke from Caracas in a webinar produced by the US Peace Council and others on November 18.

Carlos Ron lamented that the Venezuelan opposition does not play by the rules. In the 24 national elections held since the election of Hugo Chávez, only the two that have been won by the opposition were deemed truly legitimate by them. Yet this is the electoral system that former US President Jimmy Carter proclaimed to be “the best in the world.”

Margaret Flowers of Popular Resistance spoke in the November 18 webinar calling for the US government to end the illegal coercive economic measures, including unfreezing Venezuela’s assets. Flowers called for reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the legitimate government of Venezuela based on peace and mutual respect.

Ajamu Baraka of the Black Alliance for Peace spoke at the webinar of the necessity to protect the Venezuelan project as the “gateway to the transformation of the entire region,” which is also why the US sees Venezuela as a threat. He cautioned that Joe Biden has the same regime-change policy as Trump. Our responsibility, Baraka concluded, is to build a clear anti-imperialist movement.

The post US Intervenes as Venezuela Prepares for High Stakes Election first appeared on Dissident Voice.

An Open Letter to Trump Voters


This is intended for Trump voters, especially those making less than $150,000 a year and the millions who believed they were extending the middle finger salute to the establishment. Let me begin by recounting a Hillary Clinton fund raising campaign speech from 2016 in which she made some deeply disparaging comments about half your number, calling them “deplorables.” She also spoke about another “basket” of Trump supporters she described as “people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re desperate for change. These are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.” This second basket of of Trump voters would amount to some 37 million in 2020.

The issue here isn’t that this description of your plight is wrong but that there wasn’t a scintilla of sincerity and conviction behind it. In truth, as they shed their crocodile tears, neither Clinton, Obama before her, nor Biden now, has ever had the slightest interest of solving any of your real problems. Just recently, recall Biden’s assurances to Wall Street funders that “Nothing will change under a Biden presidency.” As you certainly realize, other than for pandering for your votes, the Corporate Democrats have zero respect for you, can’t believe you’re still falling for their con job and laugh at you behind your backs.

Now — and this will be a sticking point for many of you but please hear me out — the attitude I’ve just described applies equally to those who fund and control the Republican Party. All the evidence suggests that Trump’s policies actually helped the rich get massively richer while not addressing your real life daily grievances, the ones caused by obscene economic inequality and narrowly concentrated wealth and power.

The harsh reality is that neither the Pelosi’s and Schumer’s nor the McConnell’s and Graham’s are on our side. While local elections allow some citizen input, the higher the office the more one encounters a bipartisan phalanx pissing on our shoes and telling us it’s raining. The attitude of Wall Streeters, big business owners, the leisure class, those with immense inherited wealth and those highly compensated for serving them is this: “We’ve got ours. We want things so stay this way — unless of course, we can get even more.” Meanwhile, the standard of living for ordinary citizens continues to plummet.

Every four years they let us choose between two candidates who’ve already been carefully vetted to guarantee their fealty to the existing order of things. And it’s important to have two candidates because otherwise people might begin to suspect we live in one of those one-party states they’ve always warned us about.

The late George Carlin, one of the greatest social critics ever — really the Mark Twain of our time — often spoke about the real owners of the system, the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. He sagely said, “Forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give the idea that you have freedom of choice… The real owners spend billions of dollars every year lobbying to get what they want… It’s a big club and you ain’t in it. They don’t care about you at all — at all—at all.”

The only thing these people would lose sleep over is if the rest of us, some 80 percent of population, began to grasp that we have more in common with one another than we previously realized. And the elites’s ultimate nightmare is that out of that realization emerged,first, a mass movement and then a new political party to bring about the changes we so desperately need and deserve. We should began in earnest to make their nightmare a reality.

Finally, in addition to yourselves, combinations of the following groups will also continue to be shafted by both parties: former Bernie Sanders’ supporters, Black, Hispanic and Indigenous people, rank-and-file union members, unemployed, under-employed and soon to be unemployed; younger Milenniels, white workers in rural America, non-believers and some evangelical Christians, the one-third of voting age population that didn’t vote because they’ve become too discouraged, working class immigrants, low -wage service workers, and seniors struggling on fixed incomes and fearing the loss of Social Security and Medicare.

Race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality and nationality are just some of the scams and scapegoats that the Lords of the Universe deftly deploy to divide us and divert our gaze from economic and political reality in the United States. I submit that if could see through and beyond their devious tricks we would be virtually invincible. It’s too long for a bumper sticker but “Our rulers and their enablers have two parties to advance their interests. We need one to look after ours.”

The post An Open Letter to Trump Voters first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Expansion and Mass Eviction: Israel “Takes Advantage” of Trump’s Remaining Days in Office  

In a few words, a close associate of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, summed up the logic behind the ongoing frenzy to expand illegal Jewish settlements in Israel.

“These days are an irreplaceable opportunity to establish our hold on the Land of Israel, and I’m sure that our friend, President (Donald) Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu will be able to take advantage,” Miki Zohar, a member of the Likud Party was quoted in the Christian Science Monitor.

By “these days”, Zohar was referring to the remaining few weeks of Trump’s term in office. The US President was trounced by his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, in the presidential elections held on November 3.

Trump’s defeat ignited fears in Tel Aviv, and heated debates in the Israeli Knesset that the new US administration might challenge Israel’s unhindered settlement expansion policies.

Indeed, not only was Israel allowed to expand old settlements and build new ones throughout Trump’s term, but was actually encouraged by US officials to do so with a great sense of urgency.

US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is an ardent supporter of rapid expansion and was handpicked for his role, not because of his diplomatic experience – he has none – but to help facilitate US support for Israel’s colonial expansion. In doing so, the US violated international consensus on the issue, and reversed earlier US positions that perceived Israel’s illegal settlements as “obstacles to peace”.

Friedman was entrusted with communicating the ominous new American agenda regarding Israel’s illegal action in the occupied Palestinian territories and also in the Syrian Golan Heights. In June 2019, Friedman, rather clumsily, articulated a new American position on the illegal Jewish settlements when he said in an interview with the New York Times that “Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.”

The green light to Netanyahu was translated, in January 2020, into an announcement by Israel that it intended to formally annex nearly a third of the West Bank within a few months.

The illegal annexation was set to take place on July 1. Just prior to that date, Friedman resurfaced, this time with a less coded message, that Netanyahu’s annexation had the full backing of the US government. He told the Israeli newspaper, Israel Hayom, that Washington was preparing to acknowledge the Israeli move to apply sovereignty in ‘Judea and Samaria’, using the biblical reference to the West Bank.

Annexation did not materialize as grandly as expected. Instead, the Netanyahu government opted to cement its de facto annexation of Palestinian land by announcing plans to build more settlements, barring Palestinian farmers from reaching their land and accelerating the policy of home demolition.

Months before Biden became the US president-elect, Israel seemed to be preparing for the possibility that the Trump administration might not be re-elected. Certainly, while a Biden presidency is bound to remain unconditionally supportive of Israel, the new administration is likely to return to old policies pertaining to the ‘peace process’ and the two-State solution. Netanyahu has long been averse to such rhetoric as, in his view, such unnecessary delays will cost Israel precious time that could be invested in building yet more settlements. Politically, the mere discussion of a return to negotiations could, potentially, splinter Israel’s powerful, yet fractious, pro-settlement right-wing alliance.

Immediately it was clear that Trump had lost the race, Netanyahu begrudgingly congratulated Biden. Even the Israeli leader’s belated acknowledgement of Trump’s defeat did not spare him the political ambush that awaited him. Many Knesset members attacked Netanyahu for losing Israel’s bipartisan support in Washington by allying himself with the Republican Party and the Trump administration.

Leading the charge was Israel’s opposition leader from Yesh Atid-Telem, Yair Lapid, who had already criticized the Prime Minister’s “Republican First” approach to US politics. His views were shared by many Israelis in the Knesset and media.

Reversing course in Trump’s last weeks in office is not an easy choice, especially as the Trump administration remains committed to help Israel achieve its objectives to the very end.

On November 19, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, became the first top US official to visit an illegal Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank. During his visit to a winery in the Psagot settlement, Pompeo gave Netanyahu yet more good news. He announced that products from illegal Jewish settlements could now be labeled “Made in Israel”, and that the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement would be declared ‘anti-Semitic’ by the US State Department.

The latter announcement will give Israel the legal capital required to prosecute and silence any US civil society opposition to Israel’s illegal occupation. Israel is counting on the fact that Biden is unlikely to dare contest or reverse such policies due to the sensitivity of the subject of anti-Semitism – real or alleged – in US politics.

The same rationale applies to the settlement building frenzy throughout occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

On November 20, Israeli authorities announced that 80 Palestinian families would be evicted from their homes in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem. These homes would, in turn, be handed over to illegal Israeli Jewish settlers.

The news of the mass eviction came only a few days after the government’s announcements that the illegal settlements of Givat Hamatos and Ramat Shlomo, both located in East Jerusalem, are set for major expansion.

The massive development in Givat Hamatos, according to the Israeli group ‘Peace Now’, “will severely hamper the prospect of a two-State solution because it will ultimately block the possibility of territorial contiguity between East Jerusalem” and major urban centers in the West Bank.

The announcements are strategically timed, as they carry an unmistakable political message that Israel does not intend to reverse its settlement policies, regardless of who resides in the White House.

The coming weeks are likely to witness even more coordinated Israeli-US moves, where the Trump administration will seek to fulfill Netanyahu’s political wish list, leaving Biden with little political margin to maneuver, thus denying his government the self-proclaimed, undeserved title of the ‘honest peace broker’.

The post Expansion and Mass Eviction: Israel "Takes Advantage" of Trump’s Remaining Days in Office   first appeared on Dissident Voice.