Category Archives: Mike Pompeo

A Dedicated Obsession: Washington’s Continuing Iran Sanctions Regime

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ramblings of a Self-confessed Liar, Cheater, and Thief

On 10 November 2020, the United States secretary-of-state Mike Pompeo, he of the ill-famed confession “We lied, we cheated, we stole,” spoke at the Ronald Reagan Institute.

The liar Pompeo can even speak candidly, “I’ve talked about American exceptionalism. I did so in Brussels; I did it in Cairo; I did it in Jakarta, and every opportunity that I’ve had in my public life. Sometimes it was met with a resounding thud as well. I’ve walked out of quiet ward rooms.”

Imagine a US secretary-of-state admitting that people walked out on American exceptionalism.

The cheater Pompeo boasted, “In the Middle East, American strength has replaced leading from behind. We destroyed the caliphate, the ISIS caliphate. We killed Baghdadi and Soleimani, and we have restored substantial deterrence.”

It is a bizarre form of exceptionalism to brag about assassinations carried out by one’s country. The US created Daesh and later killed their associate, the Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as well as the major destroyer of Daesh, Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani, commander of its Quds Force.

Speaking of theft, Pompeo chortled, “And by just simply recognizing Jerusalem – candidly recognizing Jerusalem – as the capital of Israel and acknowledging that the Golan Heights are part of Israel, we’ve helped secured our ally, the Jewish state, as central to the region’s future.”

The colonial-settlers managed to wipe out many Indigenous nations in what is now called the United States, and they later aided European Jews in stealing the land of Indigenous Palestinians. But as the events in Armenia and Azerbaijan indicate, territory conquered in the past can be regained in the future. Sitting on stolen land can be like sitting on a ticking time bomb.

Finally Pompeo got to the crux of his speech where he identified the “foundation for America’s policy towards the world’s number-one threat to freedom today: the Chinese Communist Party.”

Liars, cheaters, and thieves count on their audience to accept their proclamations and not probe into the background of the speaker and the glasshouses in which they reside. Thus Pompeo could smugly assert of China, without an iota of evidence presented:

And it also means no more illegal claims in the South China Sea, no more coercion and co-optation of American businesses, no more consulates used as dens of spies, no more stealing of intellectual property, and no more ignoring fundamental human rights violations. And the party’s atrocities in Xinjiang, Tibet, and elsewhere will not be tolerated.

Is China a paragon of virtue? No. And the US is no paragon of good either. Illegal claims? Do settler-colonialists have a legitimate legal claim to the landmass of the US? To the Hawaiian islands? To Puerto Rico? To Guam? Where is the evidence that US corporations were co-opted or coerced by the Chinese? One hears such claims over and over but never with evidence. Why? Because entry to the Chinese market was conditioned on access to technology, a decision that US corporations could have refused. This is not coercion. That a former CIA head speaks of dens of spies is risible. Theft of intellectual property? And what was the forced sale of China’s social media TikTok in the US supposed to represent? US protesting human rights violations? Like the occupation and oppression of Palestinians by the Jewish state? Like the Muslim holocaust?1 Like the police murders of Blacks in the US? How about the human right to freedom from poverty and to have a roof over one’s head?

Pompeo said, “The fight is between authoritarianism, barbarism on one side and freedom on the other.”

As I wrote recently:

Among other items “proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,” the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “… human beings shall enjoy freedom … from want.”

The UDHR preamble goes on to state that “fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person … have [been] determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.”

China is the country that addresses the fundamental dignity and worth of the human person. The US falls abysmally short of addressing dignity of all citizens. Chinese have freedom from homelessness and poverty. Consequently lying and cheating is required by US politicians to hide their thievery.

China conquered COVID-19 while Americans suffer. Americans are warring in several countries while the Communist Party of China calls for peace. Who are the barbarians? If it is a choice between two countries, it seems an easy choice to make.

  1. Gideon Polya, US-Imposed Post-9/11 Muslim Holocaust & Muslim Genocide (Korsgaard Publishing, 2020).

The post The Ramblings of a Self-confessed Liar, Cheater, and Thief first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The War on Populism: The Final Act

So, it appears the War on Populism is building toward an exciting climax. All the proper pieces are in place for a Class-A GloboCap color revolution, and maybe even civil war. You got your unauthorized Putin-Nazi president, your imaginary apocalyptic pandemic, your violent identitarian civil unrest, your heavily-armed politically-polarized populace, your ominous rumblings from military quarters … you couldn’t really ask for much more.

OK, the plot is pretty obvious by now (as it is in all big-budget action spectacles, which is essentially what color revolutions are), but that won’t spoil our viewing experience. The fun isn’t in guessing what is going to happen. Everybody knows what’s going to happen. The fun is in watching Bruce, or Sigourney, or “the moderate rebels,” or the GloboCap “Resistance,” take down the monster, or the terrorists, or Hitler, and save the world, or democracy, or whatever.

The show-runners at GloboCap understand this, and they are sticking to the classic Act III formula (i.e., the one they teach in all those scriptwriting seminars, which, full disclosure, I teach a few of those). They’ve been running the War on Populism by the numbers since the very beginning. I’m going to break that down in just a moment, act by act, plot point by plot point, but, first, let’s quickly cover the basics.

The first thing every big Hollywood action picture (or GloboCap color revolution) needs is a solid logline to build the plot around. The logline shows us: (1) our protagonist, (2) what our protagonist is trying to do, and (3) our antagonist or antagonistic force.

For example, here’s one everyone will recognize:

A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.

In our case, the logline writes itself:

After America is taken over by a Russian-backed Hitlerian dictator, the forces of democracy unite to depose the tyrant and save the free world.

Donald Trump is our antagonist, of course. And what an antagonist he has been! As the deep-state spooks and the corporate media have been relentlessly repeating for the last four years, the man is both a Russian-backed traitor and literally the resurrection of Hitler! In terms of baddies, it doesn’t get any better.

It goes without saying that our protagonist is GloboCap (i.e., the global capitalist empire), or “democracy,” as it is known in the entertainment business.

Now, we’re in the middle of Act III already, and, as in every big-budget action movie, our protagonist suffered a series of mounting losses all throughout Act II, and the baddie was mostly driving the action. Now it’s time for the Final Push, but, before all the action gets underway, here’s a quick recap of those previous acts. Ready? All right, here we go …

Act I

(status quo/inciting incident)

There democracy (i.e., GloboCap) was, peacefully operating its de facto global capitalist empire like a normal global hegemon (i.e., destabilizing, restructuring, and privatizing everything it hadn’t already destabilized and privatized, and OK, occasionally murdering, torturing, and otherwise mercilessly oppressing people), when out of nowhere it was viciously attacked by Donald Trump and his Putin-Nazi “populists,” who stole the 2016 election from Clinton with those insidious Facebook ads. (For you writers, this was the Inciting Incident.)

(new situation/predicament/lock-in)

GloboCap did not take this well. The deep state and the corporate media started shrieking about a coming “Age of Darkness,” “The death of globalization at the hands of white supremacy,” “racial Orwellianism,” “Zionist anti-Semitism,” the “Bottomless Pit of Fascism,” and so on. Liberals festooned themselves with safety pins and went out looking for minorities to hide in their attics throughout the occupation. According to GloboCap, every “populist” that voted for Trump (or just refused to vote for Clinton) was a genocidal white supremacist undeserving of either empathy or mercy. Somewhere in there, the “Resistance” was born. (This is the plot point known as the Lock-In, where the protagonist commits to the struggle ahead.)

Act II (a)

(progress/obstacles)

As is traditional at the opening of Act II, things were looking promising for GloboCap. The “Resistance” staged those pink pussyhat protests, and the corporate media were pumping out Russia and Hitler propaganda like a Goebbelsian piano. Yes, there were obstacles, but the “Resistance” was growing. And then, in May of 2017, special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed, and “Russiagate” was officially launched. It appeared that Donald Trump’s days were numbered!

(rising action/first culmination)

But, no, it was never going to be that easy. (If it was, feature films would be less than an hour long, not to mention incredibly boring.) There was plenty of action (and an endless series of “bombshells”) throughout the ensuing two years, but by the end of March 2019, “Russiagate” had blown up in GloboCap’s face. “Populism” was still on the rise! It was time for GloboCap to get serious. (This was the classic first culmination, sometimes known as The Point of No Return.)

Act II (b)

(complications/subplots/higher stakes)

In the aftermath of the “Russiagate” fiasco, the GloboCap “Resistance” flailed around for a while. An assortment of ridiculous subplots unfolded … Obstructiongate, Ukrainegate, Pornstargate (and I’m probably forgetting some “gates”), white-supremacist non-terrorist terrorism, brain-devouring Russian-Cubano crickets, Russian spy whales, and other such nonsense. Meanwhile, the forces of “populism” were running amok all across the planet. The gilets jaunes were on the verge of taking down Macron in France, and gangs of neo-nationalist boneheads had launched a series of frontal assaults on Portlandia, GloboCap Anti-Fascist HQ, which Antifa was barely holding off.

(second culmination/major setback)

All wasn’t totally lost, however. GloboCap sprang back into action, successfully Hitlerizing Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of leftist “populism,” and thus preventing the mass exdodus of Jews from Great Britain. And the US elections were on the horizon. Trump was still Russian-agent Hitler, after all, so he wasn’t going to be too hard to beat. All that GloboCap had to do was put forth a viable Democratic candidate, then let the corporate media do their thing. OK, first, they had to do Bernie Sanders (because he was another “populist” figurehead, and the point of the entire War on Populism has been to crush the “populist” resistance to global capitalism from both the Left and the Right), but the DNC made short work of that.

So, everything was looking hunky-dory until — and you screenwriters saw this coming, didn’t you? — the pivotal plot-point at the end of Act II, The Major Setback, or The Dark Night of the Soul, when all seems lost for our protagonist.

Yes, implausible as it probably still seems, the Democratic Party nominated Joe Biden, a clearly cognitively-compromised person who literally sucked his wife’s fingers on camera and who can’t get through a two-minute speech without totally losing his train of thought and babbling non-sequiturial gibberish. Exactly why they did this will be debated forever, but, obviously, Biden was not GloboCap’s first choice. The man is as inspiring as a head of lettuce. (There is an actual campaign group called “Settle for Biden!”) GloboCap was now staring down the barrel of certain swing-voter death. And as if things weren’t already dire enough, the “populists” rolled out a catchy new slogan … “TRUMP 2020, BECAUSE FUCK YOU AGAIN!”

Act III

So, all right, this is part where Neo orders up “guns … lots of guns.” Which is exactly what our friends at GloboCap did. The time for playing grab-ass was over. Faced with four more years of Trump and this “populist” rebellion against global capitalism and its increasingly insufferable woke ideology, the entire global capitalist machine went full-totalitarian all at once. Suddenly, a rather undeadly virus (as far as deadly pestilences go) became the excuse for GloboCap to lock down most of humanity for months, destroy the economy, unleash the goon squads, terrorize everyone with hysterical propaganda, and otherwise remake society into a global totalitarian police state.

And that wasn’t all … no, far from it. GloboCap was just getting started. Having terrorized the masses into a state of anus-puckering paranoia over an imaginary apocalyptic plague and forced everyone to perform a variety of humiliating ideological-compliance rituals, they unleashed the identitarian civil unrest. Because what would a color revolution be without rioting, looting, wanton destruction, clouds of tear gas, robocops, and GloboCap-sponsored “moderate rebels” and “pro-regime forces” shooting each other down in the streets on television? (In an homage to Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, the corporate media, with totally straight faces, have been describing this rioting as “mostly peaceful.”)

*****

That brings us up to speed, I think. The rest of Act III should be pretty exciting, despite the fact that the outcome is certain. One way or another, Trump is history. Or do you seriously believe that GloboCap is going to allow him to serve another four years? Not that Trump is an actual threat to them. As I have said repeatedly over the past four years, Donald Trump is not a populist. Donald Trump is a narcissistic ass clown who is playing president to feed his ego. He is not a threat to global capitalism, but the people who elected him president are. In order to teach these people a lesson, GloboCap needs to make an example of Trump. Odds are, it’s not going to be pretty.

See, they have him between a rock and a hard place. As CNN’s Fareed Zakaria explains, on election night, Trump will appear to have won (because the Democrats will all be mailing in their votes due to the apocalyptic plague), but later, once the mail-in votes are all counted, which may take weeks or even months, it will turn out that Biden really won. But, by then, it won’t matter who really won, because one of two scenarios will have already played out.

In Scenario Number One, Trump declares victory before the mail-in votes have been tallied and is “removed from office” for “attempting a coup.” In Scenario Number Two, he doesn’t declare victory, and the country enters a state of limbo, which the Democrats will prolong as long as possible. Either way, rioting breaks out. Serious rioting … not “peaceful” rioting. Rioting that makes the “BLM protests” we have witnessed so far look like a game of touch football.

And this is where the US military (or the military-industrial complex) comes in. I’ll leave you with just a few of the many ominous headlines that GloboCap has been generating:

“This Election Has Become Dangerous for the U.S. Military” — Foreign Policy

“Al Gore suggests military will remove Trump from office if he won’t concede on election night” — Fox News

“Former ambassador warns of election violence” — The Guardian

“All Enemies, Foreign and Domestic”: An Open Letter to Gen. Milley (“If the commander in chief attempts to ignore the election’s results, you will face a choice.)” — Defense One

“Is Trump Planning a Coup d’État?” — The Nation

“Trump could refuse to concede” — Washington Post

“What happens if Trump loses but refuses to concede?” — Financial Times

“White Supremacists, Domestic Terrorists Pose Biggest Threat Of ‘Lethal Violence’ This Election, DHS Assessment Finds” — Forbes

“Trump’s Attacks Put Military In Presidential Campaign Minefield”NPR

“Trump’s Election Delay Threat Is a Coup in the Making” — Common Dreams

“What If Trump Won’t Leave?” — The Intercept

“How to Plan a Coup” — Bill Moyers on Democracy

“It can happen here: A Trump election coup?” — Wall Street International Magazine

“Whose America Is It?” — The New York Times

Does it sound like GloboCap is bluffing? Because it doesn’t sound like that to me. I could be totally wrong, of course, and just letting my imagination run away with itself, but if I were back home in the USA, instead of here in Berlin, I wouldn’t bet on it.

In any event, whatever is coming, whether this is the end of the War on Populism or just the beginning of a new, more dramatic phase of it, the next two months are going to be exciting. So, go grab your popcorn, or your AR-15, and your mask, or full-body anti-virus bubble suit (which you might want to have retrofitted with Kevlar), and sit back and enjoy the show!

The post The War on Populism: The Final Act first appeared on Dissident Voice.

How do Democrats and Republicans Differ on Palestine and Israel? 

The polarized nature of American politics often makes it difficult to address fundamental differences between the country’s two main political rivals, Republicans and Democrats. As each side is intent on discrediting the other at every opportunity, unbiased information regarding the two parties’ actual stances on internal and external issues can be difficult to decipher.

Regarding Palestine and Israel, however, both parties’ establishments are quite clear on offering Israel unlimited and unconditional support. The discrepancies in their positions are, at times, quite negligible, even if Democrats, occasionally, attempt to present themselves as fairer and more even-handed.

Judging by statements made by Democrat presidential candidate, Joe Biden, his running mate, Kamala Harris, and people affiliated with their campaign, a future President Biden does not intend to reverse any of the pro-Israel political measures adopted by the Donald Trump Administration.

Moreover, a Democrat administration, as revealed, will not even consider the possibility of conditioning US financial and military support to Israel on the latter’s respect for Palestinian human rights, let alone international law altogether.

“Joe Biden has made it clear  … he will not tie US security assistance to Israel to political decisions Israel makes, and I couldn’t agree more,” Harris, who is promoted enthusiastically by some as a ‘progressive’ politician, was quoted as saying in a telephone call on August 26. The call was made to what Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, termed as “Jewish supporters.” The Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel referred to this crucial constituency as “Jewish donors.”

Although the view of the party’s rank and file has significantly shifted against Israel in recent years, the Democrat’s upper echelon still caters to the Israel lobby and their rich backers, even if this means continuing to mold US foreign policy in the Middle East so that it serves Israeli interests.

Republicans, on the other hand, have cemented their support for Israel, but no longer around geo-strategic issues pertaining to Israel’s ‘security’ or US interests. The speeches made by Republican leaders at the Republican National Convention (RNC), held in  Charlotte, North Carolina last month, were all aimed at reassuring ‘Christian Zionists’, who represent the most powerful pro-Israel constituency in the US. The once relatively marginal impact of Christian Zionists in directly shaping US foreign policy has morphed, over the years, to define the core values of Republicans.

Regardless of the nature of the discourse through which Republican and Democrat leaders express their love and support for Israel, the two parties are decidedly ‘pro-Israel’. There are many recent examples that corroborate this assertion.

On November 18, 2019, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Washington would no longer consider Jewish settlements illegal or a violation of international law. That position was later cemented in Trump’s so-called ‘Deal of the Century’, published on January 28.

Democrats, however, continue to perceive illegal Jewish settlements as, indeed, illegal. “This decision harms the cause of diplomacy, takes us further away from the hope of a two-state solution, and will only further inflame tensions in the region,” Joe Biden’s campaign said in a statement, in response to Pompeo’s declaration.

Although markedly different, it is hard to imagine a Democrat administration upholding the above position, while simultaneously refraining from reversing previous decisions made by the Trump administration. It can only be one or the other.

One’s cynicism is fully justified, as we recently learned, that the Democrat establishment has refused to even use the word ‘occupation’, with reference to Israel’s occupation of Palestine, in their party platform released on July 15. According to Foreign Policy, the decision “followed heavy last-minute lobbying by pro-Israel advocacy groups.”

On December 6, 2017, the Trump administration made one of the boldest pro-Israel decisions, when he formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. A few months later, on May 14, 2018, the US embassy was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a brazen violation of international law.

The legal foundation of Trump’s decision was the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. This Act was the outcome of bipartisan efforts, bringing together Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Interestingly, leading Democrats, such as Joe Biden and John Kerry, were the main cheerleaders of the embassy move, back then. Only one Democrat senator, the late Robert Byrd, voted against the Bill. In the House of Representatives, only 30 out of 204 Democrats voted ‘no’.

Even though many Democrats rejected the timing of Trump’s implementation of the Jerusalem Embassy Act, their criticism was largely political, primarily motivated by Democrats’ attempts to discredit Trump. The fact that the Biden campaign, later on, made it clear that the decision will not be reversed should he become president, is a further illustration highlighting the moral bankruptcy of the Democratic establishment, as well.

The truth is, US unconditional backing for Israel is a common cause among all American administrations, whether Democrat or Republican. What they may differ on, however, is their overall motive and primary target audience during election time.

Political polarization and misinformation aside, both Democrats and Republicans head to the November elections with strong pro-Israel sentiments, if not outright support, while completely ignoring the plight of occupied and oppressed Palestinians.

The post How do Democrats and Republicans Differ on Palestine and Israel?  first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Israel’s Friends at the RNC: “Christian Zionists” Dictate the Agenda of the Republican Party

It is difficult – and futile – to argue which American president has historically been more pro-Israel. While former President Barack Obama, for example, has pledged more money to Israel than any other US administration in history, Donald Trump has provided Israel with a blank check of seemingly endless political concessions.

Certainly, the unconditional backing and love declared for Israel is common among all US administrations. What they may differ on, however, is their overall motive, primarily their target audience during election time.

Both Republicans and Democrats head to the November elections with strong pro-Israel sentiments and outright support, completely ignoring the plight of occupied and oppressed Palestinians.

To win the support of the pro-Israeli constituencies, but especially the favor of the Israel lobby in Washington DC, Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, and his running mate, Kamala Harris, have deviated even further from the low standards set by the Democratic Obama administration. Despite his generous financial support for Israel and full political backing, especially during Israel’s wars on the Gaza Strip, Obama dared, at times, to censure Israel over the expansion of its illegal Jewish settlements.

The Biden-Harris ticket, however, is offering Israel unconditional support.

“Joe Biden has made it clear,” Harris was quoted as saying in a telephone call on August 26, “he will not tie US security assistance to Israel to political decisions Israel makes, and I couldn’t agree more.” The call was made to what the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, termed as “Jewish supporters.” The Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel referred to this crucial constituency as “Jewish donors.”

The references above are sufficient to delineate the nature of the Democratic Party establishment’s current support for Israel. Although the view of the party’s rank and file has significantly shifted against Israel in recent years, the Democratic upper echelon still caters to the Israel lobby and their rich backers, even if this means molding US foreign policy in the entire Middle East region to serve Israeli interests.

For Republicans, however, it is a different story. The party’s establishment and the rank and file are united in their love and support for Israel. Though the Israel lobby plays an important role in harnessing and channeling this support, Republicans are not entirely motivated by pleasing the pro-Israel lobbyists in Washington DC.

The speeches made by Republican leaders at the Republican National Convention (RNC), held in  Charlotte, North Carolina, between August 24-27 were all aimed at reassuring Christian Evangelicals – often referred to as ‘Christian Zionists’- who represent the most powerful pro-Israel constituency in the United States.

The once relatively marginal impact of Christian Zionists in directly shaping US foreign policy, has morphed over the years – particularly during the Trump presidency – to define the core values of the Republican Party.

“This is apocalyptic foreign policy in a nutshell,” tweeted Israeli commentator, Gershom Gorenberg, on August 24. In Republican thinking, “Israel is not as a real country but a fantasyland, backdrop for Christian myth.”

Gorenberg’s comments were tweeted hours before the controversial speech made by US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, America’s top diplomat, who delivered his brief notes from “beautiful Jerusalem, looking out over the old city.” The location, and the reference to it, were clear messages regarding the religious centrality of Israel to US foreign policy, and the unmistakable target audience.

Trump was even more obvious during an August 17 speech in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. “We moved the capital of Israel to Jerusalem,” Trump announced to a cheering crowd, “and so the Evangelicals – you know, it’s amazing with that – the Evangelicals are more excited about that than Jewish people … It’s really, it’s incredible.”

Unsurprisingly, 22 percent of Wisconsin residents identify as “Evangelical Protestants.”

This was not the first time that Trump has derided US Jews for not being as supportive of him as they are of his Democrat rivals. A year ago, Trump called Jewish Democrats “disloyal” to Israel. “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” he said in August 2019.

This was not a simple case of Trump’s typical political insensitivity but, rather, the cognizance that the real Republican prize in the coming elections is not the Jewish vote but the Christian Zionists.

In his speech before the RNC on August 27, Trump recounted to this same audience his pro-Israeli accomplishments, including the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018. “Unlike many presidents before me, I kept my promise, recognized Israel’s true capital and moved our embassy to Jerusalem,” Trump proclaimed.

The moving of the embassy, always a great opportunity to repeat the word “Jerusalem” before a jubilant crowd, was the buzzword at the RNC, repeated by all top Republicans, including former US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley. “President Trump moved our embassy to Jerusalem — and when the UN tried to condemn us, I was proud to cast the American veto,” Haley announced proudly, which generated an approving cheer.

In all of their references to Israel at the RNC, Republican leaders adhered to specific talking points: Iran, the US embassy move, the recognition of the Occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territories, the fight against anti-Semitism (silencing any criticism of Israel), and so on.

However, the Republican discourse seems to be detached from the traditional US foreign policy view that US support for Israel serves the geopolitical and geostrategic interests of Washington. This view, predominant among Democrats, seems to be almost entirely forsaken by Republicans, whose love for Israel is now dedicated to a purely religious mission.

In June 2015, when he was still a Congressman from Kansas, Secretary Pompeo once declared before a packed megachurch in Wichita, that the “battles” against evil is a “never-ending struggle,” one that will continue “until the Rapture,” a reference to what some Christians believe to be a sign of the end of times.

Addressing the RNC from Jerusalem on August 25, Pompeo must have felt that part of his spiritual mission has already been fulfilled.

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Send in the Clowns for the Circus is in Town

Don’t bother, they’re here, already performing in the center ring under the big top owned and operated by The Umbrella People.

Trump, Biden, Pence, Harris, and their clownish sidekicks, Pompeo, Michelle Obama, et al., are performing daily under the umbrella’s shadowy protection. For The Umbrella People run a three-ring circus, and although their clowns pop out of separate tiny cars and, acting like enemies, squirt each other with water hoses to the audience’s delight, raucous laughter, and serious attentiveness, they are all part of the same show, working for the same bosses.  Sadly, many people think this circus is the real world and that the clowns are not allied pimps serving the interests of their masters, but are real enemies.

The Umbrella People are the moguls who own the showtime studios – some call them the secret government, the deep-state, or the power elite. They run a protection racket, so I like to use a term that emphasizes their method of making sure the sunlight of truth never gets to those huddled under their umbrella. They produce and direct the daily circus that is the American Spectacle, the movie that is meant to entertain and distract the audience from the side show that continues outside the big top, the place where millions of vulnerable people are abused and killed.  And although the sideshow is the real main event, few pay attention since their eyes are fixed on the center ring were the spotlight directs their focus.

The French writer Guy Debord called this The Society of the Spectacle.

For many months now, all eyes have been directed to the Covid-19 propaganda show with Fauci and Gates, and their mainstream corporate media mouthpieces, striking thunderbolts in the storm to scare the unknowing audience into submission so the transformation of the Great Global Reset, led by the World Economic Forum and the International Monetary Fund, can proceed smoothly.

Now hearts are aflutter with excitement to see the war-loving Joe Biden boldly coming forth like Lazarus from the grave to announce his choice of a masked vice-presidential running mate who will echo his pronouncements.

And the star of the big top, the softly coiffured reality television emcee Trump, around whom the spectacle swirls, elicits outraged responses as he plays the part of the comical bad guy.

Punch and Judy indeed.

All the while the corporate mainstream media warn of grim viral milestones, election warnings, storms ahead!  The world as you know it is coming to an end, they remind us daily.

The latter meme contains a hint of truth since not just the world as we know it may be coming to an end, but the world itself, including human life, as the clowns initiate a nuclear holocaust while everyone is being entertained.

Meanwhile, as the circus rolls along, far away and out of mind, shit happens:

With more than 400 military bases equipped with nuclear weapons surrounding China, the United States military continues its encirclement of China and China enters a “state of siege.

The U.S. conducts military exercises with the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group in the contested South China Sea. These U.S “maritime Air defense operation[s]” close to the Chinese mainland are a part of significantly increased U.S. military exercises in the area.

The U.S. Defense Secretary Esper announces that the U.S. is withdrawing troops from Germany but moving them closer to the Russian border to serve as a more effective deterrent against Russia.

Russia says it will regard any ballistic missile aimed at its territory as a nuclear attack and will respond in kind with nuclear weapons.

Although the U.S. is formally not at war with any African country, a new report reveals that the United States has special forces operating in 22 African countries with 29 bases and 6,000 troops, with a huge drone hub in Niger that cost 100 + million to build and is expected to have operating costs of more than $280 billion by 2024.

The U.S. continues its assault on Syria, aside from direct military operations, by building up Kurdish proxies in northeastern Syria to protect the oil fields that they are stealing from the Syrian government, a plan hatched long ago.  The U.S. says their strategy is to deny ISIS a valuable revenue stream.  The same ISIS they used to attack the Syrian government in a war of aggression.

A new document exposes the U.S. plan to overthrow the socialist government of Nicaragua through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a traditional U.S. regime change and CIA front organization.

Meanwhile, in Belarus, a place most Americans can’t find on a map, there is another color “revolution” underway.

Continuing its war against Iran and Venezuela by other means, the Trump administration seizes Iranian tankers carrying fuel to Venezuela.  “Something will happen with Venezuela.  That’s all I can tell you.  Something will be happening with Venezuela,” said Trump in a July interview with Noticias Telemundo.

And, of course, the Palestinians are left to suffer and die as Israel is supported in its despotic policies in the Middle East.

The list goes on and on as the U.S. under Trump continues to wage war by multiple means around the world. But his followers see him as peaceful president because these wars are waged through sanctions, special operations, drones, third parties, etc.

But back in the center ring, the two presidential clown candidates keep the audience entertained, as they shoot water at each other. Trump, who now presides over all the events just listed, and Biden, who enthusiastically supported the American wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, etc.

But then the followers of Obama/Biden also see their champions as peaceful leaders.  This is even more absurd.

Don’t you like farce?

Besides being a rabid advocate for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 as a senator, Biden, as Vice-President under Obama for eight years, seconded and promoted all of Obama’s wars that were wrapped in “humanitarian” propaganda to evade international law and keep his liberal supporters quiet. From Bush II, an outright cowboy war-wager who used America’s large military forces to invade Afghanistan and Iraq under false pretensions – i.e. lies, Obama and his sidekick Biden learned to arm and finance thousands of Islamic jihadists, run by the CIA and U.S. special forces, to do the job in more circumspect ways. They expanded and grew The United States Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM) throughout Africa. They agreed to a $1 trillion upgrade of U.S nuclear weapons (that continues under Trump). They disarmed their followers, who, in any case, wished to look the other way. Out of sight and out of mind, Obama/Biden continued the “war on terror” with drones, private militias, color revolutions, etc. They waged war on six-seven – who knows how many – countries.

An exception to the more secretive wars was the Obama administration’s openly savage assault on Libya in 2011 under the lies of an imperial moral legitimacy. In order to save you, we will destroy you, which is what they did to Libya, a country still in ruins and chaos.  Their equally blood-thirsty Secretary of State Hillary Clinton let the cat out of the bag when she laughed and gleefully applauded the brutal murder of Libya’s leader Moammar Gaddafi with the words: “We came, we saw, he died.” Yippee!

After Libya was destroyed and so many killed in an illegal and immoral war financed with $2 billion dollars from the America treasury, Joseph Biden bragged that the U.S. didn’t lose a single life and such a war was a “prescription for how to deal with the world as we go forward.”

Biden was Obama’s front man on Iraq, the war he voted for in 2003, and wrote an op ed article in 2006 calling for the breakup of the country into three parts, Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish.

When Obama launched 48 cruise missiles and more than ten thousand tons of bombs on Syria in 2016, killing over a hundred civilians, a third of them children, V.P. Biden stood proud and strong in support of the action.

When the U.S. launched the bloody coup in Ukraine in 2014, Biden was, of course, in agreement.

But we are told that Trump and Biden are arch-enemies.  One of them wants war and the other wants peace.

How many Americans will vote for these clowns this year?  They are really front men for The Umbrella People, the money people who use the CIA and other undercover forces to carry out their organized crime activities.

As C.S Lewis said in his preface to The Screwtape Letters:

The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint . . .. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.

In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump received 129 million votes out of 157 million registered American voters eager to believe that this system is not built on imperial war-making by both parties.

Perhaps that’s a generous assessment. Maybe many of those voters believe in the U.S.A.’s “manifest destiny” to rule the world and wage war in God’s name.  I hope not.  But if so, you can expect a big turnout on November 3, 2020.

In any case, it’s quite a circus, but these clowns aren’t funny.  They are dangerous.

But where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns
Don’t bother they’re here

Don’t you like farce?

Foiled in the Security Council: The United States, Extending Arms Embargoes and Iran

There are no official policing authorities as such when it comes to international relations.  Realists imagine a jungle of states, the preyed upon and the predators, a grim state of affairs moderated by alliances, agreements and understandings. But there is one body whose resolutions are recognised as having binding force: the Security Council, that most powerful of creatures in that jumble known as the United Nations.

To convince the permanent five on the Security Council to reach agreement is no easy feat.  There are the occasional humiliations in the failure to get resolutions passed, but whether it be the US, Russia, China, France or the UK, wise heads tend to prevail.  Best put forth resolutions with at least some chance of garnering support.  Rejection will be hard to take.

On August 14, a degree of humiliation was heaped upon the US delegation.  Washington seemed to have read the situation through fogged goggles, assuming that it would get the nine votes needed to extend arms restrictions on Iran due to expire in October under Resolution 2231.  Of the 15 members, only two – the United States and Dominican Republic – felt the need to vote for it.  Russia and China strongly opposed it; the rest were abstentions.  Previous warnings that any such quixotic effort was bound to fail had been ignored.

The body most shown up in all of this was the US State Department and, it followed, its indignant chief Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.  “The UN Security Council failed today to hold Iran accountable,” he raged on Twitter.  “It enabled the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism to buy and sell deadly weapons and ignored the demands of countries in the Middle East.  America will continue to work to correct this mistake.”  He also called the position taken by Britain and France “unfortunate”, as it had only been the US view to “keep the same rules that have been in place since 2007.”

US ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft, took it personally, giving the impression that she saw it coming in the diplomatic tangle.  “The United States is sickened but not surprised by the outcome of today’s UNSC vote.  The Council’s failure to extend the Iran’s arm embargo is a devastating blow to the Council’s credibility.” She also promised that the US would “not abandon the region to Iranian terror and intimidation, and when we look for partners in that effort, we will look beyond the UN Security Council.”

The humiliation gave Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi much room to gloat.  “In the 75 years of United Nations history, America has never been so isolated,” he confidently asserted.  “Despite all the trips, pressure, and the hawking, the United States could only mobilize a small country [to vote] with them.”

There was much that sat oddly in this enterprise.  It showed a US effort strongly driven by the anti-Iranian Middle East coven of Arab Gulf states, along with Israel.  That said, the position amongst those states is not uniform either.  In the words of Mutlaq bin Majid Al-Qahtani, special envoy of the Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs for Combating Terrorism and Mediation in Settlement of Disputes, “Iran is a neighbouring country with which we have good neighbourly relations, and it has a position that we value in the State of Qatar, the government and the people, especially during the unjust blockade on Qatar.”

Absurdly, Pompeo has promised to see how the US might rely on a provision in the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action it unilaterally left in 2018, which permits a “snapback”.  Triggering it would entail a return to the full complement of UN sanctions against Iran.  This novel take was also given an airing by Craft.  “Under Resolution 2231, the United States has every right to initiate snapback of provisions of previous Security Council resolutions.”

In April, Reuters noted the view of a European diplomat that it was “very difficult to present yourself as a compliance watcher of a resolution you decided to pull out of.  Either you’re in or either you’re out.”  Samuel M. Hickey from the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation also warned in May that invoking the snapback provision, especially by a non-party, “would not only underscore US isolation on the global stage, it might also undermine the effectiveness of the UNSC by creating a dispute over the validity of a UNSC resolution.”  Russia and China expressed similar readings: it was a bit rich to trigger provisions in an agreement so publicly repudiated.

Iran, in turn, huffed at the very idea of a snapback through its UN ambassador Majid Takht-Ravanchi.  “Imposition of any sanctions or restrictions on Iran by the Security Council will be met severely by Iran and our options are not limited.”

This entire act of gross miscalculation did its fair share of harm, though not in the sense understood by Pompeo and his officials.  It spoke to a clumsy unilateralism masquerading as credible support; to great power obstinacy misguided in attaining a goal.  It was not the UN Security Council that had failed, but the US that had failed it, an effort that many at the UN are reading as directed at torching the remnants of the Iran nuclear deal.  The assessment of the US effort by former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter was sharp and relevant.  “You got the Dominican Republic on board (how much did that cost the US taxpayer?)  Not a single other nation voted with you!  The shining city on the hill has been reduced to a glow, like the embers of a dying fire.”

Belarus:  A Color Revolution of a Different Shade?

Belarus is in turmoil, after an election where the incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko – 25 years already in power (in office since 1994) – has won with 80% of the popular vote. That’s what the official stats and media say. True or false? Does it matter?  The margin is large enough that it cannot be contested or questioned by “recounters”. So, people take to the streets. First police reaction against protesters is violent.

Washington reprimands Belarus – to calm the police violence – at the surface protecting the protesters. Overall western reaction towards the election is negative. Unilaterally they say “elections were unfair and rigged”. This may be true – or not. The west has been critical for years about Lukashenko’s human rights records. Isn’t it kind of ironic, every time the west has a criticism for which they don’t have a real foundation, they claim “human rights abuses”? That flies just about with everybody. Russia, China and all those associated with these two evil countries have horrible human rights records. Hardly a substance the west brings forward, or if it does, because pressed, they invent the “substance”. China is a case in point.

Just on a sideline, did anybody ever question or even criticize western Human Rights records? Let’s just think of all the western initiated wars and ‘sanctions’ in the Middle East – Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Palestine via proxy Israel, Somalia; aggressions against Iran, Lebanon; depriving Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea of vital and essential medication, food – and spare parts that could keep their economy running – let alone the smearing and sanctions and aggressions on China and Russia. No one in the west dares say beep. The Anglo-American controlled media are silent. Where are the real human rights abusers, in giant proportions more severe than those in Russia, China and the rest of the world combined?  Food for thought.

Let’s stay with Belarus. Belarus is also an ‘ally’ of Russia. Or let’s put it another way: Belarus is a buffer zone between Russia and NATO. So, Belarus’s alliance with Russia is important. It is also important for the west to break it. To get a step closer to the Kremlin’s doorstep.

And that’s precisely what’s happening. The fact is that Pompeo went to visit Lukashenko at the beginning of 2020 shaking hands and smiling and pledging friendship and “democratic assistance”. Despite the Human Rights critique, most western sanctions have been lifted on Belarus, because Lukashenko has freed some political prisoners. Pompeo’s discourse is that Washington supports Belarus’s independence, while they are aware of Minsk’s close links to Russia.

Pompeo said (a Reuters quote): “There’s a long history with Russia. It’s not about picking us between the two. We want to be here.” How wise. The “picking” will be done by Washington’s arm-twisting, or worse, if necessary.

Just coincidentally, when Russia and Belarus had a disagreement over oil deliveries and contract extension in late 2019 and early 2020, Washington immediately offered alternative supplies. Pompeo again: “The United States wants to help Belarus build its own sovereign country. Our energy producers stand ready to deliver 100% of the oil you need at competitive prices.”  And, “Your nation should not be forced to be dependent on any one partner for your prosperity or for your security.”

But an oil contract agreement was reached with Moscow, and deliveries resumed on January 4, 2020.

In anticipation of Pompeo’s visit to Minsk earlier this year, the Trump Administration intimated,  “this [Belarus] is an era of great power competition and an opportunity to compete for influence.”

There you have it. Elections are often strategic moments to hit a country when you want to dominate it. Who knows whether the US was behind the election results, directly or by proxy manipulating them, knowing quite well, that Lukashenko’s popularity has shrunk to a low. Lukashenko has run his country like a police state. Another Lukashenko win could (and should  wished by the west) cause civil unrest that, like in other places of the universe – like Hong Kong, to mention just an ongoing one – can be provoked by Washington and its minions and extended as long as it takes to bring about regime change which is what Washington dreams of in Belarus.

Belarus without natural resources to speak off, except its strategic location – buffer zone for Russia – depends economically on Russia. Russia has not failed her support to Belarus. It is very unlikely that Russia would interfere in Belarus’s election, despite what Washington says about political and election interference by Russia,  It’s not Russia’s style, but it clearly is Washington’s style to interfere in elections around the world. There has been not one “free” election, “free” meaning without interference, directly or indirectly, of the United Sates, in the last few decades. Not one.

Contrary to the Ukraine, in Belarus there is no visible EU / IMF interference at this point. Just the US at the fringes, by Pompeo’s visit to Minsk on February 1, 2020. But we don’t really know what went on behind closed doors, what agreements were signed “verbally”.

However, whatever secrets the Pompeo visit may have entailed, this looks like a new kind of Color Revolution in the making. One where the instigators are not visibly Washington and/or their NATO-controlled allies, the European Union. But rather a “third party” close ally of the US, one whose survival depends on the United States, like Ukraine. It is possible that Ukraine, directed by Washington, infiltrated their secret service people and other trouble-makers (possibly with Russian passports) into Belarus, mainly Minsk, before the elections, to orchestrate Lukashenko’s landslide win, as well as the subsequent civil unrest, which as of this day has not abated.

It may not be coincidence that Lukashenko’s only real opponent, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya (who got only 10% of the vote) fled to Lithuania, where she was “safe”, as Lithuanians Foreign Minister said.

Though the US officially condemns Lukashenko’s police brutality, in secret they want Lukashenko to remain in power until the appropriate moment, when the control is sufficiently advanced, as was the case with Ukraine. In the meantime, they may groom Svetlana to eventually take over from Lukashenko when the time is ripe for another “Maidan” Belarus style.

No doubt, President Putin is aware of this – and probably of other likely scenarios. Learning from the Ukraine experience, he may opt to ‘replace’ Lukashenko before it’s too late. Because if Belarus falls and with Ukraine at the southern doorstep, Moscow would be in real danger

The United States, Diego Garcia, and International Law

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • See related article: “Sovereignty in the South China Sea.”
  • Our Planet’s Missed Opportunity to unite and fight Side by Side against the Pandemic

    It is time to stop irresponsible finger-pointing.

    All over the world, as this essay is being written, well over 17 million COVID-19 cases have been reported, and 676,000 people died. And instead of concentrating on serious research, trying to save human lives and attempting to stop the global calamity, ‘residents’ of the White House are spending all their energy on their own political survival, as well as on the survival of the regime.

    In the U.S., both the establishment and opposition are buzzing with phantasmagoric conspiracy theories. Everyone is shouting, and no one is listening.

    COVID-19 has been dangerously politicized. In order to ‘save its skin,’ the White House has been relentlessly blaming China for the origin and handling of the pandemic. Various U.S. government officials have been pointing fingers, irresponsibly, at Beijing. Some have been going as far as claiming that the pandemic was manufactured in one of the laboratories in the city of Wuhan. A bit like a ‘Frankenstein theory,’ fit for a comic book or a horror movie, but not for any serious analysis.

    Serious analyses are, however, often neglected by mainstream media. Although they do get picked up by those who are interested and unbiased.

    The Telegraph reported on 5 July 2020:

    Senior CEBM tutor Dr. Tom Jefferson believes many viruses lie dormant throughout the globe and emerge when conditions are favourable.

    Coronavirus may have lain dormant across the world and emerged when the environmental conditions were right for it to thrive rather than starting in China, an Oxford University expert believes.

    Dr. Tom Jefferson, senior associate tutor at the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM), at Oxford and a visiting professor at Newcastle University, argues there is growing evidence that the virus was elsewhere before it emerged in Asia.

    Last week, Spanish virologists announced that they had found traces of the disease in samples of waste water collected in March 2019, nine months before coronavirus was seen in China.

    Italian scientists have also found evidence of coronavirus in sewage samples in Milan and Turin in mid-December, many weeks before the first case was detected, while experts have found evidence of traces in Brazil in November 2019.

    It appears that several countries in Europe had actually been suffering from the novel coronavirus cases long before they emerged in China. Europeans just did not know that they were dealing with ‘the new and deadly type of flu.’ Or they did not have the capacity or willingness to detect and define the new pandemic as fast as the Chinese doctors and scientists did.

    On 20 June 2020, The Independent addressed precisely this issue:

    The novel coronavirus – Sars-Cov-2 – may have been in Europe for longer than previously thought. Recent studies have suggested that it was circulating in Italy as early as December 2019. More surprisingly, researchers at the University of Barcelona found traces of the virus when testing untreated wastewater samples dated 12 March 2019.

    The study was recently published on a preprint server, medRxiv. The paper is currently being subject to critical review by outside experts in preparation for publication in a scientific journal. Until this process of peer review has been completed, though, the evidence needs to be treated with caution.

    So, how was the experiment conducted and what exactly did the scientists find?

    One of the early findings about Sars-Cov-2 is that it is found in the faeces of infected people. As the virus makes its way through the gut – where it can cause gastrointestinal symptoms – it loses its outer protein layer, but bits of genetic material called RNA survive the journey intact and are “shed” in faeces. At this oint, it is no longer infectious – as far as current evidence tells us.

    In May 2020, the BBC simply reported, without drawing any ‘political conclusions’:

    A patient treated in a hospital near Paris on 27 December for suspected pneumonia actually had the coronavirus, his doctor has said.

    This means the virus may have arrived in Europe almost a month earlier than previously thought.

    Dr. Yves Cohen said a swab taken at the time was recently tested, and came back positive for Covid-19.

    The patient, who has since recovered, said he had no idea where he caught the virus as he had not travelled abroad.

    Knowing who was the first case is key to understanding how the virus spread.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) says it is possible more early cases will come to light, and spokesman Christian Lindmeier urged countries to check records for similar cases in order to gain a clearer picture of the outbreak.

    France is not the only country where subsequent testing points to earlier cases. Two weeks ago, a post-mortem examination carried out in California revealed that the first coronavirus-related death in the U.S. was almost a month earlier than previously thought.

    These are only three examples, carried by three separate reports.

    There is more and more evidence suggesting that China was actually not the country where the COVID-19 originated, but the country where novel coronavirus was first and decisively identified, confronted, and to a great extent, defeated. Quite amazing, considering that China, at least for some time, stood totally alone against this dangerous pandemic, which since then managed to, fundamentally, change the world!

    But the more all this appears to be the case, the louder is cacophony coming from Washington; more vitriolic becomes the anti-Chinese propaganda.

    It is clearly done in order to cover up the ineptness of the U.S. government’s response to the calamity. If the system in a grotesquely turbo-capitalist country like the United States collapses, just blame it hypocritically on the Communists, or go racist and start insulting Asians. Or if you run out of earthly enemies, just blame it on extra-terrestrials.

    *****

    Predictably, President Trump does not enjoy much support from the ranks of the scientific community. Some even poke fun, openly, at him and his deputies. Others are trying to argue with him, presenting facts.

    After Washington’s COVID-19-related anti-Chinese attacks intensified in April 2020, Professor Edward Holmes, an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and a Fellow of the Royal Society in London, decided to speak up, disputing with scientific arguments the propaganda theories:

    There is no evidence that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans, originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

    Coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2 are commonly found in wildlife species and frequently jump to new hosts. This is also the most likely explanation for the origin of SARS-CoV-2.

    But Washington is brutal and vindictive. When it is caught lying, when the simple, even primitive plans and designs get confronted, it retaliates disproportionally and swiftly. That is precisely what happened to the World Health Organization (WHO) and its Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. WHO was seen by Trump and his hawkish lieutenants as being “too close to China,” and that is an arch ‘crime’ in this time and age! On top of it, Mr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was pressing for global cooperation instead of confrontation. But the United States is simply unable to cooperate anymore. It only knows how to dictate.

    Rapidly and wickedly, the U.S. ejected itself from the WHO, right in the middle of the global pandemic, leaving huge unpaid bills. This, most likely, cost tens of thousands of human lives, particularly in the poorest parts of the world. Not that Washington cares!

    *****

    Attacks against China by Trump, Rubio, Bannon, Pompeo, Navarro, and others in the U.S. government and establishment, are thoroughly ludicrous and get regularly strongly rebutted in the United States itself, but also its satellites.

    White House accusations regularly degenerate to extremely low levels of discourse.

    As mentioned above, U.S. officials, including President Trump, himself, frequently insinuate that the pandemic originated, or was even manufactured, in one of Wuhan’s labs.

    Such insults get confronted by counter-insults, like those shot by Peter Davidson, who recently declared that: “Covid19 originated in CIA Fort Detrick lab, brought to Wuhan to blame it on China!”

     *****

    Once again, the United States refused to cooperate with the rest of the world. Instead, it is spoiling all efforts to create a united front against the pandemic, which is frightening the Planet, killing tens of thousands of human beings, and destroying the lives of billions.

    Since the beginning of this unpredictable and still largely unresearched virus, I have been monitoring, first hand, all fears and frustration of the people: in Asia, North and South Americas, as well as Europe. I have been observing how COVID-19 brought the Planet to a standstill. This fear is real. The consequences of the pandemic are awful, and they include misery, unemployment, even hunger, and homelessness.

    This terrible attack of new illness was an opportunity for our civilization to unite, to show that we, as human beings, are able to cooperate, fight for the survival of all, and smash this dreadful enemy. Together, all of us, side by side, regardless of race, nationality, or culture.

    The opportunity was missed. And the result is not only bitterness. The result is counted in hundreds of millions of newly poor.

    China actually tried to forge a global alliance against COVID-19, and so did Russia. Also, Cuba, as always. Hundreds of heavy lift aircrafts were heading from Moscow, Beijing, and Havana, to help people who were in dire need, in all corners of the world. Hands were extended.

    We all know how these efforts ended: with insults, and unprecedented propaganda coming from Washington. Not one heartfelt “Thank you!”. Not one. And then, even foreign aid directed towards dozens of countries, coming from China, got literally stolen from the tarmacs, by the United States government.

    The countries which were suffering the most, from embargos and sanctions and needed resources to manage the COVID-19, countries such as Iran and Venezuela, got brutalized even further, sadistically and shamelessly.

    This does not look like a good world. And the ‘mightiest country on earth’ does not look like a good leader, either. In fact, it does not look like a leader at all. And with this attitude towards the Planet, it should never again be allowed to lead.

    COVID-19 ruined countless lives. But at least now it is clear, who is who, what is the gangrenous essence of corporatism and imperialism.

    While China, Russia, Cuba, Vietnam, Venezuela, Iran, and others are fighting for human lives, Washington is struggling to preserve the global status quo for its own unsavory purposes. It does not want to save or improve the world. It wants to control it. And it wants to own it. Nothing else. Full stop.

    • First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook (a journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences)