Category Archives: Militarism

Nicaragua: The War of 2018

Nearly all US regime-change wars (Venezuela, Syria, Honduras, Ukraine, Libya, Yugoslavia, etc.) are wars of deception, fabrication, propaganda, coups and false flags. Sometimes there is a direct US military assault, more often not. These wars are waged by proxies, media puppets, hired hit-men, torturers, rapists, vandals, saboteurs, death squads and criminal gangs, through mock or pretextual social protest movements, denunciations by “human rights” organizations, and by internal and external economic assaults on the country’s people, transportation, commerce and communications. These were the methods of the 2018 war against Nicaragua, for which the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) alone, a well-known US regime-change shop, has spent 4.1 million USD on Nicaraguan NGOs since 2014.

There is little mystery why the US would take pains to overthrow the government of little Nicaragua (population 6 million). In addition to Nicaragua’s current and historical geo-strategic importance, President Daniel Ortega’s administration greatly improved people’s lives, presenting what is often called “the threat of a good example.”

Prior to the war and during the Ortega administration, poverty and extreme poverty were halved. Basic healthcare and education were free. Illiteracy fell from one-third of the population to nearly zero. Access to electricity went from a little over half the population to 90%. Through state subsidy programs, small and medium agricultural producers had achieved near-complete food sovereignty for the country. In defiance of the dictates of the US and the global neoliberal order, Nicaragua failed to privatize essential public services, and kept friendly relations with Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, China and Iran.

Also notable, in light of the events of 2018, Nicaragua built a national police force recognized by the UN for its humane, community policing, headed until mid-2018 by Aminta Granera Sacasa, former nun, mother of three and Sandinista revolutionary, who during her tenure was among the most popular politicians in the country.

In the eyes of the US, these achievements are capital crimes.

Pretextual student protests covered the launch of the war on April 18, 2018. The protests came following announced changes to the country’s social security programs, falsely presented by the media as austerity measures. In fact, the changes avoided the austerity plan sought by the Nicaraguan business lobby (COSEP) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). COSEP called for student protests, which were led by relatively well-to-do students from the private universities but directed toward the Polytechnic University (UPOLI) campus, one of the two main public universities that serve poor and working class students.

The police killing of a student protestor was mis-reported on the first day of protests (the student later turned up alive and unharmed). The next day, three more killings at the UPOLI were wrongly attributed to the police.

The UPOLI was taken over by armed opposition forces (not UPOLI students) demanding the government resign. The daycare center, reproductive health center and women’s dormitories were vandalized. The leader of the UPOLI student union, Leonel Morales, publicly denounced the armed opposition, and was tortured and nearly killed.

Directing operations at the universities and elsewhere was Felix Madriaga, US raised and Harvard trained, and funded by the NED. Madriaga’s role was revealed by gang leader “Viper,” whose criminal organization was enlisted by the opposition.

By April 22nd the government withdrew the announced social security changes, but opposition forces continued widespread destruction and assaults, now concealed under pretextual protests against police repression.

Opposition tactics included 100s of roadblocks across the country meant to wreak havoc on the country’s transportation systems and economy. These roadblocks, called tranques, became opposition paramilitary bases, terrorizing the population with killings, beatings, torture, rape and extortion. A 10-year-old girl was kidnapped and raped at the tranque in Las Maderas, and the opposition attacked and set fire to public buildings as well as homes of Sandinista loyalists.

The Catholic Church hierarchy, ostensibly mediating between the government and the opposition, played a leading role in organizing the tranques, something Bishop Silvio Baez was caught on tape bragging about, as well as calling for President Ortega to be put before a firing squad.

Yet the government agreed to opposition demands to withdraw the police from the streets. For nearly two months the police were confined to barracks while the war continued. This controversial, pacifist move may have saved lives by avoiding police confrontations with opposition forces while they were fresh and well-supplied with money, food, hand-held mortar-launchers, guns and other weaponry. Meanwhile, organized civilian self-defense forces mitigated the violence of opposition forces, even managing to remove many tranques. Eventually the police returned to the streets, and after three months of war, relative calm had returned to Nicaragua, although opposition killings of police continued.

Over 250 people were killed and many more injured. More than 250 buildings were burned down or ransacked, with public sector property losses of over $230 million USD. GDP fell nearly 4%, a loss to the economy of nearly 1.5 billion USD, with job losses of up to 300,000.

Not conceding defeat, both houses of the US legislature unanimously approved presidential authority for sanctions barring Nicaragua from receiving aid from international financial institutions, a virtual economic embargo, illegal under the UN Charter.

From the very first day of the war, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the media spun a relentless and knowingly false “human rights” narrative of police repression by a dictatorial state, uniformly attributing to police the injuries and deaths inflicted by the opposition or from accidents. Aiding this propaganda effort were a tiny political party and grouplets of former prominent Sandinistas, who claim left status but lack popular support and have long been part of the US-backed rightist-led opposition.

Yet Nicaraguans have waged an heroic struggle against the most powerful empire in history. The peoples of the world owe them an incalculable debt of gratitude.

Trump: From China to Iran to Venezuela, Threats and Sanctions Everywhere

As of May 10, Mr. Trump has arbitrarily increased tariffs on Chinese goods imported into the US, worth about 200 billion dollars, from 10% to 25%. It is an action without any foundation. An action that makes no sense at all, as China can and will retaliate – and retaliate much stronger than what the impact of the US’s new “sanctions” may bear – because these arbitrary tariffs are nothing else but sanctions. Illegality of such foreign interference aside, there is hardly any serious economist in this world who would favor tariffs in international trade among “adults” anywhere and for any reason, and, of course, least as a punishment for a nation. All that such sanctions do is pushing a partner away. In this case it’s not just any partner; China is a key trading partner of the United States.

The new tariffs will hardly harm the American consumer. There are huge profit margins by US middlemen and importers of Chinese goods. They are competing with each other within the US  and the consumer may not even notice a thing. However, the US economy will likely suffer, especially from Chinese retaliatory actions.

A spoiled child, what Trump is, doesn’t get his way – and goes into a tantrum, not quite knowing what he is doing, and knowing even less what he may expect in return. Mr. Trump, himself, has not only reached a level of incompetence and ignorance which is scary – but he has also surrounded himself with inept, preposterous people, like, Pence, Bolton, Pompeo – who, it appears, have no other means left than running around the world amok, dishing out threats left and right and spending billions on moving aircraft carriers around the globe to make sure people are afraid of the great-great United States of America.

Back to trading with China. China has a million ways (almost) to retaliate. China can devalue her currency vis-à-vis the dollar, or China can dump some of their almost 3 trillion dollars-worth of reserves on the money market – just take a wild guess about what that would do to the hegemony of the dollar which is already in dire straits – with ever more countries departing from the use of dollars for international trade.

And just hypothetically, China could stop altogether exporting all that Walmart junk that American consumers love so much just for a while. Or China could stop making iPhones for the US market. Guess what kind of an uproar that would trigger in the US?  Or China could, of course, levy herself high tariffs on US imports, or stop US imports altogether. China being part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – actually the co-founder of it – has many alternatives to cover her demand. No need to depend on the west.

Let’s not forget, the SCO which also counts as its members, Russia, India, Pakistan, most of Central Asia, and Iran poised to become a full-fledged member, covers about half of the world population and a third of the world’s economic output, or GDP. No need to look to the west for ‘survival’ – those times are long gone.

But more importantly, what all this looks like to me is the desperate thrashing around of a dying beast, or in this case a dying empire.

We have the US and Venezuela – threats after threats after threats – Maduro must go, or more sanctions. Indeed, according to a study by the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), these horrifying, totally illegal sanctions or blockages of imports, most of them already paid for by Venezuela, have killed some 40,000 people in Venezuela. Of course, Washington doesn’t care about legality and killing, also typical for a fading mighty power – no respect for law and order, no respect for human rights and human lives. One only has to see what type of psychopaths are occupying the tasks of “Foreign Minister” and of “National Security Advisor” or of Vice President, for that matter – they are all sick, but very sick and dangerous people.

Well, in Venezuela “regime change” didn’t work out – so far. Pompeo has been clearly told off by Mr. Lavrov during their recent get-together in Helsinki,  and China is in the same line of supporting the government of Nicolas Maduro.

Next – Iran. Attacking Iran has been a dream of Bolton’s ever since the US 2003 “Shock and Awe” invasion of Iraq. Bolton and Pompeo are of the same revolting kind: They want wars, conflicts, or if they don’t get wars, they want to sow fear, they enjoy seeing people scared. They want suffering. Now they didn’t succeed – at least so far – with Venezuela, let’s try Iran. Pompeo – “Iran has done irregular things” – not saying what in particular he means – so Iran has to be punished, with yet more sanctions. And any argument is good.

The entire world knows, including the Vienna-based UN Economic Energy Commission, and has acknowledged umpteen times that Iran has fully adhered to the conditions of the Nuclear Deal from which the US exited a year ago. Of course, no secret here either, this at the demand of Trump’s Big Friend Bibi Netanyahu. The European Union vassals may actually turn for their own business interests, not for political ethics, but pure and simple self-interest – towards respecting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Nuclear Deal. China and Russia are already holding on to the Deal, and they are not impressed by Washington’s threats. So, there is very little Trump and his minions can do, other than saber rattling.

Therefore, the nefarious Pence-Pompeo-Bolton trio must invent another warning: Iran or any proxy of Iran shall attack an ally of the US, and Iran will be devastated. In fact, they consider the Houthis in Yemen who fight for their sheer survival against the US-UK-France – and NATO supported Saudis, as a proxy for Iran. So, the US could start bombing Iran already today. Why don’t they?

Maybe they are afraid – afraid Iran could lock down the Strait of Hormuz, where 60% of US oil imports have to sail through. What a disaster that would be, not just for the US but also for the rest of the world. Oil prices could skyrocket. Would Washington want to risk a war over their irrationality? Maybe, Mr. Halfwit Trump might, but I doubt that his deep-dark state handlers would. They know what’s at stake for them and the world. But they let Trump play his games a bit longer.

Moving the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, loaded with war planes, close to Iranian waters costs hundreds of millions or billions. Just to enhance a threat. A show-off. Bolton and Pompeo will entertain their sadism, enjoying seeing scared people. But the cost of war doesn’t matter – it’s just more debt, and as we know, the US never, but never pays back its debt.

Next, or simultaneously, is China. The trade war with China that started last year, then had a respite to the point of the recent joint negotiations and suddenly the Trumpians are veering off again. They must smash China, wanting to appear superior. But why? The world knows that the US is no longer superior by a long shot, and haven’t been for the last couple of years, when China surpassed the US in economic strength, measured by PPP – Purchasing Power Parity – which is the only parity or exchange rate that has any real meaning.

Guess what!  All these three cases have one common denominator: The dollar as a chief instrument for world hegemony. Venezuela and Iran have stopped using the dollar for their hydrocarbon and other international trading, already some years ago. And so did China and Russia. China’s strong currency, the Yuan, is rapidly taking over the US-dollar’s reserve position in the world. Sanctioning China with insane tariffs is supposed to weaken the Yuan; but it won’t.

All of these three countries, China, Iran and Venezuela are threatening the US dollar’s world hegemony and without that the US economy is dead, literally. The dollar is based on thin air, and on fraud.  The dollar system used around the globe is nothing but a huge, a very big and monstrous Ponzi-scheme, that one day must be coming crashing down.

That’s what’s at stake. New FED Board member, Herman Cain, for example, is pledging for a new gold standard. But none of these last resort US measure will work, not a new gold standard, not a trade and tariff war, and not threats of wars and destruction and “regime change”. The nations around the world know what’s going on, they know the US is in her last breath; though they don’t quite dare saying so, but they know it, and are waiting for the downfall to continue. The world is waiting for the grand fiesta, dancing in the streets, when the empire disappears or becomes utterly irrelevant.

• First published in New Eastern Outlook (NEO)

Israel’s Common Denominator: Why Israel Will Continue to Bomb Gaza

On May 4, Israel launched a series of deadly airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip, prompting a response from various resistance groups. At least 25 Palestinians were killed and nearly 200 people wounded in the Israeli attacks. Four Israelis were also killed by Palestinian rockets.

The clashes were instigated by Israel, when the Israeli military killed four Palestinians in Gaza on May 3. Two were killed while protesting along the fence separating Gaza from Israel. They were participating in the Great March of Return, a protracted Palestinian non-violent protest demanding an end to the Israeli siege. The other two were killed in an Israeli airstrike that targeted a Hamas post in the central Gaza Strip.

Why did Netanyahu choose such timing to bomb Gaza? It would have made more sense to attack Gaza in the run-up to the general elections. For months prior to the April 9 elections, Netanyahu was repeatedly accused of being soft on Hamas.

Although desperate for votes, Netanyahu refrained from a major operation against Gaza, because of the inherent risk in such attacks, as seen in the botched Israeli incursion into Khan Younis on November 11. Netanyahu could have lost a highly contested election, had he failed.

Following a victory, the soon-to-be longest-serving Israeli Prime Minister has the necessary political capital to launch wars at whim.

Israeli politics featured heavily in the latest Gaza onslaught.

Netanyahu is in the final stages of forming a new coalition, yet another government of like-minded far right, religious zealots and ultra-nationalist politicians which, he admits, is not easy.

“It’s not a simple job and there are different aspects – giving out portfolios, control over the state budget and many other challenges,” Netanyahu said at a Likud party meeting on April 30.

If Netanyahu succeeds, he will form his fifth government – four of them consecutively. However, his main challenge is to reconcile among the various potential coalition partners.

Netanyahu wishes to include six parties in his new government: his own, the Likud, with 35 seats in the Israeli Knesset (parliament); religious extremist parties: Shas (8 seats), United Torah Judaism (8), Yisrael Beiteinu of ultra-nationalist, Avigdor Lieberman (5), the newly-formed Union of Right-wing Parties (5) and the centrist Kulanu with 4 seats.

“Netanyahu is keen to include all six parties in his government to provide a semblance of stability and prevent a narrow majority that will be at the mercy of a single disgruntled party threatening to quit,” reported the Israeli daily Jerusalem Post newspaper.

But how is Netanyahu to maintain peace among vastly different allies and how is that relevant to the bombing of Gaza?

Netanyahu bombed Gaza because it is the only unifying demand among all of his allies. He needed to assure them of his commitment to keep pressure on Palestinian Resistance, of maintaining the siege on Gaza and ensuring the safety of Israel’s southern towns and settlements.

Barring that, there is little that these groups have in common. Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu and the ultra-Orthodox parties barely agree on some fundamental issues. For example, Lieberman has been pushing for a draft law requiring ultra-Orthodox conscription in the Israeli army, vehemently rejected by Netanyahu’s religious allies.

Although the election performance of Lieberman’s party was hardly impressive, his influence goes beyond numbers. Lieberman had resigned his post as a Defense Minister last November in protest of Netanyahu’s supposed “capitulation to terror”, but he has formed a strong alliance with Israel’s southern towns bordering the besieged Gaza Strip.

For years, Lieberman has expressed solidarity with them and, in return, has manipulated this whenever he wishes to pressure or challenge the Prime Minister.

Lieberman has exploited the notion among residents and settlers in southern Israel and the Occupied West Bank that they are being treated unfairly compared to their compatriots elsewhere.

Following a truce between Israel and Gaza factions last November, for example, hundreds of settlers protested their “second class status”, demanding greater government support to protect their “security” against Gaza. Interestingly, these border towns have been at the center of a significant economic and demographic growth over the last few years, which has been stimulated by the Israeli government’s investments in the area.

Seeing themselves as the heirs to the Zionist founders of Israel, residents of these towns believe that they are the defenders of the Zionist vision.

Despite their incessant complaints, southern Israeli communities have seen constant growth in economic opportunity, thus population. This fact has placed these areas at the center of Israeli politicians’ radar, all trying to win favor with their leaders and obtain the support of their vastly expanding economic sectors.

This recent electoral strength has made the demands and expectations of Israeli southern community leaders a focal point in mainstream Israeli politics.

Therefore, it is unsurprising that one of the conditions placed by Lieberman to join Netanyahu’s coalition is the intensification of the Israeli siege on Gaza and the liquidation of the Gaza resistance.

Although Benny Gantz, the leader of the centrist Blue and White Party, has lost the elections, he wishes to stay relevant in mainstream politics by appeasing the Jewish settlers and residents of southern Israel. During the Israeli army’s attack on Gaza on May 4, Gantz joined the chorus calling for more Palestinian blood.

“We must strike hard, in an uncompromising manner, in any way the army will recommend, with military and intelligence considerations,” he told Israeli Channel 13. “We must restore the deterrence that has been eroded catastrophically for more than a year.”

Following the death of 4 Israelis as a result of Gaza rockets, Israeli politicians jockeyed to show support for southern residents, demanding yet more violence. The euphoria of support inspired the mayor of Sderot, Alon Davidi, to call for the invasion of Gaza.

The latest attack on Gaza was meant to serve the interests of all of Netanyahu’s possible coalition partners. Alas, although a truce has been declared, more Israeli violence should be expected once the coalition is formed because, in order for Netanyahu to keep his partners happy, he would need to persistently keep pounding Gaza.

U.S. Media Lies Help Trump’s Venezuela Warmongering

As most of the world knows by now, the United States government intends to organize regime change in Venezuela.

Attempts to this effect have been made in the past – most notably in 2002, when its economy and standard of living was exemplary in the region – but not so brazenly as now. Today, the country wrestles with an economic crisis. At the same time, the U.S. Secretary of State openly threatens Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro with military action. The U.S. government provides material and political support to opposition forces. It also continues to tighten the sanctions that caused much of the misery to begin with.

That the Trump regime is openly meddling in an oil-rich, Latin American nation that resists U.S. corporate hegemony is unsurprising. The U.S. has “intervened thousands of times in Latin America” since 1800, according to historian Alan McPherson. Thus, the U.S.’s Venezuela policies are merely part of a long-standing pattern.

But while these facts are well-known, less-known is the role of U.S. media coverage in building the official pretext for the ongoing sabotage and possible invasion of this struggling country. A series of misleading claims about the issue are being published by purpotedly objective U.S. news sources. Those same claims are being used by the political apparatus to make the case for engaging in imperialist operations in Venezuela.

One misleading claim is that Juan Guaidó, a practically unknown Venezuelan politician until this year after he asserted himself to be the interim leader of the country, has a legitimate claim to power. For example, The New York Times called the issue of presidential legitimacy “a messy dispute”, a question for which the answers “are not at all straightforward”.

In fact, the answer to whether Guaidó is the legitimate leader of Venezuela is as straightforward as the answer to whether Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is the legitimate leader of the United States. There’s absolutely no constitutional or legal basis for the deposing of Maduro and installment of Guaidó. Noah Feldman, a leading constitutional law expert from Harvard, called the legal case for Guaidó’s legitimacy “weak” and “implausible”. He concluded that “the constitutional argument that Maduro isn’t really president is nothing more than a fig leaf for regime change”.

The argument could be made that the Venezuelan public now prefers Guaidó to Maduro. Granted, it’s true that polling – if it’s to be believed in such a chaotic situation – indicates Guaidó recently has more popular support. But polling also consistently indicates Sanders has more popular support than President Trump. Thus, there’s a simple test for determining whether the polling legitimizes the West’s “recognition” of Guaidó as leader: ask the press if Venezuela has the right to recognize Sanders as President and threaten violence to make it official. Note that one needn’t bother actually administering this test to know what the press’s response would be: namely, uproarious laughter. After all, obliviousness to hypocrisy has never disqualified journalists from covering foreign policy in the U.S.

Another claim, related to the one above, is that Maduro didn’t win a fair, democratic election. In a May 1st article, The Washington Post uncritically reported that the 2018 election “result was decried internationally as fraudulent”. In a more blatant misrepresentation, the Post also claimed that Maduro’s second term was the result of an “election riddled with fraud”.

This pervasive claim isn’t supported by the evidence. Of course, the government and the opposition have gone back and forth on the question of the election’s legitimacy. To be sure, each side has made questionable claims about the voting process. But it’s the opposition which made it impossible to get an objective verification of election results. The Maduro administration fought for transparency.

It was a section of the opposition which boycotted the 2018 election entirely, presumably to make the election appear less convincing and save face in case of a loss. The opposition also opposed allowing the United Nations, the foremost authority in electoral monitoring, to monitor the election. The Maduro administration, on the other hand, invited the U.N. to observe. In the end, the U.N. sided with the opposition and refused to send an electoral team for reasons which can only be speculated. But the question remains: why didn’t the opposition want a nonpartisan body of investigators to prove their assertion that the election was fraudulent — unless they had reason to believe it wasn’t actually fraudulent?

Another deception is that Maduro’s government is refusing foreign aid into the country. An article by the Miami Herald reported that “the socialist administration” of Venezuela is “refusing offers of food and medicine from its neighbors and aid agencies”. That article was published in February 2019. This was the same month USAID trucks supposedly attempting to deliver aid at the Colombian border were set on fire, an incident which the U.S. media loudly blamed on Maduro’s military but, later, admitted anti-Maduro opposition forces were responsible.

The USAID incident’s phoniness has almost become general knowledge. But the meme pushed by the Herald and others – that Maduro’s government refuses aid – continues to spread despite its outright falsity. In reality, Maduro’s government repeatedly accepted aid both before and after the February hoax, through agencies including the Red Cross, the United Nations and the European Union.

Notwithstanding, it’s certainly true Venezuela has steadfastly rejected aid from the U.S. government’s USAID program. But this is perfectly understandable to anyone with an inkling about the history of U.S. “humanitarian aid” in Latin America. For example, the Reagan administration delivered weapons to anti-government terrorists in Nicaragua circa the 1980s under the guise of “humanitarian aid”. Thus, it’s perhaps unsurprising that both the U.N. and Red Cross refused to join in the USAID effort in Venezuela, deeming it politically motivated.

Furthermore, it’s not unfair to investigate whether the U.S. has shown any kind of consistency on the issue of aid. Alas, a scant examination of the recent record reveals that it has not. In 2005, as over 1,000 U.S citizens died and thousands more suffered in the midst of one of its worst humanitarian catastrophes ever, the U.S. rebuffed a generous offer of water, food, fuel and other provisions, even as hungry people sat in homes and hospitals without power, because the aid was from an enemy state.

That humanitarian catastrophe was the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The name of the enemy state? Venezuela. If the U.S.’s rejection of Venezuelan aid didn’t entitle Venezuela to conspire to overthrow the U.S. government, then there’s no reason the U.S. is entitled to do likewise to Venezuela – unless we are to believe the United States has no moral obligations at all and is always justified by mere virtue of its military and economic might. Given the kind of commentary the U.S. foreign policy press publishes about Venezuela, one suspects that’s exactly what they believe.

Of course, there’s still another, even more obvious objection. If the U.S. is sincerely dedicated to aiding Venezuela, why hasn’t it ended its brutal sanctions and blockade? These policies ensure the economic crisis can’t be solved. As Edgardo Lander, Venezuelan sociologist and Maduro critic, argues: “it’s absolutely cynical that the U.S. government is claiming to be worried about the humanitarian situation of Venezuelans, offering a few million dollars, when billions of dollars are being kept away from the Venezuelan government’s capacity to respond to the deep crisis”.

Perhaps the most deceptive of all the media’s claims about Venezuela is that the Maduro administration’s “socialist” policies are the sole driver of the current crisis. This claim is repeated ad nauseam in various forms. In a particularly odious example, FoxNews.com ran a column in January stating “socialism turned Venezuela from the wealthiest country in South America into an economic basket case”.

In truth, the deadliest contributor to Venezuela’s crisis is U.S. policy. Former U.N. rapporteur Alfred de Zayas deemed the sanctions and blockade illegal and possible “crimes against humanity”. According to one study, they are responsible for the deaths of at least an estimated 40,000 people. This vicious, inhuman economic war could be halted overnight if the U.S. had the slightest concern for suffering Venezuelans. The refusal to do so proves the insincerity of the U.S.’s stated humanitarian motives.

Additionally, much of the political turmoil erupting across the country is the result of an opposition fostered and supported by the U.S. government. As media outlets have detailed, the opposition has received substantial funding and political support from Washington for years. The investment has begun to bear its fruit. Recently, the opposition has engaged in benevolent, democracy-spreading activities like publicly setting a Maduro supporter on fire, murdering police and trying to burn down the Venezuelan Supreme Court. Suffice to say that, contrary to the media image of a peaceful reform movement resisting unwarranted aggression by the state, the U.S. has developed and funded a right-wing rebellion rife with violence and contempt for democracy as it fights to destroy the social reforms started under the late Hugo Chavez.

And so it goes. The pattern continues right up to the very present. On April 30th, the media was flooded with reports that Guaidó was leading an imminent overthrow. CNN ran video of Guaidó standing in a “liberated” air force base, flanked by soldiers, and claimed he was rallying “thousands of supporters” to join him in finally ousting Maduro. But the video was a hoax. It was recorded from a bridge, not an airbase, and with no crowd of “thousands of supporters”. The media had helped Guaidó disseminate staged propaganda.

Worse yet, all of these falsehoods and misrepresentations of fact are utilized by the U.S. government. From deeming Guaidó the legitimate leader, to asserting Maduro refuses to accept foreign aid, to playing along with the airbase hoax, U.S. government officials use each of these media myths to build a case for plunging Venezuela further into chaos and destroying its political system.

The U.S. is playing a standard, mobster-like game. It’s a game instantly recognizable to anyone remotely familiar with what Chomsky called the U.S.’s “Godfather”-style of foreign policy. Their intent is to install a right-wing government that will submit to U.S. economic interests. U.S. It’s the same game it has played with countless nations throughout its history. And during virtually all of these ventures, the press dutifully served its true role of rallying the support of the American public. They appear determined to do it again.

Why Are These Facts So Stubbornly Forbidden?

Like you, I’ve had countless experiences of pointing out a new fact to someone, and seeing them acknowledge it and incorporate it into their thinking and their talking from that point forward. I’ve even had this experience with public petitions pushed on powerful people. But, I’ve also had a different experience. There are some facts that some people just will not accept, and for some of them I have a very hard time understanding why. Can you help me understand?

For example, today I received an appeal from the March for Our Lives people upset and outraged that teachers were going to be allowed to bring guns into their school in Florida. They do not want any guns in their school, they said. But — and this they did not say — their school already has ROTC and gun training. Their school already has lots of guns in it. Their classmate who killed many of their other classmates was trained to shoot guns in their school by the U.S. Army. So, do they want guns in their school or not? They are 100% dedicated to pretending that the ROTC does not exist, but also outraged by the idea of guns being brought into the school that they are pretending is gun-free. Why can they not incorporate into their consciousness the existence of the program whose t-shirt the murderer was wearing? What prevents it? I really want to know. Do you have an answer that’s not just a guess?

Also today I received an email from Senator Tim Kaine who remains outraged that a president might start an “unnecessary” and “unconstitutional” war. A president cannot legally attack Iran without Congressional approval, Kaine announces for the billionth time. But a president also cannot legally attack Iran WITH Congressional approval. Violating various laws, including the United Nations Charter, is a crime completely and utterly regardless of whether Congress is in on it. There’s no waiver for the U.S. Congress or any branch of any other government. I questioned Tim Kaine about this a long time ago and posted it on my Youtube page. He readily admitted that I was right, but in the next breath went right back to talking the way he has continued talking to this day — just like every single one of his colleagues and every single media outlet he ever encounters. Why is Kaine incapable of grabbing hold of a fact that he readily comprehended? I’d seriously like an answer.

Most of U.S. political discourse seems to me perverted by the stubborn universal refusal to incorporate basic acknowledged facts into general understanding. Also today I saw a report claiming that the U.S. government has been spending more on fossil fuel subsidies than on “defense.” Of course, the U.S. government spends little or nothing on anything designed to be defensive, so we have to translate that to “military.” But over half of the military budget is not counted in this or any other situation because it’s spread across numerous departments and agencies. At $1.25 trillion a year, it dwarfs fossil fuel subsidies, but the fact that those subsidies outpace the fraction of military spending that goes to the Pentagon is still staggering. Or it would be, if most people would incorporate into their worldview the fact that militarism costs anything at all. For most people, only non-military expenses cost anything, and their size determines the size of the government, even though militarism is now about two-thirds of federal discretionary spending.

What costs money and what does not really seems to be up to personal preference. For example, does the collapse of the climate — all the storms and droughts and floods to come — cost anything? On the one hand, you would think so. Young people are already suing governments for imposing enormous costs on young and future generations. There have been studies done of the cost of converting the world to sustainable green energy, and the cost is in the negative tens of trillions of dollars. In other words, it would save money, yet it is understood to be outrageously too expensive to even dream about.

In my city, we’re asking our local government to divest public dollars from weapons and fossil fuels, and city officials are concerned about their responsibility to benefit investors. But if the earth and our city with it remain habitable doesn’t that benefit even city employees? Wouldn’t the city leap at a guaranteed financial savings over a year or a month that was susceptible to temporary losses over hours or days? Why, when the same situation involves a decade rather than a year does it become incomprehensible? I really want to know.

Healthcare, too, is something we cannot afford, even though countries that have it pay less for it than we pay to not have it. This doesn’t seem to make any sense as long as we refuse to mention the parasitical insurance companies that are actually what we cannot afford, have no use for, and (in thousands of cases every year) die at the hands of.

What about all the health savings from green energy that would cost a fraction of either military spending or fossil fuel subsidies, and lower the cost of healthcare to a fraction of what we pay to not get healthcare? How can people be made to understand such incomprehensible realities as long as key facts are forbidden? I think we absolutely have to find out.

Venezuela: A Risk to Dollar Hegemony

After the new coup attempt – or propaganda coup – Venezuela lives in a state of foreign imposed insecurity. The failed coup was executed on 30 April by Juan Guaidó, the self-proclaimed and Washington-trained and endorsed “interim President”, and the opposition leader, Leopoldo López, who was hurriedly freed from house arrest by Guaidó with a couple of dozens of armed-to-the-teeth defecting military, who apparently didn’t quite know what they were up to. Because, when all was over after a few hours, most of them asked to be re-integrated into their military units – and, as far as I know, they were readmitted.

These are Washington’s puppets and “coup-makers”. When one sees that the so-called coup was defeated in a mere few hours, without any Venezuelan military interference, one wonders whether this was really planned as a coup, or merely as a “public relations” coup, for the media to ‘recharge’ their narrative of Maduro dictatorship, of a suffering people, of famine, of lack of medication and medical supplies all due to the Maduro government’s mismanagement of Venezuela’s natural riches, the lie-slander we have been used to for the last several years.

For sure, the Venezuelan people are suffering. According to a CEPR report sanctions have killed some 40,000 Venezuelans. And this, not because of President Maduro’s squandering of Venezuelan resources, but because of a brutal, merciless outside interference, principally from the United States and to a lesser degree from Washington’s European vassals. If you listen to the ceaseless drumbeat for war against Venezuela and her democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro, by Pompeo, Bolton, Pence and Trump, you can only wonder and shake your head.  What pathological and schizophrenic world are we living in? And are we all sick to the bone, that we tolerate it, that nobody of and in power – other than Russia and China – say ‘Halt’ to this deadly fiasco?

This article by Eric Zuesse, including leaked documents from Pentagon’s southern command, SOUTHCOM, will give the non-believers plenty of reasons to change their minds.

Western humanity has reached an abject state of mental disease. We allow the slaughter of tens of millions of people by the United States and its NATO allies in US-provoked wars and conflicts around the world, indiscriminate killing for resources and monetary dominion. But we follow the same killer nation in accusing a quiet, peace-loving, fully democratic country, like Venezuela, to be utterly trampled on and punished with the most horrific monetary and economic sanctions – all illegal, by any standards of law – and our western “leaders” know it all.

These western heads of state and their chosen minions do not have the guts or political courage to say ‘STOP’. They could, if they had any conscience left. These so-called leaders (sic) of vassal states, they have it all in their sovereign power. They could together decide that enough is enough, separate themselves from the Washington horrors and form a real European Union, a union to say no to the tyrant, a union that is capable of calling its own sovereign shots, decide its own destiny, a destiny of alliance with peaceful countries like Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, China, Iran and more, basically all those that have decided not to bend to the dictate of Washington.

Why don’t they? Have they been bought, or received death threats if they dare to deviate? All is possible, even likely, because it is unfathomable that the leaders, the political heads of all those 28 EU countries are hell-bent to believe the lies being propagated day-in and day-out, drip-by-miserable drip. It is not possible.

Back to Venezuela.

The western public at large must never be too long without devastating smear-news about a regime the empire wants to “change”. It is clear that the nefarious pair in Venezuela, Guaidó-López, followed strict Washington instructions. Guaidó would never dare do anything without prior approval and directives from his masters in Washington.

Despite threats after pompous threats and false accusations and failed coup attempts, President Maduro holds on to a solid backing of six million voters who supported him, more than two thirds of those who went to the ballots, on 20 May 2018. He also has the solid support of the military, who have a revolutionary integrity and conscience unknown to the west. And not least, he has the support of Venezuela’s solid allies, Russia and China.

Nevertheless, the United States will not let go. Why do they risk everything – even a devastating war?

Well, there are several reasons. First you may think, “It’s the Oil, stupid!”, and second, the turbo-capitalist, neoliberal turning-to-neofascist US will not tolerate a socialist state in what they still consider their ‘backyard’.  Well, all of this is true. Venezuela has indeed the world’s largest hydrocarbon reserves, and it is conveniently close to The US’s Texas refineries.

However, the key reason for Washington forcing ‘regime change’ is that Venezuela has stopped selling her hydrocarbon in US dollars, and, may therefore become a risk for the US-dollar hegemony around the globe. That is a punishable violation for the empire. At least two heads of state were assassinated because they dared abandoning the unwritten and unlawful, but nevertheless US-imposed rule to sell their oil and gas in US-dollars, Saddam Hussein of Iraq and Muammar Gaddafi. Both had started trading their oil in other than US-dollar currencies and were strong advocates for others to do likewise.

Some three years ago, Venezuela started selling her oil and gas in other currencies than the US-dollar, a cardinal sin.

Global dollar hegemony, meaning the full control of economies throughout the globe – a control that is rapidly fading – can only be maintained by a world flooded by dollars and with a monetary system that is entirely controlled by the FED and its associated American banks, by an international transfer system, SWIFT, that channels every dollar to be moved between countries, whether it is the US or any other country – through a US bank, in either New York or London. That still being the case, the US dollar remains the key reserve currency in the world, though rapidly fading. And second, through the obligatory trading of a commodities – like hydrocarbon energy – ONLY in US-dollars. The latter also allows the empire to print as many dollars as it needs to keep the world economy under control – and punish those that do not want to bend to Washington’s rule, with sanctions and confiscation of assets abroad, because — all transactions are controlled by the US banking system.

First, the dollar as a reserve currency, is fading rapidly, as ever fewer countries entrust their reserves to a largely recognized ‘fake’, fiat and debt-based currency, the US-dollar. They convert their dollar reserve holdings gradually into other assets; i.e. gold, or the Chinese Yuan which has become high in demand over the last few years. Logically, because China is already known as the undisputable strongest economy in the world, hence, the Chinese currency has a special reserve standing. However, the mainstream media do not report on this.

Second, with a growing number of countries that do no longer respect the Washington imposed US-dollar rule for hydrocarbon trading – the demand for dollars decreases rapidly – a direct confrontation to the United States’ dollar hegemony over the world. Russia and China have years ago stopped trading in US dollars, not only hydrocarbons, but everything. India and Iran have started doing the same. Other countries will follow – and Venezuela, one of the vanguards with the world’s largest oil reserves – should, therefore, not be allowed to become a model for other nations. The Trump Administration and its Wall Street masters will do what it takes to stop Venezuela from abandoning the dollar.

Hence, regime change and taking over the vast oil assets is of the order – with war, if necessary – “all options are on the table” – all under the blatantly fakest pretexts of “humanitarian intervention” and bringing back democracy – when the world knows that anywhere the US intervenes, democracy is abolished. In fact, what the US has managed – and wantonly so – is kill any democracy that ever existed.

Under these circumstances, Venezuela’s transgression in shedding the dollar for oil trading – and for trading in general – amounts to a serious threat to the dollar hegemony and must be suffocated. That’s what these coup attempts are all about. If they succeed, the dollar-currency collapse could be postponed for a bit, and taking possession of the oil reserves would be the icing on the cake.

What’s left after the dollar dominance over the world is gone, once the key tool, economic sanctions, for manipulating nations into doing the bidding of the emperor is no longer effective?  A broken US economy, one that already today depends heavily on the war and weapons industry – in fact, for over 50% of US GDP, when all associated manufacturing and services are counted. What’s left is the overwhelming firepower of that belligerent warmongering and war-dependent nation, with which the US and NATO could pull the rest of the world into oblivion.

That’s what’s at stake with any nation that wants to kick the petro-dollar. Also, Iran, of course. But both Iran and Venezuela have strong protection from Russia and China – two countries that freed themselves from the fangs of the dollar system years ago. And they are offering a bright future with viable Eastern monetary alternatives, mostly based on the Chinese Yuan and other currencies linked to SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) members.

Venezuela – Venceremos!

US Global Power: The Trump Period

US global power in the Trump period reflects the continuities and changes which are unfolding rapidly and deeply throughout the world and which are affecting the position of Washington.

Assessing the dynamics of US global power is a complex problem which requires examining multiple dimensions.

We will proceed by:

    (1) Conceptualizing the principles which dictate empire building, specifically the power bases and the dynamic changes in relations and structures which shape the present and future position of the US.

    (2) Identifying the spheres of influence and power and their growth and decline.

    (3) Examining the regions of conflict and contestation.

    (4) The major and secondary rivalries.

    (5) The stable and shifting relations between existing and rising power centers.

    (6) The internal dynamics shaping the relative strength of competing centers of global power.

    (7) The instability of the regimes and states seeking to retain and expand global power.

Conceptualization of Global Power

US global power is built on several significant facts. These include: the US victory in World War II, its subsequent advanced economy and dominant military position throughout five continents.

The US advanced its dominance through a series of alliances in Europe via NATO; Asia via its hegemonic relationship with Japan, South Korea, Philippines and Taiwan as well as Australia and New Zealand in Oceana; Latin America via traditional client regimes; Africa via neo-colonial rulers imposed following independence.

US global power was built around encircling the USSR and China, undermining their economies and defeating their allies militarily via regional wars.

Post WWII global economic and military superiority created subordinated allies and established US global power, but it created the bases for gradual shifts in relations of dominance.

US global power was formidable but subject to economic and military changes over time and in space.

US Spheres of Power: Then and Now

US global power exploited opportunities but also suffered military setbacks early on, particularly in Korea, Indo-China and Cuba. The US spheres of power were clearly in place in Western Europe and Latin America but was contested in Eastern Europe and Asia.

The most significant advance of US global power took place with the demise and disintegration of the USSR, the client states in Eastern Europe, as well as the transformation of China and Indo-China to capitalism during the 1980s.

US ideologues declared the coming of a unipolar empire free of restraints and challenges to its global and regional power. The US turned to conquering peripheral adversaries. Washington destroyed Yugoslavia and then Iraq – fragmenting them into mini-states. Wall Street promoted a multitude of multi-national corporations to invade China and Indo-China who reaped billions of profits exploiting cheap labor.

The believers of the enduring rule of US global power envisioned a century of US imperial rule.

In reality this was a short-sighted vision of a brief interlude.

The End of Unipolarity: New Rivalries and Global and Regional Centers of Power

An Overview

US global power led Washington into ‘overreach’, in several crucial areas: it launched a series of costly prolonged wars, specifically in Iraq and Afghanistan, which had three negative consequences: the destruction of the Iraq armed forces and economy led to the rise of the Islamic State which overtook most of the country; the occupation in Afghanistan which led to the emergence of the Taliban and an ongoing twenty year war which cost hundreds of billions of dollars and several thousand wounded and dead US soldiers; as a result the majority of the US public turned negative toward wars and empire building

The US pillage and dominance of Russia ended, when President Putin replaced Yeltsin’s vassal state. Russia rebuilt its industry, science, technology and military power. Russia’s population recovered its living standards.

With Russian independence and advanced military weaponry, the US lost its unipolar military power. Nevertheless, Washington financed a coup which virtually annexed two thirds of the Ukraine. The US incorporated the fragmented Yugoslavian ‘statelets’ into NATO. Russia countered by annexing the Crimea and secured a mini-state adjacent Georgia.

China converted the economic invasion of US multi-national corporations into learning experiences for building its national economy and export platforms which contributed which led to its becoming an economic competitor and rival to the US.

US global empire building suffered important setbacks in Latin America resulting from the the so-called Washington Consensus. The imposition of neo-liberal policies privatized and plundered their economies, impoverished the working and middle class, and provoked a series of popular uprising and the rise of radical social movements and center-left governments.

The US empire lost spheres of influence in some regions (China, Russia, Latin America, Middle East) though it retained influence among elites in contested regions and even launched new imperial wars in contested terrain. Most notably the US attacked independent regimes in Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Somalia and Sudan via armed proxies.

The change from a unipolar to a multi polar world and the gradual emergence of regional rivals led US global strategists to rethink their strategy. The Trump regime’s aggressive policies set the stage for political division within the regime and among allies.

The Obama-Trump Convergence and Differences on Empire Building

By the second decade of the 21st century several new global power alignments emerged: China had become the main economic competitor for world power and Russia was the major military challenger to US military supremacy at the regional level. The US replaced the former European colonial empire in Africa. Washington’s sphere of influence extended especially in North and Sub Sahara Africa: Kenya, Libya, Somalia and Ethiopia. Trump gained leverage in the Middle East namely in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and Jordan.

Israel retained its peculiar role, converting the US as its sphere of influence.

But the US faced regional rivals for sphere of influence in Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Algeria.

In South Asia US faced competition for spheres of influence from China, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In Latin America sharp and abrupt shifts in spheres of influence were the norm. US influence declined between 2000-2015 and recovered from 2015 to the present.

Imperial Power Alignments Under President Trump

President Trump faced complex global, regional and local political and economic challenges.

Trump followed and deepened many of the policies launched by the Obama- Hillary Clinton policies with regard to other countries and regions . However Trump also radicalized and/or reversed policies of his predecessors. He combined flattery and aggression at the same time.

At no time did Trump recognize the limits of US global power. Like the previous three presidents he persisted in the belief that the transitory period of a unipolar global empire could be re-imposed.

Toward Russia, a global competitor, Trump adopted a policy of ‘rollback’. Trump imposed economic sanctions, with the strategic ‘hope’ that by impoverishing Russia, degrading its financial and industrial sectors that he could force a regime change which would convert Moscow into a vassal state.

At the beginning of his Presidential campaign Trump flirted with the notion of a business accommodation with Putin. However, Trump’s ultra-belligerent appointments and domestic opposition soon turned him toward a highly militarized strategy, rejecting military – including nuclear – agreements, in favor of military escalation.

Toward China, Trump faced a dynamic and advancing technological competitor. Trump resorted to a ‘trade war’ that went far beyond ‘trade’ to encompass a war against Beijing’s economic structure and social relations. The Trump regime-imposed sanctions and threatened a total boycott of Chinese exports.

Trump and his economic team demanded China privatize and denationalize its entire state backed industry. They demanded the power to unilaterally decide when violations of US rules occurred and to be able to re-introduce sanctions without consultations. Trump demanded all Chinese technological agreements, economic sectors and innovations were subject and open to US business interests. In other words, Trump demanded the end of Chinese sovereignty and the reversal of the structural base for its global power. The US was not interested in mere ‘trade’ – it wanted a return to imperial rule over a colonized China.

The Trump regime rejected negotiations and recognition of a shared power relation: it viewed its global rivals as potential clients.

Inevitably the Trump regime’s strategy would never reach any enduring agreements on any substantial issues under negotiations. China has a successful strategy for global power built on a 6 trillion-dollar world-wide Belt and Road (B and R) development policy, which links 60 countries and several regions. B and R is building seaports, rail and air systems linking industries financed by development banks.

In contrast, the US banks exploits industry, speculates and operates within closed financial circuits. The US spends trillions on wars, coups, sanctions and other parasitical activities which have nothing to do with economic competitiveness.

The Trump regime’s ‘allies’ in the Middle East namely Saudi Arabia and Israel, are parasitic allies who buy protection and provoke costly wars.

Europe complains about China’s increase in industrial exports and overlook imports of consumer goods. Yet the EU plans to resist Trump’s sanctions which lead to a blind alley of stagnation!

Conclusion

The most recent period of the peak of US global power, the decade between 1989-99 contained the seeds of its decline and the current resort to trade wars, sanctions and nuclear threats.

The structure of US global power changed over the past seven decades. The US global empire building began with the US command over the rebuilding of Western European economies and the displacement of England, France, Portugal and Belgium from Asia and Africa.

The Empire spread and penetrated South America via US multi-national corporations. However, US empire building was not a linear process as witness its unsuccessful confrontation with national liberation movements in Korea, Indo-China, Southern Africa (Angola, Congo, etc.) and the Caribbean (Cuba). By the early 1960’s the US had displaced its European rivals and successfully incorporated them as subordinate allies.

Washington’s main rivals for spheres of influence was Communist China and the USSR with their allies among client state and overseas revolutionaries.

The US empire builders’ successes led to the transformation of their Communist and nationalist rivals into emergent capitalist competitors.

In a word US dominance led to the construction of capitalist rivals, especially China and Russia.

Subsequently, following US military defeats and prolonged wars, regional powers proliferated in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and Latin America. Regional blocs competed with US clients for power.

The diversification of power centers led to new and costly wars. Washington lost exclusive control of markets, resources and alliances. Competition reduced the spheres of US power.

In the face of these constraints on US global power the Trump regime envisioned a strategy to recover US dominance – ignoring the limited capacity and structure of US political , economic and class relations.

China absorbed US technology and went on to create new advances without following each previous stage.

Russia’s recovered from its losses and sanctions and secured alternative trade relations to counter the new challenges to the US global empire. Trump’s regime launched a ‘permanent trade war’ without stable allies. Moreover, he failed to undermine China’s global infrastructure network; Europe demanded and secured autonomy to enter into trade deals with China, Iran and Russia.

Trump has pressured many regional powers who have ignored his threats.

The US still remains a global power. But unlike the past, the US lacks the industrial base to ‘make America strong’. Industry is subordinated to finance; technological innovations are not linked to skilled labor to increase productivity.

Trump relies on sanctions and they have failed to undermine regional influentials. Sanctions may temporarily reduce access to US markets’ but we have observed that new trade partners take their place.

Trump has gained client regimes in Latin America, but the gains are precarious and subject to reversal.

Under the Trump regime, big business and bankers have increased prices in the stock market and even the rate of growth of the GDP, but he confronts severe domestic political instability, and high levels of turmoil among the branches of government. In pursuit of loyalty over competence, Trump’s appointments have led to the ascendancy of cabinet officials who seek to wield unilateral power which the US no longer possesses.

Elliot Abrams can massacre a quarter-million Central Americans with impunity, but he has failed to impose US power over Venezuela and Cuba. Pompeo can threaten North Kore, Iran and China but these countries fortify alliances with US rivals and competitors. Bolton can advance the interests of Israel but their conversations take place in a telephone booth – it lacks resonance with any major powers.

Trump has won a presidential election, he has secured concessions from some countries but he has alienated regional and diplomatic allies. Trump claims he is making America strong, but he has undermined lucrative strategic multi-lateral trade agreements.

US ‘Global Power’ does not prosper with bully-tactics. Projections of power alone, have failed – they require recognition of realistic economic limitations and the losses from regional wars.

Canada Gets Cozy with Repressive Middle East Monarchies

While Justin Trudeau’s government embraces repressive Middle East monarchies, they want us to believe their campaign to oust Venezuela’s government is motivated by support for democracy and human rights.

On a tour of the Middle East last week Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan met his United Arab Emirates counterpart Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Bowardi in Abu Dhabi. According to Emirates News Agency, Canadian and UAE officials discussed “cooperation in the military and defence sectors” at a time when the oil rich nation plays a key role in the horrendous violence in Yemen.

The Trudeau government is promoting arm sales to the UAE and other regional monarchies. With support from “15 trade commissioners and representatives from the Government of Ontario, National Defence, Global Affairs Canada, and the Canadian Commercial Corporation”, 50 Canadian arms companies flogged their wares at the Abu Dhabi-based International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in February. To help the arms companies move their wares, Commander of the Bahrain-based Combined Task Force 150, Commodore Darren Garnier, led a Canadian military delegation to IDEX.

During his recent tour Sajjan met King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein in Jordan. He discussed military cooperation with a monarch known for prosecuting individuals for “extending one’s tongue” (having a big mouth) against the King. At the end of March, Trudeau phoned King Abdullah II.

On April 9 the Canadian and Jordanian armed forces broke ground on a road project along the Jordanian-Syrian border. During a ceremony for the Canadian-funded initiative Commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command, Lieutenant General Michael Rouleau, said: “this important road rehabilitation project is a tangible example of the close relationship between Jordan and Canada. It will help keep the people of Jordan safe by allowing the Jordanian armed forces to deter, monitor and interdict incursions along the northern border with Syria, which will help to enhance security in Jordan and in the region.”

On his Middle East tour Sajjan also met Kuwait’s Prime Minister and Defence Minister Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah who is part of a family that has ruled for 250 years. According to the Kuwait News Agency, Canada’s defence minister “stressed deep relations between Kuwait and Canada and pointed out mutual willingness to bolster and consolidate bilateral ties.”

Earlier in the month finance minister Bill Morneau and Parliamentary Secretary Omar Alghabra participated in the inaugural Kuwait and Canada Investment Forum. At the time Alghabra wrote, “let’s celebrate and continue our efforts to grow the relationship between Canada and Kuwait in investments, trade and defence.”

Military ties with Kuwait are important because the Canadian forces have a small base there. In December the Canadian Navy took command of Combined Task Force 150 from their Saudi counterparts. Canada also has a small number of troops in the monarchies of Bahrain, the UAE and Qatar.

Last month Canada’s Ambassador to Qatar Stefanie McCollum boasted of growing relations between the countries, claiming “our values structures are very similar.” In an interview with Al Bawaba the Canadian diplomat also said Ottawa is seeking to deepen business ties with the natural gas rich monarchy and that the two countries are in the final stage of signing a defence cooperation agreement.

Notwithstanding the diplomatic spat last summer, the Trudeau government has mostly continued business as usual with the most powerful and repressive monarchy in the region. Recently foreign minister Chrystia Freeland looked the other way when Saudi student Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi fled Canada — presumably with help from the embassy — to avoid sexual assault charges in Cape Breton. While Freeland told reporters that Global Affairs was investigating the matter, Halifax Chronicle Herald journalist Aaron Beswick’s Access to Information request suggests they didn’t even bother contacting the Saudi embassy concerning the matter.

According to an access request by PhD researcher Anthony Fenton, Freeland phoned new Saudi foreign minister Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al-Assaf in January. In briefing notes for the (unannounced) discussion Freeland was encouraged to tell her counterpart (under the headline “points to register” regarding Yemen): “Appreciate the hard work and heavy lifting by the Saudis and encourage ongoing efforts in this regard.”

Despite their devastating war in Yemen and dismembering of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the consulate in Istanbul, Saudi Arabia continues to receive large shipments of Canadian weaponry. 2018 was a record year for Canadian rifle and armoured vehicle sales to the Saudis. $17.64 million in rifles were exported to the kingdom last year and another $1.896 million worth of guns were delivered in February. In the first month of this year Canada exported $367 million worth of “tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles” to the Saudis.

As Fenton has documented in detail on his highly informative Twitter handle, armoured vehicles made by Canadian company Streit Group in the UAE have been repeatedly videoed in Yemen. Equipment from three other Canadian armoured vehicle makers – Terradyne, IAG Guardian and General Dynamics – was found with Saudi-backed forces in Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition used Canadian-made rifles as well.

On Tuesday the Saudis beheaded 37 mostly minority Shiites. Ottawa waited 48 hours — after many other countries criticized the mass execution — to release a “muted” statement. The Trudeau government has stayed mum on the Saudi’s recent effort to derail pro-democracy demonstrations in Sudan and Algeria as well as Riyadh’s funding for Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar’s bid to seize Tripoli by force.

The close and friendly relationships between the Trudeau government and repressive Middle East monarchies demonstrates how little the Liberals care about democracy abroad and illustrates the hypocrisy of Canada’s claims that its efforts to oust Venezuela’s government is all about supporting democracy.

Tackling the “Impossible”: Ending Violence

Whenever, in ordinary circumstances, the subject of violence comes up, most people throw up their hands in horror and comment along the lines that it is ‘in our genes’, ‘nothing can be done about it’ or other words that reflect the powerlessness that most people feel around violence.

It is true that violence is virtually ubiquitous, has a near-infinite variety of manifestations and, at its most grotesque (as nuclear war or run-away climate catastrophe), even threatens human extinction in the near-term.

Nevertheless, anyone who pays attention to the subject of violence in any detail soon discovers that plenty of people are interested in tackling this problem, even if it is ‘impossible’. Moreover, of course, at least some people recognize that while we must tackle each manifestation of violence, understanding the cause of violence is imperative if we are to successfully tackle its many manifestations at their source. To do all of this effectively, however, is a team effort. And hopefully, one day, this team will include all of us.

In the meantime, let me start by telling you a little about some of the people who are already working to end violence by tackling one or more of its many manifestations. These individuals are part of a worldwide network set up to focus on ending violence – ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ – and they have signed a pledge to do so.

Concerned about US government threats to Iran and Venezuela, several Charter signatories were part of one or both recent peace delegations to Iran and Venezuela respectively. These delegations were designed to open more lines of communication and to demonstrate solidarity with those who do not submit to US hegemony.

The 28-member US peace delegation to Iran from 25 February to 6 March 2019 included long-term nonviolent activists Margaret Flowers, Kevin Zeese and David Hartsough. Unfortunately for David, author of Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist and director of Peaceworkers, his trip didn’t go as planned. If you would like to read a compelling account of his time in Iran with some wonderful Iranians, while learning something about what it means to be on the wrong end of US sanctions, you will find it in ‘An American Casualty of U.S. Economic Sanctions on Iran’. Glad you got the lifesaving medical treatment from our Iranian friends that you needed, David, despite the sanctions! And it is a tragedy that Iran has recently suffered even more, as a result of the devastating floods that have hit the country, with the sanctions cruelly denying them vital emergency assistance.

In relation to Venezuela, a 13-member peace and solidarity delegation from North America landed in Caracas, Venezuela on the weekend of 9-10 March 2019. The delegation included leaders of antiwar groups from the US and Canada and, once again, Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers of ‘Popular Resistance’ and ‘Clearing the Fog’ podcasts. You can read an account of this delegation’s findings in Kevin and Margaret’s highly informative report.

Another initiative to support Venezuelans was outlined in the article ‘A Nonviolent Strategy to Defeat a US Military Invasion of Venezuela’.

Traveling widely to witness and demonstrate solidarity with those on the receiving end of US military violence, another long-term nonviolent activist, Kathy Kelly, recently wrote an article pointing out that ‘Every War Is a War against Children’ in which she evocatively documented examples of what this means for those children living in the war zones we call Yemen and Afghanistan. In an earlier article, Kathy questioned the morality of those corporations – such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics and Raytheon – that profit from the killing their weapons inflict.

Environmental journalist Robert Hunziker continues to fearlessly research and truthfully document the ongoing assaults that humans are inflicting on Earth’s biosphere. In his most recent article ‘The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems‘, Robert straightforwardly explains the content of a recent interview of Dr. Peter Wadhams, the world’s leading Arctic scientist. Robert notes that ‘Currently, the Arctic is heating up about 4 times faster than the rest of the planet… the temp difference between the Arctic and the tropics is dropping precipitously… thus, driving the jet streams less… creating meandering jet streams… in turn, producing extreme weather events throughout the Northern Hemisphere, especially in mid-latitudes where most of the world’s food is grown.’ Robert also notes that the study of ancient ice cores by a team from the British Antarctic Survey, University of Cambridge and University of Birmingham found ‘major reductions in sea ice in the Arctic’ which will crank up (via temperature amplification as a result of no Arctic sea ice) Greenland regional temperatures ‘by 16°C in less than a decade’ with horrific implications for life on Earth. Thank you, Robert, for reporting what the corporate media won’t touch and even many activists find too terrifying to seriously contemplate.

In Chile, Pía Figueroa continues her heavy involvement in efforts to network those committed to peace and nonviolence and to develop media channels that report the truth. Pía reports that ‘Pressenza International Press Agency’, which celebrated its tenth anniversary last November ‘in more than 40 places of the world’, continues to advance its contribution ‘with a journalism focused on peace and nonviolence, to a world in which all human beings have a place and their rights are fully respected, in a framework of disarmed and demilitarized societies, capable of re-establishing the ecological balance through governments of real and participatory democracy.’

Since attending the Media Forum organized in the city of Chongqing, China, by CCTV+ and CGTN, in October last year, Pía has been busy organizing the upcoming Latin American Humanist Forum in Santiago with the objective of ‘Building Convergences’, as its slogan points out. It will be held on 10-12 May with the participation of many grassroots and social organizations involved in more than twenty networks of nonviolent action and inspired by the European Humanist Forum that took place in Madrid, Spain, in May 2018.

Anwar A. Khan was born into ‘a liberal Muslim family in Bangladesh’. As a 16 year old college student, he participated in the ‘Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, which resulted in horrendous loss of life, genocide against Bangladesh’s intelligentsia and systematic rapes.’ This experience taught him the nature of the US establishment as he was ‘on the battle field along with so many friends of mine and Indian soldiers to fight back the obnoxious nexus of the Pakistani military regime and the Whitehouse establishment’ to create Bangladesh. Khan Bhai went on to complete a post-graduate education, before embarking on a 43-year (so far) business career, involving many different levels of corporate engagement and which took him to many countries of the world, including Venezuela in 2010 where he met both Hugo Chavez and Nicolás Maduro.

He also writes regularly in his spare time and recently wrote an article highlighting the adverse impact of the lack of infrastructure under which many impoverished countries suffer, given the way in which the global economy functions to exploit them. In the article, he describes an inferno that started on the night of 20 February 2019 in a building at Chawkbazar, a 300-year-old Dhaka neighbourhood, ‘where chemicals for making deodorants and other household uses were illegally stored’. The fire ‘quickly spread to four nearby buildings where many people were trapped. Hundreds of firefighters rushed to the scene but traffic jams in the narrow streets held them up. It took almost 12 hours to bring the fire under control….’ The horrific inferno claimed about 100 lives and more were injured.

Commenting on the current project that she is organizing with friends, Lori Lightning outlines the rationale behind ‘Bear Bones Parenting’:

There’s no course or exam to pass to become a parent, and most try to figure this out once a parent, and usually in an exhausted overwhelmed state. Bedtimes, meals, chores, and healthy open communication all become a task without a trusted framework in place.

Based on 51 years of combined wisdom as educators, counselors, health practitioners, moms, step moms and foster moms, Bear Bones Parenting offers an intuitive formula to demystify the basics of parenting and a workbook with tools for reflection and wellness practices to take you actively through day to day living no matter where you are at in your life. You dedicate 15 minutes a day and in trade stop being overwhelmed. A “do it yourself” workbook filled with tools to turn life into what you envision for yourself and your family.

Our cast of puppets help to inspire playful reflection on our children’s temperaments and our own. Eventual creation of short videos will be easily accessible for busy parents and provide some examples of how things typically play out with temperaments and inspiration of the Bear way, which is curious, intuitive, firm and loving.

We hope that BBP can help reduce parental stress and frustration so there is time to connect in joy and curiosity with our children and foster their independence.

For more information, you can contact Lori at this email address: moc.liamgnull@gnitneraPsenoBraeB

Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh is volunteer Director of The Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability (PIBS) and the Palestine Museum of Natural History (PMNH) but he is also actively engaged in the Palestinian struggle for liberation from Israeli occupation. As he evocatively noted in a recent Easter reflection:

This is the tenth Easter I celebrate after returning to Palestine in 2008. When we native Christian Palestinians have a few moments to meditate and reflect in this season, we reflect that some 2.5 billion human beings believe in a message that originated with a Palestinian baby born in a manger here and was crucified for being the first revolutionary Palestinian to push for caring for the sick and the poor.

We reflect on the real message of Jesus, a message of love and coexistence. The harsh reality on the ground reminds us of our responsibility to shape a better future.

We are hopeful because we take a long view of history. Some 150,000 years ago, humans migrated from Africa using Palestine as the passage way to Western Asia and then the rest of the world. 12,000 years ago, this area became the center of development for agriculture (the Fertile Crescent). This was where we humans first domesticated animals like goats and donkeys and plants like wheat, barley, chickpeas, and lentils. This transformation allowed our ancestors time to evolve what we now call “civilization”. Hence, the first writings, the first music, and art, and the first thoughts of deities. From our Aramaic alphabet came the Latin, Arabic, Syriac, and Hebrew alphabets. Aramaic was the language of Jesus and much of our current Palestinian Arabic is still Aramaic words.

Mazin continues to travel regularly, lecturing about initiatives of the museum but also about the political reality in Palestine. If you would like to volunteer to assist the museum’s projects, or to donate money, books, natural history items or anything else that would be useful, you are welcome to contact Mazin and his colleagues at gro.erutanenitselapnull@ofni

Finally, we are deeply saddened to report the passing of Tom Shea, a long-time stalwart in the struggle for a better world and one of the original team of individuals who launched ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ on 11 November 2011. We include below the testament of his great friend and fellow nonviolent activist, Leonard Eiger:

For Tom Shea, Peace WAS the Way

My dear friend and fellow Ground Zero member Tom Shea passed away peacefully in the early morning hours of April 3rd surrounded by his family.

Earlier in his life Tom had been a Jesuit, a high school teacher, and had started an alternative high school and Jesuit Volunteer Corp: Midwest. He had also been involved in social justice issues on the national level with the Jesuits. Ground Zero member Bernie Meyer remembers Tom with great fondness, from being a student at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland where Tom was teaching, to resisting together at Ground Zero many years later.

Tom was 47 when he left Cleveland for Traverse City, Michigan in 1977. There he met his partner Darylene, and they were inseparable from then on. Together, they participated in the Nuclear Freeze movement, and were part of the Michigan Peace Team. They traveled to New York for the second Conference on Disarmament in 1982. They protested both the first Gulf War and the war in Iraq. They also engaged in war tax resistance.

At Darylene’s suggestion, they attended a course in conflict mediation in the early ‘80s at a time when there was little written on the subject. That experience led them to a course taught by Quakers at Swarthmore College in 1986. In 1990 Tom and Darylene founded the five-county Conflict Resolution Service in Northern Michigan and trained the first group of volunteer mediators. Their mission was to promote peace and civility in the community through the use of mediator guided dialogue. In the early days of the program, volunteers met in church basements and around kitchen tables to train, role play and share experiences. They would travel to the homes of people needing mediation, focusing on resolving family and neighborhood conflicts.

Tom and Darylene moved to Snoqualmie, Washington in 2007 to spend more time with Darylene’s children. Tom got involved in community issues and continued his war tax resistance work. You could find him every April 15th, in front of the local post office, offering tax resistance information.

I was still leading a social justice ministry at the Snoqualmie United Methodist Church when one day Tom called the church office and asked who was doing social justice work in the area. We connected immediately due to common work and friends. Soon, Tom and I were making the pilgrimage together across the water to Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, and the rest (as they say) is history.

I have spent countless hours with Tom and Darylene, discussing world affairs and working together on strategies and tactics for our work with Ground Zero. Tom and Darylene have been inseparable as both life partners and co-conspirators for peace. Tom once said that Darylene is like a Jesuit herself: “Jesuits are taken as very scholarly people and she’s very scholarly.”

In addition to working on media and communications for Ground Zero, and planning vigils and nonviolent direct actions at the Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base, Tom put himself on the line many times, often entering the roadway blocking traffic, both on the County and Federal sides, symbolically closing the base and risking arrest. Tom also created street theatre scripts that have been used during vigils at the submarine base to entertain and educate people.

Robert Burrowes, who cofounded ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’, said that “Tom was one of the true legends in my life. A long-standing symbol of, and nonviolent fighter for, everything that could be in our world.” When all is said and done, Tom’s life can be summed up by A.J Muste: “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.”

We will be scattering some of Tom’s ashes (per his wishes) at Ground Zero Center during our August Hiroshima-Nagasaki weekend of remembrance and action.

I invite you to honor Tom’s memory by supporting the work of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. There are many ways we can engage in war tax resistance in the context of a broad range of nonviolent strategies for social change.

While diminished by the passing of Tom, the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action continues ‘to explore the meaning and practice of nonviolence from a perspective of deep spiritual reflection, providing a means for witnessing to and resisting all nuclear weapons, especially Trident. We seek to go to the root of violence and injustice in our world and experience the transforming power of love through nonviolent direct action.’ You can read about their ongoing efforts on their website, Ground Zero, which also features a ‘Current Action Alert: Stop the “Low-Yield” Trident Warhead!

Each of the individuals mentioned above is part of the ongoing and steadily expanding effort to end the violence in our world. They refuse to accept that violence cannot be ended, and each has chosen to focus on working to end one or more manifestations of violence, according to their particular interests. If you would like to join these people, you are welcome to sign the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.

If your own interest is campaigning on a peace, climate, environment or social justice issue, consider doing it strategically.

If your focus is a defense or liberation struggle being undertaken by a national group, consider enhancing its strategic impact.

If your preference is addressing the climate and environmental catastrophes systematically, consider participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth‘.

If you would like to tackle violence at its source, consider revising your parenting in accordance with ‘My Promise to Children‘. If you want the evidence to understand why this is so crucial, see ‘Why Violence?‘ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice‘.

If you are aware enough to know that you are not dealing effectively with our deepening crisis, consider doing the personal healing necessary to do so.

It may be that ending human violence is impossible, as many believe. But there are a great number of people around the world who do not accept this and who are struggling, relentlessly, to end violence before it ends us. What about you?