Category Archives: Russia

Russian Pride and US Exceptionalism

The Tsar was not the only tyrant in the world; Capitalism was worse.

— John Reed, Ten Days that Shook the World

 

Wheat

I just came home to California from a 50-person citizen diplomacy delegation to Russia to ponder my neighbor’s bumper sticker that says “Just pretend it’s all OK.” That’s the American state of mind, but it doesn’t extend to Russians, who are painfully aware of war and its death and destruction. The still pervasive images of wheat in the cities and towns reflect the necessity of feeding the people. The US unapologetically operates on the principle that war is good for business. Russians know war too deeply to accept that premise.

Russians call WWII the Great Patriotic War because of all the allies, they lost the most people (27 million) by a wide margin and fought the longest to defeat the Nazis. The siege of Leningrad lasted an almost incomprehensible 900 days. There is a visceral understanding of war in Russia, while in the US war is so sanitized that the corporate media is forbidden to show coffins draped in American flags.

Subway in Moscow

Though some Soviet accomplishments have been erased, many remain.  Subways, designed by the Soviets to be underground “Palaces of the People,” are filled with exquisite art. People told us that in the Soviet era, the collective and state farms, a major feature of the USSR’s socialist economy, worked well, ending a thousand years of frequent famines in the Russian empire. In a short time, Russia became one of the most educated, and well-read countries in the world. And Russians are well aware that Stalin led the USSR in the defeat of the Nazis.

In Moscow, a number of scholars and specialists in economics, history, media and political science spoke to us and answered questions. One, a young political scientist, asked the group a critical question: Why didn’t the US befriend the Russians when the Cold War ended? Nobody responded, so I asked 83-year old Sharon Tennison, the founding and continuing torch of the 32-year old Center for Citizen Initiatives, why. She said: It’s because the US went back on its word and took advantage of Russia’s goodwill, and underneath had the Wolfowitz Doctrine in mind. [Leaked to the NYT in 1992, the Wolfowitz Doctrine was a policy of unilateralism and pre-emptive military action to suppress potential threats from other nations and prevent any other nation from rising to superpower status.] This was their chance to get Russia’s resources, and not live up to their word. It went from bad to worse after that! The Russians know this better than Americans.

Dr. Vladimir Kozin, a distinguished expert in military and strategic sciences, delivered a terrifying report of the state of nuclear disarmament.  He spoke chillingly of the death of arms control, while we are in “Cold War 2.0.” Of the 13 arms control treaties, the US has withdrawn from, violated, or refused to debate all of them. Differences between offensive and defensive weapons are being watered down. Russia has destroyed all of its chemical weapons; the US has not. Kozin is surprised that Americans are not afraid of nuclear war. Fifty two percent of Russians are afraid of nuclear war, and 74% of those think the US will attack them. He said instead of promoting MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction), we need to promote MAS (Mutually Assured Security), but that stability and security talks haven’t even begun.

Vladamir Pozner, Russia’s top TV journalist, spoke of the Russian people’s disillusionment with the promise of nuclear disarmament. They wonder if it was just a pipe dream when Kruschev spoke of total global disarmament and when Gorbachev proposed a Zero Use policy for nuclear weapons.

There was much talk about the effect of the sanctions the Obama administration imposed on Russia; first for its reunification with Crimea, then for the charge – since disproven – that Russia colluded with Trump.  The sanctions are hurting Russia, but they have also stimulated a better business climate. They are focused on national security priorities, including improving agricultural production. Everybody expects more sanctions to come soon, which many people believe benefits China. Some from the Gorbachev era apparently think it’s better for Russia to align with the US and NATO than China, but the success of the Belt and Road Initiative shows that cooperation among Asian countries is increasing. The unipolar world of US exceptionalism — a rogue state, where the rules don’t apply — is being challenged.

Financial analyst Chris Weafer said the Russian state controls 60% of the GDP and 75% of the banking system. Several of the state-owned banks forbid speculative lending.  Because so much of the banking system is in the public sector, the government has capital to work with, much of it going to domestic needs. He reported that Russia has an excellent balance sheet, with the world’s sixth lowest debt and the fifth highest in reserves.

Weafer described Putin’s proposed National Projects, which is a five-year plan using 22% of the GDP, with 30% funding for economic infrastructure and 30% funding for social improvements, such as subsidies for housing and childcare. The government is also allocating significant funds for health care generally, as well as cancer research specifically.  A major Project goal is energy development — for the country to be less reliant on fossil fuels, so less vulnerable to volatile oil prices. Weafer believes the National Projects are “concrete, beneficial and likely to succeed,” though it’s expected to take a bit longer than five years to achieve.

He said that Putin, upon coming to power, told the oligarchs (the ultra-rich who use their money for political power) that if they pay their taxes and stay out of politics, he wouldn’t prosecute them. Apparently he was true to his word and prosecuted only those who violated that policy. He told the oligarchs that they got rich off the state, so it’s not all their assets, and some of it must go to the state as taxes to use for the people. After the recent fires in Russia, Putin declared that no business could increase their prices, so nobody benefits off the tragedy. There are still civil servants from the Soviet period who influence such policies.

Dmitri Babich is known to those who watch “Crosstalk” on Russia Today.  He is a 25-year journalist with stints at the Moscow News and Sputnik International, and is a frequent guest on BBC, Al Jazeera and CNN.

“Currently there is only a small group of Western critical journalists,” Babich said. “If journalists are against the mainstream position, they are called Putin-sympathizers.”  He called the annexation of Crimea an “act of ultimate justice,” as they all speak Russian, and asserted that the “modern media can operate without facts, just the power of illusion.”

As to the power of illusion, Andrei Nekrasov, a dissident filmmaker, spoke of Hillary Clinton comparing Russia to the Third Reich and Putin to Hitler.  Such vilification impedes progress towards a peaceful resolution of disputes, to say the least, which the Russians are quite aware of.

After over 300 years of being part of Russia, in 1954 Khrushchev “gave” Crimea to Ukraine.  For 23 years (from the breakup of the Soviet Union to the vote for reunification, 1991-2014), Ukraine provided no support or help, economically and culturally. The Commission for the 2014 referendum to reunify with Russia declared that final results showed 96.8% of voters were in favor of joining Russia, and that they had not registered a single complaint about the vote. However, President Obama imposed sanctions against Russia for accepting Crimea into the Russian Federation, including visa bans and asset freezes.  Putin told Obama the vote was “fully consistent with the norms of international law and the UN charter” under the principle of self-determination.  Agreeing with Putin, in 2015, Consortium News founder Robert Parry asserted:

The West’s insistence that Russia must return Crimea to Ukraine would mean violating the age-old U.S. principle of a people’s right of self-determination. It would force the largely ethnic Russian population of Crimea to submit to a Ukrainian government that many Crimeans view as illegitimate, the result of a violent U.S.-backed coup on February 22, 2014, that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych.

Our delegates who went to Crimea said it has benefitted from the reunification, though it’s been hardest hit by the sanctions. Russia has invested significant money there — in roads, airports, a new train link. But Crimeans feel like there is a wall around them, and they want to be part of the world community.

Several speakers described the better conditions under the Soviets.  These included a more stable currency, controlled prices, no unemployment, less crime, police as a moral authority and better health care for all, including the elderly.  Putin’s government knows that the popular demands of pension, housing, health care, transportation, job security and infrastructure are only ignored at its peril, since Russians know what is possible. In the US, we’ve been held down for such a long time, we are like the fabled frog that was so slowly boiled, it didn’t perceive the danger, and was cooked to death.

After getting an overview in Moscow, the delegation broke into groups to visit 20 smaller towns in six time zones. Three of us visited the small (pop. 60,000) town of Kungur on the west side of the Ural Mountains. Their coat of arms is a cornucopia facing down, spilling out the food, to express fertility, generosity and abundance, rather than an upright cornucopia, which would represent a selfish lack of sharing.

Coat of Arms of Kungar, Russia

We visited schools in Kungur and in an outlying settlement. Many said that schools are not as strong as they were under the Soviets. However, as a retired San Francisco social worker, I was struck by how the students were neatly dressed, respectful, curious, attentive and calmer than the pervasive ADHD cacophony of students in the US.  They seemed pleased to be students and took it seriously, with much respect given to their teachers.

A settlement is a village for the indigenous of the area, with somewhat more autonomy. Russia is a country of 180 nationalities and 40 indigenous, or nomadic, peoples. The Tatar are the predominant people of the settlement we visited. The school doesn’t experience truancy, gun violence, gangs, bullying, or an opioid crisis.  After school, many of the students walk a few blocks to the library or dance school. The settlement is proud of its most famous library of the district, with 1500 registered children readers. They spoke of the many holidays that the Russian Orthodox, Muslim and Jew share together. People in the settlement talked freely about the Soviet period. The Soviets converted a Tsar-era school for wealthy boys into an administration building, and built 88 new coed schools in the district.  The former priest’s house is now the post office. The center of the settlement holds a memorial dedicated to the mothers of those lost in the Patriotic War.

Perm, the biggest city of the district, houses the university that trains teachers, called the “noble profession.”  (Although called the “noble profession,” none of the teachers we spoke to could afford to own a car.) We spoke to the senior class of English teachers-in-training, who were very aware of the non-stop anti-Russia coverage in US-corporate media. One said he fears that dystopian books are coming to life. After I spoke about the need for the US to cut its military budget in order to address its domestic needs (as per MLK), the professor said the best proof of that assertion is that after WWII, Japan wasn’t allowed to have a military, so their education and technology soared. The U.S. government will spend 2.7 billion dollars per day next year to prop up the military and the more than 800 bases it maintains in over 70 countries.

Ann Wright, the most prominent member of the delegation, served 29 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves, was a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and resigned from the U.S. government in March 2003 in opposition to President George W. Bush’s war on Iraq. She visited Siberia and titled her article about the visit with the words of the leader of an organization for mothers of military veterans in Yakutsk, Siberia: “Our planet is so small that we must live in peace.” Although the Russian economy has dramatically improved under Putin, Wright frequently heard that “pensioners and those in rural areas with limited income have found life more difficult. Many wish for the days of the Soviet Union where they feel they were more secure economically with state assistance.”

Our trip ended in St. Petersburg, where delegation members described similar conversations in the smaller towns we visited.  One member, who visited Russia twice before, 21 and 18 years ago, writes: “Overall, prosperity has improved, dramatically. The apparent quality of life and material standard of living are evident everywhere. Even in some of the rural areas I’ve visited. Of course, cities in Crimea have slipped a bit due to the sanctions, but I’ve seen the results even there because federal spending is so evident on the roads, bridges, a mosque, hospitals, dwellings for residences, public works, and other projects not yet allocated.”

Another member of the delegation compiled this summary of his conversations about the Soviet period:

  • A poor couple living in the countryside felt things were much better back then. “We had more money for food, for the things we need.” 
  • A scientist: “Everyone had a job under Communism, my son has been looking for work for two years now and has not found one.” 
  • A teacher: “My grandfather was arrested in the 30s and died in prison. But healthcare was free, education was free, housing was free.” 
  • Another teacher: “The Soviet education system was maybe the best in the world, now it is collapsing. There is no money.” 
  • A wealthy company owner: “Are things better today? You must ask for whom? For me, yes, things are much better, but for most people, no, I don’t think so. No one talks about the lack of freedom or the lack of democracy under Communism. And most think that in the old days things were better economically for most people.” 
  • One noted “We wanted socialism with a human face, but we got [long pause] very harsh capitalism.”

St. Petersburg is the cultural capital of the country, where I attended an opera in an ornate theater for $12.  The pedestrian bridge over the river Neva shines with repeating metal images of wheat and a 5-pointed star, everlasting symbols of the revolution. I was blessed to experience the women’s bath house on Dostoevsky Street. Since ancient times, the banya has been considered an important bonding place in Russian culture, used by all social classes within Russian society.  A woman there, with very limited English, asked my name. When I said “Riva,” she asked if it’s a “Yiddish name.” I said yes, that my grandmother was from Minsk. She excitedly told the other women in the room where my “bubbie” was from.  I felt warmed by the soul, and pride, of the Russian people.

Pride does not mean the exceptionalism of US foreign policy — our way or the highway, sometimes in the guise of a “humanitarian intervention.” The people of Russia, with such an ancient culture, have much to be proud of, but they are not trying to impose their will on anybody else. They just want to live in peace. As the woman in Siberia said, “Our planet is so small that we must live in peace.”

A short film about the delegation was produced; Russia is not our Enemy. 

US and China “Trade” War?

It is very popular these days to talk and write about the “trade war” between the United States and China. But is there really one raging? Or is what we are witnessing simply a clash of political and ideological systems: one being extremely successful and optimistic, the other depressing, full of dark cynicism and nihilism?

In the past, the West used to produce almost everything. While colonizing the entire planet (one should just look at the map of the globe between the two world wars), Europe and later the United States, Canada and Australia kept plundering all the continents of natural resources, holding hundreds of millions of human beings in what could be easily described as ‘forced labor’, often bordering on slavery.

Under such conditions, it was very easy to be ‘number one’, to reign without competition, and to toss around huge amounts of cash for the sole purpose of indoctrinating local and overseas ‘subjects’ on topics such as the ‘glory’ of capitalism, colonialism (open and hidden), and Western-style ‘democracy’.

It is essential to point out that in the recent past, the global Western dictatorship (and that included the ‘economic system) used to have absolutely no competition. Systems that were created to challenge it were smashed with the most brutal, sadistic methods. One only needs to recall invasions from the West to the young Soviet Union with the consequent genocide and famines. Or other genocides in Indochina, which was fighting its wars for independence, first against France, later against the United States.

*****

Times changed. But Western tactics haven’t.

There are now many new systems in numerous corners of the world. These systems, some Communist, others socialist or even populist, are ready to defend their citizens and to use natural resources to feed the people, and to educate, house and cure them.

No matter how popular these systems are at home, the West finds ways to demonize them, using its well-established propaganda machinery. First, to smear them and then, if they resist, to directly liquidate them.

As before, during the colonial era, no competition has been permitted. Disobedience is punishable by death.

Naturally, the Western system has not been built on excellence, hard work and creativity, only. It was constructed on fear, oppression and brutal force. For centuries, it has clearly been a monopoly.

*****

Only the toughest countries, like Russia, China, Iran, North Korea or Cuba, have managed to survive, defending their own cultures and advancing their philosophies.

To the West, China has proven to be an extremely tough adversary.

With its political, economic, and social systems, it has managed to construct a forward-looking, optimistic and extraordinarily productive society. Its scientific research is now second to none. Its culture is thriving. Together with its closest ally, Russia, China excels in many essential fields.

That is precisely what irks, even horrifies, the West.

For decades and centuries, Europe and the United States have not been ready to tolerate any major country which would set up its own set of rules and goals.

China refuses to accept the diktat from abroad. It now appears to be self-sufficient, ideologically, politically, economically and intellectually. Where it is not fully self-sufficient, it can rely on its friends and allies. Those allies are increasingly located outside the Western sphere.

*****

Is China really competing with the West? Yes and no. And often not consciously.

It is a giant; still the most populous nation on earth. It is building, determinedly, its socialist motherland (applying “socialism with the Chinese characteristics” model). It is trying to construct a global system which has roots in the thousands of years of its history (BRI – Belt and Road Initiative, often nicknamed the “New Silk Road”).

Its highly talented and hardworking, as well as increasingly educated population, is producing at a higher pace and often at higher quality than the countries in Europe or the United States. As it produces, it also naturally trades.

This is where the ‘problem’ arises. The West, particularly the United States, is not used to a country that creates things for the sake and benefit of its people. For centuries, Asian, African and Latin American people were ordered what and how to produce, where and for how much to sell the produce. Or else!

Of course, the West has never consulted anyone. It has been producing what it (and its corporations) desired. It was forcing countries all over the world to buy its products. If they refused, they got invaded, or their fragile governments (often semi-colonies, anyway) overthrown.

The most ‘terrible’ thing that China is doing is: it is producing what is good for China, and for its citizens.

That is, in the eyes of the West, unforgiveable!

*****

In the process, China ‘competes’ but fairly.  It produces a lot, cheaply, and increasingly well. The same can be said about Russia.

These two countries are not competing maliciously. If they were to decide to, they could sink the US economy, or perhaps the economy of the entire West, within a week.

But they don’t even think about it.

However, as said above, to just work hard, invent new and better products, advance scientific research, and use the gains to improve the lives of ordinary people (there will be no extreme poverty in China by the end of 2020) is seen as the arch-crime in London and Washington.

Why? Because the Chinese and Russian systems appear to be much better, or at least simply better, than those which are reigning in the West and its colonies. And because they are working for the people not for corporations or for the colonial powers.

And the demagogues in the West – in its mass media outlets and academia – are horrified that perhaps soon the world will wake up and see the reality which is actually already happening slowly but surely.

*****

To portray China as an evil country is essential for the hegemony of the West. There is nothing so terrifying to London and Washington as the combination of these words: “Socialism/ Communism, Asian, success”. The West invents new and newer ‘opposition movements’, it then supports them and finances them, just in order to then point fingers and bark: “China is fighting back, and it is violating human rights”, when it defends itself and its citizens. This tactic is clear right now in both the northwest of the country and in Hong Kong.

Not everything that China builds is excellent. Europe is still producing better cars, shoes and fragrances, and the United States, better airplanes. But the progress that China has registered during the last two decades is remarkable. Were it to be football, it is China 2: West 1.

Most likely, unless there is real war, in ten years China will catch up in many fields; catch up, and surpass the West. Side by side with Russia.

It could have been excellent news for the entire world. China is sharing its achievements, even with the poorest of the poor countries in Africa or with Laos in Asia.

The only problem is the West feels that it has to rule. It is unrepentant, observing the world from a clearly fundamentalist view. It cannot help it: it is absolutely, religiously convinced that it has to give orders to every man and woman, in every corner of the globe.

It is a tick, fanatical. Lately, anyone who travels to Europe or the United States will testify: what is taking place there is not good, even for the ordinary citizens. Western governments and corporations are now robbing even their own citizens. The standard of living is nose-diving.

China, with just a fraction of the wealth, is building a much more egalitarian society, although you would never guess so if you exclusively relied on Western statistics.

*****

So, “trade war” slogans are an attempt to convince the local and global public that “China is unfair”, that it is “taking advantage” of the West. President Trump is “defending” the United States against the Chinese ‘Commies’. But the more he “defends them”, the poorer they get. Strange, isn’t it?

While the Chinese people, Russian people, even Laotian people, are, ‘miraculously’, getting richer and richer. They are getting more and more optimistic.

For decades, the West used to preach ‘free trade’, and competition. That is, when it was in charge, or let’s say, ‘the only kid on the block’.

In the name of competition and free trade, dozens of governments got overthrown, and millions of people killed.

And now?

What is China supposed to do? Frankly, what?

Should it curb its production or perhaps close scientific labs? Should it consult the US President or perhaps British Prime Minister before it makes any essential economic decision? Should it control the exchange rate of RMB in accordance with the wishes of the economic tsars in Washington? That would be thoroughly ridiculous considering that (socialist/Communist) China will soon become the biggest economy in the world, or maybe it already is.

There is all that abstract talk, but nothing concrete suggested. Or is it like that on purpose?

Could it be that the West does not want to improve relations with Beijing?

On September 7, 2019, AP reported:

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow compared trade talks with China on Friday to the U.S. standoff with Russia during the Cold War…

“The stakes are so high, we have to get it right, and if that takes a decade, so be it,” he said.  Kudlow emphasized that it took the United States decades to get the results it wanted with Russia. He noted that he worked in the Reagan administration: “I remember President Reagan waging a similar fight against the Soviet Union.”

Precisely! The war against the Soviet Union was hardly a war for economic survival of the United States. It was an ideological battle which the United States unfortunately won, because it utilized both propaganda and economic terror (the arms race and other means).

Now, China is next on the list, and the White House is not even trying to hide it.

But China is savvy. It is beginning to understand the game. And it is ready, by all means, to defend the system which has pulled almost all its citizens out of misery, and which could, one day soon, do the same for the rest of the world.

*  First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook – a journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences

It’s Curtains for US in Syria: Russia, Iran Owe Big Thanks to Erdogan

The scenario agreed on behind the curtains through months of confidential exchanges, often one-on-one, between the Russian and Turkish leaders regarding north-eastern Syria is entering a critical phase of implementation on the ground with the agreement between the Kurds and the Assad regime.

We have a complex scenario where on the one hand the Turkish army and the Syrian opposition units loyal to Ankara are relentlessly continuing their southward offensive expanding control over Syria’s border regions populated by the Kurds. According to Turkish President Recep Erdogan, 1000 sq.kms. of territory previously under Kurdish control have been “liberated.”

On the other hand, following up on the agreement with the Kurds, the first columns of Syrian government forces have moved into the north of the country toward the Turkish border.

Prima facie, Damascus is challenging the Turkish offensive — as it should — and, in principle, a confrontation can ensue. But things are never really quite what they appear on the surface in Syria.

A clash between the Turkish and Syrian forces is simply out of the question. That is not how the game is being played. A Turkish Defence Ministry statement on Monday disclosed that the military chief Gen. Yasar Guler and his Russian counterpart Gen. Valery Gerasimov were in contact on the phone and discussed the “security situation in Syria and recent developments.”

No further details have been divulged but the picture that emerges is that Russia proposed and Turkey agreed that Russian units will be patrolling between Turkish and Syrian forces in northern Syria after the withdrawal of the US troops from the area.

Accordingly, Moscow’s Defense Ministry has revealed that its military police in the Kurdish town of Manbij have begun patrolling along the Syria-Turkey border and interacting with Turkish authorities. Russian troops entered Manbij town with the Syrian government forces on Monday.

More importantly, through Russian mediation, Ankara and Damascus will prefer to agree on dividing the zones of control in northern Syria. That is to say, things are broadly moving in the direction of what the Adana Agreement of 1998 (over the Kurdish question) between Turkey and Syria had envisaged, namely, that the security of the Syrian-Turkish border will be a bilateral affair between Ankara and Damascus.

In the given situation, Turkey’s imperative need is to prevent a contiguous “Kurdistan” emerging on its borders. The so-called “safe zone” aimed at frustrating the US plans to create a Kurdistan in Syria akin to what it succeeded in creating in Iraq in the Saddam Hussein era.

Arguably, there could be congruence of interests between Ankara and Damascus on this score. (Tehran too has common interests with its two neighbours in this regard.)

Indeed, for Damascus all this is a bonanza insofar as the “deliberate withdrawal” (as Pentagon put it), or, more accurately, the inevitable eviction of the US troops in the northern regions of Syria triggered by the Turkish incursion, enables it to reoccupy parts of the northeast regions, especially those parts that are well-endowed with water resources and hydrocarbon reserves, which the American military had designated as its exclusive zone.

For President Bashar al-Assad, this is a great leap forward in the fulfilment of his pledge to reclaim control of entire Syria. (See the Euronews commentary Damascus is looking stronger than ever’: What next for Syria as Kurds join forces with Assad?)

As for the Kurds, they have nowhere to go but to settle with Damascus. They are simply no match for the highly professional Turkish army.

Clearly, the Turkish incursion and impending offensive against Kurds has made continued American military presence in northern Syria untenable and Russia has leveraged the situation to bring about the agreement between Kurds and Damascus.

Having succeeded in this endeavour, Russians have taken Turks into confidence. Unsurprisingly, President Recep Erdogan is nonchalant about the agreement between the Kurds and Damascus and has shrugged off the Syrian troop movements close to Turkey’s borders. He evasively referred to Vladimir Putin’s assurances.

In the final analysis, the Americans are paying a heavy price for being clever by half — stringing Turkey along in the recent years while methodically consolidating the ground for the creation of an autonomous Kurdistan on its borders, apart from arming and training the Kurdish militia to shape up as a regular army.

Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring in Northern Syria has reportedly advanced to a 1000 square kilometers area

Erdogan gave a long rope to the Americans to hang themselves, literally. When he struck, the contradictions in the US policy got exposed overnight — the game plan to balkanise Syria and overthrow Assad; the Faustian deal with a terrorist group that has been bleeding a NATO ally; and the geopolitical agenda to sever Iran’s axis with Syria and the Levant.

Suffice to say, with the eviction of the US forces from northern Syria, the Turks have achieved something that Russia and Iran (and Damascus) all along wished for but couldn’t attain. From this point onward, Russia and Iran will prevail upon Ankara to reconcile with Damascus.

The US has belatedly understood that Turkey has summarily terminated its 8-year old intervention in Syria to overthrow the Assad regime. The vitriolic reaction by Trump and US defence Secretary Mark Esper (here and here) is self-evident.

But the threat of US sanctions will not deter Erdogan, as the spectre of Kurdistan on its borders threatened Turkey’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and there is no scope for compromise when national security is under threat. By the way, the Turkish domestic opinion is overwhelmingly supportive of Erdogan.

Turkey was uncharacteristically patient with the US, hoping that the latter would give up the nexus with YPG (Kurdish militia) once the fight against ISIS got over. It is not Trump so much as the Pentagon that is responsible for the breakdown in trust between Turkey and the US. Like on most foreign policy issues, Washington had two policies on Syria — Trump’s and the US security and defence establishment’s.

The US has no locus standii under international law to keep a permanent military presence in Syria and when Trump first announced the troop withdrawal, it should have been implemented. But, instead, the Pentagon undercut Trump’s decision, whittled it down and finally ignored it altogether.

Erdogan knows that the US will huff and puff but will get used to the “new normal” in Syria. Europe won’t have an alibi either, as Russians will never allow ISIS to surge in Syria. Trump is reportedly deputing VP Mike Pence to travel to Turkey to seek a “negotiated settlement” — whatever that may mean in tackling the fait accompli that Erdogan has created.

Why I stand by 70 years old Communist China

Happy Birthday, People’s Republic of China! Heartfelt Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday, and thank you for being here, for standing, for not bending down and never surrendering.

The capitalist world is in decay. The West is rotting. Anger and nihilism are pouring from the imperialist empire whose citizens are frustrated; not at peace with themselves.

Imperialist North America and Europe are furious at the countries like Venezuela and Cuba because their thinkers and leaders are exposing the terrible deterioration of values which is streaming from the neo-colonialist and historically imperialist countries.

But it is China and Russia who are at the forefront of spite of the Western nation and their propagandists. It is all grotesque now. Russia, which saved the world from Nazism, and which helped to decolonize dozens of nations, is now “least liked country” in Europe. Germany, which murdered millions of Jews, Roma, Slavs, and others, is the most liked. In the West, nobody seems to care that Germany is still plundering such nations like Venezuela while using its industrial and banking might to strip defenseless nations of their riches.

China, a mighty Communist country, (or call it a “socialist country with Chinese characteristics”), is being mocked and humiliated by Western propaganda. Arrogance of the European and North American indoctrinators and most of their servile pseudo-intellectuals, from the so-called center to the right, has no boundaries. Most of them are suffering from incurable superiority complexes. They feel that they have the right to judge China; to decide for it, whether it is “truly” Communist or not, and whether it is on the correct track.

China is a calm, some could even say timid, nation. No matter how mighty it has become, it tries to resolve all conflicts with its self-proclaimed adversaries harmoniously. It does not attack, and it does not provoke. Historically, it cares for the well-being of its peripheries, and even for the welfare of faraway nations. For millennia, the wisdom went like this: “if the neighbors are doing well, so will do well China itself”.

Chinese leaders and Chinese people are convinced that if the entire world would become prosperous, China would benefit as a result. That is the essence of the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative), which is often defined as the “New Silk Road”.

Of course, it is not as simple as this but, in essence, it is. New Silk Road is the flagship of the Chinese internationalism. I saw China “in action”, in such places as Africa and Oceania, and I have been greatly impressed. I am an anti-imperialist, and an internationalist, therefore I decisively support China!

*****

Increasingly, I consider myself a Communist and an internationalist, not a “Marxist”. Karl Marx was a historical, European figure, a good analyst and critic of the old, early capitalist regime. He was preoccupied with the mainly European system, without using much energy to attack colonialism and imperialism. In the last hundreds of years, the most horrid problem has been the plunder of the planet by the West. Marx did not pay much attention to it.

Countries like the Soviet Union and People’s Republic of China, which have been defending those who are defenseless, are consistently and very professionally demonized by London, Paris, Berlin, and Washington, insanely smeared as “equal to the fascists”, while it is clear that the only honest equation could be made between the Nazism/fascism and the European and North American colonialism, or more precisely, neo-colonialist and imperialism.

While perfecting its own socialist system, China learned a lot about the mistakes made by the Soviet Union. It is not going to repeat them. Those of us who are close to the Academy of Social Sciences, or to the Chinese leading universities and media outlets, are doing our best to explain the errors committed in both Soviet Union and the so-called Eastern Block. Based on the analyses of its own past, and of other socialist countries, China is both fighting for the survival of the world, and for the improvement of the standards of living of its own people.

Author Andre Vltchek

I like her approach; I am proud to be part of the “process”. And I support China with my entire heart because I know that if China falls, if it gets destroyed by the imperialist West, it would be the end of all hopes for our humanity. The West already demonstrated what it would do to the planet, if it would be allowed to continue ruling, unopposed, over the billions of lives of human beings.

United, allied, China and Russia are creating a powerful block of independent nations. Directly and indirectly, they are defending those good countries which are antagonized, brutalized, even terrorized by the West. Both nations are benefiting from working together. Now, dozens of countries on all continents are benefiting, too.

I like what I see. Hope is in the air. It is beautiful. It is full of optimism. And that is why I support; that is why I am celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China!

*****

It goes without saying that China is being intimidated and provoked by almost all Western countries, as well as their client states.

Actually, attacking China is turning into the most lucrative career for both the mediocre journalist working for the mass media outlets and for the funding-starved individuals all over the world.

Reasons for these attacks are only too easy to identify: The People’s Republic of China is clearly winning in all fields and areas, over both the imperialism and savage capitalism: ideologically, intellectually and socially.

With only a fraction of the GDP per capita (compared to the West), China is eliminating extreme poverty. Its infrastructure is now better than that in the West. Its progress in the field of ecology cannot be matched by any other part of the world. Its creativity, in the area of culture and science, is colossal. The life of the Chinese people is improving, dramatically. And, it is very hard not to notice, the lives of the people in the countries that are working with China, are getting much better as well.

More obvious all this is becoming to the people worldwide, more horrified are getting the traditionally colonialist and imperialist countries. They cannot offer anything to the world, as their economies and cultures have been based on looting, already for many long centuries. They are unable to stop, to reform, to work for saving the world. And so all they can do in order to ensure that the status quo prevails is to smear China and Russia, two determined sisters that are working relentlessly for a much better planet.

For decades, China tried to compromise, to appease the West. It has been doing everything possible and impossible to avoid direct or indirect conflict. Only recently, it realized that the only outcome the West would accept would be if China would kneel, surrender, and give up its “Socialism with the Chinese characteristics” system.

And this is unacceptable to both the government in Beijing and to the people of China.

That is why the parade on Tiananmen Square on the October 1st, 2019. That is why the clear message to the West: Chinese system is not for sale. China is not going to bend. That is why the new weapons, designed to repel anyone who would dare to attack the PRC, have been introduced.

In Russia, they say: Those who come with the sword, from the sword will die.

China clearly understood the wisdom of this truism.

Of course, China welcomes friends with open arms. It is helping those in need. It is trying to build a better world.

But it will never again tolerate attacks, intimidations, and bare racism. In the past, it got occupied, brutalized and humiliated. Now, after 70 years of tremendous leap forward, under the leadership of the Communist Party, China is confident, strong and proud.

I love this confidence. I admire what China is doing both at home and abroad.

That is why I am celebrating with the Chinese people the 70th anniversary of their socialist motherland. That is why I am working, day and night, to show to the world all those great achievements of the most populous nation on earth.

I also believe that the union of China and Russia represents the last hope for our humanity. I witnessed the suffering of people on all continents; victims of Western imperialism. I do not buy, even for a second, the propaganda that “all nations are the same and would they be strong enough, they would plunder the world with the same brutality as Europe and North America have been doing for all those centuries”.

I am not too interested in reading and listening to the endless analyses of the Westerners regarding China. I am interested in what the Chinese people have to say about their country!

Now, 70 years after the Victory, the Chinese nation stands as united as ever. And the nations that have been robbed of everything by the West are now daring to hope for the first time in many generations.

That is why I am saluting the nation which is changing the world and which, at 70, looks and feels so young, generous, kind and full of optimism!

• First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook, a journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences – under the title “Why Russia and China Stand Together

• Photos by Andre Vltchek

The Deep State Goes Shallow: “Reality-TV Coup d’etat in Prime Time”

This article was first published on February 21, 2017, one month after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, more than two-and-a half years ago. What was true then is even truer now, and so I am reprinting it with this brief introduction since I think it describes what is happening in plain sight today. 

Now that years of Russia-gate accusations have finally fallen apart, those forces intent on driving Trump from office have had to find another pretext.  Now it is Ukraine-gate, an issue similar in many ways to Russia-gate in that both were set into motion by the same forces aligned with the Democratic Party and the CIA-led Obama administration. 

It was the Obama administration who engineered the 2014 right-wing, Neo-Nazi coup in Ukraine as part of its agenda to undermine Russia. A neo-liberal/neo-conservative agenda. This is, or should be, common knowledge. Obama put it in his typically slick way in a 2015 interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakiria, saying that the United States “had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine.” 

This is Orwellian language at its finest, from a warmonger who received the Nobel Prize for Peace while declaring he was in support of war. That the forces that have initiated a new and highly dangerous Cold War, a nuclear confrontation with Russia, demonized Vladimir Putin, and have overthrown the elected leader of a country allied with Russia on its western border, dares from the day he was elected in 2016 to remove its own president in the most obvious ways imaginable seems like bad fiction. 

But it is fact, and the fact that so many Americans approve of it is even more fantastic. Over the past few years the public has heard even more about the so-called “deep state,” only to see its methods of propaganda become even more perversely cynical in their shallowness.  No one needs to support the vile Trump to understand that the United States is undergoing a fundamental shift wherein tens of millions of Americans who say they believe in democracy support the activities of gangsters who operate out in the open with their efforts to oust an elected president.

We have crossed the Rubicon and there will be no going back.

*****

In irony a man annihilates what he posits within one and the same act; he leads us to believe in order not to be believed; he affirms to deny and denies to affirm; he creates a positive object but it has no being other than its nothingness.

— Jean-Paul Sartre, Existential Psychoanalysis, p. 154.

It is well known that the United States is infamous for engineering coups against democratically elected governments worldwide.  Voters’ preferences are considered beside the point. Iran and Mosaddegh in 1953, Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, Indonesia and Sukarno in 1965-7, Allende in Chile in 1973, to name a few from the relatively distant past.  Recently the Obama administration worked their handiwork in Honduras and Ukraine.  It would not be hyperbolic to say that overthrowing democratic governments is as American as apple pie. It’s our “democratic” tradition — like waging war.

What is less well known is that elements within the U.S. ruling power elites have also overthrown democratically elected governments in the United States.  One U.S. president, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated because he had turned toward peace and opposed the forces of war within his own government. He is the lone example of a president who therefore was opposed by all the forces of imperial conquest within the ruling elites.

Others, despite their backing for the elite deep state’s imperial wars, were taken out for various reasons by competing factions within the shadow government.  Nixon waged the war against Vietnam for so long on behalf of the military-industrial complex, but he was still taken down by the CIA, contrary to popular mythology about Watergate.  Jimmy Carter was front man for the Tri-Lateral Commission’s deep-state faction, but was removed by the group represented by George H. Bush, William Casey, and Reagan through their traitorous actions involving the Iran hostages.  The emcee for the neo-liberal agenda, Bill Clinton, was rendered politically impotent via the Lewinsky affair, a matter never fully investigated by any media.

Obama, CIA groomed, was smoothly moved into power by the faction that felt Bush needed to be succeeded by a slick smiling assassin who symbolized “diversity,” could speak well, and played hoops. Hit them with the right hand; hit them with the left. Same coin: Take your pick — heads or tails.  Hillary Clinton was expected to complete the trinity.

But surprises happen, and now we have Trump, who is suffering the same fate – albeit at an exponentially faster rate – as his predecessors that failed to follow the complete script. The day after his surprise election, the interlocking circles of power that run the show in sun and shadows – what C. Wright Mills long ago termed the Power Elite – met to overthrow him, or at least to render him more controllable.  These efforts, run out of interconnected power centers, including the liberal corporate legal boardrooms that were the backers of Obama and Hillary Clinton, had no compunction in planning the overthrow of a legally elected president.  Soon they were joined by their conservative conspirators in doing the necessary work of “democracy” – making certain that only one of their hand-picked and anointed henchmen was at the helm of state.  Of course, the intelligence agencies coordinated their efforts and their media scribes wrote the cover stories.  The pink Pussyhats took to the streets.  The deep state was working overtime.

Trump, probably never having expected to win and as shocked as most people when he did, made some crucial mistakes before the election and before taking office.  Some of those mistakes have continued since his inauguration.  Not his derogatory remarks about minorities, immigrants, or women.  Not his promise to cut corporate taxes, support energy companies, oppose strict environmental standards.  Not his slogan to “make America great again.”  Not his promise to build a “wall” along the Mexican border and make Mexico pay for it. Not his vow to deport immigrants.  Not his anti-Muslim pledges. Not his insistence that NATO countries contribute more to NATO’s “defense” of their own countries.  Not even his crude rantings and Tweets and his hypersensitive defensiveness.  Not his reality-TV celebrity status, his eponymous golden tower and palatial hotels and sundry real estate holdings.  Not his orange hair and often comical and disturbing demeanor, accentuated by his off the cuff speaking style.  Surely not his massive wealth.

While much of this was viewed with dismay, it was generally acceptable to the power elites who transcend party lines and run the country.  Offensive to hysterical liberal Democrats and traditional Republicans, all this about Trump could be tolerated, if only he would cooperate on the key issue.

Trump’s fatal mistake was saying that he wanted to get along with Russia, that Putin was a good leader, and that he wanted to end the war against Syria and pull the U.S. back from foreign wars.  This was verboten.  And when he said nuclear war was absurd and would only result in nuclear conflagration, he had crossed the Rubicon.  That sealed his fate.  Misogyny, racism, support for Republican conservative positions on a host of issues – all fine.  Opposing foreign wars, especially with Russia – not fine.

Now we have a reality-TV president and a reality-TV coup d’etat in prime time.  Hidden in plain sight, the deep-state has gone shallow.  What was once covert is now overt. Once it was necessary to blame a coup on a secretive “crazy lone assassin,” Lee Harvey Oswald.  But in this “post-modern” society of the spectacle, the manifest is latent; the obvious, non-obvious; what you see you don’t see.  Everyone knows those reality-TV shows aren’t real, right?  It may seem like it is a coup against Trump in plain sight, but these shows are tricky, aren’t they?  He’s the TV guy.  He runs the show.  He’s the sorcerer’s apprentice.   He wants you to believe in the illusion of the obvious. He’s the master media manipulator. You see it but don’t believe it because you are so astute, while he is so blatant. He’s brought it upon himself.  He’s bringing himself down. Everyone who knows, knows that.

I am reminded of being in a movie theatre in 1998, watching The Truman Show, about a guy who slowly “discovers” that he has been living in the bubble of a television show his whole life.  At the end of the film he makes his “escape” through a door in the constructed dome that is the studio set.  The liberal audience in a very liberal town stood up and applauded Truman’s dash to freedom.  I was startled since I had never before heard an audience applaud in a movie theatre – and a standing ovation at that.  I wondered what they were applauding.  I quickly realized they were applauding themselves, their knowingness, their insider astuteness that Truman had finally caught on to what they already thought they knew.  Now he would be free like they were. They couldn’t be taken in; now he couldn’t. Except, of course, they were applauding an illusion, a film about being trapped in a reality-TV world, a world in which they stood in that theatre – their world, their frame. Frames within frames. Truman escapes from one fake frame into another – the movie. The joke was on them. The film had done its magic as its obvious content concealed its deeper truth: the spectator and the spectacle were wed. McLuhan was here right: the medium was the message.

This is what George Trow in 1980 called “the context of no context.”  Candor as concealment, truth as lies, knowingness as stupidity.  Making reality unreal in the service of an agenda that is so obvious it isn’t, even as the cognoscenti applaud themselves for being so smart and in the know.

The more we hear about “the deep state” and begin to grasp its definition, the more we will have descended down the rabbit hole.  Soon this “deep state” will be offering courses on what it is, how it operates, and why it must stay hidden while it “exposes” itself.

Right-wing pundit Bill Krystal tweets: “Obviously [I] prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics.  But if it comes to it, [I] prefer the deep state to Trump state.”

Liberal CIA critic and JFK assassination researcher, Jefferson Morley, after defining the deep state, writes, “With a docile Republican majority in Congress and a demoralized Democratic Party in opposition, the leaders of the Deep State are the most – perhaps the only – credible check in Washington on what Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) calls Trump’s “wrecking ball presidency.”

These are men who ostensibly share different ideologies, yet agree, and state it publicly, that the “deep state” should take out Trump.  Both believe, without evidence, that the Russians intervened to try to get Trump elected. Therefore, both no doubt feel justified in openly espousing a coup d’etat. They match Trump’s blatancy with their own.  Nothing deep about this.

Liberals and conservatives are now publicly allied in demonizing Putin and Russia, and supporting a very dangerous military confrontation initiated by Obama and championed by the defeated Hillary Clinton.  In the past these opposed political factions accepted that they would rotate their titular leaders into and out of the White House, and whenever the need arose to depose one or the other, that business would be left to deep state forces to effect in secret and everyone would play dumb.

Now the game has changed.  It’s all “obvious.”  The deep state has seemingly gone shallow. Its supporters say so.  All the smart people can see what’s happening.  Even when what’s happening isn’t really happening.

“Only the shallow know themselves,” said Oscar Wilde.

“Ukrainegate” Teaches Us More About Ourselves Than Trump Or Biden

Anti-Imperialism protest in the Phillippines. Photo: Carlo Manalansan by Bulatlat

‘Ukrainegate’ has opened the floodgates of impeachment in Washington, DC. President Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky provided such an opportunity that Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who resisted pressure for impeachment, is now on board along with a majority of the party. Democrats are moving quickly to make Trump the third president ever to be impeached.

Conviction is up to the Republican-controlled Senate, where a two-thirds vote is required, so that is very unlikely. Trump will probably be the Republican nominee even though he has never broken 50 percent support in the polls. Chris Hedges writes that a partisan impeachment will anger the people in Trump’s base who view him as challenging the establishment and could backfire for the Democrats.

The political impact of impeachment depends on how the Democrats build their case and whether it becomes bi-partisan. Richard Nixon grew more unpopular and public support for his impeachment grew during the process. Bill Clinton consistently had more than 60 percent support during his presidency, ending with 66 percent popularity while support for impeachment decreased as it progressed. Trump starts with a historically low level of popularity, whether an angered base and failed impeachment in the Senate will help Trump is too soon to say.

Impeachment by the House seems inevitable even though less than a majority of voters currently support it. The Democrats need to be careful because shining a light on Ukraine, where Obama-Biden conducted the most open coup in US history (until the recent Trump failed coup in Venezuela,) could undermine Joe Biden, their highest polling candidate. It will also expose the ugly realities of US foreign policy, the corporate control of both parties and the need for fundamental change in US politics.

Joe Biden with Petro Poroshenko, who was an informant for the US government for six years before becoming president. Photo: Sergey Dolzhenko for EPA.

The US Coup in Ukraine

The openness of the US coup in Ukraine is something to behold. In December 2013, Victoria Nuland, the Assistant US Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, bragged to a meeting of the International Business Conference sponsored by the US-Ukrainian Foundation that the US had ‘invested’ more than $5 billion and “five years worth of work and preparation” to bring Ukraine into the US orbit. In November 2013, President Yanuyovch rejected an EU Agreement in favor of joining Russia’s Common Union with the other Commonwealth Independent States.

The timeline of events around the coup shows pressure and bribery were being used including the promise of a $1.5 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan and $850 million from the World Bank. Nuland described three trips to Ukraine where she made it “absolutely clear” to Yanukovych that the US required “immediate steps” …to “get back into conversation with Europe and the IMF.” Threats and payoffs were the modes of US operation.

Nuland was also meeting with the Ukrainian opposition including the neo-Nazi Svoboda party. Less than one month before the coup removed Yanuyovch on January 30, 2014, the State Department announced Nuland would be meeting “with government officials, opposition leaders, civil society and business leaders to encourage agreement on a new government and plan of action.” On February 4, Nuland was caught speaking on a taped open telephone conversation with US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, discussing the next government saying,  “I think Yats is the guy,” referring to Holocaust-denier, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who became the post-coup prime minister. In the call, she also urged that Yats should work with neo-Nazis.

Shortly after Yats became Prime Minister, Joe Biden called him. Biden was the White House point-person on Ukraine. At a press conference, Obama touted Biden’s role while stumbling over Yats’ name, saying: “Vice President Biden just spoke with Prime Minister [pause] – the prime minister of Ukraine to assure him that in this difficult moment the United States supports his government’s efforts.”

In addition to Yats, the post-coup president of Ukraine was known by US authorities as “Our Ukraine Insider” or “OU.” A series of Wikileaks documents showed OU had been working as an informant for the United States for six years. A Wikileaks cable made clear the US considered Petro Poroshenko to be corrupt but his “price had to be paid.” In a cable involving Secretary of State Clinton, OU explained the value of the US being in Crimea — Russia’s only seaport and long-time naval base.

OU added another US agent, Natalia Jaresko, a long-time State Department official, who went to Ukraine after the U.S.-sponsored Orange Revolution. Jaresko was made a Ukrainian citizen by OU on the same day he appointed her finance minister. Between the Orange Revolution and the 2014 coup, William Boardman reports, Jaresko ran a hedge fund in Ukraine used to manage “a CIA fund that supported ‘pro-democracy movements’ and laundered much of the $5 billion the US spent supporting the Maidan protests that led to the Kiev coup.” Jaresko received $1.77 million in bonuses from the tax-payer funded investment project in addition to her $150,000 annual salary. She is now head of the “La Junta” in Puerto Rico.

In addition to controlling the top government posts in Ukraine, the US moved to control key economic sectors. Regarding agriculture, Monsanto was given the ability to buy property (which had been previously forbidden) and an $8.7 billion IMF loan required Ukraine to allow biotech farming and the sale of Monsanto’s poison crops and chemicals thereby destroying farmland that was one of the most pristine in Europe.

Regarding energy, the largest private gas company in Ukraine, Bursima Holdings, appointed Vice President Joe Biden‘s son, Hunter Biden, and a close friend of Secretary of State John Kerry, and Devon Archer, the college roommate of Kerry’s stepson, to the board. Archer also served as an adviser to Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, co-chaired his National Finance Committee and serves as a trustee of the Heinz Family Office, which manages the family business. Hunter Biden and Archer, along with Christopher Heinz, co-founded Rosemont Seneca Partners.

President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meet in New York on September 25, 2019, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Photo: Saul Loeb for Getty Images

Trump’s Phone Call with Zelensky Urging Investigation of Biden

Donald Trump is concerned about Biden as a political opponent in the 2020 election. Although he is fading in current polls, Biden still leads among Democrats seeking the nomination and defeats Trump in all head-to-head polls, as do other leading Democratic candidates.

The impeachment spike occurred because of a July 25 telephone call between Trump and President Zelensky where Trump urged Zelensky to investigate Biden. A CIA official filed a whistleblower complaint about it and the Inspector General sent a letter to Jerry Maguire, Director of National Intelligence, who initially withheld both from Congress. The Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, Michael Atkinson, found the complaint to be “credible” and “of urgent concern” and alerted Rep. Adam Schiff, the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, about it. The administration has taken steps to restrict access to records of the call, the transcript of which has still not been provided to Congress.

Since December 2018, Rudy Guiliani had been pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden and Hunter Biden’s involvement with Bursima. The April 21 election of Zelensky and July 21 Parliamentary elections, which brought in a new government, undid much of Guiliani’s lobbying. Trump’s call after the legislative elections, ostensibly to congratulate Zelensky, included multiple mentions of the need to investigate Biden. The Washington Post reports, “Days after the two presidents spoke…Giuliani met with an aide to the Ukrainian president in Madrid and spelled out two specific cases he believed Ukraine should pursue. One was a probe of a Ukrainian gas tycoon who had Biden’s son Hunter on his board. Another was an allegation that Democrats colluded with Ukraine to release information on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort during the 2016 election.”

Manafort was one of the few convictions from the Mueller investigation. Manafort was indicted on twelve counts, including committing conspiracy against the United States by failing to register as a foreign agent of Ukraine. Manafort pleaded guilty to that charge in September 2018.

Democrats calling for impeachment describe Trump’s actions as coercing a foreign nation into the 2020 elections by pressuring them to investigate a chief rival, Joe Biden. Trump withheld military funding for Ukraine and scheduling a meeting with Zelensky at the White House as coercive instruments. US policy in Ukraine has emphasized militarism against Russia since the coup. The New Yorker reports, “McCain was calling for the U.S. to arm Ukraine for defense against a ‘Russian invasion’ that he sees as part of Putin’s plan to ‘re-establish the old Russian empire.’ McCain also called for the U.S. to send military ‘advisors.’”

Trump says he is waiting to see if Zelensky will “play ball” with the US. Trump is using threats and payoffs in Ukraine, just as Joe Biden did.

Joe Biden points to some faces in the crowd with his son Hunter in Washington, D.C., January 20, 2009. Photo: Carlos Barria For Reuters.

The Risk to Biden Grows

While Trump is deservedly at serious risk for impeachment, the risk to Biden is also growing. Politico reports that Joe Biden is waging war on the Hunter Biden-Ukraine reporting. The risk to Biden is existential, he needs Democrats to remain silent and for the impeachment inquiry not to examine what Trump was investigating in Ukraine.

In January 2018, Biden bragged on video in his speech to the Council on Foreign Relations how he pressured Ukraine to fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin saying he would not approve a $1 billion dollar IMF loan if Shokin was not fired before Biden left Ukraine during a six-hour visit.  On April 1, The Hill published an article that reports: “The prosecutor [Biden] got fired was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed Biden’s younger son, Hunter, as a board member.” They report Rosemont Seneca Partners received “regular transfers into one of its accounts — usually more than $166,000 a month — from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015,” confirmed by US banking records. Shokin’s file shows prosecutors identified Hunter Biden, business partner Devon Archer, and their firm, Rosemont Seneca, as potential recipients of the money.

The article further reports that Shokin wrote before he was fired that he had made “specific plans” for the investigation that “included interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden.” This is consistent with a sworn affidavit of Shokin (see shokin-ukraine-prosecutor-sworn-statement) where he said, “Poroshenko asked me to resign due to pressure from…Joe Biden…who was threatening to withhold USD $1 billion in subsidies to Ukraine until I was removed.” There were no complaints against Shokin at the time. He explains, “The truth is I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe of Bursima Holdings.” Shokin describes how Poroshenko had asked him to end the probe multiple times and he had refused.

The Hill reports that “interviews with a half-dozen senior Ukrainian officials confirm Biden’s account, though they claim the pressure was applied over several months in late 2015 and early 2016, not just six hours of one dramatic day.” Obama named Biden the administration’s point man on Ukraine in February 2014, after the coup and as Crimea was voting to return to Russia.

The New Yorker not only details Hunter’s personal and professional problems but also reports that Guiliani said “in the fall of 2018, he spoke to Viktor Shokin, Ukraine’s former Prosecutor General. Shokin told him that Vice-President Biden had him fired in 2016 because he was investigating Burisma and the company’s payments to Hunter and Archer. Giuliani said that, in January 2019, he met with Yurii Lutsenko, Ukraine’s current prosecutor general, in New York, and Lutsenko confirmed Shokin’s version of events.” Biden and his supporters are working to change the narrative, perhaps the impeachment inquiry will get the facts out.

This weekend, Mykola Azarov, Ukraine’s former prime minister from 2010-2014, said in an interview that Ukraine must investigate whether Hunter Biden’s role in Burisma complied with the country’s laws; i.e., investigate what Biden had done for Burisma to justify his remuneration. Further, he said allegations that Joe Biden had gotten Ukraine’s prosecutor general fired to protect his son must also be investigated. On Friday, Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau said it was investigating activity at Burisma between 2010-2012, but it was not looking into changes to its board in 2014 when Hunter Biden joined.

Protesters opposing a coup against Nicolás Maduro outside the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC, on May 16, 2019. Photo: Jose Luis Magana for AP.

The Quagmire Of US Imperialism

The Ukraine crisis exposes the bipartisan corruption inherent in the US imperialist foreign policy. An investigation into Ukraine may expose what are actually common practices by both Democratic and Republican administrations in regime change efforts. As John Kiriakou explained when he gave a talk at the Venezuelan Embassy during the Embassy Protection Collective action, the CIA has a secret regime change office that provides plans to overthrow any government the US chooses to target. These plans involve similar tactics – the investment of large amounts of money into NGOs (often ‘human rights groups’), support for a violent opposition, installing US-trained and controlled leaders and payoffs for those involved.

In the past, these practices occurred behind closed doors, but now it seems the ruling class has become so brazen, it doesn’t try very hard to hide what it’s doing. This provides an opportunity for the public to discuss whether or not the current foreign policy is serving our interests or the world. If we agree that it doesn’t, then it is up to us to organize to change it.

Regime change efforts have had disastrous consequences. Certainly, no country is better off than it was before US interference.  Look at Iraq and Libya, thriving countries that were thrown into chaos, for recent examples. Ukraine has elected a new government, but its GDP is 24 percent smaller now than it was in 1993, and corruption has continued. And the echoes of US regime change from 1953 in removing Mohammad Mosaddegh, the elected Prime Minister of Iran, continue to reverberate and poison relations between the US and Iran.

Other countries have resisted regime change but have paid a heavy price. Syria is trying to rebuild after more than eight years of war instigated and supported by the US. Venezuela is resisting ongoing coup attempts and brutal unilateral coercive measures imposed by the US. This week at the United Nations, Venezuela successfully prevented the US from removing its diplomats but the US doubled down on its regime change tactics. Even leading Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are making false claims about Venezuela.

As residents in a corrupt, corporate-controlled, imperialist country, we have a responsibility to ourselves and the world to take action to stop the US disastrous foreign policy. The world is changing. The US will no longer be the hegemon. Will we allow the US to continue wreaking havoc as it goes down, or are we ready to change course and become a cooperative member of the global community? Last weekend, we held the People’s Mobilization to Stop the US War Machine. On October 11, we’ll participate in the Rage Against the War Machine actions at the White House. We are committed to organizing to end US imperialism because it is fundamental in creating the future world we need.

At UN Session, US Empire In Decline And Global Solidarity On The Rise

As the United Nations General Assembly conducts its fall session, Popular Resistance is in New York City for the People’s Mobilization to Stop the US War Machine and Save the Planet. Themes of the mobilization are connecting militarism and climate change and raising awareness that the United States regularly violates international laws, including the United Nations Charter. These laws are designed to facilitate peaceful relationships between countries and prevent abuses of human rights. It is time that the US be held accountable.

The People’s Mobilization arose out of the Embassy Protection Collective after the US government raided the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington DC last May in blatant violation of the Vienna Convention to install a failed coup and arrested Embassy Protectors even though they were in the embassy with the permission of the elected government of Venezuela. This was an escalation of US regime change efforts – the coup failed in Venezuela but the US recognized the coup leader and started turning Venezuela’s assets over to him anyway. Members of the Collective sought to bring the message that it is dangerous for the world and a threat to the future of all of us if the US continues on its lawless path.

Join the Embassy Protection Defense Committee to organize around the federal prosecution of the final four Embassy Protectors and donate to their legal defense. Take action here.

We participated in the Climate Strike on Friday where our messages about the impact of US militarism on climate were well-received. On Sunday, we held a rally in Herald Square and on Monday, we held a public event: “A Path to International Peace: Realizing the Vision of the United Nations Charter.” We need to build an international people’s movement that complements work the Non-Aligned Movement and others are doing to bring countries together that are dedicated to upholding international law and take action together to address global crises.

In front of the United Nations after the rally and march with our message (By Yuka Azuma).

The US Military is a Great Threat to our Future

We wrote about the connections between militarism and the climate crisis in our newsletter a few weeks ago so we won’t go too deeply into those details here. The US military is the largest single user of fossil fuels and creator of greenhouse gases on the planet.

It also leaves behind toxic pollution from burn pits and weapons such as depleted uranium (DU). The use of DU violates international law, including the Biological Weapons Convention. As described in David Swanson’s article about a new study, which documents the horrific impact of DU on newborns in Iraq, “…every round of DU ammunition leaves a residue of DU dust on everything it hits, contaminating the surrounding area with toxic waste that has a half-life of 4.5 billion years, the age of our solar system, and turns every battlefield and firing range into a toxic waste site that poisons everyone in such areas.”

The US military poisons the air, land, and water at home too. Pat Elder, also with World Beyond War, has been writing, speaking and organizing to raise awareness of the use of Per and Poly Fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) by the military across the US and the deadly effects it has. Elder states that the military claims to have “sovereign immunity” from environmental laws. In other words, the US military can poison whomever and wherever it chooses without risk of legal consequences.

As scary as the climate crisis and a toxic environment are, another existential threat is a nuclear war. The US military is upgrading its nuclear weapons so it can use them. The US National Security Strategy is “Great Power Conflict” and the new National Security Adviser to Trump, taking John Bolton’s place, Robert C. O’Brien, advocates for more military spending, a larger military and holding on to US global domination. These are dangerous signs. How far is the US military willing to go as US empire clings to its declining influence in the world?

In “Iran, Hong Kong and the Desperation of a Declining US Empire,” Rainer Shea writes, “There’s a term that historians use for this reactive phase that empires go through during their final years: micro-militarism.” Alfred McCoy defines micro-militarism as “ill-advised military misadventures… [that] involve psychologically compensatory efforts to salve the sting of retreat or defeat by occupying new territories, however briefly and catastrophically.”

Micro-militarism is on display in Venezuela, where the US has been trying for two decades to overthrow the Bolivarian Process without success. It is on display in US antagonism of Iran, a country that has never attacked the US and that upheld its end of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. When the US called for countries to join its escalation of military presence in the Straits of Hormuz, there was little enthusiasm from European allies. And when the US tried to blame the attack on Saudi oil refineries on Iran, even Japan refused to go along. Now, Iran is participating in INSTEX, a mechanism for trade that bypasses institutions controlled by the US.

Micro-militarism is manifested in the US’ failed attempts to antagonize China. With KJ Noh, we wrote an Open Letter to Congress, explaining why the Hong Kong Human Rights Act must be stopped as it will further entangle the US with Hong Kong and Mainland China, providing a foundation for US regime change campaign there. As China celebrates 70 years as the Peoples Republic of China, which ended over a century of exploitation by imperialists, it is in a very strong position and indicates it has no interest in caving in to US pressure. Instead, China is building its military and global relationships to rival US hegemony.

Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese at the People’s Mobe Rally (Photo by Ellen Davidson).

Holding the US Accountable

Micro-militarism is a symptom of the ailing US empire. We are in a period where the US military and government behave in irrational ways, consuming US resources for wars and conflicts that cannot be won instead of using them to meet basic needs of people and protection of the planet. The US is blatantly violating international laws that make regime change, unilateral coercive measures (aka sanctions) and military aggression illegal.

The US is conducting economic terrorism against scores of nations through illegal unilateral coercive measures (sanctions).  In the case of Cuba, the economic blockade goes back nearly six decades since the nation overthrew a US-backed regime there. The US blockade cost Cuba $4.3 billion in 2019, and close to $1 trillion over the past six decades, taking into account depreciation of the dollar. In Iran, sanctions have existed since their independence from the Shah of Iran’s US dictatorship in 1979 and in Zimbabwe, sanctions go back to land reform that occurred at the beginning of this century. The United States is conducting ongoing regime change campaigns in multiple nations among them Venezuela, Nicaragua, Iran and now Bolivia.

The US is also abusing its power as the host country of the United Nations by ordering diplomats out of the country for spurious reasons and curtailing the travel of diplomats of countries the US is targeting. This week, the US ordered two Cuban diplomats to leave the United States. The reason was vague; i.e., their “attempts to conduct influence operations against the US.” This undefined phrase could mean almost anything and puts all diplomats at risk if they speak in the US outside of the UN. We expect this is one reason diplomatic representatives from some of the countries that planned to participate in the Monday night event stayed away.

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza was the first Foreign Minister to be sanctioned while he was in the United States on official business.  Arreaza was sanctioned on April 25, just after he spoke to the United Nations General Assembly as a representative of the Non-Aligned Movement denouncing the US’ attempts to remove representatives of the sovereign nation of Venezuela from the UN.

On July 30, the US imposed sanctions on Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif saying he was targeted because he is a ‘key enabler of Ayatollah Khamenei’s policies.’  Does that mean the Foreign Minister was punished for representing Iran? When Zarif came to the UN for official business this July 14, the US took the unusual step of severely restricting his travel, limiting him to travel between the United Nations, the Iranian UN mission, the Iranian UN ambassador’s residence, and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Traditionally, diplomatic officials were allowed a 25-mile radius around Columbus Circle. The US said Zarif “is a mouthpiece of an autocracy that suppresses free speech” and suppressed his freedom of speech in response.

As the United States becomes more brazen and ridiculous in its attempts to stay in control, it is driving other countries to turn away from the US and organize around it. There are growing calls for the United Nations to consider leaving the US and reestablish itself in a location where the US cannot sanction people for its own political purposes. Perhaps there is a need for a new international institution that does not enable US domination.

Civil society panel at the Path to International Peace event (by Ellen Davidson).

People are Uniting For Peace, Security and Sustainable Development 

The US’ actions point to the need for peace and justice activists to build an international network to demand the upholding the rule of law. Popular Resistance and its allies are contributing to the formation of that transnational solidarity structure through the new Global Appeal for Peace.

This July, delegations from 120 countries of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) united to oppose US policy against Venezuela and demand an end to sanctions as part of The Caracas Declaration.  NAM was founded in 1961 and the UN General Secretary described the importance of the movement highlighting that “two-thirds of the United Nations members and 55% of the world’s population” are represented by it, making it the second-largest multinational body in the world after the UN.

From August 29 through September 6, 38 countries and hundreds of foreign and local companies participated in Syria’s 61st Damascus International Fair despite the threat of US economic sanctions against corporations and countries that participated. The Damascus International Fair is considered the Syrian economy’s window to the world, re-started in 2017 after a 5-year hiatus due to the war against Syria. Despite a NATO bombing of the Fair in 2017, people kept coming and the Fair has continued.

Countries are also working to find ways around US economic warfare by not using the US dollar or the US financial industry to conduct trade. China is challenging the US by investing $400 billion in Iran’s oil and gas industry over 25 years and has added $3 billion investment in Venezuelan oil in 2019. Russia has also allied with Venezuela providing military equipment, and porting Navy ships in Venezuela as well as providing personnel. France has called on the EU to reset its relationship with Russia, and Germany and Russia are beginning to work together to preserve the Iran nuclear agreement.

The Global Appeal for Peace is uniting people to demand of our governments in their interactions with all nations – for the sake of world peace, international security and peaceful co-existence  – to respect the principles of the United Nations Charter and to follow and defend international law. The Global Appeal urges people to immediately join this initiative and help redirect the world toward an era of global stability and cooperation.

Sign on to the Global  Appeal for Peace: Take action to tell your government to respect and uphold the United Nations Charter as a tool for maintaining peace, guaranteeing human rights and protecting the sovereignty of nations.

We seek to build a transnational movement that is multi-layered. People and organizations from civil society representing different sectors, e.g. laborers, academics, doctors, lawyers, engineers, as well as representatives of governments impacted by violations of international law by the United States, need to join together. The seeds of such a network have been planted and are sprouting. If this transnational network develops and the rule of law is strengthened internationally, we will be able to achieve the goals of peace, economic sustainability, and human rights and mitigate the impacts of a dying empire gone rogue.

Watch part of the People’s Mobe Rally here:

 Watch the People’s Mobe March here:

Watch the “Path to International Peace” here:

Empires Are a Secret until They Start Falling

In the past, we have written about the 2020s as a decade when the United States Empire will end. This is based on Alfred McCoy’s predictions (listen to our interview with him on Clearing the FOG). Sociologist and peace scholar John Galtung believes US Empire will fall much faster, losing world dominance by 2020. Much of what he predicted when he said this in 2016 is happening now. In particular, there is a rise in “reactionary fascism” or a desire to go back to the “good old days,” the cost of maintaining the empire is taking an increasing economic toll and other countries are starting to rebuke the US, both its requests for military assistance and its unfair economic demands.

What this means for people in the United States and around the world depends on whether we can build a mass popular movement with the clarity of vision, skills, and solidarity necessary to navigate what is and will surely be a turbulent period. There are no guarantees as to the outcome. Failure to act could result in a disastrous scenario – at best, that the US will continue to try to hold on to power by waging economic and military warfare abroad, weakening the economy at home, and undermining necessities such as housing, healthcare, education and the transition to a Green economy. At worst, as Galtung describes, there could be “an inevitable and final war” involving nuclear weapons.

The People’s Mobilization to Stop the US War Machine and Save the Planet is next weekend. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS. You must register in advance for the Monday night solidarity event. RSVP at bit.ly/RSVPapathtopeace. And sign the Global Appeal for Peace here.

When Empire Is In Decline

Alfred McCoy says that it is only when empires are in decline that people begin to recognize they live in an empire and start to talk about it. While discussion of empire hasn’t broken into the corporate media, it is certainly happening in the independent media. A concerted effort by a popular movement could bring it to the fore, just as Occupy changed the political dialogue about wealth inequality and the power of money. People in the US need to face some stark realities when it comes to declining US global power.

For starters, the United States does not currently have the capacity to wage a “Great Power Conflict” even though that is the goal of the national security strategy. The loss of its manufacturing base and lack of access to minerals necessary for producing weapons and electronics means the US does not have the resources to fight a great war. Much of the US’ manufacturing has been outsourced to other countries, including those targeted by US foreign policy. Resources necessary for weapons and electronics are in China, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Venezuela. It’s no surprise that the US is maintaining a military presence in Afghanistan, has increased its presence in Africa through AFRICOM and is struggling to wrest control of Venezuela.

Despite these attempts, the US is not having success. There is no military solution for the US in Afghanistan. As Moon of Alabama explains, the Taliban has taken control of more territory than it has had since the US started the war and has no reason to negotiate with the US. He advises, “The U.S. should just leave as long as it can. There will come a point when the only way out will be by helicopter from the embassy roof.”

Alexander Rubinstein writes the failures in Afghanistan can be attributed to Zalmay Khalilzad, currently the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation. Khalilzad has led US foreign policy in Afganistan and Iraq since the presidency of George W. Bush, and before that worked with Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, who provided crucial support for the Mujahideen to draw the Soviet Union into a quagmire. The writing is on the wall that the US must leave Afghanistan, but that is unlikely to happen as long as people such as Khalilzad and Elliott Abrams, who has a similar ideology, are in charge.

As the US-led coup in Venezuela continues to fail due to a lack of support for it within the country, resilience to the effects of the unilateral coercive economic measures (sanctions) and exposure of attempts to create chaos and terror by paramilitary mercenaries, the US grows increasingly desperate in its tactics. There has already been a failed assassination attempt against President Maduro, a US freight company tied to the CIA has been caught smuggling weapons and the US and its Puppet Guaido have been implicated in a terrorist plot as the failed coup enters a more dangerous phase. This week, the Organization of American States voted to invoke a treaty, the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), which would allow military intervention. Mexico strongly opposed that possibility. This comes as Venezuela has strengthened troops at the Colombian border after discovering terrorist training camps on the Colombian side. With allies such as Russia and China, an attack on Venezuela would not only hurt the region but could go global.

Despite the Asian Pivot under President Obama during his first administration and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper’s comment this week that the US is directing a lot of energy toward China, analysts predict the US will fail to achieve dominance in the Asia-Pacific. China is purchasing weapons from Russia that are superior to US systems, is strengthening its military coordination with Russia through drills and is expanding its global ties through the Belt and Road Initiative. Matthew Ehret writes in Strategic Culture, “Those American military officials promoting the obsolete doctrine of Full Spectrum dominance are dancing to the tune of a song that stopped playing some time ago. Both Russia and China have changed the rules of the game on a multitude of levels….”

Protests in Hong Kong, as we described in a recent newsletter, are being used to stoke greater anti-China sentiment in the US. As often occurs, the sophisticated propaganda arm of US-backed color revolutions excites leftist activists, but each day it becomes clearer just how deep the US’ influence is. K. J. Noh provides a helpful guide – a list of seven signs a protest is not a popular progressive uprising. One sign is Hong Kong protesters are supporting a bill in the US Congress, the so-called “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.” The bill would allow the United States to sanction Hong Kong officials.

Andre Vltchek attended a recent protest and interviewed some of the participants. He found the democracy protesters have little grasp on the oppression Hong Kongers faced under British colonization, they attack anyone who disagrees with them and they are destroying public infrastructure. One of the protest leaders, Joshua Wong, is openly meeting with figures connected to US regime change efforts, and NED-backed organizations are planning an anti-China protest in Washington, DC on September 29. Their new propaganda symbol is a Chinese flag with a Swastika on it. No surprise that was evident at the protests in Hong Kong this weekend.

The US is already at war with China with battlefronts on trade and the Asian Pacific. The propaganda around Hong Kong showing prejudice against China is part of manufacturing consent for the conflict between the US and China, which will define the 21st Century. US militarism is also escalating to involve space. This week, the US conducted its first space war game and Putin warned of a space arms race.

Our Tasks as Activists

It was good news this past week that President Trump asked John Bolton, a white supremacist neocon who disrupted any attempts at negotiation, to resign from his position as National Security Adviser. Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report writes, “Every sane person on the planet should be glad to see Bolton go.” But, even with Bolton gone, the US War Machine will rage on with bi-partisan support. Whether Trump starts to live up to his campaign rhetoric of non-intervention remains to be seen. The appointment of Michael Kozak as the new US envoy to Latin America is a bad sign.

Almost two centuries of Manifest Destiny that went beyond North America to spread US Empire across the globe will not end overnight. It will take a concerted effort to build a national consensus against the dominant ideologies of white supremacy and US exceptionalism to change the course of US foreign policy. Fundamental tasks of that effort include education, organizing and mobilizing. Below are some examples of each.

Education:

The Palestinian Great March of Return, a weekly nonviolent protest in Gaza demanding the right of return granted by the United Nations, continues and each week Israelis injure and murder unarmed Palestinians. Abby Martin and Mike Prysner of The Empire Files produced an excellent documentary about it, “Gaza Fights For Freedom,” and are touring the country to raise awareness. Listen to our interview with Abby Martin on Clearing the FOG. Find a showing near you or organize one.

The United States uses unilateral coercive measures (sanctions) that are illegal under international law to wage war on other countries. The Treasury Department currently lists 20 countries sanctioned by the US, but the US also uses threats of sanctions to wield power. Sanctions are warfare, even though they are not commonly viewed that way. They result in the suffering and death of mostly civilians. Kevin Cashman and Cavan Kharrazian explain how sanctions work, why they violate international law and how they threaten global stability.

Organizing:

Alison Bodine and Ali Yerevani encourage activists to avoid the organizing pitfall of getting caught up in debates about the internal politics of countries targeted by US imperialism. Our tasks, as citizens of imperialist countries, are to stop our governments from intervening in the affairs of other countries and demand they respect international law. We also have a task of building solidarity with civilians of other countries. It will require a global mass movement to address major issues such as the climate crisis, wealth inequality, colonization, and violence.

Citizen to citizen diplomacy is critical in building this mass movement and solidarity. Ann Wright, retired from the military and State Department, writes about the challenges of citizen to citizen diplomacy as she tours Russia. Ajamu Baraka, national organizer of Black Alliance for Peace, reminds us that war and militarism are class issues in his address to an international meeting of trade unions held in Syria.

We are strong believers in breaking out of the confines of the narrative presented by corporate media about countries outside the US. Our trips to Iran and Venezuela this year were invaluable learning experiences. We hope to visit more targeted countries. An effort that came out of these trips is the new Global Appeal for Peace, first steps toward creating an international network to complement the more than 120 non-aligned movement countries that are resolved to respect international law and sovereignty and take action to create peace and prevent the catastrophic climate crisis. Sign on to this effort at GlobalAppeal4Peace.net.

Mobilizing:

The People’s Mobilization to Stop the US War Machine and Save the Planet starts next weekend. On Saturday night, Black Alliance for Peace is sponsoring a discussion, “Race, Militarism and Black Resistance in the ‘Americas’” in the Bronx. On Sunday we will rally and march to the UN with Embassy Protectors, Roger Waters and many more. On Monday night, we have a special solidarity night at Community Church of New York. Registration is required as there will be high-level representatives of impacted countries speaking about the challenges they face. Click here to register.

Rage Against the US War Machine will take place October 11 and 12 in Washington, DC. This is the second annual event organized by March on the Pentagon. Click here for details.

We also ask you to join the Embassy Protectors Defense Committee. Sign the petition to drop the Trump administration’s charges against us for protecting the Venezuelan Embassy this spring. We are facing up to a year in prison and exorbitant fines even though it was the US State Department that violated the Vienna Convention by raiding the embassy in May. We will tour Northern California in October and are planning more tours to raise awareness that the struggle to end the US  coup and interventions in Venezuela continues.

John Galtung predicts that the fall of the US Empire could have a devastating impact on domestic cohesion in the United States. As the US loses its position of global supremacy, we have an opportunity to fundamentally reshape what we as a nation represent. We can become cooperative global citizens in a world free of oppression, violence, and poverty if we do the work of joining in international solidarity for these goals.

Iran: A Club of Sanctioned Countries in Solidarity Against US Economic Terrorism

PressTV Interview – transcript

Background links:
https://ifpnews.com/iranian-mps-propose-formation-of-club-of-sanctioned-countries
https://www.newsweek.com/russia-china-iran-fight-sanctions-1458096

Excerpts:

An Iranian parliamentary faction has come up with the idea of establishing a club of sanctioned countries for concerted action against the US economic terrorism.

The chairman of the Parliament’s faction on countering sanctions, Poormokhtar, gave a report on the formation of the faction and its activities, as well as the ongoing efforts to establish the club of sanctioned countries. Iran’s FM, Zaraf, said this would be enhancing the already existing alliance of Russia, China, Syria, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela against US economic terrorism.

PressTV:  Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Cuba, and Venezuela are among the nations that have come out against the United States’ use of sanctions to enforce its foreign policy around the world. In what ways can they fight these US sanctions as a group?

Peter Koenig: Brilliant idea!  Solidarity makes stronger and eventually will attract other countries who are sick and tired of the US sanction regime, and since they have the backing of Russia and China, that’s a very strong alliance, especially an economic alliance. The sanction regime can only be broken through economics, meaning decoupling from the western monetary system. I said this before and say it again, at the risk of repeating myself.

After all, China is the world’s largest and strongest economy in Purchasing Power GDP measures which is the only comparison that really counts. I believe this solidarity alliance against US sanctions is certainly worth a trial.

And personally, I think it will be a successful trial, as more countries will join, possibly even non-sanctioned ones, out of solidarity against a common tyrant.

The countries in solidarity against sanctions, in addition to ignoring them — and the more they ignore them, the more other countries will follow-suit — that’s logical as fear disappears and solidarity grows.

For example, Iran and Venezuela, oil exporting countries, could accompany their tankers by war ships. Yes, it’s an extra cost, but think of it as temporary and as a long-term gain. Would “Grace I” have been accompanied by an Iranian war ship the Brits would not have dared confiscating it. That’s for sure.

PressTV: Many of the US sanctions have led to death of civilians in those particular countries. At the same time, sanctions have also led to the improvement of these countries to the point where domestic production in various fields advanced. Don’t sanctions become country-productive to US aims?’

PK:  Of course, the sanctions are counter-productive. They have helped Russia to become food-self-sufficient, for example. That was not Washington’s intention and less so the intention of the EU, who followed Washington’s dictate like puppets.

Sanctions are like a last effort before the fall of the empire, to cause as much human damage as possible, to pull other nations down with the dying beast. It has always been like that  starting with the Romans through the Ottoman’s. They realize their time has come but can’t see a world living in peace. So they must plant as much unrest and misery as possible before they disappear

That’s precisely what’s happening with the US.

Intimidation, building more and more military bases, all with fake money, as we know the dollar is worth nothing – FIAT money – that the world still accepts but less and less so, therefore military bases, deadly sanctions, and trade wars. Trump knows that a trade war against China is a lost cause. Still, he can intimidate other countries by insisting on a trade war with China or that’s what he thinks.

PressTV: The more countries US sanctions, illegally, more people turn against the US: doesn’t that defeat the US so-called fight against terrorism and violence?

PK: Well, US sanction and the entire scheme of US aggression has nothing to do with fighting terrorism, as you know. It’s nothing but expanding US hegemony over the world, and if needed, and more often than not, the US finances terrorism to fight proxy wars against their so-called enemies, meaning anybody not conforming to their wishes and not wanting to submit to their orders and not letting them exploit – or rather steal – their natural resources.

Syria is a case in point. ISIL is funded and armed by the Pentagon, who buys Serbian produced weapon to channel them through the Mid-East allies to Syrian terrorists, the ISIL or similar kinds with different names — just to confuse.

Venezuela too – the opposition consist basically of US trained, financed and armed opposition “leaders” – who do not want to participate in totally democratic elections – order of the US – boycott them. But as we have seen as of this day, the various coup attempts by the US against their legitimate and democratically elected President, Nicolás Maduro, have failed bitterly, and this despite the most severe sanctions regime South American has known, except for Cuba, against whom the US crime has been perpetuated for 60 years.

So, nobody should have the illusion that Washington’s wars are against terrorism. Washington is THE terrorist regime that fights for world hegemony.

The War in Eastern Ukraine May be Coming to an End but Do Any Americans Care?

On Saturday September 7, Russia and Ukraine agreed to a prisoner swap which has brought hope of improved relations between the two countries and an end to the 5-year long conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

A peace accord is being planned for later this month in Normandy involving Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany.

Ukraine’s newly elected comedian president Volodymyr Zelensky called the prisoner exchange a “first step” in ending the war in Eastern Ukraine, which has killed an estimated 13,000 civilians.

The Ukraine War remains largely unknown to the American public even though the United States has had a great stake in it.

The war started after a coup d’états in Ukraine in February 2014, which overthrew the democratically elected pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych.

In a subsequent referendum, 89% in Donetsk and 96% in Luhansk in Eastern Ukraine voted for independence, which the new government of Petro Poroshenko government did not accept.

The United States was a heavy backer of the coup and dirty war that unfolded in the East.

Victoria Nuland, the head of the State Department’s European desk, traveled to Ukraine three times during the protests that triggered the coup, handing out cookies to demonstrators.

She told U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt in a telephone conversation that was tapped and later leaked that Arseniy Yatsenyuk, neoliberal head of the “Fatherland” Party, should be Prime Minister as he was thought to have the “economic” and “governing experience.”

Nuland further revealed that the U.S. had invested over $5 billion in “democracy promotion” in Ukraine since 1991 through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which was carrying on the kind of work previously undertaken by the CIA during the Cold War.

Ukraine has long been considered an important bridge between Eastern and Western Europe and holds lucrative oil and gas deposits.

NED president Carl Gershman called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and an important interim step towards toppling [Russian President Vladimir] Putin who “may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

To help achieve this end, the Obama administration pledged $1 billion in loan guarantees to the post-coup government in Ukraine, which Putin considered as the “ideological heirs of [Stephen] Bandera, Hitler’s accomplice in World War II.”

Swayed by a slick lobbying campaign backed by supporters of the Afghan mujahidin in the 1980s looking for a new cause and by the Senate’s Ukraine Caucus, the Obama administration further provided nearly $600 million in security assistance to the Ukrainian military.

It was supplied with counter-artillery radars, anti-tank systems, armored vehicles and drones in a policy expanded upon by Trump.

Before and after the Ukrainian military’s campaign began, Secretary of State John Kerry, CIA Director John Brennan, and Vice President Joe Biden visited Kiev, followed by a flow of senior Pentagon officials.

A back-door arms pipeline was set up through the United Arab Emirates and Blackwater mercenaries were allegedly deployed.

American military advisers embedded in the Ukrainian Defense Ministry provided rocket propelled grenades, carried out training exercises and planned military operations including with members of the fascist Azov battalion, which had Nazi-inspired Wolfsangel patches emblazoned on their sleeves.

Obama’s National Security adviser, Samantha Power, claimed that the [Ukrainian] governments “response [to alleged provocations by eastern rebels] [was] reasonable, it is proportional, and frankly it is what any of our countries would have done.”

The Ukrainian military and allied warlord and neo-Nazi militias were not acting reasonably or proportionally, however, when they carried out artillery and air attacks on cities and struck residential buildings, shopping malls, parks, schools, hospitals and orphanages in Eastern Ukraine, and tortured and executed POWs in what amounted to clear war crimes.

NYU Professor Stephen Cohen notes that even the New York Times, which mainly deleted atrocities from its coverage, described survivors in Slovyansk living “as if in the Middle Ages.”

That the American public knows nothing of these events is a sad reflection of the superficiality of our media and decline in the quality of international news coverage.

It is also a testament to the failing of the political left, which has embraced the cause of immigrant and Palestinian rights and fighting climate change, legitimately, but has neglected the plight of the Eastern Ukrainian people.