Category Archives: Sanctions

How USA and Turkey Plunder and Loot Syria with Impunity

While President Trump lashes out at rioting and looting in Portland and Kenosha, half way around the world, the USA and Turkey are plundering and looting Syria on a vastly greater scale with impunity and little publicity.

Turkey Loots Syria, then Disrupts Safe Water Supply  

Turkey has been plundering the Syrian infrastructure for years.  Beginning in late 2012 and continuing through 2013 some 300 industrial factories were dismantled and taken to Turkey from Aleppo, the industrial capital of Syria. “Machinery and goods were loaded on trucks and carried off to Turkey through the Cilvegozu and Ceylanpinar crossings. Unfortunately, ‘plundering’ and ‘terror’ have become permanent parts of the Syrian lexicon when explaining their saga.”

In October 2019 Turkish forces invaded Syria and now occupy a strip of land in north east Syria. The area is controlled by the Turkish military and pro Turkish militia forces misnamed the “Syrian National Army”. Turkish President Erdogan dubbed the invasion “Peace Spring” and said the goal was to create a “safe zone”. The reality was that 200 thousand Syrians fled the invasion and over 100 thousand have been permanently displaced from their homes, farms, workplaces and livelihoods.

The industrial scale looting continues. As reported recently in the story headlined Turkish-backed factions take apart power pylons in rural Ras Al-Ain: “Reliable sources have informed SOHR that Turkish-backed factions steal electricity power towers and pylons in ‘Peace Spring’ areas in Ras Al-Ain countryside.”

Turkey now controls the border city of Ras al-Ain and the nearby Allouk water treatment and pumping station.  This is the water station supplying safe water to the city Hasaka and entire region. The Turkish forces are using water as a weapon of war, shutting down the station to pressure the population to be compliant.  For over two weeks in August, with daily temperatures of 100 F,  there was no running water for nearly one million people.

With no tap water, civilians were forced to queue up for hours to receive small amounts from water trucks. Unable to buy the water, other civilians took their chances by drinking water from unsafe wells. According to Judy Jacoub, a Syrian journalist originally from Hasaka, “The residents of Hasaka and its countryside have been pushed to rely on unsafe water sources ….Many residents have been suffering from the spread of fungi, germs and dirt in their hair and bodies as a result of using well water that is not suitable for drinking and personal hygiene. The people of Hasaka remain vulnerable to diseases and epidemics because of the high temperatures and spread of infectious diseases. If the situation is not controlled as soon as possible, the spread of Corona virus will undoubtedly be devastating.”  A hospital medical director says many people are getting sick from the contaminated water.

Judy Jacoub explains what has happened most recently: “After Syrian and international efforts exerted pressure on the Turkish regime, 17 wells and three pumps were started . The main reservoirs were filled and pumping was started toward the city neighborhoods.  However, despite the Turkish militia’s resumption of pumping water again, there is great fear among the citizens.”

USA Loots Syrian Oil and Plunders the Economy

The USA also has occupying troops and proxy/puppet military force in north east Syria. The proxy army is misnamed the “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF). How they got that name is revealing. They took on this name as they came under the funding and control of the US military. As documented here, US Army General Ray Thomas told their leadership, “You have got to change your brand. What do you want to call yourselves besides the YPG?’  Then, he explained what happened: “With about a day’s notice they declared that they are the Syrian Democratic Forces. I thought it was a stroke of brilliance to put democracy in there somewhere.”

There are numerous parties and trends within the Syrian Kurdish community. The US has been funding and promoting the secessionist element, pushing them to ally with Turkish backed  jihadists against the Damascus government.  The violation of Syrian sovereignty is extreme and grotesque.

Prior to the war, Syria was self-sufficient in oil and had enough to export and earn some foreign revenues. The primary oil sources are in eastern Syria, where the US troops and proxy forces have established bases. It is desert terrain with little population.

To finance their proxy army, the US has seized control of the major Syrian oil pumping wells. It is likely that President Trump thinks this is brilliant bold move – financing the invasion of Syria with Syrian oil.

In November 2019 President Trump said, “We’re keeping the oil… The oil is secure. We left troops behind only for the oil.”  Recently, it was revealed that a “Little known US firm secures deal for Syrian oil“. Delta Crescent Energy will manage and escalate the theft of Syrian oil.

What would Americans think if another country invaded the US via Mexico, set up bases in Texas, sponsored a secessionist militia, then seized Texas oil wells to finance it?  That is comparable to what the US is doing in Syria.

In addition to stealing Syria’s oil, the US is trying to prevent Syria from developing alternate sources. The “Caesar sanctions” on Syria threatens to punish any individual, company or country that invests or assists Syria to rebuild their war damaged country and especially in the oil and gas sector.

The US establishment seems to be doing everything it can to undermine the Syrian economy and damage the Syrian currency. Due to pressure on Lebanese banks, plus the Caesar sanctions, the Syrian pound has plummeted in value from 650 to 2150 to the US dollar in the past 10 months.

North east Syria is the breadbasket of the country with the richest wheat and grain fields. There are reports of US pressuring farmers to not sell their wheat crops to the Syrian government. One year ago, Nicholas Heras of the influential Center for New American Security argued “Assad needs access to cereal crops in northeast Syria to prevent a bread crisis in the areas of western Syria that he controls….Wheat is a weapon of great power in this next phase of the Syrian conflict.”   Now, it appears the US is following this strategy. Four months ago, in May 2020,  Syrian journalist Stephen Sahiounie reported, “Apache helicopters of the US occupation forces flew low Sunday morning, according to residents of the Adla village, in the Shaddadi countryside, south of Hasaka, as they dropped ‘thermal balloons, an incendiary weapon, causing the wheat fields to explode into flames while the hot dry winds fanned the raging fire.

After delivering their fiery pay-load, the helicopters flew close to homes in an aggressive manner, which caused residents and especially small children to fear for their lives.  The military maneuver was delivering a clear message: don’t sell your wheat to the Syrian government.”

To better loot the oil and plunder the Syria economy, in the past weeks the US is sending more heavy equipment and military hardware through the Kurdish region of Iraq.

In the south of Syria, the US has another base and occupation zone at the strategic Al Tanf border crossing. This is at the intersection of the borders of Syria, Iraq and Jordan. This is also the border crossing for the highway from Baghdad to Damascus. The US controls this border area to prevent Syrian reconstruction projects from Iraq or Iran. When Syrian troops have tried to get near there, they have been attacked on their own soil.

Meanwhile, international funds donated for “Syrian relief” are disproportionally sent to support and assist the last strong-hold of Al Qaeda terrorists in Idlib on the north west border with Turkey.  The US and its partners evidently want to sustain the armed opposition and prevent the Syrian government from reclaiming their territory.

Flouting International Law and the UN Charter

The USA and Turkey have shown how easy it is to violate international law. The occupation of Syrian land and attacks on its sovereignty are being done in broad daylight. But this is not just a legal issue. Stopping the supply of safe drinking water and burning wheat fields to create more hunger violate the most basic tenets of decency and morality.

With supreme hypocrisy, the US foreign policy establishment often complains about the decline in the “rule of law”. In actuality, there is no greater violator than the US itself.

In his speech to the UN Security Council,  Syrian Ambassador Ja’afari decried this situation saying “international law has become like the gentle lamb whose care is entrusted to a herd of wolves.”

• Author’s note: To see good political and military maps of Syria,  go to southfront.org

The post How USA and Turkey Plunder and Loot Syria with Impunity first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Why the US Can Keep Increasing its Debt and not Suffer Inflation (Part 2)

The US Still Dominates the World Economy

The US ruling class has dominated the planet since the end of World War II. Key elements of this control include its military superiority in nuclear and conventional weapons, and the stationing of over 900 military bases around the world. In addition, the US presides over the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. It upholds the US dollar as the global currency, and it controls much of the world’s resources, particularly oil.

These factors provide the background to why the US can print, or create, billions and trillions of dollars, running up its national debt, now $25 trillion, yet endure little inflation. The reason for this capacity is only tangentially explained by Modern Monetary Theory. It results from the US position as the imperial superpower, which enables it to export inflation.

Back in 1948 George Kennan wrote:

We have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction.

In spite of losing its status as the workshop of the world, the US still enforces this “pattern of relationships” throughout the world. The role of the dollar provides an essential tool.  As pointed out in Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and the Power of the US Dollar in the World Economy, the dollar is the international reserve currency.  Between 50-70% of trade transactions between nations are calculated in dollar terms even though the US accounts for only 11.5% of world trade.  Most goods, particularly key ones such as oil and food staples are priced in dollars on the world market. It is the chief currency countries use for their central bank reserves, constituting 61% of the holdings.  Of the international debt of the nations of the world, 63% of it must be paid in dollars.  Close to all foreign exchange trading 88%, involves some currency’s exchange with just one, the dollar. About 70% of nations either directly peg their currency to the dollar, use the dollar as their own currency, or keep their currency in tight trading range relative to the dollar.  Contrary to widely held belief, the US grip on the world economy has more adapted than weakened.

Since foreign countries price their imports and exports in dollars and have debts in dollars, they are dependent on the dollar and the value of the dollar. They remain vulnerable to rises in the exchange value of the dollar, as that interferes with their trade and causes the value of their debt burden to grow.

The trillions of US dollars that nations hold make these dollars a captive market for US Treasury bonds. As of April 2020, over 30% of US debt is owed to foreign governmentsThis percent has slowly trended upwards over time.  Since essential commodities are priced in dollars, countries have to accumulate the currency to pay for their imports.  The New York Times reported in 2019, “The dollar has in recent years amassed greater stature as the favored repository for global savings, the paramount refuge in times of crisis and the key form of exchange for commodities like oil.” This allows the US to run giant deficits and borrow on a vast scale with little constraint.

Why the Dollar is the World Currency

The supreme imperial power, the US, imposed the 1944 Bretton Woods agreement on the world, elevating the dollar as the world reserve currency. The US made other states peg their own currencies to the dollar, itself pegged to gold at $35 an ounce. At that time, the US held three-fourths of world gold reserves. The US was the only nation that could print the globally accepted currency. The agreement also created the World Bank and IMF, US-backed organizations that helped oversee the new imperial set-up.

Unsurprisingly, the US did not keep its promise to peg $35 to one ounce of gold, and instead printed more dollars than it had gold to back. The US used these dollars to fund social programs and war spending during the 1950s and 1960s. By 1971, gold was valued at a rate closer to $200 an ounce, causing Nixon to take the dollar off the gold standard.

Ironically, since then, the global role of the dollar has only increased. US has used its power – diplomacy, threats, blackmail, favorable deals, sanctions, tariffs, coups, and military invasion to enforce the dollar role as the international currency.

The Role of the Petrodollar

After Nixon ended the convertibility of dollars into gold, the US needed a compelling new reason for foreign banks and governments to hold dollars. Given the importance of oil to any economy, Nixon replaced “dollars for gold” with “dollars for oil,” black gold, through the petrodollar system. An oil-exporting nation’s rulers get military backing from the US, and in return must price their oil not in their own money, but exclusively in dollars. They must buy US Treasury bonds with profits of their oil sales.

In 1971 the US told Saudi Arabia that it could charge what it wanted for its oil but had to recycle dollars from oil earnings back to the US. It would be considered an act of war if they didn’t comply.  The remaining OPEC countries soon followed suit.

Russia began switching to selling their oil in euros only last year. Venezuela and Iran have already moved off the dollar, but now the US uses cruel sanctions to block their oil’s access to the market. Qaddafi’s Libya and Saddam’s Iraq met a worse fate when they moved to stop selling their oil for dollars.

The US Market Remains the World’s Main Export Market

The US remains the biggest consumer market in the world, more than a quarter of world household consumption, amounting to $14 trillion in goods and services in 2018 (the equivalent of the European Union and China combined).  Much of the Third World counts on the US market to drive their economic growth. These countries rely on cheap exports in order to keep their economy moving, so they cannot let their own currency rise in value relative to the dollar.

How the US Uses the Dollar’s Role as International Currency to Export Inflation

When the Fed opens up its spigot of US dollars, over $10 trillion in the last 10 years, the US can engage in a global spending spree. Dollars travel abroad as foreign loans and investments, and to pay for more imported goods. Since world trade is largely conducted in US currency, the US can easily export the new dollars not backed by any increase in domestic production. This lowers the value of every dollar held around the world. It leads to rising prices abroad while  bringing a net inflow of goods to the US benefiting the US consumer, but at the long-term expense of the countries exporting to the US.

When the dollar drops in real purchasing power, the nominal dollar price of commodities on the world market would go up, hurting vulnerable import dependent poor countries.  The value of foreign currencies rises relative to the declining value of the dollar. The exports of Third World nations, generally valued in US currency, become more expensive, reducing their ability to sell their exports. A 2018 Harvard report points out the weight of the dollar in international trade: “A 1% U.S. dollar appreciation against all other currencies in the world predicts a 0.6% decline within a year in the volume of total trade between countries in the rest of the world.”

Countries on the receiving end of this Fed money-creating policy have two options. They can let the value of their currency rise relative to the new dollars entering their economy.  However, a rising value of their own currency hurts their export industries, on which many Third World countries survive. The alternative involves their central banks printing more of their own currency to buy up the new dollars circulating in their economies. US dollars created out of thin air end up in foreign central banks after these countries print more local currency to buy them up. This pushes up their rate of inflation and increases the local cost of imports, particularly hurting the people’s standard of living in nations that import food stables and other basic necessities.

When countries must print more of their currency, this lowers the dollar price of their goods exported to the US. This helps to limit price increases in the US caused by the Fed creating dollars. Thus, when the Fed conjures up dollars on a large scale, other countries are subject to rising prices, yet help to curtail it in the US market.

China loosely pegs the RMB to the dollar and is now the second largest foreign holder of US debt. This serves to keep its currency cheap relative to the dollar and the prices of its exports competitive. China uses the dollars from its trade surplus to the US  to purchase US Treasury bonds. This way, China has been rapidly developing and exporting by helping strengthen the dollar and lower the RMB’s value.

Secondary imperial powers like Canada or Japan, major exporters to the US, have more of an option of letting the dollar fall and allowing their own currencies to rise. This controls domestic prices, although it hurts exports, and would slow their economic growth. However, since they are already developed countries, they are more able to cope. Third World countries, relying on cheap exports to the massive US consumer market, cannot long tolerate such a hit. It would cause severe social and political difficulties, so they often must devalue their own currencies to stay competitive.

In sum, the US, the imperial superpower, has its hands on Aladdin’s lamp, and can rub it to create hundreds of billions, now trillions of dollars. The US gains by importing at reduced real cost, benefiting the US consumer, and in return sends its inflation abroad. In 2011, the Wall Street Journal noted this in The Latest American Export: Inflation. “What do the years 1971, 2003 and 2010 have in common? In each year, low U.S. interest rates and the expectation of dollar depreciation led to massive ‘hot’ money outflows from the U.S. and world-wide inflation. And in all three cases, foreign central banks intervened heavily to buy dollars to prevent their currencies from appreciating.”  As the Head Economist of Commercial Banking of JPMorgan Chase wrote in 2019, “When foreign central banks stockpiled dollars, they effectively pushed up the purchasing power of American consumers.”

US Economic Control over Third World Economies

Third World countries generally do not possess the requisites of sovereignty: basic food self-sufficiency, energy independence or technological and industrial development. They must import these goods, not with their own currency, but with “hard currency,” a code word for the currency of imperialist countries. Nor can they borrow in their own currencies on the similarly misnamed “international” market and have to rely on “international” capital for their development projects. Consequently, they are reduced to borrowing “hard currency,” usually dollars, and must earn dollars to pay back these debts. They become stuck in a debt trap, subjugated to the US and the lesser imperial countries. The imperialist system is constructed to protect this neo-colonial operation.

The role of World Bank and IMF in enforcing Third World subservience to the US illustrate this.

Michael Hudson, who calls himself a MMT economist, pointed out:

The World Bank has one primary aim, and that’s to make other countries dependent on American agriculture. Its idea is to make Third World countries export plantation crops, especially plantations that are US or foreign owned.” The World Bank encourages exports of foods not grown in the US, and have them import US staples, such as grains. “The US demands foreign dependency on its grain, technology and finance. The purpose of the World Bank is to make other countries’ economies distorted and warped to a degree that they are dependent on the United States for their trade patterns.Essentially, the Bank financed long- investments in the foreign trade sector, in a way that was a natural continuation of European colonialism.

The IMF was in charge of short-term foreign currency loans.…The function of the IMF and World Bank was essentially to make other countries borrow in dollars, not in their own currencies, and to make sure that if they could not pay their dollar-denominated debts, they had to impose austerity on the domestic economy – while subsidizing their import and export sectors and protecting foreign investors, creditors and client oligarchies from loss.

The IMF “uses debt leverage as a way to control the monetary lifeline of financially defeated debtor countries. So if they do something that U.S. diplomats don’t approve of, it can pull the plug financially, encouraging a run on their currency if they act independently of the United States instead of falling in line. This control by the U.S. financial system and its diplomacy has been built into the world system by the IMF and the World Bank…”

Nations relying on staple food imports, such as US grain, are hurt when the US conjures up new quantities of dollars.  When these lands must follow suit, working class purchasing power drops. Workers produce more for less, while those holding dollars receive more for less money.

Forbes pointed out in Fed Exports Inflation, Stokes Revolutions, in reference to what was called the Arab Spring, “The unrest in the Middle East has a lot to do with food and commodity prices, and Fed QE policies [printing trillions of dollars] may have a lot to do with those prices.” Most of these Middle Eastern states had become increasingly reliant on imports for food supply over the past half century. Rami Zurayk noted the high prices for basic food staples like grain led to social unrest across many Middle Eastern states in 2010-2011. “’Bread riots’ have been occurring regularly since the mid-1980s, following policies brought to us by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.”

Third World countries are driven to subsidize their export industries to gain the dollars or euros they need for their imports and for their international debts. This sabotages their economic modernization and national independence. Even an oil-producing state like Venezuela never had energy sovereignty, as it produces crude oil, but lacks the technological capacity to refine it, so depended on imports. Third World countries generally export raw materials and cheap low value-added content, and import high value-added content, advanced technology and capital goods. They constantly lose in the transaction. The system keeps them mired in a debt and dependency trap where they must prioritize export industries. MMT economist Fadhel Kaboub says over the last few decades, this has resulted in outflows of $600 billion every year from the Third World to the First.

The US Exports Inflation and in return the World Pays for the US Debt    

When foreign central banks collect new dollars by printing their own money these dollars are not just used to pay off foreign debts. Countries are pressured into loaning their dollar savings to the US, buying Treasury bonds. The US debt continues to this day as the safest haven for countries to store their foreign exchange reserves, especially at times of international economic and political stress. In practice, this means they are driven to make loans to the US so that the US can keep buying their goods. The US government can run up debt by conjuring dollars out of thin air, to be spent on cheapened imports that prop up US consumer society. The foreign central banks recycle dollars back to the US Treasury to maintain their own currencies’ exchange rate with the dollar. This set-up keeps other nations lending the new dollars they gained back to help pay for the ballooning US debt. As Treasury bonds, these dollars are taken out of circulation, so create little inflation at home, although they previously did when the US circulated them overseas.

Through this scheme, foreign countries hold savings as dollar reserves and loans to the US, loans now beyond the ability of the US to repay. The US supports itself by sending paper IOUs abroad to buy other countries’ goods with these unpayable IOUs. Meanwhile, the US keeps its gold reserves intact and prices stable. Already half a century ago, European finance ministers had complained about this export of US inflation, to which Nixon’s Treasury Secretary John Connally responded the “dollar is our currency, but your problem.”

Michael Hudson explains in simple terms the dollar’s role as the international currency:

Let’s suppose that you go to the grocery store and you buy food and then sign an IOU for everything that you buy. You go to a liquor store, IOU. You buy a car, IOU. You get everything you want just for an IOU. But when people try to collect the IOUs, you say, ‘That IOU isn’t for collecting from me. Trade it among yourselves. Think of it as your savings, and trade it among yourselves. Treat it as an asset, just as you treat a dollar bill saved in a cookie jar and not spent.’ Well you’d get a free ride. You’d be allowed to go and write IOUs for everything, and nobody could ever collect. That’s what the United States position is, and that’s what it wants to keep.

Hudson adds, again simplifying it, “That’s what makes the United States the ‘exceptional country.’ The value of our currency is based on other countries’ savings. The money they save has to be held in the form of dollars or securities that we’re never going to repay, even if we could.” The US has established an international system requiring other countries to use the dollar, obliging them to stockpile them in the trillions, and coercing them to make loans to finance a US debt that will never be paid.

The US, protecting the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, is not subject to the same rules other countries are: it can spend more than it produces, maintaining its consumerist lifestyle, by simply printing more dollars. It can use this extra money to gain control of goods and resources, giving them inflation and debt in exchange. Since these exported dollars often return home through now uncollectible loans as Treasury Bonds, they do not remain within the US economy to cause rising prices.

This scheme the preserves what George Kennan delicately labelled the “pattern of relationships” that upholds the “disparity” of the imperial economic system. To enforce this scam, the US has built military bases throughout the world — much of this dollar cost returned to the US through the same operation — ready to act against nations seeking to get off the dollar standard.

The post Why the US Can Keep Increasing its Debt and not Suffer Inflation (Part 2) first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Russia:  Nord Stream 2 vs. Poisoning of Alexei Navalny

Wednesday, 2 September, all German TV channels, mainstream media were focused unilaterally on the alleged Novichok poisoning of Russian opposition critic, Alexei Navalny. This “breaking-news” poison discovery was made in Germany two weeks after he has been flown from Tomsk in Siberia to Moscow, when he fell ill on the plane and the airliner had to return to Tomsk for an emergency landing.

Navalny was hospitalized in Tomsk, put in an artificial coma and closely observed. His family wanted him immediately to be flown out of Russia to Berlin, Germany, to get western attention and western treatment. So, the story goes. At first the medical staff at Tomsk hospital said that Navalny’s health was not stable enough for a transport of this kind. A few days later they gave the green light for flying him to Germany. Berlin sent a hospital plane – at German taxpayer’s cost – to fly the “poisoned” political patient to Berlin, where during the last 14 days he has been in an artificial coma in Berlin’s University Hospital “Charité”. At least that’s what the government reports.

After 11 days, finally “scientists” — supposedly military toxicologists — have discovered that Navalny was poisoned with military grade nerve gas Novichok.

Military grade!  It reminds vividly of the other bizarre Novichok case — Sergei and Yulia Skripal, father and daughter, who were found on March 12, 2018 on a park bench in Salisbury, Britain, unconscious. The location was about 12 km down the road from the British top-secret P-4 security military lab Porton Down in Wiltshire, one of the few labs in the world that still are capable to produce Novichok. The immediate reaction of Britain and the world was then, like today: Putin did it! Sergei Skripal was a Russian double agent, who was released from Russia more than a decade earlier and lived peacefully in England.

What interest would Mr. Putin have to poison him? However, the UK and Big Brother Washington had all the interest in the world to invent yet another reason to bash and slander Russia and President Putin. The same as today with Alexei Navalny.

Isn’t it strange that the Skripals as well as Navalny survived? And that after having been poisoned with what military experts claim to be the deadliest nerve agent ever? Although nobody has seen the Skripals after they were hospitalized 2 years ago, it seems they are still alive. Were they perhaps given US-British shelter under the guise of the so-called US-witness protection program – a full new identity, hiding in plain view?

The immediate question was then and is today, why would Mr. Putin poison his adversaries? That would be the most unwise thing to do. Everybody knows much too well that Mr. Putin is the world’s foremost perceptive, incisive and diplomatic statesman. Alexei Navalny wasn’t even a serious contender. His popularity was less than 5%. Compare this with Mr. Putin’s close to 80% approval rating by the Russian population. Navalny is known as a right wing activist and troublemaker. Anybody who suggests such an absurdity, that the Kremlin would poison Navalny, is outright crazy.

If there would have been a plot to get rid of Navalny – why would he be poisoned with the deadliest nerve gas there is – and, as he survives, being allowed to be flown out to the west, literally into the belly of the beast? That would be even more nonsensical.

Yet the mainstream media keep hammering it down without mercy, without even allowing for the slightest doubt, down into the brains of the suspected brainwashed Germans and world populations. But the German population is the least brainwashed of all Europe. In fact, Germans are the most awakened of the globe’s western populace. It clearly shows when they resist their government’s (and the 193 nations governments’ around the world) Covid tyranny with a peaceful Berlin protest of 1 August of 1.3 million people in the streets and a similar one on 29 August.

Nevertheless, Madame Merkel’s reaction was so ferocious on September 2 on TV and with the media, as well as talking to leaders from around the world on how to react to this latest Russian atrocity and how to punish and sanction President Putin, that even conservative politicians and some mainstream journalists started wondering – what’s going on?

It’s a debateless accusation of Russia. There is no shred of evidence and there are no alternatives being considered. The simplest and most immediate question one ought to ask in such circumstances is “cui bono” – who benefits?  But no. The answer to this question would clearly show that President Putin and Russia do not benefit from this alleged poisoning at all. So, who does?

The evolving situation is so absurd that not a single word coming out of the German Government can be believed. It all sounds like a flagrant lie; like an evil act of smearing Russia without a reason, and that exactly at the time when Europe, led by Germany, was about to improve relations with Russia. The gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 is a vivid testimony for closer relations between Germany, and by association Europe, with Russia – or is it?

One of Joseph Goebbels’ (Hitler’s propaganda Minister) famous sayings was, when a lie is repeated enough it becomes the truth.

Peculiarly enough, and without any transit-thought, the German right wing, the CDU-party, in particular, came immediately forward with recommending – no, demanding – an immediate halt of the Nord Stream 2 project – canceling the contract with Russia. The “biggest punishment” for Putin. “It will hurt Russia deep in their already miserable down-trodden economy”, were some comments. Those were angry anti-Russian voices. Another lie. The Russian economy is doing well, very well, as compared to most western economies, despite Covid.

What do Russian health and toxicology authorities say, especially those who treated Mr. Navalny in the hospital of Tomsk?

RT reports, according to Alexander Sabaev, the chief toxicologist who cared for him in Siberia, if Alexey Navalny’s condition were caused by a substance from the ‘Novichok’ group, the people accompanying him should also be suffering from the fallout. Instead, Dr. Sabaev believes that Navalny’s condition was caused by an “internal trigger mechanism.” Novichok is an organophosphorus compound, and, due to its high toxicity, it is not possible to poison just one person. He explained, “As a rule, other accompanying people will also be affected.”

Doctors in the Tomsk Emergency Hospital, where activist Navalny lay in a coma for almost two days, found no traces of toxic substances in his kidneys, liver, or lungs.  Alexander Sabaev, leading the investigation, concluded that Navalny was not poisoned.

So why was Dr. Alexander Sabaev not interviewed on German TV or by the western mainstream media?

Neither were members of other German parties interviewed, for example, Die Linke (the Left), or the SPD – the Social Democratic Party. None.  None of the medical doctors or “scientists” who were treating Alexei Navalny at Charité, and who allegedly discovered the deadly poison (but not deadly enough) in Navalny’s body, were interviewed.

Nor was the former Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder (Ms. Merkel’s predecessor, 1998-2005) interviewed about his opinion. Schroeder, a member of the SPD, is one of the master minds of Nord Stream 2 and is currently the chairman of the board of Nord Stream AG and of Rosneft. Would he think that Mr. Putin was as foolish as to kill this German-Russia unifying project by poisoning a right-wing activist, a non-adversary?

Of course not.

Therefore, who benefits?

The United States has for years been objecting vividly and voraciously against this pipeline. Trump: “Why should we pay for NATO to defend Germany, when Germany buys gas from Russia and makes herself dependent on Russia?” – He added, “We offer Germany and Europe all the gas and energy they need.” Yes, the US is offering “fracking gas” at much higher cost than the Russian gas. There are countries in Europe whose Constitution would not allow buying fracking gas, due to the environmentally damaging fracking process.

Is it possible that this was another one of those brilliant acts of the CIA or other US intelligence agencies?  Or a combination of CIA and the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (German Federal Intelligence Service) or an EU-NATO trick? By now it’s no longer a secret that NATO runs Brussels, or at least calls the shots on issues of US interests concerning the European Union or its member states.

Is it possible that Angela Merkel was chosen by the deep-deep state to combat President Putin and Russia, this time by bashing and smearing them with lies – lies as gross as poisoning an opposition activist? To kill the pipeline? What will it be next time?

Today, the first time, official Germany through Mr. Heiko Haas, Foreign Minister, has questioned and threatened the Nord Stream 2 German-Russian joint venture – “if Moscow does not collaborate.” Mr. Haas knows very well there is nothing to collaborate, as Russia was not involved. It is the same argument, if Moscow does not collaborate (in the case of the Skripals) that was used by Theresa May, then British PM, to punish Russia with further sanctions.

Indeed, all is possible in today’s world, where the Washington empire is faltering by the day and the Powers that Be are desperate that their international fraud base – the US-dollar – may be disappearing. Because, not only are Nord Stream 1 and 2 delivering Russian gas to Germany and Europe, but the gas is traded in euros and rubles and not in US-dollars.

Think about it. Killing (or – so far – poisoning) a Russian opposition leader to demolish the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 project?  This is certainly a crime within the realm and “competence” of the US Government and its western allies.

* First published by the New Eastern Outlook – NEO

The post Russia:  Nord Stream 2 vs. Poisoning of Alexei Navalny first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Biden Urged to Adopt a Good Neighbor Policy Toward Latin America

Election season is a difficult time to develop good policies towards Latin America, since both Democrats and Republicans cater to the small, but organized, conservative factions of the Latinx community in Florida, vying for their votes. But if Biden wins the White House, there is a chance to reverse the Trump administration policies that have been devastating for Latin America, policies that punish innocent civilians through harsh economic sanctions, destabilize the region through coups and attempts at regime change, and close our borders to desperate people fleeing north in search of safety and opportunity, often as a result of U.S. security and economic policies.

The Trump administration openly calls its Latin America and Caribbean policy the “Monroe Doctrine 2.0.” The Monroe Doctrine — asserting U.S. geopolitical control over the region — served as a pretext for over 100 years of military invasions, support for military dictatorships, the training and financing of security forces involved in mass human rights violations and economic blackmail, among other horrors.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt distanced himself from this doctrine, outlining a new vision for relations in the hemisphere. His “Good Neighbor” policy temporarily ended the gunboat diplomacy that characterized U.S. foreign policy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although the policy had its flaws, such as FDR’s support for the Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua, his administration’s failures were often the result of not adhering to the Good Neighbor principle of non-interference.

That is why over 100 organizations that work on issues related to Latin America and the Caribbean sent a letter calling for the next administration to adopt a new Good Neighbor Policy toward the region based on non-intervention, cooperation and mutual respect. Among the organizations calling for a new approach are Alianza Americas, Amazon Watch, the Americas Program, Center for International Policy, CODEPINK, Demand Progress, Global Exchange, the Latin America Working Group and Oxfam America.

The letter to the presidential candidates warns that in January 2021, the U.S. president will face a hemisphere that will not only still be reeling from the coronavirus but will also be experiencing a deep economic recession, and that the best to help is not by seeking to impose its will, but rather by adopting a broad set of reforms to reframe relations with our neighbors to the south.

First among the reforms is lifting the brutal economic sanctions against Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua that are causing widespread human suffering, especially during a pandemic. These sanctions have not fulfilled their objective of regime change; the past 20 years of U.S. wars in the Middle East has taught us that U.S.-imposed regime change brings nothing but death and chaos.

Another reform is to put a stop to the hundreds of millions of dollars of police and military equipment and training that the U.S. provides Latin American and Caribbean countries each year. In many cases, such as Honduras and Colombia, U.S. funding and training have supported troops involved in corruption and egregious human rights abuses, including numerous extrajudicial killings and attacks targeting local activists and journalists. Much of this militarized “aid” is transferred in the name of the decades-long war on drugs, which has only fueled a vicious cycle of violence. The letter asserts that the “war on drugs” is a counterproductive way to deal with a US public health issue that is best addressed through decriminalization and equitable legal regulation. It also calls for scaling down US “security assistance” and arms sales, as well as the removal of US military and law enforcement personnel from the region.

The letter points out that although the U.S. public has been rightly condemning any sort of foreign interference in our own country’s elections, the U.S. government has a history of flagrant interference in the elections of our neighbors, including training political groups it favors and funding efforts to marginalize the political forces it opposes. In Venezuela, the Trump administration has gone to the extreme of anointing a legislator, Juan Guaidó, as the unelected “president” of Venezuela and putting a multi-million dollar bounty on the head of the UN-recognized president, Nicolas Maduro. The letter denounces such blatant interference and calls on the U.S. to respect the sovereignty of other nations.

The endorsing organizations also denounce U.S. intervention in domestic economic policymaking, which occurs in large part through its enormous influence within multilateral financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Inter-American Bank. In order to obtain credit lines from these institutions, governments typically have to agree to austerity measures and other policies that lead to the downsizing of welfare states and a weakening of workers’ bargaining power. Moreover, as Latin American economies are reeling from the pandemic, the U.S. must cease demanding the implementation of neoliberal models and instead support public health, education and other basic needs.

Regarding human rights, the letter notes the U.S. has a role in advocating for them across the hemisphere. However, it warns against the instrumentalization of human rights for political gain, since too often human rights violations in the U.S. or in allied countries are ignored, while violations in countries considered adversaries are magnified. It says the U.S. should focus — both at home and abroad — on the rights of historically excluded communities, including indigenous and Afro-descendant communities, LGBTQ+ individuals, women, and migrants and refugees. It urges the United States to speak out when human rights defenders, including environmental and land rights activists and labor organizers, are in danger—a situation all too frequent in Latin America and the Caribbean today. It also calls on the U.S. to help depoliticize and strengthen existing multilateral institutions that defend human rights.

With respect to immigration, the letter insists that the next administration must undo the brutal harms of the Trump administration, but also reject the status quo of the Obama administration, which deported more people than any administration ever before and built the infrastructure for the Trump administration to carry out violent anti-immigrant policies. The next administration must hear the demands for immigrant justice, including a moratorium on all deportations; an end to mass prosecutions of individuals who cross the border; the re-establishment of asylum procedures at the border; an immediate path to citizenship for the Dreamers and for Temporary Protected Status holders; defunding the border wall; an end to the “zero-tolerance” (family separation) policy and other policies that prioritize migration-related prosecutions; and an end to private immigration detention.

As the region — and the world — anxiously awaits the outcome of the U.S. presidential elections, groups in the U.S. are gearing up for the possibility of a Biden win, and the need to push a new administration to make a positive contribution to the well-being of people throughout the hemisphere.

The post Biden Urged to Adopt a Good Neighbor Policy Toward Latin America first appeared on Dissident Voice.

US: Crimes against Humanity at Home and Abroad

Photo Credit:  Albert Eisenstaedt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Planet’s Missed Opportunity to unite and fight Side by Side against the Pandemic

It is time to stop irresponsible finger-pointing.

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

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

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

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

The Telegraph reported on 5 July 2020:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

 *****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 U.S. Cold War China Policy will isolate the U.S. not China

CODEPINK (Credit)

Tensions between the United States and China are rising as the U.S. election nears, with tit-for-tat consulate closures, new U.S. sanctions and no less than three U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups prowling the seas around China. But it is the United States that has initiated each new escalation in U.S.-China relations. China’s responses have been careful and proportionate, with Chinese officials such as Foreign Minister Wang Yi publicly asking the U.S. to step back from its brinkmanship to find common ground for diplomacy.

Most of the U.S. complaints about China are long-standing, from the treatment of the Uighur minority and disputes over islands and maritime borders in the South China Sea to accusations of unfair trade practices and support for protests in Hong Kong. But the answer to the “Why now?” question seems obvious: the approaching U.S. election.

Danny Russel, who was Obama’s top East Asia expert in the National Security Council and then at the State Department, told the BBC that the new tensions with China are partly an effort to divert attention from Trump’s bungled response to the Covid-19 pandemic and his tanking poll numbers, and that this “has a wag the dog feel to it.”

Meanwhile, Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden has been going toe-to-toe with Trump and Secretary Pompeo in a potentially dangerous “tough on China” contest, which could prove difficult for the winner to walk back after the election.

Elections aside, there are two underlying forces at play in the current escalation of tensions, one economic and the other military. China’s economic miracle has lifted hundreds of millions of its people out of poverty, and, until recently, Western corporations were glad to make the most of its huge pool of cheap labor, weak workplace and environmental protections, and growing consumer market. Western leaders welcomed China into their club of wealthy, powerful countries with little fuss about human and civil rights or China’s domestic politics.

So what has changed? U.S.high-tech companies like Apple, which were once only too glad to outsource American jobs and train Chinese contractors and engineers to manufacture their products, are finally confronting the reality that they have not just outsourced jobs, but also skills and technology. Chinese companies and highly skilled workers are now leading some of the world’s latest technological advances.

The global rollout of 5G cellular technology has become a flashpoint, not because the increase and higher frequency of EMF radiation it involves may be dangerous to human health, which is a real concern, but because Chinese firms like Huawei and ZTE have developed and patented much of the critical infrastructure involved, leaving Silicon Valley in the unfamiliar position of having to play catch-up.

Also, if the U.S.’s 5G infrastructure is built by Huawei and ZTE instead of AT&T and Verizon, the U.S. government will no longer be able to require “back doors” that the NSA can use to spy on us all, so it is instead stoking fears that China could insert its own back doors in Chinese equipment to spy on us instead. Left out of the discussion is the real solution: repeal the Patriot Act and make sure that all the technology we use in our daily lives is secure from the prying eyes of both the U.S. and foreign governments.

China is investing in infrastructure all over the world. As of March 2020, a staggering 138 countries have joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a massive plan to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks. China’s international influence will only be enhanced by its success, and the U.S.’s failure, in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the military front, the Obama and Trump administrations have both tried to “pivot to Asia” to confront China, even as the U.S. military remains bogged down in the Middle East.  With a war-weary public demanding an end to the endless wars that have served to justify record military spending for nearly 20 years, the U.S. military-industrial complex has to find more substantial enemies to justify its continued existence and budget-busting costs. Lockheed Martin is not ready to switch from building billion-dollar warplanes on cost-plus contracts to making wind turbines and solar panels.

The only targets the U.S. can find to justify a $740-billion military budget and 800 overseas military bases are its familiar old Cold War enemies: Russia and China. They both expanded their modest military budgets after 2011, when the U.S. and its allies hi-jacked the Arab Spring to launch covert and proxy wars in Libya, where China had substantial oil interests, and Syria, a long-term Russian ally. But their increases in military spending were only relative. In 2019, China’s military budget was only $261 billion compared to the U.S.’s $732 billion, according to SIPRI. The U.S. still spends more on its military than the ten next largest military powers combined, including Russia and China.

Russian and Chinese military forces are almost entirely defensive, with an emphasis on advanced and effective anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems. Neither Russia nor China has invested in carrier strike groups to sail the seven seas or U.S.-style expeditionary forces to attack or invade countries on the other side of the planet. But they do have the forces and weapons they need to defend themselves and their people from any U.S. attack and both are nuclear powers, making a major war against either of them a more serious prospect than the U.S. military has faced anywhere since the Second World War.

China and Russia are both deadly serious about defending themselves, but we should not misinterpret that as enthusiasm for a new arms race or a sign of aggressive intentions on their part. It is U.S. imperialism and militarism that are driving the escalating tensions. The sad truth is that 30 years after the supposed end of the Cold War, the U.S. military-industrial complex has failed to reimagine itself in anything but Cold War terms, and its “New” Cold War is just a revival of the old Cold War that it spent the last three decades telling us it already won.

“China Is Not an Enemy”

The U.S. and China do not have to be enemies. Just a year ago, a hundred U.S. business, political and military leaders signed a public letter to President Trump in the Washington Post entitled “China Is Not an Enemy.” They wrote that China is not “an economic enemy or an existential national security threat,” and U.S opposition “will not prevent the continued expansion of the Chinese economy, a greater global market share for Chinese companies and an increase in China’s role in world affairs.”

They concluded that, “U.S. efforts to treat China as an enemy and decouple it from the global economy will damage the United States’ international role and reputation and undermine the economic interests of all nations,” and that the U.S. “could end up isolating itself rather than Beijing.”

That is precisely what is happening. Governments all over the world are collaborating with China to stop the spread of coronavirus and share the solutions with all who need them. The U.S. must stop pursuing its counterproductive effort to undermine China, and instead work with all our neighbors on this small planet. Only by cooperating with other nations and international organizations can we stop the pandemic—and address the coronavirus-sparked economic meltdown gripping the world economy and the many challenges we must all face together if we are to survive and thrive in the 21st century.

List of Israeli Targets Leaked: Tel Aviv Fears the Worst in ICC Investigation of War Crimes

When International Court of Justice (ICC) Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, confirmed last December that the Court has ample evidence to pursue a war crimes investigation in occupied Palestine, the Israeli government responded with the usual rhetoric, accusing the international community of bias and insisting on Israel’s ‘right to defend itself.’

Beneath the platitudes and typical Israeli discourse, the Israeli government knew too well that an ICC investigation into war crimes in Palestine could be quite costly. An investigation, in itself, represents an indictment of sorts. If Israeli individuals were to be indicted for war crimes, that is a different story, as it becomes a legal obligation of ICC members to apprehend the criminals and hand them over to the Court.

Israel remained publicly composed, even after Bensouda, last April, elaborated on her December decision with a 60-page legal report, titled: “Situation in the State of Palestine: Prosecution Response to the Observations of Amici Curiae, Legal Representatives of Victims, and States.”

In the report, the ICC addressed many of the questions, doubts and reports submitted or raised in the four months that followed her earlier decision. Countries such as Germany and Austria, among others, had used their position as amici curiae — ‘friends of the court’ — to question the ICC jurisdiction and the status of Palestine as a country.

Bensouda insisted that “the Prosecutor is satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to initiate an investigation into the situation in Palestine under article 53(1) of the Rome Statute, and that the scope of the Court’s territorial jurisdiction comprises the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza (“Occupied Palestinian Territory”).”

However, Bensouda did not provide definitive timelines to the investigation; instead, she requested that the ICC’S Pre-Trial Chamber “confirm the scope of the Court’s territorial jurisdiction in Palestine,” an additional step that is hardly required since the State of Palestine, a signatory of the Rome Statute, is the one that actually referred the case directly to the Prosecutor’s office.

The April report, in particular, was the wake-up call for Tel Aviv. Between the initial decision in December till the release of the latter report, Israel lobbied on many fronts, enlisting the help of ICC members and recruiting its greatest benefactor, Washington – which is not an ICC member – to bully the Court so it may reverse its decision.

On May 15, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, warned the ICC against pursuing the investigation, targeting Bensouda, in particular, for her decision to hold war criminals in Palestine accountable.

The US slapped unprecedented sanctions against the ICC on June 11, with President Donald Trump issuing an ‘executive order’ that authorizes the freezing of assets and a travel ban against ICC officials and their families. The order also allows for the punishing of other individuals or entities that assist the ICC in its investigation.

Washington’s decision to carry out punitive measures against the very Court that was established for the sole purpose of holding war criminals accountable is both outrageous and abhorrent. It also exposes Washington’s hypocrisy — the country that claims to defend human rights is attempting to prevent legal accountability by those who have violated human rights.

Upon its failure to halt the ICC legal procedures regarding its investigation of war crimes, Israel began to prepare for the worst. On July 15, Israeli daily newspaper, Haaretz, reported about a ‘secret list’ that was drawn up by the Israeli government. The list includes “between 200 and 300 officials”, ranging from politicians to military and intelligence officials, who are subject to arrest abroad, should the ICC officially open the war crimes investigation.

Names begin at the top of the Israeli political pyramid, among them Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his current coalition partner, Benny Gantz.

The sheer number of Israeli officials on the list is indicative of the scope of the ICC’s investigation, and somehow is a self-indictment, as the names include former Israeli Defense Ministers — Moshe Ya’alon, Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennett; current and former army chiefs of staffs — Aviv Kochavi, Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot and current and former heads of internal intelligence, the Shin Bet — Nadav Argaman and Yoram Cohen.

Respected international human rights organizations have already, repeatedly, accused all these individuals of serious human rights abuses during Israel’s lethal wars on the besieged Gaza Strip, starting with the so-called ‘Operation Cast Lead’ in 2008-9.

But the list is far more extensive, as it covers “people in much more junior positions, including lower-ranking military officers and, perhaps, even officials involved in issuing various types of permits to settlements and settlement outposts.”

Israel, thus, fully appreciates the fact that the international community still insists that the construction of illegal colonies in occupied Palestine, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the transfer of Israeli citizens to occupied land are all inadmissible under international law and tantamount to war crimes. Netanyahu must be disappointed to learn that all of Washington’s concessions to Israel under Trump’s presidency have failed to alter the position of the international community and the applicability of international law in any way.

Furthermore, it would not be an exaggeration to argue that Tel Aviv’s postponement of its plan to illegally annex nearly a third of the West Bank is directly linked to the ICC’s investigation, for the annexation would have completely thwarted Israel’s friends’ efforts aimed at preventing the investigation from ever taking place.

While the whole world, especially Palestinians, Arabs and their allies, still anxiously await the final decision by the Pre-Trial Chamber, Israel will continue its overt and covert campaign to intimidate the ICC and any other entity that aims to expose Israeli war crimes and to try Israeli war criminals.

Washington, too, will continue to strive to ensure Netanyahu, Gantz, and the “200 to 300” other Israeli officials never see their day in court.

However, the fact that a “secret list” exists is an indication that Tel Aviv understands that this era is different and that international law, which has failed Palestinians for over 70 years, may for once deliver, however small, a measure of justice.

Who’s behind the Canadian Think Tank Pushing for Sanctions against China and Iran?

The “independent” think tank, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute recently called for China and Iran to be severely punished for allegedly covering up the original outbreak and failing to respond to COVID-19 in time.

This was done in ignorance of both Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau and US President Donald Trump’s failure to listen to military intelligence warning of the dangers of COVID-19 in early January. This includes the failure to maintain a strong early warning system, his implementation of limited neo-liberal measures months too late, only due to intense pressure from the NDP, while refusing to implement a rent freeze, and having EI and CERB fail to cover one-third of Canada’s population.

So the question is, who is this think tank pushing for sanctions which could unnecessarily draw Canada into further disputes with China and Iran?

Founding years and Leading Figures in league with the Conservatives

The Macdonald-Laurier Institute was founded in 2010, claiming to be a “non-partisan Ottawa think tank.” However, its first report revealed that the board of directors were filled to the brim with past and present CEOs, CFOs and wealthy millionaires, including Rob Wildeboer, Chairman of Martin-rea International Inc. and Rick Peterson, the President of Peterson Capital. The Managing Director of MLI, Brian Crowley had close ties to the PM in 2010, Stephen Harper.

Brian Crowley was the founding President of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, a conservative, free-market think tank incorporated in 1995. AIMS received the majority of its funding from “several anonymous donors” (millionaires and billionaires who don’t want their donations publicly known) and pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Merck Frosst. They were at the forefront of the battle against public health care in Canada for years, until it merged with the Fraser Institute in November 2019.

Sourcewatch revealed that as of 2010, Crowley was also a member of the influential right-wing Civitas Society, founded by Calgary political scientist Tom Flanagan, campaign manager for and advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

In 2006, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty appointed Crowley as the 2006-2007 Clifford Clark Visiting Economist of the department. Four months later, Crowley began to develop the MLI while giving policy advice to the Harper government. In 2009, Minister Flaherty hosted a private fundraising dinner at Toronto’s Albany Club for the MLI. In a letter, he urged Bay Street elites to come and support the fledging right-wing think tank stating that he was “giving it my personal backing”. Soon afterwards, the Aurea Foundation, funded by Peter Munk, gave $100,000 to assist in starting up the think-tank, as revealed on page 13 of their 2010 annual report.

Rob Wildeboer, the chairman of the MLI Board of Directors until 2018 and current member of its Advisory Council, is a wealthy evangelical and the chief backer of the ECP Centre. The ECP centre “attacks human rights commissions as instruments of Christian persecution,” explained Donald Gutstein. The ECP believes that “the very notion of legally protected individual rights is an unthinkable heresy, a repudiation of God’s sovereign law,” according to The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada.

Within the first year of existence, the Institute’s notable corporate funders included: CTV, Labatt Breweries, TD Bank Financial Group, Merck, BMO Financial Group – Corporate, RBC Financial Group and Pfizer International, which continued their tradition of supporting think-tanks run by Crowley.

Foundations supporting the Institute at the start were funded by a who’s who of Canadian oligarchs and elites: The John Dobson Foundation, Aurea Foundation, The Garfield Weston Foundation, Lotte & John Hecht Foundation, Donner Canadian Foundation and Atlas Economic Research Foundation.

The Institute soon began publishing a series of papers by Janet Ajzenstat, which served to glorify the genocidal colonialist leaders of Canada, called “Canada’s founding ideas”. It claimed to “paint the picture of Founders far more steeped in a concern with liberty, than academic and popular tradition suggests”. By minimizing the genocide committed against Indigenous nations, it provided credence to Harper’s contempt for Indigenous Nations during his first four years as Prime Minister.

Within a year of its founding, the think tank soon pushed a “non-partisan” politically valuable policy paper, written by Scott Newark in 2011, which alleged that Statistics Canada was systematically undercounting crime statistics.

Unsurprisingly, Newark was also connected to the conservatives. During the period of 2006 to 2008, Stockwell Day was the public safety minister under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government. During that time Newark worked as a special advisor to Day. Newark then went on to work as project manager overseeing a $300,000-plus contract from his former ministry.

This policy paper provided important cover for the Harper government’s “tough-on-crime” policies. The pro-corporate welfare Harper government was facing elections, only a few months later, which they ended up winning.

In this year, the MLI gained new donors such as Google Inc., Johnson & Johnson, the company exposed for failing to pull its products despite knowing they caused cancer, and John Irving, the Canadian oil baron.

The MLI took credit for: the Harper government’s refusal to expand the Canadian Pension Plan and their decision to cap the Canada Health Transfer, worsening healthcare in Canada and taking finances away from the CPP, in favour of giving money to private sector pensions.

The MLI begins its pro-military putsch

The Institute began its pro-militarism putsch this year, pushing for more military spending and supporting an interventionist foreign policy, under the guise of “debating whether Canada should make war or keep the peace.” In this same year, under the Harper government, the a short summary needed here Canadian military was actively involved in the NATO and AFRICOM led coup against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The coup ended in Gaddafi’s death and the collapse of the Libyan state, which led to open slave markets, and warring warlords within the next five years.

In 2013, the Institute began to push nationalistic anti-China trade policies, urging the Canadian government to block investment from Chinese state-connected businesses in Canada’s mineral and energy resources. They also cast any business done by these businesses with “official enemies of the Canadian stateTM” such as Venezuela, Iran and Syria as a decision which “should concern the Canadian economic and security community.”

Even after the utter disaster in Libya, the MLI continued to push for the same pro-war policies, limiting discussions around the military to how the Canadian government could more efficiently purchase new instruments of death (updated military equipment).

In 2015, the Institute complained about the inability of the Canadian military to procure updated military equipment, while totally ignoring how the tens of billions which is poured into the Canadian military could be used to better the lives of ordinary Canadians.

In 2016, Munk Senior Fellow Shuvaloy Majumdar, a former senior aide in the Stephen Harper government, joined the MLI. He began a campaign of calling for increased sanctions against Iran that year. It had been only one year after the JCPOA was signed, which ended some of the economy crushing sanctions leveled by the EU and America against Iran. After Trump violated the JCPOA, and repeatedly instituted sanctions against Iran beginning in 2018, Human Rights Watch reported that the sanctions had a devastating effect on the health of ordinary Iranians.

Majumdar also followed the Washington consensus of supporting the jihadist Syrian rebels, who are still fighting to overthrow the secular Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, describing them as “moderate rebels” in a Huffington Post op-ed.

In 2017, even the most imperialist nations looked to have their militaries leave Iraq, the country which the US invaded on the fictitious claim of Saddam Hussein possessing WMDs. The MLI urged Trudeau to stay in Iraq and touted the benefits of the mission. In the present day, there are still 500 Canadian troops in the country, with missions continuing to the present day.

During the same year, the Institute urged the Trudeau government to join with the US to deploy its military in the South China Sea and Pacific region, to “protect the region from China.”

In 2018, the MLI continued its calls for reducing trade with China, and focused on persuading the Trudeau government to avoid choosing Huawei to develop Canada’s 5G networks. The main reason pushed was that Huawei would be forced to hand over data that flows through its networks to the Chinese government, ignoring that major American and Canadian telecommunications companies are regularly forced to hand over data to their respective governments. As a result of this pressure campaign, Nokia and Ericcson were chosen to develop Canada’s 5G networks. Both networks are both forced to retain all data for six months, which is accessible to the Finnish and Swedish police forces.

In January 2019, the MLI called for the Canadian government to invest billions in military arms and planes, to allow its imperialist foreign policy to continue interrupted. Bianca Mugyenyi brilliantly explained why this call for more funds to the military, which already receives $22 billion a year in funding as of 2019, is absolutely out of touch with the needs of ordinary Canadians, in an op-ed which appeared on The Canada Files two days ago.

The MLI also made Nathan Law, co-founder of the separatist Demosistō party and “pro-democracy” movement leader, a MLI fellow during that same year. In doing this, they supported the American push to re-colonize Hong Kong, in which the US gave millions to activist groups and “grassroots organizations” each year, while turning a blind eye to the millions more given to these groups by nationalist HK billionaire Jimmy Lai. They ignored Demosistō’s close relationship with the National Endowment for Democracy’s National Democratic Institute, and the former NED Acting Director Allen Weinstein’s 1991 admission that, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

On September 12, 2019, the organization held a special panel on “Russian disinformation”, specifically scheduled on Black Ribbon Day, which falsely equates Communism to be an equivalent evil to Nazism. The panel featured Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, who actively supports Canadian-Ukrainian groups which glorify Ukrainian Nazi collaborators, former Liberal Party leader Bob Rae, and others.

In December 2019, the Institute published a media release describing Chinese President Xi Jinping as the “top Canadian policy-maker of the year.” It featured an image of Xi Jinping as a spider standing over Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is wrapped up in a cocoon.

It goes on to push a xenophobic narrative of an “evil China” which has “significant influence” over Canadian policy, citing a study by Australian scholar Clive Hamilton. The release even criticizes the Canadian government for the rare cases where it declined to stoke unnecessary conflict with the Chinese government.

According to Corporate Mapping, as of 2019, the MLI is funded by massive oil corporations, mining corporations, the Charles Koch Foundation and the same foundations funded by Canadian oligarchs, which backed it from the start. It is also a member of the Atlas Network. A paragraph from Corporate Mapping explains that “Atlas provides an opportunity for the fossil fuel industry to fund organizations aligned with their interests.”

When a group is funded by imperialists, its policy direction and proposals will follow the interests of its funders: those of rampant imperialism across the world.

So, it is of little surprise that the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, a right-wing think tank led by Christian nationalists and Conservative Party connected insiders, would push the most useful narrative for the Conservatives.

That narrative being that only China and Iran should be punished for the worldwide spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, in total ignorance of the failure of PM Trudeau’s failure to properly respond to military intelligence warning of the COVID pandemic back in January and resistance to measures necessary to fight the pandemic.

Canadians should not take this ludicrous claim seriously, and should instead roundly condemn the MLI, consigning it to the dustbin of history.

Cuba: From the Moncada to the Front Lines of the Pandemic

Santiago de Cuba. Photo: Bill Hackwell

Today Cuba celebrates the 67th anniversary of the assault on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes barracks that mark the beginning of the Cuban Revolution. From this beginning, Cuba’s altruistic view of making the world safer and healthier began.

It has developed into a society that gives everything it has without expecting credit. There are hundreds of examples of this; for instance, what took place in 1986, after the nuclear catastrophe of Chernobyl, when blockaded Cuba took in over 20,000 young cancer victims and their family members from 1989 to 2011 providing medical care, schooling, clothing, food, accommodation, playgrounds – all free of charge.

Another story worth remembering is one of forgiveness in 2007 when Mario Terán, the Bolivian sergeant who murdered Che Guevara on October 9, 1967, was operated on for free by Cuban doctors who restored his vision in a hospital donated by the Cuban government to Bolivia and inaugurated by President Evo Morales in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

And now Cuba is on the world stage in the midst of this dangerous global Pandemic and Cuba is continuing to save lives, while the US government and its media, instead of being constructive in the battle, have intensified the campaign to discredit Cuba’s collaboration. The misinformation is not surprising from a country whose president’s main vocation is preaching an endless stream of lies.

Even Trump’s faithful followers must be starting to see that there is a contradiction in how the richest country in the world has not been able to put any brake on the virus, is accumulating the highest number of infections and deaths, with no end in sight, while attacking Cuba, a nation that not only has been able to control the pandemic but has extended their full solidarity to other nations.

Why the Trump administration puts priority on discrediting Cuba’s international missions abroad that save lives instead of focusing on the social and human cost in the US is mindboggling and criminal. Trump, his anti-Cuba friends in Florida, and the mainstream media are mixing up a concoction of ignorance with malicious intention, never mentioning that Cuba has flattened the curve of the virus and has had only one death in three weeks.

All the empty words we hear about the Cuban Medical Brigades going to other countries being forced labor is not only without proof but fails to explain why there are many more medical professionals who volunteer to go than openings. Furthermore, the White House, the State Department, and the media fail to mention one word about the 60-year-old US blockade and its impact against the island that causes unnecessary suffering for the Cuban people. As we have become accustomed, the Trump Administration likes to throw things at the wall to see what sticks.

A few days ago, Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, an organization with a long history of parroting the official line of the US,  jumped on the bandwagon with a tweet, “Cuban doctors deployed abroad offer valuable service but at the expense of their freedoms”. At least Mr. Roth admitted that Cuban doctors offered valuable services but Roth offered no proof about what he meant. He continues, “They can be disciplined for being friends w/ people who hold hostile or contrary views to the Cuban revolution and face prosecution if they “abandon” their jobs. This is the Executive Director of an international so-called human rights organization talking with no examples.

Cuba, with a little more than 11 million people, has more than 95,000 doctors, 9 for every 1,000 inhabitants, and more than 85,000 nurses that are part of the 492,000 Cuban health professionals according to the latest Statistical Yearbook at the beginning of 2019.

According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the first brigade of Cuba health professionals to provide services abroad was in Algeria in 1963. Since then, more than 400,000 professionals have served in 164 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and even Portugal.

These services, popularly known as “medical missions,” include sending health professionals to countries that officially request them from the Cuban government. And those who go do so voluntarily because they are part of a society that puts human lives at the center. They leave their families behind for a just cause but they also know that the Cuban government will take care of them.

Cuba is so respected around the world that recently eight Cuban Scientists were chosen as Advisors for the World Struggle against COVID-19 as part of an Inter-Academy Panel (IAP). In 2000, the IAP founded the Inter-Academy Council (IAC) and the Inter-Academy Medical Panel (IAMP).  Currently, membership includes 140 national and regional Academies of Science, including all branches of science, engineering, and medicine from around the world.

Despite the slander, Cuba continues to extend its solidarity with great pride. Currently, there are three thousand members of the Henry Reeve medical brigades (designed to fight pandemics and natural disasters) who are on the front lines of the pandemic in 37 countries with 43 brigades.

But the attacks never quit.  On May 8, 2020, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) added another $2 million to undermine the work of the brigades and a month later, head Cuba hater Marco Rubio joined other Republican Senators and presented a bill to “punish” countries that sign agreements with the Cuban government to receive this support. Rubio’s credibility has been suspect ever since he was caught in his own lies by claiming his parents ‘came to America following Fidel Castro’s takeover’ of Cuba when, in fact, they came to the US in 1956, three years before the revolution during the repression of the US-backed Bautista regime.

One would think that government officials in Florida like Rubio would be focused on containing COVID-19 in their state that has become an epicenter of infection rates and deaths instead of being fixated on tarnishing the success that Cuba is having in beating back the pandemic.

Some of the medical personnel are now returning to Cuba from their missions and have been telling their experiences in their own words to the people through video conferencing, welcomed by President Miguel Diaz Canel.

Dr. Edelsy Delgado, an Intensive Care specialist from the Gustavo Aldereguía Hospital in Cienfuegos, kept a journal during the three months he spent in Andorra. He said upon his return “Believe me, we represented Cuba at the highest level.”

Leidisbet Lopez Cantero, a nurse from Camaguey, was the flag-bearer who couldn’t hold back her tears when she got off the airplane that brought her to Havana and saw her mother and son speaking of her in the welcoming video.

Dr Michael Cabrera Laza, head of the group of five distinguished consultants in Nicaragua, was deeply moved as he spoke of traveling through all 17 regions of Nicaragua, and finding in absolutely all of them the marks left by some Cuban doctor or teacher or the presence of some community leader trained in Cuba. “And in every action that we carried out, Fidel was there.”

Nurses Francisco Gonzalez Prada of Sancti Spiritus, Liliana Martinez of Holguin, and Aldo Moreira of Camaguey, who were all part of the Antigua and Barbuda brigade testified about their own feelings when they saw the positive changes in how their patients felt when they found out they were being cared for by Cubans. “I didn’t make a mistake; I am right where I should be.”

Cuba is right where it should be without hesitation.