Category Archives: Sanctions

A Dedicated Obsession: Washington’s Continuing Iran Sanctions Regime

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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PBS and Other U.S. Media are spreading Disinformation about Nicaragua

In 36 years of living in Latin America I have learned that any time a country changes its conditions so that poverty decreases and the standard of living improves, the United States wages some kind of war on that country. It has waged unconventional warfare on Nicaragua since the Sandinistas returned to the presidency in 2007 providing millions of dollars to nongovernmental organizations, more than 25 different media, three “human rights” groups and many individuals whose job is to lie for their salaries.  Since 2017, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has disbursed over $89 million with the primary focus on “governance” and promoting challenges to the Nicaraguan government. Another aspect of US aggression is the economic sanctions. The U.S. uses its influence to oppose any loan, financial or technical assistance to the government of Nicaragua from international banks and organizations.

In July this year, USAID contracted a US company to head up the current phase of their war through the November 2021 elections. The plan is titled RAIN – Responsive Action in Nicaragua. It is a thinly veiled plan to mount domestic and international pressure for “regime change” in Nicaragua. RAIN is a plan to undermine public order with actions [violent and otherwise] before, during and after the 2021 elections. The document suggests there is a crisis and “economic debacle” with potential to become a “humanitarian emergency” due to Covid-19. Since March the opposition focused most of their attention on telling lies in the media. This strategy had some success internationally but not much at home since Nicaragua has the lowest Covid mortality rate in the region.

The opposition is now on to new topics – like trying to spread the lie that some of the grass-fed beef that is exported to the US is from Indigenous land supposedly stolen in recent years. Although Nicaragua has had some problem with this, it has been much less under the Sandinista government than under the three previous US-supported governments.

One reason the government has a good relationship with much of the Indigenous is their commitment to granting title to the original territories. There are now autonomous indigenous governments elected according to their ancestral forms of organization. There are 23 original territories with 314 communities and 200,000 people. Nearly 38 thousand square kilometers have been titled to the indigenous groups.  They have non-transferrable titles, helping to curb illegal land sales and deforestation. The authorities that administer these lands are designated by the communities themselves.

This is 31% of the national territory and more than 55% of the territory of the Caribbean Coast where 61% have some type of forest. Nicaragua has gained great credibility in environmental issues and was just voted to be part of the World Bank’s Carbon Fund Board (Informe Pastran, 23 Oct. 2020).

There is now a special battalion patrolling these extremely large expanses of land in coordination with many of the Miskito and Mayagna communities.  Since 2007 special emphasis has been given to improving every aspect of life in the Autonomous Regions increasing dramatically health and school facilities, electricity, potable water, sanitation, good paved roads and decreasing every aspect of poverty.

There are internal disputes related to selling land among the 75 different communities of the Mayagna. Their communities elect their own authorities. But things aren’t perfect and the violence is sometimes internal. On January 29, Gustavo Sebastian, president of the Mayagna indigenous territory government, said that a group of Mayagnas shot at a group of community members in an act of revenge for a December 2019 action. Four men were killed, two hospitalized with injuries and 12 homes burned. Then on February 12 the police captured the leader of the group responsible for the January violence in Alal and Wakuruskasna. (Radio La Primerisima, 12 February 2020)

On October 22, Solón Guerrero, director of the Federation of Nicaraguan Cattlemen’s Association, stated that they will present documents that prove that their group signed agreements to protect the reserves held by the indigenous populations. The executive director of the Nicaraguan Chamber of the Meat Industry, Juan Bautista Velásquez, said that the cattle that are processed are identified with two tags, because the cattle come from farms certified by the Institute for Agricultural Protection and Health (IPSA). He said that if the North American market was cancelled, more than 600 thousand people would lose their jobs and 140 thousand producers would be affected.

This misleading story is being promoted by members of Nicaragua’s opposition who are paid with USAID or NED (National Endowment for Democracy) funds. It is a new attempt to interfere with and hurt Nicaragua. Now it is under the guise of protecting indigenous people. While it is true that things are not perfect in Nicaragua, the advances and protections for Indigenous people are much better than in most other countries. Certainly the U.S. treatment of indigenous people is no model to follow. While there are periodic incidents of friction or conflict in the vast expanse of the autonomous zones, this has little to do with the cattle raising and beef export industry where hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans work.

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The Fourth Circle

Gustave Dore — Dante’s fourth circle of hell “the hoarders and wasters”

In 1973, the world economy was brought almost to a halt by a supposed shortage of oil. The ostensible trigger for this alleged shortage was the so-called Yom Kippur War in which the armed forces of the Anglo-American Empire’s settler-colonial offshore enterprise in Palestine, also known as the State of Israel, repelled the forces of Egypt and Syria, which had moved to reoccupy the territory stolen from them by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. One response to the Anglo-American Empire’s support of its client state against those states Israel wished to conquer was an oil embargo proclaimed by OPEC, with the largest producer — the autocratic Anglo-American protectorate Saudi Arabia at the lead.

Portrayed in the mainstream Western media as a sign of Arab economic strength — also as anti-Semitism in some quarters — the embargo led to massive economic disruption in all the countries that had to import oil, mainly Europe and its former colonies. This embargo created the impression of a global oil shortage — which although there was none, could not be overcome without violating the power of the oil cartel. While the OPEC embargo formally restricted the sale of crude oil to Israel’s sponsors, there was no real oil shortage since oil supplies to Europe and the US have always been in the hands of the majors (now super-majors), then known as the “seven sisters”.1  OPEC’s announcement of an embargo at the well had no impact on the enormous upstream reserves held by the mainly American majors. However, it did provide the pretext for massive price increases at the pump — presented as shortage-induced.2

Unnoticed except in the aftermath and ignored generally in popular debate or historical literature was the far more insidious deal made secretly while everyone from Bonn to Boston and Lyon to Los Angeles was queuing for petrol or the dole. In 1971 Richard Nixon had announced that the US dollar would no longer be redeemable for gold — at any price. This decision had been largely induced by the enormous debt incurred funding the US war against Vietnam. In the course of this fateful decision, secret negotiations were undertaken with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which led to an agreement that Saudi Arabia and OPEC would not sell oil in any currency except US dollars. The oil crisis pushed the price of oil to such heights that many countries in Europe and especially the newly independent countries, soon exhausted their foreign exchange reserves and were compelled to borrow US dollars to pay for oil imports. The result was a boom for the US regime; e.g., oil and banking — not its ordinary citizens — as the demand for US currency led to an inflow of foreign exchange and an overall improvement in its current accounts. Meanwhile the US Treasury could literally print dollars to buy oil — when the time was right.

Even today this story is told in a way to cast aspersions on the Arab states — although all the major oil-producing Arab states involved were and are entirely dependent upon the Anglo-American Empire and its military force for their very survival. It is a false parable used to exaggerate the innocence or helplessness of the settler-colonial state “surrounded” by “ragheads” instead of “redskins” who have all the oil, while poor Israel only has atomic bombs and the biggest foreign aid subsidy per capita of any country the US funds.

Why do I take the trouble here to recount history, which is or ought to be well known — at least to the historically literate?

It is worth recalling here that the Seven Sisters, as they were then called, are actually fewer now due to mergers. The upstream oil industry is still dominated by the Standard Oil companies (yes, Rockefeller; i.e., ExxonMobil) and their allies as well as the Rothschild-Nobel companies. Together they assure that oil prices and distribution are closely controlled — if not absolutely– and that the commerce in oil is billed in the leading currency of the Empire, the US dollar.

The Anglo-American Empire, amazingly similar in composition to the dream of Cecil Rhodes and his personal banker Lord Rothschild3, relies not only on oil and the financial transactions connected with it. There are two other major businesses that support the value of lead currencies, like the USD, GBP or even the EUR. They are war — and hence both legal and illegal arms sales — and drugs, both licit and illicit. All three “markets” are entirely controlled by cartels and state regulation. Moreover, they provide windfall profits because they are all addictive and toxic. That means the traders get money and the buyers get garbage.

Stemming from the 19th century Opium Wars, Great Britain became the biggest dope pusher in the world. The opium trade made the British East India Company shareholders and those who traded with and for it wealthy beyond compare.4  While the US American schoolchild may learn about the Boston Tea Party, in which a few ruffians dumped British East India Tea into the harbour as a protest against taxation like the Townshend Acts 5, they won’t learn that proud New England families not only funded the Ivy League colleges with slave trading but with the income from opium business.

It is essential to recall that every crime is simply the unauthorised version of an activity otherwise deemed legal. The difference between marriage with dowry and prostitution is simply the statute book. The difference between war and murder is the sovereign authorisation. Seagram (Bronfman) produced whiskey in Canada that was legal and sold it more profitably in the US during Prohibition where it was illegal. The leading pharmaceutical companies are the brothers of the heroin, cocaine and synthetics pushers. And between all these folks who are all just merchants, there is the State — the armed bureaucracy that regulates these businesses in accordance with the most powerful to permit each side of these businesses to extract the maximum profit — yes, from us.

That said, as I have written in previous articles6 , the question of history arises not from the need to find the “true past” but to answer questions in the present. It is the most urgent present question with which I have been preoccupied for the past six months. Why in a global system dominated by the religious ideology of Business and the absolute priority of “the economy” have we seen the leading authorities, autocratic and bureaucratic, suspend the “economy” and disregard Business because of a new, improved version of the seasonal influenza? There are rational and irrational explanations. That is because power may be understood rationally but those who hold and exercise it are often — if not always — clinically insane (it is just because they own the clinics and the doctors that no one can utter this diagnosis!).

Again I want to remind the impatient reader — who implicitly strains my patience by not reading or remembering anything longer than the last Facebook or Instagram post — that all meaningful organisational decisions are made in secret by those who have the most power in the organisation — whether it is the classroom in which you send your child to be bullied (or bully) or the workplace you freely attend to earn money to pay the bank for the privilege of living in whatever house they let you buy. If you work in a big enough company or institution your boss and the bank know what your credit future will be like before you do. But never mind this bit of mundane reality. The point is simply nothing of any importance is ever decided in public where you have anything to say about it.

Having gotten that embarrassing sentimentality out of the way, let us consider what has happened since March 2020.

Following events in China, the OPEC of the pharmaceutical cartel, aka the World Health Organisation (in an earlier article I also wrote that “witch-hunting” is also part of their job), performed some international bureaucratic gymnastics — like several years ago with the so-called “swine flu” — to declare a high grade pandemic phase alert.7

This decision was presented as some kind of service to public health — this euphemism is deliberately conflated with concern for the well-being of ordinary humans, but is nothing of the sort. To make this quite clear: most genuine public health issues arise from poor nutrition, vile working conditions, polluted air, water and food, and poverty.8  None of these “pathogens” is part of the WHO brief. The World Health Organisation was established solely to market Western medical products worldwide and at the most profitable rates possible. This means among other things by arranging that poor countries devote precious foreign exchange for the purchase of bulk pharmaceuticals of dubious value under the pretext of being able to treat their indigent populations for illnesses that are almost entirely due to poor nutrition, vile working conditions, polluted air, water and food, and poverty. Long before the Bush-Clinton clique promoted “humanitarian interventionism”, the WHO was poisoning the poor for humanitarian purposes (also known as eugenics).

N.B. anyone who has not grasped the consequences of the US regime’s ownership of the UN and its agencies should read the story of the UN in Korea and in the Congo for a start.9

But I am digressing if only slightly. OPEC has never included all the oil producing countries and it was only effective as a cartel because it had the deep, if covert, collaboration of the Anglo-American oil majors. Without the pumps — wholly controlled downstream by either Rockefeller or Rothschild/Nobel — Saudi oil would have been worthless. While we all imagine that oil is what drives our cars and heats our homes that is, in fact, a relatively minor and expendable part of the oil economy. Downstream the truly lucrative oil flows into petrochemicals; e.g., plastics, fertilizers, and guess what — pharmaceuticals! Indeed the oil business, which started with “snake oil”, has never left it. Petroleum, that stuff that sticks to duck feathers and suffocates fish is the same gooey slime that forms the basis of much of the medicine you take. Think about it a minute: Monsanto (now part of IG Farben legacy, Bayer AG10 started as a poison producer when the US Army panicked about a potential natural sugar shortage during the Great War and gave John Francis Queeny the inspiration to sell the US Government coal tar as a sweetener. Some readers may recall when saccharine was finally prohibited. However, it had been identified as a carcinogen already in the 1920s!

Pharmaceuticals — until the dawn of genetic manipulation, a largely petrochemical or opiate driven product stream — is an integral part of the triad that drives modern capitalism: drugs, oil and guns. The oil industry is tightly held; mainly by two dynastic groups. And surprise, surprise the drug industry is too — the successors to the Anglo-American opium trade dominate the licit pharmaceuticals side and the illicit opium-based and cocaine drug trade.11   Since these businesses cannot be regulated in boardrooms alone, more than occasional persuasion is needed. So guns are just as important. But the gun trade is a topic for another day.

So what happened in March, really? My previous observations and summaries have not yet been rebutted. Nonetheless, I do believe that beyond the obvious manifestations of the West’s confrontation with China, aside from the hyper-policing regime that is being created, there is a useful analogy which is perhaps more powerful than the US regime’s destruction of the New York World Trade Center buildings. That act of armed propaganda by other government agencies was certainly powerful in expanding the police and military power of the degenerate US Empire. However, like the US war against Vietnam it has been extremely expensive. All the president’s accountants and all the president’s lawyers have not been able to put Humpty Dumpty (at least not his bank account) together again.

So like those who tried to command Richard Nixon — and finally deposed him — the ruling class of the Anglo-American Empire is determined to eliminate another “Nixon” outsider (although Nixon always thought he really “belonged”) and restore order. Nixon, like the reigning POTUS, enjoyed wide popular support. However, he had lost the support of the Establishment (which has come to be called the “Deep State” so as to imply that there is no Establishment or to lend its overt members legitimacy while denying the means by which it actually exercises power). Nixon actually saved the Establishment but it did not want to be saved by an outsider. It did not want anyone outside its own exclusive circle. So a pretext was found — and he was dismissed. He knew that the alternative was a “Kennedy solution”.

The present POTUS has been trying to save the US regime from the antagonism of those it has abused both domestically and foreign. He has tried to harness the latent populism — what too many people confuse with “Left” — and channel it back into that revival tent in a way no Oreo Obama could have done — despite his Kennedy plagiarism.

But that is all really a sideshow for the financial disaster that the Reagan-Bush-Clinton dynasty (and its obscene scions in Britain and Germany) left the dying Anglo-American Empire. Nixon presided over the clever back channel negotiations to open China, bring Pepsi to the Soviet Union and save the USD by linking it to oil. Everything indicates that Trump has no clue of any of this — and no one is going to tell him either.

But the USD domination is under attack from all sides, by the weak and the strong. The Empire has been losing its wars but paying its bankers trillions and trillions for that privilege — beyond the capacity of anything the Empire can produce. Without a reinforced US dollar no one in the Empire can imagine the future.

So hark!  The sneeze heard around the world.

The WHO assumed the role OPEC played in 1973. It declared a global pandemic under the most spurious conditions with the full knowledge that this would not only permit a shutdown of the economy (for political and economic benefits I have detailed elsewhere) but to create something only logical — the Pharmadollar. To keep it poetic, we now have the three P’s of global monetary domination: pistol dollar, followed by the petrodollar and now the pharma-dollar.

An emerging and potentially infinite demand for pharmaceuticals — legal or illegal — safe or unsafe — will offer the Western pharmaceutical cartels untold and unlimited profits and because these are all countries working in the USD/EUR markets, together with the WHO, will be guaranteed potentially unlimited profit streams. So from the first circle of hell we descend into the fourth circle. Can we get any closer to damnation?

  1. Anthony Sampson, The Seven Sisters (1974.
  2. John M. Blair, The Control of Oil, 1976.
  3. To avoid confusion: Nathan Mayer Rothschild, 1st Baron Rothschild, 1840-1915.
  4. See John Newsinger, The Blood Never Dried, 2006, and Nick Robins, The Corporation that Changed the World, 2006.
  5. For readers not schooled in US mythology, the Townshend Acts (1767) were consumption taxes imposed on British North American colonies intended inter alia to defray the costs of defending the colonies with British troops. Every US school pupil learns that these were great injustices — because the colonials were not represented in the British parliament. What they do not learn is that the colonies were all run as business ventures for private profit and the use of British troops to protect private investment could not be seen as a charitable exercise by those who ran the British Empire from London. See Gerald Horne, The Counter-Revolution of 1776, (2014).
  6. The First Circle“, Dissident Voice, April 24, 2020 and others posted there since.
  7. See table:  WHO Pandemic Phase Descriptions and Main Actions by Phase; and video NewsBreak 81: Confirmed: COVID-19 Plandemic a Known, Live “Training & Simulation Exercise” under WHO.
  8. A popular misconception lies in the belief that the aim of Public Health as a discipline is human health. In fact, schools of public health; e.g., the first one funded by the Rockefeller fortune at Johns Hopkins University, now sponsored by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, were created to teach professionals how to protect the rich from the diseases of the poor. This was defined as a management objective, implemented either using business or military models of organisation. Many of the people involved in terrorising the population as representatives of health departments or public health agencies are not physicians but professional managers of healthcare facilities and products. However, since our society has been trained to believe economists and business executives like those of the Middle Ages believed priests, it is virtually impossible to break the power of the medical fetishes these managers hold. See E. Richard Brown, Rockefeller’s Medicine Men (1979).
  9. See Bruce Cumings extensive scholarship on the Korean War, especially his two volume Origins of the Korean War (1981) but also his shorter derivative work and/or watch the Thames TV documentary Korea: The Unknown WarFor the treacherous role of the UN in the Congo:  Ludo de Witte (2002).
  10. After Mr William “Bill” Gates III made substantial investments in the entity. IG Farben was the German international chemicals and pharmaceuticals cartel that was technically divested by order of the US Military Government in Germany for its participation in war crimes under the NSDAP regime. In a fashion not unlike the US divestment order dissolving the Standard Oil trust, IG Farben was “punished” as a holding entity (1952) but its constituent corporations were reconstituted with immunity because they had not existed separately under the National Socialist regime, Bayer, Hoechst, BASF, Agfa, Chemische Fabrik Griesheim-Elektron, and Chemische Fabrik vorm. Weiler Ter Meer.
  11. For a good overview of the US regime’s international drug market management system, see Douglas Valentine, The Strength of the Wolf (2004) and The Strength of the Pack (2009) and its integration into the national security (Phoenix) state, The CIA as Organised Crime (2016).  A declassified OSS (Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA) report summarises the use of opium by the Japanese as a weapon of war. When the US entered Southeast Asia after Japanese withdrawal, they adopted the Japanese business model, Opium: A Japanese Technique of Occupation (1945) prepared by Mrs Katherine Lyman.

The post The Fourth Circle first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Iran: US Sanctions Unilateralism

PressTV Interview – slightly enhanced transcript

Background

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has slammed U-S sanctions against his country, saying they are a flagrant violation of the UN charter.  In an address to the UN General Assembly, Rouhani said the Iranian nation successfully withstood the U-S maximum pressure campaign. He added, Iran even flourished under the bans while pursuing its role as a pivot of peace and stability. He pointed to some of Iran’s peace efforts in the region and beyond, including combating the Daesh terrorist group, saying such a nation does not deserve sanctions. Rouhani said the U-S sanctions under the pretext of nuclear proliferation are based on false and baseless accusations. The Iranian president described the UN Security Council’s rejection of US unilateralism as a victory for Iran and the world community. He said the US can impose neither negotiations nor war on Iran.

*****

PressTV:  Could you please comment on Mr. Rouhani’s remarks?

Peter Koenig:  First, Mr. Rouhani is absolutely right. Iran, together with Russia and Hezbollah, played a crucial role in the Middle East Peace process, especially in Syria. And, of course, Iran does not deserve any sanctions, not just because Iran is a peaceful nation and even helps brokering peace with and between other nations, but also because Iran did not violate any of the conditions under the Nuclear Accord or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was signed under President Obama’s watch on 14 July 2015 in Vienna.

This has been confirmed again and again by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna.

PTV: How come the U.S. insists on the sanctions though they’ve not caused Iran to abandon resistance against bullies?

PK: It’s largely propaganda.  In less than 45 days Mr. Trump will face re-election – or not. Being tough on Iran will impress his conservative followers, regardless whether or not these sanctions have any impact on Iran.

Americans are basically good people, but they don’t know the real background and impact of the sanctions. They know nothing – only the lies offered to them by the mainstream media.

Almost the same could be said for Europeans. Most of them know what the official mainstream media tells them.

President Trump knows, of course, that sanctioning Iran, and sanctioning everybody and every country that is still dealing and trading with Iran — like the European Union, for example — is illegal. We know. He doesn’t care.

But it must be said. The Iran Nuclear Deal had been approved by the UN Security Council and is still valid. The UN Security Council does not approve of the sanctions, nor does it approve of unilaterally abrogating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed on 14 July 2015, still during Barak Obama’s Presidency, by Iran, the US, Russia, China, UK, Germany and the EU.

Unfortunately, although the EU does not agree with the sanctions, they will most likely go along with them for fear of the US punishing European enterprises dealing with Iran. Very similar to what Washington does with European companies working on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, supposed to deliver gas from Russia to Germany and the EU.

But not to worry.  Iran doesn’t need the west anymore.

Iran does well, focusing on the East, reorienting her trade and political focus, including monetary transactions, with the east according to eastern – i.e. China and Russian systems — approaching entry into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

PTV: Mr. Trump said he will force renegotiation of the Nuclear Deal. What is your view on this?

PK: This will not fly, of course. And Mr. Trump knows it. But, again, it’s propaganda ahead of the November elections, and it’s part of his election campaign.

Renegotiation, once more, would require the approval of the UN Security Council, and that is highly unlikely with Russia and China – veto countries – in the UNSC.

It’s sheer blustering Trump talk.

PTV:  Why does the U.S. make claims such as being against terrorism while supporting them and putting the blame on other countries like Iran?

PK: Washington never follows logic. Until not too long again this preposterous approach worked with many countries. The world listened. And many believed it.   But no more.  It is every day clearer that the only rogue Nation in the World – the only Nation that sponsors terrorism — is the United States.

And why are they still doing it and blaming Iran?  Still propaganda – make believe – that The US is still the strongest country in the world, the one that calls the shots on every event on the globe.

But no more and Mr. Trump and his government are aware that the US empire is on a declining branch.

But as with every dying empire, they will not give up until the end.

The EU better wake up before the end, before being pulled down into the abyss.

Iran has a bright future ahead with her orientation towards the East, China and Russia.

• Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

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Venezuela:  A Tribute for Her Endless Pursuit of Democracy

Venezuela is again the shining light of Democracy – pushing ahead with the 6 December 2020 National Assembly (NA) elections despite the endless challenges of covid, of sanctions, of embargos, of confiscation of foreign assets, and even of a totally illicit blockage of reserve currencies – Venezuela’s gold – naturally in the world’s protectorate of international financial fraud, The City of London.

This unique drive for democracy against all odds succeeds to a great degree thanks to President Maduro, who relentlessly resists not only the attempts against his life, but the lies and vilifications about Venezuela from most of the western world, led, of course, by the United States, followed closely by the European Union which, it seems, dominated by NATO, can’t break loose from being at Washington’s bidding.

It is sad to see European states – hands and minds still dripping of colonial blood, not being able to break the stranglehold of their genocidal past – and step onto a new plate, into a new history, fighting for justice and human rights. An example how far from this eye-opening conscientious awakening Europe is, was again demonstrated today by the EU Commission’s call to “sanction” Russia for the totally unproven Navalny poisoning, by stopping the almost completed Nord Stream 2 German-Russian gas pipeline project.

Never mind the absurdity that Germany and the EU are punishing themselves, not only because alternative badly needed gas supplies will be considerably more expensive – and god forbid – may be coming from US fracking sources. In other words, the EU would approve of an environmental disaster. Many of EU member countries are by their Constitution barred from using fracking gas or oil.

And again, the EU vassalhood – to call it what it is – refused President Maduro’s invitation to observe the December 6 elections. Mr. Maduro went out of his way to invite all the important opinion makers to come and observe the fairness of the elections, including the UN and the Europeans. The latter prefer not to see the correctness with their own eyes, but being able to criticize what they have not seen. There is no darker blindness than that emanating from not wanting to see.

And that, of course, only because the European leaders (sic) – all shoe-ins by an international deep state elite – will do whatever it takes to preserve as long as possible the unsustainable, unfettered, neoliberal no holds barred capitalism. The WEF (World Economic Forum) calls it best: The Great Reset – the upwards reorganization of assets. After the very elite-made global covid hoax has destroyed and continues to devastate most of what was the world economy, what gave work and food to billions of people – people are dwelling in the gutters with nothing left – no health care, no shelter, no food – no hope. The latter is the killer.

Venezuela is the antidote to this western usurping approach to civilization – what’s left of it. Venezuela pursues justice and fights for equality. By the way, Venezuela is in the honorable company of Cuba, Syria, Iran, Russia and China. The US, alias the west, cannot tolerate an example of ethics in its hegemonic orbit. Western allies – united under the boots of NATO – pretend freedom is their cause, while their own people suffer from unfathomable injustice every day – poverty and famine of children is skyrocketing in the Global North, the so-called developed or industrialized world – the bankers world, the world of those who indebt the Global South into dependence into the Global North’s neo-colonies.

Venezuela, on the contrary, aims at eradicating poverty, famine and misery and that despite her constant strangulation by Washington and its western allies, and even by some of what should be their Latin Brothers, the Lima Group, formed in August 2017 in Lima, Peru (12 members as of December 2019: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Guyana, Saint Lucia, Bolivia and Haiti).

Imagine how much pressure these Lima Group countries are under to accuse, boycott, denigrate and speak out in international fora against their fellow Latin Americans of Venezuela. Once upon a time there was a United Latin America – united under the leadership of Venezuela’s Simon Bolivar. With the onset of the British Empire’s transatlantic move of its power center to become the United States of America, the southern part of the Americas became what recent US Presidents called “our backyard” – ready to be usurped in any way possible, mostly in the form of military dictatorships and lately by Washington-induced coups against democratically elected heads of states.

However, the spirit of Simon Bolivar, El Libertador, lives on. Together with Nicolas Maduro’s tenacious will for freedom, for autonomy, for full sovereignty for Venezuelans, their use and destiny over natural resources, may prevail and influence upcoming elections in Bolivia (October 2020), Chile (October 2020 referendum on whether a new Constitution ought to be drafted, replacing the one dating back to Pinochet), Brazil (municipal election in November 2020) and Ecuador (general elections in February 2021).

Venezuela’s overarching strength by solidarity and endless fight for justice and Human Rights, brought the opposition to its knees. The right-wing Washington supported opposition, led by self-nominated “president” Juan Guaidó, boycotted past elections, so as not to show their weakness vis-à-vis the rest of the world. Now, perhaps the real head of opposition, Henrique Capriles, is changing tactics. Realizing that the only way to have any say in the political arena of Venezuela is by participating in it, he is calling for participation in the 6 December National Assembly elections.

President Maduro has always encouraged and invited participation of the opposition in elections and will welcome their presence for the December 2020 NA elections too. Because Democracy is at the heart of Chavismo, the very socialist thought being carried forward – steadily, without wavering, by President Maduro and his Government.

Viva! Venezuela’s Democracy – a shining light for the Americas and for the world.

The post Venezuela:  A Tribute for Her Endless Pursuit of Democracy first appeared on Dissident Voice.

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.