Category Archives: UN General Assembly

Four Winds, 1,000 Pieces

Unlike their upstart competitor McKinsey, they don’t bother to homogenize their people. They never made their people wear fedoras; they put no premium on the trained-seal avidity McKinsey wants. They acculturate their people slowly, on sailing jaunts, or sprawling banquets, or card games, or benders in stodgy, opulent resorts.

Founded to capitalize on the Great War, they cranked the meat-grinder and went from strength to strength. They needed men of affairs, not visionary gurus, men of sound judgment (and men it was, back then. It was the time of Three Guineas. Women were apt to entertain fantastic notions.) Their ἀρετή was Aristotelian; they didn’t pack the firm with hundreds of superfluous philosopher kings purveying big ideas. You would hear none of that ‘we’re the best’ nonsense. The partnership went through private-public peekaboo before being tucked away by the top-flight private equity firm.

It’s an amorphous concern with blurry outlines. One stumbles on inexplicable persons. What do they do? They have no deadlines or quotidian annoyances, no turf. When they want a word with you, someone else will have it. They’re CIA NOCs.

When preferment buoys you up to a certain point, you get the talk about the birds and the bees. But if you pay attention, you will have sussed it out long before. Like the bookie who sits meekly in the Rotary Club, these NOCs are the tendrils of organized crime. Sinecures at this firm feather the nests of senior spooks put out to pasture. Yet a stint at the firm can make radicals of lesser functionaries – it has employed a number of the most spectacular leakers, spawning historic exposures. Like any mob, our thing will always have its capos and its rats.

Why name them? Meth heads coyly call Hell’s Angels the Red & White or 81. In the same sort of infamous obscurity these dapper made men boast of contracts kept from Congress, billeting spooks of Bond-James-Bond notoriety and earning epithets like consigliere of the Intelligence Community or shadow IC. Yet this old-line firm is by no means unique. Any Western enterprise of any use is shot through with CIA. You may work for them and never know it. As Douglas Valentine has shown, the CIA is best understood as organized crime. The UN Secretary General reported on ways in which criminal organizations develop a “symbiotic relationship” with the State (E/CN.15/1996/2.) Speaking frankly in a bilateral forum at the SECRET//NOFORN level, Spanish Prosecutor Jose Grinda said years of investigating organized crime taught him that unlike terrorists, who aim to supplant the state, organized crime seeks to complement state structures.

That’s certainly how it works here in the US of A. When Attorney General Robert Kennedy went after organized crime, he directly attacked CIA’s trusted henchmen and CIA’s raison d’être, and CIA killed him.

In 1991 Daniel Patrick Moynihan took a stab at the racket. The Stasi regime of the DDR had just fallen, almost all the Soviet police states had collapsed. Why not get rid of their mirror image, CIA’s kleptocracy, too? Moynihan’s bill, S. 236, died in committee. Moynihan, the canny trickster who gifted us the ICCPR, survived his exploit and died in bed.

The ensuing paroxysm of CIA torture, murder, and aggression roused the world. The UN High Commissioner for human rights named a special rapporteur to look into the CIA’s rampage. Finnish academic Martin Scheinin gauged the CIA regime against human rights. Scheinin surveyed the nations of the world, compiling the practices of nations whose secret services were less overtly psychopathic.

Only, as the mobsters say, Na ga happen. As muckraking publisher Penn Jones would say of CIA late in life, “They like what they got, and they ain’t never gonna give it back.” What they got is impunity. CIA has exempted itself from all law. In a nation infested by organized crime, incremental measures will not work.

Meanwhile the whole world had resolved to do what it takes to clean us up. That meant candid acknowledgement of CIA’s mission: transnational organized crime.

The effort got traction because the corruptible UN Secretariat was impelled by two of the UN organs least susceptible to US control: the General Assembly and ECOSOC. These two bodies shared the work out to regional groups and ministerial conferences for independent opinions. An international working group drafted the legal framework of the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and Protocols thereto. Take a look.  It’s a remarkable endeavor. The world has outlawed CIA.

CIA fought to defang the convention in the drafting stage. The Travaux Préparatoires record CIA’s last-ditch battle for impunity. It fell to government lawyer Elizabeth Verville to put CIA loopholes into the agreements.

To take the initiative, the US delegation drafted working papers at the outset. The US objected to any invocation of the UN’s bedrock self-determination principle — subversion of peoples’ self-determination is CIA’s core competence and principal line of business. The US working paper permitted non-cooperation for insufficiently “serious” crimes. Leery of such vagueness, other countries pressed for a list of serious crimes; but terrorism remained out of scope, relegated to the preamble. CIA’s tame terrorists, from ISIL to Elohim City to Al Qaeda, would have to be tackled elsewhere.

The US tried to insert a “focal point,” Allen Dulles’ famous turn of phrase, into the gunrunning provisions. The focal point would handle nuts and bolts separately from the national point of contact. Once the devil is inserted in the details, that could formalize CIA’s intelligence liaison function and preserve deniability for covert crime. The focal point would duplicate, or end-run, the functions of the UN Secretariat’s less controllable Coordinating Action on Small Arms. But the other treaty parties rallied and dropped the provision.

The US proposed to ensure national discretion over the description of offenses. That would protect the clever legal drafting that excuses so much CIA crime. The US tried and failed to insert weasel words into the anti-corruption pledge to preserve the US system of institutionalized graft by CIA cutouts like Tongsun Park or Sheldon Adelson or AIPAC.

The US proposed a political offense exception that dovetailed neatly with the political questions doctrine that lets CIA get away with all that murder. An idiosyncratic US legal notion considers the Security Council’s purview to be politics, not law, so this political exemption could be used to protect CIA’s covert aggression. The US could drag the UNSC into a matter as a pretext for withholding legal assistance and cooperation. The US tried that trick with Libya and the World Court shot them down. With more casuistry embedded in the laws, it might just work next time.

CIA moles on the US delegation proposed secrecy provisions to keep the public in the dark and traditional sweetheart deals for informants. They proposed a catchall authorization of “any other functions” right out of CIA’s original charter, and a clause permitting “any other applicable arrangement or practice.” In conjunction with a bit of secrecy, these carte blanche provisions could shield the Safari Club, Iran/Contra, or the pedophile kompromat enterprise of Zorro Ranch and Little Saint James.

The treaty parties pushed to align eccentric US language with relevant international law, correcting inconsistent use of “law enforcement authorities” that might let CIA horn in. The US tried and failed to formalize its arbitrary asset forfeiture powers worldwide.

The US drafted language allowing treaty parties to pick and choose protocols without signing the convention itself, as the US did in the case of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Other states blocked that, making the framework law of the convention a prerequisite for the specialized protocols.

The US tried to cut ship seizure provisions from the protocol on trafficking in migrants. A US suggestion would let treaty parties take unspecified “other measures” at their discretion but the other signatories, scenting the telltale whiff of a CIA loophole, deleted the clause. To preserve CIA’s prized covert control over transport registration, the US tried to short-circuit the section defining jurisdiction with a circular reference to jurisdiction, and pressed for a more “flexible formulation.”

The US tried to confine arms trafficking regulation to transnational commerce and not privately owned guns. Iran, having seen what privateers’ guns can do in CIA’s Mideast entrepots, urged the world to keep an eye on cached guns too.

CIA slipped in their all-purpose loophole, national security, the magic words that ward off legislative oversight and courts here in the US. The US put its Canadian satellite up to it. CIA put it into the protocol on gunrunning, the vital essence of CIA coercion.

In its urbane and diplomatic way the treaty body erupted. CIA’s get-out-of-jail-free card was about to be imposed on the world. Every delegate from every country had been waiting for this ruse. The emollient language of the Travaux Préparatoires did not mitigate the stakes.

One delegation supported interpretation of the wording to include cases of covert travel or transfers for ‘national security’ purposes. Most of the delegations that spoke on this point indicated that language that would support such an interpretation would not be acceptable to them.

CIA’s gravest crimes were laid open for examination. The diplomats put their finger on CIA’s modus operandi, the agency’s trick of making military materiel fall off the truck and disappear. The ineffable reason for the Pentagon’s unauditable financial cesspool was laid bare in front of the whole world:

In view of the problem of diversion of firearms from military or security stockpiles to illicit traffic, some delegations expressed concern that not requiring marking and recording of military firearms would make them untraceable if they later fell into non-military possession as a result of loss in armed conflict, theft or other diversions.

CIA aggression by armed irregulars was now a crime. The working group explicitly restricted national security to consistency with the UN Charter. Now national security means human rights in the supreme law of the land. And human rights interpreted in good faith is the death of CIA. The version of the Protocol approved by the General Assembly reads this way:

This Protocol shall not apply to state-to-state transactions or to state transfers in cases where the application of the Protocol would prejudice the right of a State Party to take action in the interest of national security consistent with the Charter of the United Nations.

In an interpretive note, state-to-state transactions were restricted to states acting in a sovereign capacity. This ended deniability as a shield for CIA crime. If the US does not acknowledge the transfer, it is subject to international criminal law — not to the bribed and blackmailed hacks on the federal bench but to independent investigators from gimlet-eyed security services worldwide, collaborating in universal jurisdiction. In law sovereignty is responsibility: acceptance of the UN Charter, the International Bill of Human Rights, and the Rome Statute. The US would be committed to prosecute or extradite its state criminals. Multiple countries entered reservations to ensure that the scope of the treaty did not let CIA off the hook. It’s not over but the screws are tightening.

As its last line of defense, CIA did what chiseling it could at home. The US entered three reservations. First they cited federalism. That laid the ground for traditional US attempts to blame bad faith and duplicity on those darn states. Second, having failed to get its “flexible formulation,” the US repeated its ship and aircraft let-out from its fingers-crossed accession to the Optional Protocol on Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (OPSC.) Third, the US opted out of dispute resolution, a process in which either party can insist on negotiation, arbitration, or finally, adjudication by the World Court. US contempt for binding agreements has long been an important source of World Court case law. CIA hoped to keep its bad-example ill repute off the books.

You might not have noticed, but in 2011 transnational organized crime became a national emergency. The state’s arbitrary powers can now be used to expropriate internal enemies and deny the rights of trial. This state of emergency (in breach of ICCPR Article 4, supreme law of the land) degrades the rule of law, affording CIA what the UN Secretary General warned of: “‘systemic’ corruption designed to ensure the preservation of a congenial and low-risk home base or a comfortable environment in host countries.” And we see emergency powers being used in exactly this way, to preserve CIA impunity. Since the US, in illegal opposition to the object and purpose of the ICCPR, has explicitly derogated the most absolute rights including life and freedom from torture, CIA’s domestic charter continues to license traditional racketeering of all sorts up to and including Murder, Inc.

But in the wider world, CIA is a criminal enterprise. In law CIA’s gravest crimes compromise US sovereignty, authorizing the outside world to protect us. Now we can effect JFK’s great idea: CIA in a thousand pieces, scattered to the winds. Thirty years of tightly-drafted world standard law makes Moynihan’s bill perfectly straightforward. Let’s update the bill. The world will see to it.

*****

A BILL

To Foster Universal Comity, Knowledge and Control of Intervention Action. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

TITLE I — SHORT TITLE

SEC. 101. This Act may be cited as the `FUCK CIA Act’.

TITLE II–PROHIBITION ON FOREIGN INTERVENTION

SEC. 201.

(a) PROHIBITION-

(1) Where foreign intervention is prohibited by US obligations and commitments including, but not limited to, the instruments cited in Section 202, associated assistance to any foreign region, country, government, group, or individual is a federal criminal offense and an internationally wrongful act giving rise to state responsibility. No federal officer or employee may–

(A) receive, accept, hold, control, use, spend, disburse, distribute, or transfer any funds or property from any foreign government (including any instrumentality or agency thereof), foreign person, or United States person;

(B) use any United States funds or facilities to assist any transaction whereby a foreign government (including any instrumentality or agency thereof), foreign person or United States person provides any funds or property to any third party; or

(C) provide any United States assistance to any third party, if the purpose of any such act is the furthering or carrying out of the same activities, for which United States assistance is prohibited.

(2) As used within the meaning of paragraph (1), assistance provided for the purpose of furthering or carrying out prohibited activities includes assistance provided under any arrangement acquiescing to action by the recipient to further those activities.

(b) PENALTY- Any person who knowingly and willfully violates the provisions of subsection (a)(1) shall be imprisoned not more than ten years or fined in accordance with title 18, United States Code, or both.

(c) PRESIDENTIAL NOTIFICATION-

(1) Whenever–

(A) any officer or employee of the executive branch advocates, promotes, or encourages the provision of funds or property by any foreign government (including any instrumentality or agency thereof,) foreign person, or United States person for the purpose of furthering or carrying out prohibited activities with respect to such recipients; Then the President shall notify the Congress in a timely fashion that such advocacy, promotion, or encouragement has occurred.

(2) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as authorizing any action prohibited by subsection (a).

(d) APPLICABILITY- The provisions of this section shall not be superseded except by United Nations Security Council resolutions authorized under United Nations Charter Chapter 7, Article 41.

(e) CONSTRUCTION-

(1) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit–

(A) the ability of the President, the Vice President, or any officer or employee of the executive branch to make statements or otherwise express his views to any party on any subject;

(B) the ability of an officer or employee of the United States to express the publicly enunciated policies of the President; or

(C) the ability of an officer or employee of the United States to communicate with any foreign country, government, group, or individual, either directly or through a third party, with respect to a prohibition of United States assistance covered by subsection (a)(1), including the reasons for such prohibition.

(2) Nothing in this section shall be construed as waiving or otherwise derogating from any other provision of law imposing penalties, obligations, or responsibilities with respect to any of the acts described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) of subsection (a)(1).

(f) DEFINITIONS- For purposes of this section–

(1) the term ‘person’ includes (A) any natural person, (B) any corporation, partnership, or other legal entity, and (C) any organization, association, or other group;

(2) the term `United States assistance’ means–

(A) assistance of any kind under the Foreign Assistance act of 1961;

(B) sales, credits, and guaranties under the Arms Export Control Act;

(C) export licenses issued under the Arms Export Control Act;

(D) officially directed or ultra vires action by an officer or employee of the United States.

(3) the term ‘US obligations and commitments’ means–

(A) customary international law;

(B) conventional international law ratified by the United States.

SEC. 202

OBLIGATIONS AND COMMITMENTS – US obligations and commitments expressly include without limitation:

Charter of the United Nations;

Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of Their Independence and Sovereignty;

Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations;

Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

Convention Against Torture;

United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and Protocols thereto.

TITLE III

50 U.S.C. § 401 et seq. is repealed. 50 U.S.C. § 402 et seq. is repealed. 50 U.S.C. § 403 et seq. is repealed.

*****

Moynihan’s bill, S. 236, might have been the last and greatest regime change of die Wende, the change that ended the Cold War. The epochal event that freed the Soviet bloc is also called die Abwicklung, meaning the dismantling of otiose states. One outmoded throwback survived it, to our great detriment. CIA is no agency, it is a regime, a parallel government granted arbitrary power by legally void decree. Let’s dismantle it.

The post Four Winds, 1,000 Pieces first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Palestinian envoy fails to criticize Canada

With a representative like this Palestinians might be better off with no envoy in Canada. A recent profile of the Palestinian Authority’s agent in Ottawa confirms the PA is more a colonial tool than a voice for an oppressed people.

In the Hill Times interview Hala Abou-Hassira refuses to answer whether Canada’s anti-Palestinian voting record at the UN had harmed its bid for a seat on the Security Council. Abou-Hassira responded by saying she didn’t know how different member states voted but hoped Canada would win a seat in the future. She even refused to criticize the Canadian government for repeatedly isolating itself against world opinion on Palestinian rights. “Abou-Hassira didn’t offer a position on Canada’s voting record, instead saying Canada has taken ‘positive steps towards peace in the region’”, reported the Hill Times. “Our struggle at the United Nations is not an issue of counting votes, it is a struggle for freedom,” she said.

According to research compiled by Karen Rodman of Just Peace Advocates, since 2000 Canada voted against 166 General Assembly resolutions critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Canada’s competitors for the two Security Council seats, Ireland and Norway, didn’t vote against any of these resolutions. Additionally, Ireland and Norway voted yes 251 and 249 times respectively on resolutions related to Palestinian rights during this period. Canada managed 87 yes votes, but only two since 2010.

While the Palestinian Authority’s representative in Ottawa deemed it politically unwise to point out the obvious, a slew of officials and commentators have highlighted the importance of the Palestinian question in Canada’s loss. After the vote Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, told the Jerusalem Post, “we are disappointed that Canada didn’t make it, both because we have close ties with the country and because of the campaign that the Palestinians ran against Canada.” In “UN snub the latest in Liberals’ rancid record” Toronto Star columnist Rick Salutin noted that Canada’s Security Council defeat was all about Canada’s anti-Palestinian record. He wrote, “there is one and only one reason, IMO [in my opinion], for the resounding defeat of Canada’s bid for a Security Council seat at the UN: Palestine.”

Canada’s voting record at the UN was at the heart of the grassroots No Canada on the UN Security Council campaign. An open letter launching the campaign from the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute noted, “since coming to power the Trudeau government has voted against more than fifty UN resolutions upholding Palestinian rights backed by the overwhelming majority of member states.” A subsequent open letter was signed by over 100 civil society groups and dozens of prominent individuals urging countries to vote against Canada’s bid for a Security Council seat due to its anti-Palestinian positions. That letter organized by Just Peace Advocates stated, “the Canadian government for at least a decade and a half has consistently isolated itself against world opinion on Palestinian rights at the UN. … Continuing this pattern, Canada ‘sided with Israel by voting No’ on most UN votes on the Question of Palestine in December. Three of these were Canada’s votes on Palestinian Refugees, on UNRWA and on illegal settlements, each distinguishing Canada as in direct opposition to the ‘Yes’ votes of Ireland and Norway.”

Just Peace Advocates organized 1,300 individuals to email all UN ambassadors asking them to vote for Ireland and Norway instead of Canada for the Security Council. In a sign of the campaign’s impact, Canada’s permanent representative to the UN Marc André Blanchard responded with a letter to all UN ambassadors defending Canada’s policy on Palestinian rights.

There’s no question that Canada’s anti-Palestinian voting record harmed its Security Council bid. The only serious question is how big of a role did it play. For their part, Palestinians have an interest in exaggerating, not downplaying, the impact Canada’s anti-Palestinian voting record had on its Security Council loss.

But the PA is highly dependent on Israel, the US, Canada, and other countries’ “aid”. Over the past decade tens (possibly hundreds) of millions of dollars in Canadian aid money has gone to training and supporting a Palestinian security force that serves as an arm of Israel’s occupation. The PA has been labeled the “subcontractor of the Occupation”.

Abou-Hassira’s refusal to criticize this country’s UN voting record should be viewed as a manifestation of Canada’s anti-Palestinianism. Ottawa has helped build a political apparatus so removed from the needs and desires of the long-colonized Palestinians that it is unable to criticize a country for repeatedly isolating itself against world opinion on largely symbolic UN votes.

PA Political Circus: Why Abbas Must Hand the Keys over to the PLO

The painful truth is that the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas has already ceased to exist as a political body that holds much sway or relevance, either to the Palestinian people or to Abbas’ former benefactors, namely the Israeli and the American governments.

So, when the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh, announced on June 9, that the Palestinian leadership had submitted a ‘counter-proposal’ to the US’ Middle East peace plan, also known as the ‘Deal of the Century’, few seemed to care.

We know little about this ‘counter-proposal’, aside from the fact that it envisages a demilitarized Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders. We also know that the Palestinian leadership is willing to accept land swaps and border adjustments, a provision that has surely been inserted to cater to Israel’s demographic and security needs.

It is almost certain that nothing will come out of Shtayyeh’s counter-proposal and no independent Palestinian state is expected to result from the seemingly historical offer. So, why did Ramallah opt for such a strategy only days before the July 1 deadline, when the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to launch its process of illegal annexation in the occupied West Bank and the Jordan Valley?

The main reason behind Shtayyeh’s announcement is that the Palestinian leadership is often accused by Israel, the US and their allies of supposedly rejecting previous ‘peace’ overtures.

Rightly, the Palestinian Authority rejected the ‘Deal of the Century’, because the latter represents the most jarring violation of international law yet. The ‘Deal’ denies Palestine’s territorial rights in occupied East Jerusalem, dismisses the right of return for Palestinian refugees altogether, and gives carte blanche to the Israeli government to colonize more Palestinian land.

In principle, Netanyahu also rejected the American proposal, though without pronouncing his rejection publicly. Indeed, the Israeli leader has already dismissed any prospects of Palestinian statehood and has decided to move forward with the unilateral annexation of nearly 30% of the West Bank without paying any heed to the fact that even Trump’s unfair ‘peace’ initiative called for mutual dialogue before any annexation takes place.

As soon as Washington’s plan was announced in January, followed by Israel’s insistence that annexation of Palestinian territories was imminent, the Palestinian Authority spun into a strange political mode, far more unpredictable and bizarre than ever before.

One after another, Palestinian Authority officials began making all sorts of contradictory remarks and declarations, notable amongst them Abbas’ decision on May 19 to cancel all agreements signed between Palestinians and Israel.

This was followed by another announcement, on June 8, this time by Hussein Al-Sheikh, a senior Palestinian Authority official and Abbas’ confidante, that if annexation takes place the Authority would cut off civil services to Palestinians so that Israel may assume its legal role as an Occupying Power as per international norms.

A third announcement was made the following day by Shtayyeh himself, who threatened that, if Israel claims sovereignty over parts of the West Bank, the Authority would retaliate by declaring statehood within the pre-1967 borders.

The Palestinian counter-proposal was declared soon after this hotchpotch of announcements, most likely to offset the state of confusion that is marring the Palestinian body politic. It is the Palestinian leadership’s way of appearing pro-active, positive, and stately.

The Palestinian initiative also aims at sending a message to European countries that, despite Abbas’ cancellation of agreements with Israel, the Palestinian Authority is still committed to the political parameters set by the Oslo Accords as early as September 1993.

What Abbas and Shtayyeh are ultimately hoping to achieve is a repeat of an earlier episode that followed the admission of Palestine as a non-state member of the United Nations General Assembly in 2011. Salam Fayyad, who served as the Authority Prime Minister at the time, also waved the card of the unilateral declaration of statehood to force Israel to freeze the construction of illegal Jewish settlements.

Eventually, the Palestinian Authority was co-opted by then-US Secretary of State, John Kerry, to return to another round of useless negotiations with Israel, which won the Authority another ten years, during which time it received generous international funds while selling Palestinians false hope for an imaginary state.

Sadly, this is the current strategy of the Palestinian leadership: a combination of threats, counter-proposals and such, in the hope that Washington and Tel Aviv will agree to return to a by-gone era.

Of course, the Palestinian people, occupied, besieged, and oppressed are the least relevant factor in the Palestinian Authority’s calculations, but this should come as no surprise. The Palestinian leadership has operated for many years without a semblance of democracy, and the Palestinian people neither respect their government nor their so-called President. They have made their feelings known, repeatedly, in many opinion polls in the past.

In the last few months, the Authority has used every trick in the book to demonstrate its relevance and its seriousness in the face of the dual-threat of Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ and Netanyahu’s annexation of Palestinian lands. Yet, the most significant and absolutely pressing step, that of uniting all Palestinians, people and factions, behind a single political body and a single political document, is yet to be taken.

Considering all of this, it is no exaggeration to argue that Abbas’ Authority is gasping its last breath, especially if its traditional European allies fail to extend a desperately needed lifeline. The guarded positions adopted by EU countries have, thus far, signaled that no European country is capable or even willing to fill the gap left open by Washington’s betrayal of the Palestinian Authority and of the ‘peace process’.

Until the Authority hands over the keys to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) so that the more democratically representative Palestinian body can start a process of national reconciliation, Netanyahu will, tragically, remain the only relevant party, determining the fate of Palestine and her people.

Canada Isolates Itself against World Opinion on Palestinian Rights

The Palestinian solidarity movement is unsettling Canada’s diplomatic apparatus. In the final week of their multi-year campaign for a seat on the United Nations Security Council they’ve been forced to respond to a well-documented, strong campaign in defense of Palestinian rights.

Yesterday, Canada’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Marc-André Blanchard, delivered a letter to all UN ambassadors defending Canadian policy on Palestinian rights. Blanchard was responding to an Open Letter organized by Just Peace Advocates signed by more than 100 organizations and dozens of prominent individuals. Over the past week more than 1000 individuals have used that letter as a template to contact all 193 UN ambassador to ask them to vote for Ireland and Norway instead of Canada for two seats available on the Security Council.

Canada’s ambassador claims the Just Peace Advocates’ letter contains “significant inaccuracies”, but he doesn’t identify a single one of those “inaccuracies” (Blanchard probably hoped his letter wouldn’t be put online). Here is the Palestinian solidarity letter sent to all UN ambassadors:

As humanity reels from the Covid-19 pandemic, you will soon select the world’s representatives on the UN’s highest decision-making body. As organizations and individuals advocating in Canada and elsewhere for a just peace in Palestine/Israel, we respectfully ask you to reject Canada’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council.

As you choose seats on the Security Council between the bids of Canada, Ireland and Norway for the two Western Europe and Other States, the UN’s historic contribution to Palestinian dispossession and responsibility to protect their rights must be front of mind. In these uncertain times, Palestinians are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 due to Israel’s military occupation and violations of UN resolutions.

The Canadian government for at least a decade and a half has consistently isolated itself against world opinion on Palestinian rights at the UN. Since coming to power – after the dubious record of the Harper government – the Trudeau government has voted against more than fifty UN resolutions upholding Palestinian rights that were backed by the overwhelming majority of member states. Continuing this pattern, Canada “sided with Israel by voting No” on most UN votes on the Question of Palestine in December. Three of these were Canada’s votes on Palestinian Refugees, on UNRWA and on illegal settlements, each distinguishing Canada as in direct opposition to the “Yes” votes of Ireland and Norway.

The Canadian government has refused to abide by 2016 UN Security Council Resolution 2334, calling on member states to “distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied in 1967.” On the contrary, Ottawa extends economic and trade assistance to Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise.

Canada has repeatedly sided with Israel. Ottawa justified Israel’s killing of “Great March of Return” protesters in Gaza and has sought to deter the International Criminal Court from investigating Israeli war crimes. In fact, Canada’s foreign affairs minister announced that should it win a seat on the UNSC, it would act as an “asset for Israel” on the Council.

When deciding who represents the international community on the UN’s highest decision-making body, we urge you to consider the UN-established rights of the long-suffering Palestinians, and to vote for Ireland and Norway, which have better records on the matter than Canada.

In reality, the letter only touches on the current government’s anti-Palestinian record. They’ve also celebrated Canadians who fight in the Israeli military, threatened to cut off funding to the International Criminal Court for investigating Israeli crimes, protected Israeli settlement wine producers, added Palestinian organizations to Canada’s terrorism list, adopted a definition of antisemitism explicitly designed to marginalize those who criticize Palestinian dispossession and repeatedly slandered the pro-Palestinian movement. None of this is secret. In fact, Liberal MP and former chair of the government’s Justice and Human Rights Committee, Anthony Housefather, has repeatedly boasted that the Trudeau government’s voting record at the UN was more anti-Palestinian than the Stephen Harper government!

The Trudeau government has almost entirely acquiesced to Housefather, B’nai B’rith, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and the rest of the Israel lobby’s positions. But, they understand that there is sympathy for Palestinians within the UN General Assembly. And they need those individuals to vote for Canada’s Security Council bid if they don’t want to suffer an embarrassing defeat.

To be forced to respond at this late hour in their Security Council campaign represents a setback to the Liberals. But, we won’t know how significant the damage is until after next week’ vote. In the meantime please send a letter to all UN ambassadors calling on them to vote for Canada’s competitors, Norway and Ireland, for the two non-permanent Security Council spots open for Western countries.

As Just Peace Advocates’ Karen Rodman has pointed out, “the letter is seeking to pull at the heartstrings of the individuals who cast the secret ballots for the Security Council seat. We want to remind UN ambassadors that Canada has consistently isolated itself against world opinion when it comes to the long-suffering Palestinians.”

The Endless Cruelty of US Sanctions: The US Interception of Chinese Medical Supply to Cuba

Enhanced transcript on an interview with PressTV

Background

Cuba complained recently that a shipment of test kits, masks and respirators, donated by the Chinese Alibaba group, didn’t arrive because the American company tasked with transportation feared breaching U-S sanction rules. Washington imposed an embargo on Cuba in 1962 after the island nation nationalized its oil industry. The measures have been denounced by the United Nations 28 years in a row.

PressTV:  What are your views on this?

Peter Koenig:  First, there are no words to describe the cruelty of this and many other similar acts by the United States, to utilize this pandemic to tighten the screws even more on sanctioned countries like Cuba and Venezuela and Iran, and many others, by blocking vital medical supplies from reaching these countries’ medical staff and hospitals to treat patents. The blockage of this medical supply may cause even more deaths from a virus that most likely originated in the US.

But did you know that this worldwide pandemic was planned for years, and its last step before it was launched was Event 201, sponsored by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (created and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation), by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Economic Forum, the club of the ultra-oligarchs that meet every January in Davos, Switzerland.

The event took place on October 18, 2019, in New York City and produced a number of pandemic simulations, exactly with a corona virus which, for the simulation strangely and coincidentally, was called 2019-nCoV. Later the name was changed by WHO into COVID-19. The result of the simulation produced 65 million deaths in 18 months, a stock market collapse of more than 30% and an insane number of unemployment and bankruptcies. What we are living now is exactly that; in fact, we are seeing just the tiny top of the iceberg.

This was a planned worldwide destruction of the socioeconomic fabric and all that depends on it. It was an attempt of the few powerful on top of the pyramid — the Dark Deep State — to plunge the bulk of the world population into a never before seen misery, and, of course, as always, it will affect poor countries more than the rich.

Having said this, the illegal US blockage of Cuba for almost 60 years, which we all know is inhuman and cruel and against all international laws and standards.

The UN has voted against this illegitimate blockade against Cuba for almost 30 years in a row. Of the 193 UN members, 191 voted against the continuation of the blockade. The exceptions were the US and Israel.

This entire world body voting against the US sanctions represents more than 99% of the world population. Yet, it does nothing against the US and its sanctions and embargos on Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, China, Russia, North Korea – and many more. Currently about 30% of the world population are affected in one way or another by US sanctions. Why doesn’t the entire world collectively sanction the US?

I know, this is a pipe dream. But it’s a possibility. Especially now that the world economy is about to collapse because of the draconian measures almost every government of the globe has taken to fight the corona virus. We have literally created “planet lockdown”. Now that we may enter into an entire new socioeconomic paradigm, is the time for the 99.9% of the population, to apply the shock doctrine in reverse. It would be the moment for the 191 countries of the UN body to take control and start sanctioning the US, until the ruthless empire becomes a normal respectable nation.

PressTV Question:  In December 2014 Obama initiated the “Cuban Thaw” and in July 2015 reestablished diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana. What happened after that?

PK:  First, I think we have to see this new “overture” by Obama like many other initiatives he took — a dishonest move. It foremost was to put officially US spies and US propaganda agents into the newly reopened US Embassy, because the loosening of the embargo was never part of the deal. There was not even a plan when that might happen.

Then came Trump, a ferocious anti-socialist, anti-everything-that-is-not capitalist fanatic. He also immensely dislikes Obama and wanted to undo as much as possible of what Obama managed in his eight years at the helm in Washington. So, instead of talking about the next steps of loosening the embargo, as the Cubans rightly expected, Trump tightened the screws on the sanctions invoking the strengthening of the Helms-Burton act. This US federal law is a mere strengthening of the sanctions and embargo against Cuba.

Then under a ridiculous pretext that Cuba poisoned US embassy staff with an unidentifiable hearing disease, Washington withdrew almost all staff from the Embassy. But the official Cuban Washington relation is still on the records, and the Embassies nominally in place.

Since then, Trump and his various advisors and spokespeople have repeatedly declared that President Trump will not tolerate any socialism in the world, and especially not in “his” Hemisphere; that he will eradicate Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua as we know them. That has so far not happened. We’ll see. These countries’ resistance is much stronger than the Trump ideologues are capable of imagining.  So much for the Obama “opening” to Cuba.

Invoke U.N.’s Uniting For Peace Resolution Before Trump Embroils Us In War With Iran

In the early hours of January 3, 2020, the United States military assassinated Iran’s most powerful military commander, General Qasem Soleimani.

Soleimani’s killing, accomplished by means of a drone strike in Baghdad, was done without the authorization of the Iraqi government. It thus constitutes a grave breach of Iraqi sovereignty.

It also constitutes an act of war against the state of Iran. Soleimani was a high-ranking representative of the Iranian government, reputed by many to be the second most powerful official after Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The U.S. government sought to justify Soleimani’s assassination on the basis that Soleimani was allegedly planning one or more “imminent” attacks on Americans.

According, however, to New York Times correspondent Rukmini Callimachi, who consulted with knowledgeable sources within the United States government, the evidence suggesting there was to be an imminent attack on American targets is “razor thin.”

As stated by Agnes Callamard, the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions:

Outside the context of active hostilities, the use of drones or other means for targeted killing is almost never likely to be legal.

Ms. Callamard went on to explain that:

To be justified under international human rights law, intentionally lethal or potentially lethal force can only be used where strictly necessary to protect against an imminent threat to life.

Thus, Soleimani’s assassination was not only a grave breach of Iraqi sovereignty and an act of war against Iran, it was also a violation of international human rights law.

Even worse, on January 5, Iraq’s Prime Minister revealed that Trump had called him to ask him to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran with a view to defusing tensions between them and that the U.S. assassinated Soleimani at the very moment when Soleimani was carrying a response to the Saudi initiative.

In response to these shocking revelations, former U.S. Green Party leader Jill Stein tweeted:

Now THIS is grounds for #impeachment – treachery unleashing the unthinkable for Americans & people the world over: Trump asked Iraqi prime minister to mediate with #Iran then assassinated Soleimani – on a mediation mission.

Undeterred by the collapse of his mendacious justification for provoking war with Iran, Trump threatened on January 5 to target Iranian cultural sites – a brazen war crime – if Iran elected to retaliate against his act of war.

Meanwhile, Iran has announced its withdrawal from the Obama-era nuclear deal, referred to as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or “JCPOA.” The JCPOA’s future was already in grave doubt due to the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the agreement in 2018 and his subsequent imposition of crushing sanctions on Iran — which are destroying Iran’s health infrastructure and causing innocent Iranians to suffer and die.

It is important to recall that, at the time of Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA, the International Atomic Energy Agency certified that Iran was in compliance with the deal.

The mere fact that Iran entered into the deal at all was remarkable, given that its arch-nemesis in the region, Israel, possesses the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal and is the only state in the Middle East that refuses to accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT).

The United States itself is a party to the NNPT but is flagrantly violating its core provisions by failing to disarm and by ‘modernizing’ its already massive nuclear arsenal.

Thus, American-Israeli demands that Iran be deprived of any and all nuclear weapons is the height of hypocrisy – a hypocrisy almost universally ignored by the Western corporate media.

Trump’s machinations are occurring within an historical context that is also routinely ignored by the Western corporate media.

In 2013, the CIA admitted that, along with British intelligence, it orchestrated a 1953 coup d’état against Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mosaddeq. The coup, according to declassified documents, was “conceived and approved at the highest levels of government.” Mosaddeq’s ‘crime’ was that he nationalized the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company for the benefit of his own people.

Mosaddeq was supplanted by the murderous, Western-backed Shah of Iran. Subsequent to the Shah’s demise, the United States helped the dictator Saddam Hussein to massacre Iranians with chemical weapons in a savage war that cost an estimated one million Iranian lives.

Toward the end of that war, the U.S. navy shot down an Iranian commercial airliner, killing all of the plane’s 290 civilian passengers.

More recently, Israel has repeatedly violated the sovereignty of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq in order to kill Iranian forces and officials who are in those countries lawfully, at the invitation of their internationally recognized governments.

Despite the appalling historical record of Western abuse of the Iranian people, Iran is routinely treated by Western officials and the corporate media as a diabolical aggressor whose expansionism must be contained at all costs.

None of this is to deny that the Iranian regime has committed severe human rights abuses, but since when did Western ‘leaders’ prioritize human rights? Even as they wax eloquent about the liberation and well-being of the Iranian people (whose economy is being strangled by American sanctions), they are arming to the teeth the monstrous Saudi autocracy. As renowned intellectual Noam Chomsky has observed, the Saudi autocracy “makes Iran look like a virtual paradise.” In 2013, Professor Chomsky denounced Western powers for “torturing” Iran for 60 years, since the 1953 CIA-led coup.

What now?

Unless the world acts quickly, retaliation by Iran, either directly or by means of proxy forces, seems inevitable. After all, how could Iran maintain any credibility as a regional power if it allowed the murder of its top general to go unanswered?

Any such retaliation would almost certainly be met with a deadly escalation by the criminally insane Trump administration, perhaps leading to all-out war.

Iran has called upon the U.N. Security Council to denounce the Trump administration’s “criminal act” and “state terrorism” (both accurate descriptions of Trump’s drone attack on the sovereign territory of Iraq), but Security Council intervention is doomed to failure: the U.S. government would undoubtedly exercise its veto power to block any Security Council action against the United States.

There may be, however, another option.

That option is United Nations General Assembly Resolution 377, known as the “Uniting for Peace” resolution. Adopted in 1950, Resolution 377 provides that, in cases where the Security Council, due to a lack of unanimity amongst its five permanent members, fails to act as required to maintain international peace and security, the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately and may issue any recommendations it deems necessary in order to restore international peace and security.

Any such recommendations would not be binding upon United Nations members or the Security Council, but a strong, widely-supported denunciation of America’s latest act of criminal aggression against Iran, coupled with carefully crafted recommendations for defusing the crisis with collective measures, might just be enough to preserve Iran’s credibility as a regional power without obliging Iran to retaliate.

Even the most belligerent actors agree that an all-out war between the United States and Iran and its allies would have dire consequences for the Middle East and, indeed, the entire world.

There is nothing to lose by invoking the Uniting for Peace resolution, and everything to gain by doing so.

• First published at https://dimitrilascaris.org/

The 2019 UN Vote Against the US Blockade of Cuba


The United States government does not have the least moral authority to criticize Cuba or anyone else in the area of ​​human rights. We reject the repeated manipulation of this issue for political purposes and the double standards that characterize its use.

— Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, November 7, 2019 at United Nations General Assembly

On November 7, 2019, for the 28th year in a row, the entire United Nations General Assembly, gathered in one room, voted overwhelmingly against “the Economic, Commercial, and Financial Embargo Imposed on Cuba by the United States.” The final tally was 187 in favor, 3 opposed (Brazil, Israel, US), 2 abstentions (Colombia, Ukraine), 1 not voting (Moldova).

Several points should be noted about these holdouts to the overwhelming consensus of the world’s constituted governments that the ultra-powerful nation-state of the United States (population over 300 million) of America should cease and desist its decades-long shameful, arrogant bullying of socialist Cuba (population less than 12 million). Speaker after speaker, to this observer, barely repressed their contempt for Washington’s  slanders of Cuba. All fully understand that Cuba is a classic and model example, among many in this Hemisphere since the end of the 19th Century, of being on the receiving end of unrelenting Yankee imperialist aggression, under a crass cover of flowery bullshit demagogy about “human rights” and “freedom.” As speaker after speaker declaimed from the General Assembly rostrum, “28 years is Enough!”

First, let us note that while the crisis-ridden Brazilian government of Jair Bolsonaro may have added the NO vote of Brazil to those of the United States and Israel, Bolsonaro is not Brazil. There is not the slightest doubt that the public opinion of the Brazilian working class, youth, and population as a whole (likely including the “professional” diplomatic staff in New York and in the Brazilian Foreign Ministry), solidly rejects as an abomination the vote dictated by Bolsonaro and solidarizes with Cuba.

Israel – and the right-wing coalition government of Benjamin Netanyahu just-hanging-on to power – is, of course, politically and militarily dependent on the United States and votes accordingly. (Netanyahu’s government abstained when the US government under Barack Obama also did so in 2016.) Interestingly, however, Israel and Cuba, which have not restored diplomatic relations cut after the 1973 Middle East War, have for many years now, carried out, by all accounts, normal and even friendly bilateral trade with each other, as well as extensive people-to-people travel exchanges with no restrictions.

Finally, while fully 50 separate speakers addressed the 2-day General Assembly meeting from the rostrum or from their seats – representing their member states directly or speaking for major constituted blocs recognized by the UN – Israel, Brazil, Colombia, Ukraine, and the elusive Moldova chose not to speak at all and defend their “point of view” whatever that might be other than jerking their knee towards the United States government and the Trump Administration.

Even regimes installed directly or indirectly by US military force such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, could not stomach being identified with Trump’s Washington against Cuba. Again, as for well over a decade, Washington’s EU and NATO allies voted for the Resolution presented by Cuba.  As did both North and South Korea and even Iran and US close ally Saudi Arabia.

Why the UN Vote Matters

The annual Resolution does not have any enforcement authority or mechanisms, is generally ignored or relegated to a back-pages note in the US capitalist media, and can be even characterized as politically toothless. Still, from Cuba’s vantage point, the annual Resolution is an important material and political factor in the defense of Cuba’s socialist revolution, and registers an objective marker in the relationship of political forces in the world and is a material factor in the political limitations on direct US aggression and the permanent world pressure to crush the blockade in all its forms once and for all in world public opinion. It can fairly be said that the US blockade of Cuba is universally hated around the world, including by many millions in the United States who increasingly know some or much of the truth about Cuba, including many tens of thousands from licensed and unlicensed travel to the beautiful island.

Above all, every year it is revolutionary, socialist Cuba that holds the moral high ground in world politics, worth all the nuclear weapons in Washington’s arsenal, on this world stage. The revolutionary diplomats at Cuba’s Mission to the United Nations give great importance to this annual vote. And every year dozens of Cuba solidarity activists, mostly from the New York-New Jersey area, take seats in the 4th Floor Visitors Gallery to respectfully observe the annual event.

2018 Ruse Not Repeated

Last year in 2018 the United States carried out an elaborate diversionary ruse to dilute the political impact of the Resolution in the form of a series of amendments attacking Cuba over this or that “human rights” nonsense. These fell completely flat as the EU and every other force voting for the Cuban-sponsored Resolution, refused to take the bait and Washington’s political isolation and humiliation was only deepened, as they appeared unprepared and blindsided.

There was some mystery as to whether Trump’s UN flunkies would put themselves through the same wringer again in 2019, but at the end of the day the US representative, recruited by Donald Trump from giving commentary on a conservative cable TV news oligopoly, simply took the floor in turn after the previous 40 speakers had blasted US anti-Cuba policy, gave a subdued, lame 3-minute litany (“I promise not to speak too long.”), and promptly sat down. Perhaps the highlight of her time was a snarky reference to Cuba’s solidarity with the “former Maduro regime” in Venezuela. A few moments later she was followed on the rostrum by the present Maduro regime’s Foreign Minister.

The US approach was simply let’s just get it over with! This points to the genuine political consternation and isolation that is the political reality faced by the Trump Administration that is accelerating since the debacle of its Venezuela “regime-change” policy which culminated in the failure of the April 30, 2019 US-directed right-wing military coup. I will return to this decisive point in assessing the significance of the 2019 UN Cuba vote.

Too Much Pressure

On Day 1, November 6, there were 31 separate presentations. The first seven from recognized UN blocs: the accredited delegate from Palestine speaking for “the Group of 77 plus China;” the delegate from Tunisia for the “African Group;” Azerbaijan’s representative spoke for the “Non-Aligned Movement,” Grenada’s representative for the “Caribbean Community;” Singapore’s for the Association of South East Asian Nations;” and Uganda for the “Organization of Islamic Cooperation.”

Trump’s envoys were reportedly pressuring nation-states in Latin America and the Caribbean to side with them against Cuba but, observing the several hours of discussion, it was clear to me that Hemispheric states and governments were, if anything, going out of the way to register in clear and direct language their sharp opposition to US anti-Cuba policy. Argentina, Costa Rica, and Uruguay rushed to get their statement of support for the Resolution on the record.

Nearly every individual member of the “Caribbean Community” also took the rostrum – Grenada; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Suriname; Belize; Guyana; St. Kitts and Nevis; Jamaica; Trinidad and Tobago; Antigua and Barbuda and spoke eloquently and with some passion and sharpness about their solidarity with Cuba, all citing Cuba’s internationalist medical, educational, and sports solidarity misiones. It is very clear that the US blockade of Cuba, in addition to the moral and political outrage it engenders, has a deleterious economic impact on Caribbean-wide economic integration and agricultural and industrial development and exchange for the entire Caribbean.

Sharp Tone, Growing Exasperation

Having attended these discussions and votes, and written about them several times, I can say that my impression this year was that the diplomatic language was a little less diplomatic, that the tone was more than a little sharper from many African and Caribbean states, and more exasperated from others. Many noted the “regression” from their hopes and illusions after Barack Obama in his second term led a retreat of US policy: freed the remaining Cuban Five political prisoners and heroes; restored Washington-Havana diplomatic relations; loosened travel restrictions and air travel; and OK’d Cruise Ship stops.

The tone this year – and I think it was V.I. Lenin who said, “Tone equals politics” – ranged from “deep concern” to “unconscionable” and “appalling” as all lined up to “categorically condemn” the “illegal character” of US policy which should be “consigned to the trash heap.” There was less mincing of mealy-mothed words among the diplomatic gentlemen and gentleladies. Vietnam’s representative spoke “as a country that suffered 19 years of US sanctions…we are in solidarity with the brotherly people of Cuba…we demand the policy be reversed!” The representative from St. Vincent and the Grenadines spoke of her country’s “unwavering support and solidarity with the revolutionary Cuban government; we decry this affront to the indomitable Cuban people.” The Chinese representative like many speakers listed the recent, escalating measures implemented by Trump and said, in the end, “bullying will only hurt the bully.” Gabon spoke sharply of the “nefarious” blockade. Speakers vied over who could use the most condemning or disdainful phrase to register their solidarity with Cuba. (And let us not forget this is communist Cuba led by conscious revolutionary Marxists and Leninists, the political children of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and a generation of revolutionary women and men who were combatants and fighters for socialist revolution in the Americas.)

The speaker from Belize spoke of the “unbreakable friendship” with Cuba and Cuba’s “magnanimous” support in the fields of health and education “where we have needs and Cuba has strengths.” North Korea called the blockade a “crime against humanity”. South Africa’s representative demanded “End this Injustice! We demand that all of it be scrapped!” The Namibian delegate gave a heartfelt presentation citing Cuba’s “significant contribution to African liberation and the defeat of apartheid and “winning the independence of my country.” Speaker after speaker spoke in praise of Cuban and world revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. (This included a couple of places where if you praised Fidel or tried to promote his politics you’d likely end up in the slammer.)

As is the case each year militant statements of solidarity came from Bolivia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.

Shifts in Hemispheric Politics and the Blockade

While this represents a remarkable continuity and consensus in the so-called international community, it also registers significant new developments in the long struggle to, once and for all, eradicate the US economic and political war against Cuba. The anti-blockade and anti-US government tone, rhetoric, exasperation, and contempt for the ongoing US aggression was more pronounced, more bitter, and perhaps more conducive to action and deeds from past statements for the record. Events in Latin America and the Caribbean, from Haiti to Chile, are accelerating and intensifying every burning political issue and the “Cuba Question” and the US economic and political war and sanctions has been central and volcanic for decades.

Since the last vote in 2018, and in particular over the last six months in Latin America and the Caribbean, momentous historic political developments have shifted the relationship of class and political forces in the Hemisphere to the detriment of the Donald Trump White House and the US bourgeoisie it serves (in its own peculiar style that worries more than a few in the US ruling class) and in favor of the Cuban revolutionary government and the Hemispheric working class, including inside the United States, where the class struggle is notably heating up. (It is said that the number of strikes in the US today is higher than at any time since the 1980s.)

New Political Dynamics as 2019 Closes

Washington began 2019 with blood in its mouth, full of itself, and living in its bubble of lies to the point where it believed its own bullshit. Trump and his minions were apparently convinced that quick work could and would be made of the sovereign, elected government of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela in the midst of the devastating capitalist economic contraction in that country, greatly multiplied by the collapse in oil commodity prices, mounting US sanctions; and the concurrent economic sabotage in cahoots with the Venezuelan bourgeoisie, which still controls wholesale and retail distribution networks, and much else in the Venezuelan “mixed economy.”

With Maduro disposed of, to the likes of John Bolton, Elliot Abrams, and Marco Rubio, the path would then be clear: Forward to the extermination of socialist Cuba!

Alas for Trump and his gang by the time of the humiliating fiasco of the failed coup that was definitively registered on April 30, 2019, it was obvious that the Maduro-PSUV government was actually being considerable strengthened. This is among the many unintended consequences of the flop of Trump’s anti-Venezuela crusade. These consequences are now continuing to unfold. As the virulently anti-Cuba and anti-Venezuela Miami Herald put it in a deliciously demoralized headline “South America’s wretched month has been great for one man: Venezuela’s Maduro.” The article goes on to quote a Venezuelan “businessman and political pundit,” who laments, “I think people [that is, the Venezuelan capitalists and their allies] here are resigned. They feel like Maduro has survived. And now the world is distracted with the protests in Chile, Ecuador, Haiti – so many other countries.”

From 1992 to 2019: History of the Vote

In 1992, Cuba was reeling from the economic cataclysm of the “Special Period,” when its economy contracted virtually overnight by 35% following the collapse of the Soviet Union and its allied so-called “socialist camp.” Its revolutionary diplomats in New York City at the United Nations took advantage of an inadvertent lapse in the attentiveness of US UN personnel – who, in any case were cooling the champagne in anticipation of socialist Cuba’s imminent implosion and evaporation under deepening US sanctions and stepped-up US-based terrorist attacks – to slip onto the General Assembly agenda the first Resolution “Opposing the Economic, Commercial, and Financial Embargo Imposed by the United States Against Cuba.” Precedent established, and unable to be blocked by US veto. Every year since then for now 28 years now, Washington has been utterly isolated in this annual vote in the General Assembly.

In the November 2016 UN Vote, the US delegation (with Israel in tow – actually abstained in the vote against itself, making the vote formally unanimous. That was in the week before Donald Trump’s narrow electoral triumph over the hapless Hillary Clinton.

That had capped a process which had unfolded from December 2014 when the Barack Obama Administration, in the second half of its second term, began a retreat that partially overturned the bipartisan ruling-class consensus against Cuba. That consensus had lasted from the end of the Dwight Eisenhower Administration in 1959-60 through December 2014. In a dizzying few months Obama, with the public support of Hillary Clinton (who had been battered on Cuba at successive Organization of American States “Summits” from 2008-2012) Secretary of State John Kerry, and Vice-President Joe Biden, released the remaining Cuban Five heroes, engineered Cuba’s removal from the State Department’s notorious list of “nations supporting terrorism,” established formal diplomatic relations with Embassies in Washington, DC and Havana, and loosened existing travel restrictions without abolishing them. The overall “embargo” mandated since the 1996 Helms-Burton Law signed by then-president W. Clinton remained in place.

Trump has steadily reversed, incrementally and with accumulation, much of the limited Obama measures without abrogating formal diplomatic relations or ending all loopholes or even direct flights from US airports to Cuban cities.(Commercial flights to cities other than Havana have been canceled but Charter Flights remain possible.) Trump used the pretext of perturbing reports of “sonic attacks” or some other mysterious ailments supposedly afflicting US and Canadian diplomats at the beginning of his term to cut back drastically the significant people-to-people exchanges that were proving very popular with US and Cuban citizens, separated families, trade unionists, creative artists, doctors and scientists, and so on.

Virtual Coup in Venezuela

The situation changed when the disastrous economic crisis in Venezuela by the end of 2018 led Trump and his team to think the time had come to choreograph a right-wing military coup in Venezuela with the hapless Juan Guaido installed as President. This team of Pence-Pompeo-Bolton and the dusted-off war criminal Elliot Abrams displayed an uncommon skill combining unsavoriness with incompetence with Senator Marco Rubio on the ground with “humanitarian” trucks on the Venezuelan-Colombian border!

For the first 2 months of 2019 they organized a virtual coup that turned out to be 50% bullshit and 50% fantasy. This was fully backed by the Democratic Party Capitol Hill leadership and their lackeys in the capitalist media who went into full Yankee imperialist mode! All their obsession with and contempt for Donald Trump was cast aside to join him in the love fest for – let’s hear the drum roll!!! – Juan Guaido and our bipartisan love for Venezuelan and Latin American democracy and human rights! Hear, Hear!

Mass May Day 2019 mobilizations in Caracas defending national sovereignty against the US-led virtual coup.

Following the late-February 2019 debacle on the Venezuelan-Colombian and Venezuelan-Brazilian borders, Trump and his gang doubled down and organized a virtual coup that was supposed to culminate on May Day with Maduro hopping on the last flight to Jose Marti International Airport in Havana and Juan Guaido installed in Miraflores. Instead the mobilized Venezuelan working class dominated the streets on May Day, Nicolas Maduro’s political position was greatly strengthened in the working class, in the population, and in the Venezuelan Army with his stalwart defense of national sovereignty. The army officer corps was deeply insulted by Trump and Pompeo who though they could throw around some dirty US money to buy off Venezuelan patriots who Washington had previously slandered as drug dealers and worse! For Trump – and you can be sure he was enraged at his minions for the humiliation — the virtual coup became a humiliating reality check. What to do?

Trump and Pompeo quickly pivoted to blaming revolutionary Cuba for their own debacle. (Bolton was also soon sent packing.) Cuba was accused of having 20,000 soldiers and spooks in the country and that was why Maduro was still in office and not living the life in a Cuban ocean resort! Cuba actually has 20,000 medical personnel and educators, and sports trainers in Venezuela.

This, among other things is an egregious insult to the Venezuelan Army and neighborhood-based organized militias that mobilized continuously to defend national sovereignty culminating in the defeat of the virtual coup.

Cuban Doctors in Venezuela

The anti-Cuba measures since then have been coming fast and steady, US- and world public opinion be damned! Cuban-Major League Baseball Deal – annulled. Cruse Ship stops in Cuba (very popular with US citizens, and Cuban small business owners, and a growing source of foreign exchange for Cuban health care and education) — cancelled. “People-to-People” Exchange – eliminated. Then there was the new Trump first that even the solidly anti-Cuban Administrations of William Clinton and George W. Bush wouldn’t do. That is, ending the waiver of Title III of the blockading Helms-Burton Act signed into law by Clinton in 1996. The way is now open for frivolous lawsuits in US courts over property legally nationalized by the revolutionary Cuban government between 1959-1961. At the time, that is over 60 years ago, Washington – which utterly dominated the socially oppressive and brutally unequal Cuban economy – rejected offers of fair compensation to affected companies. Companies based in other countries settled without much difficulty.

Instead the John F. Kennedy Administration was committed to a CIA-directed mercenary invasion of Cuba in April 1961 and, when that failed panned a direct US invasion that was only averted with the settlement of the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962.

We are now seeing the accelerating consequences of Trump and company’s Venezuelan fiasco in the rapid shift in – to use bloated academic jargon – the political paradigm in Latin America and the Caribbean from the uprisings in Haiti and Chile to the return of the Peronist party in Argentina and even the freeing of Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva on November 8 in Brazil. It seems certain that the so-called Lima Group stitched together to prop up Juan Guaido cannot have too many more days on this planet. This shift takes place amidst ongoing assaults on the working class under the whip of the International Monetary Fund and the concentrated summits of world capital.

This then was the background for this year’s vote.

2020 approaches with Donald Trump’s Washington on its heels in Latin America.

Israel and the Golan Heights: A Wider Geopolitical Game

In the recent autumn session of the United Nations General Assembly a number of resolutions involving the Syrian Golan Heights occupied by Israel came up for debate and voting. A familiar pattern emerged. The first of the votes to be noted was UNGA Resolution A/C.4/73/L.20. The wording of this resolution was that the general Assembly “reaffirmed that Israel’s settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories including East Jerusalem are illegal and an obstacle to peace and social development”.

The second resolution, A/C.4/73/L.22 said that the General Assembly “determines that all legislation and administrative measures taken by Israel, the occupying Power, that purport to alter the character and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights are null and void.”  The wording of this resolution echoed the wording of United Nations Security Council resolution 497 of 17 December 1981, which was 37 years previously. That earlier resolution was passed unanimously; i.e. the United States included.

The third resolution, L/73/L.30 expressed the General Assembly’s deep concern “that Israel has not withdrawn from the Syrian Golan, which has been under occupation since 1967” (i.e. 51 years).

The voting on each resolution respectively was 154 in favour (with 6 No votes and 15 abstentions; 149: 2: and 22; and 99: 10: 66.

The United States, which was part of a unanimous Security Council vote in 1981 condemning Israel’s actions in the Golan Heights as “null and void” was one of the two ‘No’ votes in the second resolution referred to above. The other No vote, unsurprisingly, was Israel. The United States and Israel both voted ‘No’ to the other two resolutions as well. Australia abstained in respect of each of the three votes.

This voting pattern and the debate that surrounded them is significant for a number of reasons.

The first reason is that it unequivocally demonstrates that where Israel is concerned there is a different standard applied by the United States (and Australia) where breaches of international law are concerned.

It is indisputable that land occupied by conquest cannot be returning by the occupying power, much less incorporated into the administrative regime of the occupying power. Yet this is precisely what Israel has done, first by maintaining its occupation post the 1967 Six Day War, and then in 1981 purporting to incorporate the Golan Heights into its own administrative territory.

It is not difficult to envisage the rhetoric from the United States if Russia or China had made any similar moves. One has only to recall the incessant barrage of propaganda from the United States and its allies about “Russian aggression” when Crimea was reincorporated into the Russian Federation following an overwhelming popular vote.

The United States is similarly making threats against China after President Xi made a speech recently pointing out that Taiwan was part of China and that reunification was a goal for the near future. The United States accepted that Taiwan was part of China until 1949 when the Nationalists were defeated in the civil war.

As the Americans showed by voting against a resolution that they had previously been part of a unanimous Security Council in accepting, consistency is not their strong suit. The withdrawal from the antiballistic missile treaty in 2001, and from an INF treaty in 2018, and their abandonment of the JCPOA in 2018 are further illustrations of that point.

It also lays bare, yet again, the hypocrisy of western political leaders, notably in the United States and Australia, who forever trumpet their alleged commitment to the “rules based international order”.

There is no clearer example over a sustained period of time of Israel’s total disregard for international law than in their treatment of the Palestinians and the continued illegal occupation of the Golan Heights. Neither of these examples is the subject of public criticism by American or Australian politicians, and judging by their voting behaviour in the United Nations, support for Israel’s actions is either tacit or explicit.

Earlier in January 2019 two United States Republican Senators, Cruz and Cotton, went public in a joint statement that was remarkable for its complete disregard for international law, its equally cavalier disregard for the factual situation in the Middle East, and for its display of what is best described by the Hebrew word “chutzpah” (insolence, cheek or audacity).

Cruz and Cotton’s statement said, in part:

Responding to the threat posed by Iran and its proxies requires ensuring that Israel can defend its territory and its citizens from attack. To support Israel’s right to self defence, Washington should take the long overdue step of affirming Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

This is a frankly bizarre departure from reality and a number of commentators have already pointed this out.1  It came at the same time as National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were making equally absurd statements on their recent foray to Middle Eastern capitals.2

Even if Israel had legitimate self-defence concerns, occupying the territory of a neighbouring state is neither feasible nor legal. There must therefore be an alternative explanation for Israel’s continued disregard for international law, the extraordinary public comments of two senior members of the Trump administration, and the pattern of behaviour of United States in the region, notwithstanding the recent erratic and contradictory behaviour of its leadership.

One possible explanation that fits the known facts, and which incidentally also helps explain the extraordinary lack of criticism by Western nations of Israel’s continued illegal occupation of the Golan Heights, can be found in the activities of an American company called Genie Energy.

This little-known company is headquartered in Newark, New Jersey. Its strategic advisory board includes such luminaries as Dick Cheney (former US vice president under Bush Jr); James Woolsey (former CIA director); Larry Summers (former head of the US Treasury); Rupert Murdoch (chairman of News Corporation among other media interests); and Jacob Rothschild. It would be hard to nominate a better-connected group of people, all of them noted for a strong pro-Israel bias.

Genie Energy, through its subsidiary Afek Oil and Gas, was granted an oil exploration license for the occupied Golan Heights by the Israeli government. Needless to say, the Syrian government was not consulted.

As far back as October 2015 Afek discovered oil reserves in the Golan Heights, with a potential yield estimated at billions of barrels3 Actually developing those vast reserves would require the solidification of Israel’s control over the occupied territory.

It cannot legally do that, although lack of legality has never been a hindrance to Israel since 1948. Its de facto control of the Golan Heights, however, is key to understanding Israel’s moves in the Middle East since 1967. In recent years Israel’s support for terrorist groups fighting the Assad Government in Syria is destined in part to keep the Syrian army and Iranian supported Hezbollah from challenging Israel’s control of the Golan Heights. It is not a coincidence that Israeli territory proper has not suffered a single ISIS inspired attack although prima facie one might have thought that a Jewish state would be anathema to Islamic fundamentalists.

The evidence is now overwhelming that Israel has been one of the main supporters of ISIS because it suited their own wider geopolitical ambitions.4  When a jihadist group occupied some small towns in the Israeli controlled Golan Heights in February 2017, the Israeli army and air force took no steps to oppose them.

Israel’s ambitions for the Golan Heights are matched by the United States in northern Syria where the area it occupies (also illegally) provided 90% of Syria’s pre-war oil production. Both the United States and Israel have long intended to build a pipeline to provide gas to Europe, supplanting Russia as Europe’s principal supplier.

As Robert Kennedy Jr pointed out5 US plans began in 2000 with a $10 billion 1500 km pipeline from Qatar through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey. It was when Syria rejected their proposed role in the plan in 2009 (as it would jeopardise their relationship with Russia) that the CIA began funding terrorist groups in Syria.

Seen in this broader context, the blatant ongoing illegality of Israel’s occupation of the Golan, the US deep state’s strong desire to remain in northern Syria, the sanctions against Russia, the overt threats against German companies involved in Nord Stream 2,6 and the suppression of most of this material in the western mainstream media (in which Murdoch is a dominant figure) all form part of a long-term set of plans hatched in Washington and Tel Aviv that have nothing to do with the rights and freedoms of the Syrian people.

As courageous independent journalists on the ground in Syria such as Vanessa Beeley have amply demonstrated7, the ordinary people of Syria are but pawns in a wider geopolitical game. In the extraordinary chaos and destruction that the illegal western intervention in Syria has caused, Australia has played a small but significant role.

Actually detecting a benefit to Australia in all of this is more than elusive, but as John Menadue recently pointed out8 for all their protestations about the rule of law and shared western values, the reality is that western politicians have always sacrificed principle for geopolitical expediency.

In the rapidly changing geopolitical framework brought about by Russia’s intervention in Syria in 2015 and a consequent shifting of alliances by key players such as Turkey, it remains to be seen whether the untenable ambitions of Israel and the United States can be brought to fruition. 2019 looks to be no less dangerous than the year just past.

  1. Moon of Alabama 10 January 2019.
  2. See, for example, Strategic Culture Foundation 15 January 2019.
  3. The Economist, ‘Black Gold Under the Golan, 7 November 2015.
  4. Haaretz, 8 September 2018.
  5. Ecowatch, 25 February 2016, Another Pipeline War.
  6. DW, 14 January 1019.
  7. 21st Century Wire, 17 October 2018.
  8. John Menadue, 15 January 2019.

Cornered: Trump Gets Thumped on Cuba at the UN

On November 1, 2018, for the twenty-seventh straight year, the full United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted by a near-unanimous 189-2 for “the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.” The Israeli government, as usual, voted automatically with the US without saying a word on the floor. There were no abstentions, but Moldova and the Ukraine chose not to vote at all.1

“Clever” Tactic Fizzles Fast

The final vote had been delayed a day as the Donald Trump White House wheeled out what they apparently thought was a very clever tactic aimed at diverting attention away from Washington’s annual political isolation and defeat. The tactic was to propose a series of no less than eight “amendments” to the anti-blockade Resolution with bogus attacks against Cuba over “human rights” and political freedoms inside Cuba.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, in her last hurrah before resigning the post by year’s end, presented the “amendments” as being formulated by directly using the past words from Washington’s NATO allies in the European Union and Canada. This year, as usual, the EU and Canadian representatives made perfunctory statements after the vote with implicit criticisms of Cuba along the lines of restrictions on democratic rights, freedom of speech and assembly, and so on, which are sometimes put in the context of the US blockade.2

Both EU and Canadian diplomatic spokespeople quickly disabused Haley of any hope that Washington’s maneuvers would gain traction this year and bottle up the works. An Austrian diplomat speaking for the EU and the Canadian representative both made forceful statements rejecting all the “amendments.” They reiterated that the “amendments” had “no place in the current Resolution” and that the question of the “extraterritorial” US economic, commercial, and financial embargo against Cuba should not be “mixed up” with the issues raised through the “amendments.”

The General Assembly was required to vote on each Amendment separately. Haley and her boss Trump were isolated and cornered with no political way out. Each “amendment” went down in flames with 3 votes in favor (the US, Israel, and the Ukraine, which managed this time to press a button, 114 against, with 66 abstentions.

The common denominator in the near-unanimous votes, year after year in the UNGA, is the question of “extraterritoriality,” whereby the United States government gives itself the right to impose its economic, political, and travel blockading of Cuba on other countries and commercial entities who have normal or friendly relations with the Cuban workers’ state. It is this US posture, long before Trump’s regime came into power, that determined the votes of the European Union – a major capitalist trading and economic bloc with its own great political pretensions – with Cuba against US policy. Trump and Haley’s amendments ploy fizzled fast and was labeled correctly by EU and Canadian representatives as a “diversion” from the real issue, for them, of “extraterritoriality.”

The General Secretary’s Report

Most speakers from the floor referred positively to the report issued by UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres, the former Portuguese President and former President of the Socialist International, on the UNGA Resolution against the US blockade. It is a 168-page long comprehensive document.  Virtually every member-state plainly gives their opposition to the US blockade in their own words, as well as statements from 36 “organs and agencies of the United Nations system” from the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization to the United Nations Children’s Fund to the World Trade Organization, all attacking from their own angle and perspective the US blockade and solidarizing to some degree, mostly strongly, with Cuba.

From Obama to Trump

The Trump Administration has re-tightened aspects of the US economic and travel sanctions that had been marginally loosened during the last two years of the second Barack Obama White House. Full diplomatic relations were restored between Washington and Havana in July 2015 and Trump has stopped short of moving to abrogate them. He has, however, virtually frozen US embassy functions in Havana, making it very difficult for Cuban citizens to travel to the United States. This includes family members, trade unionists, doctors and scientists, and artists and musicians. “People-to-people” licensed travel to Cuba by US citizens is still possible and Cuban-American citizens remain able to travel back and forth to the island with no special requirements.

Trump has consciously ratcheted up bellicose and provocative anti-Cuba rhetoric. This plays badly with the “public opinion” of the peoples and governments of the world, including inside the United States and among Cuban-Americans. The fusillades of hostile demagogy against the Cuban government by Trump, Nikki Haley, and National Security Advisor John Bolton only produces disdain and contempt across the political and ideological fissures in world politics. This is because the Cuban state and government practice of international solidarity – including Cuba’s vanguard role in medical internationalism and worldwide emergency disaster relief efforts – and its political principles is universally admired. It is universally recognized that Cuba’s quick action and dispatch of medical personnel was the decisive factor in containing and conquering the 2014 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa on the ground. Also very clear factually are the example of Cuba’s great human indices for the health and education of the Cuban population as a whole despite the terrible impact of decades of US economic and political aggression, and recurrent military and terrorist threats. These are all settled questions around the world. And all the huffing and puffing of Trump and his lackeys cannot change that.

For many years before Trump, the UNGA annual vote around Cuba has registered an accumulating political problem for Washington in the world, particularly across the Americas. This was the case under both Republican and Democratic White Houses and Congresses. Considerable political damage was absorbed by the US government. Well into his second term, President Barack Obama, backed by his former-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the bulk of the Democratic Party, and some Republicans, decided that a political retreat was necessary.3

Months and years of serious diplomatic talks preceded the December 2014 “breakthrough” announcements by Presidents Obama and Raul Castro. The political retreat and shift by Obama required him to order the release of the Cuban Five and for the US State Department to formally remove Cuba – an historic recipient of US-sponsored terrorism in the actual world – from its “State Sponsors of Terrorism” list. But the US economic, financial, and commercial embargo – which openly aims to use US power to universally blockade Cuba – remained in place and was barely tinkered with by Obama even in areas he could have. 4

John Bolton Whips it Up

John Bolton, who replaced the harried Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster as Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor in April 2018, has a history of ranting and railing hard against Cuba. In 2002 he ran up the propaganda flagpole the idea that Cuba was involved in production of chemical and biological weapons. Inside the George W. Bush Administration, Bolton pushed for international inspectors to monitor Cuba’s biological facilities. This clear attempt to frame Cuba was not, and could not, gain any political traction, insofar as it was: 1) made up out of whole cloth; and 2) then-President Fidel Castro responded quickly, forcefully, and with full political impact. Bolton crawled back in his hole.5

On November 1, 2018 in Miami, at a campaign rally in support of Florida Republican candidates in Miami, Bolton conjured up a “troika of tyranny” with Venezuela and Nicaragua as US-anointed members and Cuba the communist mastermind. The crowd of hundreds was populated with veteran Cuban counterrevolutionaries and mercenaries from Washington’s wars and terrorism against the Cuban Revolution since the 1960s.

The Last Ordeal of Nikki Haley at the UN

If I were a talented cartoonist, I would portray Nikki Haley up there at the UNGA podium, and John Bolton among the defeated, aging counterrevolutionaries, as caricatures with steam coming out of their ears. The cornered Haley could only strike the pose of relishing in her government’s isolation and pathetically trying to make a virtue out of political humiliation. Haley pouted: We. Are. Alone. We are proud of it! We are defiant!! (And we are screwed.)

The most revealing statement of all from Haley was her labeling of the proceedings as a “a total waste of time.” To begin with, the annual vote and previous votes represents a particularly powerful marker that acts as a restraint on US aggression. It is part of the world political atmosphere that creates space for the international political defiance of US policy and solidarity with Cuba. It is this solidarity that has eroded the blockade politically and economically, objectively helping revolutionary, socialist Cuba survive the economic cataclysm of the 1990s following the near-overnight collapse of its then-extensive economy ties with the former Soviet Union and the so-called “socialist camp in Eastern Europe.”

The reality is that the accumulation of political defeat for Washington year-after-year, in forum after forum, has become a material factor in world politics. Haley’s arrogance barely veils the accumulated political damage that Washington continues to endure on the “Cuba Question” in Latin American and world politics.

Haley engaged, on the stage of world politics, in what in psychology is called “minimization,” that is “a type of deception coupled with rationalization in situations where complete denial is implausible,” as defined in Wikipedia. Practitioners such as Haley are engaged in “downplaying their misdemeanors when confronted with irrefutable facts.” Haley’s bleating went so far as to portray the world body gathering as ganging up and bullying poor old Uncle Sam. Here we have Goliath turned into David. Here the schoolyard bully finds the entire school united against him and the bully cries foul. But with no allies and collaborators, the bully’s aura and the fear he counts on evaporates.

Haley and Bolton’s Bombast is Not Politically Sustainable

All the bluster in the world cannot hide the political weakness in the Trump Administration’s policy. After the latest thumping for US policy at the UN can Trump move to implement new anti-Cuba actions beyond what he has already done? Will legal travel between the US and Cuba, including for Cuban-Americans, be closed even more, or altogether? Will diplomatic relations be unilaterally abrogated by Trump? Are subversive US “regime change” programs being reactivated and stepped up? 

US embarrassment and political isolation at the UN would likely become a political disaster and crisis for Washington at home as well as worldwide if US anti-Cuba moves sharply to escalate with interventionist threats and deeds. Such moves would be far more likely to increase demands to defy Washington and back up the UNGA Resolutions with concrete deeds, despite the US veto in the UN Security Council (UNSC). Bullying in full view is rarely a winning tactic in the long run, especially when the bully is up against a politically savvy opponent full of principle and dignity such as the Cuban revolutionaries.

In any case, Trump and his team are nowhere near creating the political conditions for a US-backed military coup in Venezuela, let alone direct US military aggression.

The interventions from the General Assembly floor began with the “geopolitical” and other groupings that claim to speak as one, from time to time, on issue by issue. On the Cuba-sponsored Resolution, top diplomats from one country lined up to denounce US policy for the bloc or group: Ethiopia for the African Group, Egypt for the Group of 77 Plus China; Venezuela for the Non-Aligned Movement; El Salvador for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC); Singapore for the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN); the Bahamas for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM); and Bangladesh for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Solidarity with Cuba was most pronounced by the representatives of countries that have benefited directly from Cuba’s socialist internationalism. The representative from the Bahamas, who spoke for the Caribbean Community gave a heartfelt tribute to Cuban medical assistance, including the free medical training of Bahamian and Caribbean doctors. These were echoed by strong language from the representatives of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Jamaica. Jamaica’s representative called the US blockade “an affront to the world.” He was echoed by many speakers when he expressed “profound disappointment that we are still meeting on this question, that this is still happening” following the steps taken under Obama’s last years which raised hopes (and illusions) worldwide and in the United States.

Part of the campus of the Latin America School of Medicine (ELAM).

(Since 2005 ELAM. has graduated tens of thousands of physicians from oppressed and exploited populations in Africa, Asia and the Americas, including working-class and impoverished communities in the US, with full scholarships offered by Cuba. These new young doctors make a commitment to work in underserved areas upon graduation.)

South African and Namibian representatives spoke with sharp emotion of Cuba’s decisive part in the defeat of the apartheid South African state and the “democratic dispensation” in South Africa, and the winning of the independence of Namibia.

The Bolivian representative gave a militant defense of the Cuban Revolution – “the enormous island of dignity.” He called US aggression against Cuba “one of the most important issues facing the UN system…One of the most powerful countries – the host country – refuses to comply with General Assembly resolutions year after year…Cuba is an example for all humankind [with its] selfless assistance to the rest of the world. Cuba was there in Africa! Cuba was there!” He ended his rousing remarks by quoting the legendary Ernesto Che Guevara, who said “the people of Cuba are stirred when any injustice occurs in the world.”

Cuba Speaks for Itself

Before the final vote on November 1, 2019, after Haley’s amendments were defeated, Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez took the floor in a powerful presentation.

Rodriguez spoke in the tradition of Cuban revolutionary diplomacy around the world and at the UN going back to the work of the legendary Cuban UN Ambassador Raul Roa and the speeches of Fidel Castro and Ernesto Che Guevara before the General Assembly. In those early decades of the Revolution, when the US blockade was at its tightest, and when the military threats and interventions of Washington and the militarized counterrevolutionary exiles was at its height, Cuba boldly made its case and defended itself politically from the platform of the UN.6

 Fidel Castro and Raul Roa at the United Nations General Assembly, September 22, 1960 (UN Photo)

Rodriguez spoke not only as Cuba’s top diplomat in making a comprehensive presentation of the human impact of the US blockade, including in Cuba’s exclusion from US-based life-saving or life-enhancing medical products, medications, technologies, and devices. Much of Rodriguez’s presentation took this up in moving detail. But he also spoke as a representative of the Cuban socialist revolution, which holds up the banner of international solidarity with the oppressed and exploited overwhelming majority of humanity in opposition to the world of capitalist exploitation and imperialist war.

Rodriguez began his speech with an expression of solidarity with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where a Jew-hater inspired by Nazi ideology and anti-immigrant hatred gunned down eleven Jewish people in their Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27.  The Temple congregation was prominent in aiding war and other refugees migrating to the US. This evidently sparked the carnage. Rodriguez also expressed solidarity with the victims of floods and landslides in Indonesia which killed dozens.

Most powerfully the Cuban Foreign Minister was not about to listen to any lectures from Donald Trump, Nikki Haley or the United States government on Human Rights:

The US government does not have the least moral authority for criticizing Cuba or anyone else with regards to human rights.  We reject the repeated manipulation of human rights with political purposes as well as the double standards that characterize it… The US government is the author of human rights violations against its own citizens, particularly Afro-Americans and Hispanics, minorities, refugees and migrants. In the midst of the opulence of that country, 40 million of its citizens live in conditions of poverty and 52 million live in impoverished communities.  More than half a million sleep in the streets. Twelve per cent lack medical insurance and millions of low-income persons will be left without it. Quality education is not accessible to the majority. Equal opportunities are a pipedream. It is a government of millionaires imposing savage policies…There is a different racial pattern with regards to the inmate population, the length of imprisonment terms, the application of the death penalty -which is also applicable to minors and the mentally disabled; and the number of persons being shot dead by the police. The US government builds walls and separate children -even young children- from their migrant parents and put them in cages. The United States is party to only 30 per cent of human rights instruments and does not recognize the right to life, peace, development, security, food or the human rights of boys and girls.

Rodriguez’s speech included a strong socialist critique of the “democratic” pretensions and highfalutin words of Washington’s mouthpieces vs. the realities of capitalist politics in the United States:

The ‘special interests,’ that is, the corporate interests, have kidnapped the US political system, which is corrupt by definition…Words and political statements do matter. While demonizing and turning political opponents, institutions, social groups and nations into enemies through the use of propaganda, division, violence, hatred, [then] crimes and wars thrive and take root…Dirty politics, indecency, amorality, lies, the redesigning of electoral districts out of political convenience and the manipulation of voters are all exacerbated. Six million low-income US voters are prevented from voting.  In Florida, 21 per cent of Afro-American voters are not entitled to cast their vote. [There is] [f]ake information [and] the monopoly over communication…The US government unscrupulously interferes in the electoral processes and internal affairs of most States in this planet.7

A Post-World War II, Post-Cold War World is Emerging

This year the UN vote highlighting the US economic war against Cuba converges with Washington’s – which is now Trump’s Washington – tendentiousness and political isolation on other burning issues and existing and looming crises worldwide:  Trump’s unilateral pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that was reached between Iran and the United States, the UK, Russia, France, China, Germany and the EU in July 2015 and confrontations he is pushing with the EU and other powers over US “extraterritorial” pressures to tow the US line; unfolding political developments on the Korean Peninsula; Saudi Arabia’s US and UK-backed murderous war on Yemen and the mounting political crisis in the Saudi bastion of reaction in the entire Middle East region; the political aftershocks of the brutal Syrian war; prospects for a two-state settlement in Israel-Palestine; and Trump’s pulling out of the (already weak) UN “Framework Convention on Climate Change” after 2020, an issue where Washington is even more isolated than on Cuba.

Trump, in his crude branded way, blurts out US imperial arrogance in a world today that is marked by an emerging post-World War II, post-Cold War era where the full-spectrum economic, financial, and political dominance of the American Colossus is receding more and more from sight in history’s rear-view mirror. Recently, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in floated the idea of lifting some of his country’s sanctions against the North, Trump said, “They won’t do it without our approval. They do nothing without our approval.” (Both “South” and “North” Korea voted with Cuba at the UN.)

The relative decline of US capitalist power in the world of today means that the still-overwhelming military dominance Washington holds – in terms of nuclear arsenal and other unmatched firepower capability; the worldwide reach and projection of US naval and air power, with hundreds of military bases in operation worldwide – still finds great pressures and limits on the political ability to use it, particularly since the unintended consequences of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. I think this is particularly true across the Americas, even with the recent electoral advances of conservative and reactionary forces on the South American continent.

Brazil’s Election and Potential New Alignments

With the election on October 28, 2018 of Jair Bolsonaro, a rightist demagogue, Trump and Bolton quickly saw a potential weighty ally in Latin America for the perspective of putting together a political bloc against Cuba and to breach the wall of continental solidarity with it against the US blockade. Bolton welcomed Bolsonaro’s election saying:

The recent elections of like-minded leaders in key countries, including Ivan Duque in Colombia, and last weekend Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, are positive signs for the future of the region, and demonstrate a growing regional commitment to free-market principles, and open, transparent, and accountable governance… today, in this hemisphere, we are also confronted once again with the destructive forces of oppression, socialism and totalitarianism…Under this administration, we will no longer appease dictators and despots near our shores in this hemisphere. We will not reward firing squads, torturers, and murderers … The troika of tyranny in this hemisphere – Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua – has finally met its match.

Bolton shameless demagogy, as with Haley, correlates to another classic scientific category called “psychological projection.” This is, in Wikipedia’s definition, “a theory in psychology in which the human ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is habitually rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude. It incorporates blame shifting.” Insofar as the United States government has a crystal-clear history and legacy of supporting, sustaining, or directly installing virtually every blood-soaked military or rightist family or oligarchical dictatorship in Central America, Latin America, and the Caribbean in modern times, this is “projection” of the highest order.8

And let us underline that Bolton is praising a political and military figure, Bolsonaro, who came out of and defends wholeheartedly the right-wing military regime in Brazil from 1964-1986, with its documented history of death-squads, murder, and torture on a mass-scale. Bolsonaro has publicly said that the military dictatorship did not murder and torture those who resisted and fought it enough.9

Bolsonaro was elected with a ten-point margin, culminating, for now, a deepening political crisis in Brazil that was set in motion by the sharpest economic retraction and recession in modern Brazilian history that kicked in starting in 2014. This drawn-out political earthquake saw the 2016 impeachment and removal from office of Workers Party (PT) President Dilma Rousseff on dubious charges of manipulating budget statistics followed by the 2018 imprisonment and barring from running for President of PT leader and former president Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva on the relatively petty charges of receiving access to an apartment on the beach. Denied strongly by da Silva, the charges rose to the level of the absurd given the massive corruption that marks capitalist politicking in Brazil with its rampant wheeler-dealerism, kickbacks, and bribe-taking. This was the case before, during, and after Lula da Silva and the PT won the Presidency in January 2003, starting with the political forces that moved against Rousseff and Lula da Silva.

Among the aftershocks over time from the 2007-08 world economic crisis and depression was the collapse in raw materials, energy, and other commodity prices in world capitalist markets. This expedited the economic crisis in Brazil, the eighth largest capitalist economy in the world. Brazil has built up giant export platforms for oil and other raw materials to markets in advanced capitalist countries such as the US and the EU, as well as to China, over many decades. Huge capitalist farms in Brazil export products such as soy beans, sugar, and meat that brought in large sums in foreign exchange. It is an example of how even the most developed (semi-industrialized) capitalist economies in “Third World” nation-states like Brazil are dependent on the advanced capitalist economies of the United States, western Europe, and Japan and the international institutions they control like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) for markets and credits (that is, debt).

In that cyclical period of expansion driven by high commodity-raw material prices, the successive PT governments funded social-welfare programs that created real – but tenuous and ephemeral as it turned out – alleviation of extreme poverty, of which there is a tremendous amount in Brazil. These policies marginally advanced working-class access to education and health care and fueled Lula’s high levels of political support and popularity. This popularity was apparently the decisive factor in banning him from being on the ballot in the Presidential election, where most surveys had placed him in the lead.

Politically, the PT policies delivered relative class and political stability, without any disruption of the financial, economic, and social dominance of the Brazilian bourgeoisie and landowning ruling classes. The Workers Party in the October 2018 elections paid the political price for the sharp economic recession that unfolded from 2014-16, with a stagnant “recovery” today. Bolsonaro was able to exploit other issues such as the miserable living conditions in the favelas, controlled by criminal gangs running organized drug rackets that are tangled up with corrupt and murderous police forces. The Brazilian ruling classes and media oligopolies swung behind Bolsonaro decisively in the elections, burying previous derisions of him when he was “on the fringe” of bourgeois politics in Brazil.

It remains to be seen if Bolsonaro is prepared to – or is politically able to – unite with Trump in an anti-Cuba, anti-Venezuela crusade. In a November 7, 2018 Financial Times article titled “Brazil version of Trump to play hardball with Bolivian autocrat,” writer Gideon Long relishes a coming confrontation between Bolsanaro and Bolivian President Evo Morales (“one of the last survivors of the leftist ‘pink tide’”) over a natural gas deal that is up for renewal. Long further asserts the ascendancy of “a new regional order” in a Latin America that he says has “shifted rightward.”

Bolsonaro Forces Out Cuban Doctors

On November 14, 2018, the press office of the Cuban UN Mission in New York issued a Declaration from the Ministry of Public Health announcing the withdrawal of Cuban doctors from Brazil following Bolsonaro’s attacks and threats on them and the Program More Doctors organization the Cuban volunteers work through. The Declaration states:

Jair Bolsonaro, president-elect of Brazil, who has made direct, contemptuous, and threatening comments against the presence of our doctors, has declared and reiterated that he will modify the terms and conditions of the Program More Doctors…he has questioned the qualification of our doctors and has conditioned their permanence in the program to a process of validation of their titles and established that contracts will only be signed on an individual basis…These unacceptable conditions make it impossible to maintain the presence of Cuban professionals in the Program…The decision to bring into question the dignity, professionalism and altruism of Cuban cooperation workers who, with the support of their families, are currently offering their services in 67 countries is unacceptable. During the last 55 years, a total of 600,000 internationalist missions have been accomplished in 164 nations, with the participation of 400,000 health workers who, in quite a few cases, have fulfilled this honorable task more than once. Their feats in the struggle against the Ebola virus in Africa, blindness in Latin America and the Caribbean and cholera in Haiti as well as the participation of 26 brigades of the International Contingent of Doctors Specialized in Disaster Situations and Great Epidemics “Henry Reeve” in Pakistan, Indonesia, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Venezuela, among other countries, are worthy of praise…Likewise, 35,613 health professionals from 138 countries have been trained in Cuba at absolutely no cost as an expression of our solidarity and internationalist vocation. The peoples from Our America and from all over the world know that they will always be able to count on the solidarity and humanistic vocation of our professionals.

Cuban Doctors in Brazil

“Pinochetism” Without Pinochet?

Bolsonaro is gearing up to carry out a “neoliberal” austerity program of attacks on industrial workers, agricultural workers, landless peasants, and small and medium farmers. He looks to the “model” of the policies carried out with extreme violence by the US-backed military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, which overthrew the elected, constitutional President Salvador Allende in a 1973 US-backed military coup.

At each step of the consolidation of his brutal dictatorship Pinochet consulted with and was advised by various US government and academic figures. These included, famously, a group of University of Chicago (UC) conservative and reactionary economists, spawns of Milton Friedman and Frederick von Hayek. These “Chicago Boys” found themselves dominating the Economics Department at UC and were available for the cause of crushing the workers and peasants of Chile into the dirt.

Survivors and would-be revivers of that “Chicago School” are very enthusiastic backers of Bolsonaro, starting with incoming Finance Minister Paulo Guedes. In an interview with the November 2, 2018 Financial Times Guedes said Bolsonaro’s election presents a “Pinochet” moment for Brazil. “The Chicago boys saved Chile, fixed Chile. Fixed the mess.”

Of course, when class and political polarization reaches the intensity of the last years of the Allende government, the room for “parliamentary democratic” resolution diminishes. Washington and the Chilean bourgeoisie and oligarchy, including in the officer corps of the Chilean armed forces, were baying for blood and carried out economic sabotage, covert subversion, and terrorism against Allende’s Popular Unity (UP) coalition, whose mass and electoral support was increasing at the time of the coup. Nevertheless, the UP government and Chilean revolutionists were unable to counterattack effectively and derail the more-and-more open coup plotting, US covert action, and right-wing mobilizations.10

It would have been impossible to carry out “the fix” Guedes crows about for Chile without the destruction of democratic rights and political space and murdering thousands of trade unionists and revolutionary-minded working-class and student youth, and anyone who stood in their way. Gruesome torture was institutionalized by the “fixers” on a mass, industrial scale after the initial bloodbath. This was a pre-condition for smashing trade union legality and driving the workers movement underground. Suppressing wages and worker’s rights laid the basis for renewed “confidence” and profitability for Chilean and foreign capital. Cyclical economic expansion primarily benefited a super-affluent minority.

The workers and mass struggles that pried open political space and trade-union legality in the 1980s, leading to Pinochet’s demise, used that space to fight to raise their living standards.

Can there be an updated Pinochetism against Brazil’s highly organized working-class movement, including mass trade unions and landless peasant organizations that Bolsonaro has made a career of making harsh attacks on? Bolsonaro spoke openly during and after the election of going after “delinquent Reds,” and organizations of landless peasants and homeless people, in addition to going after pension systems for organized workers, a centerpiece of Pinochet’s “reforms” in Chile.

While many on the Brazilian “left,” including PT activists, are no doubt shaken by the election of Bolsonaro, who obviously won the votes of many disillusioned and desperate working people, it should be said that the Brazilian workers and peasant class organizations and the mass, social movements, including for Afro-Brazilian rights, women’s rights, and LGBT rights, have not been defeated in struggle and combat, as was the case in Chile. Bolsonaro’s “electoral mandate” will be tested in the actual class and political struggles ahead.

Operation Condor II?

With Pinochet’s triumph in 1973 there was increased collaboration and coordination of the Latin American military regimes (joined by Argentina in 1976) under Chilean leadership (and that of the US CIA in the shadows) in the so-called “Operation Condor,” which operated death squads and organized terrorist acts on a continental scale.

The Condor Years: How Pinochet And His Allies Brought Terrorism to Three Continents by John Dinges

Trump’s team, to the degree that they have a coherent political focus on Latin America, certainly see opportunities to advance US policies through alignments with the series of more conservative and reactionary governments that won elections in Argentina, Chile, Columbia, and Peru in recent years. Economic conditions in all these states compel them, and they all are preparing, to take on the working-class and popular movements and to use the economic crisis to reverse the advances made in the period of the “pink tide” ascent. The Mauricio Macri government in Argentina, in particular, is in a real-time crisis after a disastrous decline in the value of the Argentine peso and consequent huge rise in the country’s dollar-denominated debt, topped off with a humiliating $57 billion “bailout” loan from the hated International Monetary Fund.

It should be noted that the election of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico will replace a conservative “neoliberal” regime with an Administration and legislature that campaigned as progressive, anti-establishment, anti-corruption, and opposed to US interventionist policies in the Hemisphere.

Venezuela

Trump and the Latin American forces he looks to bloc with certainly would like to pounce on Venezuela, which they portray as descending into ungovernability and endless economic cataclysm, and therefore is viewed as politically vulnerable. They dream and devise plans to sweep in a pro-imperialist government in an orchestrated “regime change.” There has leaked for public consumption US discussions and collaboration with pro-coup forces inside Venezuela’s military and other state institutions. These discussions were over the viability of a US-backed coup or a direct US military intervention to overthrow the Nicolas Maduro government. Nikki Haley has spoken openly to street actions calling for Maduro’s overthrow.

The Trump White House has spent over $20 million in “humanitarian refugee assistance” under the pretext of dealing with the some 2-3 million Venezuelan refugees who have been generated from the still-deepening economic crisis, crash in production, and runaway inflation in the country. These refugees have poured mainly into Colombia, with many transiting from there to Ecuador and other Latin American countries.

It is certain that the class struggle across the Americas will intensify and deepen in period at hand and coming. And that the political alignments of today may not be the realignments of tomorrow. The “Cuba Question” is bound to be at the center of all of this. The 2018 UN vote against the US blockade strengthens Cuba’s position in this volatile and explosive period in world and Western Hemispheric politics, and in the international class and national liberation struggles, that are now unfolding.

  1. The Benjamin Netanyahu Israeli government generally jerks its knee behind the US position on the Cuba anti-US blockade votes, abstaining in the last vote in 2016 when Barack Obama was in the White House. Netanyahu’s UN representatives reverted to a No vote this time under Trump. While diplomatic relations between Israel and Cuba have not been restored since being broken in the aftermath of the 1973 Middle Eastern War, which saw major combat between Israeli forces and the armies of Egypt and Syria, Israel and Cuba carry out significant two-way economic trade and commercial relations. There is important Israeli-based capital investment in several Cuban projects and industries including irrigation technology, office towers, and agricultural production. There is also fully legal travel from each country to the other. The many thousands of Israeli travelers to Cuba, and the travel agencies that work with them, have found no anti-Semitism in Cuba and no personal hostility towards Israelis even though the Cuban government is a strong supporter of Palestinian self-determination and has normal or friendly diplomatic relations with all the Arab countries as well as Iran. Cuba promotes a two-state solution for Israel-Palestine based on UN Resolution 242, with East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.
  2. See my Submission to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, Geneva, Switzerland, The Case of Cuba: “Human Rights” as a Club.”
  3. Ike Nahem. “Obama and Cuba: End of an Illusion“, Dissident Voice, March 16, 2010.
  4. In the 1990s, Cuba’s economy contracted sharply, and virtually overnight, following the evaporation of the island’s exchange and commercial ties with the former Soviet Union and allied Eastern European governments during the “Cold War.” Long-defeated counter-revolutionary Cuban-American organizations, with histories of violence and terrorism against Cuba, felt wind in their political sails. They illegally organized from US territory, stepping up subversive provocations against Cuba. These groups particularly targeted the rapidly expanding Cuban tourism industry which was generating much-needed foreign exchange. A terrorist bomb killed an Italian tourist. After repeated attempts to get the US government to act against all of this, a team of trained Cuban revolutionaries were dispatched to South Florida to infiltrate and monitor these groups clandestinely. Until they were arrested and convicted in a rigged Miami Courthouse in 1998, the Cuban Five – Fernando Gonzalez, Rene Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernandez, and Ramon Labanino – preempted a number of planned attacks. A major international campaign organized over many years demanded freedom for the Cuban Five. The last three incarcerated Cuban heroes were released in December 2014, as part of the agreement between Cuban President Raul Castro and US President Barack Obama to restore US-Cuban diplomatic relations.
  5. At the time Bolton thundered, “The United States believes that Cuba has at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort. Cuba has provided dual-use biotechnology to other rogue states. We are concerned that such technology could support [biological weapons] programs in those states. We call on Cuba to cease all [biological weapons]-applicable cooperation with rogue states and to fully comply with all of its obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention.”
  6. It was a time when a Cuban diplomat was assassinated in the streets of Queens, New York. It was a time when terrorist bombs were set off at the offices of the 1199 Health Care Workers Union, which courageously opposed the US blockade of Cuba, in the heart of Manhattan, the offices of Casa de las Americas, Cuban-Americans who defended the Revolution, and elsewhere. The Cuban Mission to the United Nations made networks of friends and supporters of revolutionary and socialist Cuba in the 25-mile-radius New York City-area where Washington, as the host country of the UN, could not prevent a Cuban presence or Cuban revolutionary freedom of speech at the UN. These friendships and solidarity have become deeply rooted over many decades. This was recently exemplified when newly elected President of the Cuban Council of State, Miguel Diaz-Canel, came to the United Nations for the Fall 2018 opening of the General Assembly and spoke to some 2300 people from New York, New Jersey and many other cities, who packed into the historic Riverside Church in Manhattan, for a rousing evening of solidarity.
  7. See Isaac Saney’s Submission to the UN Human Rights Council.Cuba, Human Rights and Self-Determination for a clear look at Cuba’s highly participatory electoral procedures.
  8. Check out this US interventionist history here.
  9. It should be noted that the democratically elected government of João Goulart, which attempted to carry out progressive measures in education, voting rights, taxes, and land reform infuriated the Brazilian capitalists and large landowners. It also enraged bipartisan Washington, in this case under the liberal Democratic White Houses of John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. This was mainly because Goulart opposed the US blockade of Cuba and refused to break diplomatic relations as demanded by Kennedy and Johnson. Between 1961 and 1964, the CIA performed so-called psyops, or “psychological operations” against Goulart, poured money into opposition groups, and was essentially the architect of the coup.
  10. See Fidel Castro on Chile, Pathfinder Press, New York, 1982 with an introduction by Elizabeth Stone, a comprehensive compilation of speeches, interviews, press conferences, and interactions with Chilean workers and trade unionists, peasants, and students from November 10 to December 4, 1971 when the Cuban revolutionary and President visited the country. In speech after speech, Castro foresees – in a cumulative master class in the Marxist method – the gathering, impossible-to-be-avoided political, social, and class showdown. Castro did everything in his power to prevent a historic defeat and slaughter of working people in Chile similar to what Ernesto Che Guevara had witnessed in 1954 Guatemala. The classic documentary The Battle of Chile, shot during the Allende years and during the coup, smuggled out of Chile, and finished in Cuba, shows how workers and peasants, ready to defend their gains, arms in hand, waited, Godot-style, to be mobilized, armed, trained, and organized as the defense of democratic space and constitutional legality was being abandoned by the Chilean ruling classes and was, in fact, collapsing.

Better late than never

Although white poppies have been around for almost as long as the red ones as a symbol of remembrance a surprisingly large number of people know nothing about what they stand for. To put it in a nutshell, white poppies promote peace, red poppies help promote Permanent War.

Arguably the most cynical lie that was told to the horribly betrayed young men who were butchered in the killing fields of Europe just over a hundred years ago, in order to persuade them to become lambs for slaughter, was that they would be fighting the “war to end all war”. If it was true, it would indeed have been worth dying for, but it wasn’t. It was a lie. Britain and the US, the last global empire and the current one, never made any effort to stop wars. The so-called peace treaty that concluded WW1 guaranteed WW2 would happen. Further evidence is obvious: apart from being the two biggest arms-makers on the planet, Britain and the US never stopped sending their armed forces to distant countries to kill people who, certainly after WW2, have been mostly rag-tag freedom fighters, defeated conscripts and defenceless civilians.

The best way anyone can commemorate those terribly wasted young lives from WW1 is to remember what they believed they were fighting for, and to demand that our great trusted leaders respect them by doing what they said they would do – stop fighting wars. Many people think this is impossible. It isn’t. Switzerland, for example, stopped fighting wars almost two hundred years ago; Costa Rica totally scrapped its own army seventy years ago; and there are other neutral countries who refuse to indulge in war, such as Sweden, Ireland and Austria. A properly constituted United Nations, self-funded with a new global reserve currency rather than being dependent on the US dollar, could finally do what most of its creators wanted: enforce world peace.

Added to the sheer inexcusable immorality of war, which has always been the case, we now have the fact that it’s also illegal – a relatively new concept. Therefore almost every military action that Britain and the US have engaged in over the last three or four decades, at least, have not only been immoral, they’ve also been illegal.

At the risk of stating the obvious, if there were no armies, or weapons of war, war would be impossible. Therefore Britain should initiate a global movement to scrap all armies, and start by scrapping its own, like Costa Rica did in 1948, and stop trading in weapons of war. At the very least Britain should declare itself permanently neutral, and copy the Swiss model and have only a part-time militia trained only for the defence of Britain, and to serve the UN on peace-keeping or humanitarian operations that have been sanctioned by the full General Assembly – not the so-called Security Council, a deeply cynical institution which should be scrapped. Britain should also close down all US army bases and spy stations on all British territory – including its overseas outposts, such as Diego Garcia (which obviously should be returned to the Chagos Islanders).

Whilst some sort of moral justification for war is always manufactured, to sell it to the 99%, morality is never the main reason for war. The main reason wars are fought is for loot, and to feed the parasites of war – the bankers, arms dealers, generals and “intelligence” agencies. This is as true today as it’s always been. When the phoney compassion of corrupt politicians and lying news providers is stripped away, we always discover that the real reason some war was fought was to make the super-rich and powerful even richer and more powerful.

Interestingly, far from being pie-in-the-sky, much of all this is already existing Green Party policy.

The real cynicism of Remembrance Day is the brainwashing that accompanies it. We’re conditioned to see dead and wounded soldiers as heroes, instead of tragic victims treacherously betrayed by their own trusted leaders. WW1 was supposed to be the war to end all war. It’s about time we started demanding the realisation of that cause. Better late than never.