Category Archives: US Foreign Policy

Australia’s Blind Allegiance to United States Foreign Policy Has a High Price to Pay

Well over a century ago the German statesman Otto von Bismarck remarked that countries have neither friends nor enemies only interests. History since then has done nothing to dispel the wisdom of his observation. There are many people still alive today who were alive when this country fought for its very existence against the two mortal enemies of the day: Germany and Japan.

What is the status of those two countries today? Germany is the most economically powerful nation in Europe, a vital member of the European Union and finally after decades in which its economic power was vastly greater than its political influence, is finally asserting itself politically in a manner commensurate with its economic influence.

Similarly, with Japan whose 10-year reign of terror and unparalleled brutality in Asian countries it invaded and occupied was finally ceased by a new role as the designated guinea pig for the then newly developed atomic bombs. Two different versions of that weapon had been developed and had to be tested on human victims.

Japanese signals of wanting to end the war as early as late 1944 had to be ignored as the bombs were not yet ready for testing. The excuse for rejecting the Japanese overtures for a peace deal were on the grounds that they would not make an unconditional surrender. The sole condition Japan sought was the retention of the role of the Emperor.

After the bombs were successfully tested (from the United States point of view) on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese unconditionally surrendered. The occupying United States and Allied forces allowed the Emperor to remain!

Japan now plays the same role in the Asian system of United States alliances that Germany plays in Europe. Despite its power as one of the world’s major economies, Japan has remained politically weak. Both Germany and Japan continue to suffer the continued occupation of their countries 75 years after the war ended. There is no possible military or political justification for the continued United States military presence in either country.

That has not, of course, stopped the United States occupation. In respect of both countries the ostensible justification remains the same: the alleged threat from China and Russia. Part of the irony, and the hypocrisy, is that both those nations were part of the allies that fought Japanese and German militarism respectively.

China’s favoured status as US ally changed abruptly after the Communist party took over the government of China in 1949. As every student of the Korean War knows the sequence of events in Korea after 1945, when the Japanese were expelled, made a military conflict between the North, that had been initially occupied by Russian forces until 1948 and the South, occupied by United States forces in 1945 and still there, almost inevitable.

There were cross-border skirmishes by both sides until in 1950 the North mounted a full-scale invasion of the South. A United Nations Security Council resolution (in the absence of the Russians and with the Chinese Nationalists still occupying China’s seat) authorised military intervention.

The Northern troops were rapidly expelled, which met the terms of the United Nations Security Council resolution. That did not stop the United States and Allied troops who in turn invaded the North and continued all the way to the Chinese border. We now know, although it was never admitted at the time, that the United States intention was to continue across the border with China with the intention of defeating the new Communist government and reinstalling the Nationalist regime of Chiang Kai-Shek that had retreated to the island of Formosa where it was protected by US warships in the relatively narrow strait separating Formosa from the mainland.

We now also know that the United States military leader in Korea, General Douglas MacArthur, had sought Washington’s permission to use nuclear weapons against the Chinese mainland forces. Fortunately, that permission was refused, but the request was a revealing insight into the United States military mindset.

Chinese intervention into the war led to the rapid expulsion of United States and Allied troops back below the 38th parallel. Thereafter military stalemate ensued until a ceasefire was agreed in 1953. No peace treaty has been signed to this day.

The purpose of this brief historical summary illustrates that United States–China animosity has a long history and a military option has always been part of the equation. China today is a vastly different military and economic proposition than it was in the early 1950s. In terms of parity purchasing power China is by far the world’ largest economy and has been for several years. It is also a nuclear power capable of wiping out the United States or any other enemy if it chose to do so.

In a rational world, the enormous economic strength of China and the military strength of its close ally Russia, should have led to at least a modus vivendi being worked out and a peaceful, albeit uneasy, truce determined.

Instead we have witnessed the opposite. Although the Trump administration has increased its belligerent rhetoric and waged an ever-increasing economic war against China, he was not the first US President to exhibit hostility toward China. Even if, as seems increasingly likely, Trump is defeated this November, it would be naïve to assume that a President Biden would be any different.

Not the least of the reasons is that United States foreign policy is not determined by rational political actors, but rather subject to direction and manipulation by the forces the outgoing President Eisenhower described in his farewell address in 1960 as the “military industrial complex.”  A 21st century description would add “intelligence” to the actors that Eisenhower referred to.

One of the more difficult things to understand for those of us who prefer to think that rational self-interest remains a powerful motivating force, is the behaviour of the Australian government. China is Australia’s largest trading partner by a substantial margin, taking more than a third of all Australian exports (about seven times the United States market share).

China is also Australia’s largest source of foreign tourists, largest source of foreign students (both very lucrative markets) and third largest source of foreign investment. In a rational world Australia would be carefully nurturing this golden goose. Instead the current government, with the enthusiastic support of the Labor Opposition, is going out of its way to offend and annoy the Chinese.

There is only one logical explanation for this self-destructive behaviour, and that is Australia places a greater weight on the military alliance with the United States than it does on its own economic well-being and the lives and prosperity of its own citizens. It is difficult to think of a polite way of describing this suicidal conduct.

Australian support goes beyond the merely political level. Australian warships in the Asian region are effectively part of the United States Navy exercises that are as this is being written, taking part in yet another so-called freedom of navigation exercise in the South China Sea. No one has been able to point to a single instance of China disrupting the free flow of civilian ships in the region. Given the economic importance to China of the free flow of trade through the narrow Straits of Hormuz (also subject to United States and Australian military patrols), it is not difficult to comprehend China’s reaction to this blatantly threatening conduct.

Should, as seems increasingly likely, the Chinese choose to exert economic pressure on Australia, the economic pain will be immense. Some restrictions on all Australian exports have already been imposed. These may be interpreted as a warning shot across the bows, encouraging Australia to rethink its manifestly suicidal economic behaviour.

There is no evidence that the message is penetrating the political and mainstream media skulls. There is total silence from those two sources of precisely who will step up to replace China’s crucial economic role as the source of Australia’s wellbeing. Reliance upon the Americans is frankly delusional and there is a conspicuous silence from any other prospective trading partner in the region or even elsewhere.

Not the least of the reasons for this regional silence over Australia’s suicidal policies is that a large proportion of those prospective trading partners are among the 160+ nations and organisations that have signed up to the Chinese-led Belt and Road Initiative and a growing number of other trading arrangements in the region that are rapidly developing.

Australia, again loyally following US directives, has shunned the BRI, again without offering a remotely plausible reason for doing so, and manifestly another example of acting against its national economic self-interest.

A profound lesson in geopolitical realism awaits Australia. When it inevitably comes and imposes its own harsh remedy, Australia will have no one to blame but itself.

The Decade of Transformation: Remaking International Relations

The coronavirus pandemic is magnifying the cruelty of US foreign policy. The economic collapse is showing the failure of neoliberalism and how the empire-economy is not working for the people of the world, including the United States.

The US is losing its global dominance as it demonstrates its own incompetence in response to the pandemic and its viciousness in the midst of this crisis. Other countries are showing leadership and solidarity while the US is escalating its attacks.

This is an opportunity to change direction. What seemed impossible in the recent past is now possible. We must seize the opportunity to create change that ensures the necessities of the people are met and the planet is protected. COVID-19 is one immediate crisis, but the climate crisis, nuclear war and economic insecurity all require solidarity between the people of the world.

End Venezuela Sanctions sign on the Venezuela Embassy, from Venezuela Embassy Protectors Collective.

The World Is Turning Against Washington For Undermining Solidarity During The Crisis

No country can fully recover from COVID-19 or the economic collapse unless these crises are resolved for the whole world. Both the economy and pandemic are global and interconnected as are the looming crises of climate chaos and nuclear war. Rather than showing solidarity with other nations in the midst of the crises, the US is escalating economic sanctions and threatening war while undermining a global response to climate and increasing the risks of nuclear war.

Black Alliance for Peace points out: “The brutality and criminality of the colonial/capitalist system of state violence is reflected most graphically by the illegal and immoral policy of sanctions imposed on 39 nations by the U.S. and its Western allies.” Venezuela, Iran and other nations are being denied the ability to import medicines and medical equipment to protect their populations from the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 23, the UN General Secretary António Guterres called for “an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world” saying nations should “focus together on the true fight of our lives – the #COVID19 pandemic.” Fifty-three countries immediately agreed. Instead of heeding this call, the US has threatened Iran and Venezuela with military attacks and continued the war with Yemen while eliminating the majority of humanitarian assistance to Yemen. These actions were wrong before the pandemic, but in the midst of the pandemic, they are obscene.

China is sending medical supplies and assistance to 89 countries so far as part of its Health Silk Road. It is ignoring US sanctions by sending drugs, test kits, and supplies to Iran and Venezuela. Hard-hit Italy noted that the other EU nations ignored their desperate plea for medical equipment while China responded. China is building positive relationships by providing essential equipment and expertise while the US is trying and failing to get other nations to sign on to a statement blaming COVID-19 on China.

Cuba has sent brigades of doctors and nurses to Italy, as well as Venezuela, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Suriname, and Grenada. Russia has also sent medical supplies to hard-hit countries like Italy. Even Venezuela, suffering from a US economic blockade and threats of a military attack, is sending aid to its neighbors, including Ecuador and Colombia– even though Colombia has joined the US in threatening Venezuela. The US blocked a shipment of coronavirus aid for Cuba from China’s richest man, Jack Ma, including 100,000 face masks and 10 COVID-19 diagnostic kits, along with other supplies.

Europe is starting to break with the United States. The EU finally sent aid to Iran ignoring US sanctions. France, Germany, and Britain have sent medical goods to Iran through INSTEX — a workaround to export goods to Iran that bypasses US sanctions. This development could have major implications for the ability of the US to unilaterally sanction nations as it provides a way for countries to trade without the US’ financial system. Europe, led by Germany, also backed out of war games against Russia, which would have included a practice nuclear attack, due to the COVID-19 virus.

President Rouhani of Iran sent an open letter to the people of the United States saying, “the war on this virus can only be successful if all nations can win this war together, and no affected nation is left behind.” He urged us to change the direction of the US government, writing, “Future generations will judge the American people based on the actions of their government.”

The zig-zagging incompetence of US policy is evident. During the three months when the Trump administration did not take the virus seriously, the Intercept reports the United States allowed exports of medical supplies and equipment. After examining vessel manifests, the Intercept found “medical equipment needed to treat the coronavirus [was] being shipped abroad as recently as March 17.” This has led to a “persistent lack of medical supplies” in the US.

Now, the US has angered allies by diverting medical supplies to the US. The Washington Post reports that “Berlin expressed outrage over what they said was the diversion to the United States of 200,000 masks that were en route from China, while officials in Brazil and France complained that the United States was outbidding them in the global marketplace for critical medical supplies.” They report the US is also stopping the export of masks to Canada and Latin America.

Even worse, Trump took time from his daily press conference on COVID-19 to escalate threats against Venezuela by sending US naval vessels near Venezuela’s borders. AP reports “The deployment is one of the largest U.S. military operations in the region since the 1989 invasion of Panama … It involves assets like Navy warships, AWACS surveillance aircraft and on-ground special forces seldom seen before in the region.”

This followed a phony indictment of President Maduro and other Venezuelan leaders for alleged narcotrafficking that included a $15 million bounty on Maduro.  President Maduro wrote an open letter to the people of the world that decried the indictment as illegal and part of a US coup attempt writing, “the U.S. government, instead of focusing on policies of global cooperation in health and prevention, has increased unilateral coercive measures, has rejected requests from the international community to lift or make flexible the illegal sanctions that prevent Venezuela from accessing medicines, medical equipment, and food.” The indictment was announced after Venezuela prevented weapons financed by the US from being sent into Venezuela from Colombia for another coup attempt.

Venezuelans in the US who want to fly back to Venezuela to escape the economic and health crises here are not being allowed to charter flights from Florida. The escalation against Venezuela also included the US-controlled IMF blocking a COVID-19 emergency loan to Venezuela. Venezuela has taken aggressive actions to stop the spread of the virus and has been more effective than the US.

The US also shows disregard for its own people, including those in the military, by firing a US Navy Capt. Brett Crozier after he sought help for sailors on the USS Roosevelt aircraft carrier. Crozier wrote his superiors about hundreds of COVID-19 cases and when the letter was leaked, he was fired. As he left the ship, the crew cheered him for standing up for their health and risking his career.  The first government official fired over the virus was one trying to protect people from illness. The US has also directed that reports on COVID-19 in the military be kept secret.

The actions of the US are leading to the reshaping of global leadership.” Patrick Coburn describes COVID-19 as a “Chernobyl moment” and concludes “nobody is today looking to Washington for a solution to the crisis.”

National Security Redefined

The people of the United States have been sold a false definition of national security. The pandemic shows that mass military spending on bombs, weapons, bases, and troops does not provide security. The coronavirus is expected to kill between 100,000 to 240,000 people in the United States if our response goes well and could be more than one million if it is inadequate.  Deaths have already passed 9/11 and Pearl Harbor and could exceed the Vietnam War and World War 1.

We need to redefine national security. David Swanson calls for a real Department of Defense that would prioritize “the twin dangers of nuclear and climate apocalypse, and the accompanying spin-offs like coronavirus.” He points out it would be less expensive to provide financial security and top medical care to everyone on the globe than to fight wars.

Gareth Porter writes, “For decades, the military-industrial-congressional complex has force-fed the American public a warped conception of US national security-focused entirely around perpetuating warfare. The cynical conflation of national security with waging war on designated enemies around the globe effectively stifled public awareness of the clear and present danger posed to its survival by the global pandemic. As a result, Congress was simply not called upon to fund the vitally important equipment that doctors and nurses needed for the Covid-19 crisis.”

The Pentagon was well aware of the threat of a pandemic and anticipated the lack of ventilators, face masks, and hospital beds, according to a 2017 Pentagon plan. Intelligence agencies warned about the threat from influenza viruses for two decades at least and warned about coronaviruses for at least five years. Luciana Borio, director of medical and biodefense preparedness at the National Security Council in May 2018 warned that a flu pandemic was the country’s number one health security threat and that the US was unprepared.

In January 2017, Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said there is “no doubt” Donald Trump will be confronted with a surprise infectious disease outbreak during his presidency. In 2019, HHS organized a month-long simulation involving multiple federal offices that demonstrated the US was seriously unprepared to cope with a pandemic. Despite all of this, the president claimed the virus “surprised the whole world,” and “nobody knew there’d be a pandemic or an epidemic of this proportion.”

The White House created a National Security Council office on pandemics, but in 2018 that was disbanded by Trump. The Trump administration also ignored a pandemic playbook that would have ensured a more effective response. The Strategic National Stockpile has not been maintained for years, as it competes with the military budget, which shoveled $15 trillion into wars. The unreplenished stockpile is one reason the US does not have sufficient ventilators and other necessary equipment. The US is also weakened by the shortcomings of the for-profit health system including the closing of hospitals.

What would actually protect US national security?

First and foremost, the US must cease its drive to be the dominant power in the world and recognize we are part of a community of nations that must cooperate to take on the many crises that will define the 2020s. This means ending military aggression and regime change efforts by respecting the sovereignty and integrity of other countries, large and small. It means ending our occupation of other nations in the form of hundreds of military bases and outposts and ending our support for other occupiers such as Israel until it stops its colonization of Palestine. Instead of international war “games”, we could hold international exercises on disaster responses to save lives. And it means respecting and obeying international law and joining the International Criminal Court. The US must stop behaving with impunity.

Second, the US must scale down the military to what is required for protection, an actual defensive approach rather than being offensive. This means cutting the military budget by at least 50% and converting all production of military equipment, supplies, and weapons into public entities to remove the profit motive that drives conflict around the world. These resources can be used for social uplift instead of causing death in a peace economy.

Third, the US must move quickly to eliminate threats to human extinction. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reset the Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to “midnight,” putting the world closer to destruction than at any point since the clock was created in 1947. As Alice Slater writes, we have a virus of nuclear proliferation as nuclear arms control agreements collapse. The US is spending more than a trillion dollars to upgrade nuclear weapons while placing ‘low-yield’ nuclear weapons on submarines.

It’s not only superpowers that are engaged in a nuclear arms race, countries like North Korea, which is threatened by the US, and allies like Germany and Saudi Arabia believe they need their own nuclear weapons. The US must commit to the rapid disarmament of all nuclear weapons in cooperation with other nuclear nations and disband the Space Force, which violates the treaty that makes space a global commons.

While COVID-19 is almost certainly a zoonotic disease, David Swanson points out at least some diseases, such as Lyme Disease and Anthrax, have been spread by military labs. Germ warfare is a criminal enterprise and so labs disguised as being for our defense but that create bioweapons need to be closed.

Foreign policy includes trade, which has been designed for corporate profit since NAFTA. The coronavirus collapse shows corporate trade creates weak supply lines. It also hollowed out US manufacturing for cheap labor in Mexico, China, and other nations, creating economic insecurity and leaving us ill-prepared for a crisis. Trade must be remade into fair trade that serves the people and planet, supports industry at home, ends factory farming and creates a balance with nature that will help prevent future animal-based viruses.

A new foreign policy must also confront the climate crisis. This is a global challenge and nations of the world must work together to confront it. The US has been playing a counterproductive role by building fossil fuel infrastructure, becoming a leading oil and gas producer, and holding back global climate treaties. Next week, in our series on “The Decade of Transformation,” we will focus on the environment.

The Time Is Now to Remake US Foreign Policy

The global economic collapse and COVID-19 pandemic are causing widespread suffering and death but will result in change. What that change looks like, positive or negative, is up to us. We must create the new normal that provides for the necessities of the people and protection of the planet. The world must unite in solidarity to confront not only COVID-19 but other crises too.

We applaud countries that are beginning to stand up to US sanctions and work around the US financial system to help countries like Iran and Venezuela. These are positive steps to end US hegemony. We agree with President Rouhani of Iran, it is our responsibility to remake the government so it reflects the best of us.

An immediate step is to end US sanctions. Join us in the Sanctions Kill campaign where the coalition will be organizing webinars and other events to end illegal unilateral coercive measures. There will be an international week of action against imperialism and sanctions from May 25 to 31. We will need to be especially creative to build an effective campaign with tactics that work in this time of physical distancing.

We must also take action now to stop the war on Venezuela. Join the webinar with Carlos Ron, vice foreign minister of Venezuela on Monday night at 6:00 pm Eastern.  Click here for information. Sign onto this demand that the US drop its charges against President Maduro and other Venezuelan officials who have been falsely charged with narco-trafficking. We must be ready to mobilize quickly if the US moves to attack Venezuela, or Iran or any country for that matter while the government believes we are distracted by the pandemic.

We are living in a time of crisis and that can be unnerving. But we have the power to get through this if we mobilize together with a clear vision of the world we wish to create and show our solidarity with each other through our actions. We are one human community  and we need each other to get through the rough times ahead.

Beyond Chutzpah: US Charges Venezuela with Nacro-Terrorism

According to the parable, the ungrateful son takes out a life insurance policy on his parents, murders them to collect, and is caught and found guilty. At his sentencing, the judge asks if he has anything to say on his behalf. The son replies: “Have mercy upon me because I am an orphan.” That’s chutzpah.

US Attorney General Barr’s indictments on March 26 against the government of Venezuela for narco-terrorism go beyond chutzpah. For starters, William P. Barr was chief counsel for the CIA airline Southern Air Transport implicated in the 1980s for running illicit drugs and related narco-terrorism during Iran-Contra.

The US charges of drug trafficking against Venezuela are the height of hypocrisy. The world’s leading source of heroin is US-occupied Afghanistan; the US is the world’s largest cocaine market.

The president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH), is the latest in a line of corrupt presidents since the 2009 US-backed coup there. JOH was identified as an unindicted co-conspirator in October by a US federal court for smuggling multi-million dollars’ worth of cocaine into the US.

Colombia is the chief regional US client state, distinguished by being the largest recipient of US military aid in the hemisphere. Hillary Clinton called Plan Colombia a model for Latin America. Yet this model is the planet’s largest supplier of illicit cocaine. And that’s only scratching the surface of the US’s history of complicity in international narcotrafficking.

The false criminal charges by the US government against fourteen high-ranking Venezuelan officials are for alleged involvement in international drug trafficking. The US government has, in effect, put a $15 million bounty on Venezuelan President Maduro and bounties of $10 million each for the head of the National Constituent Assembly and other leading officials and former officials.

Thirty years ago, the US posted a $1 million reward on the head of Manuel Noriega, then president of Panama, on charges of narcotrafficking. Noriega had long been a US security asset assisting in the US’s dirty Contra war against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Noriega had also used his US patronage to consolidate his rule in Panama as well as his ties with Colombian drug cartels. However, toward the end of his tenure, Noriega did not demonstrate a sufficient level of servility to his US handlers and was deposed in the US invasion of Panama in 1989, taking the lives of many uncounted civilians.

As RT warns: “The US indictment of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his subordinates on narcotrafficking charges echoes the rationale used to invade Panama and kidnap its leader.” Unlike the Noriega case, where the Panamanian president was convicted of massive drug trafficking with the knowledge and full protection of the CIA and other US security agencies, the US lacks evidence against the Venezuelans.

The US claims that Venezuelan officials are conspiring to “flood the United States with cocaine” are thoroughly groundless. Even the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a Washington-based think tank that supports regime change for Venezuela, found in a recent detailed report using the US government’s own data that the facts do not support such bogus claims.

The authoritative US interagency Consolidated Counterdrug Database reports, in fact, that 93% of US-bound cocaine is trafficked through western Caribbean and eastern Pacific routes, not through Venezuela’s eastern Caribbean coast. Over six times as much cocaine flowed through the US-allied Guatemala than Venezuela in 2018.

Yes, some illicit drugs flow through Venezuela – a minor amount compared to those emanating from US client states – but the culprits are criminal gangs that the very indicted officials are fighting. The coca is grown and manufactured into cocaine in neighboring Colombia, not Venezuela. While supporting US government actions to undermine Venezuelan state institutions, WOLA recognizes: “Venezuela’s state institutions have deteriorated…In this environment, armed groups and organized criminal structures, including drug trafficking groups, have thrived.”

Yet WOLA’s conclusion is: “US government data suggests that, despite these challenges, Venezuela is not a primary transit country for US-bound cocaine. US policy toward Venezuela should be predicated on a realistic understanding of the transnational drug trade.”

The US indictments against the government of Venezuela are a ramping up of a policy of regime change. Ever since Hugo Chávez was elected president of Venezuela in 1998 and launched the Bolivarian Revolution, the hostile US government has floated consistently unsubstantiated accusations of narcotrafficking.

More recently the Trump administration has sought to replace the democratically elected president of Venezuela with a US-chosen and groomed security asset. Juan Guaidó, the man anointed by Trump to be president of Venezuela, had never run for the presidency nor served as president and was unknown to 81% of the Venezuelan population at the time of his self-declaration as president. Besides these dubious qualifications, Guaidó collaborated with the right-wing Colombian drug cartel and paramilitary group known as Los Rastrojos and even posed for pictures with some of their operatives, which were posted on Twitter. 

The ever-tightening unilateral coercive measures on Venezuela by the US have created a blockade, costing Venezuela over 100,000 lives. Sanctions are not an alternative to war but an economic form of warfare and just as deadly. As such, unilateral economic sanctions are an explicit violation of international law under the charters of the United Nations and the Organization of American States and even under US law.

Unfortunately, Venezuela is not alone. The rogue empire’s sanctions now blight a third of the world’s population in 39 countries.

This latest escalation of the US hybrid war against Venezuela takes place within the context of the global coronavirus pandemic, which the US empire sees as an opportunity to further attack the Venezuelan people made more vulnerable by the health crisis. Indeed, the US State Department has declared “Maximum-pressure March” against Venezuela. In service of the empire, Twitter has closed the accounts of the Venezuelan ministries of health, science, education, and housing.

Meanwhile, Cuba, Russia, and China are all materially supporting the Maduro government’s successful efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Venezuela. In contrast to this internationalist solidarity, the US is in the midst to the largest war games in 25 years, Defend Europe 20, in contravention of World Health Organization quarantine protocols.

Words cannot sufficiently describe the inhumane perfidy of the US empire’s response to the pandemic. This should be a time for the US government to:

  • Drop the unsupported indictments against President Maduro and other Venezuelan officials.
  • Lift the inhumane and illegal sanctions on Venezuela so that Venezuela can purchase medicines and equipment to better fight the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Restore normal relations with Venezuela based on respect for national sovereignty.

US National Security Strategy is Meant to Protect Wall Street, Congress, the White House, and the Pentagon

Our fundamental responsibility is to protect the American people, the homeland, and the American way of life.
— National Security Strategy of the United States, 2017 (President Donald Trump)

The United States government has no greater responsibility than protecting the American people.
— National Security Strategy, 2015 (President Barack Obama)

At home our most important priority is to protect the homeland for the American people.
— The National Security Strategy of the United States of Americas, 2002 (President George W. Bush)

The United States’ National Security Strategy is based on foundational Instruments of National Power (INP). The INP consists of Diplomacy, Informational, Military, Economic, Financial, Law Enforcement, Information. Combined with the INP’s support, they combine to protect an economy and society that has an annual Gross Domestic Product of nearly $20 trillion (USD) and a per capita income of almost $60 thousand according to the CIA’s World Factbook. In that publication, the CIA notes that “US firms are at or near the forefront in technological advances, especially in computers, pharmaceuticals, and medical, aerospace, and military equipment…”

This incredible wealth and power, and the mythical status of America’s technologies, could not stop three disastrous events; two of which could have been prevented (911 and great recession), and the third mitigated (COVID-19).

Over the last 19 years, the American people have been exposed to a deadly virus (COVID-19), a brutal economic recession in 2008, and terrorist attacks in 2001 on two symbols of American power. And in each case, the response of the US government was to first pump trillions of dollars into Wall Street’s coffers through bailouts and quantitative easing, while, in comparison, main street got billions of pennies tossed their way.

The national security strategies pushed out by three American presidents (two Republicans and one Democrat) claim the number one priority of the US government is to protect the American people. But as the three shock and awe events of the last 19 years demonstrate, the American people that are protected by the national security strategy are the wealthy and powerful classes and institutions that run the country from their perches on Wall Street, in the White House and Congress, and the Pentagon.

The middle and lower class workers are an afterthought.

Wall Street Mafia

Wall Street is, in fact, a threat to the country. Its focus on increasing return on investment for shareholders has crippled investment in the real economy (infrastructure, retooling, etc.). A better description of Wall Street would be the Wall Street Mafia. An extortion racket if there ever was one. Consider Harvard Business Review’s, The Price of Wall Street’s Power:

Scholars and executives alike have criticized Wall Street not only for promoting short-term thinking but for sacrificing the interests of employees and customers to benefit shareholders and for encouraging dishonesty from executives who feel they’re being asked to meet impossible demands. The financial sector’s influence on management has become so powerful that a recent survey of chief financial officers showed that 78% would “give up economic value” and 55% would cancel a project with a positive net present value—that is, willingly harm their companies—to meet Wall Street’s targets and fulfill its desire for “smooth” earnings.

Executives often explain their deference to Wall Street by saying they have a “fiduciary duty” to maximize shareholder returns. That’s been an article of faith since 1970, when Milton Friedman wrote in the New York Times that executives’ only responsibility was maximizing profits. The problem, however, is that it’s not true. Whatever your beliefs about the moral responsibilities of executives, a fiduciary duty is a specific legal obligation, and law professor Lynn Stout has shown that as a matter of law American executives simply do not face any such requirement.

From 1998 through 2013 the finance, insurance, and real estate industries spent almost $6 billion on lobbying; the only sector to spend more was health care. In the wake of the 2008 crisis, the financial sector actually intensified its pressure on the government. Look at the 2013–2014 election cycle: As of March 2014 finance, insurance, and real estate had spent almost $485 million on lobbying—more than any other industry—and had donated almost $149 million to the campaigns of federal candidates, nearly three times as much as health care had donated.

Representatives and lobbyists of the financial sector are so entwined with the agencies that are supposed to regulate it that Washingtonians collectively refer to them as “ The Blob.” This is reflected in the résumés of current and former government officials.

The White House and Congress: Self-Quarantine for 10 Years, Please

President Trump’s la-dee-da attitude during the initial spread of COVID-19 should have come as no surprise. A virus himself, Trump’s preference would probably have been to let COVID-19 cull the human herd by not instituting mass testing of the American populace. A dark reading of that thinking being that people infected would continue to travel around the United States passing along COVID-19 to others.

Vox reported that “Politico reporter Dan Diamond told NPR [National Public Radio] host Terry Gross that, based on his own reporting, Trump “did not push to do aggressive additional testing in recent weeks, and that’s partly because more testing might have led to more cases being discovered of coronavirus outbreak, and the president had made clear — the lower the numbers on coronavirus, the better for the president, the better for his potential re-election this fall.

Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic brings to mind a scene in the movie classic Total Recall (1990 version) where the sinister character Victor Cohagen (played by Ronnie Cox) is told by an engineer that if he cuts off oxygen supply to one of the city sectors, inhabitants there will die.

Cohagen: Yes, what is it?

Underling: Sir, the oxygen level is bottoming out in sector G – what do you want me to do about it?

Cohagen: Don’t do anything.

Underling: But they won’t last an hour sir.

Cohagen: Fuck ’em.

In the US senate, conservative ideology takes precedent over the suffering of the American people. The plebes are being slow-rolled. According to USA TodaySen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who chairs the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, objected to fast-tracking the legislation. He acknowledged workers are struggling but said businesses are also struggling and that an expensive federal mandate wouldn’t help them.”

The general public might have the impression that the US government had no plan of action for the invasion of the COVID-19 organism. In 2006, President George W. Bush laid down a template for dealing with a pandemic that should have been implemented as China (fast forward to 2020), and subsequently, the rest of the world, coped with the spread of COVID-19. Though the Bush strategy was focused on influenza, all the core steps the US government had to take immediately were well articulated.

The Strategy provides a high-level overview of the approach that the Federal Government will take to prepare for and respond to a pandemic, and articulates expectations of non-Federal entities to prepare themselves and their communities. The Strategy contains three pillars: (1) preparedness and communication; (2) surveillance and detection; and (3) response and containment. Preparedness for a pandemic requires the establishment of infrastructure and capacity, a process that can take years. For this reason, significant steps must be taken now. The Strategy affirms that the Federal Government will use all instruments of national power to address the pandemic threat.

Up, Up and Away, in My Beautiful Military-Intelligence Balloon

The combined US National Security budget (uniform services, contractors, nuclear weapons development at the Department of Energy, operations, etc.) is roughly $1.25 trillion per year, according to an analysis by the Project for Government Oversight (POGO) and the Center for Defense Information conducted in 2019.

That is a staggering $1.25 trillion in 2019 and you can bet that going forward that yearly figure is likely to rise. It is the White House and US Congress that sign off on that amount year after year.

Our final annual tally for war, preparations for war, and the impact of war comes to more than $1.25 trillion—more than double the Pentagon’s base budget. If the average taxpayer were aware that this amount was being spent in the name of national defense—with much of it wasted, misguided, or simply counterproductive—it might be far harder for the national security state to consume ever-growing sums with minimal public pushback. For now, however, the gravy train is running full speed ahead and its main beneficiaries—Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and their cohorts—are laughing all the way to the bank.

And what about the costs for wars on terror, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan and its effects on America’s economy?

According to the The Balance:

The War on Terror is a military campaign launched by President George W. Bush in response to the al-Qaida 9/11 terrorist attacks. The War on Terror includes the Afghanistan War and the War in Iraq. It added $2.4 trillion to the debt as of the FY 2020 budget.

The War in Afghanistan has lasted longer than the Vietnam War. The War in Iraq killed 4,419 U.S. soldiers and wounded 31,994 more.59 Taxpayers have spent more than $1.52 trillion on the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

The real cost of the War on Terror is not just what it has added to the debt. It’s also the lost jobs that those funds could have created. By some estimates, every $1 billion spent on defense creates 8,555 jobs and adds $565 million to the economy.61 That same $1 billion given to you as a tax cut would have stimulated enough demand to create 10,779 jobs and put $505 million into the economy as retail spending. And $1 billion in education spending adds $1.3 billion to the economy and creates 17,687 jobs.

Using this model, the $2.4 trillion spent on the War on Terror created 20 million jobs and added $1.4 trillion to the economy. But if it had gone toward education instead, it would have created almost 42 million jobs. It would have added $3.1 trillion to the economy. That may have helped end the recession sooner.

Trump’s Stimulus Package

Trump has proposed about $850 billion in economic stimulus (in addition to the billions in the House of Representatives aid package lingering in the Senate). So that’s a one time shot of about $1 trillion for America’s suffering plebeians.

Sounds good until you realize that one of Trump’s proposals in his stimulus package is to suspend the payroll tax which funds Social Security.  Even in the face of a national health and economic emergency, opportunistic Trump seeks to cripple Social Security.

According to the Motley Fool:

Social Security collected more than $885 billion in payroll tax contributions in 2018, the most recent year for which the Social Security trustees have made information available. That represented the vast majority of the roughly $1 trillion in revenue that Social Security received, and it was enough to pay almost 90% of all the benefits that Social Security recipients got that year.If Social Security stopped receiving that $885 billion, the impact would be immediate. Benefits would have to get funded almost entirely by trust fund balances. With asset levels of about $2.9 trillion, the program could only go for four years before using up its entire savings. Even if a payroll tax cut lasted only for the last nine months of 2020, the roughly $660 billion hit would dramatically accelerate the time at which the trust funds would be empty.

In 1972, President Richard Nixon compared the average American to a young child in a family. Nothing has changed in 2020. Wall Street, the White House, the US Congress and the Pentagon treat the American people as children.

The lyrics to Woody Guthrie’s song, This Land is Your Land ring true in 2020 just as they did in the original version in 1940::

As I went walking, I saw a sign there,
And on the sign there, it said “Private Property.”
But on the other side, it didn’t say nothing!
That side was made for you and me.
In the squares of the city, in the shadow of a steeple,
By the relief office, I’d seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
Is this land made for you and me?

The Coronavirus Is Not the Plague: The Plague Is US

Two categories of propaganda must be distinguished.  The first strives to create a permanent disposition in its objects and constantly needs to be reinforced.  Its goal is to make the masses ‘available,’ by working spells upon them and exercising a kind of fascination.  The second category involves the creation of a sort of temporary impulsiveness in its objects.  It operates by simple pressure and is often contradictory (since contradictory mass movements are sometimes necessary).

– Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society, October 12, 1967

The French-Algerian writer Albert Camus’ great 1947 novel, The Plague, is a warning to us today, but a warning in disguise.  When he died sixty years ago at the young age of forty-six, he had already written The Stranger, The Fall, and The Plague, and had won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The outward story of The Plague revolves around a malignant disease that breaks out in a town that is quarantined when the authorities issue a state of emergency.  After first denying that they have a problem, the people gradually panic and feel painfully isolated.  Death fear runs rampant, much like today with the coronavirus. The authorities declare martial law as they warn that the situation is dire, people must be careful of associating, especially in groups, and they better obey orders or very many will die.  So the town is cordoned off.

Before this happens and the first signs that something is amiss emerge, the citizens of the town of Oran, Algeria remain oblivious, for they “work hard, but solely with the object of getting rich.”  Bored by their habits, heavily drugging themselves with drink, and watching many movies to distract themselves, they failed to grasp the significance of “the squelchy roundness of a still-warm body” of the plague-bearing rats that emerge from their underworld to die in their streets.  “It was as if the earth on which our houses stood were being purged of their secret humors; thrusting up to the surface the abscesses and pus-clots that had been forming in its entrails.”  To them the plague is “unthinkable,” an abstraction, until all their denials are swept aside as the truth emerges from the sewers and their neighbors and families die from the disease.

“Stupidity has a way of getting its way;” the narrator, Dr. Rieux tells us, “as we should see if we were not always so wrapped up in ourselves …. plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.”

The American people are wrapped up in themselves.  Nor do they recognize the true rats.  They are easily surprised; fooled would be a better word.

Camus uses a physical plague to disguise his real subject, which is the way people react when they are physically trapped by human rats who demand they obey orders and stay physically and mentally compliant as their freedom is taken from them.

The Plague is an allegorical depiction of the German occupation of France during World War II.  Camus had lived through that experience as a member of the French Resistance.  He was a writer and editor of the underground Resistance newspaper Combat, and with his artist’s touch he later made The Plague a revelatory read for today, especially for citizens of the United States, the greatest purveyor of the plague of violence in the world.

We are all infected with the soul-destroying evil that our leaders have loosed upon the world, a plague of killing that is now hidden behind the coronavirus fear that is being used to institute tight government controls that many will come to rue in the months ahead, just as happened after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Coronavirus is a perfect cover-story for the occupation of the public’s mind by a propaganda apparatus that has grown even more devious over the past 19 years.

Ask yourself: Where is the news about U.S. military operations in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, eastern Europe, Africa, Latin America, Asia, etc.?  There is none in the corporate mainstream media, and little in the alternative media as well.  Have those operations ceased?  Of course not.  It’s just that the news about them, little that it was, has disappeared.

Now it is all about us and the coronavirus panic.  It is about how many of us might die. It is about stocking toilet paper.  For the rich, it is about getting to their second or third houses where they can isolate themselves in splendor. As I write, 150 or so Americans are said to have died of Covid-19, and by the time you will read this the number will have climbed, but the number will be minuscule compared to the number of people in the U.S.A. and those numbers will be full of contradictions that few comprehend unless, rather than reacting in fear, they did some comprehensive research.

But arguments are quite useless in a time of panic when people are consumed with fear and just react.

For we live in plague time, and the plague lives in us. But to most Americans, Covid-19 is the plague, because the government and media have said it is.  Like the inhabitants of Oran, the United States is “peopled with sleep walkers,” pseudo-innocents, who are “chiefly aware of what ruffled the normal tenor of their lives or affected their interests.”  That their own government, no matter what political party is in power (both working for “deep-state,” elite interests led by the organized criminals of the CIA), is the disseminator of a world-wide plague of virulent violence, must be denied and divorced from consensus reality.

That these same forces would use the fear of disease to cow the population should be no surprise for those who have come to realize the truth of the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the anthrax attacks that followed, both of which were used to justify the endless “wars on terror” that have killed so many around the world. It is a shock for so many people who can’t countenance the thought that their own government could possibly be implicated in the death of thousands of U.S. citizens and the release of the deadly anthrax, which we know came from a U.S. lab and was carried out by a group of inside government perpetrators.

When it comes to the plague-stricken deaths visited on millions around the world for decades by the American government, this must be denied by diverting attention to partisan presidential politics, and now the coronavirus that engenders fear, loathing, and a child-like tendency to believe Big Brother.  The true plague, the bedrock of a nation continually waging wars through various means – i.e. bombs and economic and medical sanctions, etc. – against the world, disappears from consciousness.  As U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albrecht said to 60 Minutes Lesley Stahl in 1996 when Stahl asked her if the U.S. sanctions on Iraq that had resulted in the death of 500,000 Iraqi children were worth it: “We think the price is worth it.”

For “decent folks must be allowed to sleep at night,” says the character Tarrou sarcastically; he is a man who has lost his ability to “sleep well” since he witnessed a man’s execution where the “bullets make a hole into which you could thrust your fist.”  He awakens to the realization that he “had an indirect hand in the deaths of thousands of people.”  He loses any peace he had and vows to resist the plague in every way he can.  “For many years I’ve been ashamed,” he says, “mortally ashamed, of having been, even with the best intentions, even at many removes, a murderer in my turn.”

The rats are dying in the streets. They are our rats, diseased by us. They have emerged from the underworld of a nation plagued by its denial.  Unconscious evil bubbles up.  We are an infected people. Worry and irritation – “these are not feelings with which to confront plague.” But we don’t seem ashamed of our complicity in our government’s crimes around the world.  For decades we have elected leaders who have killed millions, while business went on as usual. The killing didn’t touch us. As Camus said, “We fornicated and read the papers.”  He knew better. He warned us:

It’s a wearying business being plague-stricken.  But it’s still more wearying to refuse to be it. That’s why everybody in the world looks so tired; everyone is more or less sick of plague. But that is why some of us, those who want to get the plague out of their systems, feel such desperate weariness.

Yet the fight against the plague must go on.  Tarrou puts it thus:

All I maintain is that on this earth there are pestilences and there are victims, and it’s up to us, as far possible, not to join forces with the pestilences. That may sound simple to the point of childishness; I can’t judge if it’s simple, but I know it’s true. You see, I’d heard such quantities of arguments, which very nearly turned my head, and turned other people’s heads enough to make them approve of murder; and I’d come to realize that all our troubles spring from our failure to use plain, clear-cut language.  So I resolved always to speak – and to act – quite clearly, as this was the only way of setting myself on the right track.

These days, I keep thinking of an incident that occurred when I was a young investigator of sexually transmitted diseases, working for the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare through the Public Health Service as an epidemiologist.  My job was to track down sexually transmitted diseases by finding links of sexual contacts. One day I went to interview and take a blood sample from a poor woman who had been named as a sexual contact.  I knocked on her door on the third or fourth floor of a walkup apartment building.  She looked through the peep hole and asked who it was and I told her my name and what government agency I represented. I could tell she was very wary, but she opened the door. She stood there naked, a very heavy woman of perhaps 300 pounds. She nonchalantly welcomed me in and I followed her as she padded down the hall where she took a housecoat off a hook and put it on.

There is, as you know, an old tale by Hans Christian Anderson called “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Although the emperor parades around naked, the adults make believe he is clothed.  Only a child sees the obvious. I was a 23-years-old naïve young man at the time of this unforgettable incident, but it echoes in my mind as a reminder to myself that perhaps that woman was unconsciously teaching me a lesson in disguise.  The year was 1967, and when I went out to get into my government car with federal license plates, a white man in a white shirt in a white car in a poor black neighborhood, a hail of bricks rained down toward me and the car from the roof opposite.  I quickly jumped in and fled as the ghettos were exploding. Soon the National Guard would be called out to occupy them.

Intuition tells me that although the emperor has no clothes and a vast PSYOPS occupation is now underway, too many are too grown-up to see it.

It’s an old story continually updated.  Like The Plague.

West attacks the World:  The World levitates towards Russia and China  

Frankly and in summary: recently The United States of America has crossed several lines, committing atrocities, in many parts of the world. In the past, no country could get away with this; such situations would inevitably lead to war.

Presently, war is “avoided” only because the world is too frightened of Washington and its mafia-style deeds. Countries on all continents are accepting the lawlessness and thuggery of Washington and the allies; bitterly, but accepting. If ordered, many of them have been falling on their knees, begging for mercy. If hit hard, they have lost the courage and strength to hit back.

There are no sanctions, no embargos imposed on the US, which is the biggest violator of international law. There are no retaliatory actions taken against its bullying, attacks, covert and overt operations. The U.N. has become a laughing stock, toothless and irrelevant, synonymous with Western interests.

The fact is – the world is scared. It is petrified. Just as a little creature is petrified and immobilized, when faced by a cobra.

It has gotten to this level. To a primitive, never before witnessed level. In the past, colonies fought back, aiming at independence. Indochina fought against the Western Empire, losing millions, but fought.

Now, Washington and its allies commit crimes, and they laugh straight in the faces of victims: “Now what? What are you going to do? Hit me back? Just try; I will burn your family members alive, break all your bones.”

You think I am exaggerating? Oh no, I am not; not at all! This is the level the West really has sank to. And almost no one dares to talk about it! Except… Well, of course, except Russia, China, Iran and few other brave nations.

*****

But look at what has happened to Iran. It is just an example of how thuggish, how insane Washington’s foreign policy is (if one could really call it a foreign policy):

Iran has done nothing bad to anyone; at least not in recent modern history. In 1953, the West arranged and implemented a horrific coup against the democratic, left-leaning Prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. Washington and London put on the throne a real monster – Shah Reza Pahlavi. Millions of lives were ruined. People were tortured, raped, and murdered. Then, in 1980, Iraq was armed and unleashed against Iran, again by the West. Consequently, hundreds of thousands of people died.

But, no, that was not enough! Modern, socialist and internationalist Iran helped to defend the entire Middle East against terrorism which has been released by the West and its allies in the Gulf. Teheran also joined forces with several left-wing countries in Latin America, including Venezuela, helping them, among other things, to build social housing, media outlets, and the oil industry.

Therefore, Iran became the target of the U.S. and Israel. President Trump cancelled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a win-win agreement. For absolutely no reason, sanctions against Iran were re-introduced. Iran’s allies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere, were attacked by Israeli drones and by war planes, and by relentless Saudi bombing.

Then, the United States murdered the most revered Iranian military figure, General Qasem Soleimani, and they did it on Iraqi soil. This was a double act of war, against Iran and Iraq, which had officially invited General Soleimani in order to negotiate the peace process with the Saudis.

Then, the real banditry of Washington got exposed:

Iran, outraged and in mourning, has declared that it will retaliate; avenge the murder of its heroic commander, as well as the others who were killed by the U.S. attack near Baghdad airport. Trump and his entourage replied immediately, threatening Iran, declaring that if it dares to retaliate, it would face terrible re-retaliation.

Basically, the U.S. claims that it can kill your people anywhere it wants, and if you fight back, it reserves right to obliterate you.

The world has done nothing. It is doing nothing. The United Nations is taking zero concrete actions to stop the biggest bully.

On 4th January, 2020, Donald Trump Tweeted in 3 separate messages, something that vaguely resembled the language of the German occupation forces during WWII:

Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge for our ridding the world of their terrorist leader who had just killed an American, & badly wounded many others, not to mention all of the people he had killed over his lifetime, including recently hundreds of Iranian protesters. He was already attacking our Embassy, and preparing for additional hits in other locations. Iran has been nothing but problems for many years. Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!

Outrageous lies, manipulations of a primitive businessman, elected by the American people to lead their country and the world. A man of no culture (one of the things that, perhaps, made him so popular among so many people in his country).

What he is really saying is this: “We overthrew your government, we unleash a war against you, we impose sanctions, prevent you from selling your own oil, and then we murder the second most important man in your country. That is all fine. But, if you defend yourself, if you dare retaliate, we will basically bomb your country back to the stone age, as we have bombed so many other countries to the stone age, including Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.”  All this is because the United Sates and West in general believe that they mainly consist of chosen people. That they are different. That they are by definition correct.

And that is, my friends and comrades, the same ‘philosophy’ used by ISIS, and by al Qaida. It is deep, extremist, religious fanaticism. As the United States uses market fundamentalism in its trade wars, it also applies primitive fanaticism in the way it deals with the rest of the world.

In a way, the world order is now resembling order imposed in Mosul under the ISIS occupation.

*****

After the killing of General Soleimani, the planet has exploded in outrage, including some of Washington’s allies. Even Israel has refused to back the U.S. in this particular case.

UNESCO (which the United States left after it recognized Palestine and after it refused to follow Washington’s diktat), issued a statement, reported by RT:

Meanwhile, UNESCO also told the US to stay away from Iran’s cultural heritage, reminding Washington that it is party to treaties which explicitly prohibit the targeting of cultural sites during armed conflict.

But that is not all. It has not ended with Iran only.

Iraq, outraged that the murder of Iranian allies took place on its soil, and that some of its people were also killed in the attack, demanded the full withdrawal of U.S. military forces.

The reply from Trump:

If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it on a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before, ever. We have a very extraordinarily expensive airbase that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it.

Now just think what has been happening: Iraq was starved and bombed, and hundreds of thousands have died as a result of the depleted uranium that was used in U.S. warheads. Then came the U.S. invasion of 2003. The country was thoroughly ruined. Once proud Iraq, with a very high human development index (UNDP) virtually collapsed, became a beggar. On top of that, terrorist groups were injected into its territory, as they were, into Syria.

And now the President of the occupying country is demanding that the victim, Iraq, actually pays for the military bases constructed on its territory?

This is, of course, thoroughly sick, grotesque, but nobody is laughing, just as no one is publicly throwing up.

And these mafia tactics have been paying off, until now. Iraq, which finally dared to stand up, shouting enough is enough, down with the occupation, began backing down. Abdul Mahdi’s office issued a communique:

The prime minister stressed the importance of mutual cooperation on implementing the withdrawal of foreign troops, in line with the Iraqi parliament’s resolution, and to set relations with the United States on a proper foundation.

Of course, U.S. threats and U.S. armor on the Iraq’s territory, have been frightening too many people in Baghdad.

United States occupation forces have never brought anything good to their victims.

The best example is Afghanistan, the once proud socialist country, where women and men enjoyed equal rights. Around two decades after the US/NATO occupation, the country is the poorest, and with the shortest life expectancy, on the Asian continent.

I worked there on several occasions and was shocked by the bestiality of the U.S. rule. Burqa-clad women begging with their infants, sitting on speed-bumps near U.S. military bases. These bases are surrounded by poppy seeds, used for the cultivation and production of drugs, under U.S. and U.K. sponsorship. And foreign contractors, as well as NATO soldiers, shared with me horrific stories of spite: how unused food is burned by the Americans, while people are starving. How, when some old base is abandoned, it is dynamited and bulldozed down. The logic is simple: “There was nothing when we came, and there will be nothing after we leave!”

But paying for occupation bases is something new; a new concept by the empire.

Syria. “We want oil” declared Trump, recently. No niceties, no hide-and-seek. The U.S. military is staying. Turkish military, which has been supporting terrorists for years, is staying. The U.S.– backed Uyghur terrorists are staying in Idlib area. While, as recently as on February 24, Israelis have been bombing the outskirts of Damascus.

And, all this is allowed to happen. In broad daylight. Committed by people who openly support, even promote, torture. Imperialists whom the BBC recently described as ‘noninterventionists!” In brief: U.S. regime.

*****

In just the few latest months, Washington created and financed riots in Hong Kong, intimidating China, trying to trick the most populous nation into a crackdown against the treasonous cadres that are demanding the return of British colonialist rule, as well as a U.S. invasion.

China is also facing brutal Western propaganda attacks, related to coronavirus.

Washington overthrew the socialist, democratic multi-ethnic government in Bolivia, and it is starving millions of people, while backing an illegitimate self-proclaimed right-wing puppet political figure in Venezuela.

*****

The things the West does to China and Russia would lead to a war, if they were happening some 30 years ago.

The more diplomacy is used by Russia and China, the more aggressive the United States becomes, the more reassured of its own exceptionalism it gets.

It is time to re-think the entire concept of engagement with the United States.

It is because the United States and its allies have already crossed all lines and are now holding the entire world hostage.

Perhaps what we are all experiencing now is not a war, at least not in the classic sense of the word, but it is an occupation – brutal and shameless. Almost the entire planet used to be occupied by Europe, some 100 years ago. Now it is occupied, directly and indirectly, by Europe’s offspring – the United States. It is not always a military occupation, but occupation it is. World is held hostage. It is petrified. It doesn’t dare to speak, to dream, often even to think.

This is the most undemocratic global arrangement imaginable.

The world has fallen on its knees. It has surrendered itself, as if in some extremist religious ritual.

It gets hit but does not hit back. It gets looted, but doesn’t dare to protect itself and its people.

All this makes no sense: countries that got occupied, or where governments have been overthrown, are now living in absolute misery, even in agony: Iraq and Libya, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Honduras, Brazil, to name just a few.

For how long will the entire world lick the boots of a country with only around 300 million inhabitants, which produces hardly anything, and governs over the world through brutality and fear? It only prints money. It only insults human logic. It vulgarizes everything on earth; everything that used to be sacred to humanity.

I have to remind those who prefer not to notice: millions are dying, annually, all over the world, because of this “arrangement of the world”. Surrender and submission do not save lives. The empire never stops; it never has enough.

And one more old wisdom: kneeling in front of terror never brought liberation, or progress!

In more and more countries that I am visiting, all over the world, people are admiring “Russian way”, and “Chinese way”. You would never read this in Western mass media outlets, but precisely this is taking place: injured, brutalized and humiliated countries are beginning to levitate towards those great countries which are proudly standing and refusing to surrender to Western terror.

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

Moderately Liberal, Extremely Dystopian: Establishment Democrats and Big Brained Centrism

As we approach the middle of March 2020 with Super Tuesday behind us, the moderate candidacy of Joe Biden has gained momentum, notching ten victories. The recent spat of moderate candidates dropping out (Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Bloomberg, Steyer) alongside Elizabeth Warren’s decision to stay in for Super Tuesday (and dropping out right after) boosted Biden into the lead in delegate count, but it is unclear going forward whether he will be able to gain ground or maintain his advantage.

His campaign is essentially a redux of Hillary Clinton’s in 2016, a dystopian offering of neoliberal establishment ideas: essentially the most harmful, bland, out-of-touch, uninspiring, and ignorant set of centrist policies. Biden offers nothing new, substantial, or exciting; and he himself stated to donors last year that “nothing would fundamentally change” under his presidency. By continuing to go with “moderate”, centrist agendas, the Democratic Party establishment, corporate America, and mainstream media reveal they would rather lose to Trump than get behind the progressive choice, Bernie Sanders.

Support for Bernie Sanders is strong across all national polling, yet in past debates, his moderate rivals continued to shoot themselves in the foot by offering up the most ridiculous arguments against progressive causes. Regardless of his success, Biden has learned nothing and absorbed no lessons from his fellow moderates’ failures or the excitement and promise offered by the progressive wing of his party. He is a living fossil. Like his corporate-backed counterpart moderates, his whole shtick is based on presenting himself as the lesser of two evils, offering the most milquetoast set of policies, and attempting to make voters fearful of Sanders’ incremental reforms by casting them as socialist and authoritarian.

By representing Sanders’ social democratic policies as “dangerous” as well as his supporters as being rude on social media because they actually care and are passionate about changing the direction of this country, the centrist hydra of campaign rhetoric and establishment media devolved into offering an infantile, McCarthyite debating style.

Much like the centrist triad of Biden, Buttigieg (who suspended his campaign March 1st), and Klobuchar (also suspended March 2nd), who are equal parts sell-outs, windbags, and sycophantic brown-nosers to the ruling class, the professional class choice, technocrat, pseudo-progressive Elizabeth Warren as well as what I’d call the “Silicon Valley candidate” Andrew Yang also represent the epitome of “big-brained centrist” thought.

Basically, this term represents the attitude of mainstream liberal as well as conservative candidates, commentators, and their supporters who believe they truly understand the world better than anyone else due to what they consider their meritocratic success, and use all sorts of neoliberal fallacies, deliver paeans to pragmatism and bipartisanship, mock social democratic reforms with calls to be “reasonable”, and generally act as puppets of corporate and imperial power. Of course, it should be obvious that those who harp on achieving “realistic goals” are those that view anything involving a transformation of society involving redistribution of wealth from the rich to the working classes as prima facie unrealistic.

As for Steyer and Bloomberg, they too fall prey to neoliberal notions of rugged individualism; i.e., that their economic success is due to their own “hard work”, and were so completely out of touch that they cannot realize the electorate is not prepared to substitute one billionaire for another, no matter what party they represent, or what good they claim they’ve been able to accomplish in their philanthropic endeavors.

All of the candidates, except for Bernie Sanders, completely debased themselves when asked if the candidate with the most delegates should get the Democratic nomination. That’s how democracy is supposed to work, right? The person with the most votes should win, no? Not if you want to suck up to the ruling class, who are deathly afraid of Sanders’ redistributive agenda.

Climbing corporate and political hierarchies as well as the fake meritocracy in this country inflates politicians’ egos and warped the ability to self-reflect on their own abilities and intelligence. In psychology, this is known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect, defined as: “a cognitive bias in which people wrongly overestimate their knowledge or ability in a specific area. This tends to occur because a lack of self-awareness prevents them from accurately assessing their skills.”

Terrifyingly, one of the consequences of this effect is that many of the afflicted exude rare confidence due to their overestimation of their skills that can be mistaken for dedication, passion, expertise, and conviction. While truly intelligent people constantly question and doubt their own ideas and preconceived notions, lesser intellects rigidly cling to dogmas in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. This was summed up best by Yeats, when he wrote: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

In politics and social relations, this effect is compounded because the awareness of the suffering of others is blunted the higher you go on the socio-economic scale. The effect of ascending political hierarchies is not much different in a capitalist economy, because the higher you go the more beholden you are to elite interests. As studies have shown, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) declines significantly the higher you look on the corporate ladder. CEOs and business owners tend to have more sociopathic, narcissistic, and psychopathic traits.

This is why it is so hard to change the minds of the privileged and affluent: it is not simply a matter of intellect and rational argumentation to help bring change to another’s belief system. If only logical persuasion worked that effectively! One must also help cultivate awareness, a sense of interconnectedness with the less fortunate, the environment and the universe, and a way to empathize with poor, vulnerable, and minority communities. One can prove empirically over and over how a socialist economy, universal healthcare, and a society of free association of producers would significantly improve the lives of people around the world. Those in denial still won’t believe you, because their self-awareness and sense of empathy for the poor, dispossessed, and vulnerable has atrophied.

It is at this stage in history that the nihilism of rich liberals and conservatives as well as the professional-managerial class reaches truly epic proportions, threatening the survival of humanity and most species on the planet. The real material conditions and problems of working people are abstracted as inequality rises. The obvious cause of the immiseration of the population and the devastation of the environment, capitalism, is obscured. Conservatives and republicans are even more delusional due to their slavish devotion to the status quo and political and economic hierarchies, as well as their mythical belief that the capitalist “free market” can solve all manner of problems. Further, conservatives view any government intervention to regulate corporate monopoly power and lessen environmental degradation as an infringement on their rights, or inane arguments that sensible environmental regulation will hurt the economy are used.

The only option left for moderate liberals is to succumb to the dystopian vision of neoliberal thought which dominates center-left and center-right thinking, because it is all-pervasive. Even mild progressives who stray even a bit to the left (such as Warren) are instantly and predictably vilified by the press, by billionaires who literally cry in public in protestation of her wealth tax. This leads the opportunistic and ambitious (Warren, just like Obama before her) to tack to the center in order to secure donors to stay in politics and keep their jobs.

The moderate candidates know their ideas are viewed as trash by a significant amount of voters, so identity politics, as well as rhetoric and euphemisms about “structural change” are predictably trotted out. Neoliberal is now a dirty word, so liberal politicians deflect as much as possible and claim their policies are “pragmatic” and are willing to work across the aisle and compromise, in contrast to the “uncompromising” style of Sanders. These are the big-brained centrists, who let their ruling class donors do all their thinking for them as to what constitutes an acceptable and “realistic” policy.

Big-brain centrism is also a term to describe a type of neoliberal wonkery which emphasizes that only technocratic policy, which echoes the Third Way of Blair and Clinton, a centrism in which the patina of “progressivism”, economic “pragmatism”, and the appearance of caring for marginalized groups dominates. Increased political representation of minorities is a wonderful thing, but the moderate democrats will never grow a spine and ask for economic redistribution from billionaires to poor people of color. Only “moderates” can deliver the best model for liberal democracy, and everyone to their left, even the mild-mannered reformism of Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is an “extremist” or a “populist”. Of course, this hodge-podge of power-hungry politicians, clueless think-tank sycophants, and conniving corporate vampires are totally beholden to elite interests, as they represent a class of smug affluent liberals and republicans who pray to the Almighty Dollar.

The big-brained liberals are hypnotized by the concept of bipartisanship, which is what Obama tried and failed to do for eight years. For the centrists, the idea that the two-party system is become more polarized is an unmitigated disaster, leaving only “far-left” politics in fashion (we wish!) alongside far-right politics (accurate). True progress can only be made “in the middle”, what some like to call “radical centrism” and politicians should not pander to their constituents with “empty promises” and “populist rhetoric.” What this radical centrism misses is the rightward shift in economics and federal policy which has been underway for 40+ years, and the consequent shift in the Overton Window: the range of ideas that are considered acceptable in US politics. In the 1960s, for instance, Sanders’ reformism would have been seen as standard, middle-of-the-road liberal set of policies, rather than today, where social democratic agendas induce shrieking from rich know-nothings and talking heads who insist that Bernie is an authoritarian communist.

In this Beltway bubble-world, Sanders is simply the converse of Trump, a dangerous left-wing populist, who, in words of Buttigieg, “wants to burn this party down.” What Sanders simply wants is to bring the US into the 21st century by adopting the social democratic policies of Scandinavia and most European nations. Yet, this is unacceptable to the “realistic” and “electability” thought-police. Big brain centrism is what it would look like to put Thomas Friedman and David Brooks in a room together and let them try to come up with federal policies. Their policies and worldview probably would not look very different from some of the ideas and concepts of each of the recent candidates, presented below.

The main thing to recognize is that all the moderate candidates, Warren included, are careerists. It’s not about helping others, it’s about them. If and when politics no longer is a viable career path for them, they will be happy to sell themselves as consultants, lobbyists, mainstream media propagandists, sit on corporate boards, and rack up speaking fees to parrot back to the ruling classes what acceptable discourse and policy is, within a capitalist and imperialist framework.

To see more examples of what I mean by Big-Brained Centrism, we will look at a statement, tweet, or policy idea from many of the moderate candidates, even the ones who have dropped out. We’ll start with a statement from Andrew Yang, because it might be one of the best examples of big-brained idiocy.

Yangonomics: “Beware the Technocracy”, The Accelerationist Candidate

Andrew Yang’s entire campaign and many of his tech/start-up supporters represent exquisite examples of the big-brain mindset. In his final debate, he stated:

The entire capitalism/socialism dichotomy is completely out of date. The fact is when people were talking about these economic models they did not foresee the technology getting stronger, more powerful, and capable of doing the work of thousands of humans…what we have to do is get the markets working to improve our way of life…instead of following GDP and corporate profits off a cliff, we should be measuring our own health and wellness…the way forward is a new human-centered version of capitalism that actually uses the markets to improve our families lives.

This is absolute garbage, cloaked within the progressive notion of redefining national well-being and taking easy shots at corporate greed. Capitalism is utterly and inexorably based on over-consumption and chasing profits over everything else; there is no way to make it “human-centered”

If we were to take him at his word of meeting in the middle, a fair response would be that the closest version of a compromise solution for the “outdated dichotomy” is the social democratic and redistributive agenda of Bernie Sanders. More importantly, Yang is attempting to erase two hundred years of public debate as to the distinctions between two radically different economic models and the invaluable contributions of generations of activists, scholars, and citizens. Perhaps he believes that by virtue of being a “successful entrepreneur” and business owner, he can see things the rest of us can’t.

As for the “no one could have foreseen technology getting stronger…” give me a fucking break. You have to be drop-dead naïve or just plain ignorant to think this. You don’t think people who built the first trains, light bulbs, cars, worked in the first mills and factories, etc., couldn’t see how these inventions and new methods of production would reshape the world? Indigenous peoples, radical artists, environmentalists, communists, and anarchists have been warning about the negative impacts of industrial-scale technology for generations. In Western literature, towering figures like William Blake and Henry David Thoreau as well as many others prophetically warned of the dangers posed by the Industrial Revolution.

What happened, of course, is that the monopoly power of capital never allowed for the more efficient distribution of resources to make lives better for the working classes, because there is little money to be made by helping and caring for people and the environment. Capitalism relies on parasitical master-servant relationships, exploiting nature and the working classes for as many resources and as much labor as possible in order to produce the most profit in the shortest amount of time.

Contrary to Yang’s ahistorical word salad and his implicit assumption that people in the past were stupid, those who lived hundreds of years ago were just as intelligent as today (if not more so) and realized exactly where this was leading. In a very good piece for The Guardian, Yanis Varoufakis explains how Marx and Engels predicted our crisis over 150 years ago:

Anyone reading the [Communist] manifesto today will be surprised to discover a picture of a world much like our own, teetering fearfully on the edge of technological innovation. In the manifesto’s time, it was the steam engine that posed the greatest challenge to the rhythms and routines of feudal life. The peasantry was swept into the cogs and wheels of this machinery and a new class of masters, the factory owners and the merchants usurped the landed gentry’s control over society. Now, it is artificial intelligence and automation that loom as disruptive threats, promising to sweep away ‘all fixed, fast-frozen relations’. ‘Constantly revolutionising … instruments of production,’ the manifesto proclaims, transform ‘the whole relations of society’, bringing about ‘constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation’.

Like the rest of the moderate candidates, Yang is a product of his insular milieu, his ideology molded by anti-communist/Cold War/red scare propaganda and the fevered dreams of Tech-mogul capitalists. Being an entrepreneur apparently means one does not have to read or understand political economy, or basic history; one is a political expert simply based on the ability to “create jobs.” He is the Silicon Valley candidate, those true believers in unrestrained automation who believe they understand the economy better than everyone else because they’ve spent the most time sitting through meetings about “corporate synergy.”

“Sensible” policy must be in the center, as one of his slogans suggests: “Not Left, Not Right, Forward.”  Yang, Warren, and Mayor Pete were considered “the smart candidates” by the media and many liberals. Primarily because they mirror back upper-middle class narcissism and promise not to disturb the security and comfort of the affluent.  This just goes to show how simpleminded and anti-intellectual mainstream political commentary has become. Capitalism has had over 200 years to develop the chance to become “human centered.” It cannot because it is fundamentally set up to serve the profit motive over basic needs of people. Capitalist markets have always skewed the vast majority of benefits to the upper classes, with pipe dreams of wealth “trickling down” to the masses.

Yang could have made much more progress had he tacked harder to the left, but instead he falls prey to his belief in “human-centered capitalism.” His UBI proposal was popular; yet as an affluent business owner and stand-in for the entrepreneur class, he could not manage to go against his donors as well as his own interests by creating a framework for price controls to fight against inflation and parasitical price-gouging. Despite his concern over AI and automation leading to massive job loss, he does not fundamentally address the exploitative relationship between employer and employees, or understand how increased digital and robot-led production will lead to new levels of coercive labor monopolization of the means of production.

One Mike Weinstein explains Yang’s worldview quite well here, in a piece titled “Beware the Technocracy”:

Yang speaks the language of the ruling class, one of inscrutable economics to uphold the narrative of technology as savior. His aim is cloak this in popular socialist ideas such as universal healthcare and income. Yang promotes this package as a self-proclaimed ‘human-centered economy’. It’s worth noting that the robot antagonists in The Matrix had a human-centered economy, too.

Andrew Yang is a privileged tech-bro, but he had one thing going for him, he was earnest, somewhat open-minded, and willing to listen to others. In this piece, his interviewer sketches out the basics of accelerationism to Yang, implying that this is the first time Yang has heard of the idea, and Yang responds with interest, wanting to know more. Yang, unlike the rest of the moderates, might be a know-nothing; but at least he can have a human conversation, and is at least open to learning about new ideas.

His refusal to include a social safety net for the needy, disabled, and elderly that could stand to lose under his UBI, as well as his refusal to endorse Medicare for All, is further proof of his myopia, however. See this summary of his thought, published in Big Think, or this one, at Ted.com, both of which specialize in big-brain centrism. Yang also proposed to raise revenue for the UBI via a value-added tax, which is a tax on consumption and disproportionately hurts low-income workers, rather than a more sensible wealth tax.

Warren: Feel-good candidate for the Professional-Managerial Class

Elizabeth Warren also tacked to the center, repeatedly describing herself as “capitalist to her bones”. While the act of adopting progressive liberal values and rhetoric mixed with pro-capitalist corporate-speak worked in the past, for instance, for Obama and even for Jimmy Carter before him, there is no popular “middle ground” to occupy now in the Democratic Party. The 2008 economic crisis advanced political consciousness in such a way that mainstream liberals now see the ground shifting underneath them. Either you are a firm Democratic establishment centrist, or you’re in the progressive/social democratic/democratic socialist camp.

Warren, straddling both sides of this fault line, could not seem to pick a lane. Her attacks on the banks and her wealth tax proposal would seem to mark her as a progressive, but her professional-managerial class (PMC) background pulls her to support the Clinton/Obama technocratic way of governing. Politics is about having big ideas and pointing out the systemic problems in society (which Bernie Sanders has, and does) and finding ways to implement them; not about having a series of band-aid solutions and incoherent plans for “structural change” without examining the root cause of our maladies: capitalism. No one wants to hear flip-flopping about a “transition plan” to shift to Medicare for All in three years. People want to know that you will fight for them on day one, because every day that you hesitate poor and homeless people literally die in the streets because of lack of access to health care; also men, women, and children are killed each day due to our imperial and frankly genocidal foreign policy, which she demonstrated hardly any basic knowledge of, or real interest towards.

Both Warren’s wealth tax and her climate plan were considerable tamer than Sanders’ plans. If you’re going to challenge corporate power, even within the confines of US electoral politics, you can’t excite the “populist” liberal-left with halfway measures. Voters were canny enough to see through her fence-sitting, hence her relative lack of support, even within her home state of Massachusetts.

One of Warren’s most glaringly dystopian plans was for “fighting digital disinformation”. There is a glimmer of a good idea hidden in the concept, in that she proposed penalties for those who engage in voter suppression. The real doozy is that she plans to criminalize “disinformation” and wants the corporate social media behemoths like Facebook and Twitter to censor and moderate political speech, as well as leaving the door open for government censorship of news. In this she parrots the desires of the Democratic establishment who, of course, are deeply entwined with the Military-Industrial-Intelligence complex. Liberal establishment figures have become emboldened since 2016: for instance Hillary Clinton views anyone who disturbs her as being aided by Russia; such as Trump, but also Jill Stein and Tulsi Gabbard, absurdly. Liberals such as Warren aim to increase paranoia in the populace, consciously or not, surrounding the idea of “foreign meddling” and seek to weaponize the election interference narrative against any politicians who do not support the ruling class. This is why Bernie Sanders was told his campaign was being aided by Russia, in effect to smear his entire campaign. The real targets in the “interference” narrative are leftists who want to redistribute wealth.

Agent Pete

Pete Buttigieg represents a special type of stupid. First, Buttigieg’s policies (or lack thereof) show just how worthless a Rhodes scholar-level education truly is, just like it showed for Cory Booker. Just like Kamala Harris, Buttigieg is the offspring of a worldly and erudite Marxist professor who didn’t learn a thing; in Mayor Pete’s case, he decided to rebel against his father and work for the machine in the killing fields of Afghanistan and the corrupt scandal-ridden firm McKinsey.

There is much more to the Mayor Pete back-story regarding his intelligence and national security connections. He worked in Naval Intelligence in Afghanistan alongside the CIA. He penned an op-ed in The New York Times with a friend about visiting Somaliland and meeting with “local leaders.” He keeps a map of Afghanistan displaying its mineral resources in his study (the alarm bells should be going off). He wrote in his book about visiting a “safehouse” in Iraq. Many foreign policy and national security figures backed his candidacy. And yes, thanks to Left Twitter, #CIAPete was blowing up on social media.

Whether or not Mayor Pete is a spy asset or not does not really matter. What matters is he thinks like them, and shares their worldview of supporting US imperial and economic domination at all costs.

How do we know this is true? Buttigieg had a line in a recent debate about “being inclusive” by taking donations from billionaires. Who honestly thinks taking money from billionaires is to make society more inclusive? Only a little slug willing to completely debase himself to his ruling-class overlords would admit this publicly; even Biden at his most incoherent would never blurt this out.

Listening to Pete talk in general was just bewildering. He imitates Obama’s style at every turn, yet cannot match his soaring oratory and simply does not answer questions or deliver any tangible idea of what he will offer. He is the platitude candidate; every time he speaks it’s like opening a fortune cookie, as he’s full of vague truisms.

One of the most dystopian plans of Pete was a “National Service Program”.  Predictably, it is framed with patriotic, nationalistic rhetoric. The goal would be to increase the service program with the end goal being a “universal, national expectation of service” (from his website) while also claiming it will be “strictly optional”. High school and college students are already exploited enough in the classroom and at their jobs, and funding a plan so that young people can put a gold star on their resume pretty much sums up Pete in a nutshell. Here’s his justification:

In the great unwinding of American civic society underway, and at a time when Americans are experiencing record-low trust in fellow citizens and American institutions, few — if any — single policy solutions carry the promise of democratic renewal more than national service.

A simple rebuttal would be to ask what is causing the “unwinding” and “record-low trust”. It’s obviously inequality, corruption in government, corporations which are legally bound to choose profits over people, little to no regulation of technology and fossil fuel corporations, monopolization in virtually every sector of the economy, lack of health care and a living wage. There is no indication that this plan would solve any of these issues, because the Oxford-educated Mayor cannot be bothered to think critically. Or, rather, an Oxford education blinds one to the fact that capitalism is the root cause of our systemic crises. Typical of elites, he confuses class conflict with national frailty and disunity, much like Trump. He is a true believer in the system, and projects his privileged fake-meritocratic upbringing onto everyone around him with a call to service. Any national service plan with Pete at the helm feels like a plan for assimilating youth into our Death Star corporate-driven empire; for creating a “McKinsey Youth” for America.

Steyer and Bloomberg: Upholding a Nation Run for Plutocrats, by Plutocrats

Today one must be for the poor and working classes to gain mass political popularity, like Sanders; or conversely offer a proto-fascist program of a return to national greatness, like the racist, money-worshipping, chauvinist Twitter troll, like Trump. That is why the elites are even more afraid of Sanders, because he and more crucially his base offer a clean break and a qualitatively better and more egalitarian organization of society.

The super-rich must be excluded from the political process because they will always put the interests of capital above the common good, and refuse to see how their actions directly contribute to the impoverishment of workers and the degradation of the environment. Any intervention by them, in the name of philanthropy or donations to politicians, proves that their money buys political power, social control, and makes a mockery of any notion of “democracy” in this nation. This is called an oligarchy. Which reminds me, Mike Bloomberg should no longer be addressed as “Mayor Bloomberg”; “Plutocrat Bloomberg” or “Oligarch Bloomberg” would be more appropriate.

Amy’s Rage

Amy Klobuchar is a lot of things. She is undoubtedly driven, hard-working, and passionate about her work. The problem is the work she does is inherently bad for most people and she did not have any good policy ideas that differentiated her from the other centrists. Her other problem is that she has extreme anger issues.

Klobuchar is an abusive boss and her employees described her offices in Minnesota and D.C. as a “hostile work environment.” The most she’s addressed this is by stating she’s “tough” and has “high expectations” for her staff. The clues to her barely-bottled rage are under the surface, as this article in The Atlantic opines: her childhood spent with a neglectful, alcoholic father severely messed her up.

This is not an uncommon situation, with a subset of leaders put into positions of power that were traumatized in childhood. Many become highly-driven over-achievers in the corporate and political worlds: it’s easier to run from the ghosts when you’re showered with accolades and money. Many also burn with rage, are vengeful and prone to irrational outbursts, consider any slight or unavoidable accident a personal affront, and crave domination and control over others. Much like management in large corporations, her former staff describes a brutal hierarchical and tyrannical environment where the smallest mistake could set her off into tantrums or the throwing of office supplies, forcing staff to do demeaning work involving her personal effects, and would regularly condescend and shame her employees openly in person and through email. We already have an authoritarian in the White House who needs psychological counseling. Klobuchar should not be attempting to seek power: like the rest of the corporate and political ruling classes, she should be seeking professional help.

Biden: Senior Moments

Let’s just get it out of the way: Joe Biden is seriously slipping upstairs. I suppose that’s not an anomaly anymore for presidential politics, as we have dealt with cognitive decline before with Reagan in his second term. We’ve dealt with not-so-bright presidents too: the entire George W. Bush presidency, and now Trump. If Biden becomes the nominee and president it will be a national, collective senior moment. I don’t really have the words to describe a head-to-head Biden-Trump debate, other than it being extremely depressing, and that I would predict an increase in sales of alcohol. It would break the country on some visceral level. Nominating Biden could end the Democratic Party for good, so maybe there would be a silver lining.

Interestingly, Biden spoke to donors in 2019 and stated that “no one’s standard of living would change” and “nothing would fundamentally change” if he became elected. It would make for an honest slogan, at least. Vote Biden in 2020: Nothing will change.

When moderate democrats say “be realistic”, say it back to them: be realistic, Biden would surely lose to Trump. Only Sanders has a shot at defeating him, as Trump would absolutely eviscerate Biden and run circles around him. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, and Trump is as broken a person as they come; but he is smart enough to harp on Biden’s mental decline and his son’s shady job as a board member of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, a position he had absolutely no expertise in.

Oh Canada!?: Trudeau Marches for Climate

The most ridiculous and absurd example of big-brain centrism comes from our neighbor to the North, however. In September of 2019, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took part in a climate protest in Montreal. He tweeted: “Today we marched for our planet, our kids, and for their future.” It did not seem to dawn on him that his fellow citizens were marching to protest the lack of action his government was taking to battle global warming. You’re their leader, Justin. If you want to take action, use every available mechanism in your own government to make a change. The people put you in power to do exactly that. Was he protesting himself? Was he admitting that even as PM he is as powerless as the average citizen to fight the fossil fuel industries? Under his administration, Albertan oil sands continue to be extracted, and new pipeline expansion is in place against the will of the Wet’suwet’en First Nations tribe who are currently protesting.

The Moderates Serve the Ruling Class

Just to stick with Trudeau’s nastiness for a moment, everyone should read this article on the First Nation protestors in Canada fighting the Coastal GasLink Pipeline expansion. If you feel called, watch the embedded video. The RMCP point their rifles at nonviolent protestors- police who operate under the orders of Justin Trudeau. Make no mistake, Biden would be no different in the US. He serves at the behest of the ruling classes. It doesn’t matter if it’s Obama with Occupy Wall Street and the Dakota Access Pipeline, Trump, Trudeau, or a possible Biden regime: they all will intimidate and if necessary kill their own citizens who use direct action to resist fossil fuel expansion and corporate rule. It’s all a sick twisted game to protect the property of the rich for the “sensible”, “highly-esteemed”, blue-check mark politicians and media flunkies.

Even if the moderate liberals gave one single solitary fuck about average working people, the environment, future generations, and the citizenry they pander to, they are too weak-minded because they insist everything be done at the glacial pace (as glaciers are now in rapid retreat in many parts of the world this metaphor may no longer be useful, thanks to them) of bipartisan electoral politics, and will compromise with conservatives at every turn to water-down absolutely any and every possible progressive or radical legislative reforms.

Like Trudeau, they all want to have it both ways: to be seen as a progressive, “woke” politician; a radical climate protestor in his case, while at the same time being central figures of the establishment, upholding an inhumane system, walking corpses who prop up the status quo, absolute tools of corporate and imperial rule. Which in the end means that they really only care about themselves: their fame, power, glory, and their money.

Bernie Sanders has his own serious flaws, most especially in regards to foreign policy. Yet he is the only candidate who speaks to the need to create a better, kinder, more reasonable and egalitarian nation; and the best chance to popularize socialism right now, however ill-suited he may be to the task.

Even Hillary Clinton weighed in on Sanders recently and said “nobody likes him, no one wants to work with him.” It might be worthwhile for citizens and neoliberal imperialists like Clinton, Biden, Trudeau, and the rest to question what it means to be “popular” and what positive “work” has actually been accomplished in a Congress which hasn’t cracked a 30% approval rating in over 10 years.

There are a couple of references from pop culture which sum up the sad but true nature of the centrist liberal and conservative politicians. Their commitment to strengthening capitalism at all costs leads to a hollow shell of a life. The first quote is from the movie Casino Jack, a fictionalized version of the corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s life. When the walls are closing in on him, his wife reminds him there will be no one to help: “We have no friends, Jack, none. All we have are people we do business with.”

The second set of quotes, which I’ll end with, are from rap legend Tupac Shakur. In the song “Holler If You Hear Me”, 2pac warns of the perils of compromising one’s beliefs for material gain:

To the sellouts livin’ it up/

One way or another you’ll be givin’ it up.

In the last verse, 2pac has a prophetic line, alluding to black militancy, manufacturing consent and the return of the repressed in American society. His words remain eerily prescient, and remind me of the way moderate liberals and conservatives view the rise of Bernie Sanders and socialism in the US today as dangerous:

And now I’m like a major threat/

‘Cause I remind you of the things you were made to forget

A Difficult Peace

Nearly a thousand of us were gathered in Chicago beneath the alarming edifice of Chicago’s “Trump Tower.” Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani had been brutally murdered the day before in Iraq, with several of his associates; and the welcome surprise of Iran’s relatively measured response was yet a few days off.  A region-wide conflagration seemed just on the verge of engulfing perhaps millions of lives, and consuming, as well, much of the species’ remaining time and attention needed to face our direst threats: with the new war we could fear continued paralysis in the face of an unfolding climate collapse, a terrifying new Cold War (now with hypersonic missiles), and a global far-right resurgence driven by shocking inequality and violence.

I’d been to Iran a year before with Voices’ Sarah Ball on a CODEPINK delegation and, addressing the crowd, I thought of how little attention Trump’s worst crimes, his war crimes, now receive from his critics in both parties.  I wondered aloud if the right-wing trend that had made Trump commander-in-chief was not, as is often argued, a backlash by the poorest Americans against the same kind of contemptuous disregard that American power also shows for the dignity and safety of the people of Iran.

Tragically, in its “forever wars” the United States consistently denounces authoritarianism and religiosity among the world’s poorest, but only as an excuse to violently drive the people of those countries even further from security, democracy, and peace. The U.S. condemns the global poor it claims so ardently to wish to protect, too frequently as a shallow pretext for military and economic subjugation.  Americans, correct to denounce Iran’s theocratic regime, ignore what Iranians are quick to recognize, that Iran’s worst enemy remains not its own government, but that of the United States.

On our first day in Tehran, reformist foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with us and quipped that Iran veers rightwards whenever the war-hawk John Bolton is anywhere near the levers of U.S. power.  Today the White House would seem to have moved to the right of its stance under Bolton, while Trump’s enemies in both parties alarmingly hail Bolton as an ally in their quest to encircle Russia — Iran’s largest ally.  Predictably, if tragically, this past Friday, religious hardliners swept Iran’s parliamentary elections, with help from a Tehran regime secure as never before in the knowledge that, with U.S. hardliners rampant, Iranians have nowhere else to turn.  Iran’s brave dissidents generally rush to reject all expressions of support from U.S. leaders, hastening to agree on one point only with the many Iranians who support the theocracy: that the United States (along with its Saudi and Israeli cats paws) remains the worst threat which Iranians must face.

There is no reason for U.S. voters to suppose that their government’s hostility towards Iran is aimed at realizing anyone’s human rights.  Staunch U.S. support for the brutal Saudi dictatorship puts the lie to any such claim. Iran’s military support for its regional allies is massively dwarfed in destructive impact by the Saudi role, directly and through proxies, in bloodily destabilizing the region.  The U.S.’ own 2003 invasion of Iraq remains the century’s worst human rights violation (if the Saudis’ U.S.-backed, famine-assisted war in Yemen doesn’t catch it up).  An untold number of Iranians facing dire economic hardship were recently gunned down protesting the greed (perhaps more than the strict religion) of Iran’s clerical oligarchs; but the U.S. had, through its crushing sanctions, imposed this hardship deliberately and with the stated intent of callously forcing Iranians to topple the regime for them.

The idea that a U.S.-driven regime change, either through sanctions or through war, might somehow democratize Iran is popular in the U.S., but it’s a prospect for which few Iranians would ever want to vote.  Social scientists place Iran among Earth’s most nationalistic countries, with many in Iran acutely aware of the U.S.-driven coup which crushed Iran’s stubborn bid for secular democracy in 1953. The Islamism which revolutionary Iran adopted in 1979 was widely considered an anti-colonialist necessity, a “return to ourselves” required to resist further U.S. cooptation and violence. Today, Iranians well note that U.S. leaders’ regime-change plans tend to involve installing, as Iran’s ‘democratic’ rulers, Iran’s most feared terror group, the “Mojahedin-e Khalq”. In 1988, during the Iran-Iraq war, the cult-like “MEK” actually invaded Iran, on Iraq’s behalf, from Iraqi soil, and with air cover from Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.  Outside Tehran I visited the chief graveyard of that war, resting place for hundreds of thousands.  It’s an odd definition of “democracy” under which we hope to impose, through war, the would-be leaders Iranians fear most.

US Den of Espionage Museum, Tehran

We gathered at a terrible moment this winter beneath the unsightly bulk of Chicago’s Trump Tower, but far more ominous threats loom on our horizon, whether a U.S. war on Iran can be averted or not.  Our forever wars, nightmarish enough in themselves, should terrify us for the truly existential crises they prevent us from addressing.  Trump’s worst crimes are his war crimes, and both of the U.S.’ political parties seem focused on urging Trump towards more war, not less. No mere election but a grassroots movement of never-before-witnessed scope would seem needed to turn our government, in this late hour, away from empire and towards the goal of human survival. But to succeed, that movement will need to involve and empower the bases of both parties, including many of Trump’s voters who it would seem easier to simply dismiss and denounce.

When the U.S. settles for condemning Iran, it drives Iran and the world even further towards dictatorship and annihilatory violence. The most urgent threats facing our species aren’t enemies, like a country or a political party, that we can simply defeat, at however unacceptable a cost, but existential deadlines implicit in our nation’s own wealth and frightened arrogance, deadlines we can’t meet without our “enemies'” freely offered assistance. The path we must follow within the U.S. seems also to be the sole survivable path the U.S. has left that it can follow abroad – to somehow redress those of our neighbors’ real grievances to which their undeniable failings should never have blinded us; to build a movement for species survival which no-one will join if we won’t share our wealth and our power; and to empower those who, like Iran, we’re most inclined to condemn – in the desperate hope of forging a difficult peace.

Mistrial Is Another Blow To US Coup In Venezuela

Last week we, along with Adrienne Pine and David Paul, were unsuccessfully prosecuted by the Trump administration for our protection of the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC from April 10 to May 16, 2019.  The jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision and so we remain innocent of the charge of interfering with the protective functions of the US Department of State. The judge declared a mistrial. It was a partial victory and we greatly appreciate the jurors who were able to see through the cloud of misinformation in the courtroom and vote to acquit us.

The day our trial started, Juan Guaido returned to Venezuela where he was harassed and physically assaulted by protesters. He is unable to muster support at home even from the opposition. Guaido’s presidential charade is fading but the United States has not given up on its regime change campaign in Venezuela. New sanctions are being imposed and there have been recent attacks of sabotage within the country that resemble ones backed by the US in other countries to cause disruption and discord. As Citizens of Empire, we must continue to oppose US intervention in other countries.

Note: The Trump prosecutors will announce on February 28 whether they will prosecute us again. The Embassy Protection Defense Committee, our lawyers and the four of us are preparing for a second prosecution. Please check DefendEmbassyProtectors.org for updates and what you can do to help prepare our defense.

Embassy protectors [left to right: David Paul, Margaret Flowers, Adrienne Pine, Kevin Zeese] outside of court on February 13, 2020, by Martha Allen.

Confusion In The Courtroom Where Lies Were Told And The Truth Could Not Be Heard

After the trial, half the jury stayed behind to answer questions from the lawyers and the judge. What stood out in their answers was confusion. The information they heard in court was incomplete, which made it difficult to understand what happened. A major source of confusion was that the testimony in the trial was limited to three days from May 13 when a trespass notice was delivered to May 16 when the arrests occurred. The jurors were not allowed to be told about the full 37 days we were in the embassy when at times more than 70 people stayed there. They asked — why were you there for those three days? Why did you go there in May when the new president, Juan Guaido, came to power in January? The prosecutor’s successful manipulation of Judge Howell to limit the testimony to those three days created juror confusion as the story did not make sense.

Of course, Juan Guaido never came to power. He has not been president for even a nanosecond. When this so-called ‘president’ returned to Venezuela, after a US-sponsored tour of Europe, the customs officer took his passport and explained he had violated the law by leaving the country. No real president could have a customs officer take his passport.

Guaido was not welcomed when he walked through the airport and out into the streets. He was surrounded by protesters calling him a traitor and an assassin and chasing him away from the airport.  They were angry in part because during his trip Guaido called for more sanctions, which have shortened the lives of over 40,000 Venezuelans, and in the past, he even called for a US military attack on his country. It is obvious he is hated by the people of Venezuela as even the opposition did not support his re-appointment as president of the National Assembly. Not only is he not the president, but he also is not even the leader of the political opposition to President Maduro.

In the courtroom, due to an anomaly of US law, the jury was told that Juan Guaido was the president. While many have criticized Judge Beryl Howell for that ruling, in reality, she was reflecting US law, which says the president determines whom the US recognizes as the leader of a foreign government. This is a political question that the courts cannot overturn. Judge Howell sought to keep politics out of the courtroom, but it was not possible. Taking judicial notice that Guaido is ‘president’ when in the real world he is not made this a political case based on falsehoods.

The judge explained that “elections have consequences” as they grant this and other powers to the president. Judge Howell’s comment was ironic for Venezuelans because they also have elections as they did in May of 2018 where President Maduro won 67 percent in a five-candidate field. That election had more than 300 international election observers who concluded it met all the requirements for democratic elections under international law. Kevin Zeese was in Venezuela for it and reported it was a well-run election far superior to many US elections – especially the Iowa Caucus!

In part because of the limits placed on what we could say in court, none of the embassy protectors testified. The judge’s pre-trial ruling meant we could not tell the whole truth and made it difficult to testify without being held in contempt of court, a situation that Alan Macleod described as “Kafkaesque.” Our lawyers, Michael Satin, John Zwerling, Bill Welch, and Heather Shaner, built our defense on their excellent cross-examination of the three government witnesses.  After the government presented its case, the defense rested without calling any witnesses.

While we hope the prosecutors will not prosecute us again because we are innocent of the charges against us, we are preparing for a second prosecution. It was a victory to have a hung jury in such a manipulated environment but we are not yet free. We hope the Trump administration sees that prosecuting us again will be viewed by the world as further proof of US injustice. Another prosecution raises the stakes for the US as an acquittal or second failed prosecution will be further evidence of the failed coup. As we have always hoped, our goal is for the US and Venezuela to develop positive relations that are based on mutual respect for sovereignty and international law.

Two placards placed outside the Venezuelan embassy by the Embassy Protectors Collective (From Popular Resistance)

Venezuela Continues to Resist US Regime Change

The US charade claiming Guaido is the president and the judge refusing to challenge that fiction has dangerous and deadly consequences. The United States violated international laws when it invaded the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, DC and handed it over to the leaders of a failed coup. The US signaled to other countries that centuries of practices that uphold the inviolability of embassies no longer matter. It also signaled that elections don’t matter. The US believes it can decide who is the leader of another country and hand over the assets of that country to whomever it chooses.

The Venezuelan National Assembly is currently investigating Juan Guaido, particularly his backing by the United States and the theft of Venezuela’s assets. Guaido has already been restricted from traveling out of Venezuela for taking money from foreign countries, a restriction he has defied multiple times. Guaido also violated the Venezuelan Constitution by claiming to be the president, a power that only exists when the elected president and vice president are unable to serve. In the case where the president of the national assembly is required to step in as president, there must be an election for a new president within thirty days.

Guaido is being accused of receiving financial support from Alejandro Betancourt, who is being prosecuted in the United States for laundering billions of dollars. Betancourt is the cousin of Leopoldo Lopez, the head of the right-wing Popular Will Party. Lopez was convicted of inciting violence and escaped last year to seek asylum in the Spanish Embassy. It was recently discovered that Rudy Giuliani met with Guaido’s father and others in Spain and then met with the US Department of Justice to request leniency for Betancourt.

Guaido is also implicated in a case being brought by Venezuela against the United States for “the theft of [Venezuela’s] foreign assets and bank deposits… The looting equals up to US$116 billion.”​​​​​​​ Venezuela recently filed a case in the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. The day may come when the United States is held accountable and is no longer allowed to act with impunity.

A major goal of the action to protect the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, DC was to raise awareness that the US was escalating its lawless actions. Interference in the elections of another country, threats of military invasion and the imposition of coercive economic measures (aka sanctions) are violations of the United Nations Charter. Failing to protect embassies violates the Vienna Convention. The Embassy Protection Collective, composed of hundreds of activists for peace and justice, did prevent the embassy in Washington, DC from being given to the coup-supporters. It is empty today.

The action in the embassy was also an act of solidarity with the people of Venezuela struggling for self-determination and a new society that puts people’s needs and protection of the planet above corporate profits. We have so much to learn from Venezuela about democracy, ending poverty and creating a world for everyone.

As Citizens of Empire, our work is not over. We must continue to oppose sanctions and US intervention in other countries. The San Francisco Labor Council recently passed a resolution opposing sanctions. You can do the same in your community. Urge your local groups, city or county council or other institutions to do the same. And listed below are a few more ways to get involved in the struggle for peace.

Register Now For The United National Antiwar Conference, “Rise Against Militarism, Racism And The Climate Crisis” In New York City From February 21 To 23.

Take Action: Join The International Days Of Action Against Sanctions And Economic War, March 13 – 15, 2020

Upcoming: The World Peace Council And The Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases,  International Conference, “Confronting Imperialism’s War Machine — The Global Struggle For Peace, Social Justice, National Sovereignty And The Environment,” On March 28-29, 2020, In Larnaca, Cyprus. Register Here.

Israel’s Palestinian Minority has Good Reason to Fear Trump’s Plan

The Trump administration’s decision to green-light Israel’s annexation of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank grabbed headlines last week. But US support for a related proposal – one equally cherished by Israel’s extreme right – was far less noticed.

Under the terms of the “Peace to Prosperity” document, the US could allow Israel to strip potentially hundreds of thousands of its own inhabitants of their citizenship in a so-called “populated land swap” with the settlements.

Those in danger of having their citizenship revoked are drawn from Israel’s large Palestinian minority – one in five of the country’s population.

These Palestinians are descended from families that managed to avoid the large-scale expulsions by the Israeli army in 1948 that led to the creation of a Jewish state on the ruins of the Palestinians’ homeland.

The plan would require minor modifications to borders recognised since Israel agreed to a ceasefire with its Arab neighbours in 1949.

The result would be to transfer a long, thin strip of land in Israel known as the “Triangle” into the West Bank – along with a dozen towns and villages densely populated with Israel’s Palestinian citizens.

Unwelcome guests

Samer Atamni, director of the Jewish-Arab centre for peace at Givat Haviva, an institute promoting greater social integration in Israel, lives in Kafr Karia, one the towns likely to be moved under the plan.

“There’s been talk about this idea for a while but mostly from the extreme right. Now Trump has brought it out of the margins and into the mainstream,” he told Middle East Eye.

“The worry is that it will become the basis of any future political solution. It has been normalised.”

Yousef Jabareen, a member of the Israeli parliament from Umm al-Fahm, home to 50,000 Palestinians and the largest community targeted by the “land swap”, said the proposal was a dramatic step-up in a growing campaign to delegitimise the Palestinian minority.

“Even if the plan cannot be implemented yet, it presents us – the native people of the land – as unwelcome guests, as a fifth column, as the enemy,” he told MEE.

“And it will inflame the right-wing’s incitement, including from [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, that Palestinian members of the parliament are representatives for a terrorist population.”

‘Pieces on a chessboard’

Defenders of the plan have argued that it does not violate the rights of those affected because they would not be physically forced from their homes. Instead, their communities would be reassigned to a Palestinian state.

But forcible transfer of the kind suggested in the Trump plan – sometimes referred to as “static transfer” – is likely to constitute a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Atamni noted that families would be torn apart. Those inside the Triangle would be separated behind checkpoints and walls from family members living elsewhere in Israel. It would also cut many off from their places of work, schools and colleges, as well as their historic lands.

“We study and work in Israel. It is the only reality our community has known for decades,” he said.

“It confirms our worst fears that Israel does not take our rights as citizens seriously, that it thinks it can simply issue diktats, and play with our futures as if we are pieces on a chessboard.”

Worse on other side

Jabareen pointed out that residents of the Triangle had no reason to be reassured about their prospects from the Trump document.

“What state is it that we would be transferred to? From the Trump plan it is clear that there will be no Palestinian state, only a series of ghettoes, South African-style Bantustans. Under this plan, we would be placed under Israeli military rule, under occupation and apartheid.”

Baraa Mahamid, a 20-year-old activist with the Umm al-Fahm Youth Movement, agreed. He pointed out that many residents of the Triangle travelled into West Bank cities like Jenin, which is close by.

“We see the greater poverty there, the checkpoints, the walls, Israeli soldiers everywhere. There are many problems for us living here in Israel, but people are afraid their life would become much worse on the other side of the wall.”

Demographic timebomb

According to Israeli government sources quoted this week by the Haaretz daily, Netanyahu was the one who persuaded the Americans to include the transfer option.

He is reported to have been lobbying US officials to adopt the provision since work first began on Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” back in 2017.

It is the first time that an official US peace plan has included such a proposal or produced a map showing how such a territorial exchange would work on the ground.

For Netanyahu and many Israeli Jews, who see the country’s Palestinian citizens as a “demographic timebomb”, with high birth rates that might slowly erode the state’s decisive Jewish majority, the transfer plan is both a demographic and territorial win.

According to polls, about half of Israeli Jews support the expulsion of Palestinian citizens.

Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List, which brings together the main Palestinian political factions, warned this week that the transfer of the Triangle was likely to be only the first stage in wider measures.

The Israeli right, he said, was “conveying a clear message to all of Israel’s Arab citizens: ‘You are not welcome here and your turn will come when the next plan is released’.”

Territorial gains

The transfer of the Triangle offers a twofold gain for the right.

First, it subtracts large numbers of Palestinians from Israel’s population without losing much territory, thereby strengthening Israel’s Jewish majority.

Second, it rationalises Israel’s “reciprocal” annexation of swaths of West Bank territory on which the Jewish settlements are built, thereby defeating any chance of creating a viable Palestinian state.

But critically for those who support annexation, it substantially increases Israel’s territorial area without risking a rise in Palestinian numbers.

According to figures published by Peace Now this week, some 380,000 Palestinians – 260,000 in the Triangle and a further 120,000 in East Jerusalem – would be “swapped out” to a Palestinian state.

Meanwhile, some 330,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem would need to be “swapped in” – that is, brought under Israeli rule as part of the annexations.

The overall gain would be official US recognition for the first time of territory housing 650,000 Jewish settlers as part of Israel.

“The demographic rationale behind this isn’t being hidden,” said Jabareen. “Israel loses lots of Palestinian citizens and gains lots of territory seized by Jewish settlers.”

Citizenship and loyalty

Schemes to transfer the Triangle have been floating around on the right for nearly two decades. It first came to prominence when a formal plan was published by Avigdor Lieberman, a settler who has served as defence and foreign minister under Netanyahu.

He has been keen to tie citizenship rights to “loyalty” to Israel as a Jewish state. In previous election campaigns, he has run under the slogan: “No loyalty, no citizenship.”

Transferring the Triangle has been seen by the right as a prelude to much wider revocations of citizenship for Palestinians, according to Jabareen.

In recent years more politicians on the right, including Netanyahu, have been explicit that Palestinian citizens are necessarily disloyal to a Jewish state because they hold on to their Palestinian identity.

‘Sword over our heads’

Such imputations of disloyalty were a mainstay of Netanyahu’s two election campaigns last year. He accused Israel’s Palestinian voters of wanting “to annihilate us all – women, children and men”.

He also sent his Likud party’s monitors into polling stations in Palestinian communities in Israel wearing body cameras, implying that Palestinian voters were defrauding the Jewish majority.

Jabareen noted: “In the parliament, members of the ruling coalition openly incite against us. Bezalel Smotrich [a settler leader, and currently the transport minister] says it proudly: ‘Accept your inferior status, or you will go to jail or be expelled.’ For them, the Triangle plan is a sword hanging over our heads.”

Palestinian identity

The assumption of disloyalty is implied in the wording of the Trump plan, which states that residents of the Triangle’s communities “largely self-identify as Palestinian”.

In fact, noted Atamni, the situation is far more complex. Surveys suggest that there is a complicated interplay between the minority’s Palestinian, Arab, Israeli and various religious identities.

“Yes, our national identity is Palestinian, but that doesn’t detract in any way from the fact that our civil identity is Israeli,” he said. “When we struggle in Israel it is for our civil rights, to end the discrimination we face from the state and receive equality as citizens.”

Nonetheless, the transfer proposal contained in Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” is in line with recent legislative moves by Israel that sanction the downgrading of the status of Palestinian citizens.

The most significant is the Nation-State Law, passed in 2018. It confers constitution-like status on Israel’s Jewishness, revokes Arabic as an official language, and makes a top priority of Judaisation – a policy of settling Jews into Palestinian areas inside Israel and the occupied territories.

“Over the last 10 years Israeli society has moved further right very quickly,” said Atamni. “The left in Israel has been a huge disappointment. Most have kept silent about the recent threats to our status.”

Political calculations

Jabareen observed that the ultra-nationalist bloc supporting Netanyahu had a pressing political need to delegitimise the standing of Palestinians as citizens, and especially as voters.

Netanyahu has been unable to form a government for the past year – and thereby avoid an impending corruption trial – because he has twice narrowly lost to an opposition bloc led by a former army general, Benny Gantz, of the Blue and White party.

The bloc under Gantz can only end the stalemate and win power itself if it allies with the Joint List, which represents Israel’s Palestinian minority. But Gantz has embraced the Trump plan, breaking any possible alliance with the Joint List.

If both Jewish blocs again fail to win a majority in the election on 2 March, the pressure will mount on Gantz to enter a rightwing unity government with Netanyahu, probably on Netanyahu’s terms.

Disillusionment from Palestinian voters and a drop in their turnout might also mean Netanyahu’s coalition can scrape over the electoral threshold and win back power.

Additionally, Netanyahu is trying to grow the right-wing bloc by urging his far-right coalition partners to form an electoral alliance with the Jewish Power party, heirs of the outlawed Kach movement. They demand the expulsion of Palestinians from a Greater Israel.

The US decision to support a platform that promotes the transfer of large numbers of Palestinian citizens against their will could help rehabilitate the image of the racists of Jewish Power, making them look more politically respectable.

Internment camps

Before Netanyahu began lobbying for a transfer of the Triangle in 2017, he had sought to persuade former President Obama’s officials of its benefits as early as 2014. According to the Maariv newspaper, Netanyahu argued that the move would reduce the Palestinian minority from a fifth of Israel’s population to 12 per cent.

At the same time, the Israeli foreign ministry produced a document analysing how a “population exchange” might be presented as in accordance with international law. It concluded that the measure would require that either the affected citizens supported the move or the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas backed it.

Polls have consistently shown that a majority of Palestinian citizens are opposed.

Aware of the minority’s hostility, the Netanyahu government staged a drill in 2010 in which Israeli security services trained for an uprising in response to transferring the Triangle. As part of the exercise, internment camps were established for protesters.

Mahamid, the youth activist from Umm al-Fahm, said the plan had at least made the reality of life for Palestinian citizens clearer.

“We were told our citizenship would protect us, that it would get us our rights if we were loyal. But it never did. And now that is being made explicit in the threat to expel us.”

• First published in Middle East Eye