Category Archives: Africa

A Senseless Cathedral of Doom

In early June 2021, the United States military led a major military exercise on the African continent: the African Lion 21.  Major General Andrew Rohling of the US Army’s Southern European Task Force said it was the ‘largest US military exercise ever conducted on this continent’. The African Lion military exercise, which was first held with the Kingdom of Morocco in 2002, is – in the words of US Africa Command – an annual ‘joint, all-domain, multi-national exercise … to counter malign activity in North Africa and Southern Europe, and increase interoperability between US, African, and international partners to defend the theatre from adversary military aggression’. African Lion 21, which included the armed forces of 21 countries including Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Italy, Libya, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, took place in Morocco and in the occupied territory of Western Sahara as well as in Senegal and Tunisia. The overall military exercise – with over 7,000 soldiers – was conducted under the leadership of the US Africa Command with the assistance of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

The exercise was conducted under the command of Major General Rohling and General Belkhir El Farouk, the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces Southern Zone commander. It is important to note that General El Farouk’s jurisdiction covers the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara. On 10 December 2020, US President Donald Trump offered Morocco recognition of its illegal occupation of Western Sahara in exchange for Morocco normalising its relations with Israel. Trump’s statement on Western Sahara goes against a range of UN General Assembly resolutions, including 1514 (XV) from 1960, which affirms that all people from former colonies have the right to self-determination, and 34/37 from 1979, which explicitly calls for an end to Morocco’s occupation of the territory. When Major General Rohling was asked about African Lion 21’s presence in Western Sahara, he demurred, saying that the choices of the location were made before Trump’s December 2020 declaration.

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

This month, Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, along with the Socialist Movement of Ghana’s Research Group, released dossier no. 42 (July 2021), Defending Our Sovereignty: US Military Bases in Africa and the Future of African Unity. The dossier catalogues the growth of the Western military presence on the African continent, with special focus on the United States and France. The US, by itself, has 29 known military facilities in 15 countries, while France has bases in 10 countries. There is no doubt that the United States and France have by far the largest military footprint on the African continent, and that no country in the world has a greater global military footprint than the United States. According to the US National Defense Business Operations Plan (2018-2022), the US military manages a ‘global portfolio that consists of more than 568,000 assets (buildings and structures), located at nearly 4,800 sites worldwide’.

In the case of the US military, the sheer scale of the military’s presence and activities indicates a qualitatively different character. This character includes the capacity of the US to defend its interests on the continent, operating as the gendarme not for the world community, but for the beneficiaries of capitalism. Furthermore, it attempts to prevent any serious competition to its control of resources and markets through a ‘new cold war,’ through which the US exerts pressure to contain China on the continent as part of its broader geopolitical aggression.

Both the US and France are members of NATO, whose own mandate has moved from the defence of Europe to aggression overseas. Two main objectives stand at the heart of NATO’s activity in Africa: to prevent migration into Europe and to obstruct Russian activities in northern Africa. In its recent strategic document, NATO 2030, the alliance notes, ‘NATO’s “South” refers to a broad geographic area including North Africa and large parts of the Middle East, extending to sub-Saharan Africa and Afghanistan’. This is not a new vision, since NATO has previously operated in Sudan (2005-2007), in the Gulf of Aden and off the Horn of Africa (2008-2016), and in Libya (2011). NATO took the lead in the destruction of Libya, which continues to be wracked by a political-military crisis and social collapse. NATO’s new missions include operations in the Mediterranean Sea such as Operation Active Endeavour (2001-2016) and Sea Guardian (ongoing); operations to support the African Union such as training the African Standby Force; and counterterrorism efforts in northern Africa.

Agadez, Niger

Agadez, Niger

Reading the documents by US Africa Command, the French military, and NATO, one could misleadingly believe that the Western military operates in Africa to prevent the growth of terrorism (largely the al-Qaeda variants). NATO’s operation in Libya in 2011 crushed the state, emboldening the extreme Islamist currents in the region to act with impunity. Some of these groups – such as al-Qaeda in the Maghreb – end up being smugglers of cigarettes, cocaine, humans, and weapons. It was the destroyed Libyan state which opened the door to both the rise of insurgency and criminal activity across the Sahara Desert and the increase in migration towards Europe.

It was in this context that, in 2014, France suborned five African countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger) to form the G5 Sahel initiative. The Sahel is the belt that runs across Africa below the Sahara Desert. At the same time, the US has built a network of bases, including an enormous drone base in Agadez (Niger), and uses its drones to provide aerial support for US forces, France’s military, and the militaries of the G5 states. Europe has moved its southern border from the northern edge of the Mediterranean Sea to the southern rim of the Sahara Desert.

From interventions in Somalia in 1992 to present-day activities, the track records of US and French military interventions in African countries are clear: US and French troops exacerbate conflicts and use the internal weakness of African states to assert US and European aims. A recent study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) shows that there are 23 active armed conflicts on the African continent (Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, and Western Sahara). With a 41% net increase in fatalities from 2019-2020, SIPRI writes, sub-Saharan Africa ‘was the region with the most conflict-related fatalities in 2020’. It is well-worth recalling that US and French arms manufacturers, whose combined arms exports accounted for over 43% of the global total between 2015 and 2019, provide the lion’s share of weapons for these conflicts.

Camp Simba, Kenya

The principal causes of conflict on the continent, SIPRI summarises, are: ‘state weakness, corruption, ineffective delivery of basic services, competition over natural resources, inequality, and a sense of marginalisation’. The main reason that US Africa Command and NATO provide for their intervention in Africa – terrorism and geopolitical conflict – are not on the list.

To address these issues, it is important for African states to assert their sovereignty and chart out a credible project for the well-being of the people in these regions. That is why the African Union’s Peace and Security Council passed a resolution in 2016 expressing concern at the expanding foreign military bases on the continent. It is the weakness of the member states and their organisational disunity that have prevented that resolution from being enacted further and it is what enables the West to extend its neo-colonial pressures to intensify the causes of conflict. The austerity programmes of the International Monetary Fund produce the ‘ineffective delivery of basic services’, and Western multinational firms produce ‘corruption’ and ‘competition over natural resources’. The main authors of the problems on the continent are neither China nor Russia, whose presence is used as a justification for expanding the Western military presence.

The Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research dossier is enriched by satellite photos gathered by data artist Josh Begley. For the dossier, the art team at Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research physically projected images and coordinates of these hidden-away sites onto a map of Africa, visually reconstructing the apparatus of militarisation today. Meanwhile, the pins and threads connecting these places remind us of the ‘war rooms’ of colonial domination. Together, the set of images is a visual testament to the continued ‘fragmentation and subordination of the continent’s peoples and governments’, as this dossier writes.

Kofi Awoonor, 1935-2013

Kofi Awoonor, 1935-2013

In 2013, when extremists from al-Shabaab attacked the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi (Kenya), they shot and killed Kofi Awoonor, a Ghanaian poet, ambassador to Cuba, Brazil, and the UN, and chair of a UN committee against apartheid. Awoonor would often talk of the ‘distresses’ of his country – the same country that President Kwame Nkrumah led out of colonialism and into a new possible future. Military coups and IMF austerity deadened the hopes of generations of Ghanaians in their struggle for liberation, but Awoonor held fast. One of my favourite poems by Awoonor is ‘The Cathedral’, which carries forward that sense of the ‘distresses’ that are visited upon our world and that continue to be fought against today:

On this dirty patch
a tree once stood
shedding incense on the infant corn:
its boughs stretched across a heaven
brightened by the last fires of a tribe.
They sent surveyors and builders
who cut the tree?
planting in its place
A huge senseless cathedral of doom.

The post A Senseless Cathedral of Doom first appeared on Dissident Voice.

US Trying to Extradite Venezuelan Diplomat for the “Crime” of Securing Food for the Hungry: The Case of Alex Saab v. The Empire

The case of Alex Saab raises dangerous precedents in terms of extraterritorial judicial abuse, violation of diplomatic status, and even the use of torture to extract false confessions. This is according to Montréal-based international human rights lawyer John Philpot. He spoke on May 19 at a webinar sponsored by the Alliance for Global Justice and other groups about this example of the long reach of the US empire enforcing its deadly sanctions on some one third of humanity.

US sanctions Venezuela for being sovereign

Stansfield Smith of Chicago ALBA Solidarity commented that the Saab case is part of a larger US effort to use “lawfare” to impose its illegal sanctions, which the United Nations condemns as “unilateral coercive measures.” The US employs sanctions to discipline countries that attempt to develop independent of its dominion.

The US is able to extend its imperial reach through its domination of the international financial system, which is US dollar denominated and meditated through the monetary exchange known as SWIFT. By controlling the international financial system, Smith explained, Washington can demand banks in foreign countries to accept US restrictions or face sanctions themselves.

Venezuela’s resistance to US interference, starting with Hugo Chávez’s Bolivarian Revolution two decades ago, has been punished by the US with mounting sanctions so extreme that they now amount to an asphyxiating blockade, causing severe shortages of food and medicine. William Camacaro of the Alberto Lovera Bolivarian Circle attested to the impact on the people of Venezuela. This US effort to achieve regime change is, in effect, collective punishment to coerce the Venezuelans to reject their elected government.

Even a report from the US government readily admits that “sanctions, particularly on the state oil company in 2019, likely contributed to the steeper decline of the Venezuelan economy.” This crippling blow to its oil industry has impacted Venezuela’s capability to generate electricity, conduct agriculture, and generate income from oil sales to fund social programs and import vital necessities, all of which have negatively impacted the lives of ordinary Venezuelans.

Once a leading oil exporter, Venezuela’s ability to import equipment components for its oil refineries and light oil to mix with its heavy crude has been cut off by the US, devastating its productive capacity. The US has even blocked international oil-for-food swaps by Venezuela.

US targets humanitarian mission

 Special envoy and ambassador to the African Union for Venezuela, Alex Saab, was on a humanitarian mission flying from Caracas to Iran to procure food and gasoline for the Venezuelan CLAP food assistance program. Saab was detained on a refueling stop in the African nation of Cabo Verde and has been held in custody ever since June 12, 2020.

Saab’s “crime,” according to the US government, which ordered the imprisonment, was money laundering. That is, Saab conducted perfectly legal international trade, but his circumventing the US sanctions – which are designed to prevent relief to the Venezuelans – is considered by Washington to be money laundering.

The Swiss government, after a two-year investigation into Saab’s transactions with Swiss banks, concluded on March 25 that there was no money laundering. The real reason Saab is being persecuted is because he is serving his country’s interest rather than that of the US. Saab was born in Colombia but now holds Venezuelan citizenship.

The US mandate for the arrest and extradition of Saab would be like Saudi Arabia demanding the arrest and extradition of a British citizen visiting Italy for wearing short-shorts. In essence, the US does not have legal jurisdiction over a Venezuelan in Cabo Verde on his way to Iran.

As Indhriana Parada wrote in the webinar chat: “Greetings from Venezuela. We support the release of Alex Saab. It is a totally political case, and we want him back. Alex Saab did not launder money. Alex Saab bought food and medicine for Venezuela.”

The legal fig leaf for what amounts to a kidnapping was an INTERPOL “red notice,” which was not issued until a day after Saab’s arrest and was subsequently dropped. Saab has specified, “they tortured me and pressured me to sign voluntary extradition declarations and bear false witness against my government.”

Saab’s distinguished African defense team

Saab’s attorney in Cabo Verde, Geraldo da Cruz Almeida, explained to the webinar the absurdity of the politically motivated legal case against his client. Alex Saab has violated neither Cabo Verdean nor Venezuelan law. Moreover, Saab’s diplomatic status should have given him immunity from arrest.

The US does not recognize Saab’s diplomatic status. But then again, Biden maintains the fiction that the self-appointed and Trump-anointed Juan Guaidó is president of Venezuela.

Femi Falana, former President of the West African Bar Association, spoke to the webinar from Nigeria. Attorney Falana represented Saab before the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court. On March 15, the court ordered Saab’s release and cancellation of the extradition.

Under US pressure, Cabo Verde continues to hold Saab. Attorney Falana has called on President Biden to respect the rule of law and human rights in Africa. Sara Flounders of the International Action Center pointed out that 15 of the 39 countries under the illegal US sanctions are African.

Ranking 175th and 185th among the countries of the world in terms of geographic area and economic size, respectively, resource poor, and dependent on tourism and remittances from abroad, the Republic of Cabo Verde is vulnerable to US strong-arm tactics. Shortly after Saab’s arrest, the US gifted $1.5 million to private sector entities in Cabo Verde on top of some $284 million total US aid in the last 20 years.

The US State Department describes Cabo Verde as “an important partner” where the “current administration has prioritized relations with the United States and Europe.” The US Bureau for International Narcotics Law Enforcement funds and supports activities in Cabo Verde, while the Boston Police Department works with Cabo Verde police.

Cabo Verde, it should be noted, is important in the history of African liberation. Marxist Amílcar Cabral led the liberation movement of Guinea-Bissau and Cabo Verde Islands and was assassinated in 1973, only months before independence was declared from Portugal.

Setting a precedent

Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese national doing business in Canada, is under arrest for “bank fraud” and is fighting extradition to the US. North Korean Mun Chol Myong has already been extradited to the US from Malaysia on similar charges to those used against Saab for doing business according to international law rather than abiding by the US’s illegal measures.

In short, Saab’s is not an isolated case of US misconduct around enforcing its illegal sanctions but an emerging pattern. Anyone of us working to get needed goods to a US-sanctioned country is at risk of the US pushing to get us arrested and jailed in some country we pass through, which is subservient to the US.

That the US can engineer the arrest of a diplomat – someone who has immunity by international law even in the time of war – is a dangerous precedent. That the arrest was extraterritorial is worse; and especially so because Saab is an ambassador to the African Union. This harkens back to the flagrantly illegal and inhumane US practice of extraordinary rendition, which was used to populate the Guantánamo torture chambers.

The award-winning movie The Mauritanian is about the true story of crusading lawyer Nancy Hollander, who successfully freed a tortured innocent man from the made-in-the-USA hell of Guantánamo. The Hollander character, played in the movie by Jodie Foster, says: “I am not just defending him, I am defending the rule of law.”

The real-life Nancy Hollander attended the webinar and announced she will help defend Saab if he is extradited to the US. A lawyer’s delegation to Cabo Verde in solidarity with Saab is being planned and a petition campaign on his behalf is underway. These efforts recognize that the defense of Alex Saab is a defense of the rule of international law against illegal US sanctions (#FREEAlexSaab).

The post US Trying to Extradite Venezuelan Diplomat for the “Crime” of Securing Food for the Hungry: The Case of Alex Saab v. The Empire first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The health which I see is disease (… if the Hierarchical Church so defines)

Gates:  The Fauci Project

In the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius Loyola, the man credited with the establishment of the Society of Jesus, to which the reigning Roman Catholic pontiff belongs, stipulated Rules to have the true sentiments, which we ought to have in the Church Militant. The thirteenth rule is:

To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, his bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of all souls. Because by the same Spirit and our Lord Who gave the Ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed.

— Rule 13

It is conspicuous that the de facto NATO chief drug lord, Anthony Fauci, was trained by Jesuits before he became head of the US biological and chemical warfare research machine embedded in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

The regimental genealogy of the NIAID can be traced to the War Research Service, the US regime’s secret biological and chemical weapons research office, run by George W. Merck, president of one of the largest pharmaceutical corporations in the world. In 1948, coincidental with the importation of Japanese and German war criminals with their cases of prison experimentation results, the War Research Service was transformed into the US Microbiological Institute.1 The War Research Service had been hidden in the Federal Security Agency, a Roosevelt organisation that included a variety of civilian programs deemed to have national security relevance. Federal security meant programs to protect against anything that could destabilise the US regime during the 1929 Great Reset.

After 1945 and the adoption of the UN Charter, repeating the injunction of the Kellogg-Briand Pact and establishing the offense at Nuremberg of “crimes against the peace”, wars did not stop.2 Instead names were changed. Names make a difference. The Washington Naval Treaty (1922) restricted the tonnage and types of ships that could be built. Hence ship classes were also renamed. At the same time armament and displacement were reallocated among new ship classes so that construction could continue. The US sought not only to buttress its secret first strike strategy against the Soviet Union but also later to circumvent the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties (starting 1972) by maintaining the same number of missiles and introducing the so-called MIRV, multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles. In other words one missile was turned into a delivery system that could deliver the same number of warheads as additional missiles.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), America’s Gestapo, could not have been sold to the states had it been called a police force.3  In 1947, the National Security Act was also a response to the need for new language. If war was illegal then one could not have a “war department”. So the national military establishment was renamed the Department of Defence. After the ceasefire in Korea, the US was also forced to rebrand the programs developing weapons it denied ever having or using—namely the chemical weapons, already prohibited and the biological weapons it had inherited from the Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department of the Kwantung Army and the Japanese war criminals of Unit 731 Douglas MacArthur hid from exposure or trials.4 The principal war criminals from this secret Japanese military research facility no doubt joined their German colleagues recruited through the good offices of Allen Dulles.5

Although military research continued under the auspices of the US Army’s Chemical Corps and biological weapons research was still conducted, mainly at Fort Detrick in Frederick, MD—with other major facilities such as Dugway Proving Ground, Wendover, UT—World War II had also raised the petrochemical industry and its sister pharmaceuticals to a major role in the military – industrial – complex. Atomic weapons had enormously expanded the already firm hold of DuPont on the munitions side. The Army Air Corps and the vastly expanded aeronautical and aerospace industry joined behind the new Air Force. Thus it should be no surprise that petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals needed their State bureaucratic partner for the massive post-war armaments program. It is important to remember here that one of the benefits of US strategic success in the war was the plunder of some of the most lucrative basic research and capture of the most ruthless research personnel available in Germany and Japan. When the leaders of the US regime whine about alleged intellectual property theft by China, they are merely sobbing at the inevitable trickle down from their historical larceny and brain draining.

It simply would have been impossible after the war in Korea to openly foster a biological warfare service in the US war machine. A solution was found. This was supported by trends already well established in the US. Since Frederick Taylor Gates assumed control over the General Education Board (GEB) within the Rockefeller tax dodge, the two largest tax dodges of the time, Carnegie and Rockefeller, had agreed to allocate the theatres of ideological warfare in defence of their fortunes, their class and the system that had come to be called capitalism. Rockefeller money would be devoted to manipulation of the domestic political environment and Carnegie money would be used to buy control of the international side.6

At the same time Gates advised Rockefeller to invest his loot in scientific medicine. Although Gates, like Rockefeller, came from a Baptist background, both had come to recognise that medicine is more powerful and intimate even than religion. Scientific medicine, based on the work of professionals operating with “security clearances” could turn the laboratory into technology for social transformation. Just as John D. Rockefeller had legalised his criminal activities to establish the Standard Oil monopoly, Gates proposed a strategy for establishing an ideological monopoly on medicine and thus a practically invincible defence of the gangster class’ prerogatives to rule.

Today’s complicity of the Johns Hopkins University (Bloomberg) School of Public Health should not be a surprise to anyone who recognises that history did not begin in 2019 or 2020. It was GEB money that founded the JHU School of Public Health (in 2001 named after the financial propaganda magnate, Michael Bloomberg, whose tax dodging has permitted him since 1995 to buy reputation at the nation’s premier population control academy).

Corporate control over scientific medicine, especially through funding of medical schools and medical research laboratories, combined with the integration of the pharmaceutical industry into the military-industrial complex. This process reached its international apex when the Rockefeller tax dodge, which had already made substantial financial donations to the United Nations organisation (notoriously supplying part of its feudal estate in Manhattan to build a kind of international “Vatican City”), managed the foundation of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The chief US delegate to the 1946 International Health Conference was Thomas Parran, the US Surgeon General, who would also be credited with the Tuskegee syphilis experiments on unwitting African-Americans (1932-1972).7  Rockefeller sent five official observers to the conference. Without a doubt the most powerful delegation at the conference was on the side of corporate medicine and pharmaceutical weaponry.

Recently those few critics of the WHO to be found complain about the amount of money it receives from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.8  However, it is important to note that WHO was deliberately underfunded when it was started. A proposal that the organisation be funded by the United Nations was defeated in favour of separate contributions by members and a provision for financial gifts (bribes) from other sources.9

In 1955, the US Microbiological Institute was again renamed. It became the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In 1946, the Office of Malaria Control in War Areas, a military operation was renamed the Communicable Disease Center (CDC) and later becomes part of the US Public Health Service—itself a derivative of military/naval hygiene operations. In 1951, the CDC established its cadre program keeping with the ultimately military tradition to which it belongs. The Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) was intended to satisfy “the need for an adequate corps of trained epidemiologists who can be deployed immediately for any contingency, including chemical or biological warfare”.

Consistent with US first strike strategy in its war against the Soviet Union, the 1950s were full of experiments to test human reactions to the radiation and the radioactive materials that formed the core of the atomic weapons economy. By 1954, the US was waging overt and covert war against all those countries that took the UN Charter seriously and attempted to establish themselves as independent and self-governing nations. As early as 1943, another operative of the Rockefeller tax dodge was leading what was called then the “Green Revolution”. In 1943 Norman Borlaug took the chemical-biological weapons research product from the US and invaded Mexico, preparing the foundation for the fertilizer-seed monopolies that together with official US policy would destabilise the largest country in Central America. The subsequent destruction of indigenous agriculture would not only stimulate migration of cheap labour to the North but contribute to the country’s debt crisis—despite its immense oil reserves.

The same technology that deceptively promised miracle harvests would be applied in the form of the herbicide Agent Orange during the 30-year US attempt to subordinate the Vietnamese population. On one hand the US wanted Vietnam to continue—with Korea—to subsidise its Japanese vassal with cheap food (rice). On the other, it was necessary to control the region’s huge opium sources inherited from France.10

1972 was a watershed in the world of war. Richard Nixon visited Mao in China. British Army units committed the massacre in Ireland known as Bloody Sunday. US aggression and bombing of Vietnam escalates massively. The assassination of eleven Israeli athletes at the Munich Summer Olympics, attributed to a terrorist group named “Black September”, provides the first pretext for major security controls at international airports. The US signs SALT I and the ABM Treaty. The Club of Rome publishes its eugenics treatise The Limits to Growth. The television whitewash of the war against Korea, M*A*S*H is first aired by CBS. The concepts of molecular biology and recombinant DNA (Stanley Cohen, Herbert Boyer, Paul Berg) receive public scientific recognition. Edelman and Porter are awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for providing a picture of the structure and action of biologically important substances previously unavailable to immunology.11   US government officials admit that they had secretly used African-Americans as guinea pigs in the Tuskegee Study. Also the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) was signed.12

The BTWC requires that each state “never in any circumstances to develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain: 1. Microbial or other biological agents, or toxins whatever their origin or method of production, of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes; 2. Weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict.”

The US regime, in particular the CIA, already admitted during the so-called Church hearings one notorious incident although Senator Frank Church refrained from designating it as a possible violation of international law.13  Although the US regime ratified the treaty it has consistently resisted acceptance of inspection (enforcement) protocols consistent with its general self-exemption from international criminal law; e.g., self-exemption from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court whose establishment it forced. The treaty retains an advantageous loophole since it exempts prophylactic and protective purposes. This is very consistent with the renaming practices that began after 1945. Since the US by its own policy definitions does not wage offensive war all activities by its military establishment are prophylactic or protective.

In 2001, on the anniversary of the US-sponsored overthrow of Salvador Allende in 1973, the NY World Trade Center towers were demolished following the crash of two passenger airliners into its upper floors. This triggered what became known in the US defence jargon as the Global War on Terror (GWOT). Within days of the spectacle, a sequestered federal legislature adopted the USA Patriot Act, the legislative framework for comprehensive domestic and foreign surveillance and policing. It also induced a “new normal” of invasions and occupations by US military and secret services as well as private contractors, massive air and ground travel restrictions. The Department of Homeland Security was created modelled on the CIA’s Phoenix Program in Vietnam.14  In fact, the “new normal” that has continued since 2001 is the globalisation of the Phoenix program, surveillance, kidnapping, assassination, torture, corruption and subordination of civil authority, black marketing of all manner of contraband—in short permanent covert war against the civilian population.

In 1984, Ronald Reagan, patron saint of the United States, declared during a sound check for radio broadcast, “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes”. The Sandinista National Liberation Front wins elections in Nicaragua, triggering US covert war against the poor Central American country under the patronage of the re-elected St. Ronald. A methyl isocyanate leak due to an engineering design defect at a Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, India, kills up to 23,000 people. NASA and the FAA performed an intentional crash of a Boeing 720 airliner using remote techniques for flying the Boeing 720 as a drone aircraft. In 1984, Anthony Fauci was promoted from Chief of the Laboratory of Immunoregulation to director of NIAID and chief medical advisor to the POTUS.

It was the year after which George Orwell’s novel had been named. It was the year following the assertions by researchers Robert Gallo and Luc Montagnier in 1983 that a novel retrovirus may have been infecting people with “AIDS” HIV. As director of NIAID, Anthony Fauci would lead and manage the dispersal of research funds to find treatment or cures for what was presented as a health threat of epidemic proportions. In the course of his career Dr Fauci would become the effective lord and master over HIV research and subsequent immuno-threats attributed to viruses, real or imagined. It has been said that although the mission of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is to reduce the threat of such afflictions, the number and frequency of allergies and infection diseases has increased since 1984.15

Dr Anthony Fauci is not only the highest paid federal employee; he has held his post under seven POTUS, even surpassing the 48-year reign of J Edgar Hoover as head of the secret police. Now he apparently is the drug lord with the last word on corona viruses, in particular the one known since 2020 as SARS – CoV2. Together with Bill Gates (no relation to the Rockefeller lieutenant, Frederick Taylor Gates) Anthony Fauci is in charge of defining the “new normal”. The Global War on Terror has now been turned into a biological war. The Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) augments the NATO and the World Economic Forum (WEF) to establish new more intimate and saturated means of surveillance than those adopted in Washington two decades ago.

A comparison of the strategic language of the GHSA, the Third Offset and COVID-19 The Great Reset, shows just how effective the work of a century of financial malevolence has been.16  At the beginning of the 20th century Frederick Taylor Gates bought ruling class control through the domination of scientific medicine because “freedom from disease is the great longing of all peoples” and the desire for health as a unifying force “whose values go to the palace of the rich and the hovel of the poor”—where medicine is “a work which penetrates everywhere”.17 Today the great acolyte of John D. Rockefeller, William Henry Gates III, with Anthony Fauci as his medical field marshal, tell us that scientific medicine must first deliver us from disease by means of injections (aka vaccines) that will defend us against viral threats.18 The owner of a monopoly created selling software that cannot be protected from viruses is joined with a lifelong medical bureaucrat whose institution has proven incapable of protecting anyone from viruses converge in the war games held by the “ark” of Rockefeller-based medicine, Johns Hopkins University, the medical school and school of public health.19 Can that really be for the benefit of humanity?

Others have asked this question. The question leads to historical questions of great importance for understanding the biological war being waged since December 2019. Who is Bill Gates?20  Who is Anthony Fauci?21  Who is Klaus Schwab?22  What do the GHSA 2024 Framework, the Third Offset strategy and the WEF “Great Reset” have in common? If the “new normal” of 2001 has been so firmly imposed that the US offshore prison and torture system is no longer even mentioned—twenty years later—can anyone seriously expect that the “new normal” in 2021 will not be imposed. Repeatedly it is said that crises are opportunities. It ought to be clear by now for whom.

Could it be that there is a deeper, historical origin to the present crisis? In 1947 the business of war was renamed “defence”. Perhaps the business of biological war was renamed too. For decades the military – industrial – complex has been no secret. Its necessity was kept a secret until the 1970s.23 However, since 1992, the enemies of the Western ruling class have been reduced to China and the world population at large. The NATO war against the Federated Republic of Yugoslavia, nominally waged against Serbia, not only destroyed the last surviving socialist state in Europe, it destroyed the residue of the already anaemic Left. The framework was created for the integration of the environmental movement into the neo-liberal global system, in part under the umbrella of reactionary war profiteer George Soros’ Open Society consortium.24

Quietly what then might have been called the “Bilderberg” class was adopting the language of the compatible environmentalists. Using their control over the world’s mass media—intensified after a round of mergers under POTUS Bill Clinton—the Club of Rome jargon was reiterated especially through what became Klaus Schwab’s World Economic Forum, formed shortly thereafter. Then in 2001 the first World Social Forum was convened in Brazil, ostensibly an opposition response to the Davos meetings. Just as the Davos meetings are paid from the troughs of multinational corporations and taxpayers, the WSF meetings could only be convened with the funds from taxpayers and corporate tax dodges funnelled through NGOs. Inevitably this has led to the creation of an international cadre whose special mission is the interface between the rulers under capitalism and the ruled. Although it would be an exaggeration to compare both institutions one-on-one, the gravy train of international conferences corrupts activists as often if not more so than scholars and scientists on the academic lecture circuit.

This harmonisation process gradually brought the jargon of the WSF, mediated by NGOs, into alignment with that of the WEF. This was most blatant with the explosion of the Swedish Alberich, Greta Thunberg, with her millenarian Climate Doom in 2019. The “Ring” cycle continued into 2020 with at least the populations of Anglo-America and the white dominions completely cowed by her doomsday performances. Thus the stage was set. It did not take much psychological pressure to turn a variant of the common cold into the “war of the worlds”. Moreover not only was the dynamic duo in Bethesda and Atlanta ready and waiting at “bat time and bat channel”, the de facto lord of the digital branch of the military-industrial-complex was able to activate all those integrated circuits in the GHSA and WEF to establish battlefield supremacy. The Colossus of Seattle and the Fauci Project presented to the planet: two worlds from which to choose—obedience or fear.

It was an appeal to Loyola’s Eighteenth Rule:

Although serving God our Lord much out of pure love is to be esteemed above all, we ought praise much the fear of His Divine Majesty, because not only filial fear is a thing pious and most holy, but even servile fear—when the man reaches nothing else better or more useful—helps much to get out of mortal sin. And when he is out, he easily comes to filial fear, which is all acceptable and grateful to God our Lord, as being at one with Divine Love.

— Rule 18

  1. “US Microbiological Institute Established to Study Malaria, Polio, Typhus and Colds”, New York Times (23 October 1948).
  2. General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy (1928).
  3. Geheime Staatspolizei, secret state police—the undercover branch of the extensive policing apparatus subsumed by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) under Germany’s National Socialist dictatorship from 1933 – 1945. Like the FBI, the Gestapo performed as a national political police as well as conducting detective criminal investigations.
  4. See also Report of the International Scientific Commission for the Investigation of the Facts Concerning Bacterial Warfare in Korea and China (1952).
  5. Most of this is associated with the CIA program known as Operation Paperclip. However, there were numerous programs for absorbing know-how from German scientific experiments wherever performed. IG Farben, a major industrial beneficiary from concentration camp exploitation, offered a natural channel, even to US corporations, through capture or cooperation among the constituent entities restored to operations after the war; e.g., Bayer AG.
  6. E. Richard Brown, Rockefeller Medicine Men: Medicine and Capitalism in America (1981).
  7. Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male, conducted by the US Public Health Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was conducted in cooperation with the historically black college, Tuskegee Institute (University). Participants were told that they were receiving free medical care when, in fact, medical care was pretended so that the effects of syphilis could be studied on these unwitting, poor black sharecroppers. The 40-year study is only the most notorious of the unethical (in fact, criminal) research performed in violation of the derived Nuremberg principle of “informed consent“. Cornelius P. Rhoads performed similar experiments in the US colony of Puerto Rico in 1932. Rhoads stated (but later denied) that he had injected cancer cells into test subjects. Rhoads was also credited with developing the use of mustard gas—a chemical weapon—as a cancer therapy. He would be appointed head of research at what became Memorial Sloan – Kettering Institute for Cancer Research.
  8. The WHO program budget anticipated contributions in the amount of $7,969,367,000 of which only $956,900,000 were assessed from members. $5,242,480,000 came from “voluntary contributions”. As of Q4 2020, BMGF was the biggest funder of the WHO (11.8%) plus the 6.8% of the GAVI Alliance. The corporate interest in directing the WHO can be seen together with the funding from several other friends of humanity, 0.42% from the Bloomberg Family Foundation, 0.15% from Wellcome Trust, 0.13% from Sanofi-Aventis, 0.12% from the Rockefeller Foundation, 0.11% from Gilead Sciences Inc, 0.09% from Merck & Co. Inc, 0.06 from Bayer AG, 0.01% from Johnson and Johnson Family of Companies Contribution Fund Inc.
  9. See UN World Health Organization Interim Commission (June 1948) Official Records of the World Health Organization, Summary Report on Proceedings, Minutes and Final Acts of the International Health Conference held in New York from 19 June to 22 July 1946.
  10. For a discussion of the US war against Vietnam, see also “A Fly’s Eye View of America’s War Against Vietnam” in Dissident Voice, April 30, 2015.
  11. Gerald Edelman (1929-2014) went from the US Army Medical Corps to the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (Rockefeller University) until 1992 when he joined the faculty of Scripps Research Institute as a professor of neurobiology.
  12. Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction. It entered into force in 1975.
  13. C-Span, Clip of William Colby, Church Committee Hearing, 16 September 1975. The treaty entered into force 26 March 1975. US Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, chaired by Senator Frank Church (D) of Idaho.
  14. See Douglas Valentine, The Phoenix Program (1990) and The CIA as Organized Crime (2017).
  15. Children’s Health Defence, statement by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
  16. See e.g. Global Preparedness Management Board, 2019 Annual Report A World at Risk, Eric P. Hillner, “The Third Offset Strategy and the Army modernisation priorities”, Center for Army Lessons Learned (May 2019) and Klaus Schwab, Thierry Malleret, Covid-19: The Great Reset (2020).
  17. Brown (1981), p. 122.
  18. US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NAID Biodefense Research for CDC Category A Agents (February 2002).
  19. 201 Event:  A global Pandemic Exercise.
  20. James Corbett, Who is Bill Gates? Corbett Report (05/01/2020).
  21. Dr David Martin, The Fauci/COVID-19 Dossier (2021) David Martin World YouTube channel.
  22. Johnny Vedmore, “Schwab Family Values”, Unlimitedhangout.com (21 February 2021) Vedmore mentions the cross-border support of the Nazis in which the Schwab family was involved. It is most likely that Allen Dulles, who was stationed in Switzerland at the time especially to monitor such relationships during WWII, knew about this and may well have provided later references for the post-war order he helped to construct.
  23. Journalism and Pornography”, Dissident Voice (5 January 2017).
  24. George Soros, Interview on CBS 60 Minutes (1998) Archive.org.  In the interview Soros explains that if he had not been profiting from the expropriation and deportation of Hungarian Jews during WWII, someone else would have done it.
The post The health which I see is disease (… if the Hierarchical Church so defines) first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Global Solidarity Is Needed During The Pandemic To End Medical Apartheid

Some of the truths the COVID-19 pandemic is exposing about the United States are its racial disparities in health and access to health care. Black and Indigenous people are more likely to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 than white people. They are two to three times more likely to be hospitalized and two to two and a half times more likely to die than white people. There are a number of factors that contribute to this.

Another related truth that is being exposed by the pandemic is the relative failure of capitalist countries to contain the virus and limit deaths when compared to socialist countries. Even some relatively poor countries, many of which are targeted by the US’ illegal economic warfare, are outperforming wealthy countries because they have socialized systems.

This shouldn’t be surprising because capitalism as a system is designed to profit from emergencies, not provide for people’s needs. The response, or lack of it, to the winter storms in the South last week was a stark example. Millions of people froze without power and water because Texas failed to invest in its infrastructure to prepare for an emergency and those who had electricity are now facing energy bills of thousands of dollars because the market prices for energy soared.

But all in all, the Global South, mainly composed of Indigenous, Black and other people of color, is struggling during the pandemic as are their brothers and sisters in the United States. Wealthy western nations are hoarding more supplies than they need. They are protecting the profits of their corporations at a cost of human lives and allowing the pandemic to rage across the planet, mutating into more infectious and deadly strains as it goes.

People are organizing to end this medical apartheid. This is an important opportunity to address the longstanding causes of these disparities and build systems that uphold all of our human rights to health. This is a struggle that calls for solidarity from people in the US with the Global South.

People hold up a banner while listening to a news conference outside San Quentin State Prison Thursday, July 9, 2020. (ERIC RISBERG AP.)

The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a toll on the overall health of people in the United States, but Indigenous, Black and Latino people are impacted the most. New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that life expectancy in the United States fell by a year in the first half of 2020, and it is likely to be a larger decline once the data for the entire year has been analyzed. Black people lost almost three years and Latino people lost almost two years of life while the decline for white people was less than a year. The CDC did not report on the life expectancy of Indigenous people.

There are multiple reasons for the disparity. As the Economic Policy Institute found last year, Black workers are suffering more during the pandemic in part because they are less likely to be able to work from home than white workers. Black people are more likely to have lost their job or to be an essential worker where they risk contracting COVID-19 and introducing it to their families and communities.

Prisons, where Black people are more likely than white people to be incarcerated, are sites of a high proportion of COVID-19 cases. As Marc Norton writes, prisons are super spreader sites infecting not only inmates but the surrounding community as well. One inmate who was involved in protests over the conditions at the Justice Center in St. Louis Missouri explains that inmates are not being tested, are not being given adequate access to what they need to protect themselves and are being housed with infected people. Although it is difficult to find data for prisoners who have COVID-19 categorized by race, the ACLU of West Virginia reports that the percent of Black inmates with COVID-19 in a number of states is nearly twice as high as the percentage of them in the prison population. For example, in Missouri, Black people are about a third of the prison population but are 58% of the COVID-19 cases.

Racial disparities are present in long term care facilities too, another site of high numbers of COVID-19 infections. Less than one percent of the population is in a long term care facility, but that is where five percent of the infections are occurring. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that there were more COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes with a high percentage of non-white residents than in nursing homes with a low percentage of non-white residents.

And rural areas, which in the South and Southeast tend to be majority Indigenous, Black and Brown, also contribute to the racial disparities in COVID-19 cases and deaths. For the last decade, rural communities have been losing their hospitals and with that, their health professionals. There is also less access to telehealth services. But cities are problematic too.

The authors of this article in the Gothamist explain that, in New York City, “Black and Latino residents by and large suffer the highest death rates, which are attributable to inequitable access to health care and housing.” They also find great disparities in vaccination rates. White residents are being vaccinated at three times the rate of Black and Latino residents.

Disparities in vaccination rates exist elsewhere too. In Philadelphia, 44% of the city residents are black but they make up only 12% of those who have been vaccinated. To change this, the Black Doctors COVID-9 Consortium is taking vaccines directly to Black neighborhoods to immunize people. In Baltimore, while more than 60% of the people living in the city are black, only 5% of the people who have been vaccinated are black.

In the United States, a big reason for the racial disparities in who is being vaccinated has to do with the lack of a coordinated plan to make sure that those who are most impacted are vaccinated first. The US lacks the public health infrastructure to administer a mass vaccination campaign. There are different guidelines and methods of getting vaccinated in different parts of the country.

If the United States had a universal healthcare system like national improved Medicare for all, then vaccination programs could be run through primary care practices where the patients and health professionals know each other. Practices would know who in their patient population needs the vaccine most and could contact them. In the current environment, people have to sign up online, which disadvantages those who do not have access to the internet, and in some areas people can only get vaccinated in drive-through centers that exclude people without cars.

Instead of primary care practices doing the vaccinations, vaccines are being distributed through for-profit pharmacy chains. In California, healthcare workers have to go to a pharmacy chain or Costco to get vaccinated instead of getting the vaccine at work. This creates another barrier for workers. In Florida, the Governor has politicized the vaccine rollout by prioritizing zip codes that are mostly Republican and allowing the grocery chain Publix to be the sole distributor. Publix donated heavily to the Governor’s campaign.

As Margaret Kimberley explains, the underlying problem is capitalism. She writes, “Donald Trump was blamed for the poor response in 2020 but it is clear that Americans are in trouble regardless of who occupies the White House because profits determine the response to a health care crisis.”

Funk Rally in DC (Nicolas Moreland)

Recently, Popular Resistance co-hosted a webinar called “COVID-19: How Weaponizing Disease and Vaccine Wars Are Failing Us.” It featured some of the authors and editors of the book, “Capitalism on a Ventilator,” who gave an update to it. It is clear that countries that treat health care as a public good and that have socialized governments, such as China, Vietnam, Cuba, and Nicaragua, were able to take immediate steps to control the pandemic. They had the healthcare system and infrastructure in place to get information to people about how to protect themselves, to identify people who were infected and to provide what they needed to quarantine or receive medical treatment. They were able to coordinate getting health professionals and supplies to the areas where they were needed. And they are treating immunization as a public health necessity instead of a profit-making venture.

The situation in the United States has been the opposite. There was no centralized plan. City and state governments scrambled to put in place what was needed and engaged in bidding wars with each other for basic supplies and equipment. Some areas were overwhelmed and could not provide necessary care to everyone. Health professionals and others on the front line worked in hazardous conditions. People who needed care delayed seeking it out of fear of the cost. Hunger and poverty are now growing as the government failed to provide needed support financially and in other ways such as housing, health care and food.

In the United States, immunizations are being treated as a profit-centers instead of public goods. The United States government spent $12.4 billion on “Operation Warp Speed” to produce vaccines using private corporations that are now reaping the profits. Spending on the vaccine delivery side was only in the hundreds of millions while the actual cost is billions of dollars. States are struggling to afford their vaccine programs as they wait for Congress to pass another spending bill. This is likely a factor in driving states to turn to for-profit entities like pharmacy chains to administer the vaccines.

The United States and other wealthy western nations have also been acting on a global scale to thwart the efforts of other countries to handle the pandemic. Early on, as countries worked together by sharing information, supplies and health professionals, the United States withdrew from these efforts and increased its economic warfare in the form of sanctions on countries such as Venezuela and Iran. The results have been devastating.

This week, the United Nations special rapporteur on the impact of unilateral coercive measures on human rights, Alena Douhan, released her preliminary report on the dire situation in Venezuela. In an interview with Anya Parampil, Douhan said that the economic blockade shrunk Venezuela’s government revenue by an astounding 99%. On top of that, the United States, United Kingdom and Portugal are withholding $6 billion of Venezuela’s assets, money that Venezuela had agreed to use to purchase food, medicine and other necessities from the United Nations. The sanctions are also preventing Venezuela from purchasing vaccines through the COVAX program. Douhan is calling on the US and others to end the sanctions and give Venezuela access to its money, but so far the Biden administration has refused.

Sign the petition telling the Biden administration to end the sanctions. Register for the Sanctions Kill webinar to learn more about what sanctions are, who they impact and what we can do to end them at bit.ly/SKtoolkit.

When Russia announced its COVID-19 vaccine last August, a vaccine produced by state agencies, the United States quickly moved to impose economic sanctions on those research centers seemingly out of spite. Similar sanctions were forced on China, which has produced five different COVID-19 vaccines and plans to share its vaccines with less developed countries at a low cost to them.

The United States and other wealthy western nations are responsible for the global vaccine apartheid. Instead of putting policies in place to make sure that all people, especially in the vulnerable Global South countries, have vaccines, they are buying up the vaccines in quantities greater than they need, causing scarcity and driving up prices.

In These Times reports that ten wealthy countries have administered 75% of the vaccine doses given so far to their people while 130 countries have not given any doses. African countries are struggling to buy vaccines even through the COVAX program, which is short on supplies. Hadas Thier writes, “AstraZeneca, despite claiming a ​’no-profit’ pledge during the pandemic, is charging South Africa $5.25 per dose and Uganda $7 per dose. The European Union, by contrast, has paid just $2.16 per dose.” Doctors who are on the front lines are dying from COVID-19 because they aren’t protected, leaving African countries that already lack sufficient doctors in a worse situation.

Another issue that is driving the vaccine apartheid as well as limiting access to lifesaving medications is corporate monopolization of patent information. If other countries had access to that information, they could produce the vaccines and therapeutics themselves. Pressure is being put on the World Trade Organization (WTO) by 40 countries and 200 organizations to exempt COVID-19 medications and vaccines from patent restrictions, called a “TRIPS waiver,” at their meeting next month but the US and other wealthy nations are blocking it. Your organization can sign onto their letter here (deadline is Feb. 24).

The G7 nations met on Friday and agreed to provide a small portion of their vaccines to developing nations. Global Justice Now, one of the organizations pushing for open access to the patents for medicines and vaccines, says the G7 nations’ offer is a ‘fig leaf’ that is inadequate to address the problem: “Promising donations ‘at some point in the future’ fails to tackle the real problem: urgent lack of supply caused by Big Pharma’s patents.”

A stark example of vaccine apartheid is occurring in the Occupied Palestinian Territory where Israel, which has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, is refusing to give the vaccine to Palestinians. The United States could use its power to pressure Israel to stop this practice, but it isn’t. The United States has been a strong supporter of Israel’s genocidal actions.

The People’s Vaccine Alliance, a group of organizations pressuring the WTO to lift the patents, states that if the situation doesn’t change, “90% of people in poor countries won’t be able to get the vaccine in 2021.” Some countries in Latin America are taking matters into their own hands. Cuba is developing its own vaccine, the Sovereign 2, and plans to produce 100 million doses this year, far more than it needs, so that it can make it available to other countries at no or low cost. Argentina and Mexico are working with Astra Zeneca to start producing its vaccine together. The manufacturing process will begin in Argentina and be finished in Mexico.

Nurses and health care workers outside at a hospital in New York City demand better protection against the COVID-19 virus (Giles Clarke)

The COVID-19 pandemic and global medical apartheid affect all of us. The more the virus is allowed to proliferate, the more likely there is to be mutations, like the ones in the strains coming from the UK and South Africa. The UK strain is more infectious than the original strain and appears to be more lethal. It is widespread in the US now and may cause another surge of cases in the coming weeks or months. The South African strain is also in the US. It is more infectious and seems able to evade the body’s immune system.

If the world does not get the pandemic under control, all of our lives are at risk. It is in our interest to make sure that enough people are vaccinated quickly to stop the spread before new strains arise that are resistant to the vaccines. It is also critical that people who need medications to treat COVID-19 have access to them no matter where they live.

The Biden administration claims to be concerned about racial inequities. If that is the case, it must address these inequities wherever they occur or be called out for failing to do so. The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to transform the world in a way that ends the great inequities that exist.

  • Health care must be viewed worldwide as a public good, not a profit-making venture.
  • Instead of competition, there must be an open sharing of information to tackle the healthcare crises we face.
  • The Global South, which comprises the most vulnerable populations, must be prioritized for access to medications and vaccines so it can resolve the crisis quickly with less impact on its struggling economies.
  • And, the United States must end its illegal actions around the world including economic sanctions, military interference and support for major human rights abusers such as Israel.

We in the United States can hasten this transformation by putting pressure on our government to change. This is a way to show solidarity with people around the world who, like us, are struggling for the right to a life of dignity and prosperity. What our government does abroad, it also does at home because we all suffer under the capitalist system. Together, we can create a better world.

The post Global Solidarity Is Needed During The Pandemic To End Medical Apartheid first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Madagascar: A Nation of Hunger

Madagascar is in great pain. Theodore Mbainaissem, the head of the World Food Programme (WFP) sub-office in Ambovombe, southern Madagascar, says: “Seeing the physical condition of people extremely affected by hunger who can no longer stand…children who are completely emaciated, the elderly who are skin and bone…these images are unbearable… People are eating white clay with tamarind juice, cactus leaves, wild roots just to calm their hunger.”

One third of people in southern Madagascar will struggle to feed themselves over the next few months. Until the next harvest in April 2021, 1.35 million people will be “food insecure” – almost double those in need last year – and 282,000 of them are considered “emergency” cases. Pervasive food insecurity in Madagascar is the result of a variety of factors.

Poverty

Food security is not only caused by a lack of food supply but also by the lack of political and economic power to access food. Thus, access to income is one potential means for alleviating food insecurity. In Madagascar, the majority of the people don’t have proper access to income.

Madagascar is one of poorest countries in the world. In the 2007/2008 United Nation Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Index, an indicator that measures achievements in terms of life expectancy, educational attainment and adjusted real income, Madagascar was given the rank of 143rd out of 177 countries.

Madagascar’s economy is tiny. The market capitalization of U.S. tech giant Facebook is more than 40 times Madagascar’s national income. The company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, alone is five times richer than the island nation. A large chunk of Madagascar’s minuscule national income is appropriated by the rich, evidenced in the declining consumption capacity of the poor. Between 2005 and 2010, consumption for the poorest households declined by 3.1%.

A COVID-19-triggered economic recession has debilitated an already impoverished people. The combined impact of global trade disruptions and pandemic restrictions is estimated to have resulted in a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contraction of 4.2% in 2020. The poverty rate (at $1.9/day) is estimated to have risen to 77.4% in 2020, up from 74.3% in 2019, corresponding to an increase of 1.38 million people in one year.

Climate Change

Between 1980 and 2010, Madagascar suffered 35 cyclones and floods, five periods of severe drought, five earthquakes and six epidemics. Madagascar’s extreme weather conditions have intensified due to climate change, increasing food vulnerability.

Food insecurity affects all regions of the nation, and particularly those in the south, which have a semi-arid climate and are particularly exposed to severe and recurrent droughts. In 2019, a lack of rainfall and a powerful El Nino phenomenon led to the loss of 90% of the harvest and pushed more than 60% of the population into food insecurity.

Interruptions in food supply due to crop failures have resulted in sharp increases in the prices of different items. Some areas have seen the price of rice shoot up from 50 U.S. cents per kilogram in 2019 to $1.05 in 2020.

Extractivism

The extractivist engine of Madagascar’s economy has usurped lands intended for food crops and displaced the people living there. Transnational mining companies in search of new resources have paid increased attention to the significant mineral potential of the country, which is rich in diverse deposits and minerals, including nickel, titanium, cobalt, ilmenite, bauxite, iron, copper, coal and uranium, as well as rare earths. Nickel-cobalt and ilmenite have attracted the majority of foreign direct investment thus far.

Beginning from the early 2000s, multinational mining companies have made the largest foreign investments in Madagascar’s history. Those affected by the large-scale mining operations are subjected to the restrictions on land and forest-use associated with the establishment of the mining and offset projects. Such resource use restrictions affect important subsistence and health-related activities, with critical impacts on livelihoods and food security.

To take an example, villagers living in Antsotso have been heavily impacted by biodiversity offsetting at Bemangidy in the Tsitongambarika Forest Complex (TGK III). They have reported that QIT-Madagascar Minerals (QMM) — a public-private partnership between Rio Tinto subsidiary QIT-Fer et Titaine and the Malagasy government — did not explain to them that they were involved in a offsetting program when they were asked to participate in tree planting and were excluded from accessing the forest.

Constrained resource access due to the biodiversity offsetting measures has seriously impacted food security among Antsotso’s residents, forcing them to abandon rich fields near forest areas and instead grow manioc in inferior sandy soil next to the sea at great distance from their village. All this is the result of the concentrated clout possessed by mining magnates.

Agro-export Firms

Between 2005 and 2008, 3 million hectares were under negotiation by 52 foreign companies seeking to invest in agriculture. These companies form a landscape made up of irregularly placed and privately secured territorial enclaves that are linked to transnational networks but disarticulated from both local populations and national development projects. Since these companies are functionally integrated in a framework geared toward the enrichment of foreign investors, they have little regard for the food security of Madagascans.

In March 2009, the South Korean company Daewoo Logistics signed a 99-year lease in Madagascar for about 1.3 million hectares, or about half of the island’s arable land. It was the largest lease of this type in history and would have supplied half of South Korea’s grain imports. The organization Collective for the Defense of Malagasy Lands (TANY) was established in response to the lease and petitioned the government to first consult with stakeholders before agreeing to foreign land deals. The petition was ignored.

The deal subsequently fell through when political unrest broke out in Madagascar, which led to the fall of the former president, Marc Ravalomana. Daewoo may have been the largest and most-publicized of foreign investment in recent history, but it was not the first. The proposed land deal raised international attention to the land grabs taking place across the globe, particularly given the contemporaneous food crisis.

 Monopoly Capitalism

Hunger in Madagascar is the outcome of a confluence of crises. All of them are fundamentally related to capitalism — the system that generates the chaotic drive for ever-greater profits. In the monopoly stage of capitalism, the oppressed people are standing up against a system of generalized monopolies — a structure of power where a tiny clique of plutocrats and their tightly integrated productive apparatuses control the world.

Correspondingly, the Third World has seen its autonomy erode in the face of this neo-colonial onslaught, leading to the dominance of comprador bourgeoisie — a fraction of capitalists whose interests are entirely subordinated to those of foreign capital, and which functions as a direct intermediary for the implantation and reproduction of foreign capital. What we need today is an independent and unified initiative from the Third World, which brings oppressed countries like Madagascar into regional alliances aimed at de-linking from imperialist architectures and pursuing a socialist path.

The post Madagascar: A Nation of Hunger first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Why are Effective and Inexpensive Chinese and Russian Vaccines Unavailable in Much of the West?

In 2016, I attended an information session about First Nations in Lax Kxeen (colonial designation Prince Rupert),1 “BC.” During a break, I conversed with some fellow attendees. They expressed skepticism to colonial provincial authorities being behind the intentional spreading of smallpox among First Nations people2 and that a vaccine was withheld from infected Indigenous individuals. The attendees insisted that there was no vaccine at that time for smallpox.

Yet, the English doctor Edward Jenner is celebrated for having discovered the smallpox vaccine in 1796. This is the predominant western account on the origin of the smallpox vaccination.

It is also recorded that inoculation against smallpox was already being practiced in Sichuan province by Taoist alchemists in the 10th century CE.3 The Chinese inoculators administered dead or attenuated smallpox collected from less virulent scabs, which were inserted into the nose on a plug of cotton. Inoculation may also have been practiced much earlier by the Chinese — some sources cite dates as early as 200 BCE.

China obviously has a historical background in strengthening the immune response of people. Yet, in the western media, one seldom reads or hears about the Chinese COVID-19 vaccines. Neither were we well informed about the effectiveness of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine — that was until recently, when some western nations have been coming up short on vaccine supplies. The Canadian government has been scrambling to meet the demand for vaccines since Pfizer shipments were held up. The focus of western state and corporate media seemed clearly on procuring supplies of the Pfizer (US), Moderna (US), and AstraZeneca (UK-Sweden) vaccines. This is despite effective, but less heralded, Russian and Chinese vaccines being available and at a more affordable price. South Korea’s Arirang News reported Russian test results that “its second COVID-19 vaccine is 100% effective.” CBC.ca found this success problematic; it depicted a political quandary in considering a Russian vaccine: “At first dismissed and ridiculed by Western countries, Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine has not only been rehabilitated; it’s emerging as a powerful tool of influence abroad for President Vladimir Putin.” France 24 concurred, hailing it as “a scientific and political victory for Vladimir Putin’s Russia.”

Would Canada refuse to consider securing vaccines from Russia to safeguard the health of Canadians to avoid granting Putin, derided by Canadian magazine Macleans as a “new Stalin,” a political victory? Why shouldn’t Russia be lauded for coming up first with a working and effective vaccine? What does it matter if the leader of that country receives recognition? Shouldn’t the national priority be obtaining the best vaccine to protect the health of citizens?

Medical data aside, western mass media has, apparently, been effective in stirring up a distrust of COVID-19 vaccines from China and Russia in comparison to western vaccines, as revealed in a YouGov poll of almost 19,000 people worldwide.

Hungary has been mildly criticized for going its own way in ordering the Russian vaccine. Hungary’s foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, had no qualms and defended Budapest’s decision to buy two million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

The Czech Republic is also considering following Hungary in using Russian and Chinese vaccines that are still pending approval by the European Union.

Huge Potential Profits in Vaccines

Investigative journalist Matt Tabibi pointed out,

What Americans need to understand about the race to find vaccines and treatments for Covid-19 is that in the U.S., … the production of pharmaceutical drugs is still a nearly riskless, subsidy-laden scam.

The World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus strongly criticized big pharma for profiteering and vaccine inequalities. Adhanom charged that younger, healthier adults in wealthy countries were being prioritized for vaccination against COVID-19 before older people or health care workers in poorer countries and that markets were sought to maximize profitability.

In chapter VII of the e-book The 2020 Worldwide Corona Crisis: Destroying Civil Society, Engineered Economic Depression, Global Coup d’État and the “Great Reset” (December 2020, revised January 2021), professor Michel Chossudovsky writes:

The plan to develop the Covid-19 vaccine is profit driven.

The US government had already ordered 100 million doses back in July 2020 and the EU is to purchase 300 million doses. It’s Big Money for Big Pharma, generous payoffs to corrupt politicians, at the expense of tax payers.

The objective is ultimately to make money, by vaccinating the entire planet of 7.8 billion people for SARS-CoV-2….

The Covid vaccine is a multibillion dollar Big Pharma operation which will contribute to increasing the public debt of more than 150 national governments.

Imagine, if those thousands of people stay home, reduce contact with others, they may have survived the pandemic.4

Chossudovsky also questions the safety of the rushed testing and the need for a vaccine given that the WHO and the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) both confirmed that Covid-19 is “similar to seasonal influenza.”5

Some Safety Concerns about Vaccines

A report raised alarm about at least 36 people who developed a rare, lethal blood disorder, called thrombocytopenia, after receiving either of the two approved COVID-19 vaccines in the US. A Miami obstetrician, Gregory Michael, just 56, died of a brain hemorrhage just 16 days after receiving a Pfizer vaccination. His thrombocytopenia had caused his platelets to drop to virtually zero.

A Johns Hopkins University expert on blood disorders, Jerry L. Spivak, who was uninvolved in Michael’s care, said that based on Michael’s wife’s description: “I think it is a medical certainty that the vaccine was related [to Michael’s death].”

In Israel, at least three people suffered Bell’s palsy, facial paralysis, after receiving the vaccine. Data from Pfizer and Moderna vaccine trials revealed seven COVID-19 participants had experienced Bell’s palsy in the weeks following vaccination.

In Norway, at least 23 people who received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine died. According to authorities, thirteen of the fatalities were associated to the vaccine’s side effects. In addition, 10 deaths shortly following vaccination were being probed in Germany.

Pfizer and Moderna use a novel vaccine based on mRNA. Following the deaths in Norway, Chinese health experts called for caution and the suspension of mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines, especially for elderly people.

Regarding the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, the CDC reported the administration of over 41 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the US from 14 December 2020 through 7 February 2021. During this time, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System received 1,170 reports of death (0.003%) among people vaccinated for COVID-19. Based on the extremely low figure, the CDC advised people that “COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective” and “to get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you are eligible.”

Yet, it seems some Europeans distrust their own government-approved Covid-19 vaccines. A black market has arisen; two doses of unapproved Chinese vaccines have reportedly sold for as high as 7,000 yuan (£800) — almost 20 times the reported usual price.

Vaccine makers, Sinopharm and Sinovac, cautioned the public not to buy the vaccines online.

Chinese Vaccines and Profit-seeking

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has been magnanimous with what could be an extremely profitable property. Said Xi, “China is willing to strengthen cooperation with other countries in the research and development, production, and distribution of vaccines,”

“We will fulfill our commitments, offer help and support to other developing countries, and work hard to make vaccines a public good that citizens of all countries can use and can afford.”

Imagine that: making an in-demand product available as a “pubic good” instead of taking advantage of a seemingly dire situation to rake in huge profits. Africa, for one, is benefiting.

Back in October 2020, Fortune.com proclaimed in its headline: “World’s vaccine testing ground deems Chinese COVID candidate ‘the safest, most promising.’” The tests conducted in Brazil were large, human trials of the COVID-19 vaccines that included Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm.

São Paulo Governor João Doria said,

The first results of the clinical study conducted in Brazil prove that among all the vaccines tested in the country, CoronaVac from Chinese developer Sinovacis the safest, the one with the best and most promising rates.

On 3 February 2021, the peer-review medical journal, The Lancet, published a study by Wu et al. who spoke to the urgent need for a vaccine against COVID-19 for the elderly. Their study found that the Chinese CoronaVac, containing inactivated SARS-CoV-2, is safe and well tolerated by the elderly.

Journalist Wei Ling Chua, who follows closely how events involving China are portrayed and perceived elsewhere, asked in an email on 12 February 2021:

1) till this date, there is no report of a single death or hospitalisation after taking China vaccine

2) unlike the capitalist west, China vaccine companies did not require nations to excuse them from legal liability from side effects.

Despite, western nations acknowledging many having died soon after taking the vaccine, they all claim that after investigation the cause of death not related to vaccine. But, why does death happen so soon after taking the vaccine?

Why following administration of a Chinese vaccine are there no reports of people dying soon afterwards?

Closing Comments

This essay does not explore the necessity for vaccination against COVID-19. Indeed, there are grounds to be skeptical of the necessity for all people to be vaccinated. However, if COVID-19 is genuinely an urgent health issue,6 then why would governments play politics with the health of their populace?

  1. The city’s name is an eponym for Prince Rupert of the Rhine, a European elitist who never set foot on the Pacific coast. For the Ts’msyen: “Place names are usually rooted in the natural world and the land they refer to.” See Kenneth Campbell, Persistence and Change: A History of the Ts’msyen Nation (Prince Rupert, [sic] BC: First Nation Educational Council, 2005): 10. Author Kenneth Campbell commented, “By writing and saying the name name in [Sm’algyax, the Ts’msyen language], both the language and the people are honored.” (p. 10)
  2. Tom Swanky, The Great Darkening: The True Story of Canada’s “War” of Extermination on the Pacific plus The Tsilhqot’in and other First Nations Resistance (Burnaby, BC: Dragon Heart Enterprises, 2012). See also an interview with Tom Swanky.
  3. Robert Temple, The Genius of China: 3,000 Years of Science, Discovery and Invention (London: Prion Books, 2002): 135-137.
  4. Click on the following link to access the complete E-book consisting of a Preface, Highlights and Nine Chapters.
  5. For more on “the absolute and relative ‘flu-like’ risk of death from a SARS-CoV-2 infection” see “Review of calculated SARS-CoV-2 infection fatality rates: Good CDC science versus dubious CDC science, the actual risk that does not justify the ‘cure’ – By Prof Joseph Audie,” ResearchGate.
  6. Even about this be skeptical; research and inform yourself; and draw your own conclusions.
The post Why are Effective and Inexpensive Chinese and Russian Vaccines Unavailable in Much of the West? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Beyond Slogans: Palestinians Need an Urgent, Centralized Strategy to Counter Israel in Africa

Arab normalization with Israel is expected to have serious consequences that go well beyond the limited and self-serving agendas of a few Arab countries. Thanks to the Arab normalizers, the doors are now flung wide open for new political actors to extend or cement ties with Israel at the expense of Palestine, without fearing any consequences to their actions.

African countries, especially those who worked diligently to integrate Israel into the continent’s mainstream body politic, are now seizing on the perfect opportunity to bring all African countries on board, including those who have historically and genuinely stood on the side of Palestinians.

‘Empower Africa’, an Israeli firm that is constantly seeking financial opportunities throughout the African continent, was one out of many who jumped on the opportunity to exploit Arab normalization with Israel. The goal is about maximizing their profits while promoting Arab normalization as if an economic opportunity for struggling African economies. In December, ‘Empower Africa ’hosted its first event in Dubai under the title “UAE and Israel Uniting with Africa”. In its press release, celebrating what is meant to be a momentous occasion, the Israeli company said that its guests included representatives from UAE, Israel, Bahrain, Nigeria, Rwanda, Egypt, among others.

Such events are meant to translate normalization with Israel into economic opportunities that will entangle, aside from Arab countries, African, Asian and other traditional supporters of Palestine, worldwide. The central message that the advocates of normalization with Israel are now  sending to the rest of the world is that closer ties with Tel Aviv will guarantee many benefits, not only direct American support, but innumerable economic benefits as well.

Those who promote solidarity with Palestine worldwide, based on moral maxims, are correct to argue that solidarity and intersectionality are crucial in the fight against injustice everywhere. However, realpolitik is rarely shaped by moral visions. This is the truth that Palestinians now have to contend with, as they watch their own Arab and Muslim brothers move, one after the other, to the Israeli camp.

Unfortunately, it was the Palestinian leadership itself that strengthened the normalization argument many years ago, especially in the early 1990s, when it first agreed to negotiate unconditionally with Israel, under the auspices of the US and not exclusively the United Nations. The Palestinian/Arab engagement with Israel in the Madrid Talks in 1991 provided the impetus for Washington to reverse a 1975 UN Resolution that equated Zionism with racism.

Ironically, it was the African Union that, in fact, first championed UN Resolution 3379, soon after it passed its own Resolution 77 (XII), earlier that year in the Kampala Assembly of  Heads of State and Governments, where it condemned Zionism as a racist, colonial ideology.

Those days are long gone and, sadly, it was the Middle East and Africa that altered their views of Israel, without compelling the latter to abandon its racist political doctrine. On the contrary, racism and apartheid in Israel are now even more integrated within the country’s official institutions than ever before. Moreover, Israel’s military occupation and siege of the West Bank and Gaza seem to accelerate at the same momentum as that of Arab and African normalization with Israel.

The now defunct Oslo Accords of 1993 served as a major pretense for many countries around the world, especially in the global South, to draw nearer to Israel. “If the Palestinians themselves have normalized with Israel, why shouldn’t we?” was the knee-jerk retort by politicians in various countries, in response to the advocates of the Palestinian boycott movement. This immoral and politically selective logic has been reinforced since the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco joined the camp of Arab normalizers in recent months.

While arguments that are predicated on moral values and shared history are, still, very much valid, making a case against normalization cannot rest entirely on ethical reasoning or sentimentalities. True, the shared anti-colonial past of Africa and the Arab world, especially that of Palestine, is uncontested. Still, some African countries did not side with the Arabs in their conflict with colonial Israel based on entirely moral and ideological arguments. Indeed, the Israel-Africa story has also been shaped by outright economic and business interests.

Africa’s significance for Israel has acquired various meanings throughout the years. Soon after Israel was established upon the ruins of historic Palestine, diplomatic ties between the newly-founded Israel and African countries became essential for Tel Aviv to break away from its geopolitical isolation in the region. That, in addition to the strategic importance of the Bab Al-Mandab Strait – separating Africa from the Arabian Peninsula and offering Israel breathing space through the Red Sea – gave Africa additional geostrategic significance.

In fact, on the eve of the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, 33 African countries had full diplomatic ties with Israel. Immediately following the war and in the run-up to the war of 1973, African countries abandoned Israel in large numbers, signaling the rise of an unprecedented Arab-African unity, which continued unhindered until the 1990s. It was then that Israel began, once more, promoting itself as a unique ally to Africa.

In recent years, Israel has accelerated its plans to exploit Africa’s many political and economic opportunities, especially as the continent is now an open ground for renewed global attention. The United States, the European Union, China, Russia and others are jockeying to win a piece of Africa’s massive wealth of material and human resources. Israel, too, as a regional power, is now part of this renewed ‘scramble for Africa’.

A statement by Israel’s right-wing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in 2016 that “Israel is coming back to Africa, and Africa is returning to Israel,” should not be dismissed as another political hyperbole by the Israeli leader. One could even argue that Israel’s burgeoning political and economic ties with Africa are Netanyahu’s greatest achievements in recent years. More, diplomatic rapprochements with Muslim-majority African countries, such as Mali and Chad, have served as the backdoor entrance to African Arab Muslim countries, such as Sudan and Morocco.

There is more to Israel’s keen interest in Africa than mere business, of course. Since the US’ superpower status in the Middle East is being challenged by other global actors, namely Russia and China, Israel is actively trying to diversify its options, so it is not exclusively reliant on a single benefactor.

Now that Arab and Muslim countries are normalizing, whether openly or discreetly, with Israel, some African governments feel liberated from their previous commitment to Palestine, as they are no longer forced to choose between their Arab allies and Israel.

Solidarity with Palestine, in all traditional platforms, certainly stands to lose as a result of these seismic changes. Even the UN General Assembly is no longer a safe space for Palestinian solidarity.  For example, in the UN General Assembly Resolution titled “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine”, which was adopted on December 3, 2019, by 147 countries, 13 countries abstained from the vote. Unprecedentedly, several African countries including Cameroon, Rwanda, South Sudan and Malawi also abstained from the vote. The trend worsened a year later, on December 2, 2020, when more African countries abstained from voting on a similar resolution, with Cameroon, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, and even South Africa refusing to acknowledge what should have been a straightforward recognition of Palestinian rights.

Based on this disturbing trajectory, more such African countries are expected to either adopt a ‘neutral’ position on Palestine and Israel or, depending on the nature of their interests or the combined US-Israeli pressures, could potentially take Israel’s side in the future.

The Palestinian dichotomy rests on the fact that African solidarity with Palestine has historically been placed within the larger political framework of mutual African-Arab solidarity. Yet, with official Arab solidarity with Palestine now weakening, Palestinians are forced to think outside this traditional framework, so that they may build direct solidarity with African nations as Palestinians, without necessarily merging their national aspirations with the larger Arab body politic.

While such a task is daunting, it is also promising, as Palestinians now have the opportunity to build bridges of support and mutual solidarity in Africa through direct contacts, where they serve as their own ambassadors. Obviously, Palestine has much to gain, but also much to offer Africa. Palestinian doctors, engineers, civil defense and frontline workers, educationists, intellectuals and artists are some of the most recognized and accomplished in the Middle East; in fact,  in the world. Palestine must utilize its people’s tremendous energies and expertise in winning Africa back, not as a bargaining chip, but as a true and genuine attempt at reinvigorating existing solidarity between the Palestinians and the peoples of Africa.

Israel is trying to lure in Africa’s elites through business deals which, judging by previous experiences, could become a burden on African economies. Palestine, on the other hand, can offer Africa genuine friendship and camaraderie through many areas of meaningful cooperation which, in the long run, can turn existing historical and cultural affinities into deeper, more practical solidarity.

The post Beyond Slogans: Palestinians Need an Urgent, Centralized Strategy to Counter Israel in Africa first appeared on Dissident Voice.

What happened to JFK and a Foreign Policy of Peace?

Sixty years ago, John F Kennedy (JFK) was inaugurated as president of the USA. In less than three years, before he was assassinated in November 1963, he initiated major changes in foreign policy.

These foreign policy changes are documented in books such as JFK and the Unspeakable (2008) and Betting on the Africans (2012). One of the foremost scholars on JFK, James Di Eugenio, has an excellent new article of the Kennedy foreign policy at Covert Action: “Deconstructing JFK: A Coup d’Etat over Foreign Policy?“ Despite this literature, many people in the West do not realize the extent to which JFK was an exception. This article will briefly review some of the actions he took while alive, and what happened after he was gone.

While JFK was a staunch advocate for capitalism and the “free world”, in competition with the Soviet Union and communism, he promoted acceptance of non-aligned countries and supported nationalist movements in Africa, the Middle East and Third World generally.  In the summer before he was killed, he reached out to the Soviet Union and proposed sweeping changes to promote peace and prevent war.

The previous Eisenhower administration was hostile to post WW2 nationalist movements in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. In 1953 the CIA supervised the overthrow of Iran’s elected government. They supported the Saudi monarch and undermined the popular Egyptian Nasser. In contrast, Kennedy was sympathetic to the “winds of change” in Africa and beyond. He criticized France’s repression of the Algerian independence movement and was sympathetic to Patrice Lumumba leading the Congo’s independence from Belgium. Kennedy worked with UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold to preserve Congo’s independence and try to restore Lumumba to power. The CIA managed to have Patrice Lumumba executed three days before Kennedy’s inauguration.

Under Kennedy, the United States started voting against the European colonial powers in Africa. Kennedy provided tangible aid to Nasser in Egypt. After Kennedy’s death, the US policy returned to support for European powers and CIA intervention. The US supported NATO ally Portugal in its wars in Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea Bissau. The US supported secessionist and tribal forces in the Congo, Angola, Somalia, and many other countries with hugely damaging results. The US supported apartheid South Africa until the end. The US supported the sectarian Muslim Brotherhood against Nasser.

This was also a critical time for Israel Palestine. JFK was more objective and balanced than most US politicians. Just 22 years old in 1939, Kennedy visited Palestine and wrote his observations/analysis in a 4 page letter to his father. He is thoughtful and recognizes the Palestinian perspective. He speaks of the “unfortunately arrogant, uncompromising attitude” of some Jewish leaders. In May 2019, more documents were released from the National Security Archives. They show that JFK, as president, was intent on stopping Israel from surreptitiously building a nuclear weapon. In a letter to the new Israeli Prime Minister Eshkol, Kennedy gives a diplomatic ultimatum that US support of Israel will be “seriously jeopardized” if Israel did not comply with inspection visits to the Israel’s nuclear facility at Dimona. After JFK’s death, the Johnson administration was submissive to Israel and pro-Israel supporters. Johnson showed the ultimate political subservience by preventing the rescue and hiding Israeli treachery regarding the USS Liberty. The Israeli attack killed 34 and injured 172 US sailors. Would Israel have had the arrogance and chutzpah to do this if Kennedy had been in the White House? Unlikely.

The invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs took place just three months after Kennedy took office. The CIA and generals expected Kennedy to provide US air support for the anti-Castro attackers. Kennedy said no and resolved to get rid of the long-standing CIA Director who had managed the operation. Allen Dulles and two Deputy Directors were forced to resign by the end of the year. The Pentagon, CIA and anti-Castro Cubans were furious at JFK. When the Soviet Union sent nuclear capable missiles to Cuba, the hawks demanded that the US attack. Kennedy opposed this and ended up negotiating an agreement whereby the US removed its nuclear missiles in Turkey as Soviet nuclear missiles were removed from Cuba.

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country with vast natural resources and strategic location. President Sukarno led the country to independence and was a leader in the global Non-Aligned Movement seeking a middle ground between the poles of the USA and Soviet Union. The Eisenhower/Dulles administration tried to overthrow Sukarno. In contrast, JFK changed the policy from hostility to friendship. Sukarno invited JFK to visit the country and the invitation was accepted. Following JFK’s assassination, the policy returned to hostility and just two years later, in 1965, the US engineered a coup leading to the murder of about half a million Indonesian citizens suspected of being communist.

JFK visited Vietnam in 1951 as the French colonial powers were trying to assert their control. He saw the situation as 400,000 French soldiers were losing to the Vietnamese nationalist movement. Thus, when he became president, he was skeptical of the prospects. President Kennedy authorized an increase of US military advisers but never sent combat troops. As the situation deteriorated, JFK finally decided the policy was wrong. In October 1963 Kennedy issued National Security Action Memorandum 263 directing US withdrawal to begin in December and be completed by the end of 1965. After JFK’s death, President Johnson reversed course and began sending massive numbers of US soldiers to Vietnam. Twelve years later, after 58,000 American and about two million Vietnamese deaths, the US military departed Vietnam.

The Soviet Union was the largest communist country and primary challenger to the US and capitalist system. The Cold War included mutual recriminations and a huge amount of military spending as both sides designed and produced ever more hydrogen bombs, air and sea delivery systems. During the Cuba crisis, Kennedy and Soviet Premier Khruschev both realized how dangerous the situation was. Nuclear war could have accidentally or intentionally begun. In June 1963, JFK delivered the commencement address at American University. It was probably his most important speech yet is little known. JFK called for a dramatic change in US posture, from confrontation to mutual acceptance. He called for re-examination of US attitudes toward peace, the Soviet Union, the Cold War and peace and freedom within the USA itself. He called for a special communication line between Washington and Moscow to allow direct communications between the two leaders. And then Kennedy declared that the US would end nuclear testing as a first step toward general and complete disarmament.

In the last months before his death, JFK opened secret communications with Soviet Premier Khruschev and used a journalist to communicate directly with Fidel Castro. JFK proposed face-to-face talks aimed at reconciliation with Cuba.

Kennedy’s initiatives toward reconciliation and peace were opposed by the CIA and militarist elements in the government. As reported in the NY Times, Kennedy privately told one of his highest officials he “wanted to splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds”. Before that could happen, JFK was assassinated, and his policy changes reversed.

From Moscow to Cairo to Jakarta, Kennedy’s death was met with shock and mourning. Leaders in those countries sensed what the assassination meant.

The day after JFK’s funeral, President Johnson supplanted Kennedy’s planned withdrawal from Viet Nam with National Security Action Memorandum 273. This resulted in 12 years of aggression and bloodshed in southeast Asia. Coups were carried out in the Dominican Republic and Indonesia. US resumed support for South African apartheid and Portuguese colonial wars. Assassination attempts on Fidel Castro escalated while military coups took place in numerous Latin American countries. In the Middle East, the US solidified support for Israel and Saudi Arabia.

The author of “JFK and the Unspeakable”, Jim Douglas, writes “President Kennedy’s courageous turn from global war to a strategy of peace provides the why of his assassination. Because he turned toward peace with our enemies, the Communists, he found himself at odds with his own national security state.”

The post What happened to JFK and a Foreign Policy of Peace? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Great Divider: Covid-19 Reflects Global Racism, Not Equality

The notion that the COVID-19 pandemic was ‘the great equalizer’ should be dead and buried by now. If anything, the lethal disease is another terrible reminder of the deep divisions and inequalities in our societies. That said, the treatment of the disease should not be a repeat of the same shameful scenario.

For an entire year, wealthy celebrities and government officials have been reminding us that “we are in this together”, that “we are on the same boat”, with the likes of US singer, Madonna, speaking from her mansion while submerged in a “milky bath sprinkled with rose petals,” telling us that the pandemic has proved to be the “great equalizer”.

“Like I used to say at the end of ‘Human Nature’ every night, we are all in the same boat,” she said. “And if the ship goes down, we’re all going down together,” CNN reported at the time.

Such statements, like that of Madonna, and Ellen DeGeneres as well, have generated much media attention not just because they are both famous people with a massive social media following but also because of the obvious hypocrisy in their empty rhetoric. In truth, however, they were only repeating the standard procedure followed by governments, celebrities and wealthy ‘influencers’ worldwide.

But are we, really, “all in this together”? With unemployment rates skyrocketing across the globe, hundreds of millions scraping by to feed their children, multitudes of nameless and hapless families chugging along without access to proper healthcare, subsisting on hope and a prayer so that they may survive the scourges of poverty – let alone the pandemic – one cannot, with a clear conscience, make such outrageous claims.

Not only are we not “on the same boat” but, certainly, we have never been. According to World Bank data, nearly half of the world lives on less than $5.5 a day. This dismal statistic is part of a remarkable trajectory of inequality that has afflicted humanity for a long time.

The plight of many of the world’s poor is compounded in the case of war refugees, the double victims of state terrorism and violence and the unwillingness of those with the resources to step forward and pay back some of their largely undeserved wealth.

The boat metaphor is particularly interesting in the case of refugees; millions of them have desperately tried to escape the infernos of war and poverty in rickety boats and dinghies, hoping to get across from their stricken regions to safer places. This sight has sadly grown familiar in recent years not only throughout the Mediterranean Sea but also in other bodies of water around the world, especially in Burma, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have tried to escape their ongoing genocide. Thousands of them have drowned in the Bay of Bengal.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated and, in fact, accelerated the sharp inequalities that exist in every society individually, and the world at large. According to a June 2020 study conducted in the United States by the Brookings Institute, the number of deaths as a result of the disease reflects a clear racial logic. Many indicators included in the study leave no doubt that racism is a central factor in the life cycle of COVID.

For example, among those aged between 45 and 54 years, “Black and Hispanic/Latino death rates are at least six times higher than for whites”. Although whites make up 62 percent of the US population of that specific age group, only 22 percent of the total deaths were white. Black and Latino communities were the most devastated.

According to this and other studies, the main assumption behind the discrepancy of infection and death rates resulting from COVID among various racial groups in the US is poverty which is, itself, an expression of racial inequality. The poor have no, or limited, access to proper healthcare. For the rich, this factor is of little relevance.

Moreover, poor communities tend to work in low-paying jobs in the service sector, where social distancing is nearly impossible. With little government support to help them survive the lockdowns, they do everything within their power to provide for their children, only to be infected by the virus or, worse, die.

This iniquity is expected to continue even in the way that the vaccines are made available. While several Western nations have either launched or scheduled their vaccination campaigns, the poorest nations on earth are expected to wait for a long time before life-saving vaccines are made available.

In 67 poor or developing countries located mostly in Africa and the Southern hemisphere, only one out of ten individuals will likely receive the vaccine by the end of 2020, the Fortune Magazine website reported.

The disturbing report cited a study conducted by a humanitarian and rights coalition, the People’s Vaccine Alliance (PVA), which includes Oxfam and Amnesty International.

If there is such a thing as a strategy at this point, it is the deplorable “hoarding” of the vaccine by rich nations. Dr. Mohga Kamal-Yanni of the PVA put this realization into perspective when she said that “rich countries have enough doses to vaccinate everyone nearly three times over, whilst poor countries don’t even have enough to reach health workers and people at risk”. So much for the numerous conferences touting the need for a ‘global response’ to the disease.

But it does not have to be this way.

While it is likely that class, race and gender inequalities will continue to ravage human societies after the pandemic, as they did before, it is also possible for governments to use this collective tragedy as an opportunity to bridge the inequality gap, even if just a little, as a starting point to imagine a more equitable future for all of us.

Poor, dark-skinned people should not be made to die when their lives can be saved by a simple vaccine, which is available in abundance.

The post The Great Divider: Covid-19 Reflects Global Racism, Not Equality first appeared on Dissident Voice.