Category Archives: Massacres

All (MacCarthyite) hell breaks loose in Peru as the country prepares to choose new President

Huge billboards across Lima’s main avenues read like cheap Cold War propaganda: “Peru says no to communism”, “Socialism leads to communism”, and “Think about your children’s future”, are just three of the many panic-inducing slogans. Nobody knows who’s paying for the expensive advertisement and nobody cares, including the government agencies created to stop this kind of abuse.

The country’s oldest and leading newspaper, El Comercio –owner of another half a dozen smaller newspapers and a few television channels– is consciously throwing away the little credibility it has left in order to compel the masses to vote for their candidate: Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of Alberto Fujimori, who ruled Peru for 10 years (1990-2000) in one of the most corrupt governments in the country’s history, installing the long lasting neoliberal political-economic regime still in place.

Keiko Fujimori is also facing a potential 30 years sentence for her own corruption, mainly for receiving illegal campaign money from some of the most powerful local business tycoons, including top bankers. Winning the presidency would stall the criminal process against her for another five years. Along her political career, she’s been credibly connected to cocaine trafficking and corruption networks deep into different branches of the country’s government, among them the notorious “Cuellos Blancos” inside the Judiciary.

That’s the candidate being fiercely pushed by the elites throughout the traditional media landscape, as panic ensues among a citizenry subjected to a relentless propaganda blitz aimed to saw irrational fear toward anything that smells like leftwing politics. It doesn’t matter that neoliberalism lies on its deathbed and change is completely inevitable –as Chile constituent Assembly marches on and Colombia endures the riots and social upheaval that led to the former’s political shift in course–, the elites just won’t give up in their systematical and obtuse block of any meaningful change.

The result is a toxic wave of crude McCarthyism, extreme political polarization and hate among Peruvians. Meanwhile, Fujimori’s contender, the leftist Pedro Castillo –a modest and politically naive school teacher from the Andes–, isn’t proposing communism, but a political change in the guise of Evo Morales’ Bolivia.

But who cares about such a petty detail when you can seize on decades of anticommunism propaganda systematically imported from the most powerful country on Earth, and disseminated by the local media eco-chamber, in order to intimidate voters into abiding to the status quo.

And that’s hardly the lowest point of these elections.

A useful massacre

Peruvian military is deeply conservative thanks to its traditional subordination to the U.S. government in exchange of money, arms and technology, a sponsorship that includes both the army and the local police forces. They also train them and give them grants to study at notorious U.S. military academies like the School of the Americas, which changed its name –but not its spirit– back in 2001. But American patronage comes at a cost: they have to embrace anticommunism and the “national security state” doctrine; that means turning their attention away from defending the country from external threats to face the “domestic enemy”.

On May 23, as one of the last presidential debates was taking place in Lima, a massacre was being carried out in the VRAEM locality, deep inside the Peruvian liberated zones where cocaine production and trafficking thrives. Sixteen were killed with extreme cruelty, among them two little girls whose bodies were then burned beyond recognition.

The news about the massacre didn’t come from the media or even the police, but from a couple of Fujimori’s political aides and cabinet candidates, who posted pictures of the killing in social media. The message was clear from the very beginning: the culprit was Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), the Maoist terrorist group responsible for the murder of tens of thousands of Peruvians. Its leader, Abimael Guzman, was captured by the government of Keiko Fujimori’s father in 1992, virtually ending the bloodshed.

A few hours after the news arrived to Lima and the rest of the country, on May 24, high ranking members of the three branches of the military confirmed the message given by the fujimoristas: remnants from the Shining Path, now under a different name and wholly dedicated to cocaine trafficking, were responsible for the brutal murders. The only evidence: flyers left behind by the supposed killers as they fled the scene, a very well-known practice among terrorist groups. Among many other things, the flyers read:

“Those who vote for Keiko Fujimori are traitors…”

As many other authorities spoke out only to confirm the news, nobody addressed some of the serious inconsistencies. First of all, the few witnesses and most of the locals from Vizcatan del Ene, where the massacre took place, know the narco-terrorists and their methods very well, and are in complete disbelief regarding the official version. The latter haven’t engaged in politically motivated attacks for many years, and the victims were part of the labor force used in the coca fields they look after. Everyone living in the towns around the place of the atrocities are convinced that the culprits were outsiders.

The style of the brutal attack was also at odds with what the locals –and most experts– know about this long separated branch of the Shining Path, which took the name “Militarizado Partido Comunista del Peru” more than a decade ago, and don’t identify themselves as SP, who they despise as traitors for surrendering back in the nineties to engage in national politics.

The group of four to five killers approached their victims using motorcycles, which the narco-terrorists never use because they are impractical in the jungle terrain where they would’ve come from. They didn’t shout their usual harangues and they didn’t even talk to the victims to tell them what they did to deserve their horrible fate, which is something the narco-terrorists usually do.

One of the survivors said they were dressed like “normal people”, without any kind of clothing that would give out their identity as either terrorists, police officers or military personnel. Let’s be clear: the narco-terrorist who control the zone don’t usually hide their identities: they kill openly to give a message to everybody else, and they kill for business –police informants, suspicious outsiders and the armed forces who fight them at enormous risk– but not for politics. Finally, an electrical black out preceded the attack and, according to locals in Vizcatan del Ene, that usually happens before military raids.

Back in Lima, the massacre was swiftly seized by the Fujimori campaign and the conservative Armed Forces to revive the trauma of terrorism. A couple of days after the news shocked the country, the candidate preferred by the elites and the establishment started to climb up in the polls when all seemed already lost in favor of the leftist candidate.

Pedro Castillo, a syndicalist, is politically connected to members of MOVADEF, the political party created by sympathizers of the terrorists who were beaten and jailed back in the nineties, in order to enter the political arena and plead for amnesty. The tie that binds the leftist candidate and the mentioned party –a huge liability in Castillo’s campaign– lies in their common participation in the country’s biggest teachers syndicate, SUTEP.

Next Sunday June 6, Peruvians will go to the polls to choose between “the daughter of the dictator” and a leftist candidate that never dreamed to reach this far into the elections –and sadly, has proven not to be up to par– as extreme political polarization has bitterly divided the country between “patriots” and “communists”.

If we can talk about any kind of silver lining to this dark episode in the history of Peru, it would be that the El Comercio Group, the oligarchic newspaper and media empire, has completely lost the little credibility it had left, by showing itself as a mouthpiece for the Fujimori campaign and the most exaggerated and irrational Red Scare madness in decades. After whatever happens next June 6, nobody will ever believe in its alleged impartiality ever again.

Regarding what (really) happened in the cocaine infested jungle of Peru, and considering that the military establishment and the economic elite are fine with the evidence-free and politically convenient official version of the massacre, the possibility that the truth will ever be revealed seems remote.

The post All (MacCarthyite) hell breaks loose in Peru as the country prepares to choose new President first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Colombia’s Rebellion against the Capitalist System

Colombia has been burning with the flames of resistance ever since a national strike began on April 28, 2021. The initial impetus for the large-scale demonstrations came from a regressive tax reform. The tax bill came into being due to the necessity of the Colombian state to push down the rising fiscal deficit, which could reach 10% of GDP this year. On top of this, the tight integration of the Colombian economy into the architectures of imperialism has resulted in an external debt of $156,834,000,000 (51.8% of GDP, projected to come up to 62.8%).

Someone had to pay for this crisis and the ruling class had no interest in doing so. This was demonstrated when the finance minister ignored the recommendations made by the state-appointed expert committee to tax the highest earners first. The attempt to make the workers and the middle layers pay for the crisis was the spark that ignited the masses’ accumulated rage.

The movement has slowly spread into the larger questions of political economy, openly confronting the structural barbarity of a glaciated plutocracy. This plutocracy has blood on its hands; it has amassed obscene amounts of wealth by relentlessly mowing down the resistance of the oppressed masses.

Entrenched Violence

The modern history of Colombia is enveloped in vapors of violence. Between 1948 and 1958, the country was the scene of one of the most intense and protracted instances of widespread violence in the twentieth century. In this period, there was a civil war called “The Violence” between Liberal and Conservative parties which took 200,000 lives. In order to bring an end to civil war, the Conservatives and Liberals made a political pact in 1958, known as the National Front (NF) which established that the presidency would alternate between the two parties for a period of 16 years and all positions in the three branches of government would be distributed evenly between them. Despite this, violence continued until 1966.

NF barred the Colombian Communist Party (PCC) from conventional political process in 1955 to ensure that its rising popularity was curtailed. In this way, NF helped in the alternation of power between the different factions of the Colombia elite while strengthening the armed forces to suppress popular reforms. After the civil war, capital accumulation consolidated, agri-business interests grew stronger and land concentration increased. Suffocated by the brutal vehemence of blood-tainted profit-making and hamstrung by the closure of traditional channels of opposition, PCC formed the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) on May 27, 1964, as its armed wing.

Between 1984 and 1988, the FARC-EP agreed to a ceasefire with then President Belisario Betancur and many of its militants opted for electoral politics by forming a mass-based political party, the Patriotic Union (UP).  In all, UP gained 12 elected congressional members, 21 representatives to departmental assemblies, 170 members of city councils and 335 municipal councilors. Before, during, and after scoring these substantial electoral victories in local, state, and national elections, the military-backed death squads murdered three of the UP’s presidential candidates.

Over 5,000 legal electoral activists were killed. The FARC-EP was forced to return to armed opposition because of Colombian regime-sponsored mass terrorism. Between 1985 and 2008, tens of thousands of peasant leaders, trade unionists, human rights activists, and neighborhood leaders as well as journalists, lawyers, and congress people were killed, jailed, or driven into exile. As is evident, whenever ordinary Colombians have stood up for life, the governing political caste and the ruling economic class have systematically tapped into the vast power of state terror to chop off any hope for a better future.

Even today, the same practice of deploying ever greater amounts of violence continues. The director of Human Rights Watch believes that the protests in Colombia have seen a level of police violence previously unknown in Latin America. He claims that on this continent he has never seen “tanks firing multiple rounds of tear gas projectiles, among other things, horizontally at demonstrators at high speed. A most dangerous practice”.

US Support

The Colombian elite’s construction of repressive apparatuses has been fundamentally aided by the American empire. Colombia has been witness to a US-sponsored counter-insurgent nation-building project aimed at contesting the rapid expansion of rural guerrillas on Colombia’s endless coca frontier, its mining and energy frontiers, its agro-industrial frontiers, and into most of its towns and even cities. This project has turned out to be purely destructive.

By the end of the 1990s, there were more than 400 paramilitary massacres annually. Enter US-backed Plan Colombia, ostensibly designed to cut cocaine production in half: 80% of it went to the Colombian police and armed forces, who worked with the paramilitaries against the FARC, or, more often, against the Colombian people who lived in areas where guerrillas were active. From 2006 to 2010, the Colombian armed forces disappeared more than 10,000 civilians and disguised them as guerrilla kills to boost the body count.

Propped up by a bloated, national security state, the political class became totally dysfunctional, making no move to implement the 1991 Constitution, whose provisions on indigenous autonomy became dead letters. Such was the mockery of the electorate’s existence that the passage of the constitution was preceded by record numbers of indigenous deaths.

The war machine’s dispossession, disappearance, torture, and massacre of indigenous people left no community untouched. The Afro-Colombians in the Pacific, who had secured provision to collective land title in 1993, following the indigenous model of autonomy through communal land tenure, suddenly found themselves in the thick of death and destruction as their lands were coveted by mining and logging companies as well as drug traffickers-cum-ranchers-cum-paramilitaries.

Today, Colombia continues to be the stooge of USA, being the largest recipient of American foreign aid in Latin America, and the largest outside of the Middle East. In 2020, Congress appropriated over $460 million in foreign aid, with most of the funds being directed towards “peace and security,” which includes providing training and equipment to security forces. This has translated into the build-up of massive police and military forces that are unleashed against the civilian population whenever the need comes to enforce the neoliberal model.

Continued Resistance

On November 24, 2016, the Government of Colombia and FARC-EP signed a peace agreement, the “Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace”. However, this promise of peace has proven to be full of contradictory tensions. Insecurity and inequality continue unabated, despite the promise of stability, inclusiveness and state responsiveness. There can be little prospect of a meaningful or sustainable peace if large sections of society remain vulnerable to violence, insecurity, injustice and other harms.

However, an entirely elitist architecture of governance has been a part and parcel of Colombia’s history.  Whether it is conflict or “peace”, all types of political periods have been utilized by the agribusinesses, extractive industries, large-scale landowners and rural elites to enrich themselves. Meanwhile, the marginalized have been exposed to further violence and insecurity. The calcified cruelty of this system reached such a level that the subjugated pole could no longer keep quiet; it had to take to the streets to reassert its right to live with dignity.

Since Duque came to power in 2018, Colombians have led fierce social struggles: student-led demonstrations against corruption and state terror over three consecutive months in 2018; a nationwide strike of teachers, students, farmers and pensioners in support of public education and pensions in April 2019; “March for Life” demonstrations by students and teachers in response to escalation in assassinations of activists and opposition politicians by neo-paramilitaries and police in July 2019; nationwide general strikes against austerity policies and the cover-up of a military-headed bombing campaign that killed at least eight children in the department of Caquetá; and the mass demonstrations that erupted during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in September 2020 against police violence. In the current conjuncture, resistance will continue as the heavy fist of neoliberal authoritarianism disrupts the existence of the majority of the people.

The post Colombia’s Rebellion against the Capitalist System first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Colombia’s Rebellion against the Capitalist System

Colombia has been burning with the flames of resistance ever since a national strike began on April 28, 2021. The initial impetus for the large-scale demonstrations came from a regressive tax reform. The tax bill came into being due to the necessity of the Colombian state to push down the rising fiscal deficit, which could reach 10% of GDP this year. On top of this, the tight integration of the Colombian economy into the architectures of imperialism has resulted in an external debt of $156,834,000,000 (51.8% of GDP, projected to come up to 62.8%).

Someone had to pay for this crisis and the ruling class had no interest in doing so. This was demonstrated when the finance minister ignored the recommendations made by the state-appointed expert committee to tax the highest earners first. The attempt to make the workers and the middle layers pay for the crisis was the spark that ignited the masses’ accumulated rage.

The movement has slowly spread into the larger questions of political economy, openly confronting the structural barbarity of a glaciated plutocracy. This plutocracy has blood on its hands; it has amassed obscene amounts of wealth by relentlessly mowing down the resistance of the oppressed masses.

Entrenched Violence

The modern history of Colombia is enveloped in vapors of violence. Between 1948 and 1958, the country was the scene of one of the most intense and protracted instances of widespread violence in the twentieth century. In this period, there was a civil war called “The Violence” between Liberal and Conservative parties which took 200,000 lives. In order to bring an end to civil war, the Conservatives and Liberals made a political pact in 1958, known as the National Front (NF) which established that the presidency would alternate between the two parties for a period of 16 years and all positions in the three branches of government would be distributed evenly between them. Despite this, violence continued until 1966.

NF barred the Colombian Communist Party (PCC) from conventional political process in 1955 to ensure that its rising popularity was curtailed. In this way, NF helped in the alternation of power between the different factions of the Colombia elite while strengthening the armed forces to suppress popular reforms. After the civil war, capital accumulation consolidated, agri-business interests grew stronger and land concentration increased. Suffocated by the brutal vehemence of blood-tainted profit-making and hamstrung by the closure of traditional channels of opposition, PCC formed the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) on May 27, 1964, as its armed wing.

Between 1984 and 1988, the FARC-EP agreed to a ceasefire with then President Belisario Betancur and many of its militants opted for electoral politics by forming a mass-based political party, the Patriotic Union (UP).  In all, UP gained 12 elected congressional members, 21 representatives to departmental assemblies, 170 members of city councils and 335 municipal councilors. Before, during, and after scoring these substantial electoral victories in local, state, and national elections, the military-backed death squads murdered three of the UP’s presidential candidates.

Over 5,000 legal electoral activists were killed. The FARC-EP was forced to return to armed opposition because of Colombian regime-sponsored mass terrorism. Between 1985 and 2008, tens of thousands of peasant leaders, trade unionists, human rights activists, and neighborhood leaders as well as journalists, lawyers, and congress people were killed, jailed, or driven into exile. As is evident, whenever ordinary Colombians have stood up for life, the governing political caste and the ruling economic class have systematically tapped into the vast power of state terror to chop off any hope for a better future.

Even today, the same practice of deploying ever greater amounts of violence continues. The director of Human Rights Watch believes that the protests in Colombia have seen a level of police violence previously unknown in Latin America. He claims that on this continent he has never seen “tanks firing multiple rounds of tear gas projectiles, among other things, horizontally at demonstrators at high speed. A most dangerous practice”.

US Support

The Colombian elite’s construction of repressive apparatuses has been fundamentally aided by the American empire. Colombia has been witness to a US-sponsored counter-insurgent nation-building project aimed at contesting the rapid expansion of rural guerrillas on Colombia’s endless coca frontier, its mining and energy frontiers, its agro-industrial frontiers, and into most of its towns and even cities. This project has turned out to be purely destructive.

By the end of the 1990s, there were more than 400 paramilitary massacres annually. Enter US-backed Plan Colombia, ostensibly designed to cut cocaine production in half: 80% of it went to the Colombian police and armed forces, who worked with the paramilitaries against the FARC, or, more often, against the Colombian people who lived in areas where guerrillas were active. From 2006 to 2010, the Colombian armed forces disappeared more than 10,000 civilians and disguised them as guerrilla kills to boost the body count.

Propped up by a bloated, national security state, the political class became totally dysfunctional, making no move to implement the 1991 Constitution, whose provisions on indigenous autonomy became dead letters. Such was the mockery of the electorate’s existence that the passage of the constitution was preceded by record numbers of indigenous deaths.

The war machine’s dispossession, disappearance, torture, and massacre of indigenous people left no community untouched. The Afro-Colombians in the Pacific, who had secured provision to collective land title in 1993, following the indigenous model of autonomy through communal land tenure, suddenly found themselves in the thick of death and destruction as their lands were coveted by mining and logging companies as well as drug traffickers-cum-ranchers-cum-paramilitaries.

Today, Colombia continues to be the stooge of USA, being the largest recipient of American foreign aid in Latin America, and the largest outside of the Middle East. In 2020, Congress appropriated over $460 million in foreign aid, with most of the funds being directed towards “peace and security,” which includes providing training and equipment to security forces. This has translated into the build-up of massive police and military forces that are unleashed against the civilian population whenever the need comes to enforce the neoliberal model.

Continued Resistance

On November 24, 2016, the Government of Colombia and FARC-EP signed a peace agreement, the “Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace”. However, this promise of peace has proven to be full of contradictory tensions. Insecurity and inequality continue unabated, despite the promise of stability, inclusiveness and state responsiveness. There can be little prospect of a meaningful or sustainable peace if large sections of society remain vulnerable to violence, insecurity, injustice and other harms.

However, an entirely elitist architecture of governance has been a part and parcel of Colombia’s history.  Whether it is conflict or “peace”, all types of political periods have been utilized by the agribusinesses, extractive industries, large-scale landowners and rural elites to enrich themselves. Meanwhile, the marginalized have been exposed to further violence and insecurity. The calcified cruelty of this system reached such a level that the subjugated pole could no longer keep quiet; it had to take to the streets to reassert its right to live with dignity.

Since Duque came to power in 2018, Colombians have led fierce social struggles: student-led demonstrations against corruption and state terror over three consecutive months in 2018; a nationwide strike of teachers, students, farmers and pensioners in support of public education and pensions in April 2019; “March for Life” demonstrations by students and teachers in response to escalation in assassinations of activists and opposition politicians by neo-paramilitaries and police in July 2019; nationwide general strikes against austerity policies and the cover-up of a military-headed bombing campaign that killed at least eight children in the department of Caquetá; and the mass demonstrations that erupted during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in September 2020 against police violence. In the current conjuncture, resistance will continue as the heavy fist of neoliberal authoritarianism disrupts the existence of the majority of the people.

The post Colombia’s Rebellion against the Capitalist System first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Palestinians in Israel now face far-right mob violence backed by the state

With Jerusalem ablaze and Gaza on the brink of another major Israeli onslaught, it has been easy to overlook the rapidly escalating ethnic violence inside Israel, where one in five of the population is Palestinian.

These 1.8 million Palestinians – Israeli citizens in little more than name – have spent the past week venting their frustration and anger at decades of Israeli oppression directed at their own communities inside Israel, as well as at Palestinians under more visible occupation.

Already the protests, which have been sweeping Palestinian communities inside Israel, have been greeted with a savage backlash – a combination of official violence from Israeli police and vigilante-style violence from far-right Jewish gangs.

Israeli politicians have been warning noisily of “Arab pogroms” against the Jewish population. But with the rising influence of the openly fascist far-right in Israel – many of them armed settlers, some with ties to military units – there is a much greater danger of pogroms against the Palestinian minority.

Israel’s Palestinian citizens have been at the heart of the wave of protests in occupied East Jerusalem that began a month ago, at the start of Ramadan. With the aid of their Israeli ID cards and relative freedom of movement, many travelled to East Jerusalem in organised bus convoys. They bolstered numbers in the demonstrations at Sheikh Jarrah, where many Palestinian families are facing expulsion from their homes by Jewish settlers, backed by the Israeli state. They also participated in the defence of al-Aqsa Mosque.

But last weekend, as social media was flooded with clips of police storming al-Aqsa and of Jewish extremists excitedly cheering a fire near the mosque, protests erupted inside Israel too. There have been nightly demonstrations in larger Palestinian towns, including Nazareth, Kafr Kanna, Kafr Manda, Umm al-Fahm, Shefa-Amr and Beersheva. Police have responded in familiar fashion, firing stun grenades into the crowds and smothering them with tear gas. There have been large numbers of arrests.

Boiling point

Some of the most violent clashes, however, have been taking place elsewhere, in communities misleadingly described by Israel as “mixed cities”. Israel has traditionally presented these cities – Lod (Lydd), Ramle, Jaffa, Haifa and Acre (Akka) – as examples of “Jewish-Arab coexistence”. The reality is very different.

In each, Palestinian citizens live on the margins of a former Palestinian city that was ethnically cleansed upon Israel’s founding in 1948 and has been aggressively “Judaised” ever since.

Palestinian residents of these cities have to deal daily with the racism of many of their Jewish neighbours, and they face glaring institutional discrimination in planning rules designed to push them out and help Jews – often members of the settler movement or extremist religious students – take their place. All of this occurs as they are tightly policed to protect Jewish residents’ rights at their expense.

Resentment and anger have been building steadily for years, and now seem to have reached a boiling point. And because the “mixed cities” are among the few places in Israel where Jewish and Palestinian citizens live in relatively close proximity – most other communities have been strictly segregated by Israel – the potential for inter-communal violence is especially high.

The roots of what some still view as a potential new intifada, or Palestinian uprising, risk being smothered in areas of Israel. The more the Palestinian minority protests against the structural discrimination it faces, the more it risks inflaming the passions of the Jewish far-right.

These Jewish fascists are riding high after their parties won six parliamentary seats in Israel’s March election. They are seen as integral to any coalition government that caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may put together.

Driving Palestinians out

For years, the settler right has been trying to drive remaining Palestinian families out of the “mixed cities”, especially those in the centre of the country, next to Tel Aviv. They have received state help to set up extremist religious seminaries in the midst of Palestinian neighbourhoods.

Now under cover of protests, the far-right has the chance to up the stakes. Its newest legislator, Itamar Ben Gvir, has claimed, fancifully, that police are being prevented from dealing with the protests firmly enough. The barely coded message is that the far right needs to take the law into its own hands.

More surprisingly, Ben Gvir was echoed by the government’s police minister, Amir Ohana, who called on “citizens carrying weapons” to work on the authorities’ behalf by “immediately neutralising threats and danger”. Social media has also been awash with calls from activists to arm themselves and attack Palestinian communities in Israel.

On Wednesday, the results of the incitement were all too evident. Jewish gangs, many of them masked, smashed and looted Arab-owned shops and food stalls south of Tel Aviv. Hundreds of onlookers were filmed by an Israeli TV crew watching as a driver was dragged from his car and severely beaten. Though the rampage had been going on for much of the evening, police were nowhere in sight.

Palestinian residents of mixed cities have been hurriedly organising defence patrols in their neighbourhoods. But with many members of the Jewish far right licensed to carry firearms, the reality is that Palestinian communities have few ways to protect themselves effectively.

Some of the worst scenes have emerged from Lod, where local Palestinians live in a few ghettoised neighbourhoods stranded in the midst of what is now effectively a Jewish city next to Tel Aviv.

‘Iron fist’

Confrontations on Monday led to an armed Jewish resident fatally shooting a Palestinian father-of-three, Musa Hasuna. The next day, his funeral escalated into a riot after police tried to block the mourners’ route, with the torching of cars and visible symbols of the Jewish takeover of central Lod, including a synagogue.

On a visit to the city, Netanyahu denounced the events as “anarchy” and warned that Israel would use an “iron fist if necessary”.

On Wednesday night, a curfew was imposed on the city, and under a state of emergency, control passed from the local council to police. Netanyahu said he had been working to overcome legal obstacles to give police even greater powers.

Echoing Netanyahu and the Jewish fascist parties, Israeli Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai argued that the explosion of Palestinian unrest had been caused by police being “too soft”.

Over the past few days, there have been tit-for-tat violent attacks on both Jewish and Palestinian citizens, with beatings, stabbings and shootings that have left many dozens injured. But claims of an imminent “civil war” in places such as Lod, as its Jewish mayor characterised the situation this week, fundamentally misrepresent the dynamics at play and the balance of power.

Even if they wanted to, Palestinian communities have no hope of taking on heavily armed security forces and Jewish militias.

Eruption of anger

What the state is doing in Lod and other communities – through the police and proxy settler allies – is teaching a new generation of Palestinian citizens a lesson in Jewish-state civics: you will pay a deeply painful price for demanding the rights we pretend to the world you already have.

Certainly, Netanyahu seems to have no real commitment to calming the situation, especially as violence between Jewish and Palestinian citizens takes his corruption trial off the front pages. It also feeds a right-wing narrative that is likely to serve him well if, as expected, Israel heads back to yet another general election in a few months’ time.

But other Israeli officials are stoking the flames, too – including President Reuven Rivlin, who unlike Netanyahu, is supposed to be a unifying figure. He denounced Palestinian citizens as a “bloodthirsty Arab mob” and, in an inversion of the rapidly emerging reality, accused them of conducting what he called a “pogrom” in Lod.

For decades, Israel has tried to cultivate the improbable notion for western audiences that its Palestinian citizens – restyled as “Israeli Arabs” – live happily as equals with Jews in “the only democracy in the Middle East”.

Israel has carefully obscured the minority’s history as Palestinians – clinging on to their lands during Israel’s mass ethnic cleansing operations in 1948 – as it has the systematic discrimination they face in a self-declared Jewish state.

As a consequence, the eruption of anger in Palestinian communities inside Israel is always difficult for Israel to manage narratively.

Treated as an ‘enemy’

Since the grip of a military government was loosened in the late 1960s, the Palestinian minority has staged constant protests. But massive, nationwide street demonstrations have erupted only once every generation – and they are always brutally crushed by Israeli forces.

Badly bloodied, Palestinian citizens have been forced to retreat into unhappy, and temporary, quiescence.

That was what happened in the 1970s during Land Day, when Palestinian communities launched their first one-day general strike to protest the state’s mass theft of their historic farming lands so that Jewish-only communities could be established on them. Israeli officials, including then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, were so incensed by the strike that they sent in tanks. Six Palestinian citizens were killed as a result.

The protests returned in October 2000, at the start of the Second Intifada, when the Palestinian minority took to the streets in solidarity with Palestinians under occupation who were being killed in large numbers in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

Within days, 13 demonstrators had been gunned down, and hundreds more were seriously wounded as Israeli police used live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets as their first-line of crowd control.

A subsequent judicial inquiry, the Or Commission, concluded that police viewed the minority as an “enemy”.

Double discrimination

The new generation protesting this week knows of the October 2000 protests chiefly as stories told by their parents. They are finding out first-hand how much has changed in Israel’s racist policing in the intervening two decades.

In fact, questions about the role of Israeli police and their relationship to Palestinian communities inside Israel have been at the forefront of political debates raging among Palestinian citizens over the past two years.

The Palestinian minority has long suffered a doubly discriminatory approach from Israeli security forces. On one hand, police have shirked a normal civilian policing role in Palestinian communities in Israel. That has allowed criminal elements to flourish in the vacuum created by this neglect. Murders and shootings are at an all-time high.

On the other hand, police are quick to crack down when Palestinian citizens engage in political dissent. The current arrests and police violence are part of a familiar pattern.

Many of the factors that brought Palestinians out into the streets in 2000 have not gone away. Violent, politically repressive policing has continued. House demolitions and racist planning policies still mean that Palestinian communities are chronically overcrowded and suffocated. Incitement from Jewish politicians is still the norm. And Palestinian leaders in Israel continue to be excluded from the government and Israel’s main institutions.

Permanent underclass

But in recent years, matters have deteriorated even further. The passage of the 2018 nation-state law means the minority’s legal position is formally worse. The law has explicitly relegated Palestinian citizens to a permanent underclass – not really citizens at all, but unwelcome guest workers in a Jewish state.

Further, the ascendant Jewish far-right has a mounting grievance against the Palestinian minority for standing in the way of its securing a solid electoral majority in a run of elections over the past two years. The success of Palestinian parties is seen as effectively blocking Netanyahu from heading a stable coalition of the ultra-nationalist right.

And, with a two-state solution firmly off the table for all of Israel’s Jewish parties, Palestinian citizens are staring at a political and diplomatic cul-de-sac. They have no hope of emerging from under the shadow of an Israeli security paradigm that readily views them as a fifth column, or a Palestinian Trojan horse inside a Jewish state.

It is that very paradigm that is currently being used against them – and justifying police and settler violence in places such as Lod, Jaffa and Acre.

• First published in Middle East Eye

The post Palestinians in Israel now face far-right mob violence backed by the state first appeared on Dissident Voice.

November 17th, 1973 and the Legacy of State Terror

In a prison hospital in Athens, Greece, a man named Dimitris Koufontinas lies unconscious most of the time.  Almost a month into a water-only hunger strike, one of his tremendously weakened organs could fail, and he could die at any moment.

As always, there’s a lot happening in the world.  Ongoing wars between countries, civil wars within them and threats of war elsewhere; at least one full-blown famine; dramatically growing rates of poverty and hunger all over the place; attempted coups in some countries and successful coups in others, various national elections, multiple assassinations of political activists and journalists — all just in January alone.

And even if the winter of 2021 were not quite so eventful, Greece is far away for most people in the world.  Recent Greek history, even more distant.  Which always seems especially unjust being here in the United States of Amnesia, the most forgetful place on Earth, because as with so much of the world, the modern history of the US is inextricably tied up with the modern history of Greece, from the massacre that gave rise to 17N, to the fact that members of this long-disbanded armed group are being singled out for persecution in Greek prisons today.

Dimitris Koufontinas has written two books while in prison, one of which is out of print.  The other looks like it can be found in hardback form in both Greek and German, but not in English.  But what seems to come up most, whether you search in English, German, or Greek, if you look for the name Dimitris Koufontinas or the November 17 Group, are statements in support or in opposition, with a little tiny bit of space for some kind of objective journalism in between.  Prominent among the statements against, say, releasing disabled former 17N prisoners on humanitarian grounds, are tweets from the US State Department condemning any leniency against those they call terrorists.

Of course, one person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter, and this reality couldn’t be more true of Dimitris Koufontinas.

What is especially remarkable to me, as I was brushing up on recent Greek history in preparation for writing both a song on the subject (“November 17”) and this piece, is that even the counter-terrorism state department types writing their entries keeping track of their various nemeses around the world readily acknowledge that the origins of 17N stemmed from the massacre carried out by forces of the Greek military junta at the campus of Athens Polytechnic University on November 17th, 1973.

This massacre gave rise to 17N in much the same way as the re-formation of an armed resistance movement in Northern Ireland in the 1970’s was a direct consequence of what became known as Bloody Sunday, or the Bogside Massacre, carried out by British Army in 1972.  As in Ireland, the drowning in blood of peaceful protesters, among other events, caused some people to resort to responding with violence in kind.

Support for the Greek military junta, and for the violent suppression of left and anarchist movements in Greece in the decades following the Second World War, was a key component of US and British foreign policy in southern Europe, which should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with concurrent events in Chile, Vietnam and elsewhere at the time.  Along with the head of the Greek riot police, one of the first people to be assassinated by 17N was the CIA station chief for southeastern Europe — and he was not the only US citizen killed during the armed struggle.

After the restoration of democracy in Greece, class conflict there did not disappear, and neither did the immense influence of oppressive institutions such as the International Monetary Fund.  Huge left and anarchist movements in Greece continued to be violently repressed by armies of police, many of whom who held, and continue to hold, a fascist worldview.

But as with many other parts of the world, by the end of the twentieth century, for a wide variety of reasons, many armed resistance movements were disbanding, and in 2002, 17N became another to do that.

Dimitris Koufontinas — 17N chief of operations or “terrorist mastermind,” depending on which press releases you read — turned himself in, and has been in prison ever since.  Under the previous government in Greece, although in prison, his conditions of imprisonment were relatively humane, and even improving.  With the rise since 2019 of the New Democracy Party in Greece, however, with relatives of 17N victims now once again in prominent positions of political power, laws have been passed specifically to target this one man for treatment that amounts to torture.

On January 10th, Dimitris Koufontinas stopped eating.  He’ll likely die soon, and when he does, maybe you’ll see something flash across the screen, and he’ll get his 15 seconds of fame, outside of Greece, with an AP story and a BBC report.  And when you see this story, you should know that it did not begin with any of the assassinations, bombings or other actions this man may or may not have carried out, regardless of what they say on the screen.

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“Manifest Destiny” and the Mexican-American War

Each year tens of thousands of Irish-Americans proudly celebrate their heritage on St Patrick Day, yet few are aware of the fate of the Irish in the St Patrick’s Battalion (el Batallón de San Patricio) who chose to fight under their green flag for Mexico against the aggression of the United States in the Mexican-American War of 1846-48 .

How many Americans are fully aware of their country’s land-grab and the illegal annexation of what was Mexican territory. Hollywood glorifies the Texas rebellion but fails to shine a light on the later American invasion of Mexico, a war opposed by many Northerners such as Abraham Lincoln even though some Northern merchants did believe it would open up the Pacific Coast ports as gateways to China. As with Texas, the plantation-owning Southern elite coveted the vast stretches of northern Mexico where they could expand their slave economy. The conquest of what is now south-west United States became their objective. It was sparsely settled and still remained mostly populated by Native Americans. The ideological justification for this expansionism was the doctrine of “Manifest Destiny”.

As early as 1825, President John Quincy Adams attempted to purchase the Texas province from Mexico. When Mexico refused, other means were employed. The southern plantation owners encouraged the settling of Texas by Anglo-Americans with the hope that they would outnumber the small Mexican population and create enough difficulties for Mexico so that it would relinquish control to the United States. The main issue of the presidential campaign of 1844 was the annexation of Texas, with the Democratic Party running James Polk in favor. The victory of the Democrats, who represented the southern planters, guaranteed annexation. The Anglo-American Texans, who were legally Mexican citizens, refused to submit to the authority of the Mexican government and maintained slavery. They set up the Independent Republic of Texas in 1836. This led to the Alamo and the subsequent defeat of Santa Anna by the army of Sam Houston. The slavocracy of the South looked forward to immediately annexing Texas to the United States but divisions within the U.S. ruling class delayed annexation until 1845, as the northern capitalists opposed adding Texas as another slave state, fearing the enhanced political weight of a strengthened South.

But plans and desires went far beyond Texas. President Polk was intent on provoking Mexico into a war which would end in the conquest of all of Mexico.  The immediate cause of the war was a dispute over the border between Texas and Mexico. The area involved about 150 square miles of territory. Before the dispute could be resolved through negotiations, the president ordered U.S. troops under Zachary Taylor to cross the River Nueces and hold the disputed area. When the Mexican army sought to eject the U.S. army from its territory, the United States used this as its pretext to declare war on Mexico.

The annexation nature of the war was obvious. Ulysses S. Grant, who fought as an officer in the war, would write:

We were sent to provoke a fight, but it was essential that Mexico should commence it…The occupation, separation, and annexation were, from the inception of the movement to its final consummation, a conspiracy to acquire territory out of which slave states might be formed for the American union. Even if annexation itself could be justified, the manner in which the subsequent war was forced on Mexico cannot.

The outcome of the war was almost a foregone conclusion. The Mexican army was badly led and poorly equipped. The U.S. military advanced into Mexican territory and began conducting a campaign of brutality and engaging in numerous acts of wanton violence and destruction against civilians. Commanding General Winfield Scott admitted his U.S. troops had “committed atrocities to make Heaven weep and every American of Christian morals blush for his country. Murder, robbery and rape of mothers and daughters in the presence of tied up males of the families have been common all along the Rio Grande.”

So barbaric were the actions of the American army that some 250 Irish deserted and went over to the side of the Mexicans.

American armies attacked the Mexicans in northern and southern California as well as throughout New Mexico and Arizona. The United States defeated Mexican armies and went on to occupy Mexico City. The United States captured almost 50% of Mexico’s territory.

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

On February 2, 1848, Mexico agreed to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Mexico accepted the Rio Grande as the Texas border and ceded the Southwest (which incorporates the present day states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and parts of Wyoming and Colorado), an area larger than France and Germany combined, to the U.S. for $15 million. The Democratic administration favored taking all of Mexico, but was opposed in Congress.

This treaty was also important because the Mexican negotiators were more deeply concerned to ensure the protection of the democratic rights of Mexicans remaining in the Southwest and it should not be forgotten that, with the exception of the Native Americans, Mexicans are the only minority whose rights were specifically legally safeguarded by a formal treaty. It contained provisions concerning the treatment of the Mexicans remaining in the Southwest. The U.S. agreed to safeguard the property rights of the Mexicans and guaranteed their civil and religious rights. Their culture as well as their land grants were to be respected. The Mexicans were to receive full U.S. citizenship within one year. Article VIII stated:

Mexicans now established in territories previously belonging to Mexico, and which remain for the future within the limits of the United States, as defined by the present treaty, shall be free to continue where they now reside, or to remove at any time to the Mexican Republic, retaining the property which they possess in the said territories…In the said territories, property of every kind, now belonging to Mexicans not established there, shall be inviolably respected. The present owners, the heirs of these, and all Mexicans who may hereafter acquire said property by contract, shall enjoy with respect to it guarantees equally ample as if the same belonged to citizens of the United States.

Article IX guaranteed to those who became citizens (automatic one year from the date of the treaty, unless an individual specifically chose to remain a Mexican citizen)

…enjoyment of all the rights of citizens of the United States, according to the principles of the Constitution… [and also] …the free enjoyment of their liberty and property, and secure in the free exercise of their religion without restriction.

The U.S., however, never lived up to its promises and almost systematically violated the guarantees given to the Mexican people in the Southwest.

Nor were any of the Mexican signers of the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty aware of the fact that nine days before its signing, gold had been discovered in California. Not only had half of the national territory of Mexico been outright stolen at the point of a cannon, but now lands unbelievably rich in gold and silver, had been ceded away.

Juan Crow

Following annexation, the United States set out to impose its rule over the newly conquered territory and begin to economically exploit it. The tremendous wealth derived from the mines and lands stolen from Mexico began to play an important part in the financing of capitalist industrial expansion.

Very soon the subjugation of the Mexican people began. It was not possible to accomplish this all at once throughout the entire Southwest region so the consolidation of the region happened in stages.   California quickly became a state in 1851, while New Mexico and Arizona remained colonies and were not admitted into the Union until 1912, a full 64 years after they were stolen from Mexico. The ensuing Civil War then hampered efforts to promote development in the Southwest.

The new Anglo rulers unleashed a campaign of terror and thousands of Mexican farmers and laborers were shot or lynched. Between 1850 and 1930, more Mexicans were lynched in this area than Blacks in the South during the same period. In Los Angeles, in the one year of 1854 alone, an estimated 360 Mexicans were murdered .

Big ranchers set up groups like the Texas and Arizona Rangers to “legally” terrorize and subdue the conquered population, expropriating the Tejano (Mexican-Texan) landowners. The Texas Rangers and other vigilante groups simply shot hundreds of Mexicans and took over their property. Not a single white American, however, was ever convicted of killing a Mexican in Texas in the 50 years immediately following annexation.

The ranchers and merchants hoped that this terrorism, which now is described as ethnic cleansing, would drive those of Mexican origin across the border to Mexico. Anglo-American migration into the Southwest quickly changed the character of the area and the overall population of Texas and California became predominantly white, (although the southern parts of both states along the border remained mainly Mexican inhabited.) The new settlers reneged on the treaty obligations and began deprived the Mexicans of political rights and power. By 1880 in California no Mexican served in public office where previously they held legislative, judicial and executive positions throughout the state. Originally designated to be a bilingual state (Spanish and English), by as early as 1855. the California state government required all schools to teach exclusively in English and then the 1878 State constitution completely eliminated Spanish as an official language. Special taxes and restrictions were levied on the Mexicans in California as well, such as the “Foreign Miners’ Tax,” to drive non-white miners out of the gold fields. The Mexicans from Sonora were expert miners who introduced such innovative mining techniques as panning and the dry-wash separation of gold. There were also laws prohibiting or restricting traditional fiestas. Similar curtailments spread throughout the Southwest. From 1850 to 1900, the Anglo settlers, expropriated almost the entire propertied class of Californios. Those who did not lose their lands were reduced to small holdings.

Mexican-Americans were transformed into foreign “aliens”. The persecution of the Mexican people went hand-in-hand with the theft of their lands. In many cases, the objective of the murder and violence against them was to take over their property, regardless of the promises of Guadalupe Hidalgo. This great land grab was second only to the massive theft of Native American land. All in all, it is estimated they lost 20 million acres of land in Texas alone. In California and New Mexico the original inhabitants lost much of their land through legal manoeuvres, squatting, claim-jumping and exorbitant taxes. In 1851 California passed a “Land Act” which required that Mexicans go through a complex process to prove title to their land. This was very difficult in many cases since the lands often were owned in common or accurate records were never kept. In New Mexico, 80% of them lost their property, most of these small farmers and herders. An infamous conspiracy of merchants, lawyers, bankers and politicians known as the Santa Fe Ring controlled the territory’s courts and government and awarded themselves millions of acres through swindles. The Surveyor of General Claims Office of the New Mexico Territory could take up to fifty years to process a claim, meanwhile, the lands were being squatted upon by the Anglo newcomers who often sold the land to land speculators for huge profits.

The federal government in 1891 eventually established a Court of Private Land Claims to settle land “disputes” in Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado.  In its 13 years of existence the court heard cases involving 35.5 million acres. The court upheld the original claims of less than two million acres. All the rest were denied and the claimants lost their land. The court, in actuality, legalized the land grab. And the federal authorities itself were not above getting involved in this property theft, especially in New Mexico. Between 1850 and 1900 the federal government accumulated 14.5 million acres of land, the majority of this from individual or communal Mexicans’ lands. The courts, being an instrument of class rule, were used to legitimize the theft of the Mexican people of their land. For sure, it was often the ownership of changing from Mexican feudal grandee to an American capitalist. The huge haciendas of landlord class of Mexico gave way to the vast ranches of Bonanza fame. The economy of the Southwest, geared to small-scale trade and production to satisfy local needs, where much of the land was held in common by communities represented an obstacle to the greedy commerce of the encroaching capitalists who sought to maximize the productive forces. Peasant plots and sheep pastures were converted into grazing land for the new capitalist cattle barons, with Mexicans forced to sell their labor power to their new patróns. The pauperizing the peoples of the Southwest enabled the new owners to freely exploit the land and labor of the region.

Organised resistance on the part of the Mexican people developed to try to halt Anglo incursions. The most famous were seen as Robin Hood figures. Courageous banditos waged a guerilla struggle against the American whites; men such as Tiburcio Vasquez and Joaquin Murietta. In Texas, there was Juan Cortina, who became a folk-hero; and in New Mexico was the “Las Gorras Blancas” (“The White Caps”), direct-actionists who cut the fences and burned the barns of ranchers enclosing the Las Vegas Land Grant commons.  They destroyed railroad tracks and burned bridges seen as the foundation of commercial development. “Las Gorras Blancas” sought to develop a class-based consciousness among local people through the everyday tactics of resistance to the economic and social order confronting common property land grant communities.

In a manifesto, Las Gorras Blancas explained their actions as efforts “to protect the rights of the people in general; and especially those of the helpless classes…We want the Las Vegas Grant settled to the benefit of all concerned and this we hold is the entire community within the grant… will fight any scheme that tends to monopolize the supply of water courses to the detriment of residents Las Gorras Blancas received popular support from small grazers who had watched the common lands slowly disappear behind barbed-wire fences defending the dubious property claims of wealthy newcomers. Las Gorras Blancas became El Partido del Pueblo, the Peoples Party, and entered the State legislature but found reformism to be a dead-end.

As for the fate of the St Patrick Battalion volunteers, at their court-martial none of the men were legally represented nor were transcripts made of the proceedings. Contrary to the Articles of War, which stipulated that the penalty for desertion or defecting to the enemy in a time of war was death by firing squad, only members of the Saint Patrick’s Battalion were executed by hanging as common criminals.

The executions took place at three separate locations on three separate dates; 16 were executed on 10 September 1847 at San Ángel, four were executed the following day at the village of Mixcoac on 11 September, and 30 were hanged at Chapultepec on 13 September. One soldier was hanged even though he had had both legs amputated the previous day. When the army surgeon informed the colonel that the absent soldier had lost both his legs in battle, Colonel Harney retorted: “Bring the damned son of a bitch out! My order was to hang 30 and by God I’ll do it!” The prisoners spared the gallows were flogged and branded on their cheeks with the letter D to signify deserter.

The San Patricios continue to be honored as heroes in Mexico. Their role in the Mexican-American war has long been acknowledged. They have been remembered as a symbol of international solidarity by the Zapatistas. But as to be expected, in the USA, the memory of the battalion was very different and the American army long denied even the existence of the Saint Patrick’s Battalion until 1915 when it finally conceded it existed.

“Manifest Destiny” and the Spanish-American War

The Spanish-American war is often explained by the hysteria drummed by the popular press of William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, fanning the fire and inflaming the passion of public opinion until every lie was believed as the truth that the American government were acting from no selfish motives, other than altruism

While in the Mexican-American war, it was the Southern Democrats who spoke of the historic necessity of the United States to dominate whatever lands or peoples it so desired as an integral part of the country’s foreign policy.  At its convention of 1896, it was the Republican Party which announced itself to be the party of “Manifest Destiny” to bring civilization to the inferior peoples. The victory in the election was interpreted as carte blanche to go implement an aggressive foreign policy. American business interests had been casting its greedy gaze for many years at the islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific with a dream of a global American empire.

Like all the European powers Spanish rule was ruthless and cruel; based upon the exploitation of its resources and  people. Revolutionary stirrings in its colonies had long been in existence,

Cuba broke out into open revolt in 1895. The Spanish authorities responded brutally setting up de facto concentration camps, herding the families of the rebels and all those suspected of disloyalty into them.

American businesses owned a wide range of investments in Cuba. Those vested interests were in favor of taking control of Cuba’s chaotic conditions and ejecting Spain from Cuba was seen as the first step. The Republican Party platform of 1897 had already declared that Spain was unable “to protect the property and lives of resident American citizens.” The “Manifest Destiny” Republicans launched their interventionist campaign with the newspapers of Hearst and Pulitzer reporting lurid tales of atrocities, clamoring for war to fight on behalf of a defenseless people – the same “humanitarian” war lie we hear so often today. Astute industrialists recognized that war with Spain would increase the business and earnings of American commerce.  It would increase the output of every American factory, it would stimulate a stagnant economy.

In January, 1898, the battleship Maine went to Havana on a “good-will” visit. But on February 15, 1898, the battleship mysteriously exploded at anchor. An investigation could not determine the actual cause of the explosion which took the lives of 258 crew and it may have happened in a number of different ways. Today there is still no real definitive explanation of its cause.

Regardless, the navy concluded that the Maine had been blown up by a mine. The pro-war faction embarked upon a great war-mongering campaign led by Teddy Roosevelt as President McKinley and the Spanish Government tried to resolve the issues peacefully.

In their zeal to avoid a conflict with America the Spanish  accepted all the American proposals but America’s plutocrat and oligarchs were not to be cheated out of their war. On April 19, the United States declared war.

The ostensible purpose for entering the war was to free Cuba. Yet, when it came to the peace terms, America demanded it included the acquisition of Puerto Rico, the islands now known as the Marianas, Guam and the Philippines. The Peace of Paris, December 10, 1898, liquidated the colonial empire of Spain for $20,000,000 compensation. Cuba was not even represented at the conference table. And upon its evacuation by Spain it was to be occupied by the United States. The Cuban people thought the war was for Cuba’s independence but those who had fought and suffered to win their freedom were betrayed.

Many Americans today are well aware of the US military base at Guantánamo Bay and it was from this period of history America acquired the 28,000 acres with its buildings, airfields, docks and a notorious prison camp purposefully placed outside the reach of any legal system. The US pays Cuba $3,386 dollars and 25 cents annually for this occupied territory The presence of American troops in Guantánamo are against the wishes of the Cuban people and it remains Cuba’s occupied territory.

Under the influence of war-fever, the annexation of Hawaii was also quickly accomplished. McKinley declared that “We need Hawaii just as much and a good deal more than we did California. It is manifest destiny” and the compliant press raised exaggerated stories of the threat to the islands from the Japanese and the Germans.

Secretly, Theodore Roosevelt, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, had already deployed Admiral Dewey’s Pacific fleet to the Far East to attack the Spanish in the Philippines, two months before the outbreak of the war. The Spanish navy was routed and American troops later arrived and occupied the Philippines with the aid of Filipino rebels.

The people of the Philippines sincerely believed that the Americans were there to deliver them from the tyrannical yoke of Spain so that they may be a free and independent nation. The Filipino politicians were already setting up a Republic. But the Americans falsely described the situation as being one of “disorder” and required the American military to take command. When the Filipinos finally realized what had happened to them, they turned their guns on the American occupying force who proceeded to teach them all about America’s style of establishing democracy. In the three year war against the Filipinos 60,000 US troops infected with racism committed numerous atrocities and strict censorship silenced the tales of massacres and torture. Estimates of the death-toll vary but it was in the hundreds of thousands. A puppet Philippine government was established in 1907 by a restricted election in which only property holders — about 100,000 — could vote. An American Governor-General ruled with veto power.

The US was not in business of freeing people.  Its objective was merely to exchange Spanish domination with Washington’s. America had commenced the Spanish war to emancipate “little” Cuba and concluded it with the bloody subjugation of the Philippines.

Conclusion

When one risks life and limb, a rational person needs a good reason for the possible sacrifice. To make somebody even more wealthier is not a very good motivation.

The Irish Catholics of the St Patrick Battalion understood first-hand foreign oppression and religious repression. They witnessed the deceit of the the United States in launching its invasion of Mexico. They believed they possessed a worthy cause greater than themselves as individuals to fight and die for.

But others require something much more to go to war and face death. Countries will try to instill a national identity, loyalty and patriotism. When that may not be enough, an appeal to God may be called for, with government declaring they hold a divine mission to conduct a “Holy Crusade” and this is what Americans meant by their doctrine of “manifest destiny”, or what is more commonly called American “exceptionalism” these days. It offers a cloak of respectability for what can only be described as inhuman, brutal behavior. It is imperialism by another name and the aim remains the same — economic, military and political domination of the world.

There are two Americas. One is the America of the capitalist clique who threaten the world’s security. This is the America the people of the world has learned to detest and fear.

Then there is the other America — the America of  working people with a revered record of sympathy for people of other lands in their struggles against kings and despots.

This is the America that has held out the hand of comradely friendship to the oppressed people in the world and at one time offered security and sanctuary to the persecuted. This is the America that must take the power from the exploiters and parasites. The American working class can open up the way to a new world. They have the power in America. All that is necessary is for them to understand it — and to use it. We believe they will do so. We believe the real America — the America of the working people — will help save the world by saving itself. This is America’s true “manifest destiny”.

Postscript

In Europe, the Fraternal Democrats, a radical wing of the Chartist movement, issued a condemnation of the American war against Mexico, endorsing the view that the war was unjust to Mexico, disgraceful to the United States and a war for the extension of slavery.”

Following their policy of supporting the development of nascent capitalism, Marx and Engels took the opposite opinion and condoned the American aggression of the Mexican invasion. Engels writes:

We have witnessed the conquest of Mexico and have rejoiced in it…[and]… that splendid California has been taken away from the lazy Mexican…[and]…for the first time really open the Pacific Ocean to civilization.

The post “Manifest Destiny” and the Mexican-American War first appeared on Dissident Voice.

BJP and Israel: Hindu Nationalism is Ravaging India’s Democracy

It was only a matter of time before the anti-Muslim sentiment in India turned violent.

A country that has historically prided itself on  its diversity and tolerance, and for being ‘the largest democracy in the world’ has, in recent years, exhibited the exact opposite qualities – chauvinism, racism, religious intolerance, and, at times, extreme violence.

The latest round of  violence ensued on February 23, one day before US President Donald Trump arrived in Delhi on his first official visit to India.

Trump is a beloved figure among Hindu nationalists, especially supporters of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has ruled India since 2014.

BJP, under the leadership of Narendra Modi, has wreaked havoc on Indian politics and foreign policy. However, the damage that this ultra-nationalist movement has caused to Indian society is unmatched since the country’s independence in 1947.

Under BJP rule, the hatred for Muslims, a sizable minority of over 200 millions, among other minority groups, has grown over the years to represent the core discourse of a movement that is ideologically and morally bankrupt.

Jumping on the Islamophobia band wagon, which has grown exponentially since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, Hindu nationalists disguised their racist and chauvinistic ideology as part of a global ‘war on terror’.

It was no surprise, then, to see Modi reaching out to like-minded islamophobes, the likes of right-wing Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The seemingly unbreakable Modi-Netanyahu ‘friendship’ underlies a growing pro-Israel movement among Hindu nationalists.

Hindu nationalist ideologues and pro-Israel Zionists have long discovered a common cause, one that is predicated on a collective sense of racial supremacy and intolerance for Islam and Muslims.

In fact, Israel has, in recent years, emerged as the common denominator between various such ultra-nationalist and far-right groups in India and across the globe. Strangely, but tellingly, some of these groups are known for hostility towards Jews and outright antisemitism. However, for these groups, the anti-immigrant, anti-refugee and anti-Muslim sentiments were far more pressing priorities than all else.

While Europe and North America have received a greater share of political analysis regarding the rise of Islamophobia around the world, countries like India, Burma, and China have largely been excluded from the discussion.

It is true that the discrimination and violence against China’s Muslim minority, the Uyghurs, Burma’s Rohingya population and India’s Muslims, have all received a relatively fair share of media attention and analysis. However, the targeting of Muslims in these polities is largely perceived as provisional ‘conflicts’ that are unique to these areas, with little or no connection to global anti-Muslim phenomena.

But nothing could be further from the truth. For example, the fact that BJP politicians often refer to Muslim migrants in India as ‘infiltrators and termites’ mirrors the same dehumanizing lexicon used by Buddhist nationalists in Burma and Israeli Zionists in Palestine.

The likes of the Hindu Samhati movement, known for its anti-Muslim bigotry, has, therefore, become essential to this new global anti-Muslim brand. And, according to the same disturbing logic, hating Muslims then becomes synonymous with loving apartheid Israel.

Hence, it was not a complete surprise to see tens of thousands of Hindu nationalists rallying in Calcutta in February 2018 in what was described by organizers as “the largest pro-Israel rally” in history.

But what took place in New Delhi in February was more ominous than any other previous display of violence. Dozens of Indian Muslims were beaten to death and hundreds more were severely injured by angry Hindu nationalists.

While India is no stranger to mob violence, the recent bouts of bloodshed in that country are most alarming considering it is a rational outcome of a racist trajectory that has been championed by the BJP and their supporters.

Particularly alarming were the scenes of Indian security forces either watching the brutality against Indian Muslims unfold without intervening or objecting in any way or worse, participating in the violence themselves.

While it is rightly argued that the anti-Muslim campaign in India was triggered by Modi’s Citizenship Amendment Act which ultimately aims at rendering millions of Muslims in India stateless, the ailment lies in the BJP itself – a purely xenophobic movement that exploits the grievances of the poor and marginalized in India to maintain political power.

It goes without saying that India’s Modi is a far cry from the India that was envisaged by Mahatma Gandhi or the country’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

Unfortunately, with Modi and the BJP in power, India will experience yet more tragic days ahead. Flanked by equally racist and violent allies in Tel Aviv and Washington, Modi feels empowered to carry out more such sinister and discriminatory measures against the country’s vulnerable minorities, especially Muslims.

It is essential that we educate ourselves further about the situation in India, and that we understand the anti-Muslim politics and violence in that country within the larger global context. India’s Muslims need our solidarity more than ever before, especially as the emboldened BJP and their chauvinistic leader seem to have no moral boundaries whatsoever.

Women and Children First: Sandy Hook

I chose this title for two reasons:  one simple, the other more complex.  The basic facts state that 7 adults were killed during the Sandy Hook atrocity; that 6 of those adults were women, and 20 children, all between the ages of 6 and 7; and also the shooter himself, Adam Lanza, the only adult male on the Sandy Hook death list.

As far as the public record goes, there is no evidence that the killer was a professed misogynist, nor that he harbored a special hatred for children.  Nevertheless, the gender of the adults that Lanza targeted for execution — beginning with his own mother, who is not included in the death log above — leaves little doubt that a definite, hard-core anti-female bias was fully operational in the lone gun man’s mind.  Moreover, I would suggest that a deep cultural animosity toward women was blatantly manifest in the Sandy Hook Elementary killing spree, a tendency that has been subtly perpetuated by major media coverage of the incident.  Despite the smashed computer, and whatever motivational clues were stored there, if we sequence generic cultural terms like patriarchy, chivalry, and misogyny, a template emerges that indicates the symbolic hard-wire of Adam Lanza’s brain.

To begin at the beginning:  our civilization is fundamentally patriarchal.  The Greeks, the Romans, the Jews of the Old Testament:  these cement cinder blocks of Western culture are full of guys calling the shots, making the speeches, writing the laws, fixing the books, and settling the scores.  The Book of Genesis, for example, provides an archetypal lens for this civilization’s view of women who, we are told, were made from the first man Adam’s rib.  Certainly, this bit of nonsense alone disqualifies the Old Testament as a Biology textbook.  However, beyond a basic reversal of common sense on the subject of physical origins, the rule of patriarchy tends to discredit the existence of women, casting them down.  Not so high up in the order of Creation — except that we frequently find images of the “fair sex” fixed upon pedestals, silver screens, and magazines, all variations on a still-life, trophy-style, wall-mounted theme.

Aye, there’s the Rib!

Which is about where chivalry enters the scene, smoothing over the rough stuff.  Dashing, complimentary, and seemingly free of charge.  As it turns out:  not only can women not protect themselves, they can’t even open doors!  Thank God for the men, whom He supernaturally created first, raising Man right up out of the dust, dry as a bone.  Beyond any and all serpents and sirens of our collective mythology, chivalry masks — or even enshrines — a tradition of viewing females as eminently vulnerable and weak, fragile vessels in need of protection:  not that the Ladies have had much choice in the matter over the centuries, of course.

Only very recently, indeed, has the United States sent women into “harm’s way,” or combat.  It is worth noting in this connection that, based on casualty counts from Iraq and Afghanistan, soldiering in the field has never been “safer.”  For its part, the video gaming industry has seen to it that the kids do not lack for simulated war-like action.  The “kill-shot” is easily within the vocabulary range of the average teenager, even though Thucydides or Clausewitz, Auschwitz or Hiroshima, probably is not.

But to return to the almost indigestible immediate cause of these reflections, it can be fairly asserted that the chivalry switch in Adam Lanza’s brain flipped, and that he killed exclusively the kind of people that any young man should be hard-wired to protect.  Yet, instead of a shining white suburban knight, Sandy Hook got the fully automated predator model, a terrorist-misogynist machine.

To official source, of course, no “authority,” speaks of this massacre in terms of Terrorism.  Neither has the subject of misogyny been mentioned, as if the media had deleted things like the Salem Witch Trials from historical memory.  Only in passing is it even noted that all of the adult victims (minus the killer) were women.  In the lurid light of this mass murder, the national consciousness maintains both a soft spot for terrorism as much as a blind spot for Misogyny.  Moreover, despite all of that “godless humanism” poisoning the well of our educational system, it appears that the ancient soil of old school dichotomies like Innocent Adam/Evil Eve is still capable of nourishing perfectly savage saplings.

And the Kids:  what about them?  Well, as we learned in Vietnam, sometimes you have to destroy a village in order to save it.  Just as the adult female staff members were targeted for execution, so were the kids under their protective care slaughtered:  and that’s a piece of the News that was deemed not fit to print.

So, whatever Adam Lanza’s personal pathology, or his particular, idiosyncratic screw loose, he did not commit this atrocity in a cultural vacuum.  This example of evil did not spring ex nihilo.

If nothing else, then, as this horrific incident has already faded into the annals of the 24-hour news cycle; as this latest mass murder has been recast into the rhetorical cudgel of pompous political debates about gun control, mental illness, home schooling, and the like:  We might all do well to ask ourselves whether such massacres are the inevitable by-products of not only the current state of our culture, but also the deeper sources from which this current flows.  The short answer is, in all probability, yes.  I wonder if the long answer can be any different?

Sandy Hook Revisited

I wrote and spoke the above analysis of the Sandy Hook massacre within days of that atrocity occurring 7 years ago.  I am of the same mind now as then about the incident:  that it’s the story of a dystopian misogynist nightmare, in reality.  The authorities investigating Sandy Hook, however, reached a very different conclusion. As a matter of historical record, they discerned “no motive” for Adam Lanza’s mass murdering carnage, as if a team of ostriches had conducted the investigation, instead.  Could it be that the authorities simply preferred to see “no motive” rather than admitting misogyny?

Apparently, despite the explicit details of the Sandy Hook crime scene, the myth that misogyny is not a core cultural trait, or bias, is still being propped up — and not just by our expert-ostrich investigators.  There are those who deny that Sandy Hook happened at all; that it was, in fact, a hoax, or “false flag” operation, presumably staged to “take away our guns!”– whatever that means.

A simple background check shows that the American citizenry is exceptionally well-armed; further, that all of those guns are highly unlikely to be confiscated any time soon.  Indeed, the United States has out-gunned the rest of the planet during the last 3 quarters of a century, beginning with the atomic bomb-punctuated end of World War 2, when American global hegemony was mass murderously announced through two smoking mushroom clouds.  America, it can be said, loves its “nukes” almost as much as its guns.  So much is obvious.

What is also obvious is the fact that Sandy Hook took place in an affluent white suburb, and this fact flies in the face of “American exceptionalist” belief, a belief that all of our sacred guns are said to protect.  The horror elicited by a young adult white kid from a prosperous community methodically executing women, and the first-grade children under their care, is incomprehensible to the “America First!” mentality.  “White people don’t do like that!” shrieks the “American exceptionalist”– and quickly changes the subject to gun rights, mental illness, “black-on-black crime,” or anything else but…

Psychologically, then, the Sandy Hook hoax story doubles down on the official narrative – that there was “no motive” — by denying that this “exceptional” display of misogyny ever happened in the first place.  The “take-away,” as folks say:  misogyny doesn’t really exist.  Count longtime Washington Post journalist-opinionist Karen Tumulty an adherent of this “See-no-misogyny” point of view.

In one of the few articles I’ve been able to find on the subject (as if the “subject” were taboo), Zach Schonfeld’s May 28, 2014 Newsweek article “Mass murder and misogyny, paired yet again,” concerning an apparently misogynistic murder spree in Southern California, quotes this telling Tumulty tweet: “Too many people seeing Santa Barbara as misogyny.  It’s about mental illness.”  To say the least, Tumulty’s trite tweet carries an Ark-load of ostriches.

As the Newsweek writer Schonfeld correctly notes, misogyny and mental illness are not mutually exclusive.  In fact, Elliot Rodger, the killer in the Santa Barbara (or Isla Vista) massacre, had been the ongoing subject of a psychiatric surveillance regime. His parents were Hollywood-types, and they were concerned.  As it turns out, their “privileged white male” offspring had been clinically diagnosed with something esoterically known as “pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified”; so, maybe Tumulty’s tweet has a point after all?  Well, not so fast.  Elliot Rodger left behind a rather lengthy diatribe spelling out his hatred of women, including the logically intended consequences of his hatred so-spelled-out.  The murderous actions that Rodger subsequently committed unequivocally fill-in-the-blank of “disorder not otherwise specified”–“otherwise” known as misogyny.  Unsurprisingly, it is not a Freudian slip to say that the American psychiatric community is also on board the “See-no-misogyny” train.

The patriarchal bias — Father knows best! — has millennially deep roots, and its defenders are as institutionally numerous — and committed! — as they are reflexively blind to any evidence of misogyny, even where it stares them unambiguously in the face.  Perhaps the ultimate, unwitting irony of Tumulty’s tweet is that it tends to exonerate a “privileged white male” of the crimes he committed, since he was the real victim — a victim of, you know, “mental illness” — as opposed to seeing him as the misogynist murderer he certainly was.

However modern we collectively pretend to be, it appears that some crazy Ancient ideas, patriarchal to a fault, still rule the roost.  Innocent Adam and Evil Eve, indeed!

Iraqis Rise Up Against 16 Years of ‘Made in the USA’ Corruption

As Americans sat down to Thanksgiving dinner, Iraqis were mourning 40 protesters killed by police and soldiers on Thursday in Baghdad, Najaf and Nasiriyah. Nearly 400 protesters have been killed since hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets at the beginning of October. Human rights groups have described the crisis in Iraq as a “bloodbath,” Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi has announced he will resign, and Sweden has opened an investigation against Iraqi Defense Minister Najah Al-Shammari, who is a Swedish citizen, for crimes against humanity.

According to Al Jazeera, “Protesters are demanding the overthrow of a political class seen as corrupt and serving foreign powers while many Iraqis languish in poverty without jobs, healthcare or education.” Only 36% of the adult population of Iraq have jobs, and despite the gutting of the public sector under U.S. occupation, its tattered remnants still employ more people than the private sector, which fared even worse under the violence and chaos of the U.S.’s militarized shock doctrine.

Western reporting conveniently casts Iran as the dominant foreign player in Iraq today. But while Iran has gained enormous influence and is one of the targets of the protests, most of the people ruling Iraq today are still the former exiles that the U.S. flew in with its occupation forces in 2003, “coming to Iraq with empty pockets to fill” as a taxi-driver in Baghdad told a Western reporter at the time. The real causes of Iraq’s unending political and economic crisis are these former exiles’ betrayal of their country, their endemic corruption and the U.S.’s illegitimate role in destroying Iraq’s government, handing it over to them and maintaining them in power for 16 years.

The corruption of both U.S. and Iraqi officials during the U.S. occupation is well documented. UN Security Council resolution 1483 established a $20 billion Development Fund for Iraq using previously seized Iraqi assets, money left in the UN’s “oil for food” program and new Iraqi oil revenues. An audit by KPMG and a special inspector general found that a huge proportion of that money was stolen or embezzled by U.S. and Iraqi officials.

Lebanese customs officials found $13 million in cash aboard Iraqi-American interim Interior Minister Falah Naqib’s plane. Occupation crime boss Paul Bremer maintained a $600 million slush fund with no paperwork. An Iraqi government ministry with 602 employees collected salaries for 8,206. A U.S. Army officer doubled the price on a contract to rebuild a hospital, and told the hospital’s director the extra cash was his “retirement package.” A U.S. contractor billed $60 million on a $20 million contract to rebuild a cement factory, and told Iraqi officials they should just be grateful the U.S. had saved them from Saddam Hussein. A U.S. pipeline contractor charged $3.4 million for non-existent workers and “other improper charges.” Out of 198 contracts reviewed by the inspector general, only 44 had documentation to confirm the work was done.

U.S. “paying agents” distributing money for projects around Iraq pocketed millions of dollars in cash.The inspector general only investigated one area, around Hillah, but found $96.6 million dollars unaccounted for in that area alone.  One American agent could not account for $25 million, while another could only account for $6.3 million out of $23 million. The “Coalition Provisional Authority” used agents like these all over Iraq and simply “cleared” their accounts when they left the country. One agent who was challenged came back the next day with $1.9 million in missing cash.

The U.S. Congress also budgeted $18.4 billion for reconstruction in Iraq in 2003, but apart from $3.4 billion diverted to “security,” less than $1 billion of it was ever disbursed. Many Americans believe U.S. oil companies have made out like bandits in Iraq, but that’s not true either. The plans that Western oil companies drew up with Vice President Cheney in 2001 had that intent, but a law to grant Western oil companies lucrative “production sharing agreements” (PSAs) worth tens of billions per year was exposed as a smash and grab raid and the Iraqi National Assembly refused to pass it.

Finally, in 2009, Iraq’s leaders and their U.S. puppet-masters gave up on PSAs (for the time being…) and invited foreign oil companies to bid on “technical service agreements” (TSAs) worth $1 to $6 per barrel for increases in production from Iraqi oilfields. Ten years later, production has only increased to 4.6 million barrels per day, of which 3.8 million are exported. From Iraqi oil exports of about $80 billion per year, foreign firms with TSAs earn only $1.4 billion, and the largest contracts are not held by U.S. firms. China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) is earning about $430 million in 2019; BP earns $235 million; Malaysia’s Petronas $120 million; Russia’s Lukoil $105 million; and Italy’s ENI $100 million. The bulk of Iraq’s oil revenues still flow through the Iraq National Oil Company (INOC) to the corrupt U.S.-backed government in Baghdad.

Another legacy of the U.S. occupation is Iraq’s convoluted election system and the undemocratic horse-trading by which the executive branch of the Iraqi government is selected. The 2018 election was contested by 143 parties grouped into 27 coalitions or “lists,” plus 61 other independent parties. Ironically, this is similar to the contrived, multi-layered political system the British created to control Iraq and exclude Shiites from power after the Iraqi revolt of 1920.

Today, this corrupt system keeps dominant power in the hands of a cabal of corrupt Shiite and Kurdish politicians who spent many years in exile in the West, working with Ahmed Chalabi’s U.S.-based Iraqi National Congress (INC), Ayad Allawi’s U.K.-based Iraqi National Accord (INA) and various factions of the Shiite Islamist Dawa Party. Voter turnout has dwindled from 70% in 2005 to 44.5% in 2018.

Ayad Allawi and the INA were the instrument for the CIA’s hopelessly bungled military coup in Iraq in 1996. The Iraqi government followed every detail of the plot on a closed-circuit radio handed over by one of the conspirators and arrested all the CIA’s agents inside Iraq on the eve of the coup. It executed thirty military officers and jailed a hundred more, leaving the CIA with no human intelligence from inside Iraq.

Ahmed Chalabi and the INC filled that vacuum with a web of lies that warmongering U.S. officials fed into the echo chamber of the U.S. corporate media to justify the invasion of Iraq. On June 26th 2002, the INC sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee to lobby for more U.S. funding. It identified its “Information Collection Program” as the primary source for 108 stories about Iraq’s fictitious “Weapons of Mass Destruction” and links to Al-Qaeda in U.S. and international newspapers and magazines.

After the invasion, Allawi and Chalabi became leading members of the U.S. occupation’s Iraqi Governing Council. Allawi was appointed Prime Minister of Iraq’s interim government in 2004, and Chalabi was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Oil Minister in the transitional government in 2005. Chalabi failed to win a seat in the 2005 National Assembly election, but was later elected to the assembly and remained a powerful figure until his death in 2015. Allawi and the INA are still involved in the horse-trading for senior positions after every election, despite never getting more than 8% of the votes – and only 6% in 2018.

These are the senior ministers of the new Iraqi government formed after the 2018 election, with some details of their Western backgrounds:

Adil Abdul-Mahdi – Prime Minister (France). Born in Baghdad in 1942. Father was a government minister under the British-backed monarchy. Lived in France from 1969-2003, earning a Ph.D in politics at Poitiers. In France, he became a follower of Ayatollah Khomeini and a founding member of the Iran-based Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) in 1982. Was SCIRI’s representative in Iraqi Kurdistan for a period in the 1990s. After the invasion, he became Finance Minister in Allawi’s interim government in 2004; Vice President from 2005-11; Oil Minister from 2014-16.

Barham Salih – President (U.K. and U.S.). Born in Sulaymaniyah in 1960. Ph.D. in Engineering (Liverpool – 1987). Joined Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in 1976. Jailed for 6 weeks in in 1979 and left Iraq for the U.K.  PUK representative in London from 1979-91; head of PUK office in Washington from 1991-2001. President of Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) from 2001-4; Deputy PM in interim Iraqi government in 2004; Planning Minister in transitional government in 2005; Deputy PM from 2006-9; Prime Minister of KRG from 2009-12.

Mohamed Ali Alhakim – Foreign Minister (U.K. and U.S.). Born in Najaf in 1952. M.Sc. (Birmingham), Ph.D. in Telecom Engineering (Southern California), Professor at Northeastern University in Boston 1995-2003. After the invasion, he became Deputy Secretary-General and Planning Coordinator in the Iraqi Governing Council; Communications Minister in interim government in 2004; Planning Director at Foreign Ministry, and Economic Adviser to VP Abdul-Mahdi from 2005-10; and UN Ambassador from 2010-18.

Fuad Hussein – Finance Minister and Deputy PM (Netherlands and France). Born in Khanaqin (majority Kurdish town in Diyala province) in 1946. Joined Kurdish Student Union and Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) as a student in Baghdad. Lived in Netherlands from 1975-87; incomplete Ph.D. in International Relations; married to Dutch Christian woman. Appointed deputy head of Kurdish Institute in Paris in 1987. Attended Iraqi exile political conferences in Beirut (1991), New York (1999) and London (2002). After the invasion, he became an adviser at the Education Ministry from 2003-5; and Chief of Staff to Masoud Barzani, President of the KRG, from 2005-17.

Thamir Ghadhban – Oil Minister and Deputy PM (U.K.). Born in Karbala in 1945. B.Sc. (UCL) and M.Sc. in Petroleum Engineering (Imperial College, London). Joined Basra Petroleum Co. in 1973. Director General of Engineering and then Planning at Iraqi Oil Ministry from 1989-92. Imprisoned for 3 months and demoted in 1992, but did not leave Iraq, and was reappointed Director General of Planning in 2001. After the invasion, he was promoted to CEO of Oil Ministry; Oil Minister in the interim government in 2004; elected to National Assembly in 2005 and served on 3-man committee that drafted the failed oil law; chaired Prime Minister’s Advisors’ Committee from 2006-16.

Major General (Retd) Najah Al-Shammari – Defense Minister (Sweden). Born in Baghdad in 1967. The only Sunni Arab among senior ministers. Military officer since 1987. Has lived in Sweden and may have been member of Allawi’s INA before 2003. Senior officer in U.S.-backed Iraqi special forces recruited from INC, INA and Kurdish Peshmerga from 2003-7. Deputy commander of “counterterrorism” forces 2007-9. Residency in Sweden 2009-15. Swedish citizen since 2015. Reportedly under investigation for benefits fraud in Sweden, and now for crimes against humanity in killing of over 300 protesters in October-November 2019.

In 2003, the U.S. and its allies unleashed unspeakable, systematic violence against the people of Iraq. Public health experts reliably estimated that the first three years of war and hostile military occupation cost about 650,000 Iraqi lives. But the U.S. did succeed in installing a puppet government of formerly Western-based Shiite and Kurdish politicians in the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, with control over Iraq’s oil revenues. As we can see, many of the ministers in the U.S.-appointed interim government in 2004 are still ruling Iraq today.

U.S. forces deployed ever-escalating violence against Iraqis who resisted the invasion and hostile military occupation of their country. In 2004, the U.S. began training a large force of Iraqi police commandos for the Interior Ministry, and uunleashed commando units recruited from SCIRI’s Badr Brigade militia as death squads in Baghdad in April 2005. This U.S.-backed reign of terror peaked in the summer of 2006, with the corpses of as many as 1,800 victims brought to the Baghdad morgue each month. An Iraqi human rights group examined 3,498 bodies of summary execution victims and identified 92% of them as people arrested by Interior Ministry forces.

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency tracked “enemy-initiated attacks” throughout the occupation and found that over 90% were against U.S. and allied military targets, not “sectarian” attacks on civilians.  But U.S. officials used a narrative of “sectarian violence” to blame the work of U.S.-trained Interior Ministry death squads on independent Shiite militias like Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.

The government Iraqis are protesting against today is still led by the same gang of U.S.-backed Iraqi exiles who wove a web of lies to stage manage the invasion of their own country in 2003, and then hid behind the walls of the Green Zone while U.S. forces and death squads slaughtered their people to make the country “safe” for their corrupt government.

More recently they again acted as cheerleaders as American bombsrockets and artillery reduced most of Mosul, Iraq’s second city, to rubble, after twelve years of occupation, corruption and savage repression drove its people into the arms of the Islamic State. Kurdish intelligence reports revealed that more than 40,000 civilians were killed in the U.S.-led destruction of Mosul. On the pretext of fighting the Islamic State, the U.S. has reestablished a huge military base for over 5,000 U.S. troops at Al-Asad airbase in Anbar province.

The cost of rebuilding Mosul, Fallujah and other cities and towns is conservatively estimated at $88 billion. But despite $80 billion per year in oil exports and a federal budget of over $100 billion, the Iraqi government has allocated no money at all for reconstruction. Foreign, mostly wealthy Arab countries, have pledged $30 billion, including just $3 billion from the U.S., but very little of that has been, or may ever be, delivered.

The history of Iraq since 2003 has been a never-ending disaster for its people. Many of this new generation of Iraqis who have grown up amid the ruins and chaos the U.S. occupation left in its wake believe they have nothing to lose but their blood and their lives, as they take to the streets to reclaim their dignity, their future and their country’s sovereignty.

The bloody hand-prints of U.S. officials and their Iraqi puppets all over this crisis should stand as a dire warning to Americans of the predictably catastrophic results of an illegal foreign policy based on sanctions, coups, threats and the use of military force to try to impose the will of deluded U.S. leaders on people all over the world.

No, Srebrenica did not “inspire” Christchurch

Earlier this month, popular ‘progressive’ news website The Intercept published an article entitled “From El Paso to Sarajevo: How White Nationalists Are Inspired by the Bosnia Genocide”, written by journalist and staff writer Murtaza Hussain. The piece argued that many of the perpetrators behind mass shootings and domestic terrorism in the West — from the convicted far right extremist behind the 2011 Norway attacks to the suspect charged in the recent mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand — were influenced by ethnic cleansing committed by Serbs against Bosnian Muslims during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.

Hussain uses a one-sided and Western-centric account of the inter-ethnic conflict in the Balkans to assess the Islamophobia burgeoning in Europe and the United States today. His analogy employs the same misreading used by NATO to facilitate the dismemberment of the former Yugoslavia and justify its illegal military intervention and war crimes against Serbia. It is an irresponsible variety of yellow journalism that should be ruthlessly critiqued whenever it appears, especially at a news organization which purports to be “fearless, adversarial journalism that holds the powerful accountable.” It also does nothing to help address the growing foundations of fascism by diverting attention away from its real origins.

Hussain begins by accurately noting that the Australian-born suspect behind the massacre at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Center in Christchurch, New Zealand, Brenton Tarrant, during his live-stream video prior to the carnage, played the song “Remove Kabab” (Serbia Strong”), an upbeat patriotic tune that pays tribute to former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić. Removed from the context of the Yugoslav Wars, the Serbian folk song and its accompanying wartime propaganda video were rediscovered by Western right-wing fanatics like Tarrant when it became a popular internet meme among the online fringe as an anthem for the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in reaction to the influx of refugees from the European migrant crisis. The infamous convicted terrorist behind the July 2011 mass shooting and car bombing in Norway, Anders Breivik, also expressed affinity for the Serbs in his epic manifesto and was cited as an influence by Tarrant. However, despite the article title the author provides no evidence whatsoever to support the implication that the El Paso shooter, 21-year old Patrick Crusius, was in any way motivated by the Balkan conflict.

Brenton Tarrant also wrote the names of several historical Serbian military figures who fought against the Ottoman Empire in previous centuries in Cyrillic on his semi-automatic rifle used to carry out the slaughter. Curiously, he also wrote ‘Skanderbeg’, a legendary national hero of Albania who as a medieval military commander, defected from the Ottoman Turks and prevented their expansion toward western Europe in the 15th century. Despite his historical legacy of rescuing ‘Christendom’ from an Islamic empire to which Tarrant was likely referring, Skanderbeg holds varying significance to different peoples and for the predominantly Muslim Albanians he is viewed as a source of national pride and identity.

During WWII when Albania was under the Axis Powers sphere of influence, it was Muslim volunteers who formed the nucleus of the 21st Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Skanderbeg (1st Albanian), whose foremost victims were Christian Orthodox Serbs, in addition to Jews and Roma. In the Yugoslav Wars, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), de-listed terrorist group backed by NATO which fought against Serbia, sought to establish the modern equivalent of the ethnically pure ‘Greater Albania’ as envisioned by Benito Mussolini during WWII in the Kosovo protectorate. So if the Australian-born gunman was incited by Balkan history, it is because he was as confused and unknowledgeable about the complex subject as Hussain, given that he also wrote the number 14 on his firearm in reference to “the 14 words” from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

Before falsifying the history of the Yugoslav Wars, Hussain does correctly observe that:

The Balkans are often condescendingly stereotyped as a backward region stuck in the grip of old prejudices. In reality, Serbs, Croats, and Muslims had lived together as compatriots in the former Yugoslavia for a long time before violent demagogues came to power; it took years of effort during the late 1980s and early 1990s for ultranationalist leaders to drum up the level of fear and hatred necessary for war to start.

Unfortunately, the author does not bother to investigate why they had successfully lived together in harmony as southern slavs for decades (under socialism), nor how such leaders took power and incited the different ethnicities into warring with each other as the country disintegrated, as if everything occurred in a vacuum. Following WWII, partisan leader Josip Broz Tito had indeed united the various Yugoslav peoples in congruity under a popular motto that the country consisted of ‘six republics, five nationalities, four languages, three religions, two alphabets — but one Yugoslav.’ Even the most fervent critics of socialism admit the republic was a relative success as it enjoyed freedom from being undermined by economic embargo as a neutral ‘non-aligned’ country during the Cold War after relations soured between Stalin and Tito and it became a strategic buffer between the West and the Soviets.

Following Tito’s death in 1980, a series of austerity programs sponsored by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were put into effect and much like a recent study concluded regarding Weimar Germany in the 1930s, the gutting of the welfare system and the social fabric led to a resurgence of right-wing nationalism in the Balkans. Yugoslavia went through the same neoliberal ‘shock therapy’ as Chile the decade prior when Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger sent the CIA to “make the economy scream” to prevent Salvador Allende from taking power, as well as post-Soviet Russia which the author’s The Intercept colleague Naomi Klein described so thoroughly in The Shock Doctrine. Yet for Hussain, the driving force in Yugoslavia’s downfall was bigotry itself, somehow isolated from the disaster capitalism forced upon it.

As only an empire denialist could overlook, Hussain makes no mention of the “encouragement of racism” on the part of U.S. imperialism, beginning with the coercive diplomacy of the 1991 Foreign Operations Appropriation Act which instigated the separatist movements by providing aid exclusively to the republics that seceded and declared independence at the exclusion of the Yugoslav government. After the bill was passed by congress at the behest of the George H.W. Bush administration, only the federation of Serbia and Montenegro remained under the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. According to a declassified memorandum, the CIA had already been anticipating this collapse for several years.

Suddenly, much of the population consisting of the many different ethnic communities of the Balkans found themselves trapped within various newly formed ethno-nation states overnight that were not their own. They then began establishing proto-states within these new republics, spurring violent conflicts and territorial disputes resulting in ethnic cleansing (on all sides) across the country. Yugoslavia did not implode simply because of its own internal contradictions, but was the subject of exploitation by a more powerful outside actor seeking to economically and militarily dominate the Caspian Sea region in order to gain access to its crude oil and natural gas resources.

Serbian nationalism only saw a resurgence within Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina once Serbs became hostages under new hostile regimes, when we were told by the NATO acolytes in corporate media that it was Belgrade who were the real nationalists even though most Serbians still identified as Yugoslavs and generally wished to preserve the federation being partitioned. In fact, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague posthumously concluded that the late Serbian and Yugoslav president Slobodan Milošević, who died mysteriously while in custody on trial in the Netherlands, was not responsible for war crimes committed during the Bosnian war. When Radovan Karadžić was convicted by the ICTY, it was determined the Bosnian Serbs acted on their own accord and were frequently at variance with Belgrade on the execution of the war:

Based on the evidence before the Chamber regarding the diverging interests that emerged between the Bosnian Serb and Serbian leaderships during the conflict and in particular, Milošević’s repeated criticism and disapproval of the policies and decisions made by the Accused and the Bosnian Serb leadership, the Chamber is not satisfied that there was sufficient evidence presented in this case to find that Slobodan Milošević agreed with the common plan.

Serbs certainly committed their share of war crimes, but why do Western journalists dare not speak of the thousands of Serbs ethnically cleansed in Croatia from the self-proclaimed quasi-state of Krajina? Or the mass deportations of Serbs from Kosovo in the years since? The innocent heroes and stigmatized villains were pre-selected and to do so would be actual “fearless, adversarial journalism.” Many of the war crimes committed by Muslims against Serbs and Croats in the Yugoslav Wars were by foreign mujahideen volunteers whose ranks even consisted of two of the future 9/11 hijackers — the Saudi nationals Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi — who allegedly seized American Airlines Flight 77 and crashed it into The Pentagon. Their barbaric acts included beheadings of Serb victims that were likely inspired by the Ustaše who did the same in WWII.

Hussain repeatedly refers to what took place in Bosnia as a “genocide”, citing the dubious Srebrenica massacre in July 1995. While it is certain that a horrific war crime took place in the town, to use such a politicized term is a slanted parroting of the NATO interventionist narrative. Virtually all of the victims were Bosniak Muslim men and boys as the Bosnian Serbs had specifically evacuated women and children from the enclave and the disputed, highly inflated quantity of Bosniak victims were mostly likely a combination of fatalities from the battle for the town and retaliatory summary executions by Bosnian Serbs once they besieged the territory. Prior to the incident, Srebrenica had been under the protection of the UN peacekeeping forces which Bosnian Muslim warlord Naser Orić had used to shield his militias following their routine attacks on neighboring Serb villages whose losses also numbered in the thousands. UN General Phillipe Morillon testified that the Srebrenica massacre was motivated by retribution for the war crimes committed by Orić:

JUDGE ROBINSON: Are you saying, then, General, that what happened in 1995 was a direct reaction to what Naser Orić did to the Serbs two years before?

THE WITNESS: Yes. Yes, Your Honour. I am convinced of that. This doesn’t mean to pardon or diminish the responsibility of the people who committed that crime, but I am convinced of that, yes.

If there were deliberate killings of large groups based on their ethnonationality on all sides, then what occurred was part of a civil war, not “genocide.” Noam Chomsky observed that while NATO based its intervention on the g-word, one of its member states in Turkey was carrying out far worse atrocities against Kurds and that to use the term was an insult to the victims of the Nazis in the region’s past. Who were the principal victims of the Ustaše and the Nazi puppet regime of the Independent State of Croatia during WWII? Serbs. It is also incredible that for a journalist so fixated on neo-fascism, Hussain did not find it significant that Bosnia and Herzegovina President Alija Izetbegović had been a literal member of the 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS “Handschar” (1st Croatian) in his youth during WWII when Bosnia was under the Ustaše and did three years in prison under Tito for his offense.

Why did the UN peacekeepers fail to protect Srebrenica? It is an important question considering it brought the real turning point in the war. Not long after, NATO launched Operation Deliberate Force against Ratko Mladić’s forces resulting in the Bosnian Serbs capitulating to a return to negotiations in the Dayton Accord later that year. The former mayor of Srebrenica, Hakija Meholjić, claimed the town was deliberately sacrificed as part of a ‘red line’ agreement between Izetbegović and U.S. President Bill Clinton in a ‘false flag’ to prompt the NATO intervention, as shown in a 2008 Wikileaks Cable:

Meholjic suggested that Bosniak leaders “sold” Srebrenica to the RS (and abetted genocide) when “key members of the international community started saying publicly that enclaves cannot survive.” (Note: Oric, who left Srebrenica in 1993, was not asked to defend it in 1995; ever since there have been accusations that the then Bosnian leadership deliberately allowed the enclave to fall.

Hussain truly loses any remaining “progressive” credibility when he goes on to praise the Otpor! political organization which organized protests that led to the ouster of “dictator” Milošević (actually thrice democratically-elected) in 2000 following the three month NATO bombing campaign the previous year which left Serbia with the highest cancer rate in Europe from the use of depleted uranium ammunition, “justified” by the same lopsided argument made in the article. Otpor! was portrayed as a bona fide, grassroots movement while behind the scenes it was the recipient of millions of dollars from the US government through “soft power” NGOs and CIA-fronts like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and George Soros’ Open Society Institute, financed by the non-profit industrial complex or what author Arundhati Roy has called the “NGO-ization of resistance.” The success of Otpor! became the formula for Western regime change operations via indistinguishable “pro-democracy” Color Revolutions throughout Eastern Europe in the ensuing decade. Documentary filmmaker Boris Maligurski’s The Weight of Chains series is an excellent overview of the history of Yugoslavia and its first two installments are highly recommended, while the trailer for the forthcoming third film was just released.

Perhaps the reason Hussain unquestioningly heaps praise upon Otpor! is the enormous undisclosed conflict of interest on the part of The Intercept’s ownership in billionaire entrepreneur and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, who established the site’s parent organization First Look Media. In The CIA as Organized Crime, journalist and author Douglas Valentine explains how Omidyar’s “philanthropic” investment firm co-financed with the U.S. State Department many of the NGOs in Ukraine’s Orange Revolution such as Center UA which flipped the 2004 Ukrainian election results to a pro-Western candidate. It went on to do the same funding the Euromaidan protests and subsequent coup in 2014 and both so-called Color Revolutions were modeled on the Otpor! movement.  Then, again, the entire premise behind First Look Media is suspect considering it made its name covering the revelations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden while Omidyar’s eBay simultaneously owns Paypal, one of the biggest backers of NSA surveillance. What better way to commandeer dissent then to throw money at journalists?

Hussain also eagerly mentions that “Russian volunteers” participated in the killings at Srebrenica, omitting the equal number of Greek militiamen. This is another instance of thinly veiled Russophobia and the assignment of guilt towards Moscow for the rise of the far right in the West. Its intention is to include Russia within The Clash of Civilizations narrative which is itself a hypothesis for ‘remaking the world order’ through a division and conquering of Eurasia. Hussain does so by isolating the Yugoslav Wars from its context and weaponizing the region‘s history so as to deflect fault for the Islamophobia in the Anglosphere. However, Samuel P. Huntington excluded the Christian Orthodox nations of Russia and Serbia from his “core civilizations” and rather considered them ‘torn countries’ among the major civilizations. In Brenton Tarrant’s mind he may have been elevating the Yugoslav Wars through his act of terrorism, when all he accomplished was provide ammunition for the Western yellow press to further slander the Serbian victims of U.S. imperialism and drag their name through the mud for something they had nothing to do with.

As for the mass shooting in El Paso, the author should try directing the blame closer to home. One can’t help but be reminded of the brilliant observation made by documentary filmmaker Michael Moore (before he became a shill for the Democratic Party) who made a connection between the Columbine High School shooting and its occurrence in the midst of the unilateral “humanitarian intervention” in Yugoslavia on the day the U.S. dropped the most amount of bombs in the Kosovo campaign which he further examined in his film Bowling For Columbine. President Clinton had to give two press conferences the morning of April 20th, 1999 — one addressing the Columbine massacre and another giving an explanation for the NATO killing of civilians in Serbia.

American society is suffering from a severely disconnected collective psyche when it fails to make a connection between mass shootings domestically and its endless wars abroad, the real catalyst for the Islamophobic reaction to the refugee crisis. U.S. gun culture is a product of the Cold War which conditioned a mass psychology of fear and liberals shedding crocodile tears who think gun control legislation is somehow a solution to the problem when it would only put a small band-aid on a much deeper wound are unwilling to explore the real roots of the issue. It’s true the U.S. is the only country that suffers from routine mass shootings like in El Paso and Dayton, but the U.S. is also the only country with 800+ military bases in more than 80 countries around the world while currently bombing 7 different nations. America is an insecure, terrified country that resolves everything with violence, at home and abroad, and until this connection is recognized, mass shootings like El Paso will likely continue just like our wars.