Archive for the Chile Category

“US faces another debacle on Pacific economic treaty” – TPP, fake free trade pact, in trouble [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Anti-China propaganda exposure, Australia, Canada, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, Chile, China, China-bashing, Economic crisis & decline, Economy, Encirclement of China, EU, European Union, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Media cover-up, Mexico, New Zealand, Obama, Peru, Protectionist Trade War with China, Singapore, south Korea, U.K., US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, Vietnam on April 5, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Mike Head
4 April 2015

Having suffered a decisive defeat in its efforts to block other countries from joining the new China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the US government faces mounting difficulties with regard to its most far-reaching move to dominate the Asia-Pacific region: the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

In Hawaii last month, the latest round of five-year-long TPP talks between the 12 governments involved broke up without any further agreement. For the third year in a row, the White House’s deadline for a final deal looks set to be breached in 2015.

Significantly, the main stumbling block this time was reportedly not ongoing differences between the US and Japan over auto and agricultural markets, but doubts over President Barack Obama’s capacity to get congressional approval for the pact.

Falsely presented as a “free trade” deal, the TPP is the opposite. It is aimed at creating a vast US-controlled economic bloc. In return for favoured access to the US market, which is still the largest in the world, the TPP requires its members to scrap all legal, regulatory and government impediments to American investment and corporate operations.

The TPP is an essential component of Washington’s military and strategic “pivot” to Asia, aimed at establishing unchallenged hegemony over the region, including China, which has thus far been excluded from the treaty. The “partnership” seeks to restructure every aspect of economic and social life across the Asia-Pacific in the interests of Wall Street finance capital and the largest US corporations, particularly the IT, pharmaceutical and media conglomerates.

A similar drive is underway to incorporate the European Union into a Transatlantic Trade and I nvestment Partnership (TTIP) bloc. Like the TPP, the European treaty is being negotiated behind the backs of the international working class amid tight secrecy, with hundreds of the world’s largest corporations taking part.

Obama has resorted to blatant anti-Chinese rhetoric in a bid to overcome opposition to aspects of the TPP from sections of the Democratic and Republican congressional leaderships. In one recent interview, the US president declared: “If we don’t write the rules out there, China’s going to write the rules and the geopolitical implications of China writing the rules for trade almost inevitably means that we will be cut out or we will be deeply disadvantaged. Our businesses will be disadvantaged, our workers will be disadvantaged.”

Washington is concerned that other imperialist powers, such as Germany, Britain and Japan, could strengthen their positions in China at the expense of the US unless America “writes the rules” for world trade in the 21st century.

Global financial commentators are drawing attention to what is at stake. Under the headline, “Round two in America’s battle for Asian influence,” David Pilling wrote in the London-based Financial Times on April 1: “Washington’s attempt to lead a boycott of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank ended in farce after Britain broke ranks and other nations from Germany to South Korea fell over themselves to join. If round one was a defeat for America, round two hangs in the balance.”

Pilling noted that the TPP’s exclusion of China, on the grounds that its economy was state-owned and centrally planned, was obviously concocted. “In a peculiar display of diplomatic contortion,” he wrote, “Vietnam — a country whose economy is as centrally planned and as rigged [sic] as the best of them — is somehow considered fit for entry.”

The Financial Times Asia editor pointedly added that the TPP was “just as likely to annoy America’s allies in the region as reassure them” because of its intrusive demands, which include the dismantling of state-owned enterprises, tendering restrictions, financial regulations, data protection rules and intellectual property laws.

Washington’s aggressive drive to establish the TPP and TTIP economic blocs marks a reversal of its post-World War II role, when the ascendancy of American industry permitted it to champion the reconstruction of its Japanese and European rivals, albeit always for its own benefit, including via the expansion of markets for its exports.

Today, amid the ongoing decline of US industry, its ruling elite depends increasingly on the parasitic activities of Wall Street, the exploitation of patents by Silicon Valley, Hollywood and the drug companies, and contracts for the supply of military hardware. These rapacious interests will most directly benefit from the TPP.

Many details remain secret, but pro-TPP lobbying efforts highlight the anticipated profit bonanzas. Mireya Solis of the Brookings Institution think tank stressed advantages such as “internationalisation of financial services, protection of intellectual property and governance of the Internet economy.”

US technology firms would benefit from a ban on requiring companies to house customers’ data within a specific country. “If we’re going to serve the customer of Malaysia from, say, a data center in Singapore, the data has to be able to move back and forth between those two countries,” Brad Smith, Microsoft general counsel, told the Wall Street Journal.

Central to the treaty are punitive Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS) clauses, which permit transnationals to sue governments for losses allegedly caused by official policy decisions. WikiLeaks last month published a chapter of the TPP treaty showing that firms could bypass a country’s courts to obtain damages for changes in “environmental, health or other regulatory objectives.”

Apart from the US and Japan — the two biggest partners by far — the other TPP participants are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The willingness of many of these countries to make the required concessions to the US has been undermined by Obama’s failure to secure support for a Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill so that he can sign the TPP and then have it ratified by Congress with a single “yes” or “no” vote. Without TPA, Congress could force amendments to the negotiated pact, effectively rendering the agreement void.

According to a Japan Times report: “Several negotiating partners, including Canada and Japan, have publicly stated they will not put their final negotiating positions on the table until Congress grants TPA for the Obama administration. With a presidential election looming in the United States, further delay creates a real risk of TPP being delayed until 2017.”

Much of the US congressional resistance is bound up with protectionist lobbies, based on national-based industries and their trade unions. In response, the Obama administration is ramping up a campaign that explicitly spells out the expected benefits to corporate America.

On March 30, the White House published letters from former senior economic officials, including 10 ex-commerce secretaries representing every administration, Democratic and Republican, since 1973, urging congressional leaders to give Obama TPA authority.

The commerce secretaries stated: “Once completed, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will give the United States free trade arrangements with 65 percent of global GDP and give our businesses preferential access to a large base of new potential customers.”

This demand for “preferential access” by US imperialism threatens to break up the world economy into the kind of rival blocs that preceded World War I and World War II.

Edited by Zuo Shou

Article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/04/04/tppo-a04.html

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“Break the silence: a world war is beckoning” by John Pilger [JohnPilger.com]

Posted in Afghanistan, Anti-Arab / Antisemitism, Anti-communism, Anti-Islam hysteria, Chile, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Iran, NATO, Russia, State Department, Ukraine, US "War on Terror", US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, Venezuela on May 21, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

13 May 2014

Why do we tolerate the threat of another world war in our name? Why do we allow lies that justify this risk? The scale of our indoctrination, wrote Harold Pinter, is a “brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis”, as if the truth “never happened even while it was happening”.

Every year the American historian William Blum publishes his “updated summary of the record of US foreign policy” which shows that, since 1945, the US has tried to overthrow more than 50 governments, many democratically elected; grossly interfered in elections in 30 countries; bombed the civilian populations of 30 countries; used chemical and biological weapons; and attempted to assassinate foreign leaders.

In many cases Britain has been a collaborator. The degree of human suffering, let alone criminality, is little acknowledged in the west, despite the presence of the world’s most advanced communications and nominally freest journalism. That the most numerous victims of terrorism – “our” terrorism – are Muslims, is unsayable. That extreme jihadism, which led to 9/11, was nurtured as a weapon of Anglo-American policy (Operation Cyclone in Afghanistan) is suppressed. In April the US state department [sic] noted that, following Nato’s campaign in 2011, “Libya has become a terrorist safe haven”.

The name of “our” enemy has changed over the years, from communism to Islamism, but generally it is any society independent of western power and occupying strategically useful or resource-rich territory. The leaders of these obstructive nations are usually violently shoved aside, such as the democrats Muhammad Mossedeq in Iran and Salvador Allende in Chile, or they are murdered like Patrice Lumumba in the Congo. All are subjected to a western media campaign of caricature and vilification – think Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez, now Vladimir Putin.

Washington’s role in Ukraine is different only in its implications for the rest of us. For the first time since the Reagan years, the US is threatening to take the world to war…

Excerpted; full article link: http://johnpilger.com/articles/break-the-silence-a-world-war-is-beckoning

How International Financial Elites Change Governments to Implement Austerity [counterpunch]

Posted in 9/11, Afghanistan, Allende, Bolivia, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, Chile, Early 21st Century global capitalist financial crisis' US origins, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Georgia, Germany, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hugo Chavez, IMF - International Monetary Fund, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nicaragua, Nukes, Somalia, Syria, Thailand, U.K., Ukraine, US imperialism, USA, Venezuela, Yemen, Zelaya coup on March 7, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Feb. 28, 2014

by ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH

Many countries around the world are plagued by all kinds of armed rebellions, economic sanctions, civil wars, “democratic” coup d’états and/or wars of “regime change.” These include Ukraine, Venezuela, Syria, Thailand, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Somalia and Lebanon. Even in the core capitalist countries the overwhelming majority of citizens are subjected to brutal wars of economic austerity.

While not new, social convulsions seem to have become more numerous in recent years. They have become especially more frequent since the mysterious 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 and the 2008 financial collapse in the United States, which soon led to similar financial implosions and economic crises in Europe and beyond.

Despite their many differences, these social turbulences share two common features. The first is that they are largely induced, nurtured and orchestrated from outside, that is, by the Unites States and its allies—of course, in collaboration with their class allies from inside. And the second is that, contrary to the long-established historical pattern of social revolutions, where the desperate and disenfranchised masses rebelled against the ruing elites, in most of the recent struggles it is the elites that have insigated insurgencies and civil wars against the masses. The two features are, of course, integrally intertwined: essentially reflecting the shared interests and collaborative schemes of the international plutocracies against the global 99%.

Fighting to Make Austerity Economics Universal

The official rationale (offered by the U.S. and its allies) that the goal of supporting anti-government opposition forces in places such as Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela is to spread democracy no longer holds any validity; it can easily be dismissed as a harebrained pretext to export neoliberalism and spread austerity economics. Abundant and irrefutable evidence shows that in places where the majority of citizens voted for and elected governments that were not to the liking of Western powers, these powers mobilized their local allies and hired all kinds of mercenary forces in order to overthrow the duly elected governments, thereby quashing the majority vote.

Such blatant interventions to overturn the elections that resulted from the majority vote include the promotion of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine (2004 and 2014), Rose Revolution in Georgia (2003), Cedar Revolution in Lebanon (2005), Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan (2005) and the Green Revolution in Iran (2009). They also include the relentless agitation against the duly elected governments of the late Hugo Chavez and now his successor Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, as well as the rejection (and effective annulment) of the duly elected Hamas government in Palestine.

So, the real driving forces behind wars of regime change need to be sought elsewhere; specifically, in the imperatives of expansion and accumulation of capital on a global level. Socialist, social-democratic, populist or nationalist leaders who do not embrace neoliberal economic policies, and who may be wary of having their markets wide open to unbridled foreign capital, would be targeted for replacement with pliant leaders, or client states. This is, of course, not a new explanation of economic imperialism; it is as old as the internationalization of trade and investment.

What is relatively new, and seems to be the main driving force behind the recent wars of regime change, is that, as the U.S. and other major capitalist powers have lately embarked on austerity economic policies at home they also expect and, indeed, demand that other countries follow suit. In other words, it is no longer enough for a country to open its markets to investment and trade with Western economic powers. It seems equally important to these powers that that country also dismantle its public welfare programs and implement austerity measures of neoliberalism.

For example, after resisting imperialist pressures for years, the late Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi eventually relented in 1993, and granted major oil and other transnational corporations of Western powers lucrative investment and trade deals. Under pressure, he even dismantled his country’s nuclear technology altogether in the hope that this would please them to “leave him” alone, so to speak. None of the concessions he made, however, proved satisfactory to the U.S. and its allies, as his regime was violently overthrown in 2011and he was literally butchered by the thuggish gangs that were trained and armed by Western powers.

Why? Because the U.S. and its allies expected more; they wanted him to follow the economic guidelines of the “experts” of global finance, that is, of the U.S. and European economic “advisors,” of the International Monetary Fund and of the World Trade Organization—in short, to dismantle his country’s rather robust state welfare programs and to restructure its economy after the model of neoliberalism.

The criminal treatment of al-Gaddafi can help explain why imperialist powers have also been scheming to overthrow the populist/socialist regimes of the late Hugo Chavez and his successor in Venezuela, of the Castro brothers in Cuba, of Rafael Correa Delgado in Ecuador, of Bashar Al-assad in Syria and of Evo Morales in Bolivia. It also helps explain why they overthrew the popularly elected nationalist governments of Mohammad Mossadeq in Iran, of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, of Kusno Sukarno in Indonesia, of Salvador Allende in Chile, of Sandinistas in Nicaragua, of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti and of Manuel Zelaya in Honduras.

The imperialist agenda of overthrowing al-Gaddafi and other “insubordinate” proponents of welfare state programs abroad is essentially part of the same evil agenda of dismantling such programs at home. While the form, the context and the means of destruction maybe different, the thrust of the relentless attacks on the living conditions of the Libyan, Iranian, Venezuelan or Cuban peoples are essentially the same as the equally brutal attacks on the living conditions of the poor and working people in the US, UK, France and other degenerate capitalist countries. In a subtle way they are all part of an ongoing unilateral class warfare on a global scale. Whether they are carried out by military means and bombardments or through the apparently “non-violent” processes of judicial or legislative means does not make a substantial difference as far as their impact on people’s lives and livelihoods is concerned.

The powerful plutocratic establishment in the core capitalist countries does not seem to feel comfortable to dismantle New Deal economics, Social Democratic reforms and welfare state programs in these countries while people in smaller, less-developed countries such as (al-Gaddafi’s) Libya, Venezuela or Cuba enjoy strong, state-sponsored social safety net programs. Plutocracy’s intolerance of “regimented” economies stems from a fear that strong state-sponsored economic safely net programs elsewhere may serve as “bad” models that could be demanded by citizens in the core capitalist countries.

In a moment of honesty, former U.S. President Harry Truman is reported as having expressed (in 1947) the unstated mission of the United States to globalize its economic system in the following words: “The whole world should adopt the American system. The American system can survive in America only if it becomes a world system” [1].

In a similar fashion, Lord Cecil Rhodes, who conquered much of Africa for the British Empire, is reported to have suggested during the heydays of the Empire that the simplest way to achieve peace was for England to convert and add the rest of the world (except the United States, Germany and few other Western powers of the time) to its colonies.

The Mafia equivalent of Truman’s or Rhodes’ statements would be something like this: “You do it our way, or we break your leg.”ismaelhz

The mindset behind Truman’s blunt statement that the rest of the world “should adopt the American system” has indeed served as something akin to a sacred mission that has guided the foreign policy of the United States ever since it supplanted the British authority as the major world power…

Excerpted; full article link: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/02/28/how-international-financial-elites-change-governments-to-implement-austerity/

From Pinochet to Suharto, U.S. supported dictators who ‘killed their own people’ [Workers World]

Posted in Allende, Anti-communism, Capitalist media double standard, Chile, CIA, Corporate Media Critique, Cuba, Fascism, Indonesia, Iran, Obama, Pinochet, Psychological warfare, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Vietnam on September 19, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Deirdre Griswold on September 9, 2013
23

“He is killing his own people.” How many times have we read and heard that?

It is the endlessly repeated phrase that is supposed to make us hate the head of Syria enough to justify the killing of many more Syrians with U.S. cruise missiles.

Do the people who sprinkle such phrases in their “news” reports even think about them?

When did the U.S. government suddenly decide that governments which kill their own people should be “taken out”?

This Sept. 11 is the 40th anniversary of the 1973 fascist coup in Chile that brought down the social democratic government of Salvador Allende, who had been trying to narrow the big gap between rich and poor in that country through a variety of social reforms. Allende was killed in the coup, along with thousands of other Chileans. Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who led the coup, was therefore responsible for “killing his own people” many times over.

Did Washington go to the United Nations to condemn the coup? Did it institute sanctions against Pinochet’s brutal military regime? Did it do anything about it, other than make sanctimonious, toothless statements about human rights?

On the contrary. Pinochet was Washington’s man. He was a staunch anti-communist. But it didn’t matter that Allende was not a communist. U.S. corporations still wanted to get rid of him. Pinochet was their answer to the wave of progressivism that swept Latin America after the Cuban Revolution.

The role played by U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in installing and protecting Pinochet is on the public record. The book “Nixon, Kissinger, and Allende: U.S. Involvement in the 1973 coup in Chile” gives many of the details.

After Pinochet had buttressed his rule through killings, torture and mass detentions, the path was cleared for U.S. corporations and banks to get back “their” property, which had been nationalized under Allende. Anaconda and Kennecott copper companies had squeezed fabulous profits out of Chile before Allende; once the generals were in power, they were welcomed back to do business as usual.

– Indonesian bloodbath of 1965-66 –

The 1973 Chile coup was not the first time that the U.S. government helped install dictators who seized power by killing “their own” people. There is a very, very long list of them.

One of the grisliest of all was the 1965 coup in Indonesia, which led to a bloodbath of epic proportions. (See the pamphlet “Indonesia 1965: The Second Greatest Crime of the Century” at workers.org.)

The 1965 coup in Indonesia ushered in a slaughter of unarmed people that has not been equaled since. Some estimates put the number of those killed by the military and paramilitary bands at one million. The population of the beautiful island of Bali — today a high-priced tourist destination — was reduced by 10 percent as soldiers went from village to village, killing those singled out as leftists and progressive nationalists: activists in unions, student groups, and women’s and peasants’ associations. The Indonesian Communist Party, which had been the largest in the world outside the socialist bloc, was decimated.

Again, there were no condemnations from Washington. No sanctions. Not a thought of U.S. intervention against the generals.

On the contrary, editorials and articles in leading bourgeois newspapers showed how the ruling class here welcomed the carnage. James Reston, associate editor of the New York Times at the time, wrote a column on June 19, 1966, about the massacres entitled “A Gleam of Light in Asia.” The “savage transformation” of Indonesia, he said, was “one of the more hopeful political developments” in Asia.

“There was a great deal more contact between the anti-communist forces in that country and at least one very high official in Washington before and during the Indonesian massacre than is generally realized,” wrote Reston. “It is doubtful if the coup would ever have been attempted without the American show of strength in Vietnam or been sustained without the clandestine aid it has received indirectly from here.”

Just as in Chile, the coup threw open the doors to Western corporations — mostly U.S.-based — to reap vast profits from Indonesia’s abundant natural resources and low wages, made even lower by the destruction of the unions. When you read today about the mowing down of Indonesia’s great rain forests for their precious hardwoods, think of the coup and its million victims.

– Bipartisan support for coups –

These two examples — and there are many more, from the coup that installed the Shah of Iran to the massacre of Salvadorans and Guatemalans by U.S.-armed military dictators — show how both the two big pro-capitalist political parties backed U.S. imperialist foreign policy.

The Indonesian coup took place during the Democratic Lyndon Johnson administration . His “liberal” vice president, Hubert Humphrey, personally handled relations with the blood-stained regime of General Suharto. Humphrey was the “very high official in Washington” referred to in Reston’s column.

The Chilean coup was under the Republican Richard Nixon administration. His secretary of state, Kissinger, was the point man for relations with Pinochet.

We now have a Democratic administration, headed by Barack Obama, who actually lived in Indonesia from 1967 to 1971 after his mother married an Indonesian geographer, Lolo Soetoro, who worked for the Indonesian army and later for the Unocal oil company. In his book “Dreams from My Father,” Obama speaks of his years as a child in Indonesia and mentions the role of the CIA in supporting the generals. That book was written before he was elected to any political office.

Presidents come and go, but the think tanks funded by the wealthy corporate families of the U.S. shape policies, domestic and foreign, as well as the politicians who will articulate them. It takes more than elections to change these bloody-handed policies. It takes the building of a mass movement that rejects imperialist wars and fights in the interests of the workers and all the oppressed.

Article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2013/09/09/pinochet-suharto-u-s-supported-dictators-killed-people/

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“Obama: The Most Effective of Two Evils” [Globalresearch.ca]

Posted in Afghanistan, Bourgeois parliamentary democracy, Chile, Egypt, George W. Bush, Obama, Pentagon, Pinochet, US imperialism, USA, USSR, Venezuela, Vietnam on June 16, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Arnold August and Julie Lévesque

June 6, 2013

Part I: “Cuban Democracy” versus “American Democracy”

Arnold August is a political scientist, author and lecturer living in Montreal. He is the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 Elections (Editorial José Martí). He has also contributed a chapter entitled “Socialism and Elections” for the volume Cuban Socialism in a New Century: Adversity, Survival and Renewal (University Press of Florida). His latest book is Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion.

Julie Lévesque: In regards to U.S. democracy, in your book Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion you talk about the notion of the lesser of two evils and the illusion of change. Could you give us an overview of your analysis of Barack Obama?

Arnold August: In this book I chronicle in a very detailed manner what I call “the Obama case study” because one of my main fears and preoccupations is not so much from the so called “right”, but rather the illusions that exist among liberals and among some people on the left with regards to Obama. So I dissected everything that Obama wrote in his first two books, his book of 2004 as he was running for senate and his book of 2008, just before he was nominated. Now looking into that, it very clearly indicates that Obama, with the support of others who were responsible for building the image of change, gave the right signals to the oligarchy that he is not in favour of changing the status quo. At the same time, he provided some indications that people might look to him as a source of change.

Now, if one looks at his books very carefully, on key issues, for example on Vietnam, he stood firmly in favour of U.S. aggression of Vietnam. He ridiculed people on the left, liberals who took a stand against the Vietnam war.

JL: Like Doctor Martin Luther King.

AA: Exactly. He took a stand against Vietnam. He didn’t ridicule Martin Luther King but he ridiculed people on the left who took a stand. On the issue of Chile for example, he complained in his book about people on the left, or liberals, being so concerned about the need to support the struggle of the people in Chile against Pinochet, when at the time, Obama asserted, they ignored that there was a dictatorship in the Soviet Union and other countries in the Eastern Bloc. And so he indicated clearly to the ruling circles that, as far as the basic fundamentals of U.S. foreign policy and domestic policy were concerned, that he is their man. At the same time, he gave the impression that he was in favour of change. Now he had a very specific assistant in this whole attempt to present him as the person of change, David Axelrod, who has very close ties to the ruling circles. He specializes in getting Afro-Americans elected in positions of power. He did that with the mayor of Washington D.C. and then his next customer was Obama.

JL: You explain in your book that Barack Obama was used to reduce the credibility gap among the African Americans. Could you tell us how that was done?

AA: That is really important. For example, Brzezinski who was Bill Clinton’s advisor, very cleverly pointed out – he was right – that there was a major credibility gap for the American ruling circles with regards to Latin America, with countries such as Venezuela and the new movement there; and with regards to the Middle East, before the eruption took place in Egypt; and with other parts of the world. And they had to put a new face on the American foreign policy in order to recuperate that credibility and that’s why he said “I am proposing Obama; he could do it.”

The same thing goes for domestic policy. I think that one of the main things was that the United States has always been, and rightly so, very fearful of an African American revolt against the ruling circles. Now, when Obama made his famous speech, I believe it was for senator, he said that there is no Afro-America, no Latino-America, that there is just one United States of America. In other words, let’s forget about racism especially if I get elected to the White House. And so the the most effective of two evils, is an important point.

JL: Because when one criticises Obama, a lot of people say “well, he’s better than Bush”. But that is not an argument and it’s a way to avoid any criticism.

AA: That’s right. Well, this is exactly what the problem is. Especially among people who call themselves liberals or, unfortunately, many people on the left say “well, he’s better than Bush, he is the lesser of two evils.” Now, I am from Montreal, and I am not an American, so in order to deal with criticism of Obama and that usual way of looking at things, I have investigated carefully other writers from the United States, for instance Black Agenda Report in the United States, based in California. They represent what is the best among African Americans, that revolutionary progressive tradition that goes back from the time of the struggle against slavery, to the 1960’s and 1970’s.

JL: And they are very critical of Barack Obama.

AA: Yes, because there is a major pressure from the ruling circles to declare: “We people, on the left, or liberals or progressive, we cannot criticise Obama because he is being criticized by the right.” So, I ally myself if you like, with Black Agenda Report and other American scholars, intellectuals concerned with civil liberties, African American lawyers such as Michelle Alexander who wrote an excellent book on the situation of African Americans today. And I agree with Black Agenda Report that Obama, far from being the lesser of two evils, is the most effective of the two evils. One of the main themes in that chapter of my book is that Obama does not really represent a continuation of Bush policies. Quite the contrary; he represents an offensive, a new offensive on behalf of the U.S. ruling circles, domestically as well as internationally.

JL: All that while giving an illusion of positive change?

AA: Yes and it still works, because the second time around, a lot of people were still claiming “well, he is better than Romney.” But he represents an offensive, if you just take for example, the upsurge among the Wall Street Movement not long after Egypt, Madison, Wisconsin and Spain, three countries in a row, which followed up on the Egyptian revolution. Now there were a lot of positive things about the Occupy Wall Street movement, and it’s not a homogeneous movement, it was not then, it is not now; some are openly against the two-party system, some are not, some make themselves unwittingly easy prey for the Obama administration. But the movement is mainly based on white middle class or lower middle class people of the United States. So you could imagine if the African American population at that time had been liberated from this illusion that Obama being in the White House means salvation to African Americans and instead join the Occupy Wall Street movement, it would have been a major problem for the U.S. ruling circles. So this is what Brzezinski had in mind, credibility gap internationally as well as domestically.

The health care reform is another example. It was just another way of increasing the profit of the insurance companies – there was nothing more than that, another offensive on the part of the ruling circles. And while providing the image that he is in favor of change, he is the one who plays the African American card every single day. Every time something happens, let’s say they are honoring Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks, he says “if it was not for Martin Luther King” or “Rosa Parks, I would not be here.” He never misses an occasion to raise the fact that he is an African American. At the same time, when African Americans are being killed on the streets, he has nothing to say. So in fact, and I quote some people, American scholars and people involved in legal rights and civil rights, he in fact assists in the killing of African Americans by, on the one hand, giving the impression that they are safe, because there is an African American in the White House, and at the same time not saying anything when they are killed.

If you take the example of the famous issue of the so called gun control, I wrote in my book published before the Newtown shooting that the killings are going to carry on because no one in the ruling circles raises the issue that the second amendment is a major problem. Now they have this false debate going, for or against gun control, but the competition between the Obama forces on the one hand and the so called “right forces” on the other side, merely revolves around which of these two forces are more faithful to the second amendment. None of them even think or hint at the necessity to challenge the second amendment because, in my view, the real question which should be asked in relation to gun control is “how come, in the United States, we are allowed to have an arms manufactory industry with no control, that companies can just manufacture arms of all kinds, the most devastating arms and sell them on the market?” But neither the Obama nor the other forces challenge this.

Obama keeps on saying “our Constitution is the oldest democratic Constitution in the world.” It’s true that it’s a very old constitution, but that’s a negative thing. Is it not time for the constitution to be updated? That people should have a say about what the constitution should be in the United States of America? The basic clauses such as the right to be armed should be rethought in order to eliminate this whole plague on American society?

JL: You also talk about the fact that the military industrial complex as well is never challenged by any of the two parties.

AA: Now, for example there is – if you watch CNN or any other U.S. broadcast – they keep on repeating continuously that in the United States you have democrats/republicans – left/right – liberals/conservatives. They keep giving the impression there’s two opposing forces in the United States of America. But it isn’t the case. It is basically the same force which changes its appearance from time to time. When one force gets discredited, they put the other in its place.

JL: You mean the same economic interests are behind the two parties?

AA: That’s right. Now there has been a lot of debate over the last while regarding budget, amounts of money necessary, but there are several American academics, which I mention in my book, who say that you can say anything about the U.S. budget or U.S. spending, but you cannot touch upon the issue of military spending. I think that one of the weaknesses of the Occupy Wall Street movement is that they talk about the banks in general without putting in perspective or without highlighting the proportion of military spending due to the fact that the United States is an imperial power. As a result of this imperialism, therefore, the U.S is necessarily spending money on armaments, and there is the fusion of the military, the industries and the banks resulting in military spending. The whole economy in the United States is built on military spending but no one challenges that, including Obama. They can make some adjustments, a few dollars less here, a few dollars more here, but addressing the reasons why a very important portion of American spending goes on the military is not allowed to enter into the discussion.

JL: And if both parties agree on that issue, does that not mean that when it comes to foreign policy, they agree that America needs to maintain and increase its military power everywhere on the globe?

AA: That’s exactly it. In fact Obama, right from the beginning, said that the United States taking it from the puritans at the end of the 18th century is a light for the world; it is the most powerful country in the world, it is the best nation in the world, even after the American soldiers would commit atrocities against people in Iraq or Afghanistan or anywhere, he would say “We have the best army in the world – the best nation in the world.” And sometimes he’s been accused of being against “American exceptionalism”, the idea that America is an exceptional country. But that is not true that he is against this concept. He even said he agrees with American exceptionalism, that this was born at the end of the 18th century with the puritans. He said “We are an exceptional nation and we have a special role to play in the world to bring democracy, civilization and culture to the people in the world.”

So there is no difference between him and people such as Palin, Romney or McCain. The only difference is that the Obama approach as manufactured by Axelrod and others is much more effective in pulling the wool over the eyes of many people; and my basic conclusion is that democracy in the U.S. now works very well, it is not in crisis. They are able to recuperate themselves after Bush, to put an entirely new face on a policy that is increasing the attacks on a world scale on behalf of Obama. Just look at what he’s done over the last five years from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other attacks in several countries; Soon after he was elected for his first mandate, a coup d’état took place in Honduras. Bush, McCain, Palin would not have been able to get away with it, but Obama got away with doing this coup d’état because there was still – even still now amongst some Latin American, progressive circles – a certain degree of illusion regarding Obama, that he was different from the Republicans or the right. But he really worked in favour of this Honduras coup d’état using with the better Ivy League language, and body talk, to give the impression that he’s not really behind it. But what did he say during the Honduras coup? Once Zelaya, the president was kidnapped, taken out of Honduras and then people were on the streets for over 100 days, risking their lives to demonstrate against the coup d’état and the American-backed military there, Obama kept on saying (and also Clinton and the others) that both sides have to use restraint. That’s very interesting. You have the military in power there, Zelaya outside of the country, people with their bare hands trying to resist, and he puts both sides on the same level – both sides have to use restraint.

JL: He tried to look neutral?

AA: Right. But in fact Obama never agreed that Zelaya should return to Honduras as a president. He said “I am against the coup, it’s no good, I am against the military, it’s no good,” but he would always oppose the return of Zelaya , who was elected, to Honduras. So that’s how they operate, that’s how the United States got away with it.

Article link: http://www.globalresearch.ca/obama-the-most-effective-of-two-evils/5337796

CIA’s criminal paramilitary actions grew after 9/11 [Workers World]

Posted in 9/11, Afghanistan, Assassination, Chile, China, CIA, Germany, Guatemala, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Pakistan, Pentagon, Torture, US drone strikes, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, USSR, Vietnam, World War II on April 27, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Prashanth Kamalakanthan on April 19, 2013

Created in 1947 as a successor to the espionage agency born during World War II for use against the U.S.’s imperialist rivals, Japan and Germany, the Central Intelligence Agency rapidly developed into an international arm of repression for U.S. imperialism against the world’s working-class and liberation movements. It especially targeted the Soviet Union, People’s China and the socialist camp during the Cold War.

The CIA never was restricted only to gathering information. It used this information to help carry out a long history of secret activities that range from attempted assassinations and regime change — for example, 1953 in Iran, 1954 in Guatemala — to the support of death squads — the Phoenix program in Vietnam — and fascist coups — Chile, 1973 — up to the wholesale buying-off of puppet politicians.

Though the CIA has always been an integral part of the state apparatus serving the imperialist ruling class, its tendency to operate secretly without government constraints has occasionally raised some opposition both outside and within the ruling-class establishment.

The most prominent efforts came in 1975 following the report of the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities chaired by Sen. Frank Church. President Gerald Ford then publicly banned political assassinations in 1976. Ford followed this effort in 1981 with the creation of the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board, to make sure the CIA stayed in line with orders from the government and in its relations with other state organs like the Pentagon and the FBI.

Despite these token gestures, in the post-9/11 era the CIA — like the other state organs — has increased all its powers. It operates a full-blown shadow paramilitary outside of any semblance of legality or accountability for its crimes. In the nearly six years after 9/11, the Intelligence Oversight Board found exactly zero CIA violations worth investigation.

The CIA has also taken on tasks that the Pentagon did earlier, before the U.S. military was stalemated by resistance forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is now in charge of extrajudicial drone killings, dragnet surveillance on all domestic communications, and a kidnapping/torture regime that spanned 54 countries.

Recent revelations by government whistleblowers shine new light on the agency’s vastly expanded crimes over the past decade.

Last week, McClatchy Newspapers obtained top-secret intelligence documenting how “contrary to assurances it has deployed U.S. drones only against known senior leaders of al-Qaida and allied groups, the [Barack] Obama administration has targeted and killed hundreds of suspected lower-level Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified ‘other’ militants in scores of strikes in Pakistan’s rugged tribal area.”

Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations has reflected on the report, writing that it “plainly demonstrates that the claim repeatedly made by President Obama and his senior aides — that targeted killings are limited only to officials, members, and affiliates of al-Qaida who pose an imminent threat of attack on the U.S. homeland — is false.”

The CIA’s documented practice of “signature strikes” on unnamed targets based on secret “pattern of life analysis” has long contradicted claims from top Obama administration officials that drones only target specific individuals characterized as “senior operational” and “high-level al-Qaida leaders.” Last week’s report showcases just how extreme the agency’s ignorance of its drone targets is, however. Even after the fact, in many cases the CIA cannot determine whom it has killed, forcing it to rely on fuzzy categories like “other militants” and “foreign fighters.”

Such nebulous designations have allowed for the murder of three U.S. citizens without legal justification, as well as unnamed thousands in as many as six Muslim countries where these bombings have disrupted the lives of millions who must fear each day that their children may be murdered from the sky.

The newly revealed case of Nek Muhammad again highlights the rogue nature of the assassinations program. In its first-ever drone killing inside Pakistan, the CIA secretly bargained with Pakistan to kill Muhammad — a militant tribal leader and a Pakistani, but not a U.S., target — in exchange for permission to use Pakistani airspace for its own assassinations. Claiming “covert action authority,” the CIA arranged to never acknowledge drone strikes inside Pakistan while the Pakistani government “would either take credit for individual killings or remain silent,” choosing the former option in Muhammad’s case. The agency has applied similar reasoning in its refusal to disclose in federal courts whether or not the drone program even exists.

The extreme veil of secrecy over which all CIA activities, and drone killings, in particular, are draped leads to a toxic unaccountability when crimes are uncovered. The contractual shelling of Muhammad’s compound in 2004 also killed several others, including two boys aged 10 and 16. CIA internal reports show a single civilian casualty in an April 2011 strike that actually killed “five women and four children,” after which John Brennan — Obama’s “assassinations czar” and newly confirmed CIA director — knowingly lied to the public to claim zero civilian drone casualties had ever occurred.

Throughout its history, the CIA has treated civilian populations as legitimate targets who could become “collateral damage.” A recent episode with still stinging repercussions was the plot to assassinate Osama bin Laden, an operation disguised as a polio vaccination campaign in one of the three countries that never eradicated polio.

Hundreds of thousands of Pakistani children now face the risk of exposure in a deeply suspicious climate that has already seen a dozen polio vaccinators assassinated in retaliation. Pakistanis still hold bitter resentment over the case of Ray Davis, a CIA contractor and ex-Blackwater mercenary who killed three men on the streets of Lahore before forcing the victims’ families to accept “blood money” and then fleeing the country.

Complementing the CIA’s growing illegality and inhumanity has been the Obama administration’s unprecedented crackdown on the government whistleblowers who are supplying us with what little we do know about the agency’s abuses. As the CIA continues to destroy communities abroad, democratic rights within the U.S. wilt under the weight of unparalleled surveillance and censorship.

The CIA has always been a criminal organization directed against the workers and oppressed of the world. U.S. workers cannot and should not bear the burden of this globally despised shadow paramilitary.

Article link: http://www.workers.org/2013/04/19/cias-criminal-paramilitary-actions-grew-after-911/

Articles copyright 1995-2013 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

“Margaret Thatcher and misapplied death etiquette” by Glenn Greenwald – Vicious UK press propagandizes Thatcher at death, censures her critics [Guardian]

Posted in Black propaganda, Cameron, Capitalist media double standard, Chile, Corporate Media Critique, Hugo Chavez, Indonesia, Iraq, Nelson Mandela, Pinochet, South Africa, U.K., U.K. War Crimes, Venezuela on April 9, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

8 April 2013

News of Margaret Thatcher’s death this morning instantly and predictably gave rise to righteous sermons on the evils of speaking ill of her…

…This demand for respectful silence in the wake of a public figure’s death is not just misguided but dangerous…

…the key point is this: those who admire the deceased public figure (and their politics) aren’t silent at all. They are aggressively exploiting the emotions generated by the person’s death to create hagiography. Typifying these highly dubious claims about Thatcher was this (appropriately diplomatic) statement from President Obama: “The world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a true friend.” Those gushing depictions can be quite consequential, as it was for the week-long tidal wave of unbroken reverence that was heaped on Ronald Reagan upon his death, an episode that to this day shapes how Americans view him and the political ideas he symbolized. Demanding that no criticisms be voiced to counter that hagiography is to enable false history and a propagandistic whitewashing of bad acts, distortions that become quickly ossified and then endure by virtue of no opposition and the powerful emotions created by death. When a political leader dies, it is irresponsible in the extreme to demand that only praise be permitted but not criticisms.

Whatever else may be true of her, Thatcher engaged in incredibly consequential acts that affected millions of people around the world. She played a key role not only in bringing about the first Gulf War but also using her influence to publicly advocate for the 2003 attack on Iraq. She denounced Nelson Mandela and his ANC as “terrorists”, something even David Cameron ultimately admitted was wrong. She was a steadfast friend to brutal tyrants such as Augusto Pinochet, Saddam Hussein and Indonesian dictator General Suharto (“One of our very best and most valuable friends”). And as my Guardian colleague Seumas Milne detailed last year, “across Britain Thatcher is still hated for the damage she inflicted – and for her political legacy of rampant inequality and greed, privatisation and social breakdown.”

To demand that all of that be ignored in the face of one-sided requiems to her nobility and greatness is a bit bullying and tyrannical, not to mention warped. As David Wearing put it this morning in satirizing these speak-no-ill-of-the-deceased moralists: “People praising Thatcher’s legacy should show some respect for her victims. Tasteless.” Tellingly, few people have trouble understanding the need for balanced commentary when the political leaders disliked by the west pass away. Here, for instance, was what the Guardian reported upon the death last month of Hugo Chavez:

To the millions who detested him as a thug and charlatan, it will be occasion to bid, vocally or discreetly, good riddance.”

Nobody, at least that I know of, objected to that observation on the ground that it was disrespectful to the ability of the Chavez family to mourn in peace…

Exactly the same is true of Thatcher. There’s something distinctively creepy – in a Roman sort of way – about this mandated ritual that our political leaders must be heralded and consecrated as saints upon death. This is accomplished by this baseless moral precept that it is gauche or worse to balance the gushing praise for them upon death with valid criticisms. There is absolutely nothing wrong with loathing Margaret Thatcher or any other person with political influence and power based upon perceived bad acts, and that doesn’t change simply because they die. If anything, it becomes more compelling to commemorate those bad acts upon death as the only antidote against a society erecting a false and jingoistically self-serving history.

[Edited]

Full article link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/08/margaret-thatcher-death-etiquette