Archive for the Zelaya coup Category

Hillary Clinton’s fake feminist branding [FAIR / Sweet & Sour Socialism Essential Archives]

Posted in Afghanistan, Corporate Media Critique, Gaza, Honduras, Israel, Pakistan, Palestine, State Department, Sweet and Sour Socialism Essential Archives, US drone strikes, USA, Yemen, Zelaya coup on April 29, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

“Hillary Clinton and the Feminism of Exclusion” – Media don’t ask which women she crusades for

By Rania Khalek
Jan 1, 2015

GENDER FOCUS

As the 2016 US presidential election nears, Hillary Clinton, the projected frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, is painting herself as a champion of women’s rights. As a result, she is being lionized in the corporate press as a feminist crusader across the globe.

On International Women’s Day, Clinton proclaimed that “the rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st century.” The New York Daily News (3/7/14) summed up, “Clinton has made women’s issues a centerpiece of her agenda.”

Clinton boasts of having incorporated feminism into US foreign policy. As Time (6/12/14) reported:

As the former US Secretary of State, Clinton discussed how feminism plays a key role in the US’s foreign policy. “Women and girls … [are] central to our foreign policy,” she said, explaining that nations that support women are more stable and “less likely to breed extremism.”

“Clinton has focused much of her career as first lady, senator and then secretary of State on issues affecting women and girls,” asserted NBCNews.com (9/18/14), citing comments she made about the “glass ceiling.” Even the progressive American Prospect (6/25/14) labeled Clinton’s tenure as secretary of State “unabashedly feminist.”

None of these outlets bothered to compare Clinton’s statements with her actual record, choosing instead to act as stenographers and at times cheerleaders for Clinton’s feminist branding campaign. This suggests a definition of feminism so shallow as to be virtually empty, attaching automatically to any woman who wields power of any kind, toward any end.

An established foreign policy hawk, Clinton has vociferously defended the US drone strikes that terrorize, maim and kill women and girls in Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan (Reuters, 6/7/12). As 9-year-old Nabila Rehman (Truthout, 11/1/13) — whose grandmother was obliterated before her eyes by a US drone strike in Pakistan’s North Waziristan — told a US congressional briefing, “Now, I am always scared.”

Following Israel’s merciless bombing campaign in the besieged Gaza Strip last summer — which killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, 70 percent of them civilians, including 287 women and 190 girls (UNOCHA, 10/31/14, 10/3/14) — Clinton blamed Palestinians, telling the Atlantic (8/10/14) that “Israel did what it had to do,” accusing Hamas of “stage-managing” the slaughter of children to gain international sympathy.

Apparently Clinton’s version of female empowerment doesn’t extend to Palestinian women and girls living under the fanatical rule of Israeli lawmakers like Ayelet Shaked, a senior partner in the governing coalition Clinton vehemently defends. Just before the Gaza onslaught, Shaked called for the slaughter of Palestinian mothers to prevent them from birthing “little snakes” (Electronic Intifada, 7/7/14).

Another group of women and girls unworthy of Clinton’s empowerment agenda are those escaping violence in a nation she helped destabilize. As tens of thousands of unaccompanied children fleeing Central American violence were detained while crossing the US/Mexico border, Clinton told CNN (6/17/14) that “they should be sent back” to “send a clear message” to their parents that “just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay.”

The media generally fail to mention (Extra!, 9/14) that over 13,000 of the estimated 47,000 children detained between October 2013 to May 2014 came from Honduras, more than from any other country. This was more than 13 times as many Honduran children as were detained in 2009, the year a US-backed military coup ousted democratically elected Honduran President Manuel Zelaya (Pew Research Center, 6/10/14)

In her book Hard Choices, Clinton acknowledged playing a key role in solidifying the coup leadership’s grip on power by preventing Zelaya’s return to office (to “render the question of Zelaya moot,” as she put it) — a move that helped plunge Honduras in further violence, causing children to flee for their lives (Al Jazeera America, 9/29/14).

If this suggests to some that Clinton’s feminism necessarily takes a back seat to foreign policy goals, her history on the domestic front is no better.

In her memoir, she brags about working tirelessly “to round up votes” in 1996 for her husband’s welfare reform bill (New York Times, 4/11/08), legislation that saw the number of households with children living in deep poverty skyrocket (National Poverty Center, 2/12). It was especially disastrous for single mothers (New York Times, 4/8/12).

No wonder Wall Street is prepared to shower this pro-austerity feminist hawk with an endless stream of cash to get her elected in 2016 (Politico, 11/11/14). Clinton’s version of feminism is one of exclusion, serving state power and capital under the banner of gender equality. It is the kind of feminism that Wall Street, US empire and corporate media outlets can get behind precisely because of who it shuts out.

Article link: http://fair.org/home/hillary-clinton-and-the-feminism-of-exclusion/

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/

Hondurans organize amid growing repression [Workers World]

Posted in Honduras, Obama, State Department, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Zelaya coup on February 9, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Heather Cottin
Published Feb 5, 2012 10:23 PM

When the New York Times publishes an op-ed piece stating that Honduras is “descending deeper into a human rights and security abyss” and adds that this is “in good part the State Department’s making,” something is changing. (Jan. 26)

Since the U.S. government-sponsored military coup on June 28, 2009, the State Department has spread a smokescreen to justify the kidnapping of legally elected President Manuel Zelaya Rosales and the brutal military takeover of this country of more than 8 million people.

Conditions in Honduras, the second-poorest Central American nation, have only deteriorated since the coup. Sixty-seven percent of the population — more than 5.5 million people — live below the poverty level. The unemployment rate is almost 30 percent. (hondurasnews.com, Jan. 3) The oligarchs and transnational corporations have taken total control, exploiting the people and resources, even privatizing the country’s rivers.

Since the coup, Honduras has become the center of U.S. military operations in Central America. The Soto Cano Air Base (Palmerola), to which Zelaya was flown during his kidnapping, has received an infusion of up to $45 million in construction funds since 2009. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

Violence and drug trafficking in the country also spiraled upward during the same period. As a result of killings carried out by the military and military-trained police forces, Honduras has among the highest murder rates in the world. (southcom.mil) According to a report of the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, there is “generalized impunity for human rights violations” and the return of death squads. (October 2010)

Lucy Pagoada, a representative of Honduras Resistencia USA, told Workers World: “The leader of the coup, Roberto Micheletti, and Miguel Facussé, the country’s richest oligarch and uncle of Honduras’ U.N. Ambassador Mary Flores Facussé, are the leading drug lords of Honduras.”

Facussé is alleged to have stolen vast tracts of land from the Indigenous and Garifuna (Afro-Honduran) people, and his death squads have killed, kidnapped and tortured dozens of peasants in the Aguan Valley. Facussé brought in the Honduran Army’s U.S.-trained 15th Infantry Battalion and private security guards to attack the Aguan peasants. A 17-year-old boy and five security guards were killed in 2010. (Honduras Solidarity Network, Aug. 19, 2010)

The New York Times piece said that the U.S.-backed coup and Washington’s support for the sham election of Porfirio Lobo Sosa in November 2009 placed a regime in power that was quickly recognized by the Obama administration. The Lobo government “threw open the doors to a huge increase in drug trafficking and violence, and it unleashed a continuing wave of state-sponsored repression. … The judicial system hardly functions. Impunity reigns. At least 34 members of the opposition have disappeared or been killed, and more than 300 people have been killed by state repression.”

According to Human Rights Watch, 18 journalists have been killed since the coup.

* Repression breeds resistance *

But the Honduran Resistance Movement has been in the streets, facing down the police and army in the cities and countryside. In February 2011, they held a large representative assembly and then went back to their communities to organize to take power.

For the national election set for November 2013, “Peasants, students, Indigenous peoples, teachers and workers have organized a party in direct defiance of the two traditional parties of Honduras, the National Party and the Liberal Party,” said Pagoada. “We call it ‘LibRe’ — for Liberty and Reformation. We have decided to take a political direction. Xiomara Castro Del Zelaya, the wife of Manuel Zelaya, will be our candidate, and a poll taken on Jan. 28 showed that she is the leading candidate.”

Fearing this overwhelming groundswell of resistance, the U.S. government appointed Lisa Kubiske ambassador to Honduras. On Jan. 26, Kubiske whisked President Lobo off to Miami for 10 hours of high-level talks. That resulted in his decision to support unprecedented legislation that would enable the U.S. to extradite suspected Honduran drug traffickers, specifically Miguel Facussé and Roberto Micheletti, to the United States . Lobo also ordered the arrest of police officers believed responsible for the murder of the son of a leading academic. The police then miraculously escaped from prison, Pagoada noted.

On the same day, Honduran lawmakers proposed a bill that would establish an independent monitoring body tasked with reforming the country’s notoriously corrupt police force. (insightcrime.org, Jan. 27)

“Few articles admit that all the poverty, murder, drug trafficking and corruption are the direct results of the U.S.-sponsored coup,” Pagoada told Workers World. “What is clear is that the coup has failed.”

Pagoada informed WW that “Xiomara Castro Del Zelaya is coming to the United States to speak in New York and Washington. She will also address the United National Antiwar Coalition convention in Stamford, Conn., in March [23-25]. We will hear a powerful message of resistance, democracy and peace from the Honduran people.”

Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Article link: http://www.workers.org/2012/world/hondurans_organize_0209/

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Also see “In Honduras, a Mess Made in the U.S.” [New York Times] by Dana Frank – http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/27/opinion/in-honduras-a-mess-helped-by-the-us.html?_r=2&scp=3&sq=honduras&st=cse

Media try to minimize impact of WikiLeaks: Spinning exposure of imperialist lies and secrets [Workers World]

Posted in Corporate Media Critique, Cuba, Diplomat, DPR Korea, Honduras, Hugo Chavez, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Julian Assange, Media cover-up, Media smear campaign, NATO, Russia, Saudi Arabia, State Department, Sweden, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Venezuela, War crimes, Wikileaks, Zelaya coup on December 15, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By John Catalinotto
Published Dec 8, 2010 10:02 PM

Imperialist diplomacy is constructed on lies and secrets. No one is surprised by the secrets.* Few are surprised by the lies. Still, a sudden exposure of the lies and secrets can arouse a strong political reaction.

WikiLeaks is a group dedicated simply to releasing state and corporate secrets. Last spring it released a dramatic video exposing some of the daily murderous activity of U.S. helicopters in Iraq. In November WikiLeaks released 251,287 U.S. diplomatic cables to four major corporate media in four imperialist countries. It has also released about a thousand of these cables to the public via the Internet.

Spain’s El País, Germany’s Der Spiegel, Britain’s Guardian and France’s Le Monde set up teams to search the cables. The Guardian shared the data with the New York Times, which in turn passed it back to the U.S. government.

A quarter of a million cables is an avalanche of data. To do its reporting, Der Spiegel created a team of 50 people, half researchers and half document experts. Similar teams worked for the other four media, searching for key words and then reading the cables. Most popular organizations not only don’t have access to the complete files, they don’t have the forces to quickly evaluate all the documents.

These five corporate media outlets are all loyal to imperialism in general and even more loyal to their own ruling classes, which own them and pay their editors. Like the Times, the four in Europe can and do spin the interpretation of the raw cables so as to minimize the damage to the strategic interests of the European Union countries and the U.S. and to harm the interests of states and movements that oppose these imperialist powers.

Thus some of the Times’ earliest reporting twisted the information in an attempt to purportedly show the following: China had sharp differences with north Korea and would put pressure on Pyongyang; the kings and other undemocratic leaders of some Arab states were aggressively pushing the U.S. to bomb Iran; and Russia agreed that Iran had obtained rockets capable of reaching Europe.

A closer look shows that the Times often disregarded the facts and used a false interpretation of the cables to promote U.S. policies.

~ Some key exposures ~

Whatever crimes might or might not be exposed, it is immediately apparent that the leaks are an enormous embarrassment to the U.S. government and especially its diplomats. Allegedly secret, U.S. data are insecure. This was central to Der Spiegel’s coverage on its website on Dec. 6. A large photo showed a concerned Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton with a story entitled, “Washington fights to rebuild shattered reputation.”

Regarding information useful to progressive or anti-imperialist forces, the leaks revealed the following:

• The U.S. Embassy in Honduras was fully aware that the June 28, 2009, removal of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was a military coup, even though the Obama administration refused to define it as such. The false definition allowed the U.S. to continue sending aid to the coup regime and recognize the rigged Honduran election.

• NATO last January agreed to defend the Baltic states and Poland against Russia. “Nine NATO divisions — U.S., British, German and Polish — have been identified for combat operations” should there be war in that region. (Guardian, Dec. 6) But in public NATO called Russia a “partner.”

• The cables show the U.S. using its diplomatic corps to spy on both allied and other governments and U.N. officials. This is unsurprising news*, but now it is official.

• At the December 2009 climate talks in Copenhagen, according to the Guardian, “Embassy dispatches show [the United States of] America used spying, threats and promises of aid to get support for Copenhagen accord.” This accord, which wasn’t reached, would have protected the interests of the big U.S.-based energy monopolies.

~ Exposing the spin weavers ~

Regarding how the Times spun its coverage of WikiLeaks stories on Iran, the Arab states and Russia, Inter Press Service reporter Gareth Porter, with help from Jim Lobe, wrote an article Dec. 6 showing that the alleged quotes from Arab kings about the U.S. bombing Iran were made in the context of constant pressure from the George W. Bush administration to condemn Iran.

The cables showed that the “Gulf Arab regimes — including Saudi Arabia itself — have been seriously concerned about the consequences of a strike against Iran for their own security, in sharp contrast to Israel’s open advocacy of such a strike.”

Regarding Russia and Iran, Porter wrote Nov. 30 that the cables showed that “Russian specialists on the Iranian ballistic missile program refuted the U.S. suggestion that Iran has missiles that could target European capitals or intends to develop such a capability.” This completely contradicts the way the Times spun the story.

Regarding China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, regardless of what U.S. informants claimed, China has continued to criticize the aggressive maneuvers of the U.S. military with its Japanese and south Korean allies in the region.

All the media outlets that received the full set of WikiLeaks cables gave them their own spin, not always aimed at defending Washington’s particular interests, but always loyal to imperialism. El País, for example, which has waged a relentless propaganda war against socialist Cuba, Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and other progressive Latin American leaders, used information in cables from U.S. diplomats to continue to demonize these leaders.

~ U.S. war against WikiLeaks ~

On Dec. 7 the founder and main spokesperson for WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, turned himself in to British authorities to answer charges stemming from an alleged sexual incident in Sweden. These same charges, which were made only after Assange became a high-profile critic able to embarrass the U.S. government, had earlier been dropped. However, they reappeared in a European warrant. Assange was refused bail and Sweden is asking for extradition.

This followed a week of government and media demonizing WikiLeaks and Assange, including actual threats of assassination from government officials in Canada and completely unfounded charges in the U.S. that WikiLeaks was a “terrorist” organization.

During that week, a cyber attack on the WikiLeaks website made it unusable. The U.S. also pressured Amazon.com and PayPal to stop doing business with WikiLeaks and got the governments of Iceland, Switzerland and Sweden to join in persecuting Assange and his organization.

By Dec. 7, in response and solidarity — and this is still possible under the current use of the Internet — more than 700 website owners had “mirrored” the WikiLeaks site, meaning they now have sites with the same content as WikiLeaks and are linked to a full file of diplomatic cables. This story is far from over.

Articles copyright 1995-2010 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Article link: http://www.workers.org/2010/world/wikileaks_1216/index.html

* For the record, I’m not supportive of the cavalier “no surprise here in Wikileaks’ Cablegate” meme — which is deployed both “Right” and “Left” — since it assumes that the reader shares the writer’s level of experience, knowledge and/or ability to make predictions. It also doesn’t really make sense — if the cables’ contents weren’t surprises or secrets, they why are they front-page news? And why do they excite such mass outrage and uproar? – Zuo Shou 左手

“Tear down the walls of secrecy!” – Editorial on the Wikileaks cables by Party of Socialism & Liberation [PSLweb.org]

Posted in Bourgeois parliamentary democracy, CIA, Honduras, Julian Assange, Pentagon, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, USSR, Western nations' human rights distortions, Wikileaks, Zelaya coup on December 12, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

December 6, 2010

No one should be fooled by the U.S. political establishment’s hypocritical denunciations of Wikileaks. The release of 250,000 confidential State Department cables is a daring act that intends to unveil the cynical, self-serving motivations of U.S. foreign policy. In contrast to the force-fed image of the U.S. government engaged in global politics to strengthen human rights, we see they only care about strengthening their own interests.

This of course is no revelation to the millions of people worldwide who have seen first-hand the effects of U.S. colonialism and imperialism. Nor is it a surprise to the millions inside the United States who have protested against the multitude of U.S. wars and interventions in the last 50 years. [For the record, I’m not supportive of the cavalier “no surprise here in Wikileaks’ Cablegate” meme — which is deployed both “Right” and “Left” — since it assumes that the reader shares the writer’s level of experience, knowledge and/or ability to make predictions. – Zuo Shou 左手]

The Wikileaks project as a whole has raised the question of what the public deserves to know, and whether decision-makers have the right to talk behind the backs of the people. For the U.S. ruling class, this is an inalienable and self-evident right. Their rule is based on a system where a tiny few rule over the vast majority. On an international scale, they are intent on preserving the position of the United States as the unchallenged superpower against all potential competitors. Both tasks—preserving their rule internally and projecting it externally—require that the U.S. government be in full control of its own image and reputation.

Socialists have long stood on the principle of opposing “secret diplomacy.” The disastrous consequences of such diplomacy were showcased in World War I, when millions of workers and peasants were sent to their death because of the capitalist governments’ sinister deal making. Immediately after the victorious 1917 revolution, the Bolsheviks opened the vaults and published all the secret treaties signed by the Tsar. (One treaty, the Sykes-Picot agreement, was especially significant because it showed how the European powers intended to carve up the Middle East.)

The Bolsheviks’ supremely democratic act—not replicated in any other government—undoubtedly pressured Woodrow Wilson in his Fourteen Points to call for “Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind.” Indeed, the U.S. Constitution calls for Congressional ratification of all war declarations and peace treaties precisely to make the government accountable for such major foreign policy decisions.

But they don’t follow their own rules. Wilson himself ordered six military interventions in the Western hemisphere. On at least 125 occasions U.S. Presidents have acted without prior express military authorization from Congress.

These days, the same politicians who are sending U.S. troops to kill and be killed in endless wars of aggression now say that the Wikileaks website “puts American lives at risk.” Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and Bill Kristol have called for the execution of Julian Assange and Spc. Bradley Manning, who stands accused of the leak. Undoubtedly, the Pentagon and CIA have already taken such ideas into consideration.

Which brings us to the one point that few others have mentioned: the State Department provides only a limited window into what the U.S. government is really thinking and doing. The Pentagon is often the chief decision-maker and has far more power than the State Department. There are a whole host of political and economic considerations that never make it to diplomatic personnel. For that reason, historians long ago realized that State Department archives are limited sources to reconstruct U.S. foreign policy. [Maybe certain historians…]

Note the leaked State Department cable on the Honduras coup, which the U.S. Embassy declared an “open and shut” violation of the constitution. Despite this information, the United States continued to give military and unofficial diplomatic support to the coup government. Quite clearly, the State Department cable was overruled or simply ignored.

A revolutionary change in the United States would require opening up many more vaults, and exposing many more imperial secrets. But we applaud those in Wikileaks who have gotten this process started early.

Hands off Julian Assange and free Bradley Manning! Tear down the walls of secrecy!

Article link: http://www.pslweb.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=14831&news_iv_ctrl=1261

Get Me the Paraguayan President’s DNA, Brazil Law Enforcement Riddled with USA Agents, USA Enables Honduran Fascism: Three Devastating Wikileaks from Latin America, and How the MSM Distorts them [TheRealNews.com]

Posted in Brazil, Corporate Media Critique, Hillary Clinton, Honduras, Media cover-up, Media smear campaign, State Department, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Wikileaks, Zelaya coup on December 6, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Jesse Freeston

December 1, 2010

There has been much made of the leaks emanating from U.S. embassies in the Middle East, Europe, the Korean Peninsula and the netherworlds of U.N. Headquarters in New York and the U.S. State Department in Washington.

Most of those cables deal with opinions about what kind of threat the Iranian government represents to the Middle East or who Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi likes to party with. Meanwhile, the precious few leaks coming out of the Western Hemisphere have served to illuminate some of the United States’ most recent attempts to control the region, representing a shift away from a strategy more centrally focused on supporting, training, and financing military dictatorships.

So, here are three of the most contentious cables that have captured the attention of Latin America, while being largely ignored or misrepresented in the north.

1. Collecting DNA in Paraguay

Much has been made, and rightly so, about US diplomats collecting financial and biometric information of foreign diplomats at the United Nations. As nefarious as that is, diplomats have limited influence, what if the State Department were doing the same for elected presidents?

Of the five outlets to receive advance copies of the leaks, The Guardian was the only one to publish a March 2008 cable from the State Department to the U.S. embassy in Paraguay. The Guardian ran the entire cable without comment under the headline: “Washington Worries that Paraguay Harbors Iranian Agents and Islamist Terrorists”. The original cable has the title “Reporting and Collection Needs” and is a shopping list of information that the State Department requested in the run-up to Paraguay’s 2008 presidential elections. Near the bottom of the list is a disturbingly casual request that the U.S. embassy gather “(b)iographic and financial information on all leading contenders, and especially on Minister of Education Blanca Ovelar, former Vice President Castiglioni, Lino Oviedo, and Fernando Lugo; and biometric data, to include fingerprints, facial images, iris scans, and DNA, on these individuals.”

Fernando Lugo, a Catholic bishop who promised to bring about massive land reform in order to return needed crop space to the country’s peasant farmers, went on to win the presidency. As the Real News reported recently, Lugo has been unable to achieve many of his pledges, due in part to the influence of U.S. agribusiness corporations who are using the land for soy production.

But, what does one do with the President’s fingerprints?

I have been posing this question to many friends of mine, ranging from Hollywoord movie buffs to seasoned computer hackers, and I have filtered out a measly three potential explanations.

Ray McGovern, a former CIA intelligence officer of 27 years, suggested it may be the result of a super-inflated intelligence industry seeking a way to justify its existence. He referenced the Washington Post’s July investigation titled “Top Secret America” which documents the rapidly expanding U.S. intelligence industry. The Post says the industry now includes at least 45 Government agencies and 2,000 private companies, operating on bottomless public budgets out of more than 10,000 offices in the US alone.

It is difficult to imagine any other possibile explanation that don’t belong in a bad Steven Seagal film.

James Paul, Executive Director of the Global Policy Forum, suggested that the data could be used for getting access to privileged information. Iris and fingerprint scans, or other advanced security systems, are often employed to protect sensitive information found in computers, safes, or offices. While that could be the specific purpose, Paul adds that the general thrust is to get as much info as possible in order to create the illusion of control over another person, and then to let this be known from time to time in order “to appear unbeatable and all-powerful.”

Another possible scenario involves straight-up blackmail. Threatening to frame the president with a misdeed of some kind, or maybe just implying the capacity to do so. I have absolutely no information to conclude that this is the case, but for those who think it impossible, I would point out that it has only been two decades since the U.S. was training the soldiers of Paraguay’s brutal dictator and US ally, Gen. Alfredo Stroessner. Blackmailing the president would be peanuts compared to the torturing of political dissidents by sodomizing them with electric cattle prods, the forced enslavement of the Ache indigenous nation as house workers for the elite, or the extrajudicial execution of the regime’s opponents, all of which received the support of successive U.S. administrations for 35 long years.

2. Brazilian authorities use trumped-up drug charges to jail people the United States suspect of terrorism

Brazil has been the focus of most of the Latin American cables released this far, and many of the documents reveal a U.S. embassy hell-bent on getting the Brazilian government to collaborate in tracking potential “Islamic extremists” in Brazil’s Arab communities. The administration of President Lula da Silva had been adamant that such terrorist activities don’t exist, and rejected U.S. calls for him to pass a Brazilian anti-terrorism law. These new cables reveal however that the U.S. has been working directly with Brazilian intelligence agents and police forces, without the knowledge of Brazil’s elected leadership.

In a cable to Washington in January 2008, US ambassador to to Brazil Clifford Sobel reported that the U.S. feeds the names of suspects to Brazilian police who will:

“often arrest individuals with links to terrorism, but will charge them on a variety of non-terrorism related crimes to avoid calling attention of the media and the higher levels of the government. Over the past year the Federal Police has arrested various individuals engaged in suspected terrorism financing activity but have based their arrests on narcotics and customs charges.”

This has received significantly more press attention than the Paraguay debacle, but the coverage often misdirects away from the real story. For example, CNN went with the headline: “Brazil tried to distance itself from U.S. war on terror”. Some outlets chose to highlight the fact that the Brazilian government doesn’t consider Hamas, Hezbollah, or the FARC as terrorist organizations. This information was not ‘revealed’ by the cables, it is a matter of public policy in Brazil. For those curious, the Lula’s administration’s official position is that Hamas and Hezbollah are political parties, and the FARC is a belligerent force in an ongoing civil war.

The Wall Street Journal, in an article titled “Latin Americans Revel in Leaks”, chose to cast the arrests in a positive light. They employed the same language as the U.S. ambassador himself in blaming Brazilian opposition to anti-terrorism laws on anti-U.S. sentiment in Lula’s administration, and applauding that “lower-level law-enforcement agencies had been helpful by acting on U.S. intelligence to arrest suspects.” There was no sign of concern for either Brazil’s sovereignty or for the individual rights and dignity of those arrested.

The current standard of reporting on Latin America where government decisions are evaluated on whether or not they coincide with U.S. government dictates, demonstrates a press corps unprepared to treat the region’s governments as sovereign and it’s people as having individual rights. In the worst reporting samples, any sign of opposition to U.S. demands is written-off as the result of anti-American ideology, even if a majority of the people see that opposition as reflecting their own interests.

3. U.S. embassy in Honduras knew President Zelaya’s removal was a military coup

While the use of diplomats to manipulate events is clearly taking place, the old style of supporting military dictatorships is alive and well in Honduras, and it is inconvenient diplomats that are being ignored.

In a July 2009 cable, U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens wrote Undersecretary of State Tom Shannon and Obama’s Latin America Advisor Dan Restrepo an analysis on the coup in Honduras. The cable was titled “Open and Shut: The Case of the Honduran Coup”, it was sent at midnight on the night of July 23rd. The assessment was that “there is no doubt” that the events of June 28th “constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup.” He went on to say that every one of the arguments being put forward by those defending the kidnapping and deportation of President Zelaya, and the ensuing militarization of Honduran society were without any “substantive validity”. But, just twelve hours after her office received the cable; Secretary Clinton called President Zelaya “reckless” for trying to return to Honduras via the border with Nicaragua. She went so far as to suggest that he would be held responsible for any violence the military would be forced to inflict to maintain control should he enter the country.

From that point on, the U.S. government actions revealed an ever-growing support for the forces behind the coup. Disregarding Llorens’ cable, the State Department never officially declared it a military coup. Such a declaration would have activated a U.S. domestic law banning aid payments to coup governments, which would have cut off a vital lifeline to the fledgling regime. Months later, the Honduran coup resistance’s worst suspicions came true when the U.S. announced its last-second support for ill-conceived elections under the coup government.

To this day, Clinton and the State Department continue to pressure other Latin American governments to recognize the Honduran government, something that the majority of South American governments have shown no willingness to do. In fact, of all those who voiced opposition to the coup, including governments, organizations, and commentators both inside Honduras and outside, the U.S. government and its allies are largely alone in advocating that the fraudulent elections [were valid] – which no credible international observers attended. No other person, organization, or government has done more to further consolidate the ongoing coup against the Honduran people. The U.S. has even increased aid to the same military that both overthrew the president and continues to kill opponents of the coup.

Honduran filmmaker and commentator Oscar Estrada points out that while the resistance treated ambassador Llorens as an enemy, it turns out he was actually “another victim of the imperial machinery, his reports could do nothing to stop the criminal gang that carried out the coup.” Estrada points out that the same Honduran press that backed the coup has neglected to report on Llorens’ cable, choosing instead to continue their ongoing campaign in support of the regime’s attempts to label landless farmers as terrorists. If the regime succeeds in this project of deception, it will be able indict these farmers under Honduras’ freshly passed anti-terrorism law.

In the most twisted of ironies, the regime’s next legal project in what Estrada calls the “advance of fascism” is a law against “yellow journalism”. According to the congressman who wrote it, the law seeks to regulate the negative reporting that is “discouraging tourism and foreign investment.” He is undoubtedly referring to stories like those of the nine journalists that have been confirmed assassinated in 2010 alone, or the recent military attack on an anti-coup music concert in September.

This bill aimed at prohibiting freedom of the press will now be ironed out in a committee with selected representatives of the media. Undoubtedly, those invited from the media to participate will be from the same publications that have never reported the regime’s misdeeds in the first place, whose owners financed Washington-based lobbying efforts in support of the coup, and have yet to report the existence of the yellow journalism law itself.

Nonetheless, the law will be applicable to all journalists.

What information is being prioritized?

As The Real News interview with Larry Wilkerson–former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell–lays out in detail, most of the cables from the Middle East that are attracting so much attention are little more than hearsay, and document the opinions of influential players with their own motivations. For example, a critically-minded press shouldn’t find it at all shocking that the King of Saudi Arabia is supportive of somebody else’s military attacking his neighborhood oil rival. That’s just good business. Like Pepsi benefiting from a tornado hitting the Coca-Cola plant…[it’s an] event Pepsi executives would celebrate regardless of whether Coke had a nuclear weapon or not.

On the other hand, the cables from Latin America aren’t merely revealing opinions and characterizations, but actual activities that demonstrate the continuation of a dark legacy of U.S. subversion in the region’s experiments with democracy.

With every leak should come a new series of questions for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Even if a given violation did not happen under her watch, she should be called on to answer whether or not she has put an end to the practice in question. Unfortunately however, Clinton has said that her office will not comment on the contents of any specific documents. Her vow of silence is deafening to a South with a new, invigorated enthusiasm for challenging U.S. meddling in their affairs. But, equally distressing is the silence from the press corps, as journalists with access and audience neglect to step forward and ask: what exactly does the State Department plan to do with President Lugo’s DNA?

Plenty more to come

…As of writing, Wikileaks has published less than three hundred of the 251,287 cables they have pledged to release. Still no cables have come out from Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela, or Ecuador, countries where the United States have been accused of quietly influencing events…

Article link: http://www.therealnews.com/t2/component/content/article/42/499-wikileaks-in-the-western-hemisphere

US Defence, Intelligence Bigwig Gates Hotfoots it Out of Defense Ministers Conference [Prensa Latina]

Posted in Bolivia, CIA, Ecuador, Evo Morales, Honduras, Hugo Chavez, Iran, Nicaragua, Panama, Pentagon, Rafael Correa, US imperialism, USA, Venezuela, Zelaya coup on December 3, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

La Paz, Nov 25 (Prensa Latina)

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates rushed out of the 9th Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas the same day it opened in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz.

There were too many truths about which he did not dare to comment as he ran out, according to news reports on the event, which [ended] Thursday.

Once in Washington, the Pentagon chief said only that the U.S. embassy in La Paz “regretted” that Bolivia lost an opportunity to make progress on the forum’s key issues: peace and trust in the region, democracy, armed forces and society, regional security, and natural disasters.

But Gates, or rather what he represents, could not refute any of the convincing statements made by Bolivian President Morales in his opening remarks, when he presented evidence of how the White House is questioning and even trying to demonize and criminalize the different processes of political change taking place in Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Nicaragua.

Morales reminded the ex-CIA chief of the history of coups in the region, almost all of them organized by U.S. diplomats. In Bolivia, he noted, they began in 1964 with the case of Lt. Colonel Juan Villarrroel, the illustrious military leader who organized the first indigenous summit.

He also recalled that prior to the 2002 general elections, another former U.S. ambassador, Manuel Rocha, threatened to withdraw aid if voters chose Morales and described him as a terrorist.

As Gates blushed, and amid evasive looks, Morales said he was the victim of an attempted coup two years ago, promoted by the United States, the same country that tried to overthrow presidents Hugo Chavez in 2002 and Rafael Correa this year, actions that were successful only in Honduras in 2009, against President Manuel Zelaya.

That sore point, caused by Washington and which Gates could not avoid, was touched on by Morales when he referred to U.S. training and doctrine involving regional military institutions, and which encourage hatred of social movements and their leaders.

Those interfering, interventionist policies have not ended, and an example of that was the latest attacks by international right-wing extremist forces and U.S. congress members on the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, which took place on Nov. 17, again in the shade of the White House.

Gates, who has previously been linked to the Irangate scandal (1985) and the invasion of Panama (1989), made only one suggestion before leaving Bolivia: caution in the new ties with Tehran, a piece of advice harshly criticized by legislators and Morales.

Article link: http://www.plenglish.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=241312&Itemid=1