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How the US Creates ‘Sh*thole’ Countries

In two years, the world has become accustomed to being shocked by the words and actions of United States President Donald Trump. In January of this year, he again showed his lack of diplomacy, tack and common decency, when he referred to many poorer countries as “sh*ithole countries”, asking, “Why do we want all these people from sh*thole countries coming here?” Former member of the House of Representatives Cynthia McKinney, in the new book she has edited, How the US Creates ‘Sh*thole’ Countries, (Clarity Press) has gathered a collection of essays, including one of her own, that clearly shows that it is the U.S. that is largely responsible for the poverty and suffering in these very nations.

McKinney

The first series of essays describes U.S. foreign policy, and its true motives. In the essay, The End of Washington’s ‘Wars on the Cheap’, The Saker sums up U.S. foreign policy as follows: “Here’s the template for typical Empire action: find some weak country, subvert it, accuse it of human right violations, slap economic sanctions, trigger riots and intervene militarily in ‘defense’ of ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’ and ‘self-determination’ (or some other combo of equally pious and meaningless concepts).” The hypocrisy of such a policy is obvious. A weak and vulnerable nation is victimized by a far more powerful one. The U.S. has done this countless times in its history, and there appears to be no appetite in the government to change.

This introduction and explanation of U.S. foreign policy is followed by essays on some, but certainly not all, of the countries that have been victimized by the United States, usually following this template. As McKinney says in her essay, Somalia: Is Somalia the U.S. Template for All of Africa, “…while mouthing freedom, democracy, and liberty, the United States has denied these very aspirations to others, especially when it inconvenienced the US or its allies. In Mozambique and Angola, the US stood with Portugal until it was the Portuguese people, themselves, who threw off their government and voted in a socialist government that vowed to free Portugal of its colonies.”

In the essay, How the U.S. Perpetuates the Palestinian Tragedy’, Sami Al-Arian writes:

It might be understandable, if detestable, for Israel and its Zionist defenders to circulate false characterizations of history and myths to advance their political agenda. But it is incomprehensible, indeed reprehensible, for those who claim to advocate the rule of law, believe in the principle of self-determination, and call for freedom and justice to fall for this propaganda or to become its willing accomplices. In following much of American political leaders’ rhetoric or media coverage of the conflict, one is struck by the lack of historical context, the deliberate disregard of empirical facts, and the contempt for established legal constructs and precedents.”

The U.S. leads in these distortions, with its officials proclaiming, each time that Israel bombs Gaza, that “Israel has a right to defend itself”. There is hardly mention of the brutal, illegal occupation and blockade; never a discussion of the fact that Palestine has no army, navy or air force, and Israel’s military is one of the world’s most powerful thanks to the U.S. It is never stated that international law allows an occupied people to resist the occupation in any way possible, including armed struggle. The countless United Nations resolutions condemning Israeli actions in Palestine are ignored by U.S. officials.

Once again, U.S. hypocrisy is on very public display.

The third section of this informative book describes the United States’ mostly-successful efforts to camouflage its vile intentions and international crimes. Christopher Black, in his essay Western Imperialism and the Use of Propaganda”, clearly articulates how this is done:

The primary concern they [U.S. government officials] have, in order to preserve their control, is for the preservation of the new feudal mythology that they have created: that the world is a dangerous place, that they are the protectors, that the danger is omnipresent, eternal, and omnidirectional, comes from without, and comes from within. The mythology is constructed and presented through all media; journals, films, television, radio, music, advertising, books, the internet in all its variety. All available information systems are used to create and maintain scenarios and dramas to convince the people that they, the protectors, are the good and all others are the bad. We are bombarded with this message incessantly.”

Our memories are short, indeed, if we have forgotten both President George W. Bush and his Secretary of State, Colin Powell, telling the world from the United Nations the blatant lie that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, threatening civilization. We are not paying attention if we are unaware of the many innuendos given of the ‘dangers’ of all Muslims. Yes, the government fosters fear, proclaiming subtly and not so subtly that there is danger everywhere, and it is the role of the mighty United States to protect the world, whether or not such protection is wanted or needed.

Lastly, the U.S. Itself can be described as a ‘sh*thole’ country. Its many violations of international law, and crimes against humanity, are summarized by Richard Falk, in his essay The Sh*thole Phenomenon at Home and Abroad:

This kind of nationalist pride covered up and blindsided crimes of the greatest severity that were being committed from the time of the earliest settlements: genocide against native Americans, reliance on the barbarism of slavery to facilitate profitable cotton production and the supposedly genteel life style of the Southern plantations. This unflattering national picture should be enlarged to include the exploitation of the resources and good will of peoples throughout Latin America, who, once freed from Spanish colonial rule, quickly found themselves victimized by American gunboat diplomacy that paved the way for American investors or joined in crushing those bold and brave enough to engage in national resistance against the abuse of their homelands.”

The final essay is the Report of the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights on his Mission to the United States of America, authored by Philip Alston. While Trump decries “sh*thole” countries, the conditions that the U.S. put those countries in are not unknown in the U.S. A few facts from Alston’s report will suffice:

  • The U.S.’s “…immense wealth and expertise stand in shocking contrast with the conditions in which vast numbers of its citizens live. About 40 million live in poverty, 18.5 million in extreme poverty, and 5.3 million live in Third World conditions of absolute poverty. It has the highest youth poverty rate in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the highest infant mortality rates among comparable OECD States. Its citizens live shorter and sicker lives compared to those living in all other rich democracies, eradicable tropical diseases are increasingly prevalent, and it has the world’s highest incarceration rate, one of the lowest levels of voter registrations in among OECD countries and the highest obesity levels in the developed world.”
  • The United States has the highest rate of income inequality among Western countries. The $1.5 trillion in tax cuts in December 2017 overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy and worsened inequality.”
  • For almost five decades the overall policy response has been neglectful at best, but the policies pursued over the past year seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest, punish those who are not in employment and make even basic health care into a privilege to be earned rather than a right of citizenship.”

The information in these essays is all rigorously documented with extensive footnotes. The writing is clear and the facts are presented in a concise manner that is highly beneficial for the average reader or academic.

For anyone who questions U.S. policies, at home or abroad, and who has perhaps become more aware of such issues since Trump’s election,

How the US Creates ‘Sh*thole’ Countries is an indispensable read.

Originally published by Consortium News.

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Nicaragua: U.S. Hypocrisy Knows No Bounds

A rather puzzling news item caught the eye of this writer today: “The US has imposed sanctions on Nicaragua’s Vice-President Rosario Murillo, the wife of President Daniel Ortega, accusing her of corruption and serious human rights abuses.”

As he read further, this puzzlement only increased: “On Tuesday, the US Treasury said it was using a new executive order issued by US President Donald Trump to punish Ms. Murillo, accusing her of undermining Nicaragua’s democracy.”

One of the crimes Murillo is purported to be guilty of is as follows: “She is believed to have held influence over a youth organization that the US says engaged in extra-judicial killings, torture and kidnapping.”

Let us all take a look at these brief statements, and see how many examples of hypocrisy can be found in them.

  • Murillo, the first lady of Nicaragua who rules the nation along with her husband, Daniel Ortega, is accused by the U.S. of ‘corruption’. President Trump, his son and daughter-in-law are believed to be benefiting financially by their positions in government, which, or course, is ‘corruption’ in the U.S. That this has not be seriously investigated is a mistake (to put it tactfully) that will no doubt be rectified in January, when the Democrats take control of the House, and will be looking for anything to discredit Trump. From all available evidence, such issues will not be difficult to find.
  • Murillo is also accused of ’serious human rights abuses’. Where do we start? In the U.S., white police officers shoot and kill unarmed teens and adults of African descent with nearly complete impunity. Tax laws in the U.S. hurt the poor, such that at least 40 million citizens, a third of them children, live in poverty. The U.S. supports the brutal regimes of Israel and Saudi Arabia, both of which are guilty of the most heinous human-rights abuses, yet the U.S. says nary a word of objection.
  • The Nicaraguan first lady is accused of behaviors that are “undermining Nicaragua’s democracy”. Trump was installed as president, despite losing the popular vote by 3,000,000 votes; that doesn’t seem to be very supportive of democracy. The U.S. Congress is beholden not to its constituents, but to the wealthy lobby groups representing business and foreign governments, that finance its members’ campaigns. U.S. law allows unlimited financial donations to these campaigns from any business or industry.

Prior to Trump’s election, the Republican-controlled Congress blocked the Supreme Court nominee of President Barack Obama until after the election, with the hope (eventually fulfilled) of putting a more conservative justice on the Supreme Court. This left a vacancy on the court for nearly a full year. To this writer, that sounds more like political maneuvering than democracy.

  • An organization in Nicaragua over which the first lady has ‘influence’ has been involved, it is said, in “extra-judicial killings, torture and kidnapping”. At this point, this writer had to re-read the article, to assure that it was about Nicaragua, and not the United States. The U.S. is notorious for kidnapping suspected ‘terrorists’, transporting them to ‘rendition’ sites, where they are tortured, sometimes for years. At the Cuban-based U.S. torture chamber in Guantanamo, countless people have been held without charge, denied access to family or legal services, and tortured for years. The U.S. government doesn’t merely have ‘influence’ over these activities: it is completely responsible for them. The current director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is Gina Haspel, known in some circles as ‘Bloody Gina’, due to not only her instruction to other agents on how to torture, but her experience torturing prisoners herself. These violations of international law, human rights and common decency are part and parcel of U.S. governance.

The United States is currently sending massive amounts of weaponry to Saudi Arabia, while that nation continues to decimate Yemen; millions of people, mostly children, are starving to death because of this ongoing assault. The fact that Saudi Arabia recently bombed a school bus full of children, and murdered a prominent journalist, mean nothing to Trump and many of his GOP cohorts.

Additionally, the U.S. provides apartheid Israel with $4 billion annually, while its own infrastructure is crumbling, its schools are failing, and the citizens of Flint, Michigan do not have clean water.

The U.S. has supported terrorist organizations in Syria that seek to overthrow the legitimate government, and bombed Syria when the Syrian government was accused of using chemical weapons. Yet the U.S. government says nothing when Israel uses chemical weapons against the Palestinians. And after the bombing of Syria to ‘punish’ the Syrian government for using such weapons, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that there was no evidence to confirm that a chemical attack ever occurred..

The U.S.  violated international law by withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that regulated Iran’s nuclear program, despite the fact that Iran was and always has been in complete compliance with the agreement. The U.S. has sanctioned Iran (again), and has threatened to sanction any nation that does business with Iran, including some of the U.S.’s oldest and closest allies. Only two nations supported the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA: Saudi Arabia and Israel.

One might ask why the U.S. government feels it is in any position to criticize Nicaragua, or any other nation, for any of its policies. The U.S. is and always has been very selective in how it supports human rights and international law. Why it has now chosen to focus on Nicaragua is anyone’s guess.

Slowly, around the world, other nations are gaining in economic and military strength, thus weakening the hegemony that the U.S. has long had on the planet. The Chinese economy will soon rival and overtake that of the U.S.; India is becoming a powerhouse as well. In the Middle East, despite U.S. efforts, Iranian influence is growing.

Once other nations equal or exceed the power of the United States on the world stage, the planet will become a more peaceful and just environment. One must be cautioned, however: a world power in decline is always dangerous, and the U.S. has been dangerous even when its power has been unrivaled. It is possible, even likely, that prior to more reasonable nations become world leaders, the U.S. will do significant damage around the globe. In the White House, there are no ‘adults’ in the room; there is little to prevent Trump’s worst urges from damaging or destroying the world.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections

Well, the mid-term elections are over, but the fallout from them, the constant verbal diarrhea from newscasters, pundits and other self-proclaimed experts, continues.

And what are they saying? For many of them on whatever passes for ‘leftist’ in the U.S. today (there is really no such thing in the two major parties or the so-called ‘mainstream’ news media), the glee is overwhelming. Democrats won control of the House and now, finally, we are told, much needed brakes will be applied to the speeding Donald Trump train wreck-in-the-making.

Ho hum. Is there really any cause for thinking people in the U.S., or anywhere in the world, for that matter, to suddenly think that the U.S. has begun to climb out of its long decline? Does any reasonable person actually think that Democrats controlling the House of Representatives will change anything?

Let’s look at some things that should change.

* War: the U.S. should stop bombing every nation it is now bombing; it should stop supporting Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian people, and Saudi Arabia’s genocide of the Yemeni people. It should immediately withdraw from Afghanistan.

Is this going to happen, now that the Democrats control one house of Congress? Will any of them even speak about these issues? Why do that, when doing so might annoy powerful lobby groups?  Such actions would require knowledge, compassion, an understanding of history, a commitment to the people who they purport to represent. Does any of this sound like the characteristics of U.S. politicians? Hardly!

* Environment: With Trump having no problems whatsoever with polluted water and air, and allowing mining and logging to take place in national parks, it would seem that the Democrats could take aim at these issues. After all, it is their children who must breath this air and drink this water. Oh wait, in the exclusive enclaves in which the members of the oligarch reside, such mundane issues are of no concern. They don’t live near factories, spewing their poisons into the air. The water that they drink, and that fills their swimming pools, is always from the most pristine of sources. So what if their constituents don’t have these same advantages? They simply need to work harder, and then they, too, will be able to join the 1%. Of course, how one is going to work harder than some people in the middle- and poverty-classes currently work, with multiple jobs just to make ends meet, is never quite explained.

* International agreements. Trump has proudly disgraced the United States, and proven again (if any additional proof was necessary) that agreements entered into by the U.S. are meaningless. The Paris Climate Accord was the first that Trump violated. He followed that up with pulling out of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), and by reissuing sanctions against Iran, despite the fact that the entire international community recognizes that Iran has fully complied with the agreement. Even Saudi Arabia and Apartheid Israel, the only two countries on the planet that praised Trump’s decision, don’t deny that Iran is compliant. Perhaps the newly-empowered Democrats in the House might start by demanding that Trump honor this commitment. But no, Iran is the current bugaboo, so that isn’t going to happen, either. Please feel free to review the information stated above about knowledge and an understanding of history, and consider again how these traits are lacking in Congress.

* Taxes. During the first two years of Trumps increasingly disastrous administration, the U.S.’s upper crust, the members of the 1%, which includes the president himself, his wealthy supporters and most of the members of Congress, received a very generous tax cut. Prior to the mid-term elections, there was talk coming from the White House that such a cut for what’s left of the middle-class would be introduced ‘soon’. Of course, ‘soon’ is a relative word, which could mean anything from tomorrow to when hell freezes over. In this context, the latter meaning is the one we can all use.

Will the Democrats tackle this issue? Will they throw a bone to the people who actually vote for them? No, we must be very careful not to do anything that might cause the wealthy to feel some economic pinch; better to let the middle-class carry the burden. Once they are able to make huge donations to the campaign coffers of their own (or others; it hardly matters to whom the money goes, as long as some politician gets it), then, perhaps, they will receive some tax relief.

We must now ask: with the Democrats soon to control the House of Representatives, what, exactly, will they do? Well, they have made their plans clear. They will demand that Trump release his tax returns, something that weighs heavily, this writer is sure, on the minds of people attempting to make ends meet. They will investigate whether or not Trump broke the law by paying hush money to his erstwhile mistress, Stormy Daniels (among others). No doubt citizens across the U.S. have been busy writing their elected officials (this writer absolutely refuses to call them representatives), demanding to know the answer to this question, and telling them that, while they try not to go bankrupt paying for college education, their number one priority, the issue that Congress must tackle, before addressing the crumbling infrastructure, low-performing school, the opioid epidemic, or crippling taxes, is to determine where the funding came for Trump to silence that particular woman.

The election of Donald Trump to the presidency pushed the U.S. through some strange portal, where the bizarre becomes the mundane, truth is fiction and the reality you see before you is denied. The country had long since been hovering at that portal, but Trump dove through it, taking Congress with him. A willing Democratic Party closed its eyes and took the plunge, too.

Within just a few short months, we must all endure the announcements of various Democrats that they have decided to take their level of ‘service’ to the nation to the next level, and seek the presidency in 2020. These dynamic agents of change (?) include former Vice President Joe Biden, an elderly white man who inspires absolutely no one, and none other than Hillary Clinton, she of the long and sullied resume and sufficient baggage to sink a freighter. Various other names are bandied about, and all of them are cut from the same mold: barely different from the Republicans, perhaps a tad PEP (Progressive Except for Palestine), but mostly male and entirely white.

And why should it be different? Those potential candidates live very well in their ivory towers, and the system is rigged so none of the little people can ever even dream of affording a political campaign.

And so the pattern continues: lots of talk, no action, and increasing suffering at home and abroad. Welcome to the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Candidates, Palestine and Pro-Israel Lobby Money

It is not unusual for this writer to receive solicitations for campaign contributions from Democratic candidates across the country. The fact that he lives in Canada, and is registered in Florida (his last U.S. place of residence), is of no concern to candidates with their hands out. When receiving such emails, or when hearing about other ‘progressive’ candidates, he checks online to learn if they are truly progressive, or are PEP  – Progressive Except for Palestine.

One such candidate, House member Krysten Sinema, was recently elected to represent Arizona in the Senate. In researching her background, this writer found a ‘position paper’ from 2009 that parrots many of the statements he’s heard from other PEP officials. We will look at a few of them in detail. While this ‘position paper’ is several years old, the candidate has worked hard since then to hone her racist, Zionist credentials.

As we look at these statements, let’s keep in the back of our minds that fact that, during the 2017 – 2018 elections cycle, Sinema received $233,667.00 in donations from pro-Israel lobbies. In the two years prior, her take was  a ‘mere’ $61,725.00.

  • “The United States and Israel have been allies for more than 60 years, and this relationship, born of common values, must continue to be strong. Our friendship is rooted in our mutual respect for democratic values, human rights and religious freedom.”

It is a marvel that any thinking person can speak these words, let alone believe them. Democracy, unlike what the U.S. government officials would have us all believe, is far more than periodic voting. But even by that superficial litmus test, both countries fail. In both Israel and the U.S., voter suppression works to maintain the status quo. In both countries, there is one ethnic group that is favored and privileged above all others. In the U.S., it is whites of European descent. In Israel, it is Zionist Jews. In the U.S., people of African descent are more likely to receive harsher prison sentences for the same crimes committed by their white peers; they are far more likely to be shot by white police officers. In Israel, people of Arab or African descent are brutally treated. Palestinians can be arrested without charge and held indefinitely with no access to lawyers, or even family. And like the U.S., in Israel, Palestinians or people of African descent receive far more severe penalties for crimes than their Jewish counterparts.

Israel is continually criticized by the international community for its human rights violations against Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The U.S. vetoes nearly all United Nations resolutions critical of Israel, while it finances its crimes.

The U.S. also supports Saudi Arabia, despite its atrocious human rights record.

Additionally, the U.S. tortures political prisoners at Guantanamo, and in ‘rendition’ sites around the world.

In the U.S., the favored religious status is Christian or Jewish; Muslims need not apply. Mosques surrounded by armed protesters during religious services barely register with the citizenry. One can only imagine how much blood would flow should armed Muslims ever surround a church or synagogue during worship services, and all of it would be from Muslim bodies.

Based on all this, Sinema may be right in saying the nations have shared values.

  • “While I had read about the conflict between Israel and Hamas, it was only in Sderot that I saw first hand the danger in which many Israelis live each day. I will never forget the bomb shelter that was built at the site of a children’s playground after children had been killed by Hamas rockets.”

Is Sinema totally unaware of the danger in which all Palestinians live each day? Is she unaware of the brutality of checkpoints in the West Bank, and the blockade of the Gaza Strip? Is she completely ignorant of the brutal harassment that occurs on a daily basis at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem? Is she blind to home demolitions, arrests without cause, assaults on and murders of unarmed men, women and children by IDF soldiers and illegal settlers? Does she not  know that since 2000, while 1,242 Israelis have been killed in conflicts with Palestinians, at least 9,510 Palestinians have been killed? Does she not know that this number includes 134 Israeli children and 2,167 Palestinian children? If she doesn’t know, she is too uninformed to be part of the U.S. Congress. If she does know, her racism makes her unfit for government ‘service’.

  • “I believe that Israel has the right to defend herself from her neighbors and from terrorist organizations.” One wonders if the illustrious Sinema also believes that a rapist has the right to defend himself when the woman he is raping fights back. The logic is the same in both situations. Israel brutally occupies Palestine, and according to international law, Palestine has the right to resist the occupation in any way possible. Israel doesn’t ‘defend’ itself from Palestine; it simply increases the brutality of the occupation.
  • “I also believe that the best path to long-term peace for Israel is a two-state solution – one a secure Jewish state of Israel and the other, an independent, demilitarized Palestine.”

Does she not believe in a secure Palestinian state? And why, oh why, would any country, especially one adjacent to a nation that has spent seventy years trying to destroy it, be ‘demilitarized’? Does not Palestine have a right to defend itself from its neighbors and from terrorist organizations, such as the IDF?

  • “…lasting peace will only emerge from direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians themselves.” No, Ms. Sinema, this is not how “lasting peace” will emerge. If Israel is forced by the international community to adhere to international law, there will be peace. This means retreating to the pre-1967 borders, and ending the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

We will take a moment to state, once again, that negotiations can only be successful when each party wants something the other has, that can only be obtained by surrendering something it has. Israel takes whatever it wants from Palestine with complete impunity. Why wouldn’t Israel say it’s willing to negotiate? It can ‘negotiate’ all it wants while it simply steals land from Palestine.

Sinema’s statement goes on, but time, along with this writer’s ability to read such garbage, are both limited. But it is clear that Sinema is reading a script from her pro-Israel owners.

She is certainly not the only one. While she ranks fourth in donations from pro-Israel lobbies during the 2017 – 2018 campaign season, Texas’s own PEP candidate, Beta O’Rourke, ranks number one, with a whopping $390,982.00.

There is a great hue and cry among the self-righteous Congressional hypocrites on both sides of the aisle that Russia, perhaps, attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election. Yet when pro-Israel lobbies spend millions and millions of dollars to elect candidates who will work for Israel’s best interest, these same people are silent. Prior to the 2016 Democratic convention, true progressives (the few that remain in the Democratic Party) attempted to remove the provision that the Democrats recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In its most un-Democratic way, the Party kept this provision, thus pleasing its Israeli owners.

Until any major party becomes truly progressive, this writer’s donations and votes will go to third-party candidates who believe in human rights and international law. He expects to be donating to, and voting for, third-party candidates for a long time to come.

Originally published by The Palestine News Network.

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The Hypocrisy of the United States, Cuba Edition

One can only marvel at the blatant, outrageous hypocrisy of the United States. This is on clear display in many areas: proclaiming support for self-determination while financing the oppression of the Palestinians; citing international law when it suits its needs, but violating international law, such as in the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and stating that ‘all men are created equal’, as U.S. police officers gun down unarmed people of African descent. Multiple examples abound.

The government’s officials do nothing to hide this hypocrisy; rather, they seem to seek opportunities to flaunt it.

The most recent opportunity came when the U.S. called a special meeting of the United Nations to spotlight, it said, Cuba’s political prisoners. According to the U.S., Cuba has imprisoned 130 political prisoners. The U.S. called this a “blatant affront” to basic democratic freedoms.

Over the course of several years, nearly 800 of the U.S.’s political prisoners have been jailed in the U.S.’s Cuban base, Guantanamo Bay. Currently, about 55 are housed there. These prisoners are often jailed for years, without charge or access to family or legal assistance, and are tortured.

One such shocking case was the incarceration and torture of Canadian citizen Omar Khadr, arrested in Afghanistan at the age of 15 after having been badly injured by U.S. soldiers (please note that child soldiers cannot, according to international law, be arrested). After being tortured in Afghanistan, he spent 10 years in the U.S.’s Cuban-based torture chamber (yes, Canada was complicit in these crimes, and compensated Mr. Khadr with $10 million dollars, far less than he should have received).

We will look at a few of the statements the U.S. made prior to and after the U.N. meeting on Cuba. What was said during the meeting is hard to discern, since Cuban diplomats shouted over the U.S. speakers, disrupting them constantly.

The first quotation manifests in just thirty-two words the hypocrisy that is so emblematic of the United States.

  • “Holding the Cuban regime responsible for its human rights violations and supporting the Cuban people’s aspirations to live in freedom are key components of President Trump’s National Security Presidential Memorandum of 2017.”

Trump and the U.S. government are very selective in who they hold “responsible for its human rights violations”, and whose “aspirations to live in freedom” they support. Israel and Saudi Arabia are two of the planet’s most brutal violators of human rights, yet the U.S. supports them completely, with the U.S. providing more foreign aid to Israel than it gives to all other nations combined. The United Nations has issued more resolutions critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians than it has of any other nation, and that number would be higher if the U.S. didn’t generally veto them.

As this is being written, Palestinians demonstrating for the right of return, a right guaranteed under international law, are being slaughtered by Israel in the Gaza Strip. More Palestinians are losing their homes in the West Bank so that Israel can build illegal settlements on Palestinian land that only Israelis can live in. Yet the U.S. is proclaiming its support for the people of Cuba to “live in freedom”.

We should also point out the Cubans can leave Cuba at will; they can travel for business, pleasure, education or any other reason, with no restrictions by the government. Palestinians in the West Bank are forbidden by Israel from visiting the Gaza Strip, let alone leave the country altogether, and those in Gaza can’t visit the West Bank. Why doesn’t Trump’s ‘National Security Presidential Memorandum of 2017’ apply to the Palestinians?

  • A State Department statement regarding the Cuba-focused U.N. meeting proclaimed that the 130 political prisoners allegedly held by Cuba are “…”an explicit sign of the repressive nature of the regime and represent a blatant affront to the fundamental freedoms that the United States and many other democratic governments support.”

There are so many things in this statement that demonstrate U.S. hypocrisy. We will attempt to sort them all out.

If having 130 political prisoners is a sign of “the repressive nature” and a “blatant affront to the fundamental freedoms that the United States” supports, what, then, is the incarceration of 55 political prisoners of the U.S? Is 55 too low a number? Is it only when the number reaches, say, 130, that it is “…an explicit sign of the repressive nature of the regime and represent(s) a blatant affront to the fundamental freedoms that the United States and many other democratic governments support”?

And we must remember that that number, 55, is just those in Guantanamo. There are numerous other political prisoners in the U.S. Chelsea Manning, pardoned by President Barack Obama, was imprisoned for exposing U.S. crimes; she was sentenced to 35 years, and spent seven incarcerated, must of in solitary confinement. Edward Snowden fled the U.S. to avoid becoming a political prisoner. His ‘crime’, too, was exposing U.S. crimes.

And what about Mumia Abu Jamal? Convicted of the killing of a police officer in Philadelphia in 1981, a crime for which the evidence of his guilt is limited, at best, he has spent nearly 36 years in prison, much of it in solitary confinement.

And then there is Leonard Peltier, an activist in the American Indian Movement. Since its founding, the U.S. has had nothing but disdain for the ‘Indians’ (indigenous population of the U.S.), and silencing a ‘trouble-maker’ like Peltier, someone who actually advocated for the indigenous population, wasn’t hard to do. He was convicted of killing two FBI agents. During his appeal, the government admitted that it had no evidence connecting him with the crime. The FBI withheld evidence that would have exonerated him. He has been imprisoned for nearly 40 years.

The U.S. is never a fan of people advocating for social change, and will reach its deadly tentacles around the world to prevent any people’s movement from succeeding. Simon Trinidad, also known as Ricardo Palmera, is one such activist. He was a negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP). During a negotiation session in Ecuador, he was arrested, extradited to the U.S. and charged with drug trafficking. On his fourth trial (the government was unable to get a conviction on the first three), he was found guilty.

Several members of the Black Panther Party, arrested during the 1960s and 1070s, remain incarcerated in U.S. prisons. Their crime was attempting to obtain equal rights for U.S. citizens of African descent, another minority group which the U.S. government holds in contempt.

This is not an exhaustive list; these names, and the unnamed 55 in the Guantanamo Bay torture center, are just a few. The U.S. also uses infamous ‘rendition sites’; it kidnaps political opponents and sends them to different countries around the world to be tortured.

Certainly, there are countries with worse human rights records than the U.S. But there are many, many whose human rights practices are far superior. It is the height of hypocrisy for the U.S. to criticize any other nation for any alleged human rights violations, when it supports Israel and Saudi Arabia, and holds countless U.S. political prisoners in its own jail cells.

It is unlikely that this will change soon. Trump, through his own behaviors and statements, has made racism, misogyny and repression acceptable. Much of his base supports these ugly sentiments, and the Republican Party has accepted this as the new normal. Things on the Democratic Party side aren’t much better, when the government which purports to be a democracy is, in fact, an oligarchy.

It is important for people around the world to oppose the U.S. and support Palestine, Cuba, Iran and other nations victimized by the imperial United States.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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The Hypocrisy of Trump on Iran

As United States President Donald Trump slowly descends into madness in front of the entire world, he seems determined to destroy Iran in the process. This would keep intact the U.S. government’s age-old policy of destroying countries that dare to defy it in any way, regardless of the toll in human suffering that that causes.

We’ll look at a few of the statements made by Trump and his various minions, and then compare them to that illusive concept that he seems to be completely unaware of: reality.

  • S. Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas ‘tweeted’ this: “The U.S. stands shoulder to shoulder with the courageous Iranian people protesting their corrupt regime.”

Apparently, according to the august Mr. Cotton, standing ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with people means issuing brutal sanctions that cause untold suffering.

Government officials say that sanctions are benign, that they only target the government.

However, the U.S. has been highly critical of an organization called ‘Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order’ (EIKO). When EIKO was established, the Ayatollah said this: “I’m concerned about solving problems of the deprived classes of the society. For instance, solve problems of 1000 villages completely. How good would be if 1000 points of the country are solved or 1000 schools are built in the country; prepare this organization for this purpose.” By targeting EIKO, the U.S. is intentionally targeting the innocent people of Iran.

In this regard, author David Swanson said this: “The U.S. does not present sanctions as tools of murder and cruelty, but that’s what they are. The Russian and Iranian people are already suffering under U.S. sanctions, the Iranians most severely. But both take pride in and find resolve in the struggle, just as do people under military attack.” Two points are worth considering here: 1) sanctions hurt the common man and woman more than they do any government, and 2) the Iranian people have a fierce pride in their nation, and will not succumb to U.S. blackmail.

And let’s pause for a moment and consider Cotton’s idea of Iran’s ‘corrupt’ regime. Was it not elected in free and democratic elections? Did the Iranian government not work smoothly with the previous U.S. administration, several other nations and the European Union to develop the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which the U.S., under Trump, violated?

If Cotton wants to discuss ‘corrupt’ regimes, he’d be better served to start at home. Did not Trump assume office after losing the popular vote by 3,000,000 votes? Is not the Trump administration involved in numerous scandals reflecting the president’s own personal corruption, as well as that of several of his appointees? Has not the U.S. government supported terrorist groups in Syria? If Cotton believes that Iran is corrupt and the U.S. isn’t, he has an odd opinion of a ‘corrupt regime, indeed!

  • Trump himself seems to govern by ‘tweet’. On July 24, he ‘tweeted’ the following in response to a ‘tweet’ from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who, unlike Trump, was elected with the majority vote: “WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!” (Please note that the upper-case letters are Trump’s, not this writer’s).

Trump is hardly one to be talking about ‘demented words of violence and death’. The U.S. is bombing several countries, continues its brutality in Afghanistan, and is threatening Iran.

And what was it that Rouhani said that was so terribly offensive? Exactly this: Americans “must understand that war with Iran is the mother of all wars and peace with Iran is the mother of all peace.” These words seem to invite the U.S. to make its own selection: start a deadly and devastating war with Iran, or reach out in peace for trade and mutual security. Trump, obviously, is far more interested in the former.

  • The U.S.’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, said this: “President Trump told me that if Iran does anything at all to the negative, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid before.”

Let’s look at another country that does things ‘to the negative’ and suffers no consequences. Israel occupies the West Bank of Palestine in violation of international law; it blockades the Gaza Strip in violation of international law; it targets medics and members of the press, in violation of international law. During its periodic bombing campaigns in Gaza, it targets schools, places of worship, residential neighborhoods and United Nations refugee centers, all in violation of international law. It arrests and holds without charge men, women and children,  all in violation of international law. Why does Israel not “pay a price like few countries have ever before”? Instead, it gets more financial aid from the U.S. than all other nations combined. Could the vast amounts of money that pro-Israel lobbies contribute to U.S. government officials possibly be the cause of this?

And should we mention Saudi Arabia? Women are stoned for adultery, and public executions are common. Its human rights record is as bad as Israel’s, and it is run by a crown prince, rather than a democratically-elected leader, but the U.S. says nothing critical of it.

Additionally, the U.S. is backing the terrorist group, Mujahedeed-e-Khalq (MEK). This group is external to Iran, and its stated goal is the overthrow of the Iranian government. Perhaps Trump wants to replicate the ‘success’ of former U.S. President George W. Bush, who overthrew the stable government of Iraq, thus causing the deaths of at least a million people (some estimates are much higher), the displacement of at least two million more, and who never cared about the chaos he left behind that remains today. This is what Trump wants for Iran.

With the U.S. violating the internationally-accepted JCPOA, which was endorsed by the United Nations, the country has reimposed sanctions on Iran. Diplomatically, this is a problem for the other nations that are part of the JCPOA, since they all wish to remain in the agreement, but Trump has threatened them with sanctions if they continue to trade with Iran. In Iran, the sanctions damage the economy, which is Trump’s goal; he hopes, naively, that the Iranian people will blame their government, rather than the real culprit – the United States – for these problems.

What is behind Trump’s hostility to Iran? Prior to the signing of the JCPOA, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the U.S. Congress, urging that body to disapprove of the agreement. He is the leader of one of the only two countries on the planet that endorsed Trump’s violation of international law in his withdrawal from the JCPOA (Saudi Arabia was the other country that supported Trump’s decision). Trump has surrounded himself with Zionists: his incompetent and corrupt son-in-law, Jared Kushner; John Bolton, and his vice-president, Mike Pence, to name only a few. These are the people who are in Trump’s inner circle, and whose advice and counsel he seems to take at face value. These are the people who support the concept of Israel as a nation-state for the Jews, which by definition makes it apartheid. These are the people who disdain international law, and want to continue ‘negotiations’ that only buy time for Israel to steal more and more Palestinian land. And these are the people who want Israel to have complete hegemony in the Middle East; its main rival is Iran, so in their twisted, Zionist minds, Iran must be destroyed. The amount of suffering that would cause is never factored into their deadly equations.

With a president as unstable and erratic as Trump, it’s impossible to predict with any accuracy what he will do next. But hostility toward Iran is one thing if it is just words; any attack on that nation would cause more trouble and problems than Trump can possibly imagine. Iran is a powerful country in its own right, but is also allied with Russia, and any aggression towards Iran will bring the strength of the Russian military into play. This is the Pandora’s box that Trump is threatening to open.

Originally published by The Balkan Post.

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Pity the Democrats and Republicans

It is a rare occasion when one can only pity both the Republican and Democratic Parties. The GOP (Generally Opposed to Progress) has hitched its rather dilapidated wagon to a racist, sexist, narcissistic man-child of a star who has only the most tenuous grasp on reality. But it is not them we are here to discuss today. It is the Democrats, the Party that, had it been a person, would never have been voted most likely to succeed upon graduation from high school.

Currently, one would think that the Democrats would be poised for great success. Mid-term elections are approaching; the president, Donald Trump, has record-breaking low approval scores, and there is dissatisfaction with him from coast to coast. Now, one might think, is the time for the Democrats to clearly articulate their platform, allowing the populace to know exactly where the party stands, and what it will do to achieve its goals. This might include such popular items as sensible gun-control; recognition of Palestine’s human-rights struggles and Israel’s violations of international law; income equality, gender equality, and an end to institutionalized racism, among other things. These, according to public opinion polls, are topics that resonate with voters who mainly identify as Democratic.

But no! Horror of horrors! Best, according to the Party leaders, to lay low, and allow dissatisfaction with the Republicans to drive voters into the arms of the Democratic Party. Maintain the status quo, don’t rock the boat, steady as she goes, and adhere to every other tired out cliché that means don’t show any backbone. So what if voters enthusiastically evicted a ten-term, good-old-boy Congress member from New York, in favor of a socialist Democrat! Who cares that a large swath of the Party still feels the deep wounds of betrayal from the Party’s manipulation of delegates to give the 2016 presidential nomination to the candidate who is corporate America incarnate, Hillary Clinton, instead of the (somewhat) more progressive Bernie Sanders! The power brokers, such as they are, in the Democratic Party are not willing to surrender their positions, and are terrified to risk what they have by showing anything related to statesmanship. Those currently in power have been elected and re-elected despite their namby-pamby positions, or non-positions, on the current issues of the day. Why do anything differently now?

Well, we can answer that question, although the people who really need to hear the answer won’t bother to pay any attention. We’ll look at a few factors that one would think would cause the Party that claims to be progressive (you can stop laughing now) to take careful note.

  • Following a long series of mass shootings, high school students in Florida finally said ‘enough’. Several of the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre travelled around the country, saying that if the current Congress won’t act, a new Congress must be installed. Millions of people in this age cohort will be eligible to vote for the first time in 2018. Study after study shows that they are overwhelmingly to the left of where the Democratic Party is today. They probably won’t stay home, but they may seek third-party candidates, so they can vote for someone they actually believe in, rather than the slightly lesser of two evils. But if Democrats renew calls for sensible gun control, including the banning of semi-automatic weapons, they may find these new voters flocking to the polls to vote for them.
  • Israeli government officials are having apoplexy over what they correctly see as an increasing disconnect between Jewish-Americans and the racist, apartheid Jewish state of Israel. In the aforementioned 14th Congressional district of New York, twenty-year incumbent Joe Crowley, financed in part by AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee) went down to a crushing defeat at the hands of newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has been highly critical of Israel. Might not some other candidates want to take a page from her playbook, and speak out for human rights and international law? Or are even those topics too controversial for Democrats to address?
  • Polls indicate that most voters aren’t thrilled with the newly-enacted tax reform (Surprise! Surprise!), which was an early Christmas present to the rich. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan showed how out-of-touch he was after the tax bill became law, when he ‘tweeted’ this: “A secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, PA, said she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week… she said [that] will more than cover her Costco membership for a year.” So while this secretary received a whopping $78.00 annual raise, the richest 1% of the nation’s population receive about 34% of the total benefits from the multi-billion dollar tax reform. A platform by the Democrats to really reform taxes would probably resonate, even with people who are $78.00 richer as a result of the GOP version.
  • Trump and Company are beating the war drums for ‘regime change’ of the democratically-elected government of Iran. Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) against the wishes and advice of nearly the entire international community, and his own military advisors. Wouldn’t a plank in the Democratic platform that says that Democrats will work to reinstate U.S. involvement in the JCPOA, and attempt to prevent chaos in yet another Middle Eastern country, possibly have wide appeal? Yes, U.S. citizens, inexplicably, seem to love their wars, but a new breed of voter is on the horizon, and will be pulling levers in voting booths in just three short months. They may be a bit less enthused about sending U.S. soldiers to die for Israel, whose influence was a main factor in Trump’s decision to abandon the JCPOA.
  • The Republicans have made good on their promise to deprive millions of people of health care. Democrats who will unflinchingly condemn those actions, and vow to reinstate the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), or something better, may find unexpected popularity.
  • Young people often graduate from universities and colleges in the U.S. with crippling debt. Even if the free tuition advocated by Ocasio-Cortez and others isn’t possible at present (it is, but this writer doesn’t see the Democratic Party ever going that far), couldn’t interest rates be lowered? Why is it necessary for lenders to make huge profits from the efforts of the next generation to become educated? And couldn’t there be some kind of debt forgiveness program? Even 25% would be a windfall to many people.

These are just a few of the many areas in which the Democrats could differentiate themselves from the Republicans. Will they do it? Will the Party unite, look at not only what the people want, but also what is morally right, and stand up for those principles? When pigs fly. Government officials today (this writer refuses to refer to them as ‘representatives’, since they represent only special interests and anything that will benefit them personally, and not the voting populace) are only concerned with keeping their high-paying jobs with almost unlimited benefits. The idea of public service, working for the greater good, or sacrificing for those who are less fortunate are alien concepts to them.

It is possible that the Democratic Party will take control of one or both houses of Congress as a result of the November elections. If that happens, not much will change. The NRA (National Rifle Association), AIPAC, various military lobbies and others will still be the ones actually in control. The U.S. voters will have participated once again in what government officials proudly and disingenuously point to as a hallmark of U.S. democracy, but what is in reality an exercise in futility. With each election, the names may change, but all the injustice, domestically and internationally, continues.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Presidential Candidates 2020: a Preview of the Democratic Contenders

Apparently, two years out isn’t too early to start speculating on who the hapless Democrats may run for president in 2020. Let’s remember that in the last seven elections, they have only been able to elect two presidents (Bill Clinton and Barack Obama), despite only losing the popular vote once (George Bush’s second term, and the legitimacy of that is not something we will explore right now). Whoever they run may in two years may win the popular vote, but still not move into the White House. This is democracy, U.S. style.

So who are the candidates currently on the horizon? Please take a moment to prepare yourselves emotionally, since the picture this writer is about to paint is not a pretty one. In fact, it is downright terrifying.

  • Bernie Sanders. Yes, the darling of whatever remains of the leftist part of the Democratic Party still sees Sanders as the savior. The ‘Bernistas’ received a shot in the arm with the victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the New York’s 14th district primary in June, when the much-feared word ‘socialism’ began its rehabilitation.

What does Bernie have going against him? For one thing, by the time the 2020 election rolls around, he will be 79 years old. Secondly, it will be difficult for some people to forget his enthusiastic endorsement of the woman who cheated him out of the nomination in 2016. It’s not as if there were no other candidates he could have endorsed. Gloria La Riva, who represented the Party for Socialism and Liberation, comes to mind. Her platform was one that anyone of intelligence and compassion would support.

  • Joe Biden. Now there’s a name to bring excitement to any dedicated Democrat. Don’t the words ‘Joe Biden’ conjure up change, dynamism and charisma? Can’t the reader imagine young people throwing themselves enthusiastically behind a ticket led by the former vice president? No, this writer can’t, either. If the party wants to once again shoot itself in the foot, nominating Biden might be just the ticket.

We will also mention that the former vice president will be a few weeks shy of his 78th birthday when some small percent of eligible voters next cast a presidential ballot. This is not to imply that a 78-year-old can’t be energic, sharp as a whip and ready to run the U.S; but that doesn’t describe Biden.

  • Hillary Clinton. You were warned; a terrifying picture was about to unfold to your view. Yes, there are rumors abounding now that Clinton, former First Lady, U.S. senator and Secretary of State, will once again toss her tiara into the ring for another go-round with Donald Trump. If the Democratic Party really wants to commit suicide, surely there are less painful ways of doing so. Clinton lost the election (granted, she won the popular vote by over 3 million votes; see note above about U.S-style democracy) to one of the least qualified, most dangerous candidates ever nominated for president, and now she may actually think she has a chance of beating him. The election of Trump was never an endorsement of his policies; his approval rating has rarely gone above 40%, and never above 50%. No, his election was not an endorsement of Trump, but a startling repudiation of Clinton. Her blatant greed, blind ambition, disdain for the poor and less fortunate, her ties to Wall Street and her questionable ethics all led large swaths of the population to vote for the odious Trump.

Why, one might reasonably ask, would the Democrats want to nominate someone who so un-democratically manipulated the delegates in 2016 to wrest the nomination from Bernie Sanders? Does the word ‘democracy’ mean nothing to the Democrats?

On the plus side, of these three potential candidates, Clinton is the most ‘youthful’. She will turn a mere 73 a few weeks before the next election. Does anyone remember a time, perhaps back in the days of George McGovern (only 50 when he ran for president), when the Democrats were the party of the young people? Has that entire age cohort now been dismissed from consideration?

  • Elizabeth Warren. The junior senator from Massachusetts is forever saying she isn’t interested in the presidency. We’ll see. She gets publicity every time Trump notices her, since he insists, in his juvenile way, on calling her ‘Pocahontas’. She did give a very good impression when questioning bankers following the bailout during the administration of Barack Obama, and she certainly put several of Trump’s Cabinet appointees on the hot seat during their appearances before the senate, but none of that has really resulted in very much. All form; no substance. And can one ever forget, in 2014, when Apartheid Israel was bombing Gaza, and she was asked her opinion on the matter, she actually ran away from the reporter! Later, apparently after seeing that pro-Israel lobbies donated $115,203.00 to her campaign, she endorsed that genocidal activity. But to give her the minimal credit she may be due, she has been critical of Israeli actions against unarmed Palestinians demonstrating at the border.

And just to keep things consistent, Warren will be 71 on the next presidential election day.

It is still very early days. No one has actually declared for the nomination yet, and these four, and who knows how many others, may rise like a phoenix, and then flame out, adding to the debris that always litters the campaign trail. This writer, unfortunately, can think of no Democrat whose name he can suggest; being an elected member of the House or Senate in the U.S. automatically means that one has sold one’s soul to the highest corporate or lobby bidder. This is nothing new; as Matthew said in the New Testament, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”.  Congressional members have shown that their ‘treasure’ is the money they get for their campaigns, and these are not the $5.00 and $10.00 donations that some misguided citizens occasionally send them. During her muddied career, Clinton received $2,473.367 from pro-Israeli lobbies. That’s quite a treasure, and there can be no doubt about where it leads her heart.

What is to be done? Surely, Trump must be prevented from another term in office, but what are, or will be, the alternatives? Probably, on the Democratic side, another old or aging white man or woman who is bought and paid for by corporations and lobby groups.

As mentioned earlier, the world is still more than two years away from the quadrennial circus known as U.S. presidential elections; it is probably about six months away from the first candidates to declare their candidacy. Is it too early for this writer to encourage readers to look to third-party candidates? The futility of voting for the lesser of two evils was brought home to him clearly in 2016, when there didn’t seem to be one. So he found the candidacy of Ms. La Riva, and voted for her.

While the outcome of any U.S. election probably doesn’t impact this writer as much as it does other U.S. citizens (he fled to Canada after the 2004 election; things were that bad then. He can’t imagine how fast he’d have left if he’d still been in the U.S. in 2016!), the leader of a war-mongering, nuclear-armed nation is of concern to everyone on the planet. If enough people take a stand, and say a resounding ‘no’ to both major parties, perhaps, just perhaps, there is a chance for change. The probability is small, but the consequences of not acting are too great.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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What’s Wrong With the United States?

Despite the myth perpetrated by United States spokespersons, the country is not, and never has been, a beacon of peace and freedom, the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’, or a democracy that is the envy of the word. It is, and always has been, a racist, imperialist society, an oligarchy and, as the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.

Today it is living up to violent, bloody truths that comprise its existence. We will look at just a few of the circumstance today that embody that violence.

The U.S. has just violated an international treaty, by withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an agreement also signed by Russia, China, England, France, Germany, the European Union and Iran. The purpose of this agreement was to regulate Iran’s nuclear ambitions (such as they are), in return for the lifting of sanctions imposed upon that country. The JCPOA was signed by the U.S under President Barack Obama, but it was not an agreement between him and the other nations; it was a binding agreement under international law. By violating it, the U.S. has send a strong message to the world that its word cannot be relied upon; has betrayed some of the country’s closest and oldest allies, and may even sanction them if they continue to do business with Iran, which each of the other signatories says they will do, since Iran is and has been in complete compliance with the agreement.

Additionally, the U.S., which has been at war for 225 years of its 242 year history, and which is currently bombing seven countries and supporting terrorist groups in Syria, accuses Iran, which has not invaded another country since 1798, of being the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism. This is Orwellianism at its best.

The current Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, previously oversaw the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the U.S.’s major torture apparatus. His assistant, one Gina Haspel, who actually directed and oversaw the torture of political prisoners, and then destroyed the evidence, is just about to be confirmed by Congress to head the CIA. This tells volumes about Congress’s disregard for international law, civil rights and even common human decency.

Against the advice of nearly the entire international community, and again in violation of international law, President Donald Trump has established the U.S. embassy in Israel in Jerusalem. As this was planned, demonstrations were being held every Friday in Gaza, demanding the internationally-recognized right of return, on the border of Gaza and Israel, but on the Palestinian side. Hundreds of unarmed Palestinians have been killed by Israeli sniper fire; thousands more have been injured. Israel has dropped endless amounts of tear gas on peaceful demonstrators. Yet Trump has said nothing, and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, the incompetent and clown-like Nikki Haley has blamed the Palestinians for the violence. To add to her endless stupidity, when the Palestinian ambassador to the U.N. began addressing that body, she walked out!

Let’s look at all this from an international perspective. Every other nation that is a party to the JCPOA attempted to convince Trump to maintain the agreement. The only two nations on the planet that praised his decision are Saudi Arabia and Israel, two nations with human rights records that are among the most dismal in the world. Hardly the company any respectable country would want to keep.

When the shocking information of Bush-era torture was first revealed, the world recoiled in horror. President George Bush’s Attorney General determined that what the rest of the world, and international law, defined as torture was not so if the U.S. did it. This was a crock that no other nation was willing to buy.

And let’s look at the situation in Palestine. Finally, nearly the entire international community has condemned Israeli violence in Gaza. The U.S. vetoed a resolution calling for an independent investigation of that violence. One must wonder why that is: if Israel did, in face, exercise the great restraint that Haley proclaims it did, and if Israel has nothing to hide, why not have an independent investigation? Wouldn’t such an investigation exonerate Israel, and immediately silence all its critics? Perhaps the U.S., an extremely violent society itself, knows, as well as the rest of the world, that Israel is in violation of countless international laws, and even the most cursory investigation would clearly reveal and officially determine what the world already knows.

Even in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Congress, there seems to be more than a little disquiet about Israel’s apartheid regime. As Trump moved the embassy to Jerusalem, the ceremony was attended by a variety of U.S. members of Congress, yet not a single Democrat showed up. This is a seismic shift in Congress, and one that bodes well for Palestine.

While three, current atrocities that the U.S. is committing on the international stage have been discussed herein, they are not the only ones. Unarmed people of color continue to be gunned down in the streets by the racist police force, with nearly complete impunity. The U.S., with its increasing number of for-profit prisons, incarcerates its citizens at a higher rate than any other country on earth. Tax dollars feed the bloated military budget, as more and more people fall into poverty, where they find decreasing government services available to them. The government serves the needs of powerful lobbies over constituents. Political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, after studying thousands of policy decisions, said this: “When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preference of the average American appears to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

This is the United States today. This is the much-touted ‘democracy’ of which its ignorant and uninformed citizens are so proud. This is the model to which, we are told, the whole world aspires.

Many lies are believed for years; the lies of the U.S. are finally being exposed, showing the nation for what it really is. As its power declines, it will go through a period where it is more dangerous than it has ever been, and this seems to be what the world is now experiencing. One hopes the trigger-happy, war-mongering U.S. doesn’t destroy the entire world as it quickly loses power, influence and international legitimacy.

Originally published by AHTribune.

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CNN: Blaming the Palestinian Victim

As Palestinians continue to struggle under the heavy, deadly hand of U.S.-sponsored Israeli oppression, the world’s governments mainly ignore them. This is business as usual for most governments, including U.S. officials, many of whom are ‘PEP’ – Progressive Except for Palestine.

March 30 is Land Day in Palestine, a day commemorated annually to mark events first held in 1976, in response to a major land theft announced by Israel. This year, tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrators camped and marched on the Palestinian side of the Palestine – Israel border, once again demanding the basic human rights that the world community has refused them. In response, Israeli snipers killed at least 18 unarmed Palestinians.

On April 1, CNN’s loftily titled ‘International Diplomatic Editor’, Nic Robertson, offered his pearls of wisdom on this situation. He wasted no time in both showing his ignorance of the current events, and his desire to blame the victim.

We will look at just a few quotations from his ill-informed editorial. We will start with the title of the article.

“The Timing of the Gaza Protest is No Coincidence.”

Is there anyone who is familiar with the situation in Palestine who thought it was a coincidence? The organizers were clear from the start: the demonstration would start on Land Day and continue to May 15, the day of the Nakba, or catastrophe, when, on that date in 1948, three-quarters of a million Palestinians were displaced from their homes, with no voice in the matter, no choice and no recompense. Does Robertson not know that this current protest was to be a major event, planned carefully to hopefully draw international attention to the plight of the Palestinians? Or did he, in his oh-so-insightful way, see that those crafty Palestinians were up to something, hidden from view but obvious to his particular brand of cleverness?

In this bizarre article. Roberson recognized that the scheduled end of the protest coincides with the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, something which the Palestinians and the vast majority of the world oppose. Said he, again demonstrating that particular intelligence that is clear throughout his article: “Given that Palestinians oppose this move, the timing of the protest is not likely a coincidence.” Right.

“Like so many battles of yesteryear, both sides arrive to this current field of conflict carrying a weight of historic grievances, armed with today’s political imperatives.”

Let’s look for a moment at some of these ‘historic grievances’. Palestinians were driven from their homes so the United Nations could establish the state of Israel.  Hundreds of ancient Palestinians villages were bulldozed, leaving not a trace. Sacred shrines and cemeteries received the same fate. Since that time, using the advanced weaponry that the U.S. provides to Israel, thousands of additional Palestinian men, women and children have been killed, arrested, illegally jailed, displaced, beaten, abused and disregarded by Israeli law. This is ongoing to this day.

On the other hand, Israel must contend with Palestinians throwing stones at its occupying soldiers, and occasionally even slapping one of them. Yes, as Robertson said, there are grievances on both sides.

“Israeli officials are convinced Hamas is challenging the status quo of Gaza’s limits and is ready to throw down civilian lives to achieve it.”

Yes, the murders of at least 18 unarmed Palestinians by Israeli snipers, and the injury to at least 700 more, injured with live ammunition, is all Palestine’s fault!

“In public statements before the confrontation, Israeli officials said an attack on the border fence is an attack on Israel’s sovereignty and pulled no punches on what a response could look like.”

Robertson neglects a few pertinent facts here, so we will inform him. The vast majority of the protesters were hundreds of yards away from the fence, ON PALESTINIAN LAND. Yet many were shot by Israeli snipers. To read Robertson’s words, one would think that hundreds or even thousands of Palestinians stormed the fence. Yes, a few dozen did approach the fence, but at all times they remained on Palestinian land. And, as mentioned earlier, some of the pesky Palestinians actually threw stones at the ‘brave’ Israeli snipers, who were heavily armed and outfitted against them. All this was happening while Israeli drones dropped tear gas on unarmed and defenseless Palestinians on their own land.

“To make their message clear, the Israel Defense Forces’ Arabic website posted a video of a young man being shot in the leg; it was accompanied by the caption: ‘This is what will happen to you if you try to get close to our border.’”

Robertson sees no problem with Palestinians being threatened for committing the ‘crime’ of being ‘close’ to the Israeli border. He did not choose to comment on that at all.

“It is hard to ignore the calculation on Hamas’s part that some of their protesters would get killed.”

Was this Hamas’ ‘calculation’, or an expectation, based on Hamas’, and the world’s, knowledge of the savagery of Israel? Robertson, like most U.S. government officials, seems to see Palestinians demanding equal rights from their apartheid oppressor as something that is ‘calculated’ by a scheming ‘terror’ organization.

In 2014, Robertson met with Khaled Meshaal Hamas’ political leader. In the current article, he says this: “He told me that Hamas does not seek international sympathy through its own victims. Today, that notion is increasingly questioned amid criticism that the group is once again sacrificing civilians for political gain.”

Once again, he is blaming the victim. The government of Gaza is right to encourage its citizens to peacefully demonstrate for their rights. The government of Israel is in violation of international law by shooting them and tear-gassing them. Yet it is the Palestinians in whom Robertson sees culpability.

It has been some time since this writer has seen such a blatantly one-sided, biased article about Palestinian’s struggles on a ‘mainstream’ news site. Generally, although Israel is usually seen as defending its ‘national security’, there is usually some bone thrown to Palestinian aspirations for peace, freedom and human rights. But CNN’s ‘International Diplomatic Editor’ was content to find fault only with the Palestinians, a people who have been brutally oppressed by Israel for decades.

Thankfully, Robertson is in the minority, although it is far more than a shame that he is given a national audience. The unspeakable injustices committed against the Palestinians seem to not only continue, but also increase, as more of the world stands up to Israel. Eventually, however, justice will prevail; it’s tragic that so many innocent Palestinians must suffer and die before that occurs.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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