The orange menace, bigotry, and the murderous empire

Quotes from Trump’s recent speeches spewing racism and/or jingoism time and time again.

While much of Texas (and now Louisiana) reels from a “capitalist crime scene” which was made clear nationwide across the US with the “unprecedented” flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, another storm is brewing: racism in the White House, the “President’s House” was built on the backs of enslaved and wage laborers.

Trump is undoubtedly a racist and bigot as proven during his campaign. Most recently this was manifested in his pardon of Sheriff Joseph Michael Arpaio or “Sheriff Joe” of Maricopa County, Arizona. Defending the action, he claimed that Arpaio did “great” for the Arizonan people and was “loved” there. He further spewed out that his pardon was justified by previous pardons of Marc Rich, Susan Rosenberg, and Carlos Vignali by Bill Clinton, and famed whistleblower Chelsea Manning and noble Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar Lopez Rivera. He hates them all. Manning, who sadly fell in line with supporting Apple’s fake “privacy” battle with the US government, played a major part in interrupting “imperial scheming,” often called diplomacy, of the murderous empire, revealed, for example, that there were “the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] proposed energy ties with China if Beijing backed sanctions against Iran, and [showed] that the country is a major source of financing of Islamic reactionary groups.” The same is the case for Rivera, who is also a brave, and arguably heroic figure. As I wrote back in January, which I still stand by

In the days before Trump’s inauguration…Obama made some “last minute” actions, some of which were symbolic. Due to public pressure and likely to give himself a “good” legacy…he pardoned transgender whistleblower Chelsea Manning  and Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar Lopez Rivera, along with a number of nonviolent drug offenders…many political prisoners are still locked behind bars and his action was symbolic…It worth saying however that if Manning’s sentence had not been reduced, Trump likely would have extended the sentence and left her in prison for life

Yet, he thinks that Arpaio “is a patriot [who]…loves our country…protected our borders” and the Obama administration “unfairly” treated him. Lest us forget that Arpaio is well-established believer in the theory that Obama’s birth certificate was faked (which Trump ran on in an unsuccessful campaign for the 2012 Presidential election) and Maricopa County had to pay millions for his racial profiling to Chican@ people who were profiled as he continued his illegal immigration patrols. Only more recently he was cited as “guilty of criminal contempt of court” since he did not follow a “federal judge’s order that halted his signature immigration round-ups,” which Trump could not stand, so he pardoned the bigot. To summarize what Arpaio did, he enforced hardline racist anti-immigration policies which were dictated on the federal level, with sweeps that zeroed in on immigrant neighborhoods, with many of “those taken into custody were not accused of violating a state crime but only of living in the country illegally.” [1]

Trump brought his racism to another level, beyond the pardon. He threatened to shut down the federal government over border wall funding (which he did not pull back even he had the opportunity to do so). In his jingoism, he declared that “Mexico is going to pay for the wall….one way or the other,” slammed NAFTA as “one of the worst trade deals ever signed at any time, anywhere in the world” (which isn’t wrong, but what he would replace it with is a bunch of bilateral-NAFTA-like agreements), and said that the US needs “the wall very badly” since it will “stop a lot of things” including “drugs” which he bellows is “pouring in at levels like nobody has ever seen,” which sounds like clear and simple fearmongering. There is no doubt about this since he wants to be “very, very tough on the southern border,” in his own words, to protect the supposed “prosperity” he will bring White people in the US, which isn’t going to materialize. Recently, he praised the mobilization of the Homeland Security Search Capacity Force, in response to Hurricane Harvey, declaring that with law enforcement we have to “make sure that we’re overcoming and anticipating any security needs that we have.” This is consistent with his moves to give the police even more weaponry, which was partially limited by the Obama administration because of public pressure, so they can further terrorize communities of color.

Before putting the orange menace in his appropriate context, it is worth discussing his comments on the anti-racist protests in Charlottesville. On August 12 he declared that “we” (by which he meant the US government) condemn “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides” and said that “it’s been going on for a long time in our country,” nothing new. In his mind, what was needed was “swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives,” and coming together as a nation to “heal the wounds of our country.” While this may seem more measured than chasing people down who are of a certain color of the skin, it still has a white supremacist tone to it, especially when he talks about the “healing procedure” which, when coming from him, sounds like David Duke. Considering that the police and capitalist state in the US are of a white supremacist character, calling for “restoration” of “order” means that his “moderation” is nothing of the sort, when he does not categorically condemn bigotry, saying that it happened on “many sides” but not the side of the white supremacists. As Sam Marcy of the Workers World Party wrote in 1982, which is still relevant today,

“…in the eyes of the liberal bourgeoisie a militant struggle against the Klan…violates the sacred norms of imperialist democracy…Unless one sees the Klan and other fascist organizations in the general context of the developing struggle of the workers and oppressed, one runs the danger of completely abdicating…using the free speech amendment as a cover for…the use of violence and mass repression is a congenital tendency of the capitalist state. Even in the so-called best of times the capitalist government not only tolerates terrorist organizations like the Klan…It is the ever-expanding growth of the police and military forces at home which makes repression and violent outbursts an inevitable outgrowth of the deepening class antagonisms…This is how consistent liberalism can be in a crisis – they go over to the other side…it is most important to discard the liberal straitjacket that only leads to defeat and frustration and arm the mass movement of the working class and oppressed with a revolutionary perspective.”

Two days later, on August 14, after controversy and anger over his “many sides” comment, he read from a teleprompter, declaring that the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence” in Charlottesville has “no place in America,” going onto say that “racism is evil…those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups.” He went onto say that their beliefs are “repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans” and adding that “those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.” His solution was the idea of “bonds of love and loyalty that bring us together as Americans” which has echoes of the bygone era when the murderous empire was “fighting” those it called “subversives” and “communists,” a fight against those who stand for justice and a better world which continues to this day. While he condemned hatred, he did not condemn those who engage in bigotry in ways that are not outwardly violent like police killing Black men (and women) on the streets of the US, the symbols of the Confederacy that still stand in thousands of locations across the country, mostly in the US South but some in the North as well. This was to be expected. After all, from his definition, HE should be “repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans” and his words of hate strike at “the very core of America.”

Trump’s definitions are contorted, since bigots of any type manifest basic US values of White America from redlining, de facto re-segregation in urban areas, and dirty environmental projects placed in poor Black and Brown communities (called environmental racism for short) that cannot readily fight off the challenge as much as affluent White communities. These values, the conception of a safe White neighborhood with white picket fences, barking dogs, and areas removed from the perceived (and sometimes real) “problems” of the city, which does not, in general, include people of color. There are some exceptions, but there areas are broadly created for White people. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said in 1968, there is “no more dangerous development in our nation than the constant building up of predominantly negro central cities ringed by white suburbs” saying this will “invite social disaster.” Yet, nothing was done.

To give more historical context, the US Constitution, which is still used as a “blueprint” by the Supreme Court and is a “highly regarded” document, was formed by 55 men who were well-off white property owners, slaveowners, speculators, and other elements of the “new” capitalist class of the burgeoning nation. Anti-Black provisions were written into state laws, proven by the Supreme Court in decision after decision (i.e. Dred Scott v. Sandford, Civil Rights Cases, and Plessy v. Ferguson), and became part of the legal code of the United States at large. Racism is NOT “repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans” because it is part of the DNA of the murderous empire itself from transatlantic slavery to indigenous genocide and immigrant expulsion. Sure, it should have “no place in America,” but Trump himself stoked the flames of the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence,” in places such as Charlottesville, Boston, and San Francisco, to name a few, which was becoming “re-energized” by the united hatred of the US’s first “Black president” (he was actually mixed race, half White, half Black) Barack Obama, who, as noted before, put a happy face on the murderous empire. If racism” is “evil” as he says, and those who cause “violence in its name are criminals and thugs,” which strikes “the very core of America” (either indicating his dwindling core of supporters or the Midwest of the US), then Trump himself is “evil” and so is the murderous empire, since HE and the empire cause violence in the name of racism,  in terms of inherently racist imperialism.

One day after he, in scripted remarks, condemned in a PR statement, the hatred spewed in Charlottesville, he doubled back on his August 12th comments. This showed that inherently he still believed that both the anti-racists and bigots committed acts of violence. Apart from defending a racist, hate-filled man named Steve Bannon who was, not many days later, fired as his chief strategist (after which he returned as editor of the conspiratorial bigoted site called Breitbart) as a “friend of mine…he’s a good man…not a racist…a good person” who gets “very unfair press in that regard,” he charged that the “alt-left” (which doesn’t exist) was guilty of violence, “charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs” at the bigots. Basically he defended the bigots as those with a protest permit and the anti-racists as those without a permit (whether that is true or not), declaring that not all of the people protesting “the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee” (which he claimed was “very, very important”) were white supremacists. Furthermore he portrayed the bigots (“bad people”) as “violently” attacked by anti-racists, claiming that there were “very fine people, on both sides.” In his shouting match with reporters of the bourgeois press he said, in his white supremacist language, that those who want Confederate monuments to come down, since they honor a failed nation which explicitly defended and promoted Black slavery, are “changing history…[and] culture” (why is this bad?). [2] He further said that those who are neo-confederate were “treated them absolutely unfairly” by the same press and saying that there were “troublemakers…with the black outfits and with the helmets, and with the baseball bats.” Those people are what is commonly called the Black Bloc. While further comment on the would require more analysis of their tactics and history over time, there should be no debate that those who are facing bigots should be able to use any tools at their disposal to defend themselves.

It was then that Trump said that the taking down of the Confederate monuments was only the beginning, like a first domino of a series of dominos falling:

…this week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down…is it George Washington next week?…Thomas Jefferson the week after?…you…have to ask yourself, where does it stop?…George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his statues?….are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson?…Are we going to take down the statue? Because he [Thomas Jefferson] was a major slave owner. Now, are we going to take down his statue?

When Trump feels under attack he predictably spews garbage like this. This just gives pure ammunition to the forces of bigotry within the United States, at least, giving them an easy counter-argument. The fact is that such forces are, as it stands now, on the losing side, on the defensive. The fact that governments (and universities) across the country are taking down Confederate statues shows the power of the anti-racist forces, forces for justice, forces for a better world. To think that people would support taking down the statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson within the murderous empire is a joke. Founding myths, as progressive historian Ray Raphael calls them, about such Founding Patriarchs are inherent to the national consciousness. They are drilled in inhabitants of the United States from an early age, through schooling, and used by politicians, whether Democratic or Republican to make “patriotic” arguments. Reading the writings of progressive historians like Howard Zinn, Ray Raphael, William Hogeland, and Christina Synder, who are not always radical in their writing, can help to counter this worship of the Founding Patriarchs.

In the same press conference, Trump boasted that he owned “a house in Charlottesville…one of the largest wineries in the United States,” flaunting his capitalistic wealth once again. On the ground, people are resisting at the Charlottesville City Council against the pathetic white moderates who let the calamity unfold, even as it is a “watershed” in the anti-fascist struggle, and people worked together to topple a Confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina, an effort rightly applauded by the local chapter of the socialist (and Marxist) Workers World Party.

MLK, mentioned earlier, a self-defined democratic socialist who seemed to incorporate Black nationalism more into his beliefs between 1965 and his death in 1968, once said that “the bombs in Vietnam explode at home. They destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America.” [3] The same is the case today, with the violence in the streets of Charlottesville, on the streets of decaying urban metropolis after metropolis by the hands of cops, connecting to the imperial war in Afghanistan. Trump already thinks that everyone who puts on a uniform “makes our nation proud” with a shared purpose, wanting the US to be like the military with “love and loyalty to one another – and to our nation – as we seek to heal divisions from within,” speaking out against “the voices that try to sow hatred and division” (which includes Trump himself), treating fellow citizens “with love and affection” while honoring “our heroes” with supposed “sacred bonds of loyalty that unite us together as one.” This talk of loyalty not only harkens back to Cold War era loyalty oaths but it inherently fascist as he doesn’t want any sort of dissent, a nation of “yes men” and “yes women.” Furthermore, he doesn’t like transgender people in the US military, allowing those who currently are within the ranks to stay, but not allowing others to join, an uneasy compromise for the bigot-in-chief. This could provide an opportunity to organize against military recruitment in the transgender community instead of joining the jingoistic forces that want a bigger recruiting pool for imperialist footsoldiers. That topic is for another article, but should be written about and discussed.

In short, Trump wants to escalate the war in Afghanistan which was begun by George W. Bush, continued by Obama (who had a “withdrawal” plan that wasn’t about withdrawing) and revved up by the Trumpster. The latter likely believes it is part of some Christian crusade as he is almost evangelical in his religious beliefs, asking “God for his wisdom and strength,” declaring that “we will be bigger, better, stronger than ever before.” In his much hyped speech, by the bourgeois media in the US, he declared that there is a “special class of heroes” in the US, of “American patriots from every generation” (undoubtedly including, in his mind, the Confederate States of America), saying that the county is at “war with itself at home” and falsely claiming that the US is a “force for peace in the world,” with imperialism only possible in his conception if everyone falls in line and doesn’t question him. His “policy” is not really a declarations that there must be “an honorable and enduring outcome” in Afghanistan (reminiscent of Nixon’s idea of an “honorable end to the war in Vietnam” or “Peace with Honor” which was actually ramped up imperialism), no “rapid exit…[or] hasty withdrawal” from Afghanistan, “immense” threats to US security apparently from the region, and facing the “reality of the world as it exists right now.” In his simplistic conception, terrorists who “slaughter innocent people” (like him with his drone killings or the US military killing innocent civilians) are “losers” while those in the US are apparently “winners.” He further showed that the military really controls the policy on Afghanistan by firstly saying that “conditions on the ground…will guide our strategy from now on” with secret plans to attack without public notice, ” integration of all instruments of American power…toward a successful outcome,” not engaging in nation-building or constructing “democracies in faraway lands,” but allowing the military to do what they please without restrictions with expansion of authority “for American armed forces to target the terrorist and criminal networks that sow violence and chaos throughout Afghanistan.” He basically wants to give more power to the military that lied about its number of troops in the country (admitting that 2,600 more troops were there than they said publicly), killed 15 Afghanis in an airstrike, “accidentally” killed Yemeni families, killing 10 Somalis (with the help of the US-backed Somali army)

He seemed to eerily echo Obama’s 2016 State of the Union Speech:

Again, toward the end of the speech, he called for those in the US to “unite” to defend the country “from its enemies abroad” by restoring “the bonds of loyalty among our citizens at home” and achieving an “honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the enormous price that so many have paid.” The latter is not possible at this point and the former just reflects his obsession with loyalty and no dissent, his inherent mindset. Anyone who challenges him, even liberals and progressives of a bourgeois character are disloyal, especially those who point out the contours of his brand, working to poke holes in this super-brand as Naomi Klein, a progressive of the bourgeois variety who is part of what some call the “Celebrity Left,” writes who is clearly a brand herself, just like many other “exalted” figures on the “Left” like Noam Chomsky.

Trump racism and outright bigotry is only one manifestation of the foulness of the murderous empire. He has embodied the empire as its head, so to speak, with a changing strategy in Syria, threats against the DPRK (and more recently Venezuela), along with horrendous sanctions, reinforcing the imperial interrelationship with Saudi Arabia, bombing Syria in what seems to be a one-time event to send a message to Moscow and Damascus to name a few aspects. While Bannon is gone, the bigotry continues. He will remain, an informal adviser to Trump, in his position at the head of a hateful propaganda network. After all, the Muslim ban was greenlighted by the Supreme Court as only a partial ban, showing their role in reinforcing racist legalism once again. Trump’s advisers, like H.R. McMaster, have more pull with Bannon gone, but perhaps that was part of the plan. It is hard to discern. To put it simply, in the grand scheme of things, Trump is only one cog of the machine. Bigotry of all types, runs rampant in the murderous empire from gentrification in the “fixed up” urban areas to more dirty energy pipelines forced through the land of indigenous nations. The capitalist monster can only be stopped in its tracks with determination, solidarity, knowledge of past history, and a well-developed analysis, to name a few elements.

 

Notes

[1] He also boasted that “Nobody is higher than me. I am the elected sheriff by the people. I don’t serve any governor or the president.”

[2] Bringing down Confederate monuments should be applauded but it only the start and should not be done to replace necessary racial justice not of the kind proposed by Ta-Nehisi Coates but that which is written about by Cornel West or those over at the always well-spoken Black Agenda Report.

[3] While his belief in non-violence and “loving your enemy” doesn’t really have a place in today’s society, he did truly care about the Black people of America, and the disenfranchised of all races.

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“Slaughter and bloodshed in Syria”: an imperialist act of aggression

One of the victims of the imperialist US airstrike. Courtesy of SANA.

The Syrian Arab Republic is under attack! Yesterday afternoon, two US destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at Syria’s Al-Shayrat Air Base, in Homs Province, with the US government claiming, falsely, that this was where a chemical weapons attack had been initiated. [1] This strike, deemed a “vital national security interest” by the Trumpster himself, rests on the idea, reminiscent of Bush’s attacks on the Republic of Iraq in 2003. The  top echelons of the war machine once again claim that “there can be no dispute” that Syria carried out a chemical weapons attack, and that there is a “high level of confidence” of Syrian involvement, with the US striking the air base’s logistics. [2] At the same time, oil man Tillerson has reversed his more reasonable position that BasharAl-Assad’s “long-term status” should be determined by the Syrian populace to calling for outright regime change. More dangerously was not Trump’s predictable argument that past approaches to Assad “failed very dramatically” or that Trump is contradicting himself by opposing Obama’s war in 2013 and now authorizing similar action, but that Russians were at the air base hit by US missiles! [3] This portends that there will be a wider war. This is hinted by a number of facts.  For one, 900 marines, Army Rangers, and other troops are currently in Syria, which may include or add to the 279 Military and Civilian Personnel who are currently in Syria. [4] It is not known whether they were participate in this war or not. Regardless, Trump is a clear warmonger, engaging the same strike plan Obama readied in 2013, building on the imperialist Obama legacy of eight years.

While I am aware that this war is a distraction from Trump’s fascist agenda to cut down funding for social services, support police murders, greenlight pipelines like Keystone XL and Dakota Access, among many others, that trample on the rights of indigenous people, and many other horrors, I do think this deserves some treatment so this war can be effectively written about, the bourgeois liberals and bourgeois progressives can be exposed, and an anti-imperialist strategy forward to oppose a war that the capitalist class is giddy about can be proposed.

The reasons for war

Like in Bosnia (1999), Iraq (2003), Libya (2011), and many actions since, this war has a humanitarian reason behind it. While this military action is hypocritical since the US coalition killed more civilians than Russia or ISIS (called Daesh in the rest of this post) last month, that the amount of explosives in Syria and Iraq will take 40-50 years to clean up, and that this missile strike is one of the many US military forays in the 21st century, with this one putting the US in a proxy battle with Russia’s military, the Pentagon doesn’t seem to care about these consequences. [5] On April 4, the Trumpster declared that the “chemical attack in Syria” was “reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world,” saying that the actions by the “Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution,” claiming that Obama’s administration “did nothing” (not true), and going on to say that the US “stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable attack.” While this is typical imperialist boilerplate, it should be debunked right here and now.

While the narrative pushed by the Western capitalist government and compliant media claim that Syria is responsible for the attack on Apr 4 in Idlib, indications seem to say this isn’t the case. Even the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) showed itself to be an organ of imperialism when it declared that “the Syrian regime [needed] to stop using the war machinery, torture and killings against its own people.” Apart from the rush to judgment in this case, the Russian narrative that the SAA (Syrian Arab Army) bombed a terrorist stockpile with chemical weapons, which they didn’t know were in there, seems compelling and credible. [6] This is made further ridiculous by the fact that Syria has already destroyed their chemical weapons stockpile and even if they did, they wouldn’t use them. They have done so in compliance with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is still investigating the attack as I write this. Recently, Russia stood up for Syria in the UN Security Council by stopping a Western-backed resolution on the chemical weapons attack which presumes that the “guilty” party (who they peg as Syria) cannot be allowed to be innocent, leaving countries like Iran to call for disarmament of all terrorist groups in the country, something the West won’t dare to say.

By April 6, the foundation was set for war. When asked about military action in Syria, Trump gave no specifics to the compliant media, only saying that “what Assad did is terrible…what happened in Syria is one of the truly egregious crimes,” indicated that he may talk to Russia in the future about it, and declared that “what happened in Syria is a disgrace to humanity. And he’s there, and I guess he’s running things, so something should happen.” Such vagueness was in line with the new Pentagon position to not reveal how many troops are fighting Daesh, with 3,825 in Iraq and 300 in Syria, as of June of last year, the latest numbers. It also is reminiscent of Trump’s “secret plan” to defeat Daesh that he “didn’t want to reveal” during the presidential campaign.

In his speech later that day at his lush resort in Mar-A-Lago, a show of how he is a fascist capitalist, Trump showed that he is a murderous imperialist just like the presidents before him. He called Bashar al-Assad a “dictator,” saying that he was responsible for killing “lives of helpless men, women, and children” and declaring that he ordered “a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched” which he said was a “vital national security interest” of the US, along with declaring that Syria used “banned chemical weapons,” violated the Chemical Weapons Convention, that previous attempts to change “Assad’s behavior have all failed,” and called on “all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.” It is this speech that the title of this article comes from, although I twisted his phrase to use it in an anti-imperialist manner rather than an imperialist one. He ended with a typical religious message, claiming ridiculously that as “long as America stands for justice, then peace and harmony will, in the end, prevail.” Anyone with sense knows this is an utter lie, that the US empire is a ravenous, blood-sucking beast.

Later that day, oil man Tillerson, the Secretary of State, and war criminal McMaster, the National Security Advisor, gave a wide-ranging press conference. Tillerson spoke to the media, knowing that they were not adversarial, declaring that there had been two “chemical attacks” carried out by the Syrian govt. on Mar. 25 and 30th, saying that the US government had a “very high level of confidence” this was the case, sounding eerily like the arguments for the Iraq invasion in 2003, part of the first thirty year war on the country (1991-2011). He went on to blame Russia for being responsible for not following UN resolutions, claimed laughably that Assad is “normalizing the use of chemical weapons” (no, the Western-backed terrorists are), arguing that the strike was  “proportional…against this heinous act,” said that the US government did not have any “discussions or prior contacts” prior to the attack with Moscow or Putin, saying that the US operated under “military de-confliction agreements in place with the Russian military.” If this wasn’t enough, he went on to expect that the Kurds and Turks would applaud the action while Bashar al-Assad and Russia, would oppose it, saying that the US wants to “stabilize areas in the south of Syria…Restore them to local governance,” use the Geneva Process to “resolve Syria’s future in terms of its governance structure,” and push out Assad, and said out right that “our target was this airfield and the Syrian regime.” This is just imperialist rhetoric, but it could indicate a broader war in the future. McMaster, also the NSA Director, had a lot to say as well. He noted that the attack had been two days of planning, repeating that the US had a “very high degree of confidence precisely where the location originated, and…the sort of chemicals that were used in the attack” thanks to the intelligence community, going on to give a vague story of “three options” available to Trump, but no specifics, and claiming that “the regime will maintain the certain capacity to commit mass murder with chemical weapons we think beyond this particular airfield,” when those committing mass murder is really the murderous US empire. McMaster went on to say that “this was not a small strike,” claimed widely that there had been “50 chemical attacks previously, post-2013, when the U.N. resolution went into effect,” saying that this was “entirely a U.S. operation” did not have “Russian permission” (why would it?)

So apart from the imperial lies and distortions, it is important to recognize the consequences of this murderous action by the Trump administration.

The consequences of international murder

As the Russia hacking narrative seems to fade away into the wind or at least will be pushed away by war, people are suffering from US military aggression in Syria. Before getting to that, it must be recognized that this came at a time that US military aggression in Yemen is increasing, with a US-made famine, a new US drone policy has been declared, more money has been set aside for war, and the SAA is advancing in its fight against Daesh, with the liberation of Aleppo most notably, as the US engages in varied war crimes. [7] So, this was comes at an opportune time. With low approval ratings of Trump’s presidency from Gallup and Pew Research Center, among others, reported relatively recently, the war provides a way for Trump to take advantage of the rally ’round the flag effect to boost his approval rating. Also, it is undoubtedly a distraction, like all wars are, and a way to flex US muscles.

Each of 59 the 2,900 pound Tomahawk missiles, hit “aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars” at the Al-Shayrat Air Base, as the Pentagon claimed, backed up what they implied was “actionable intelligence.” [8] Early indications are that six to nine people, including four children and three SAA soldiers, were killed, with the Syrian media now saying that 20 were injured and one killed, but there is no doubt that this strike makes the US partner of the Western-backed (and Gulf-backed) terrorists within Syria, with unfounded claims by “experts” in the Western bourgeois media. [9] There are questions whether most of the missiles were shot down, but indications seem to say this was not the case. What is clear is that the air base attacked by US missiles had 45 airplane hangers, which were very fortified, reportedly used by Russian jet fighters, along with helicopter gunships, all to fight the terrorists within the country, Daesh and its affiliates. [10] Global Security described more of what the base had:

“…military ammunition and equipment warehouses…fuel materials storage…In 2015, Russia expanded the runways to accommodate Russian aircraft. The forces of the 50th Air Brigade, in particular the 677th and 685th squadrons of the Su-22M3/M4 fighter bombers and the 675th squadron of the MiG-23ML/MLD fighter jets, were based there. Some of the MiG-23s had not moved for many years and obviously were in a state of incapacity. Taking into account losses for previous years, probably, there could be about one and a half dozen of the combat-ready Su-22s at the airbase at the moment of the missile strike…In February of 2016, the Russian military doubled the number of attack helicopters stationed at Shayrat…Russia’s 120th Artillery Brigade with six 152 mm 2A65 Msta-B towed howitzers was deployed at a Syrian Arab Army base to the south of the airbase. There are reports that the Russians also allowed Iranian Air Force squadrons to utilize the facilities.”

In sum, apart from the smoke and broken fences, the damage was extensive: “runways, refueling stations and MiG-23 planes in their hangars” were destroyed, as Russian air defense systems ‘did not act as the Tomahawk cruise missiles flew past them.” One assessment said that “some 20 Syrian waplanes have been destroyed by US cruise missiles.” ISi, a satellite imagery company, said on a webpage which is sadly only available through Google cache, the following:

“…the total of 44 targets [were] hit. Several targets may have hit twice…An in-depth examination of the damage to the objectives shows that 13 double hardened aircraft shelters (HAS) got 23 hits. 5 workshops got hit.  The workshops are not necessarily related to WMD, but to aircraft and their ability to do maintenance and fly…Ten ammunition storages got hit. Seven fuel reservoirs of the AFB got hit at two sites with eight hits total. Two locations remain untouched. One SA6 Battery utterly destroyed along with its radars and control systems. In total, five SA6 Battery elements hit…The results show that the target hits were accurate and that the Tomahawks have been used effectively against quality targets. Although 58 missiles hit the base, it seems that the overall damage to the base is limited because the warhead of the Tomahawk is not considered large”

To get to the point, the base that was bounded was used to fight Daesh, so it only an unsurprising coincidence that ISIS would attack the airbase AFTER the missile attack (also see here). Its almost like they knew it was going to happen. So in that way, the US attack, which is aggression and an act of war, seems aimed at stalling the Syrian anti-terrorism effort.

Other consequences are as dire. Attempts to keep in place the UN ceasefire, will be harder than ever. Also, relations between the United States and Russia will become more frayed. With Russia suspending a 2015 agreement of military cooperation with US, condemning US military strike as “aggression against a sovereign government,” there were also claims that the US-Russia communication line was cut, although this was just rumors and untrue since the US contacted the Russians before the missile strikes. [11] Beyond this, Russia has pledged itself to shore up Syria’s air defenses, gave its military bases enhanced air cover, and sent a warship bound for Syria’s port of Tartus. The US, with this aggression, is dangerously close to a military clash with the Russian military, as Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday, saying that the strikes were “one step away from military clashes with Russia. President Putin views the U.S. strikes on Syria as aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the norms of international law and on a made-up up pretext. This step by Washington will inflict
major damage on U.S.-Russia ties.” [12] The Russian Foreign Ministry put out an even broader statement condemning the attacks:

“The United States conducted strikes against Syrian government troops in the early hours of April 7, using chemical weapons attacks in Idlib Province as a pretext. The US opted for a show of force, for military action against a country fighting international terrorism without taking the trouble to get the facts straight. It is not the first time that the US chooses an irresponsible approach that aggravates problems the world is facing, and  threatens international security. The very presence of military personnel from the US and other countries in Syria without consent from the Syrian government or a UN Security Council mandate is an egregious and obvious violation of international law that cannot be justified. While previous initiatives of this kind were presented as efforts to combat terrorism, now they are clearly an act of aggression against a sovereign Syria. Actions undertaken by the US today  inflict further damage to the Russia-US relations. Russia has expressed on numerous occasions that it was ready to  cooperate on resolving the most urgent issues the world is facing today, and that fighting international terrorism  was a top priority. However, we will never agree to unsanctioned action against the legitimate Syrian government  that has been waging an uncompromising war on international terrorism for a long time. Seeking to justify military  action Washington has totally distorted what had happened in Idlib. The US could not have failed to grasp the fact that the Syrian government troops did not use chemical weapons there. Damascus simply does not have them, as confirmed a number of times by qualified experts. This was the conclusion reached by the Organisation for the Prohibition of
Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Over the recent years this organisation inspected almost all the facilities linked or possibly linked to Syria’s chemical weapons programme. As for Idlib, the terrorists operating there used to produce toxic land mines intended for use in Syria and Iraq. These manufacturing facilities were put out of operation in a military operation carried out by the Syrian air force. The US pretends that it does not understand obvious things, turning a blind eye to the use of chemical weapons in Iraq, officially confirmed by Baghdad. The US refuses to believe the evidence provided by certified documents confirming the use of chemical weapons by terrorists in Aleppo. In doing so, the US is abetting international terrorism and making it stronger. New WMD attacks can be expected. There is no doubt that the military action by the US is an attempt to divert attention from the situation in Mosul,  where the campaign carried out among others by US-led coalition has resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties and an escalating humanitarian disaster. It is obvious that the cruise missile attack was prepared in advance. Any expert understands that Washington’s decision on air strikes predates the Idlib events, which simply served as a pretext for a show of force. Russia suspends the Memorandum of Understanding on Prevention of Flight Safety Incidents in the course of operations in Syria signed with the US. We call on the UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the latest developments.”

With the UN Security Council meeting on the missile strike, which I’ll discuss in the next section, there is no doubt that this war will not get any easier, even with Mossad supporting US imperialism with their false claim that Syria engaged in chemical weapons attack, and Russia standing by Syria. [13]

The condemnations and international reaction

First and foremost, the Syrian government rightly condemned this imperial act of aggression. The People’s Council, or what is called the “People’s Assembly” in Syrian state media, with Hadiyeh Khalaf Abbas as its speaker, condemned the missile strikes, saying that “this blatant aggression came in defense of the collapsed terrorist organizations and in an attempt to revive them since that Israel failed to carry out this mission before…This new US aggression…reveals again the falsity of the US allegations on combating ISIS terrorist organization.” Additionally, Bouthaina Shaaban, the Presidential Political and Media Advisor, criticized the action as contradictory, the Syrian military said that the attack makes the US partners of Daesh, and duly elected President Bashar al-Assad argued that the attack was “an unjust and arrogant aggression…an outrageous act that clarifies in conclusive evidence once again what Syria has been saying that the succession of administrations of this regime does not change the deep policies of its entity which is represented by targeting states, subjugating peoples and the attempt to dominate the world.” Syria was not alone in this condemnation, with many countries showing their solidarity.

Iran and Russia were the main countries that condemned the attack. For Iran, they argued that US strikes were unwise, dangerous, destructive, and violate international law with one Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani, saying that it is an “utter lie” Syria engaged in chemical weapons attack and “anti-US” slogans shouted at Friday prayers. [14] For Iran, the attack is worrisome because the possibility of a war with Iran looms larger than ever. The US is, as Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Minister, put it, the US is “fighting on same side as al-Qaida & ISIS in Yemen & Syria.”

As for Russia, as previously discussed, condemned the attacks as aggression, saying that they will help bolster Syrian military defenses. Before April 6 meeting of the UN Security Council, Russian Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov argued that

“It has come down to us that we do not cover the regime, but that we are in the country at the invitation of a legitimate government and that we are conducting an anti-terrorist operation there. Therefore, if there is a national point of view, it should remain within the national framework, and not be presented as truth in absolute authority…We will review the information, but we do not forget that on April 5, 2003, preparing the ground for the war in Iraq, General Powell, then the US Secretary of State waved a test tube with anthrax. Speaking of intelligence about the…types of WMD which in Iraq have never been found…They are trying through their project to gain access throughout Syria. This is unclear, because the investigation must be conducted at the crime scene.”

The embattled Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela showed their solidarity. Their Ministry of the People’s Power for External Relations issued a similar, statement, actually talking about US imperialism unlike the Russians:

“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela rejects the unilateral attack, contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and International Law, perpetrated by the United States of America against the Syrian Arab Republic, by launching missiles at the Syrian air base Ash Shairat in the Province of Homs, yesterday. Venezuela points out that neither the United Nations nor the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have yet reported the results of their investigation into the chemical weapons incident on 4 April Resulted in a tragic loss of 86 deaths and dozens of injuries. The Venezuelan Government condemns the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons by any country, person or entity, in any part of the world, whatever the circumstances and the reasons. It is deeply concerned that imperial factors justify and legitimize military interventions by endorsing actions by terrorist and extremist groups to the Syrian government through false positives. This attack has also allowed the logistical reconstruction of the terrorist groups, who then attacked the Syrian national army. The US attack on the Syrian Arab Republic constitutes an aggression to the sovereignty of this country and violates the principles and purposes of the UN Charter, such as the principle of territorial integrity, self-determination of peoples, non-interference in matters States and sovereign equality. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela reiterates its deep friendship with the sister Syrian Arab Republic, a member of the Non-Aligned Movement (Mnoal), and reaffirms its commitment to all political and diplomatic efforts for the sake of peace. Syria, respecting its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.”

Likely, the DPRK will soon voice their solidarity as well after Syria opposed imperial machinations in the Korean Peninsula aimed against Iran and because of the cordial relations between the two country, along with their brotherly solidarity.

At the U.N. Security Council’s Meeting on U.S. Airstrikes in Syria today, streamed live by C-SPAN, numerous member states spoke out against imperial aggression. Bolivia’s representative gave an impassioned speech to UN Security Council, saying, while holding up a picture of Colin Powell, that

“Now the United States believe that they are investigators, they are attorneys, judges and they are the executioners. That’s not what international law is about…I believe it’s vital for us to remember what history teaches us and on this occasion (in 2003), the United States…affirmed that they had all the proof necessary to show that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction but they were never found… never were they found”

As for Russia, they opposed war, as did Senegal, although the latter’s reasoning was weak, sounding like an imperial puppet state. As for Kazakhstan they supports negotiations, doesn’t want ceasefire to go away and opposes war, saying
sovereignty of states must be respected, and said that OPCW is working with Syrian govt., Ethiopia said that if situation worsens the Syrian state could collapse,
terrorists win, we need to be wise now, and have good statesmanship. UK, France, Sweden and Ukraine’s representatives supported the airstrikes, even though the Swedish ambassador wounded if the US strike follows international law. Then there was horrid Nikki Haley, who happened to be the chair of this meeting of the UN Security Council, for some reason. She claimed widely that the Syrian government has murdered hundreds of thousands, said it is “beyond a doubt” that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons, claimed that US “destroyed the airfield.” She went on to say that that the Syrian government engaged in “crimes against humanity,” that Iranian andRussian governments have a major responsibility for attack, and that US doesn’t want to strengthen Assad but this will lead to “more murder.” Her charges went further, declaring thar Russia is lying about chemical weapons, that US strikes are “measured” but they are “prepared to do more” and they want a “political process” to push Assad out. The Syrian representative arguably had one of the best speeches apart from the one by Bolivia’s representative. He argued that the US engaged in a “barbaric act of aggression,”leading many to be injured and wide-ranging damage, that the US has used false pretexts of chemical weapons, the very same pretext used by terrorists and their supporters in the West. He went on to say that Syria does not have chemical weapons and has not used them, that terrorists had chemical stockpiles, that the illegal American aggression violates UN charter, and that this is a grave extrapolation which came out of US covert assistance to opposition groups. He went further to say that the US has become
a partner of terrorists, trying to weaken SAA and its allies, with this action saving Al-Nusra after grave damage by SAA,and that the US,UK, and France, are spreading the same sorts of lies they used to attack Iraq. He ended by mentioning the Colin Powell speech, saying that US is using fabricated information for attack, saying that US wants to target states and assert their hegemony across the world, that the West haven’t cared about human rights for years, want hegemony and control of resources, and that this military action will lead to more chaos and threatens peace and security in the region. Right after this, Russia’s representative was recognized once again, saying that it is not right for other countries to insult Russia, like Nikki Haley. It was right after that the meeting is adjourned, with no more speakers.

With this open meeting showing broad opposition to US action, except from a few countries, who were US allies. This was bolstered by the fact that today, Moscow and Beijing proposed that “a United Nations panel investigating chemical weapons
use in Syria be extended to Iraq,” which was rejected by the UK, of course. For its part, China called for a UN investigation of the chemical weapons attacks on multiple occasions. These countries were not alone in their condemnations.

Numerous international organizations showed their solidarity. Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement, said that they support any Syrian response to the US aggression. Hezbollah, also called the Lebanese Resistance, argued that the US missile strikes were a continuation of aggressive policy toward Syria “in the service of the Zionist entity and to achieve its ambitions in the region” and that it is a “stupid action by the Trump
administration will mark the beginning of a major and dangerous tension in the region and increase the complexity of the situation around the world.” The Syrian Communist Party- Bakdash, had one of the strongest statements against the imperial aggression:

This attack is a new step from the American imperialist aggression on our homeland Syria, which was preceded by the landing of American military units in the north-east of our country without any accepted justification in international law…This aggressive step comes in the context of imperialist and Zionist policy aimed at the depletion and division of Syria, which is a steadfast fortress in the face of total colonial domination over the Eastern Mediterranean and the Arab world in general…America is the largest international terrorist in the world. The Syrian Communist Party calls upon the masses of our proud people to close ranks more and more in the face of the imperialist aggression and to provide all support to our brave national army in its fierce battle against the aggressors and their accomplices from terrorist gangs. The Syrian Communist Party goes to the world progressive public opinion, to all the progressive and democratic forces, to the free world, in a call to denounce the American imperialist aggression on Syria and increase their solidarity with the Syrian national steadfastness that contributes effectively to the struggle of global liberation forces against imperialism and imperialism.

This was followed by a statement by the party’s Secretary General, Ammar Bakdash, toto Damascus Radio, saying the following, in part, in much stronger words:

“What happened today is a continuation of the American aggression on our country. This attack on a military base of the Syrian army is a continuation of the American aggression…This aggression proves once again what we have already pointed out that the main enemy of our people is American imperialism and its ally in the Zionist-Israeli region…America once again proves that it is the world’s greatest terrorist. It practices State terrorism against all the peoples of the world in accordance with its expansionist colonial interests…America has a consistent expansionist policy throughout the world, especially in our region, and all the disasters that have been taking place in the region and the tragedies that our people have been living for more than six years are mainly due to the policy of American imperialism. Our main enemy is America, which has never disappeared from the scene…Therefore, anyone who thinks that America can have a positive role in terms of the peace process in Syria, is also important, this is the catch of the wind, and the void of falsehoods. America is in its interest to subjugate the peoples of the region to its full dominion by setting up its chief agent, Zionist Israel, as an agent for this region.”

The Communist Party of Italy also condemned the attacks in similar terms, saying that Trump has “declared war…against a country already destroyed by a violent imperialist war by the US and NATO,” saying (translation of this one is not exact) that “the use of chemical weapons by Syria would be political suicide” and that the

“US military attack against Syria is nothing but an extension of the long and strategic imperialist attack against the entire Middle East region, horrendous and bloody attack that continues, unpunished for decades and has already seen complete destruction of Iraq, Libya and Syria, with hundreds of thousands of dead and missing, of entire peoples thrown into despair and hunger, destruction of entire nations…it is equally clear that the US and NATO, and believe they have done the dirty work in Iraq and in Libya…it must be remembered how, with a fierce apology and cynical, the US and NATO attacked Syria in 2011: then, a vast arc of forces…(USA, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the UK) invested politically and economically in the construction of “social movement orange” against Assad and even more invested in the construction of ” Free Syrian Army ‘against Assad, “Free Army” of 100,000 men who joined in the military struggle against the legitimate Syrian government, the jihadists of Al-Nusra Front and the militia of the Caliphate…now that Assad, backed by Putin’s Russia, fought back and defeated on the field is the ‘ “Free Army” imperialist that the Caliphate…the US attack again…Trump “promises” war everywhere. The danger of imperialist world war…it really is time that the communist forces, leftist, democratic, pacifist all, come back, joined in the field, to fight and to reconstruct what is missing too long: a struggle and mass movement against the war. Against the imperialist policies against rearmament and the exit from NATO…THE PCI is in the field, it will be in every street, to struggle and to build the broadest unity against the war.”

The the National Secretariat of the same Communist Party said something similar. They strongly condemned the war, saying that is no evidence that the Syrian military used chemical weapons, saying it “would be a political suicide for the Syrian
government,” that Trump has “threatened war against North Korea, he has threatened China. Now he has launched an attack on Syria.”  They further argued that

“A new wind of World War II threatens the world, driven by US imperialism. The struggle for peace is the first task of the communist forces, leftist, democratic. You need to rebuild a mass movement against the war, is now closer than ever. The PCI is in the field and calls on all progressive forces and anti-war unity.”

Within the United States, the Workers World Party (WWP), Answer Coalition, and the Party of Socialism and Liberation (PSL) professed their solidarity with the Syrian state and against US imperialism. The WWP argued that the US government reversed its position, with warmongers in Washington and their allies blaming the Syrian government for chemical attacks, saying that imperialist politicians, pro-war forces, and bourgeois press “reeked of another U.S. invasion and wider war,” saying that a similar pretext was used in Vietnam in 1964 and Iraq in 2003. The statement goes on to say that Trump “transformed before our eyes into the Clinton interventionist,” that the US stance reeks of hypocrisy. They further said that

“What smelled familiar about this lie wasn’t just the record of past wars. In 2012, Obama drew what he called a red line in Syria, the Damascus government’s alleged use of chemical weapons. Syria possessed chemical weapons as a deterrent to Israeli nuclear weapons…Obama’s statement encouraged the proliferation of chemical weapons among the reactionary contra forces…in 2013 a chemical weapons attack struck the Damascus suburb of Ghouta…Obama threatened a “no-fly zone”…The corporate media marched lockstep with the Pentagon…Russia negotiated the removal of Syria’s chemical weapons to appease the Western war appetite, a process overseen by international observers. The Syrian state no longer has any chemical weapons, yet the media nearly four years later continue to mimic the Pentagon’s argument, as if this had never happened…With Islamic State on its last legs, it became clear that the U.S. role on the ground in Syria would evolve…Those who mistakenly believed Trump would be  anti-intervention may find this change shocking. Those who understand the nature of U.S. imperialism knew it was inevitable….Often, the U.S.-led coalition struck Syrian soldiers, paving the way for IS advances…Syria today stands at the front line, defending itself against a massive imperialist assault. It is the last truly independent Arab state. For six years, Syrians have faced a multifaceted fight to the death against dozens of countries, yet they and their allies are closer to victory than ever before…It is the duty of those living in the belly of the beast, in the U.S., to unequivocally demand imperialist forces leave Syria. We have to combat bourgeois propaganda until our vocal cords are worn…The liberation of the workers and oppressed peoples in the U.S. is dependent on our ability to unite our struggles with the independence struggles of oppressed nations.”

The Answer Coalition and PSL had similar statements. The Answer Coalition declared that Trump’s administration is “waging a new war of aggression in the Middle East,” noted that Killary Clinton “emerged back into the public spotlight to demand that Trump carry out military strikes against Syria,” and that US “imperialist military actions  [are] against an independent, sovereign Middle Eastern government” under the pretext of “protecting civilians from weapons of mass destruction,” bombing the “secular government of Bashar al-Assad at the moment that the Syrian national army was defeating al-Qaeda, the so-called Islamic State and other terrorist armed organizations.” They go on to say that “every person in the United States should assume that the U.S. government, the Pentagon, and the CIA are lying when they seek to justify this new military aggression” and that these “military strikes…pose a grave danger of escalating into a regional or even global confrontation” since the Syrian government “has the support of Russia and Iran” and they called for anti-war protests across the country. The PSL reposted the same statement and it was also promoted by World Can’t Wait. Then there is the World Peace Council which denounced the imperial action, saying

“The World Peace Council denounces and condemns the recent missile attacks of the USA against Syrian targets on 6th April,as an act of further escalation of the imperialist intervention in Syria and the region, based on the alleged use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun town near Idleb by the Syrian army, a crime with suspicious motives. The US bombing of Syria constitutes not only the violation of the principles of the UN Charter but is also the continuation of the US policies of the previous US administrations, now by the Trump administration…The WPC expresses its solidarity with the Syrian people and the peoples of the region for their rights to determine freely and without any foreign interference their fortunes. We denounce also the hyprocrisy and double moral of the imperialists, who support and/or carry out attacks on peoples and nations, driving hundreds of thousands to become refugees, and at the same time “shed tears” about the displaced people who run away for their lives. The WPC calls upon its members and friends to condemn the imperialist interventions and plans in the region and to express their solidarity with the peoples in need.”

Bourgeois progressives and libertarians also opposed the war. The socially democratic Green Party of the United States, condemned the attack, only for the reasons of not having congressional approval, international support, while Ajamu Baraka of the Green Party went further, saying that the “U.S. has no moral right to wage war on Syria.” Then, there was the people of CodePink. Medea Benjamin, of the latter organization, and Ann Wright, said that in 2013, “four years ago, massive citizen opposition and mobilization stopped a possible U.S. military attack on the Assad government of Syria,” said that “the U. S. military is already heavily involved in the Syrian quagmire,” and cited the Iraq War as an example. Of course, neither the Green Party peoples, Benjamin, or Wright declared their solidarity with the government of Syria or mentioned the word imperialism. This was reflected in the fact that CodePink blared out that there should not be a war in Syria, that war is not the answer, that there is congressional authorization, and rejecting US escalation, showing that they have a bourgeois analysis. The same goes for Katrina vandenHeuvel of The Nation‏, who only said there is no “military solution” to the “crisis” in Syria, Rep. Ted Lieu who opposes US war in Syria but has no solidarity, or libertarian Senator Rand Paul who condemns what happened in Syria and says that intervention in Syria will not make the US safer, that there needs to be congressional authorization. Even Ben Norton and Max Bluementhal teamed up to write an antiwar article which says “U.S. intervention would be the last hope for Syrian rebels, and a shot in the arm to al-Qaeda, which has grown to record size thanks to America’s military meddling across the Middle East” but barely mentions the words “Russia” and “Assad,” never using the word imperialist or capitalist.

Worst of all are the statements of bourgeois progressive groups. CREDO, Peace Action, Win Without war and MoveOn put out a joint statement saying that the attack was  unilateral, reckless, and without an “apparent plan for what comes next and with no legal authorization,” saying that “this was an illegal act of war, launched in violation of the U.S. Constitution and international law” and saying that “Trump cannot bomb his way to peace,” adding that Trump should “be leading the world in a diplomatic effort to end the war, increasing American support for humanitarian assistance, and welcoming Syrian refugees to the safety of America.” As I have discussed before on this blog, diplomacy of the United States is a form of imperialism. Then there’s Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs for Peace Action, who argued that “only a political solution can end the carnage in Syria” and that if we go too far, the US would “risk retaliation against U.S. troops stationed in Syria, and could dangerously escalate tensions with Russia and Iran,” adding that “Congress has not authorized the use of military force against the Assad government, which should be a prerequisite to any military action.” [15] These pathetic, milquetoast statements will not get anyone anywhere. In fact, Martin’s statement is basically an imperialist one, worrying about risks to US footsoldiers of imperialism! These bourgeois progressives are clearly, and likely will never be, comrades of the Syrian people. They are as bad as the dumb liberals who are still complaining about Russian involvement, saying that “Assad is a butcher” (progressive talk radio host Sam Seder), which just leads to more war. Even Democracy Now! is entertaining the notion that Trump’s attack “could” violate international law, not saying it DOES violate international law. Even British politician Nigel Farage, formerly of the fascist UK Independence Party (UKIP) and self-declared Trump supporter said that Assad is secular and that “previous interventions in the Middle East have made things worse rather than better,” with the same in this case.

We then get to the people who support the war. Clearly, the Democrats want more war with pathetic words from people like Rania Khalek which do not inspire confidence. More directly, US Senators Mitch McConnell, Mark Warner, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain applauded the action, Barbara Lee called for a vote, like Nancy Pelosi, Seth Moulton and Steve Russell, former vets, only are concerned because there is “no plan” presented yet. [16] Beyond this, NATO’s Secretary General, Angela Merkel of Germany, Francois Hollande of France, Justin Trudeau of Canada, Carl Bildt of Sweden, Donald Tusk of EU Commission, Saad Hariri of Lebanon, and the governments of the UK, Jordan, Bahrain, Turkey, Japan, France, Britain (also see here) Italy, Australia, Israel, Germany, Netherlands, and Saudi Arabia, support the attack while the UN Secretary General, who caved to Israeli and US demands recently, tried to take a middle position. They were joined by Shlomo Bolt of Syrian-American Council who said that says Trump made “right decision” to go to war, horrid Erdogan of Turkey, who clearly wants more war, the Democratic “Socialists” of America clearly as anyone can see, and last, but not least, Bernie Sanders, an imperialist worth despising. Of course, the big capitalist enterprise of Rayethon supports the war since their stock is rising as a result of the use of their Tomahawk missiles in the strike, as does the Syrian National Coalition and the neoliberal NDP (National Democratic Party) in Canada with its weak response, as does the oil companies with oil prices rising since the attack. [17] Even Chomsky continued his imperialist run, declaring that “the Assad regime is a moral disgrace. They’re carrying out horrendous acts, the Russians with them.”

Then there’s the bourgeois media. Some, of course, went further, saying that Trump is taking a “stand for humanity,” while NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, who earns $10 million a year, said that he was wowed by the “beautiful pictures of fearsome armaments,” which some were angry about ONLY because Rachel “Madcow” Maddow wasn’t allowed to give her warmonger speech, saying that MSNBC was being sexist. [18] It really is a silly complaint not because the allegation of sexism is wrong but because the imperial warmongering would have delivered either way. If that wasn’t enough as the US beats drums for WWIII with its illegal missile strike, the bourgeois media in the US was gushing for war, from CNN to the New York Times, with Fareed Zakeria even saying that air strike made Trump a “president,” and beyond, along with opinions saying that there cannot be any peace under Assad, that Trump should “commit” to Syria, and that we shouldn’t be shocked by chemical weapons in Syria. [19]

A conclusion

There is no doubt that wars have been escalating under Trump’s watch, even with Steve Bannon seemingly out of the picture, and that this war should be opposed. Speaking of Bannon, it seemed like suspicious timing that ONE DAY before the military strike McMaster replaced Bannon on the National Security Council.  Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of CounterPunch agrees with me on that point, while seeming to not side with the Syrian or Russian governments, a weird sort of middle position:

“I don’t know who was behind the grisly chemical attack in the northern Syrian city of Khan Shaikhoun…Obama…made the right call in 2013, when he rejected the demands of many in his inner circle and in Congress to escalate the US intervention in Syria…All of the incentives for launching this attack favor those who want the Syrian war prolonged and the Assad regime overthrown. And it seems to have worked…Trump…swiftly followed suit, mumbling his own fatwa against the Assad regime a few hours before those missiles hit Homs…So mission accomplished for the neocons and the Hillaroids…Little Marco Rubio said Congress would be “open to ground troops” in Syria and the New York Times’ Lt. Gen. (honorary) Nicholas Kristof advised that it was “Trump is right to make Syria pay a price for war crimes, and taking out airfields is the best approach.”…A few hours before Trump fired his volley of cruise missiles at the Shayrat Air Force Base, Hillary Clinton…advised Trump to “take out Assad’s airfields”…Trump’s Rasputin, Steve Bannon…went into a rage and threatened to quit after getting 86’d off of the National Security Council, but stayed after Trump assured him he can continue to attend meetings…Bannon needed to be evicted from NSC before the Syrian airstrikes could be launched.”

Other than what St. Clair says, we should recognize that for one, the Syrian Coalition, an opposition group, welcomes the senseless missile strike, which may just “reinforce the balance of power between the combating factions rather than lead to a turning point,” even though it is evident that that the Trump policy is now regime change by military action. [20] It is interesting that Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, condemned use of chemical weapons in Syria, but said the country is “concerned with unilateral actions by any parties, including the use of Tomahawk missiles, in responding to the chemical weapon attack tragedy in Syria.” Of course the bourgeois media declares that Syrians are “split” over the US missile strike, with the narrative that those in rebel-held regions supporting the strike, and those in government-held regions think differently, although there is no doubt broader opposition than their claims. [21] There will be even more opposition since it seems evident that only ground forces in Syria itself can topple the duly-elected government of Bashar al-Assad and the National Progressive Front.

For any of those who said that Trump would be non-interventionist because of his campaign promises and not understanding how he took a more pro-military position as the campaign progressed forward, like the often cited and anti-leftist analysis from the libertarians at antiwar.com, Zero Hedge, or anywhere else, they were completely wrong.  Even as the Syrian government is open into international inquiries of the chemical  attacks, the future of the war seems bleak, with more money going to war, and the Senate not coming out of recess to vote on Syria war. [22] But that doesn’t mean we can’t stand in solidarity with the Syrian people and the socially democratic, secular state of Syria against the imperialist monster which threatens to tear the country apart.

With the slim, but affirmed victory in Ecuador of Lenin Moreno, there is still hope on the horizon. There is a possibility for opposing “limited action,” an imperialist war, in Syria, and we don’t have to listen to the propagandists like Avaaz who declare that “some have gone so far as to suggest that the Syrian Army did not actually drop the Sarin gas. This is such a far-fetched claim I can only assume they have been captured by Russian propaganda media,” or the bourgeois media who reprints commentaries by US generals about what is “happening” in Syria. There is no doubt that Trump angered his base, those who voted for him originally, while an approval rating bump is in question.

As radicals, revolutionaries, socialists, communists, or what have you, the first step as of now is to protest this horrid imperialist war which will benefit the capitalist class, causing them to smile in glee. This strike, I feel, is only the beginning of something greater, which was hinted at by Tillerson and Haley in recent days. This will again support terrorist propaganda that the “Christian nation” of the United States is bombing a “Muslim” nation in Syria. I don’t want to say it will lead to blowback, which is a distorted version of what former CIA analyst Chalmers Johnson declares in his many books about US empire since he is talking about foreign response to covert actions, not overt actions like military strikes, but also because I think the idea of blowback seems to bring with it, at least how it is commonly interpreted, a sort of Orientalism. I have credit my fellow comrade, Karen (kazahann) with that insight, which I’ve built upon here.

I don’t see this as a one-off strike which will go away. While we can stay critical of independent capitalist Russia, as William Blum has called it, we should stand in solidarity with the Syrian state and the proletariat therein as the PSL, WWP, Answer Coalition, and Communist parties, among others, of the world have done. As most of the readers who encounter this post likely live in the core, we must do what we can to stop the imperialist beast. What that entails is up to personal discretion. But, a powerful peace movement would be a welcome addition to what currently exists now. As critics and those trying to spread our ideas to the masses, we must counter the bourgeois liberals and bourgeois progressives, exposing their milquetoast ideas as garbage, showing that there are better ideas to move the world forward. I would have provided a more through analysis here of Syria, its history, politics and whatnot, but do to certain complications, I cannot do that at this time, but promise that such a post may come in the future. For all of those comrades out there who stand against this hideous war and those living in Syria especially, I stand with you.

UPDATE:

There are numerous statements and sayings that I missed in working through this article. Just today, the DPRK’s state media released a statement saying that Kim Jong Un, chairman received a reply from Bashar Al-Assad two days ago, thanking the former for “his kind congratulations on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Syria’s Baath Arab Socialist Party” and expressed thanks for him “having appreciated the role of the Party guiding the Syrian Arab people in the struggle to meet such challenges as sinister actions of the world’s terrorists and encouraged Syria to successfully weather the crisis without fail.” [23] The statement also said the relations between the two countries should stay strong. There was also, as international media reported that the DPRK said that “the U.S. missile attack against Syria is a clear and unforgivable act of aggression against a sovereign state and we strongly condemn this,” even though the KCNA did not report ANY articles with such words. There was then, the stories that the US wants more intervention in Syria, just like I had said yesterday, that no proof of chemical weapons use from the Syrian airfield has been presented. Apart from statements by other groups, a study guide of articles on the Syrian conflict has been assembled by a fellow comrade.

Now, for the statements of differing groups. I start with the statement of the American Party of Labor which was issued yesterday:

“The American Party of Labor condemns in the strongest terms the attack of April 6, 2017 of the United States Navy against a Syrian airbase…this attack is clearly an effort to bolster the hegemony of the United States in the midst of Trump’s own catastrophic incompetence and a myriad of evolving geopolitical environments…Trump has openly vilified refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict, showing that his administration and its supporters have little care or respect for the lives of oppressed people except when it is politically expedient. Both Trump and his administration are but the newest faces in the evolution of American imperialism…this attack by the U.S. is not done for the sake of humanity or any ethical principle. The U.S. has been sinking its teeth into Syria for years now…The pronounced ethics of the imperialist state are nothing more than a sham. This attack also demonstrates the strengthening of the international antagonisms between the imperialist powers…The threats of war are now being expressed more openly than ever. Imperialism sees war as a solution to the economic crisis and stagnation…There is an increasing risk that regional wars instigated by the imperialist powers, particularly the USA, may escalate to world war. This attack is another blatant example of “humanitarian” imperialism and has grave consequences for the peoples of the world…The American Party of Labor…condemns in the strongest terms the neo-fascist Trump regime, its warmongering and militaristic aggression, and its violation of the sovereignty of Syria.”

Of course, the Trotskyists had to get their foot in the door too, with their group, In Defence of Marxism (part of the International Marxist Tendency). They condemned the attacks but said, almost parroting imperialist propaganda, that “…the Assad regime is fully capable at carrying out such an attack…It has the upper hand in the civil war, thanks to Russia’s backing,” and going to claim that the “Russians and the Syrians were bombing Aleppo” without saying that this was part of the liberation of Aleppo! Even if you said their statement was partially anti-imperialist, they said that the war is a plan to “divide the Russia-Iran-Assad alliance and to prepare to negotiate the future of Assad,” even as they said that “there is nothing progressive in the Assad regime or in the dirty games of Russia in Syria,” although this is ridiculous especially when it comes to the Syrian government, and they add that “the only real solution is a clear independent class position…we cannot give any support to the competitors of our own imperialists, to Putin, Assad or the Mullahs in Iran.” Such absurdist reasoning shows why for one Trotskyists cannot be trusted and two that they are not believing in international solidarity.

BAYAN-USA, a progressive Filipino organization, used some of the same rhetoric as the Trotskyists but also took a more principled position:

“President Trump’s decision to launch 59 US Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syrian Air force base in Homs province was not driven by his humanitarian desires to help the Syrian people against the Assad regime…the US war in Syria will never resolve the problems in the country and will only create more chaos, destruction, and death. The proxy war in Syria can seem very complicated, but underneath all the political rhetoric of good versus evil…thousands of innocent Syrians have been killed and thousands having to flee their home country as refugees is due to US monopoly capitalist interest…The root of all US wars of aggression lies in imperialist geopolitical interest to expand its hegemony over land, natural resources, trade routes, consumer markets for US surplus products and cheap labor markets…Both the Trump and Assad regimes are using the same exact rhetoric of “Fighting the War on Terror” as their reasoning behind their attacks on the Syrian people, but we must uncover the truth behind their interest in this war which is economic power in a centrally located oil rich region of the world…We demand an end to US warmongering and intervention for the sake of humanity. We call on all peoples of the world to stand in solidarity with the Syrian people and their rights to self-determination for their own country.”

In news beyond this, CNN spouted imperialist propaganda about “another” chemical weapons attack, citing unnamed activists (like we should trust that), the US engaged in an airstrike supposedly aimed against Daesh but actually killing 13 Syrians when it hit an internet cafe, along with protests outside US embassy in Turkey, UN Office in Syria, followed by condemnation from Turkey’s Patriotic Party. [24] Beyond this, while the Saudis praised the attack, Western moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani condemned it, while Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi condemned the “US’s open aggression against Syria.” There’s also the reported news that the SAA attacked a a U.S. recon aircraft in Northern Syria.

I think that’s all for updates for now. More may be added in the future.

Notes

[1] Luis Martinez, David Caplan, and Adam Kelsey, “US launches military strike on Syrian airbase,” ABC News, Apr. 6, 2017; Luis Martinez, David Caplan, and Adam Kelsey, “US launches strike on Syria air base after chemical weapons attack,” ABC News, Apr. 7, 2017.

[2] Ibid; Barbara Starr and Jeremy Diamond, “Trump launches military strike against Syria,” CNN, Apr. 6, 2017; Dana Bash, Jeremy Herb, Barbara Starr, and Jeremy Diamond, “Trump on Syria’s Assad: “Something should happen”,” CNN, Apr. 6, 2017.

[3] Barbara Starr and Jeremy Diamond, “Trump launches military strike against Syria,” and Dana Bash, Jeremy Herb, Barbara Starr, and Jeremy Diamond, “Trump on Syria’s Assad: “Something should happen”.”

[4] Luis Martinez, David Caplan, and Adam Kelsey, “US launches military strike on Syrian airbase,” ABC News, Apr. 6, 2017. Also see the recent data (Dec. 2016) from the DMDC for the data on the 279 military and civilian personnel in Syria

[5] Rachel Roberts, “US-led coalition killed more Syrian civilians than Isis or Russia in March, figures show,” The Independent, Apr. 3, 2017; Edith M. Lederer, “UN: 40-50 years needed to clear weapons in Iraq and Syria,” ABC News (originally an AP story), Apr. 4, 2017; Josh Lederman, “Syria Strikes Add to List of 21st Century US Military Forays,” Bloomberg News (originally an AP story), Apr. 6, 2017. The missile strike in Syria adds to the list of US military forays in Afghanistan (started 2001), Iraq (started 2003), Libya (2011, recent years), drone wars (esp. 2009-2014), and ISIS (2014 onward).

[6] Darius Shahtahmasebi, “What the Media Isn’t Telling You About Yesterday’s Chemical Attack in Syria,” The Anti Media, Apr. 5, 2017; Scott Horton, “4/6/17 Philip Giraldi says IC-Military Doubt Assad Gas Narrative,” The Libertarian Institute; Paul Antonopoulos, “Something is Not Adding Up In Idlib Chemical Weapons Attack,” Information Clearing House, Apr. 4, 2017; Curt Mills, “Was Assad Behind the Idlib Chemical Massacre?,” U.S. News & World Report, Apr. 6, 2017; Sarah D., “‘Shame on you!’ Dem Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s condemnation of Syrian attacks rings hollow,” Twitchy, Apr. 5, 2017; From “ashamed” to a defense of Assad: Republican lawmakers offer varied reactions to recent chemical attack in Syria,” Salon, Apr. 5, 2017; Al Jazeera, “Syria denies using chemical weapons in Idlib,” Al Jazeera, Apr. 6, 2017; “US Syria Strike Was Illegal, No Matter Who Carried Out Gas Attack,” The Real News, Apr. 7, 2017; Phyllis Bennis, “Trump, Syria, and Chemical Weapons: What We Know, What We Don’t, and the Dangers Ahead,” The Real News, Apr. 2017; Vijay Prashad, “Is Trump Going to Commit the Next Great American Catastrophe in Syria?,” AlterNet, Apr. 5, 2017. Basically, Tulsi Gabbard and Thomas Massie were wary of making conclusions yet, with people claiming they are “Assad apologists” as a result.

[7] For more information, and other related articles, see: PressTV, “Syria launches counterattack near capital after militant incursion,” Mar. 21, 2017; PressTV, “Syrian forces retake Damascus areas from militants,” Mar. 20, 2017; PressTV, “Iran commander: US will regret any adventurism,” Apr. 3, 2017; PressTV, “Russia: US covering up Daesh crimes in Iraq’s Mosul,” Apr. 2, 2017; Prensa Latina, “Syria, six years of manufactured war,” Granma, Mar. 30, 2017; Deirdre Griswold, “U.S. war crimes escalate in Syria, Iraq,” Worker’s World, Mar. 28, 2017; PressTV, “Iran urges ‘war crime’ hearing into US killings in Mosul,” Mar. 28, 2017; PressTV, “UN deeply concerned over US-led airstrikes on Mosul,” Mar. 25, 2017; PressTV, “Over 230 killed under rubble after ‘US-led raid’ in Mosul,” Mar. 24, 2017; Julie Ray and Neli Esipova, “Economic Problems, Corruption Fail to Dent Putin’s Image,” Gallup, Mar. 28, 2017; PressTV, “Trump hails US troops in Iraq despite deadly Mosul raid,” Mar. 29, 2017; BBC, “Mosul battle: US ‘may be responsible’ for civilian deaths,” Mar. 28, 2017; OIC, “OIC Regrets Casualties among Citizens in Mosul,” Mar. 27, 2017; PressTV, “Daesh shelling, US airstrikes raise Syria dam breach fears,” Mar. 29, 2017; PressTV, “Russian general criticizes US-led coalition’s bombing of Syria dam,” Mar. 28, 2017; Mike Whitney, “Ending Syria’s Nightmare will Take Pressure From Below,” CounterPunch, Mar. 28, 2017; Gene Clancy, “Hands off Syria!,” Workers World, Mar. 26, 2017; Carl Lewis, “Gov’t squeezes workers, bloats Pentagon,” Workers World, Mar. 22, 2017.

[8] Pentagon, “Statement from Pentagon Spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis on U.S. strike in Syria,” Apr. 6, 2017; Zeina Karam and Sarah El Deeb, “Russia condemns U.S. missile strike on Syria as ‘significant blow’ to relationship,” Chicago Tribune (originally AP article), Apr. 7, 2017.

[9] What you need to know about US strike on Syrian air base,” CNN, Apr. 7, 2017; CNNWire, “At least 6 killed in Syria: Russia calls U.S. military strike an ‘act of aggression’,” Fox8, Apr. 7, 2017; Lizzie Dearden, “Syria attack: US ‘deliberately avoided bombing sarin stockpile at Assad airbase’ during Trump air strikes,” The Independent, Apr. 7, 2017; Holly Williams, “Russia, Syria’s explanation for chemical attack countered by experts,” CBS News, Apr. 6, 2017; Raja Abdulrahim, “Rebels Hail U.S. Strike, Syria Says 16 Killed,” Wall Street Journal, Apr. 7, 2017; Lizzie Dearden, “Syria chemical attack: Sarin gas likely weapon used in Idlib as experts say Russian claims ‘don’t add up’,” The Independent, Apr. 5, 2017. In the latter article, Dearden cites the commander of the Free Idlib Army rebel group, Hasan Haj Ali; a research fellow at Chatham House and former member of NATO, Beyza Unal; a volunteer with the traitorous White Helmets, Hamid Kutini; analyst at the Centre for Science and Security Studies and bourgeois “expert”, Hassan Elbahtimy; and a citizen journalist and Reuters photographer, Ammar Abdullah, as “experts.” Amnesty International, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and World Health Organisation (WHO) are also mentioned, but no specific person is quoted. Clearly, their “experts” are total crap. Lest us forget that Jan. 2013 article in the horrid Daily Mail, which has now been deleted, which said that the US planned to launch a chemical weapons attack on Syria and blame it on Assad. Did that happen in this case? Its hard to know.

[10] Jack Stubbs and Maria Tsvetkova, “Russia’s military presence in Syria is as ‘powerful’ as ever,” Reuters, Apr. 15, 2016; Tom Parfitt, “Russia sends MORE jets to Syria in bid to wipe out evil ISIS as Putin builds ANOTHER base,” Express Newspapers, Dec. 1, 2015; Reuters, “Syrian Observatory: Russia expands air base near Homs, uses another in the province,” Dec. 3, 2015; Now News, “Russia plans new Syria airbase: report,” Nov. 30, 2015.

[11] David Filpov, Russia condemns U.S. missile strike on Syria, suspends key air agreement, Washington Post, Apr. 7, 2017; BBC, “Syria war: US warns of ‘more’ after missile strikes,” Apr. 7, 2017. This article also says that Syria used to have an effective air defense system but it has been weakened by civil war and that the fact that there are Russian surface-to-air systems makes airstrikes by US warplanes unlikely and cruise missile strikes continuing as a possibility.

[12] Steve Holland, Andrew Osborn and Tom Perry, “U.S. strikes on Syria came close
to clash with Russia: Medvedev,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017.

[13] Associated Press, “The Latest: US calls for transparency in UN Syria summit,” Apr. 7, 2017; Bethan McKernan, “Syrian chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun approved by ‘highest levels’ of Assad regime, Israel’s Mossad finds,” The Independent, Apr. 6, 2017; Deutsche Welle, “World powers clash with Russia at UN over Syria suspected chemical attack,” Apr. 2017; Thomson Reuters, “Russia stands by Syria at UN over chemical weapons attack,” Apr. 5, 2017.

[14] Ramin Mostaghim and Shashank Bengali, “Syrian ally Iran blasts U.S. missile strikes as ‘dangerous, destructive and a violation of international law’,” Los Angeles Times, Apr. 7, 2017; CBS, “Allies and adversaries react to U.S. attack in Syria,” Apr. 7, 2017.

[15] Congress wants a say on Syria strategy, split on timing, what to do,” Kaine: ‘No legal justification’ for Syria strike,” CNN, Apr. 7, 2017; Deirdre Shesgreen, Nicole Gaudiano, and Bill Theobald, “Syria strikes draw Capitol Hill support, calls for greater congressional role,” USA Today, Apr. 7, 2017; Leah Barkoukis, “Even Schumer, Pelosi Applaud US Airstrikes in Syria,” Town Hall, Apr. 7, 2017; Courtney O’Brien, “Pelosi Demands Immediate Debate on AUMF for Syria,” Town Hall, Apr. 7, 2017; Democracy Now!, “Syria Attack Launched Without Congressional Authorization,” Apr. 7, 2017; Susan Jones, “Rand Paul, Barbara Lee, Tim Kaine: ‘Unconstitutional’; Schumer Tells Trump, ‘Come Up With a Strategy’,” CNSNews.com, Apr. 7, 2017.

[16] Twitter, “World reacts after US forces launch strikes on Syria,” Apr. 7, 2017; Patricia Zengerle, “U.S. lawmakers back Syria strikes, ask for broader strategy,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017; CBS, “Allies and adversaries react to U.S. attack in Syria,” Apr. 7, 2017; Lizzie Dearden, “Syria chemical attack: Pope Francis appeals to ‘conscience’ of culprits as Russia vows to support Assad,” The Independent, Apr. 5, 2017.

[17] BBC, “Syria war: US warns of ‘more’ after missile strikes,” Apr. 7, 2017; Michelle Nichols, Andrew Osborn and Tom Perry, “Russia warns of serious consequences from U.S. strike in Syria,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017; Jessica Resnick-Ault, “Oil rises after U.S. missile strike in Syria, weekly gain 3 percent,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017; Fred Imbert, “Stocks close mostly flat despite Syria attack, mixed jobs report,” CNBC, Apr. 7, 2017.

[18] Associated Press, “Brian Williams calls images of US missile launch ‘beautiful’,” ABC News, Apr. 7, 2017.

[19] Sam Sacks, “Guest after guest is gushing. From MSNBC to CNN, Trump is receiving his best night of press so far. And all he had to do was start a war,” Apr. 6, 2017; Sam Sacks, “I mean, we’re just weeks removed from her Trump tax return spectacle & now is making the Trump admin’s case for war to her audience,” Apr. 6, 2017; CNNI, “”What is it going to take?” Watch ‘s emotional appeal to the world about Syria after gas attack,” Apr. 4, 2017; NBC News, “So, what IS a Tomahawk Land Attack Missile?,” Apr. 6, 2017; John Harwood, “on CNN, ex-CIA director Jim Woolsey suggests that Trump respond to Assad gas attack with military strikes against both Syria and Iran,” Apr. 6, 2017; earwulf, “fuck the New York Times, seriously,” Apr. 7, 2017; Walid, “CNN hits a new low with it’s interview with Bana on alleged Sarin attack. How can this interviewer go through with this charade?,” Apr. 6, 2017; Walid, “Congressman is a known supporter of the Jihadist insurgency in . CNN asked him how he would respond to Bana,” Apr. 7, 2017; Kersten Knipp, “Opinion: No peace under Assad,” Deutsche Welle, Apr. 2, 2017; Farzana Hassan, “Trump needs to commit to Syria,” Toronto Sun, Apr. 6, 2017; Michael Petrou, “No decent politician should profess to be shocked by the latest chemical attack in Syria,” CBC, Apr. 5, 2017.

[20] Harout Akdedian, “Will the US missile strike be the turning point in Syria’s shifting war?,” Asia Times, Apr. 7, 2017; Reuters, “UPDATE 3-U.S. allies show support for strikes on Syria,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017.

[21] John Davidson, “In divided Syria, U.S. strike both welcomed and condemned,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017; Asharq Al-Awsat English, “Syria: Khan Sheikhun Families Grateful for US Strikes,” Apr. 7, 2017; Hamin Mostaghim and Shashank Bengali, “Syrian ally Iran blasts U.S. missile strikes as ‘dangerous, destructive and a violation of international law’,” Los Angeles Times, Apr. 7, 2017.

[22] Reuters, “Syrian government sets terms for any inquiry into gas attack,” Apr. 6, 2017.

[23] KCNA, “Reply Message to Kim Jong Un from Syrian President,” Apr. 8, 2017; Ju-min Park and Jack Kim, “North Korea calls U.S. strikes on Syria ‘unforgivable’,” Reuters,

[24] Associated Press, “The Latest: Syrians protest outside UN office in Damascus,” Apr. 8, 2017; Syria strikes: Site of chemical attack hit again,” CNN, Apr. 8, 2017.

Trump’s strategy to fight ISIS: more imperialism?

This comes from a recent article by Whitney in CounterPunch.
This comes from a recent article by Whitney in CounterPunch.

While the bourgeois media is focused on Trump’s racist immigration ban, something has been missed by these complaint media outlets. I’m not talking about the five year lobbying ban (which may not be fully enforced) or the negotiating with Big Pharma to “bring down” drug prices (which just seems like an elaborate nothingness) but rather the long-awaited strategy of Trump to fight ISIS which has “arrived” on our doorstep.

A memorandum, published on January 28, declares a “Plan to Defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” Apart from the preamble which paints ISIS as a horrid, brutalistic, and barbarian organization, the short memo says that “it is the policy of the United States that ISIS be defeated” (section 1) with the policy coordination, review, guidance, and other aspects of this memo described elsewhere (section 2). The document referenced in section 2 is one issued the same day, a document that reshuffles the organization of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council. It declares that the National Security Advisor and Homeland Security Advisor will determine the agenda of each of these committees, headed by Trump (or Pence in his place), with regular attendees including the Secretaries of Defense, Energy, State, and Treasury, the Attorney General, and US Ambassador to the United Nations, along with allowing, depending on the issue at hand, the Secretary of Commerce, US Trade Representative, and National Intelligence Director Without getting into any more detail, this memo could be said to engage in a major overhaul of the upper echelons of the National Security apparatus in the United States.

The document outlining the anti-ISIS “Plan” goes on, saying that a “new plan to defeat ISIS (the Plan)” will be developed “immediately” with the Secretary of Defense writing a draft. This draft will be, within a month, submitted to Trump, comprising “a comprehensive strategy and plans for the defeat of ISIS…recommended changes to any United States rules of engagement and other United States policy restrictions…public diplomacy, information operations, and cyber strategies to isolate and delegitimize ISIS…identification of new coalition partners in the fight against ISIS…mechanisms to cut off or seize ISIS’s financial support…[and] a detailed strategy to robustly fund the Plan.” The memo ends by saying that the Secretaries of Defense, State, Treasury, and Homeland Security, along with the Director of National Intelligence (DIA), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Advisor, and Homeland Security Advisor, will develop the plan, compiling all the relevant information, and seeking any further information from “any appropriate source,” likely even right-wing and bigoted ones.

The two memos issued on January 28 don’t exactly outline the actions that the Trump Administration to “fight ISIS,” only proposing possible avenues. One way to tell how the policy will unfold in the coming months is to look at who will be developing the plan: Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, DIA Dan Coats, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford. If Mnuchin, Bosser, and Coats are confirmed, working with Tillerson and others, then the policy will involve working with NATO, working with regional US imperial proxy states like Jordan, and continued support for the Saudi bombing in Yemen. Beyond this, the formulated policy would likely include a push for more markets, “ground troops” in countries like Syria, striking at “Islamist terrorism” with Islamophobic policy, and a continued war in Afghanistan. However, this doesn’t tell the whole story.

Recent actions shine a light on how the possible strategy will unfold. Raids by US special forces will continue as part of national policy, along with drone strikes, to fight ISIS and any group deemed as “radical Islamic terrorists,” the new code words for the “enemy” in this era. While some thought that the recent raid in Yemen, which the Trump administration justified even though dozens of civilians were killed, including young children, would result in the government there stopping such strikes, this does not seem to be the case at all. Such raids may even bolster Al-Qaeda, though in saying this one should not be caught in the idea of “blowback” which many bourgeois progressives use as a reason for why the bombing is “bad.” Simply, Trump has revealed himself to be a war criminal, there’s no other way to put it.

As Nick Turse wrote on January 5, on the eve of the Trump Administration, we live in, as a result of the Obama presidency, a “gray zone,” a time when there is a “murky twilight between war and peace,” a time when elite troops were deployed in 138 countries across the world last year, with deployments across the African continent and ringing China, Russia, and Iran. For what we know so far, especially from his recent speech in which he called SOCOM‘s troops “legendary warriors” who engage in “the most secret, sensitive and daring missions in defense of the United States of America” with no enemy standing “a chance against our Special Forces — not even a chance.” Additionally, it seems evident that this horrid reality, coupled with private mercenaries for hire, will continue full force under Trump’s watch.

In terms of seeking “new coalition partners” to fight ISIS, there is a possibility these new partners would include Russia or maybe even Syria, the army of which is advancing in their fight against Western-backed terrorists. However, cooperation with Syria may be too optimistic since “safe zones” still seem to be on the mind of Trump. A Reuters report, on January 29, said that Trump and King Salaman of Saudi Arabia agreed to mutually “agreed to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen,” purportedly for refugees. As anyone with sense knows, this is just a dressed up version of no-fly-zones and expanded US imperialism in the Syrian Arab Republic. In terms of safe zones in Yemen, this implies continued US support for the Saudi aggression in Yemen, which has, already, killed over 11,000 people, and destroyed much of the country, including its vital infrastructure. There is no doubt that that Trump administration will ally with Gulf autocracies such as the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, and Qatar, along with Yemen of course.

In the same Reuters report, it said that the White House agreed to work with Saudi Arabia to counter “Iran’s destabilizing regional activities” and debating if the Muslim Brotherhood should be deemed a terrorist organization by the US, then subject to sanctions. Clearly, on the issue of Iran, fundamentally little will change from Obama under the Trump administration. Sure, the agreement on Iran’s non-existent nuclear program will go away and Western mega-corporations will lose out on the “new” market in Iran, but the aggressive feelings of the United States toward the Islamic Republic will not go away. This much was indicated when National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, in a “muscular” response, declared that recent Iranian actions “underscore…Iran’s destabilizing behavior,” saying that the missile launch violates UN Security Council Resolution 2231, claimed that the Iranians backed the Houthi forces in Yemen, and said that the Obama Administration was “weak and ineffective” in responding to “Tehran’s malign actions” but that the Trump Administration will condemn “such actions by Iran that undermine security, prosperity, and stability throughout and beyond the Middle East and place American lives at risk,” with this stance meaning that they are “officially putting Iran on notice.”

After the recent immigration ban, under which Trump gave the Saudis a free pass, which will likely harm the US, there have been calls to ban Americans from Iran, which will lead to continued aggression of an imperial nature. This also means that Saudi funding of terrorists in Syria (and across the region) may also get a pass, which would show the continuation of policy from Obama to Trump. Additionally, it seems very evident that war may be in the cards, with Trump directly threatening Iran, and possible war with Iran in the cards.

Other articles recent add to this, noting that more threats and sanctions (also see here) are being used against Iran by the United States (which could inflame the region), with the Trump Administration wanting to contain Iran, with Russia (and China for that matter) standing on the side of Iran in this war of words and actions. Iran is also preparing itself for self-defense if need be with new military equipment and other measures (also see here) while a Trump cabinet pick paid by MKO terrorists, Iran stands against partition of Iraq, and Iranian army commanders seeing the threats as nonsense, as they defy the United States to the best of their ability.

It is worth quoting what Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution said in a recent speech:

“The new U.S. president says Iran should thank Obama! Why?! Should we thank him for creating ISIS, the ongoing wars in Iraq and Syria, or the blatant support for the 2009 sedition in Iran? He was the president who imposed paralyzing sanctions on the Iranian nation; of course, he did not achieve what he desired. No enemy can ever paralyze the Iranian nation…Trump says fear me! No. The Iranian nation…will show others what kind of stance the nation of Iran takes when threatened. We actually thank this new president [Trump]! We thank him, because he made it easier for us to reveal the real face of the United States. What we have been saying, for over thirty years, about political, economic, moral, and social corruption within the U.S. ruling establishment, he came out and exposed during the election campaigns and after the elections. Now, with everything he is doing—handcuffing a child as young as 5 at an airport—he is showing the reality of American human rights. The incident of the February 8, 1979 [referring to the day that the Army Air Force began its allegiance with Imam Khomeini (Homafaran Allegiance) and about the final days of the Iranian revolution] was unexpected for the regime and a blessing from God we were not counting upon. An unexpected provision should be hoped for in anything that the believing front does: it is true that logical and material calculations are necessary, but sometimes we should open up to counting on the supernatural too…if we use wisdom and prudence along with trusting the Satan, the result will be a mirage. In any matter, including diplomacy and the country’s problems it is true that trusting demons and the materialistic power, which oppose your essence, leads to a mirage.”

James Petras, a Marxist who seems to take the side of Trump, even said, in a recent piece, that Trump will continue the murderous reign of the empire. While he praised Trump for his seeming “protectionism” and certain “critiques,” Petras admitted that Trump ignores “the enormous regional economic and military power of Iran” and has proposed to “re-negotiate the recent six-nation agreement with Iran in order to improve the US side of the bargain” possibly to placate Israel, and then said that “Trump will most probably maintain, but not expand, Obama’s military encirclement of China’s maritime boundaries which threaten its vital shipping routes.” Petras, who describes Trump as a “market realist who recognizes that military conquest is costly and…losing economic proposition for the US” who views “Russia as a potential economic partner and military ally” and sees China as a “powerful economic competitor,” said that Trump is a “capitalist-nationalist, a market-imperialist and political realist.” Still, he seems unsure about what will happen next in his administration.

Of course, Petras is not seeing through the smoke of “economic nationalism” of Trump, which is tied with his anti-worker nature and racist imperialism. While there is no doubt that Trump is different than Obama in his actions or behavior, on US imperial foreign policy, to say the least, it is clear that Trump will support the Zionist project in Israel and US imperialism worldwide in his own patented way, even if that includes playing both sides of the “anti-ISIS war.” Hence, all of Trump’s “critiques” of elites are worthless junk not worth paying attention to since he will benefit the capitalist elites, already infusing his advisors with Goldman Sachs, engaging in a “globalism of the 1%” which supports empire and buttressing Islamophobia, making it national policy. Of course, he will also not oppose continued militarization of the country (and world) and expansion of the security apparatus, coupled with mass surveillance. Hence, it is accurate to describe Trump as a president who has “openly exhibited racist, nativist, sexist, arch-authoritarian, police-statist, Islamophobic, pro-torture, and even neo-fascist sentiments and values.”

Where the murderous empire goes next is clear. While countries like the Philippines are plying the double game by claiming to resist the United States but also crack down on communist forces and allow US troops in the country, China is rising more so on the world stage. The latter will hopefully pose as a possible counter to the horrid (and racist) imperialism that will spew out of the Trump administration like left over trash falling out of a garbage truck, policies that leave destruction in their wake.Perhaps Chinese media has a point in saying that “the court,” “the media,” “the public,” “domestic and international politics,” and the “economy” could  keep Trump in check, but they might be believing too much in those elements.

Those who think that Trump will change US policy, be anti-interventionist, or end the slew of wars, are dead wrong. As he declared in a speech just a couple of days ago, he said, following typical dogma, said that the US military is “fighting for our security and freedom,” while also saying that “defense of our nation” is important to him, at least in his mind, that the military will never be “forgotten” by the Trump administration (i.e. it will get more money), and that the US strongly supports NATO. In his speech, he declared that SOCOM and Central Command will be the “very center of out fight against radical Islamic terrorism,” saying that more focus will be placed not only on Central Asia, the Middle East, and Egypt, but across the world. He also declared to the “forces of destruction” by which he means ISIS, Al Qaeda, and “associated forces,” that “America and its allies will defeat you.  We will defeat them,” while saying, as typical militaristic boilerplate, but also showing his loyalty to the war machine, that the “men and women of the United States military provide the strength to bring peace to our troubled, troubled times.”

It seems obvious that the military will expand, with Trump acting as a bully for Western capitalists to gain new markets, using his “twitter diplomacy” and imperial might, along with other “tools” at his disposal. Cuba, the DPRK, and China will remain under imperialist assault. Zimbabwe and Venezuela likely will as well. In the end, one must cast off any illusions about Trump, recognizing his racist and imperialist nature, while rejecting the arguments of bourgeois liberals and progressives who do not challenge the fundamental nature of the murderous empire.

“Our country is in deep trouble”: Trump’s fast-moving authoritarianism

Based off a Mr. Robot quote by Angela Moss, but also applying to horrid Trump of course.
Based off a Mr. Robot quote by Angela Moss, but also applying to horrid Trump of course.

Editor’s Note: Since I wrote this post, I decided to not use the term authoritarianism anymore. But, at the time, it seems that this term was apt. Currently, I use the term autocratic or fascist instead.

In November 2015, in a campaign ad quoted by Wikiquote, Trump declared that “our country is in deep trouble because let’s face it: politics are all talk and no action…I don’t disappoint people, I produce.” These same words can easily (and reflexively) apply to his presidency at the present, only nine days old at the writing of this article. I know this could get outdated very quickly, but that doesn’t concern me at all. I could have added more analysis here I guess, but I think this is a good stab at what has happened so far. This is basically almost like a stream of consciousness, so pardon me if I missed something along the way.

Before January 20

In order to recognize the reality, it is best to provide some context, which goes beyond the likely policies of his administration or Obama’s legacy. Frank Newport, the CEO of Gallup, one of the firms that publishes polls for the interest of PR peoples across the United States, not the general populace of course, declared on December 20 that

“the U.S. president is the CEO of the government…the government will soon become President-elect Donald Trump’s biggest responsibility. This is no minor challenge…Trump has appointed high-level business and military executives to his Cabinet posts, individuals who presumably have experience in making large organizations work well. Only time will tell how effective they can be in using this expertise to affect the operations of massive federal bureaucracies…Trump’s most important governmental challenge, in my view, will be dealing with the public’s basic lack of confidence in the men and women they elect and send to Washington to represent them…Trump’s best course of action may be to move in a positive direction — attempting to work with Congress, cooperating in a rational way, getting things done and in general helping convince Americans that the legislative branch can actually work.”

Not surprisingly, Newport does not expand on this analogy whatsoever. If the President of the United States is the CEO of the government, then the board of directors is the capitalist class, not just Wall Street, and the “people” of the United States are the shareholders, who really don’t have a vote or voice unless they hold a large amount of shares (i.e. big campaign contributors). Hence, Trump, or any president, is managing the affairs of the country for the capitalist elite, not engaging in his own policy. While the capitalist class would have preferred Killary of course, they can adapt and work with Trump easily, no doubt.

Trump’s management of the country won’t be easy in the sense that he could incur popular resentment. As another Gallup poll earlier this year noted, while most of those in the US think that “the country is on the wrong track,” there are also divisions between views of former Clinton and Trump backers, but there is also agreement on high healthcare costs, the “threat” of Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons, worries of loss of US world leadership, that the US should be the “world’s top military power,” opposition to “building a wall along the border with Mexico,” favoring legalization of marijuana, “favoring the death penalty,” critical of more gun control measures, and even agreement on gay marriage to an extent. Still, public opinion can be manipulated no doubt, even if he doesn’t “like tweeting” or the differing sources of election news for Trump and Clinton voters, so he may have no trouble after all.

In the days before Trump’s inauguration, an event which is a spectacle for every President, Obama made some “last minute” actions, some of which were symbolic. Due to public pressure and likely to give himself a “good” legacy (despite the fact that his legacy is actually atrocious), he pardoned transgender whistleblower Chelsea Manning  and Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar Lopez Rivera, along with a number of nonviolent drug offenders. [1] Of course, many political prisoners are still locked behind bars and his action was symbolic as it did not challenge or undermine the reality of mass incarceration in the United States as a whole but instead contributed to an image of Obama as a “hero” or “savior.” It worth saying however that if Manning’s sentence had not been reduced, Trump likely would have extended the sentence and left her in prison for life, with the head of the military, Ash Carter opposing this move from what I’ve read.

As the days toward inauguration neared, the signs of “change” became clear. Fewer people said they would watch the Trump inauguration, with lower numbers likely coming from distraught bourgeois liberals and progressives along with those angry at the US capitalist system, and more than before, people said they were satisfied with immigration levels into the US which actually may not be a bad thing. And finally, a report was released saying that Trump and his team were aiming for dramatic cuts in the Departments of State, Justice, and Education, along with other social programs while growing the budget of the Pentagon. Not only does this show that those who thought that Trump was non-interventionist, like the libertarian goofs at Antiwar.com, are wrong, but it shows that he is playing a key role in the coming years of capitalism in the United States. Such a report indicates that cuts on social spending will increase, aggressive imperial posturing (and wars) will spike, and ordinary people will suffer.

In order to indicate the events of the Trump Administration so far, it is best to break down the events day by day since the Trumpster is acting very quickly indeed.

Day One: January 20

On the day of his inauguration, Trump made a speech written by two of his closest advisors: white supremacist and bigot Steve Bannon and anti-immigrant political operative Stephen Miller, which set a tone for dark days ahead. On the streets, some were rightfully restless, with smashing of windows “of a Starbucks and Bank of America in Washington, DC.” [2] While some may criticize these actions as counter-productive or that we should be “peaceful,” it is clear that they are a justified form of resistance in a society that values capitalist property so highly.

With the media focusing on that, they clearly passed over Trump’s first executive order, which targeted Obamacare, in preparation for legislation to ultimately repeal it. While the law is absolutely horrid, leading to a growth of underinsurance in the United States which had not been there before and benefits pharmaceutical and health insurance companies, the GOP replacement for this law will likely make conditions worse. Of course, Democrats are not pushing for universal healthcare at this stage but instead are clinging to their sacred cow of Obamacare.

Also, the same day, the US Senate pushed through three of Trump’s appointees. One of them was only approved to go forward, while John Kelly for Secretary of Homeland Security and James Mattis for “Defense” Secretary were passed with overwhelming supermajorities, indicating yet again that the Democrats are not an opposition party, but are easily falling in line.

There is one more aspect to note about the events of January 20. On that day, Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, was interviewed by a site which declares that “the tendency to view Latin America and the Caribbean in isolation of world policy and under the shadow of U.S. hegemony is anachronistic,” as noted by Libya 360 a few days later. In the interview, with the imperialist news outlet almost handing him the answers, Tillerson declared that the US would continue cooperating with Mexico on “important issues of common interest,” endorsed the imperialistic Plan Colombia,” thought that a “calamity that has befallen Venezuela” as a product of “its incompetent and dysfunctional government-first under Hugo Chavez, and…Nicolas Maduro,” arguing that there should be a “negotiated transition to democratic rule in Venezuela.” This not only gives an indication of continuation of US-backed coups in the region but a continuation of US policy. Beyond this, Tillerson said that he would “denounce the Maduro government’s undemocratic practices,” engage with Cuba but “reform of its oppressive regime” by supporting supposed “human rights defenders and democracy activists,” promote TV and Radio Marti, work to extradite Assata Shakur to the US, try to “mobilize international support to share the burden of U.S. assistance for Haiti,” and enforce “all congressionally-mandated sanctions including the measures in the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Extension Act of 2016,” along with much more.

Five days before, one article in the bourgeois liberal Huffington Post, written by those who want to privatize state organs in Venezuela, argued that Tillerson had a troubled relationship with the country. [3] They wrote that “ExxonMobil’s history in Venezuela starts in 1921,” that Venezuela’s ties to the company were “severed in 1976, when president Carlos Andres Pérez sought to nationalise the oil industry” and were “reestablished in the 1990s” but then ended in 2007 when Hugo Chavez re-nationalized “the oil business” under the Venezuelan state oil company, PDVSA. The article went on to say that ExxonMobil, then under Tillerson’s leadership (since the year before), won an arbitration decision by the World Bank to “compensate ExxonMobil $US1.6 billion” and that when “ExxonMobil launched oil operations off the coast of neighbouring Guyana,” the Venezuelan government not surprisingly, and rightly so, accused the horrid oil company of “trying to destabilise the region by siding with Guyana.” The article ends by saying that while “Tillerson and ExxonMobil have been against economic sanctions as international policy,” the current relationship with Venezuela could lead to increased sanctions, maybe even including “severing diplomatic relations or suspending or significantly reducing Venezuelan oil purchases” but that another possibility is that Tillerson would “compel Venezuela to honour its international financial commitments” and privatize its oil (and other) “unproductive industries” (in the minds of the writers).

Day Two: January 21

On this day, the second day of the Trump Administration, the opposition began to come to more fruition, giving hope for the future, maybe (unlikely though). There were clearly mixed ideologies among the millions joining women’s marches that day, but of course, anti-imperialism from the marchers was absent. Some may be right that such marches were “a watershed mark in American activist history” and that “the list of speakers was impressive and widely divergent” but that “tone and militancy of marches in other areas were mixed.” However, I think, it had more problems that that and was almost a “Farce on Washington” like the famed 1963 March on Washington, as Malcolm X put it, with saying that everyone should be “nonviolent” not defending themselves with force. I think there could be some change and the movement could separate from the Democrats, I also think it will dissipate and not go on an independent path. But we’ll see.

The same day, apart from an article showing how connected the Obama Foundation was to the capitalist class, Trump gave a speech to the spooks at the CIA. In a speech which was first reprinted by the UK tabloid, The Daily Mirror, was boastful but also telling on what Trump won’t change. In the speech, which of course was praised by Trump himself and by CIA apologist David Ignatius, calling the CIA “very, very special people,” saying that “we have to get rid of ISIS.  Have to get rid of ISIS.  We have no choice,” praising his team, while saying that the Senate will get through all the intelligence and military appointments “through, but some will take a little bit longer than others.” There’s need to even quote anything else in the speech other than noting that Trump being arrogant while praising the military and CIA as “important” and “special,” not changing their current role in the imperial structure of the United States, saying that he is behind the CIA “1,000 percent” and that he respects them. The fact that his first real speech, was to the CIA, apart from the inaugural speech which is usually worthless listening to or reading in any way, shape or form, is significant and should be noted.

Day Three: January 22

On the same day that hundreds protested in Northern Italy against a US military base, media in East Asia decried the “isolationist” nature of Trump, fearing possible diplomatic turmoil. Such concerns, of course, are not unfounded due to the increasing aggression the Trump Administration has shown to China as I noted in my post about his “diplomacy” late last year. On this day, the libertarian Antiwar.com folks declared that there had been the first US drone strikes under Trump. This was also confirmed by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism which has noted four confirmed drone strikes, some engaged in even without Presidential approval. Further strikes were noted on January 25 and numerous days before. So the global assassination program is not ending, clearly. Yet another set of powers that Obama literally handed to Trump.

The same day, Trump had a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the right-wing extremist who rules the murderous (and Zionist) state of Israel. They spoke, as a readout of the call noted, on “ways to advance and strengthen the U.S.-Israel special relationship, and security and stability in the Middle East,” including consulting “on a range of regional issues, including addressing the threats posed by Iran” and promising Netanyahu that the US will have an “unprecedented commitment to Israel’s security.” Of course, Netanyahu would praise Trump’s push for a border wall, as both him and Trump are engaging in racist policy and are right-wing reactionaries. [4] It is worth considering the horrid settlements Trump is supporting in the “West Bank,” a region given that name as it is the area West of the Jordan River that the state of Jordan has claimed in the past.

Day Four: January 23

On this day of the Trump Administration, he fulfilled one of his key promises during the presidential campaign. He issued a memorandum which withdrew the US from TPP. While some complained that “foes of war should rejoice and congratulate Trump” but didn’t do so, this seems silly because to “give credit where credit is due,” it is better to thank the grassroots movement and numerous individuals across the spectrum against the deal which Trump was responding to, rather than thanking Trump for killing the agreement. There is no doubt there was “imperial aspects of the TPP” but this aspect has been replaced by aggressiveness toward China. While Sean Spicer, the White House Press Secretary has been more cautious and less hawkish than Tillerson who outwardly pushed for imperialism, he did say that “The U.S. is going to make sure that we protect our interests there [in the South China Sea]. It’s a question of if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yeah, we’re going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country.” [5] Some have noting that Tillerson and Spicer’s comments imply US military action or a naval blockade against “China’s growing naval fleets would risk dangerous escalation.” [6]

Beyond this imperial aggressiveness, the Trumpster enforced his ideological supporters. He restricted abortions, with more official sanction to “pro-life,” more accurately anti-abortion sentiment, than before. The same day, Trump ended the mortgage rate cuts, which the National Realtors Association was not happy about whatsoever, saying it will hurt homeowners. If that wasn’t enough, the US Senate approved another one of Trump’s nominees 66-32-1, Mike Pompeo, to be the head of the CIA. As a reminder, Pompeo supports NSA surveillance, opposes the current “Iran deal,” wants the CIA’s “black site” prisons to come back, and wants the Guantanamo Prison to stay open.

The only other news that day was about Trump’s approval rating, mainly. Some sources said that he had a low approval rating coming into office, while others noting that Trump’s positions broadly do not “resonate with majority public opinion on a number of his most visible policy and issue positions” except in his “direct attack on the federal government itself.” Another worthwhile poll is a Pew Research Center survey finding that “65% of Americans give priority to developing alternative energy sources” while only 27% “would emphasize expanded production of fossil fuel sources.” Other than this, some wondered, considering Trump’s focus on Cuba and Mexico, how much of Obama’s “soft” coups that Trump’s admin will continue. It is also worth mentioning Trump’s other memorandums that day and staying the course with military appointments.

Day Five: January 24

On this day, the Trump administration took a hard stand against environmentalism. Apart from a memorandum “streamlining regulations,” the Trumpster passed memos that approved the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) for now, declaring that TransCanada can resubmit its application to the Keystone XL pipeline, and declaring that all new pipelines have to use materials from within the United States. The memo on DAPL received the most attention, with some saying that it clearly benefits billionaires who funded him and others saying that it violates indigenous law clearly. As for the Keystone XL pipeline which is barreling ahead more than under Obama’s deceptive “rejection” of it, seemingly under pressure from the environmental movement and bourgeois environmentalists, resubmitted its application for the pipeline which is likely to be approved.

Beyond Trump’s pro-business and anti-environmental moves, he reinforced imperial inter-relationships. In a readout of a call with Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, Trump declared that “the United States considers India a true friend and partner in addressing challenges around the world” and continued this imperialistic relationship, obviously as a way to ensure “security in the region of South and Central Asia” which means countering the influence of China in the region, while maintaining the sphere of influence of the murderous US empire. Also on the foreign policy front, Nikki Haley was confirmed by the US Senate in a 96-4 vote in which only four senators voted against, showing once again the milquetoast nature of the Democratic Party in relation to Trump.

On another topic entirely, Trump reinforced his ideological supporters and economic nationalism (some of which is likely a put on). He met with big automakers, from General Motors, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler, telling them to create factories in the US and saying he would change environmental regulations to make them more business-friendly. [7] Interestingly, “foreign automakers such as Toyota and Honda were not invited” which may indicate where his interests lie and which companies will be benefited by corporate subsidies and which will not in the years to come. In terms of ideological supporters, the Trump Administration declared support for a bill to end federal funding to abortion completely. This goes a different way than Obama, but is worth noting that Obama supported abstinence-only education in Africa up to at least 2013, if not later. [8]

Day Six: January 25

The authoritarianism of Trump’s administration began to show even quicker than it did under Obama, of course. In one executive order, it declared that it would be administration policy to crack down on sanctuary cities (called “sanctuary jurisdictions” in the order) for undocumented immigrants, that such immigrants would have to be removed, and that 10,000 new immigration officers would need to be hired. The order also put sanctions on individuals from numerous countries and, to to continue the racist, anti-immigrant measures, an office on immigrant crimes was established, tasked with producing quarterly reports on “the effects of the victimization by criminal aliens present in the United States,” along with engaging in surveillance and data gathering on immigrants.

To give even more specifics of the order, in section 12, the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State work together to implement sanctions, with the Secretary of State specifically ensuring that “diplomatic efforts and negotiations with foreign states include as a condition precedent the acceptance by those foreign states of their nationals who are subject to removal from the United States.” Like his other executive orders, the specifics are shrouded in legalistic language. The specific provision of law, available here and here  says that the Attorney General is the person who determines that if an “alien who is a citizen, subject, national, or resident” of a certain country is banned, with the Secretary of State ordering “consular officers in that foreign country to discontinue granting immigrant visas or nonimmigrant visas, or both, to citizens, subjects, nationals, and residents of that country” until the Attorney General let the Secretary know if “the country has accepted the alien.” Basically, this implies that such refugees or immigrants would be detention until they can be fully deported.

This executive order was only the beginning. The same day Trump declared that the US-Mexico border wall will be built, he declared that sanctuary cities would be stripped of funding. The same day, the New York Times claimed that “Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen” were listed in draft executive order, but the exact law cited, which was Division O, Title II, Section 203 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, only lists the Iraq and Syria, along with “any other country or area of concern.” [9] Clearly, this means that this draft would only apply to Iraq and Syria, meaning that mentioning Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, or Yemen is just guesswork.

It is worth also mentioning that the draft of the order, apart from obvious “Muslim Ban,” as it is accurately called, creates “safe zones” in Syria. However, considering this was not on the final order, which will be noted later in this article, but it is in consideration. This means that “safe zones” which are obviously just code for a no-fly-zone and increased US imperialist intervention in Syria are under consideration by those in the highest parts of the Trump Administration. This is not a good sign and it would not be a surprise if something like the “safe zones” surfaces again at some point.

Even more disturbing is the draft executive order of Trump to review the use of CIA “black prisons” overseas. [10] The order declares that the US needs “critical intelligence” on “developing threats” and that it was wrong for Obama to push for civilian trials for those at Gitmo. Even more than that, it says that the push to “close” it should end, military commissions should return, and Gitmo should remain open. If that isn’t enough, the order complains that the CIA is limited in maintaining an “effective and lawful interrogation program” by NDAA in 2016 and revokes executive orders 13491 and 13492 while reinstating executive order 13440. This means that E.O. 13491 which pushed for “lawful interrogations” and E.O. order which ordered the closure of Gitmo are taken away while E.O. 13440, a Bush order in 2007, allowing only limited compliance with the Geneva Convention among those captives captured by the CIA and held in extrajudicial detention. If this isn’t enough, this draft order declares that keeping Gitmo open is critical to fight “radical Islamists” across the world, says that the US remains in global conflict with ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and “associated forces” across the world (a continuation of language of the Obama era) and says that any existing transfer efforts out of Gitmo will be removed. The order ends by saying that the DIA director, Attorney General, CIA director, and other senior members will recommend if interrogation of “high-value” terrorists should be reopened, if “black sites” of the CIA should reopen, if executive order 13440 should be revised, and recommend how “enemy combatants detained in the armed conflict with violent Islamic extremists” should be tried swiftly and justly. It then claims that no one will suffer cruel or unusual punishment, which seems silly with such torture chambers revived.

The weirdest part about this order is that is was basically denounced by the Trump Administration. First of all, it was blasted by Rand Paul and John McCain, while other Republicans took a “wait and see” approach. [11] However, reportedly, the order “shocked” Mattis & Pompeo, with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, saying he didn’t know where it came from. [12] Now, this could be denial just for the case of denial. At the same time, they could also be covering their tracks and bring back the order at an “opportune” time. If the order is not a statement of administrative policy, then who would draft this and why? I don’t know.

As for immigrants, they took even more of the brunt on January 25, just like on other days. One article said that Trump basically called for concentration camps for immigrants while the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC), a bourgeois group as I have previously described, declared that Trump’s Muslim ban is “real and even more draconian than many anticipated,” saying that it it is “written in such a broad manner that it may also prohibit dual nationals of those countries who are citizens of non-targeted countries from entering the U.S. on a visa.”

More directly, Trump issued another immigration-related executive order, which was as racist as his previous pronouncements. In order to understand it, it is best to look at specific sections. One section, section 7, declares that the Secretary of Homeland Security will “take appropriate action, consistent with the requirements of section 1232 of title 8, United States Code, to ensure that aliens described in section 235(b)(2)(C) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1225(b)(2)(C)) are returned to the territory from which they came pending a formal removal proceeding.” Once again, this is legalistic language, and needs to be broken down. The section of US code referenced talks about “treatment of aliens arriving from contiguous territory,” saying that immigrants arriving on land from a foreign country “contiguous to the United States,” like Canada or Mexico, can be returned by the Attorney General to the country “pending a proceeding.” Going further from there, in the case of an immigrant (called “alien” throughout the code) who is applying for admission to the US, if an “examining immigration officer” determines that an immigrant seeking to enter the US is “not clearly and beyond a doubt entitled to be admitted,” then they are detained. If this happens, then an immigration judge conducts proceedings, with determination whether the immigrant is deported, with such a judge having the power to “administer oaths, receive evidence, and interrogate, examine, and cross-examine the alien and any witnesses,” even to issue “subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and presentation of evidence” if need be. Such powers of a judge may seem fundamentally undemocratic, but apparently it is allowed. The judge also has the ability to “sanction by civil money penalty any action (or inaction) in contempt of the judge’s proper exercise of authority under this Act,” meaning that an immigrant can be sanctioned for not following “proper procedures” or accused of not following them, then fined. The proceeding for the immigrant can take place either in person, through a video or telephone conference, and the immigrant can be represented by a lawyer of their choosing, who can “examine the evidence” against the immigrant, present evidence on their behalf, and cross-examine witnesses. However, immigrants do not have the right to “examine such national security information” used to justify their deportation, which almost dooms the immigrant to losing their case. After this is all done, then the immigration judge decides whether the immigrant is to be deported, with their decision based “only on the evidence produced at the hearing” and the immigrant will have access to their visa or entry document, or otherwise which is “not considered by the Attorney General to be confidential.”

The US code goes on. Other sections of related code say that any immigrant claimed to have a “communicable disease of public health significance,” who has a “physical or mental disorder” which “threatens” others, a “drug abuser or addict,” who wants to enter the US, will be denied on the spot! Now, if that doesn’t sound racist, I don’t know what is. The last section of code I’ll reference here is one about “classes of Deportable Aliens.” saying that immigrants can be deported if they: (1) overstay their VISA, (2) fail to maintain their “nonimmigrant status,” (3) are convicted “of a crime involving moral turpitude” committed within five or ten years depending on their status, (4) if they are convicted of a crime with a sentence of more than one year, (5) if they are convicted of “two or more crimes involving moral turpitude,” (6) if they violate supposedly (or in reality) any drug laws, (7) if they are a “drug abuser or addict,” (8) if they sell, purchase, or exchange “any weapon, part, or accessory which is a firearm or destructive device,” (9) if they are convicted of “domestic violence…stalking…child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment,” (10) if they lie to immigration authorities, (11) if they engage in any “activity to violate any law of the United States relating to espionage or sabotage,” (12) if they engage in “any other criminal activity which endangers public safety or national security,” (13) if they engage in an activity opposing the control or advocating “overthrow of, the Government of the United States by force, violence, or other unlawful means,” among many other aspects. Apart from some of these measures, like #13 being anti-communist, others of these measures, even if you agreed with them, are part of a racist immigration system aimed at Latin American immigrants clearly, especially with crimes like “moral turpitude” (link here) which can be so broadly defined as it can mean something that isn’t “socially acceptable.” It is also worth noting here that an immigrant owning a gun, which is justified under the Second Amendment as the “right to bear arms” is a deportable offense, saying that immigrants, under law do not have the legal right to defend themselves with force and showing that gun control is again used as a form of social control like I noted in my previous post.

On January 25, there were many other developments. A National Security Advisor was announced by the Trump administration, Trump promoted a positive image of himself, personal propaganda on the official White House website (a shocker, not really), and guidance on Trump’s federal hiring freeze was released publicly. If that wasn’t enough, news media reported that Steve Bannon was registered in two places which says that maybe the “major investigation” into voter fraud that Trump wants should begin in his own administration, and Trump seemingly backing away from efforts to scrub climate change information from EPA websites even as “political appointees are exerting more oversight over the agency’s scientific communications.” [13] Other news worth noting is that Ben Carson, a person who believes that the housing market should be deregulation, was approved by a Senate committee, even by bourgeois progressives like Elizabeth Warren who apparently believed in his lies and that the millions of dollars John Kerry handed to the Palestinian Authority (was it just a PR stunt?) was canceled by Trump, with Kerry’s action seeming very last minute.

Day Seven: January 26

On this day, the war of the Trump Administration with the media took another step forward. Steve Bannon, the White House Chief Strategist declared that because of the election result, “the media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while. I want you to quote this. The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.” [14] He went on to say that “the elite media got it [the presidential election] dead wrong, 100 percent dead wrong…[the election was] a humiliating defeat that they will never wash away, that will always be there. The mainstream media has not fired or terminated anyone associated with following our campaign. Look at the Twitter feeds of those people: They were outright activists of the Clinton campaign…That’s why you have no power. You were humiliated.” He was also quoted as saying that “you’re [the media are] the opposition party. Not the Democratic Party. You’re the opposition party” with Bannon citing The New York Times and Washington Post, saying that “the paper of record for our beloved republic, The New York Times, should be absolutely ashamed and humiliated. They got it 100 percent wrong.”

While I am critical of the bourgeois media, I don’t think what Bannon is saying should be brushed off so easily. There is no doubt that much of this media favored Clinton over Trump, some predicting that Trump would lose. However, to say that the media is the “opposition party” and to be so opposed to the press in the manner he is acting is utterly authoritarian, there is no doubt. While restricting newspapers in socialist countries and those under US imperialist attack is justified, in this case, it is dangerous. I’m no fan of the Washington Post or New York Times, but to restrict media from covering the Trump Administration means that all we will get is Trump propaganda, allowing no sort of room for opposition to his reactionary, right-wing nature. I do think it is interesting that he says that the media are the opposition party, not the Democrats, as it shows he recognizes that the Democrats are milquetoast and not really resisting Trump. On that, he is definitely right. Otherwise, I worry about his anti-press rhetoric not because of my belief in the “free speech” of the First Amendment which has never been “free” and should never be fully “free,” with the ability of such speech dictated by one’s social class in US capitalist society, but the fact that it will limit the information flow from the Trumpster and his goons of destruction.

Again there was more about Trump’s anti-immigrant policy. Reuters claimed that they had seen a “draft executive order” which would “block the entry of refugees from war-torn Syria and suspend the entry of any immigrants from Muslim-majority Middle Eastern and African countries Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Yemen while permanent rules are studied.” [15] Coming days would prove if this was true or not. What was clearly true was the payment of the expanded border wall with a 20% tariff on Mexico. One article noted that Republicans support the 20% tariff on Mexico, called a “border adjustment,” but major retailers oppose it. [16] The same article said that such retailers argued that it would drive up consumer prices and violate WTO rules, the former which is more of a valid concern than the latter. Steve Horn of DeSmogBlog argued that the wall would grease the way for a “handful of gas pipelines proposed to cross the U.S. border into Mexico, several of them owned by Keystone XL builder TransCanada and another one owned by Dakota Access pipeline owner Energy Transfer Partners,” sending fracking gas south of the border, but that if the 20% tariff passes, then the volume of oil from Mexico to the US could rise. Horn also argued that this proposal has “split the oil refining and oil-producing sectors, with producers supportive and refiners critical of the tax scheme” with companies like American Fuels and Petrochemical Manufacturers and Koch Industries against it, and Rex Tillerson for the measure, with Goldman Sachs mildly for it.

The other news of that day was not any better. Trump declared national school choice week showing that he endorses school privatization (continuing the anti-public education policy of Obama), the impact of the anti-Obamacare order was explicated. Shockingly, one poll, released the same day said that almost half of Americans think that there are “some circumstances under which the use of torture is acceptable in U.S. anti-terrorism efforts.” Luckily there was also resistance to Trump, brewing. Raul Castro, like many in Latin America, is wary and not trusting of Trump, which is part of the reason he told Trump to respect Cuban sovereignty (and also to protect the island from imperialist assault. One article in Consortium News, argued that Trump was continuing to lie and disdain the truth, so that people think it is true, with the consequence of this action leading to “an ill-informed constituency, incapable of engaging in the kind of well-informed debate that serves as a check against ill-advised foreign policies and can muster solid support for well-advised ones.” Of course, such a development should be criticized. Finally there was a new poll saying that Trump fared poorly with the public, claimed that few supported the border wall, many wanted Trump to “fully divest from his business interests” and few with a “favorable opinion of Russia” or of Putin reportedly.

Day Eight: January 27

Statements of imperial policy became even clearer on January 27. Mattis, the new head of the Pentagon, declared that the US would continue to be committed to the NATO alliance, citing that importance of Germany as a US base, and that NATO is important to fight against terrorism. [17] The same day Mattis also told the Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, that he had “unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.” Such statements are not a surprise since Trump declared the same day to the Pentagon’s top brass that the military should be bulked-up, even as he “pointed to expensive programs,” calling for an increased “military campaign against the Islamic State,” likely expanding the “about 6,000 military personnel in Iraq and Syria, including trainers, advisers and special operators.” [18]

In terms of foreign policy, more imperial inter-relationships were reinforced. In the first press conference of Trump’s presidency, it was clear that May, the first foreign leader to meet Trump in the Oval Office, wanted to discuss “post-Brexit trade opportunities” with him, while the British government made it clear that Britain was still a “fully engaged member of the European Union.” What more comes of this will only be known in the days ahead.

Beyond this, it as clear that other relationships were supported. This included support for the existing one with Australia and possibly an improved relationship with Mexico though these is unlikely. Before moving onto the horrendous executive order, it is worth noting that since 2012, net flow of migration from Mexico decreased, with people who were “fleeing gang-related violence spiraling out of control in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala,” with stricter enforcement of “immigration laws and greatly expanded its use of deportations” by Obama. [19] Along with more Asian immigrants recently who are “well educated and as such compete with a different set of Americans for jobs, but also contribute to faster-growing sectors of the American economy.”

With this background it is worth discussing the horrid executive order. The Guardian described the order as a “draconian shift in US policy,”says that the action would close “US borders to refugees fleeing the humanitarian crisis in war-torn Syria,” with a de facto ban of those across North Africa and Middle East, with “a 90-day block on entry to the US from citizens from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia” and runs counter to the principle in the US Constitution of discrimination on basis of religion, with Trump saying that he would elevate “persecuted Christians in the Middle East and North Africa” above Muslims. [20] The article also noted that Republicans were embraced the order, while “Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi…invoked dramatic images of a sorrowful Statue of Liberty” and the pro-Syrian war Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said they would challenge the order with a lawsuit.

Beyond The Guardian’s quibs is the text of the executive order itself. The order says, in section 2, that US policy is to protect US citizens “from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States; and to prevent the admission of foreign nationals who intend to exploit United States immigration laws for malevolent purposes.” The following section said that the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, along with the Director of National Intelligence, conducting a review to determine information needed from any country to determine “that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat.” The section adds that all of those individuals will then submit to the President “report on the results of the review” within 30 days of the order, with reducing investigative burdens during the review “to ensure the proper review and maximum utilization of available resources for the screening of foreign nationals.” Trump declared that “the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from [certain] countries…would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order.” After that, the Secretary of State requests that all foreign governments “start providing such information regarding their nationals within 60 days of notification,” and after this expires, then the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State would submit to the President a list of different countries that were “recommended for inclusion on a Presidential proclamation,” with such secretaries submitting “the names of any additional countries recommended for similar treatment.”

The specific law referenced in section 3 of the executive order notes two specific countries: Iraq and Syria, but also says that it can include those from

“a country that is designated by the Secretary of State…a country, the government of which has repeatedly provided support of acts of international terrorism; or any other country or area of concern designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security.”

The law adds that by Feb. 16, 2017, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence determines whether other countries will be part of the ban, with the Secretary considering

“whether the presence of an alien in the country or area increases the likelihood that the alien is a credible threat to the national security of the United States…whether a foreign terrorist organization has a significant presence in the country or area; and…whether the country or area is a safe haven for terrorists.”

If this is taken to its fullest extent, then it would imply that people could ultimately be banned, if the executive order was expanded, from Libya, Egypt, Gaza, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, and Mauritania, Tunisia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Senegal, India, Somalia, Uzbekistan, and the Philippines. [21]

Getting back to the executive order, the DIA director, Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, FBI director, in section 4, would be told to implement a program which will identify those individuals “seeking to enter the United States on a fraudulent basis with the intent to cause harm, or who are at risk of causing harm subsequent to their admission,” which they would report on within 60 days, then again within 100 days, and another report within 200 days. Section 5 of the order than declares that the Secretary of State would “suspend the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days,” with the “entry of nationals of Syria as refugees” suspended until the program is improved so that Syrian refugees can be admitted in a way “consistent with the national interest,” that there can only be 50,000 refugees entering “in fiscal year 2017,” that Secretaries of State and Homeland Security can jointly “determine to admit individuals to the United States as refugees on a case-by-case basis.” Then section 6 says that Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, along with Attorney General, might rescind certain authority, and section 7 says that the Secretary of Homeland Security would “expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system for all travelers to the United States,” another racist measure, with reports every 180 days until the horrid system is “fully deployed and operational.” Also, the Secretary of State, is told in section 8, to suspend the Visa Interview Waiver Program, while requiring “that all individuals seeking a nonimmigrant visa undergo an in-person interview, subject to specific statutory exceptions,” while expanding the Consular Fellows Program in part by “substantially increasing the number of Fellows, lengthening or making permanent the period of service.”

To end the discussion of the order, section 9 and 10 need a some attention. Section 9 says that the Secretary of State will “review all nonimmigrant visa reciprocity agreements to ensure that they are, with respect to each visa classification” and section 10 says that the Secretary of Homeland Security and Attorney General, will collect and publicly display “information regarding the number of foreign nationals in the United States who have been charged with terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; convicted of terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; or removed from the United States based on terrorism-related activity, affiliation, or material support to a terrorism-related organization, or any other national security reasons.” Yet again, this is meant to attack immigrants in a racist and bigoted way which fuels those anti-immigrant organizations on the right-wing that already exist. Other than this, in the order, sections 11 and 12 are basically boilerplate, as is section 1.

There are a number of other aspects of January 27 worth noting. For one, Trump reinforced his “economic nationalism” by meeting with business leaders from across the US to improve manufacturing which make the capitalist class smile with glee. Also, it is worth noting that Trump signed his bigoted executive order on the SAME DAY as Holocaust remembrance day, which shows how insensitive and disgusting he is. Additionally, the “pro-life”/“right to life,” actually anti-abortion, received official sanction as Pence addressed their rally in DC on the behest of Trump. Pence then declared that

“we will not grow weary. We will not rest, until we restore a culture of life in America for ourselves and our posterity…next week President Donald Trump will announce a Supreme Court nominee who will uphold the God-given liberty enshrined in our Constitution in the tradition of the late and great Justice Antonin Scalia…Life is winning again in America. That is evident in…the historic election of a president…who I proudly say stands for the right to life.” [22]

Of course, Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, addressed the crowd too, saying that “yes, I am pro-life…This is a new day, a new dawn, for life…[the right to life] is not a choice. It is God-given…This is a time of incredible promise for the pro-life, pro-adoption movement. We hear you. We see you. We respect you. And we look forward to working with you.” It seems that with anti-abortion to gain such official sanction is dangerous as it hurts any effort to advance reproductive rights, and hurts impoverished women, whether cisgender, transgender, or otherwise.

The same day there were a number of news releases. One was a poll showing that many of those in the US still support Obamacare, many are concerned about health insurance convergence, many oppose cutting federal funding to Planned Parenthood by a large martin, even among Republicans, only 31% think that abortion should be illegal in most or all cases, with everyone else thinking it should be legal in all or most cases, and 70% support Roe v. Wade. In the realm of foreign policy, Hollande, the horrid (neoliberal and disgraced) leader of France declared that “there are challenges, there are the challenges the US administration poses to our trade rules, as well as to our ability to resolve conflicts around the world.” [23] Others commentators noted that Trump is making up facts, ignoring realities, which mirrors the lies during the Obama administration about chemical weapons by the Syrian government (proven false) and concealing evidence about “who was behind the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014,” but that Trump is not helping himself by “making easily debunked claims about crowd sizes and voter fraud” meaning that for now he “has gotten off to a very rocky start by telling some very petty lies.” Other commentators went beyond Trump. One specifically noted that Rex Tillerson “confirmed before the US Congress that hostilities and agitation toward both Moscow and Beijing will only expand over the next 4-8 years,” saying that US foreign policy won’t change, as the US will “continue meddling across Asia and provoking conflict with China,” just like under Obama, tensions with Russia will continue, and that “nothing, short of war, will backup Tillerson’s statements about a sea literally an ocean away from US shores.” The final commentary was on Global Research Center. This commentator noted Trump’s horrible policies, ranging from the DAPL construction resuming, a border wall between the US and Mexico, an immigration ban, some of Trump’s tweets, Trump’s lies, and declared that there is hopefulness of resistance to Trump despite Wall Street seeming to warm up to him but saying such resistance should change:

“…The ascendancy of Trump provides an important opportunity for the building of a broad-based united front of democratic forces including African Americans, Latin Americans, Native peoples, immigrants, women, LGBTQ communities, environmentalists and other working class constituencies. However, this alliance which represents the majority of the population within the U.S. must be based on sound political principles and not opportunism…This coalition of genuine popular forces should be organized outside the framework of the Democratic Party which represents the same ruling class elements as the Trumpist Republicans and their Wall Street and Pentagon supporters…A revolutionary mass party of the working class and the oppressed is the only solution to the current political and economic crises.”

Day Nine: January 28

Note: I published this right at midnight on Jan. 29, meant to cover everything Jan. 28 and before, so when it says “today” it is referring to Jan. 28, not today

The racist and bigoted immigration order of Trump played out today. For one, many “refugees and migrants holding valid visas” who were en route to the US were stopped, specifically “detained at U.S. airports and restricted from the country as a result of President Trump’s executive order,” with such people detained or not allowed in including Iraqis, Yemenis, Syrians, and Iranians, to say the least, with groups like the International Refugee Assistance Project on their side. [24] Even those who have green card holders from target countries, all of which are Muslim majority but do not include Saudi Arabia or any of the Gulf autocracies of course, are banned.

Rightly so, many reacted with anger. Arabs and Iranians who planned trips to the US were angry, saying that the ban was “insulting and discriminatory,” and some said it made them feel humiliated. [25] Even the director of an Oscar-nominated film, Asghar Farhadi, was apparently not allowed to attend the Academy Awards next month as a result of the ban. [26] His film is a French-Iranian drama which tells the story of a couple who play lead roles in Death of a Salesman, have a fraught relationship. Not surprisingly, Silicon Valley, also called Sexist Valley or Surveillance Valley more accurately, was at least partially mad. Google and Facebook CEOs slammed the orders as “loss of talent,” detracting from those who are “real threats,” and making people live in “fear of deportation.” [27] This of course was driven more by the fear of loss of profit by these mega-corporations than caring about actual people, no doubt.

The reality of the order has been playing out all day. One Iraqi man was released even as another is detained (or was before he was released also) as a result of the order. Additionally, as a result of the ban, enforced by Customs and Border Protection officials on the ground, led to warnings from Qatar Airways to travelers, Iran criticizing the ban, The International Rescue Committee, The International Organization for Migration, UNHCR, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and weepy Democrats slamming the order, while House Speaker Paul Ryan defended it, saying that “our number one responsibility is to protect the homeland.” [28] The same article even claimed that “the list of seven countries [Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia] whose citizens are now banned from the US was likely just a starting point” with the administration weighing it if could add even more countries to the list! The racism clearly continues.

Many other organizations and individuals condemned the ban today. These included Jewish organizations ranging from the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and J Street to the Anti-Defamation League,” the latter of which are horribly pro-Israel, without a doubt. [29] The revolutionary Iranian government struck back as well. The Iranian Foreign Ministry declared that while respecting people of the US is important, with it being vital to distinguish between them and hostile US actions, “Iran will implement the principle of reciprocity until the offensive U.S. limitations against Iranian nationals are lifted,” as they argued that “restrictions against travel by Muslims to America…are an open affront against the Muslim world and the Iranian nation in particular and will be known as a great gift to extremists.” [30] Additionally, President Hassan Rouhani said earlier today that there is no reason to build walls between nations, implying Trump, saying

“Today is not the time to erect walls between nations. They have forgotten that the Berlin wall fell years ago. To annul world trade accords does not help their economy and does not serve the development and blooming of the world economy. This is the day for the world to get closer through trade.”

While he makes a valid point against walls, he is also endorsing corporate globalization which has devastated indigenous peoples across the world and allows capitalism to gain new markets wherever it nests, leading to exploitation and destruction, including in Iran. So, his statement is wrongheaded (in part because he doesn’t note the anti-fascist nature of the Berlin Wall) but also aligned with Western business elites without a doubt.

Sudan echoed the statement of Iran. Their foreign ministry declared that the ban was unfortunate after progress on sanctions, saying that “It is particularly unfortunate that this decision coincides with the two countries’ historic move to lift economic and trade sanctions…and just as economic and financial institutions as well as businessmen in the country were set to continue developing their investment projects.” [31] Then there’s education campaigner Malala Yousafzai, who seems she has been taken in by the glamor and acceptance of Western bourgeois institutions, saying that she is “heartbroken that today President Trump is closing the door on children, mothers and fathers fleeing violence and war. I am heartbroken that America is turning its back on a proud history of welcoming refugees and immigrants – the people who helped build your country, ready to work hard in exchange for a fair chance at a new life…I ask President Trump not to turn his back on the world’s most defenseless children and families.” [32]

I’ve also heard recently that the bigoted immigration order has been stayed by several federal judges which turns it to be correct. It was after a case filed by the ACLU which has a horrible history, along with other cases across the country. It is also clear that Trump will stay in defending it, saying it isn’t a “Muslim ban,” working out as he planned, with the former an utter lie. [33]

Beyond his bigotry, Trump made outreaches on the foreign policy front. He called Russian President Vladimir Putin today in hopes of having “a great relationship” between the US and Russia (and stabilizing US-Russia ties), along with calls to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on “security and trade issues between the two countries and the mutual threat posed by North Korea,” speaking to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, along with likely calls with French President François Hollande and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. [34] It has also been reported that there has been a “sudden resignation” in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by Norman Bay, resulting in leaving the commission with only two commissioners, “not enough for the required quorum to make decisions,” meaning that “even if the president chooses someone quickly, the process will likely take several months,” with an appointment process that “requires Senate confirmation.” [35]

Beyond January 28

There is much still to come in the later days of Trump’s presidency. For one, seemingly on January 30, Trump will announce that the US embassy in Israel will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He also will continue to advocate on path, making it worth looking at those financial disclosures of his nominees who include as I previously noted:

“…former Goldman Sachs partner Steve Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary, arch-conservative Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, ex-Navy Seal Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior, conservative (and wife of Mitch McConnell) Elaine Chao as Secretary of Transportation, former governor of Texas Rick Perry for Energy Secretary, long-time investment banker Wilbur Ross as Secretary of Commerce, restaurant CEO Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor, Georgia politician Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services, conservative commentator Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, billionaire education “reformer” Elisabeth “Betsy” DeVos as Secretary of Education, investment banker Gary Cohn as Director of the National Economic Council, and Director of Ameritrade Todd M. Ricketts as Deputy Secretary of Commerce…Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as administrator of the EPA, California politician Mick Mulvaney as director of the OMB (Office of Management and Budget), pro-wrestling tycoon Linda McMahon as administrator of the SBA (Small Business Administration), and Wall Street lawyer Walter “Jay” Clayton as director of the SEC (Securities and Exchanges Commission).”

At the same time, it is worth noting that Trump has only signed, so far, a small number of executive orders” but is in a “long line of incoming commanders-in-chief flexing their executive muscles the first week on the job” and likely many of those before him, “the President is using his new executive powers to make his campaign promises a reality.” [36]

That’s not all. The Japanese government is apparently fearful, trying to “please the new foul-speaking lord? 10 billion dollars will be spent…in the United States by Toyota car giant, in order to appease the new Emperor” but notes at Trump is “preaching protectionism and an extreme form of nationalism” while he also “decides to exceed all previous rulers by his brutality and aggressiveness, and re-hire the old and well-tested samurai, Japan, for his deadly onslaught against humanity.”  It is also worth noting that Russia is still quite muted about Trump, likely even after the call today, as they are “carefully reading the signals from Trump” and that Moscow is “literally gun-shy of America, the distance between micro-events, like my treatment a couple of days ago on Russian television, and macro-developments, like improving bilateral relations, is very small indeed.”

I don’t have much else to add here, other than saying that for one the billionaires must be made extinct, and that two, Trump should be resisted at all costs but bourgeois liberals and bourgeois progressives cannot be trusted, instead independent and radical structures (and movements) should be built and expanded, because otherwise Trumpian fascism will roll right over the US without a real fight, something that none of us really should want if we care about the world around us.

Notes

[1] Roberta Rampton and Ayesha Rascoe, “Obama shortens sentence of Manning, who gave secrets to WikiLeaks,” Reuters, Jan. 18, 2017.

[2] Daniella Diaz, Sophie Tatum, Amanda Wills and Alysha Love, “Inauguration live coverage,” CNN, January 20, 2017.

[3] Sary Levy-Carciente and María Teresa Romero, “Rex Tillerson Has A Long, Troubled History With Venezuela,” HuffPost, Jan. 15, 2017.

[4] Rory Jones, “Israel PM Netanyahu Praises Trump’s Plan for Mexico Border Wall,” Wall Street Journal, Jan. 28, 2017.

[5] Alex Lockie, “White House: The US will stop China from taking over territory in international waters,” Business Insider, Jan. 23, 2017; Reuters, “Trump White House Pledges to Block China from Taking South China Sea Islands,” Jan. 23, 2017, reprinted in Newsweek.

[6] Reuters, “Trump White House Pledges to Block China from Taking South China Sea Islands,” Jan. 23, 2017, reprinted in Newsweek.

[7] Bill Vlasic, “Trump, in Meeting, Urges Automakers to Build in United States,” New York Times, Jan. 24, 2017.

[8] Michaeleen Doucleff, “U.S. Spent $1.4 Billion To Stop HIV By Promoting Abstinence. Did It Work?,” May 3, 2016, NPR News; Andy Kopsa, “Obama still funding failed ‘faith-based’ programmes,” Al Jazeera, March 27, 2013.

[9] Julie Hirschfeld Davis, “Trump Orders Mexican Border Wall to Be Built and Is Expected to Block Syrian Refugees,” New York Times, Jan. 25, 2017.

[10] Greg Miller, “White House draft order calls for review on use of CIA ‘black site’ prisons overseas,” Washington Post, Jan. 25, 2017.

[11] Katie Bo Williams, “Trump review exposes GOP divide on torture,” The Hill, January 25, 2017.

[12] Austin Wright, “Mattis, Pompeo stunned by CIA ‘black sites’ report,” Politico, January 25, 2017.

[13] Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin, “Trump administration backs off plan to scrub climate pages from EPA website,” Washington Post, January 25, 2017; Michael D. Shear and Peter Baker, “After His Claim of Voter Fraud, Trump Vows ‘Major Investigation’,” New York Times, Jan. 25, 2017.

[14] Michael M. Grynbaum, “Trump Strategist Stephen Bannon Says Media Should ‘Keep Its Mouth Shut’,” New York Times, Jan. 26, 2017.

[15] Julia Edwards Ainsley, “Trump moves ahead with wall, puts stamp on U.S. immigration, security policy,” Reuters, Jan. 26, 2017.

[16] Neil Irwin, “How to Interpret the Trump Administration’s Latest Signals on Mexico,” New York Times, Jan. 26, 2017.

[17] The article also says correctly that “the US accounts for nearly 70 percent of the NATO budget and has long urged its European allies to step up their contributions, particularly in the face of what Washington calls the “Russian aggression” in Ukraine.”

[18] Greg Myre, “At Pentagon, Trump Declares His Aim Of ‘Rebuilding’ The Military,” NPR News, Jan. 27, 2017.

[19] Max Bearak, “Even before Trump, more Mexicans were leaving the U.S. than arriving,” Washington Post, Jan. 27, 2017.

[20] Sabrina Siddiqui, “Trump signs ‘extreme vetting’ executive order for people entering the US,” The Guardian, Jan. 27, 2017.

[21] These countries come from ISIL territorial claims, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, an Islamic group, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, other organizations listed by the State Department, and state sponsors of terrorism.

[22] Julie Zauzmer and Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “Mike Pence tells March for Life in Washington: ‘We will not rest, until we restore a culture of life’,” Washington Post, Jan. 27, 2017, reprinted in National Post.

[23] This article also says and I quote, “the US president is also expected to scrap the agreement’s European equivalent, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Area (Nafta),” but this is ultimately questionable.

[24] Emma Brown and David Nakamura, “Refugees, migrants detained at U.S. airports challenge Trump’s executive order,” Washington Post, Jan. 28, 2017; Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Kulish, “Trump’s Immigration Ban Blocks Travelers at Airports Around Globe,” New York Times, Jan. 28, 2017; Amy R. Connolly,”Syrian refugees detained at N.Y. airport file legal challenge,” UPI, Jan. 28, 2017.

[25] Eric Knecht and Maher Chmaytelli, “In Middle East, US travel curbs decried as unjust, insulting,” Reuters, January 28, 2017.

[26] CBS, “Oscar-nominated film’s director can’t attend amid Trump immigration ban, group’s leader says,” Jan. 28, 2017.

[27] Laura Mandaro, “Google CEO troubled by Trump refugee ban that ‘creates barriers’ to talent,” USA TODAY, Jan. 28, 2017.

[28] Jeremy Diamond, “Trump’s immigration ban sends shockwaves,” CNN, Jan. 28, 2017

[29] Laura Koran, “Jewish groups pan Trump for signing refugee ban on Holocaust Remembrance Day,” CNN, Jan. 28, 2017.

[30] Parisa Hafezi, “’An open affront against the Muslim world’: Iran says it will ban Americans in response to Trump’s refugee order,” Reuters, Jan. 28, 2017, reprinted in Business Insider

[31] Reuters, “Sudan calls Trump ban unfortunate in light of sanctions progress,” Jan. 28, 2017

[32] The same article notes that in December 2015, those who denounced Trump’s proposed ban included “Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Republican House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), who said the ban was “not what this party stands for.” “More importantly,” Ryan added at the time, “it’s not what this country stands for.”” Ryan, of course, has switched his position in favor of bigotry now.

[33] Doug Stanglin and Alan Gomez, “Trump says immigration ban working ‘nicely’ as protests, detainments hit airports,” USA Today, Jan. 28, 2017.

[34] Philip Rucker and David Filipov, “Trump holds calls with Putin, leaders from Europe and Asia,” Washington Post, Jan. 28, 2017; Laura Smith-Spark and Ivan Watson, “Trump and Putin talked about stabilizing ties, Kremlin says,” CNN, Jan. 28, 2017.

[35] Marie Cusick, “As Trump Reboots Pipeline Expansion, An Unexpected Delay Emerges,” NPR News, Jan. 28, 2017.

[36] Lauren Said-Moorhouse, “What’s Trump done so far? His productive first week and how it stacks up to previous presidents,” CNN, Jan. 26, 2017

Obama’s legacy: nice, kind imperialism?

Obama's statement not surprisingly was basically endorsed by Huffington Post.
Obama’s statement not surprisingly was basically endorsed by Huffington Post.

Recently, the Chinese Communist Party publication, Global Times, rated Obama positively in a “fair review” of his legacy. They mentioned Obama’s farewell speech, saying that  Obama’s accomplishments included “economic performance…better than other major Western nations” with an increased GDP per capita, lower unemployment rate, and a long bull run for the US stock market. The piece then declared that one of Obama’s legacies is Obamacare, devoting himself to “Affordable Care Act and gun control” which they almost implied was worth the effort. They even said that Obama was not as “bold” as Bush, relatively “cautious in military actions,” saying that he was the most “peaceful US president compared with several of his immediate predecessors,” not leading the US into any new wars, and not taking a leading role in the war in Libya. Even on the East Asia/Pacific pivot, which was “unsuccessful” in their view, they said that Obama was “not radical in the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific strategy,” which prevented ruptures in Sino-US relations, adding that there are “mechanisms for bilateral exchanges” between the US and China, with ties between the two complicated but “mature” at the same time. They ended by saying that “Obama is a nice person, calm and not too extreme” but that he failed “show his special leadership,” and criticized Donald Trump without naming him, calling Trump a person who “wants to be different in every category…and is obsessed with seeking the limelight.” In terms of criticisms of Obama’s presidency, the piece only mentioned that the US had “made the Syrian civil war last for five years, which led to the emergence of the Islamic State and the refugee crisis” leading to a weakening of “Washington’s control over the Middle East” and that “the gap in income distribution is growing larger,” with US citizens “feeling little sense of accomplishment.” Since such revisionist thought does not accurately describe the Obama legacy, it is important to set the record straight.

There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Obama was an imperialist of the highest order. Clearly the Global Times was writing a hit piece on Trump, who I wrote about two days ago, which should surprise no one since Trump is spewing BS on the issues of pharmaceuticals, the F-35 program, hacking, and others. For these, he may be partially right in one aspect but wants to push his image as a “tough” president, including supporting Taiwan to the hilt. As for Obama, the idea that he was a “nice person, calm and not too extreme” (or a “Woodrow Wilson“) is invalidated by his imperialist declaration last month that Russia was a “smaller” and “weaker” country that didn’t “produce anything that anybody wants to buy except oil and gas and arms,” but still said it could pose a serious threat, somehow (that doesn’t even make sense!). I guess this is no surprise for a president who loves Reagan and has an administration that promotes the Russian hacking conspiracy, not a “kinder” imperialist by any stretch. With Trump administration coming in it is clearly time for armed self-defense.

Let’s go through the “accomplishments” and “legacy” of Obama and his administration one by one:

  1. Voting AGAINST UN resolutions condemning glorification of Nazi and denial of Nazi war crimes in 2014 and 2016, supported by 115 member states in 2014 and 131 in 2016, a resolution proposed by the Russian Federation since 2006 reportedly. Last year, the US claimed that the resolution had an “overly narrow scope and politicized nature” and said it called for “unacceptable limits on the fundamental freedom of expression,” showing that the murderous empire values speech of Nazis (and white supremacists) above all others.
  2. As Nick Turse wrote in an investigative piece earlier this month, US special forces can be found in Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, partnering with “unsavory types” (you know who they are). Specifically, he noted that 70,000 special forces under Special Operations Command (SOCOM). across the world, are engaged in “shadow wars against terror groups…[along with] activities…outside acknowledged conflict zones…every single day” with the most elite forces of the US, including Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets “deployed to 138 countries in 2016” which is the highest Obama’s presidency, typifying “what has become the…murky twilight between war and peace.”
  3. Continuing the imperialist war in Afghanistan, with 8,400 troops STILL stationed there, with no end in sight under Trump.
  4. Increase in the use of private mercenaries under Obama’s watch, who may be threatened by Trump. However, Erik Prince of Blackwater backed Trump, with the latter with an even more direct connection manifested in the fact that the brother of his Secretary of Education pick, Betsy DeVos, is Erik Prince! As of August 2016, the “number of U.S. service members in Afghanistan is dwarfed by the nearly 29,000 Department of Defense private contractors [private mercenaries in actuality] in the country, outnumbering American troops three to one” which is a decrease from the past, but the use of them is a still major part of imperial operations. Even The Atlantic bellowed that “America is waging a war largely via contractors, and U.S. combat forces would be impotent without them. If this trend continues, we might see 80 or 90 percent of the force contracted in future wars” with such contracts as big business for those cashing in.
  5. As Cornel West recently argued, “today we are on the edge of an abyss…[in] the most powerful empire in the history of the world” leading to a “postmodern version of the full-scale gangsterization of the world” where Obama’s reign contributed to the “nightmare of Donald Trump.” West also argued that Obama followed the advice of his “neoliberal advisers to bail out Wall Street,” that no Wall Street executives went to jail (doing too little too late), he continued drone strikes killing civilians, he replied to Black Lives Matter with “with words about the difficult plight of police officers” and in response to Israeli aggression he funded the Israeli army with many more millions of dollars, along with calling black youth in Baltimore “criminals and thugs” (so did Jay Carney). West also reminds us that “Obama’s education policy unleashed more market forces that closed hundreds of public schools for charter ones,” “labor insurgencies” in the Northwest overlooked, demonizing “truth-tellers” (mainly whistleblowers), creating a market-based healthcare policy which “provide[d] healthcare for over 25 million citizens, even as another 20 million are still uncovered.” West finally added that Obama was a “deporter-in-chief – nearly 2.5 million immigrants were deported under his watch” which prefigures “Trump’s barbaric plans.”
  6. As Glen Ford wrote last month, “looking at the number from a different angle, Obama released only one out of every two thousand of the nation’s 2.3 million prison inmates, the largest incarcerated population in the world, both in raw numbers and in the proportion of U.S. society living behind bars. In other words, Obama’s clemencies, like all other presidents’, are statistically meaningless and morally and politically distractive. But, of course, that’s what Obama’s good at – distracting people.”
  7. As Jon Reynolds argued, “…when President Obama oversaw the brutal force-feeding of untried prisoners at a detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, they [pro-Obama liberals and progressives] said nothing. When President Obama’s mass-deportations of undocumented immigrants in the US outpaced deportations under his predecessor, they stayed silent…when President Obama spent his first term in office outspending his predecessor on raids against legal marijuana dispensaries , his supporters had little to say…When President Obama extended the US military occupation of Afghanistan until 2024, anti-war Democrats under George W. Bush were nowhere to be found. When President Obama fabricated a reason to bomb oil-rich Libya in 2011, and then just a year later, reauthorized the US invasion of Iraq, they were voiceless…when it came to light that President Obama had a “kill list” and US citizens were on it, and were being killed, all without due process — again, barely a peep. When Obama granted legal immunity to telecom companies that had conducted invasive spying during the George W. Bush years, when he extended the Patriot Act, when he prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act…when he expanded the NSA’s surveillance programs, and…green-lit indefinite detention of US citizens without trial, Democrats remained complacent. From January 2009 to the end of 2016, there has been a near-virtual silence from those identifying as Democrats against a variety of violations committed under President Obama, violations which were widely protested during the George W. Bush years…under a Democratic president, the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan was continued, US boots hit the ground in Syria and Iraq, US bombs fell in Libya, US drones terrorized the skies over Pakistan and Yemen, America’s nuclear arsenal was upgraded, and highly provocative military drills were conducted along the borders ofRussia and China. Eight years of warmongeringObama, like Bush before him…offered support to regimes like Saudi Arabia , which are notorious for oppressing homosexuals and women…from 2008 to 2014, one-quarter of a million people were deported for nonviolent drug offenses, often due to low-level marijuana possession. The idea that the Democratic Party is in any way, shape, or form entitled to the moral high ground over the equally horrific opposing party is a beyond ridiculous assertion without any basis in reality…Kill lists, defense of torture, mass surveillance, US citizens being picked off by drone missiles, the continued buildup of a vast empire [all under Obama].”
  8. Expanded Bush’s drone program to create a “kill list” where he would select people to be killed in the world every Tuesday, what is called “terror Tuesday” by some, killed by the secretive JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command), engaging in what are arguably war crimes.
  9. Hopes that race relations between whites and blacks would improve were quickly dashed, the bourgeois “middle class” continued to be “hollowed” out, income inequality reached its highest level since 1928, more Mexican immigrants have returned to Mexico than those who enter the US, partisan divides are harsher than ever, ordinary Americans were skeptical of the government’s economic policies toward the populace (and toward national policies in general), serious concerns about privacy rose, anger at the established media remained, and pessimism in the US is rising as noted in a recent Pew Research report.
  10. “Normalizing” relations with Cuba and Iran, which allowed US capitalists to salivate even as restrictions remained on these “new” markets ready for Western capitalist exploitation of the highest order.
  11. The auto bailout in 2008 and 2009, begun by Bush and continued by Obama, which “saved” the auto industry but didn’t change ANYTHING about it, even though the industry was temporarily nationalized and new jobs could have been created, maybe even in renewable energy, who knows.
  12. The refusal to prosecute ANY Bush administration officials for torture.
  13. The failure to close the hellish Guantanamo Prison Camp, which still has 55 detainees, where people are routinely tortured and numerous people have died from hunger strikes, or the huge naval base there. The base at Guantanamo which occupies over 5,880,483 square feet, with 1,362 buildings, according to the US military’s count. Furthermore, the base, which occupies 45 square miles, according to the official site, ensures, “regional security” in the Caribbean, supports U.S. Navy, and Coast Guard ships, while helping the wicked Department of Homeland (In)Security “care” for migrants, and helping “control the flow” of undocumented immigrants into the United States. The “official history” of the base which boasts about their “self-sufficiency” doesn’t mention, context for seizure of Gitmo or the US military’s three imperialist occupations of Cuba (1898-1902, 1906-1909, 1917-1922), with the land taken “during the [imperialist] Spanish-American war of 1898, then codified in the Cuban-American treaty of 1903″ which was signed during a time when the sovereignty of Cuba was limited.
  14. The New York Post says Obama’s legacy is a “devastated Democratic Party,” an assessment which is actually pretty accurate to be honest.
  15. The presence of 5,000 troops in Iraq, one of the wars that Global Times forgets for some reason.
  16. As noted by NBC News, “the president’s policy moves…firmly aligned Latinos with the Democrats…[while] white, economically-insecure American increasingly drifted from his party [to Trump], despite Obama policies aimed at them.”
  17. Even a pro-Obama tepid liberal in Truthout argued that under Obama, “as with the torturers, none of the Wall Street thieves who eviscerated the economy to their great profit were ever prosecuted for any of their crimes…[he] all but ignor[ed]…Standing Rock as he champions fracking and tar sands oil pipelines…[he] champions the middle class while peddling the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership [along with other “free trade” treaties and he] sold more weapons to the world than any administration since World War II.”
  18. Beyond an increase in national debt, he escalated US presence in Syria with special forces rushing to the country, backing “moderate” Syrian rebels who are actually terrorists and “rebels” in Ukraine to fight “Russian aggression.”
  19. Pushing for a war or some sort of conflict with Russia, an idea advocated by US intelligence agencies, Democrats, the US media, and numerous others like Joy Ann Reid, and so on
  20. As James Bovard argued, Obama “became judge, jury, and executioner” when it came to drone bombing, the US is bombing, as of now, “seven foreign nations” (Libya, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, and Pakistan). rebels backed by the Pentagon and those backed by the CIA have battled each other. Beyond this, the opinion notes that during the US bombing in Libya in 2011, the US joined “the French and British assault on the Libyan government” and toppled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, while “federal agencies slammed the door on routine requests – especially from the media” with numerous FOIA denials, and the TSA “became far more intrusive and abusive” to say the least.
  21. As further strengthened the repressive capacities of the state” including increasing its propaganda abilities, to “curtail speech and control information” [which I talked about here] connecting to its legacy of “increased surveillance of the public to the use of the espionage act to prosecute journalists and whistleblowers.” Baraka said that the “latte left” and liberal allies have fully collaborated with this, with efforts to “weaken the incoming administration by attempting to split it from its Republican legislative arm,” with Trumpism becoming “a useful tool for enforcing neoliberal ideological consensus,” leading to the reappearance of the phenomenon of neo-fascism, nothing new to Black America who which has “suffered from the racist, arrogant assaults of this criminal state to maintain the Pan-European colonial/capitalist project.”
  22. Said “no” to Israel recently, but has consistently supported Israel through its numerous bombing campaigns over the years. Trump aims to be even more Zionist than Obama, which is apparently possible.
  23. Leading on the “environmental movement” and bourgeois environmental groups so they would “await” his rejection of Keystone XL which happened, but also didn’t since he approved the southern half in 2012 (when he boasted about more pipelines) and “disapproved” of the northern half but actually didn’t since oil-by-rail continues onward as noted on Wrong Kind of Green and elsewhere.
  24. Continuing the imperialist assault on states like Zimbabwe, Russia, Eritrea, the DPRK, and others full force, without stop. Trump will likely increase this with his “Trumpian diplomacy” with intervention in the African continent on the rise.
  25. Using states ranging from Saudi Arabia (including voting against that 9/11 bill) to Qatar as imperial proxies to carry about US policies of mass murder over the years.
  26. As I noted in my post in July, President Obama “extended the imperial war and occupation in Afghanistan beyond his time in office, leaving more troops “than planned” with the empire as “strong as ever” despite “growing US debt from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” I also pointed out the lack of domestic opposition to imperial adventures, with most peace groups as bourgeois, noted that there have been “US-backed coups in Ukraine (2014), Honduras (2009), Paraguay (2012), Maldives (2012), and Brazil (2016), coupled with drone strikes across the Muslim world from secretive drone bases, shadowy attack teams (JSOC, CIA, and so on), private mercenaries-for-hire, and authoritarian imperial proxy states such as Saudi Arabia.” Additionally I noted that “Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Cuba, Syria, Belarus, and the DPRK are under fierce overt and covert imperial assault coupled with imperial destabilization efforts” along with saying that “the United States certainly has colonies like the “empires of old” manifested in its inhabited territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa (supposedly “self-governing” since 1967), Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands” along with the “mainstay of the murderous empire comes in the hundreds of military bases, numbering 500 at minimum (most of which the military calls “installations” [11]), scattered across the world.” This shows that quotes like these are true.

There’s no doubt that even if Obama was “better” than Bush in some regards (which I seriously doubt), he was a bloody imperialist. There are numerous aspects I didn’t touch on here, especially in the realm of social policy, but I wanted to avoid praise here as I’m trying to be critical in this area rather than having the idea of “balance” whatever that entails. I could go on and give other aspects of Obama’s legacy. However, rather than continuing the list I’d like to show some charts:

cxgszapxaaamzry
As noted from a revised map I put on twitter.
Countries the US is currently bombing as I noted on twitter
Countries the US is currently bombing as I noted on twitter
sofmap1_large
This map displays, as noted by Nick Turse, “the locations of 132 of those countries” with 129 (blue) supplied by U.S. Special Operations Command and 3 (red) — Syria, Yemen and Somalia — “were derived from open-source information.”
U.S. Special Operations forces deployed to 138 nations in 2016. Locations in blue were supplied by U.S. Special Operations Command. Those in red were derived from open-source information. Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, and Russia are not among those nations named or identified, but all are at least partially surrounded by nations visited by America’s most elite troops last year.
As Nick Turse notes in the original caption for this image, “Locations in blue were supplied by U.S. Special Operations Command. Those in red were derived from open-source information. Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, and Russia are not among those nations named or identified, but all are at least partially surrounded by nations visited by America’s most elite troops last year.”
sofmap3baltic_large
Original caption by Nick Turse: “a closer look at the areas of the “undeclared campaigns in the Baltics, Poland, and Ukraine” mentioned by retired Lieutenant General Charles Cleveland. Locations in blue were supplied by U.S. Special Operations Command. The one in red was derived from open-source information.”
US bases near Iran, as of 2015
US bases near Iran, as of 2015, an image usually used to demonstrate US imperial power in the region
US bases near China as of Feb. 2016
US bases near China as of Feb. 2016
US bombs dropped in 2016 in the Middle East (and part of central Asia), most of which were in Syria, Iraq & Afghanistan.
US bombs dropped in 2016 in the Middle East (and part of central Asia), most of which were in Syria, Iraq & Afghanistan. Data here comes from the CFR, but also uses this map and bombs from this anti-US poster in Iran. A US flag was put on each bomb, with some countries, like Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, representing the exact number of bombs, while others (Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria) are just representational
libya-2016-bombs-dropped
A graphic I made, putting into place each bomb individually (taking about an hour at least) showing ALL the bombs dropped on Libya in 2016, using this map as a basis, with data from CFR.
us-bombs-dropped-in-2015-300x184
After making all those maps, I’m a bit tired, so here is a chart of US bombings in 2015 also from the CFR. Part of the reason I didn’t make a map also is that Iraq & Syria are put into one category.

I don’t really have anything else right now since I’m tired and this post is going out later today. But, comments are welcome.

“If he can put a few dents…I’ll fucking take it”: Trump and imperial diplomacy

Trump attacks a union leader, foreshadowing his anti-union moves in the future
Trump attacks a union leader, who called out Trump on his lies about the Carrier deal, foreshadowing his anti-union moves in the future

Recently I read a post by Sassy Sourstein (@rancidsassy) about Trump’s diplomatic maneuvers as you could call them. To his credit, he writes that “I’m not ready to stop gloating about the loss of Hillary Clinton yet. When Trump is inaugurated I’ll turn the knives on his administration — for now, it’s still the Obama-Clinton administration and I’m still focusing on these cretins.” This article will go through his post and address it, arguing that it is best to not be as optimistic about “changes” under Trump but to rather recognize the general continuance and continue fighting.

Trump, Taiwan and China

There isn’t a lie but it is the broader implications that matter.

Liberals don’t even know there’s a forest, forget seeing it for the trees. This week in Facebook includes people horrified that Trump would even acknowledge the government of Taiwan, let alone congratulate its new president! This will enrage China, our largest trading partner! They even brought out the specter of WWIII, which they laughed at when it was said it would be Clinton who would start it. Thing is Clinton was going to start it by following through on a promise to bomb Russian troops in Syria.

There is no doubt that liberals have engaged in what can be accurately called fake outrage, which is when someone is “outraged” at something but doesn’t see the whole picture simply put. Sassy has a point that Clinton would likely have started WWIII with bombing Russian troops in Syria and that liberals exhibited this fake outrage on this issue.

However, Trump’s position is not something out of the blue. Apart from whether his criticism of China is correct, which it seems to is clearly not, he is tapping into the sentiment of angry American multinationals who don’t like “new rules,” “rattled” as state-owned enterprises take more of a role in the economy, and are reportedly leaving China for Mexico, as the country loses its “allure” supposedly. Even Ho-Fung Hung, Johns Hopkins University Sociology professor who seems to be in the liberal camp of critics of China’s government by supporting the Western-backed “democracy” movement in Hong Kong, described Trump’s call with Taiwan’s new President, Tsai Ing-wen, who is part of a Taiwanese nationalist bourgeois liberal party, as “signaling a deeper shift in Washington’s Asia policy rather than just an impulsive act.”

As it turns out, that sentiment is well-placed. The call was reportedly “an intentionally provocative move that establishes the incoming president as a break with the past” which was the product of preparations stretching before he even “became the Republican presidential nominee.” [1] Talking with Tsai Ing-wen reflects, according to the article, views of Trumps’ advisers “to take a tough opening line with China,” even as it is publicly portrayed as just a “routine congratulatory call” (and non-political) which removes the fact that “it appeared calculated to signal a new, robust approach to relations with China,” to make Taiwan a “more strategic ally in East Asia.”

All Trump did was talk to the leader of a country that the United States arms and is sworn to protect — from China. And hey, China knows this. If these morons think China is just concerned with being “dishonored” *gong sound, deep bow* they’re not just racist, they’re also so stupid as to be dangerous. Give felons back their vote and disenfranchise these criminals of common sense.

Once again, Sassy makes a good point that Trump did talk to the president of Taiwan, a country whom the US has generously armed over the years with thousands upon thousands of weapons, including almost $2 billion in armaments sold to them almost a year ago in December 2015, trying to prevent them from “burning.” [2] There is no doubt that China is not just concerned with being “dishonored” with the call, but that they recognize US relations with Taiwan, and that liberals should be mocked for their response. However, as always, there is something deeper here.

Apart from what was said before, Bob Dole was behind the scenes in setting up the call with Tsai Ing-wen. Dole works currently as “a foreign agent for the government of Taiwan,” working for six months secretly (praised $140,000) to establish “high-level contact between Taiwanese officials and President-elect Donald J. Trump’s staff,” is a lobbyist for the multi-million dollar law firm Alston & Bird, and was part of a “well-orchestrated plan by Taiwan to use the election of a new president to deepen its relationship with the United States” which was assisted by Dole. [3] It might be worth remembering that Dole voted against even moderate social safety net proposals that were part of the revolution-calming “Great Society” while in the US Senate, was much in favor of the Vietnam War, and became a spokesperson for many corporate interests after his political career ended with Bill Clinton’s victory in 1996.

Apart from the misplaced optimism of the Chinese government about Trump (like many governments across the world), liberals and the corporate media have, as Sassy was criticizing, went all up and arms about this phone call:

Some actually praised the action by Trump, a view promoted by William Arkin who helped found a branch of Human Rights Watch in the 1990s! In related news, the Taiwanese alleged that the Chinese circled the island a week before Trump’s call, but this is likely a lie. What isn’t a lie, however, is a statement by former Trump adviser, Stephen Moore, likely in line with the position of Trump and his advisers: “Taiwan is our ally. That is a country that we have backed because they believe in freedom. We oughta back our ally, and if China doesn’t like it, screw ’em.” [4]

Beyond this is the actual response of the Chinese government. There is no doubt that he call made the Chinese angry, but officials blamed Taiwan for setting it up rather than Trump and hardly criticized the call. [5] The Chinese know that the Taiwan Relations Act not only “ended US recognition of Taiwan but also made the US responsible for military intervention in the case of an attack or invasion from China.” However, the anger goes deeper than that and goes beyond asking the US to bar Taiwan’s president from traveling through the US.

The People’s Daily Overseas Edition, a paper of the Chinese Communist Party, took an interesting tone. [6] This article by a researcher from the China Institute of International Studies, Wang Hai Lou, notes that Trump has consistently criticized China and could become “the weathervane for US future policy toward China” especially based on the fact he is “surrounded by a group of neo-conservative thinking” which is not good. Hai Lou goes on to say that Trump has a “lack of diplomatic experience” and is “ignorant of China-US relations” especially when it comes to “the exchange rate, trade and the South China Sea,” that provoking “friction between China and the United States…will only be counterproductive.” He ended by saying that

“China is well aware of the dual nature of US policy toward China…China’s foreign policy in line with international trends, the United States no matter…the…foreign strategy, it is difficult to exclude cooperation with China…China should develop itself according to established goals, build up a circle of friends, build a favorable international environment by cooperation and win-win, and limit US hostile choice and willful choice…the transition of Sino-US relations requires a long-term and long-term strategic plan.”

Very strategic thinking, no doubt. More directly, the Chinese government lodged “solemn representations with the relevant party on the US side both in Beijing and Washington” and got its “message across to the world as a whole with regard to Taiwan-related issues,” with the Foreign Minstry’s spokesperson, Lu Kang, saying, not surprisingly, “we will not speculate on what motivates President-elect Trump and his team into taking certain moves. But we will surly make ourselves clear if what they say concerns China.” The comment of the other foreign ministry spokesperson on the issue was not much different. Differently, some of the readers on People’s Daily criticized Trump for his anti-China rhetoric. The strongest opinion was an op-ed by Curtis Stone in the same publication, with him arguing the following:

“The U.S. cannot (and should not) try to dictate the policy of another sovereign state. Sovereignty means that China…is not always going to do what the U.S. wants. Furthermore, China will never bow to U.S. pressure…China is an independent, sovereign state with its own national interests. As a sovereign state, China sets its own policy and can retaliate if necessary. Trump does not seem to understand what China is doing with its currency, because he has repeatedly accused China of devaluing its currency. Many U.S. economists and currency experts agree that China is not a currency manipulator, and Chinese leaders have long insisted that market forces determine the price of the yuan…China wants peace and stability in the South China Sea, not tension and conflict. No doubt, China is determined and willing to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, but the claim that China is militarizing the South China Sea is completely false…An irrational and hasty “get tough with China” policy would be detrimental to U.S. long-term interests…world peace and prosperity depend on the healthy develop of China-U.S. relations. Trump needs to get the China-U.S. relationship right.”

Other writers took a similar stand. In the Chinese state media publication, Global Times, editorials said that:

  • peace through strength will be an important diplomatic principle of Trump” with a likely increase in East Asia of the military presence
  • Trump “has zero diplomatic experience and is unaware of the repercussions of shaking up Sino-US relations…China should understand Trump has two faces…we need to be clear-minded”
  • the One-China policy is a widely acknowledged principle in international relations..there is no motive in the US or the world that can break the principle…If Trump wants to overstep the One-China principle, he will destroy Sino-US ties…The Chinese mainland is capable of punishing Tsai’s administration for any moves that crosses the red line…It is hoped that Trump will gradually understand the reality and shape his China policy based on it”
  • “…he stirred up troubles against China before he is sworn in, which contradicts his isolationism…it remains uncertain if someone egged him on to challenge China…Sino-US ties will witness more troubles in his early time in the White House than any other predecessor…We should stand firm and remain composed…Trump’s reckless remarks against a major power show his lack of experience in diplomacy…Trump’s China-bashing tweet is just a cover for his real intent, which is to treat China as a fat lamb and cut a piece of meat off it…We must confront Trump’s provocations head-on, and make sure he won’t take advantage of China at the beginning of his tenure.”
  • But does China need to make deals with Trump that only benefit the US for making peace with him? Apparently not. The negotiations between China and the US must be carried out on an equal footing with mutual benefits, and won’t come to any agreement under Trump’s coercion. What if someone tries to leverage China in negotiations in an unacceptable way and tries to create an arrogant atmosphere?
    In this case, the best China can do is to return an eye for an eye. China won’t pay into Trump’s protection racket. It should use the money to build more strategic nuclear arms and accelerate the deployment of the DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile…We need to get better prepared militarily regarding the Taiwan question to ensure that those who advocate Taiwan’s independence will be punished, and take precautions in case of US provocations in the South China Sea.”

On a related note, in the English-language China Daily, they wrote that the leader of Taiwan “is desperate for support from the United States in her cross-Straits standoff with the Chinese mainland” and that Trump “values the island as a business partner,” and that the response from Beijing “indicates a strong desire for healthy China-US relations in the coming Trump era.” Just like other writers have noted, “Trump broke a decades-old bilateral diplomatic consensus and touched an ultra-sensitive diplomatic nerve” and that he should “stop acting like the diplomatic rookie he is…otherwise, he will make costly troubles for his country, and find himself trying to bluster his way through constant diplomatic conflagrations.” That actually is a good point that even Sassy didn’t bring up.

In comparison, other publications were more strident. In the Russian publication, pravada.ru, Lyuba Lulko (Stepushova) argued that “China resorted to tough rhetoric,” noting that the US welcomed Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui in 1995 which made Beijing mad, while noting that Trump’s position “could provoke not only a military, but also an economic confrontation with China that will not be easy to win” with China vetoing “other US initiatives in the UN Security Council, for example, a resolution against the proliferation of North Korea’s nuclear weapons or the sanctions policy against Iran” which could lead to a better position for Russia. In CounterPunch, writers noted that “today, more than 400 American military bases encircle China with missiles, bombers, warships and, above all, nuclear weapons” with a coming war with China a possibility, with targeting of China’s core interests, and that there could be a war over Taiwan, with increased tensions as a likely possibility. This aligns with a recent poll where more Chinese than before are wary of the United States, which is nothing new.

Liberals and Fidel Castro

These same “pragmatic” types will nonetheless spend their time shitting on the legacy of Fidel Castro who despite lifting millions out of extreme poverty, did terrible things to innocent people that objectively pale in comparison to anything the US has done to its own minorities, but forget that. It’s about the morality — but just in that case.

Terrible things to innocent people? Who? Which innocent people? I do think Sassy makes a good point about liberal analysis of Fidel here. All I have to say is that Fidel was a great revolutionary (Evo Morales of Bolivia agrees not surprisingly) and those in Cuba have memorialized him rightly so:

Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and Theresa May

That’s not all Trump “fucked up” on the foreign policy front. In less than a week he praised the “dictator” of Kazakhstan, said he’d — horrors!! — like to visit Pakistan, “a terrific country,” and treated the British Prime Minister as if she were the leader of any other of the world’s countries. That last “disaster” involved him calling Theresa May only after calling NINE probably non-white leaders.

At this point Sassy bunched together a number of different issues: meeting the leader of Kazakhstan, visiting Pakistan, and talking to Prime Minister Theresa May. Once again, the anger over this translates to fake outrage. However, it is still worth addressing each topic on its own merit.

Trump praised that Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan’s leader, and said that the country,  since its independence “achieved fantastic success that can be called a ‘miracle.’” [7] Now, that’s much more than just an ordinary phone call. It was enough for the Washington Post to write a thinkpiece about it and some scholars to say that Kazakhstan will fair well under Trump, possibly finding the supposed “key” to fighting the Islamic State. We must recognize that Kazakhstan is a country that is utterly open for business and relations with many countries, such as Russia, China (also see here), Qatar, other Gulf states, and South Korea, along with the United States of course. [8] This state, apart from being part of OPEC, is its strategic importance to the US, likely in part because of its “wonderful” economic transformation. [9]

Sassy put “dictator” in quotations like it was something not true, something trotted out by the Western media. I think there should be no doubt that the leader of the country is a bit self-absorbed to say the least. Apart from the arrests of Islamic State-supported citizens (which isn’t necessarily bad), the country had jailed activists for dissenting (also see here) and might have a “great firewall” like China. Considering that that could be twisted into propaganda, it is best to consult other articles. These articles show that the government seems repressive, supports an higher education system pushed by the World Bank (part 1, part 2, part 3), was praised by the Bushes as freedom-loving, is part of “Eurasian integration,” poured money into a Clinton Initiative project (also see here), and provides the US with logistical support in the Afghanistan imperial war. If that’s not enough, consider that apart from Kazakhstan as part of China’s New Silk Road (also see here) partially driven by oil resources in the country and part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (it also works with Russia), benefits Western oil companies, along with other companies, and such. Now, you can say that the Western media isn’t portraying the country fairly, with some thinking of Borat as the image of the country, but even the right-wing Heritage Foundation, which is disappointed with the country’s “progress,” says that there have been “large-scale privatizations” and that the economy is not in a great state. So, its not a country anyone should consider part of an anti-imperialist front, even as it has good relations with China and Russia, with thirteen US soldiers in the country according to the most recent data.

Now we get to Pakistan. Some media say that Trump called Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, a “terrific guy,” others noted that Trump’s advisers claim he will will “solve” the problems in the Kashmir region, while others said that Pakistan was trying to “woo” Donald Trump. [10] There is no doubt that Pakistan is key to “fighting terrorism” in the region with their strong-armed approach, however, it is worth remembering that Pakistan helped in the past in funding the anti-Soviet Islamic reactionaries from 1979 to 1989 at least, but also has been angered by recent US efforts. The drone bombing, which is basically Obama’s project (Bush started it, but he didn’t engage in as many bombings), is part of war which spans seven countries: Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, along with the interventions in multiple African countries. So, Pakistan’s government, on the face, not very happy with US bombing, including outing at least three CIA station chiefs. In fact, the citizens of Pakistan have said they do not approve of the US’s mass surveillance, and a wide swath of the population since 2002 (ranging from 73-90% over the years) they declared that they have an unfavorable view of the United States and the US President (since 2005) while they have a much more positive view of China, reaching into the supermajority. In fact, the government is playing a double game. The Pakistanis have long ties to the imperial client state, Saudi Arabia, which is in an imperial interrelationship with the United States, and have a powerful military which, of course, served US interests for the most part and dominates the country’s politics.

Prime Minister Sharif, who Trump talked to, is not only one Pakistan’s most wealthy people, but he is very conservative, supported the 1991 invasion of Iraq, and pushed a direct privatization program, in his first term (1990-1993). In his second term of office (1997-1999), he expanded Pakistan’s nuclear program, had better relations with the Muslim world, and had good relations with the Pakistani military. In his third, and more recent term of office, he took a centrist stand on social policy, worked with the IMF to restructure Pakistan’s economy, engaged in privatization, strengthened Pakistan’s security establishment, seemed to have better relations with China than before along with good relations with Afghanistan and Russia, and the US claimed it was assisting Pakistan in fighting terrorism…by bombing the country! Not surprisingly, there was criticism of Sharif from the left and right, definitely more principled on the left of course.

Now we get to Theresa May, the UK’s new Prime Minister, and Trump. The media says that Trump told May that he values the “special relationship” (while recognizing NATO’s importance) while May said that talking to Trump was “easy.” [11] Other media said that Trump also said that Nigel Farage should serve as the UK’s Ambassador to the US, who has been a long-time friend of Trump (and tied to the GOP) for some time now. [12] May is the second female Prime Minister of the UK, after arch-conservative (and war criminal) Margaret Thatcher, supported mass surveillance in the UK, gave police more powers to crack down on the citizenry, and said that immigration to the island should be reduced as Home Secretary. In her recent days as prime minister she has supported the horrendous Saudi bombing in Yemen backed by the US and seems favorable to Brexit. As for Farage, who is part of a basically fascist UK Independence Party (UKIP), he has spread Islamophobic opinions on Muslim immigrants, hates wind power and takes a conservative opinion on the economy even if he has “good” positions on the EU, funding “rebels” in Syria, Putin’s role in Europe, UK-Saudi relations, and so on.

Trump putting in a “few dents” in the imperial diplomatic system?

Anything that makes US diplomats “aghast” is fabulous by me. These slimebags deserve much worse for what they’ve done to the world’s people. They’re the ones who keep every country softened up for the plunder and just in case any objections arise, war…I’m not interested in whether or not Trump knows that what he’s doing is destructive to the diplomatic system. It’s irrelevant. I know that the outcome must be good if these enemies of all good people are upset by it. That tells me all I need to know. Diplomacy as a tool of empire predates the birth of Donald Trump and unfortunately will outlive him. If he can put a few dents, intentionally or not, in these fuckers’ Mercedes well I’ll fucking take it.

Now, we get to one of the “kickers” of Sassy’s piece: the argument that Trump shocking US diplomats is good, since diplomacy is “a tool of empire” and that “if he can put a few dents…in these fuckers’ Mercedes well I’ll fucking take it.” This viewpoint is the fundamental belief in his post and what is mentioned in the title of this post. That viewpoint makes sense in that Sassy is clearly optimistic. However, as I’ve laid out in this article, Trump’s diplomatic maneuvers are not this simple. Already, Trump will align with those who feel “anti-terror policies” are not adequate enough, stay the course with US participation in NATO (despite his comments during the election), say that “the large number of refugees leaving Iraq and Syria is especially worrisome,” and deal with domestic problems before addressing international issues as a poll in May of this year noted. There’s not really anything else I can say here other than that diplomats, like liberals are engaging in “fake outrage” of course but that Trump’s maneuvers are still important.

Trump, Boeing, and Air Force One

Trump tweeted that the new Air Force One planes being built by Boeing were too expensive and should be canceled. When the markets opened this morning the Boeing stock took a dive! Can you think of a more deserving corporation to take such a hit?

I completely understand Sassy’s optimism here. I also think that Boeing is a horrible company since they are a huge military contractor, making bombers, fighters, satellites, and numerous other military equipment. Sassy is not alone in this commentary, with some describing it as a “brilliant move.”

As always, there is a deeper explanation needed. One article in the Chicago Tribune said that Boeing likely cringes every time Trump “riffs on foreign policy, especially when it comes to dealing with China” with the possibility that Trump’s administration will “test the Boeing CEO’s statesmanship, especially when it comes to dealing with China.” It also says that since it seems “Trump is eager for a China confrontation,” this goes against the interest of Boeing, which doesn’t want “an international trade war that could raise tariffs or greatly disrupt long-standing, albeit imperfect, global agreements.” The article goes on to quote Boeing’s CEO who said that “one of the overarching themes [of the recent election] was apprehension about free and fair trade,” says that an influx of jet orders from China “means more work for Boeing’s thousands of U.S. workers” and that Trump should heed his (Boeing CEO’s) advice (which is very economically nationalist ironically enough: “If we do not lead when it comes to writing these rules, our competitors will write them for us.” The article then asks how nationalist trump’s will be, with a “lot of unanswered questions and concerns.”

Of course the Chicago Tribune piece is pro-business and takes the side of Boeing, there is still important insights there on the further implications of Trump’s remarks, which are worth recognizing, which Sassy doesn’t even address.

Concluding words

In the last sentence of Sassy’s piece, he declares facetiously “I’m loving the Trump presidency and it hasn’t even started.” I’m not sure that such optimism is warranted, even if a majority of Americans say Trump can keep his businesses, which isn’t arguably an “empire.” Already, Trump is trying to court the capitalist class, many of whom supported Killary for her more overtly pro-corporate policies, including those in the technology sector mainly based around Silicon/Sexist/Surveillance Valley. [14] At the same time, he may moderate his opinions on issues like the Affordable Care Corporatist Act (“Obamacare”) if he follows the lead of Republican leaders in the houses of Congress, follows a similar “political blueprint” to Obama,” and his expected energy policy which includes: (1) more oil & gas drilling, (2) approval of LNG terminals quicker, (3) reducing energy subsidies, and other destructive policies to the environment, going even farther than Obama’s destructive (and deceptive) nature on the environment. [15] Beyond this, with the “new” rules of the “Trump game,” the militarization of space will be quickly expedited, brinkmanship will be even more prominent with with Michael T. Flynn as National Security Adviser, the continuing privatization of public education, and billionaires will benefit, with a cabinet that reeks of cronyism, and lies about “great deals” for new jobs (see here, here, here, and here for example).

It is best to move beyond the “tweet shaming” that people claim Trump has done, the fake outrage (also see here), fake news, or that one guy who is a faithless elector. The same goes for Al Gore meeting with Trump, Obama handing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) off to Trump, and numerous other issues. [16] Not only has Trump said he will approve the pipeline, but his advisers have declared that “We should take tribal land away from public treatment [privatize it]…As long as we can do it without unintended consequences, I think we will have broad support around Indian country,” a move which is broadly opposed by indigenous peoples, represented by groups such as the Indigenous Environmental Network and Three Affiliated Tribes in North Dakota, among others. [17] I think is valid to say that Trump will unleash neofascism (assisted by Obama continuing his harsh immigration measures), and that Trump is a showman, with governing style that makes Corporate America nervous. [18]

The most uneasy of all about Trump are the Iranians. The Western-backed moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently said, in a speech at Tehran University, after expressing anger that the U.S. would tear up the nuclear agreement (with cheers of “Death to America), “America cannot influence our determination, this nation’s resistance and its struggle. America is our enemy; we have no doubt about this. The Americans want to put as much pressure on us as they can.” [19] Beyond this, with this tone because of more pressure from “hard-liners,” some analysts in Iran said that Rouhani has proved that “trusting America is useless and a waste of time, energy and money” and should not be re-elected, but there is continued dedication to the nuclear agreement as some Iranian lawmakers “have proposed a boycott of American products…[and 88 others] have even suggested restarting nuclear activities and the enrichment of uranium.” The renewal of US sanctions on Iran for the next ten years has vindicated the “hardliners,” as some still try to bring in foreign companies to invest as the country’s leaders want the sanctions to expire. As I noted on this blog before, Iran is currently beset by the forces of Western imperialism, but this might be an opening to prevent more damage.

There really isn’t any more to say here, even about the optimistic comments of Putin about Trump (which despite his previous comments should be more wary), the Pentagon burying evidence of $125 billion in waste, the “Chinese dream,” and the widening income gap between the wealthy and the mass of the population. [21] Perhaps we should, other than recognizing the successes of socialism in the USSR, go farther than Sassy, who said, as I noted in the beginning of this post, “when Trump is inaugurated I’ll turn the knives on his administration,” and turn the knives on Trump NOW, instead of buying into delusions of optimism when it comes to Trump, his cabinet, and his policies which will most definitely benefit the bourgeoisie, even more than Obama, who the capitalist class liked very much.

Notes

[1] Anne Gearan, Philip Rucker, and Simon Denyer, “Trump’s Taiwan phone call was long planned, say people who were involved,” Washington Post, December 4, 2016. Accessed December 7, 2016. Reportedly this was only one of many calls with foreign leaders that were planned after Trump’s election on November 8th. There was also a “tougher language about China” in the GOP platform this year than before, and a number of pieces in Foreign Policy (Trump transition advisers) and the Council of National Interest (Trump transition adviser) may give clues to his future moves forward.

[2] Obama administration authorizes $1.83 billion arms sale to Taiwan,” Reuters, December 16, 2015. Accessed December 7, 2016. This article says that “the Obama administration formally notified Congress on Wednesday of a $1.83 billion arms sale package for Taiwan, including two frigates, anti-tank missiles, amphibious assault vehicles and other equipment, drawing an angry response from China…Although Washington does not recognize Taiwan as a separate state from China, it is committed under the Taiwan Relations Act to ensuring Taipei can maintain a credible defense…”Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. China strongly opposes the U.S. arms sale to Taiwan,” Xinhua quoted Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang, who summoned Lee, as saying. Zheng said the sales went against international law and basic norms of international relations and “severely” harmed China’s sovereignty and security…the arms package included two Perry-class guided-missile frigates; $57 million of Javelin anti-tank missiles made by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin; $268 million of TOW 2B anti-tank missiles and $217 million of Stinger surface-to-air missiles made by Raytheon, and $375 million of AAV-7 Amphibious Assault Vehicles.”

[3] Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Eric Lipton, “Bob Dole Worked Behind the Scenes on Trump-Taiwan Call,” New York Times, December 6, 2016. Accessed December 7, 2016. Dole also pushed for the plank in the GOP Party Platform which took a harder line on China than previously.

[4] Other articles I don’t feel like relating here are: (1) an apparent US-China-Japan space race, with Japan wanting to send explorers to Mercury and Venus instead of Mars like the US and China, connected with growth of the “space industry,” along with related tweets and (2) rejection of a China-linked semiconductor, displaying the fanatical economic nationalism at play.

[5] Associated Press, “Trump speaks directly with Taiwan’s leader, irking China,” Mercury News, December 3, 2016. Accessed December 7, 2016; Damian Paletta, Carol E. Lee and Jeremy Page, “Donald Trump’s Message Sparks Anger in China,” Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2016. Accessed December 7, 2016.

[6] Ting Shi and Taylor Hall, “China Seeks ‘Strategic Composure’ in Trump Era of Diplomacy,” Bloomberg News, December 6, 2016. Accessed December 7, 2016.

[7] Louis Nelson, “Trump praises Kazakhstan ‘miracle’ in call with president,” Politico, December 1, 2016. Accessed December 7, 2016; Reena Flores, “Kazakhstan: Trump praised “miracle” achieved under our president,” CBS News, December 2, 2016. Accessed December 7, 2016.

[8] Theodore Karasik, “Kazakhstan: At the Crossroads of Security,” U.S. News and World Report, December 5, 2016. Accessed December 7, 2016.

[9] “Kazakhstan to join talks with OPEC, undecided on output cut,” Reuters, December 6, 2016. Accessed December 7, 2016.

[10] Seema Guha, “Donald Trump may play hardball on Kashmir, but India is no pushover,” First Post, December 6, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Rama Lakshmi, “Trump can resolve Kashmir impasse with ‘dealmaking skills,’ his running mate claims. It won’t be easy,” Washington Post, December 5, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Carlos Munoz, “Pakistani aide sees opening for better ties with Trump administration,” Washington Times, December 5, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Denis Slatery and Cameron Joseph, “Donald Trump speaks to Taiwan, Philippines and Pakistan leaders over the phone — signaling a major U.S. foreign policy shift,” New York Daily News, December 3, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Joshua Berlinger and Sophia Saifi, “Donald Trump reportedly praises Pakistan’s ‘terrific’ PM,” CNN, December 2, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Damien Paletta and Saeed Shah, “Pakistan Says Donald Trump Called Its Leader ‘Terrific Guy’,” Wall Street Journal, November 30, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Shashank Bengali and Aoun Sahi, “In phone call with leader, Trump lavishes praise on Pakistan, ‘fantastic place of fantastic people,”” Los Angeles Times, December 1, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Jackie Northam, “Trump Gushes About Pakistan In Call With Its Prime Minister,” NPR, December 1, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Jeff Nesbit, “Donald Trump’s Call With Pakistan Was a Hypocritical Mess,” Time, December 1, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Matt Bearak, “Pakistan’s surprisingly candid readout of Trump’s phone call with prime minister,” Washington Post, November 30, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Steve Benen, “Trump has ‘bizarre’ conversation with Pakistani leader,” MSNBC, December 1, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Charles Tiefer, “Trump’s Ignorant Call To Pakistan’s Sharif May Send India An Unwelcome Message,” Forbes, November 30, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016.

[11] Joe Watts, “Theresa May praises ‘easy to talk to’ Donald Trump despite previous criticism,” The Independent, December 6, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; “Donald Trump values special relationship with UK and is ‘easy to talk to’, says Theresa May,” The Telegraph, December 6, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Robert Nisbet, “Theresa May: Talking to Donald Trump is ‘very easy’,” Sky News, December 7, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; “Theresa May calls Donald Trump to discuss ties, transition and NATO,” Sky News, November 29, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Ian Silvera,”Donald Trump and Theresa May agree on Nato importance in second phone call,” International Business Times, November 29, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Peter Walker, “Concerns over ‘special relationship’ allayed as Trump calls May,” The Guardian, November 10, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016.

[12] Martin Pengelly, “Nigel Farage is willing to serve Donald Trump ‘formally or informally’,” The Guardian, December 3, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; “Nigel Farage meets with top Republicans raising fresh questions for Theresa May,” The Telegraph, December 3, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Feliz Solomon, “Donald Trump Says ‘Many People’ Want Nigel Farage to Become Britain’s Ambassador to the U.S.,” Time, November 21, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Rowena Mason, “Nigel Farage: I share concerns with Donald Trump,” The Guardian, July 15, 2015. Accessed December 8, 2016; Karla Adam, “Nigel Farage: Trump is ‘a very loyal man’,” Washington Post, November 22, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016.

[13] Robert Reed, “Boeing CEO waits for Trump’s trade play,” Chicago Tribune, December 6, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016.

[14] David Streitfield, “Donald Trump Summons Tech Leaders to a Round-Table Meeting,” New York Times, December 6, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016.

[15] Burgess Everett and Jennifer Haberkorn, “GOP still splintered over Obamacare after Pence meeting,” Politco, December 7, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Rachel Bade and Burgess Everett, “GOP may delay Obamacare replacement for years,” Politico, December 1, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016; Rich Lowry, Trump Follows Obama’s Blueprint, Politico, December 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016.

[16] See Michael Rosenburg’s article in the New York Times titled “Trump Adviser Has Pushed Clinton Conspiracy Theories,” December 5, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016. Other articles of note from Russia Today (about US role in the arms trade), Mint Press News (US tolerance of war crimes), Military Times (returning Okinawa to Japan), New York Times (“House G.O.P. Signals Break With Trump Over Tariff Threat,” by Jennifer Steinhauer), Slate (Trump congratulated Duerte on his anti-drug crackdown), Raw Story (KKK membership increasing after Trump’s election), PressTV (huge military budget passed by the US house), LeftVoice (inadequate criticism of Sanders’s opinion on the Carrier deal), Reuters (Dustin Voltz, “FBI to gain expanded hacking powers as Senate effort to block fails,” December 1, 2015, accessed December 8, 2016), Twitter (Cordelier’s thread), Guardian (what Trump means for Africa), CNN (Trump’s conflicts of interest), Forbes (Trump may not propose a budget in 2017), The Hill (Union leader at Carrier plant mad at Trump, saying he lied), and Pakistan Observer (Trump claiming he will mediate the conflict in Kashmir).

[17] , “Trump advisors aim to privatize oil-rich Indian reservations,” Reuters, December 5, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016.

[18] Drew Harwell and Rosalind D. Harman, “Trump’s unpredictable style unnerves corporate America,” Washington Post, December 6, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016.

[19] Thomas Erdbrink, “Iran’s President Says Donald Trump Can’t Tear Up Nuclear Pact,” December 6, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016.

[20] Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward, “Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste,” Washington Post, December 5, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016.

[21] Patricia Cohen, “A Bigger Economic Pie, but a Smaller Slice for Half of the U.S.,” New York Times, December 6, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016.

The US-Saudi imperial interrelationship

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While the society of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is corrupted, there is another dimension to mention: the US-Saudi imperial interrelationship and where it currently stands. It seems that this relationship is good straits, but could easily bounce back as the masters of war of the murderous empire smile with glee. [1] The plan to “mold” opinion proposed in 1950 has not worked:

“…if the President and the Government and the Department of State…felt there was a menace to the interests of the United States, American public opinion could be molded, if not for the sake of Ibn Saud, for the sake of the interests of the United States and Saudi Arabia”

The KSA was founded in 1932, the year that Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) won the presidential election against “discredited” Republican Herbert Hoover. For years, the Saud family had been hiding in Kuwait, a protectorate of the British Empire, while the Ottomans controlled much of the Mideast. After the collapse of Ottoman Empire in 1923, the Saud family sprung into action. They began establishing the foundation of what would become the KSA. By 1932, when the state was declared to the world, few countries recognized it as there were no resources “of importance” and the country was composed mainly of nomads, delineated into varying ethnic groupings. Later that year, the fortunes changed for the Saud family, which was experiencing an “economic crisis,” when black gold was found. With the oil wealth, the Saud family became the Royals, and their brutal monarchy was cemented. With that, the teachings by Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab on the Arabian Peninsula, originally part of am “18th-century revival and reform movement,” often called Wahhabism in the West, received state sanction. This form of Islam, which insists on a “literal interpretation of the Koran” and declares that those who don’t practice it are “heathens and enemies,” would be promoted for years to come even as it was used by all sorts of Islamic reactionaries.

As years passed, the US, along with many other countries, swooped in and recognized the KSA as a state, and Western oil corporations, like Standard Oil, established their roots in the country. Later a camp was established for foreign oil workers, creating a sort of bubble of security, at least in theory. Years later, some argued that Saudi Arabia and the Islamic movement were part of an anti-imperial front. Canadian socialist Paul Saba, wrote in 1980 that colonialists tried to suppress Islam, which made it stronger and part of anti-colonial struggle, meaning that many Muslim groups often played a “progressive role in supporting national liberation.” He also said that because sentencing in the Islamic world is “far less than severe than the torture and murder which existed under the Shah,” that it is fine, a position which should be unacceptable to any reasonable person. Saba also said that the Islamic movement wanted development and progress apart from “imperialist control,” with the US as a key target for hatred and defiance due to, as he put it, “historical plunder and domination of the Middle East and its backing for Israeli Zionism and the Shah of Iran.” While he makes valid points about countries such as Iran, which is currently at a crossroads geopolitically, he does not recognize that many of these countries are religiously conservative and as a result, do not have true liberation, especially for women, homosexuals, and non-Muslims.

In the 1940s, the equation changed once again. While the US sent engineers to work on Saudi roads, financial loans to the KSA were nixed by the US government because of British support for the Kingdom. [2] Even as veteran diplomat Alexander Comstock Kirk agreed with this assessment, he rejected the idea of “a division of hemispheres of influence” in which the British would take a leading role instead of the United States. US diplomats even debated sending agricultural and technical assistance to the KSA based on what was done on reservations of the remaining indigenous nations in the United States. [3] At the same time, certain policymakers turned their attention to the Kingdom where a “massive oilfield has been discovered in 1938,” and strengthened a relationship with the country, trying to cultivate it as a friend.

All of this happened even as the Kingdom had established diplomatic relations with the Nazis and Italian fascists, both of whom tried to bring the Saudis to their side, sometimes by promising to send armaments. [4] Even so, the US was successful in bribing the Saudis to switch sides and declare war on the Nazis by 1945, even inviting them to a UN conference, a proposal which was roundly rejected by the Soviets.

As time passed, relations changed. Not only did FDR’s meeting with Ibn Saud (known in the Arab world as Abdulaziz), in Great Bitter Lake, Egypt, reinforce the US-Saudi relationship, but the US began sending the oil-rich country military aid. [5] The US began seeing protection of the KSA as vital to the security of the empire. This was a time that the US saw the Kingdom as “a bulwark to peace in the Near Eastern world” supported the extension of a 15 million dollar Export-Import Bank loan to the country to develop its railroads, highways and generally its transportation system. [6]

This relationship was helped because the Saudis were staunchly anti-communist. Millions of dollars of US investments in the country were considered as an “effective weapon against the advance of Communism.” In exchange for such investment, the Saudis allowed their airfield of Dharan to hold US warplanes and US commercial flights by the early 1950s. Afterword, the US sent military advisers to “protect” the Kingdom and reassert US military rights in the country. In later years, during the 1972 border conflict between North Yemen (backed by Jordan, KSA, the US, UK, Taiwan, and West Germany) and South Yemen, also called the Peoples Democratic Republic of Yemen (backed by the Soviet Union, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, and Libya), and after, the Saudis saw South Yemen as a threat. The country was even praised by the World Bank for satisfying basic needs of the population, raising education standards, and more. The government of South Yemen also engaged in campaigns to eradicate illiteracy, emancipate women, develop a safe drinking water system, and engage in agriculture collectivization. Eventually, the imperial and capitalistic forces got their way, uniting the North and South Yemen behind Ali Abdullah Saleh, a former leader of North Yemen, in 1990, who would be predictably US-friendly until his ousting in 2012. However, in 1994 there was a civil war between the pro-Western northerners and socialist southerners, which was launched by North Yemen, which again led to reunification and purging of the left from Yemeni society. Even since 2013, people resisted Yemeni occupation of the southern part of the country “through the division of labor and through popular committees” which is mainly expressed through peaceful protest as the last secretary general of the Yemeni Socialist Party, Ali Salim al-Beidh, noted in a 2013 interview.

While the Saudis became anxious for not receiving military assistance, they were likely glad that the US negotiated an agreement between them and ARAMCO (Arab-American Oil Company). [7] At the same time, the US had the appearance as a “neutral mediator” in disputes, mainly between the British and Saudis, handled in arbitration sessions. These disputes were over oil field claims near Farsi island, Qatar, the town of Buraimi, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, and other border areas. Those involved in the disputes, which had been festering since the late 1940s, included Aramco and British oil companies such as Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC). Ultimately, the Saudis found the British, who were exploring oil drilling in a disputed zone, to be impolite and were angry at them, which the British found disconcerting.

In subsequent years, as the formal British Empire weakened, which would become, at least for the Saudis, “hostile,” the US would pledge to protect them and their oil from those they perceived as the “aggressors”: the Soviets. Still, in 1952, the Join Chiefs of Staff believed that “from a military point of view, grant aid to Saudi Arabia and certain other Middle East countries is not justified,” even though they agreed that the Kingdom had unique position in the Mideast.The US pledge for support was noted in a summary of a March 1950 conversation, between the US, Britain, and the KSA:

“the United States has an extremely strong interest in the American investment in petroleum in Saudi Arabia. This is an interest which is vitally important to the security of the United States and to the world…it is necessary that the United States render assistance to nations who find themselves threatened by aggression or subversion from the north…The United States feels that the only important long-range security menace that faces the world is the obviously aggressive designs of the USSR…if at any time it [Saudi Arabia] is menaced by aggressive action or subversive activities from any neighboring power, the United States Government will take most definite action…The United States on its side is gratified that American investors, both oilmen and others, have chosen to come here to work with the Saudi Arabian Government”

However the relationship between the United States and the KSA developed a hiccup in the form of the state of Israel.

In 1947, after years of Zionist efforts to establish a state, Israel was established in the Holy Land of Palestine. The area was already torn by strife between Jews and Arabs, which the British imperialists saw as a dilemma to quickly extricate themselves from. While the state of Israel was founded on violence and religious ideals like the KSA, it was different in the fact that it was founded on the genocide of the Palestinians. The Saudis were strongly opposed to this new state and seemed to favor the Palestinians. Ibn Saud, from 1947 to his death in 1953, was strongly anti-Zionist and warned the US of consequences if they supported Israel. [8] Even as FDR has reassured Ibn Saud that the US would not change its policy on Palestine, “without consulting the Arabs,” this was disregarded. Ibn Saud stayed outspoken on Zionism, even canceling an Aramco concession, alarming the military and foreign policy establishment. Eventually, Saud found he could distinguish between US foreign policy elsewhere in the Mideast and ARAMCO, arguing that oil royalties could allow Arab states to resist “Jewish pretensions,” and staying formally hostile to Zionism. Whether it was to curry Jewish votes in the upcoming election (1948) or to establish more of a foothold in the Middle East, the US supported Israel, although not as strongly until the 1960s and 1970s.

Despite this, the US-Saudi relationship persisted. Presidents, whether from the capitalist Democratic and Republican parties, have tried to favor the KSA in whatever way they can, whether that is through arms deals or accepting ceremonial gifts. The US even sent a medical team, led by President Truman’s personal physician, to the Kingdom to make sure that Ibn Saud was healthy before his death! In 1957, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared the “Eisenhower Doctrine,” said that the US would, within constitutional means, oppose “overt armed aggression” in the Kingdom and the Middle East by Soviet and Soviet-aligned agents. Years later, John F. Kennedy, still lauded by conservatives and liberals alike, ordered that a squadron of fighters be sent to the country to protect it from Egyptian air assaults. Years later, the US was grateful for the Saudi effort to avoid a “serious shortfall in oil supplies,” stabilize the world oil market, and the Saudi decision to increase production due to the Iranian revolution in 1979.

In later years, the relationship between the KSA and the US strengthened. A senior fellow at the elite Council on Foreign Relations, Rachel Bronson, wrote in 2004 that the “close, cozy relationship” between the two countries began with Ronald Reagan, not George W. Bush, with the relationship cemented in efforts to counter claimed “Soviet aggression.” She continues, saying that the Saudis had their own reasons for fighting the Soviets including their fear that the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan would “threaten” their Kingdom. Bronson goes on to say that the Saudis also played a role in funding the contras in Nicaragua, Reagan’s “freedom fighters” for capitalism, along with funding opposition to Ethiopia’s Soviet-aligned government and horrid rebel leader Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA to fight the Marxist government in Angola. She then claims that current attention to Bush family “misses the longer history of the American and Saudi Arabian contemporary relationship.” However, by saying this, she is whitewashing the Bush family’s history with the Saud family.

In 1990, former CIA director and then-President George H.W. Bush brought troops into the Kingdom during the Persian Gulf quest for oil, declaring that the US would “assist the Saudi Arabian government in the defense of its homeland.” This was not a surprise as then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney personally flew to the oil kingdom to ask King Fahd to allow the US to “station thousands of troops there,” saying to the US Senate that the US was coming to their aid because of the agreement between Roosevelt and Ibn Saud all those years ago. [9] Not long after, he subsequently supported the war against Iraq. Years later, George W. Bush would declare the country was “expanding the role of its people in determining their future” even as they remained an authoritarian, brutal state.

Still, there have been disagreements and snipes over the years. Even disgraced war criminal Hillary Killary Clinton, in excerpts of speeches, released by Wikileaks and organized later by the National Security Archive, to bankers and well-off constituencies, criticized the Saudis. She said that they (and the Emiratis) feared “organized efforts for political Islam,” saw the Muslim Brotherhood as threatening, and were against missile defense in the Mideast. She also said that the Saudis did not have a stable government (perhaps indicated by the killing a Saudi royal by head chopping recently), that the Saudis have backed the Sunni fighters in Syria with large amounts of arms, and that the “Saudis have exported more extreme ideology than any other place on earth over the course of the last 30 years.” [10] This statement aligns with earlier Wikileaks cables saying that the country was “the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups,” with the government not even trying to stop the flow of money, and recent releases saying that the Kingdom and Qatar “fund ISIS.”

As for Clinton, while she may have angered top policymakers when she spoke her mind about Israeli and Saudi actions, she also stated the obvious. She said that that as a result of the so-called “Arab Spring,” Israel and the KSA are “more closely aligned in their foreign policy…[on] Iran…Egypt…Syria and…a lot of other things.” [11] This is was also clear when the late King Abdullah said that the US should “cut off the head of the snake” and bomb Iran before it was too late. [12] More recently, the Saudis even allowed Israeli newspapers to be viewed in the country.

Apart from the powerful (but currently weakened) Saudi lobby, there is the bourgeois media. When King Abdullah died in January of last year, this media could not let down on its praise, calling him “something of an advocate for women” (The Telegraph), “a reformer at home” (BBC), a “reformer and often came up against the more hard-line clerics” (CNN), “accepted limited change” (The Guardian), “pushed cautious changes” (Reuters), “earned a reputation as a cautious reformer…[and] became, in some ways, a force of moderation” (New York Times), “to his supporters, [he]…was a benign and…progressive monarch” (Wall Street Journal), “was seen by many as a gentle reformer” (The Independent), and “was considered a savvy and plainspoken modernizer, if not a reformer” (The New Yorker). [13] While BBC, the Wall Street Journal, and The Independent were more reserved in their praise, they were still part of the general trend.

Apart from crap infotainment sites like BuzzFeed claiming that King Abdullah’s “legacy” was important to care about, President Obama declared that the Saudi king was “always candid and had the courage of his convictions” and corporatist Secretary of State John Kerry, in a bubble of misunderstanding and confusion, said that the US “lost a friend…the world has lost a revered leadera man of wisdom and vision…a brave partner in fighting violent extremism.” To top this off is the State Department-connected and bourgeois Human Rights Watch declaring that King Abdullah’s reign has “brought about marginal advances for women but failed to secure the fundamental rights of Saudi citizens,” which basically offering of praise.

Some criticized such praise at the time. One of these people was Jacob Mchangama, the director of the Justia think tank, on the conservative website of Forbes. He wrote that the reactions to the death of the Saudi king “has been a rude awakening.” He criticized the responses of leaders including John Kerry, former UK prime minister David Cameron, and IMF chief Christine Lagarde, saying that “acknowledging the victims of King Abdullah rather than singing false praises would be a good start” in the right direction. His tepid criticism doesn’t go far enough: the bourgeois media and Western capitalist leaders are supporting the imperialist US-Saudi relationship by whitewashing the crimes of the authoritarian Kingdom. If anything, people should be celebrating the death of a tyrant like King Abdullah, not praising him as a reformer, and should be recognizing that Saudi society is still violent, like that of the United States, but also in a very different way, with routine executions of “subversives.”

The Iranian leaders clearly agree with Clinton on this point. In a recent speech to the UN General Assembly, the moderate reformist President, backed by the Western capitalists, Hassan Rouhani, argued that if the Saudis are serious about development and regional security they must stop their “divisive policies, spread of hate ideology and trampling upon the rights of neighbors.” He further criticized the US government for not following on the Iran deal, along with the Supreme Court decision earlier this year, to which only chief justice John Roberts and associate justice Sonia Sotamayor dissenting, to seize Iranian assets because they “committed terrorism.” He also said that Iran had a good relationship with the people of the United States, and that their “problem is with the American government, not companies, people and universities.”

Apart from the internal dynamics and land grabs, there are obvious realities which should be pointed out. For one, the Saudis are backing the religiously reactionary opposition in the Syrian Arab Republic, which was not “moderate” but are basically Al Qaeda type-organizations, like Al Nusra. They even offered Russia an oil deal secretly if they withdrew backing of the Syrian government, which they refused, and they provided chemical weapons to Syrian “rebels.” The goal of the Saudis interconnect directly with US imperial interests, which entail the displacing the secular, nationalist, socially democratic government headed by Bashar Al-Assad and replacing him (and the government) with one that benefits imperial power and allows Western investments to flow. The Kingdom is, as as result, an arm of US imperial foreign policy. The KSA even allied with the US-supported authoritarian state of Kazakhstan, and the US, which has a drone base in the Kingdom, has propped up the brutal autocratic state and its leaders. All of this isn’t a surprise since in 2011, the US Senate Intelligence Committee found a list of direct members of the Saudi royal family who were connected with 9/11, a discovery which connects to the fact the Kingdom arguably divided into fiefdoms, with specific princes having their own interests which may have had a “severe impact on 9/11.”

Recently, the relationship between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United States has been decisively shaken. On September 28th, the US Congress roundly overrode President Obama’s veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), a law which allows families of victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia for involvement in the attacks, which makes sense since 15 of the 19 hijackers came from the country. [14] Scholar Binoy Kampmark argued that the law was a “very American formula, one born in the court room and litigation process,” that any avenue of legal action “against an ally was tantamount to a confession,” and noting that the Saudi foreign minister said that their assets could be seized due to the law. He also argued that this bill’s passage meant that “various imperial efforts of the US would be compromised,” with US imperial engagements and actions, along with those of US allies, suddenly facing “the prospect of legal targeting,” with the law serving as one the most overt challenges to “assumptions of sovereign immunity.”

Those for the law include president-elect (and fascist) Donald Trump, Killary, Nancy Pelosi, John Cornyn, and a majority of Congress. The main force behind the law, other than feelings of jingoism conjured up even by mention of the September 11 attacks, was a New Jersey group named 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism, which is pro-military but critical of the Saudis. The group’s chair, Terry Strada, a former director of J.P. Morgan Chase’s Human Resources department, joined the group in 2002 and became chair in 2012. [15] One of their lawyers, James P. Kreindler, declared that “Saudi Arabia doesn’t want to see this continue in the media or court…we are going to prevail. We are going to win. Either the Saudis will come to the table or we’ll go to court and win there.”

The groups against the law are varied. They include the Saudi government, President Obama, who warned it would lead countries to sue the US in foreign courts for war crimes, CIA director John Brennan, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Gulf Cooperation Council, a bipartisan group of former executive officials saying that the law would harm US interests and undercut security of the empire. [16] The Saudi foreign ministry declared that the law would lead to “serious unintended repercussions” such as threats to sovereign immunity. Some have said that the law, coupled with other measures, is a setback for the Saudis, whose influence on Capital Hill is waning, and that “anti-Saudi activity” on the Hill is the strongest it has been in decades. [17] These “concerns” were as bad as an ABC News fluff piece about the law, with their hand-picked experts saying that the law cold lead to “potentially any nation” sued, could make the US “much more vulnerable,” is “very dangerous…a huge mistake,” undermining counter-terrorism, and hilariously that “some countries would be interested in saying our military aid to Israel is aiding and abetting things that they would allege are sometimes war crimes against the Palestinians” which “we” need immunity from.

A Yale-educated individual formerly in the military establishment, named Michael Rubin, went the furthest of all. He said that without oil, the KSA “would be a very different place” and that oil money led the country into “modernity.” After saying that JASTA would shake “Saudi financial stability,” he declared that the Kingdom would become “bankrupt” because of the law, saying that this is not “good for America” since “what happens in Riyadh doesn’t stay in Riyadh.” Then, almost like a giddy neo-con, he worried that political instability in the country would not be “good” because decades of “Islamist education and indoctrination” would lead unemployed Saudi youth to not embrace “liberalism and tolerance if suddenly put in desperate straits.” Basically, this means that the country would not be a bastion of imperialism and could become, hypothetically, anti-imperialist and antagonistic to the US, which he sees as “dangerous.” Reasoned people should welcome such a change in Saudi Arabia if it is pushed by those who want to challenge imperial control, apart from the Islamic reactionaries.

Congressional criticism and efforts to curtail the Saudis only goes so far. In late September, the US Senate passed a law, by a supermajority, to approve the sale of Abrams tanks and other armaments to the KSA, with bigwig Senators like John McCain, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and Mitch McConnell in support. Those that objected were led by libertarian-Republican Senator Rand Paul and liberal-Democratic Senator Chris Murphy. While Paul opposed giving the KSA more arms because Congress hadn’t discussed the Saudi bombing of Yemen, which has killed over 3,800 civilians and resulted in much turmoil, Murphy had other reasons. He argued that there is “an American imprint on every civilian life lost in Yemen,” a statement proved by the fact that that the KSA is using US-supplied white phosphorous in Yemen. He also said that the KSA was not “immune from criticism” and that the US should not dictate what “form of Islam wins out around the world.” However, he said that the US should still have a strong relationship with the KSA, which he considered vital, that allows “for one party to object to the behavior of the other when it’s not in the party’s mutual national security interests” and that the relationship can survive US challenges. Despite these reservations, criticism of the Saudis in Congress, and generally, is a good sign of things to come. Bourgeois left-liberals have their answer to these problems in (and relating to) Saudi Arabia embodied by veteran peace activist Medea Benjamin. She argues in her new book that the current US-Saudi relationship is destructive and that the US State Department should use its existing policies to sanction the KSA. [18] While this may be satisfying to some, this article will go further be recognizing how the relationship is connected to the capitalist system, imperialism, and the murderous US empire.

On the other hand, the imperial interrelationship with Saudi Arabia could be in trouble. For one, during the continuing US-backed Saudi destructive war in Yemen, some top government officials, especially in the State Department were worried. They said in emails, from mid-last year to earlier this year, that they were concerned about legal blowback from US participation in the Saudi bombing. These officials believed that the US could be “implicated in war crimes” and that the Saudis would kill civilians due to their “lack of…experience with dropping munitions and firing missiles” coupled with weak intelligence, even as they attempted to maintain the US-Saudi relationship. Further emails showed that the Saudis disregarded a list prepared by senior officials to prevent destruction of “critical infrastructure” and reduce casualties, bombing a bridge to the Yemeni capital of Sanaa which was a major rout for humanitarian food aid. Even former military prosecutor and California liberal senator Ted Lieu declared, that due to the assistance in the horrid bombing, the Obama administration is “now in an untenable situation.” This situation is complicated by the fact that risks to US military personnel, the footsoldiers of empire, even those on Navy destroyers, is increasing due to Saudi airstrikes on Yemeni civilians. [19]

Still, there is no doubt that the murderous empire had purposely turned looked away from the abuses of women, non-Muslims, foreign workers, and many others in the Kingdom, as previously noted. Not only is the country a murderous state, but it is effectively a client state of the empire, since without US support it could not destabilize the region whether it is backing horrid “rebels” in Syria or decimating the small country of Yemen. This is not a surprise since diplomats, even in 1946, declared that the US should provide “such assistance as may be necessary and feasible to strengthen and maintain that country as a sovereign state free of internal and external disturbances which might threaten its stability.” But the empire is not the only one that is defending the Kingdom.

As it should be obvious, supporting a relationship, even a “bilateral partnership,” with a tyrannical government like the KSA is against the principles of democracy, freedom, and justice the US supposedly stands for. Some policymakers might speak of the “reforms” in the country such as “expanding rights of women in Saudi Arabia,” but they will never gut the relationship. The fact that the NSA partnered with brutal Saudi state police and that the country’s currency is directly tied to the US dollar, showing that the relationship is entrenched. Even Bernie Sanders, the professed progressive and “antiwar” candidate in the capitalist Democratic Party, believed that rich authoritarian Arab states, such as the Kingdom, should fight against ISIS. Such an approach is not anti-interventionist since it means that the US-backed imperial proxies would be fighting against it, which does not, in any way, shape, or form undermine US imperialism. It also provides the potential for Saudi aggression to expand beyond Syria to the whole Mideast, causing more reactionary responses.

Readers may be looking for a “call to action” after reading this piece. I’m not going to follow the pattern of so many liberal documentaries which say you should go to a website and sign a petition. However, it is my hope that this article helps people start to challenge not only the accepted narrative about Saudi Arabia in the West but informs criticisms of bourgeois liberals. Much of the criticism of the US-Saudi relationship, and the Kingdom itself, mainly focuses on violations of “human rights,” as flawed a concept as that is, and stays within the bounds of accepted discourse in our capitalist society. There needs to be an analysis of Saudi Arabia and US imperial power which recognizes the interconnected nature of imperialism, capitalism, and other systems of oppression. This includes even criticizing states, even those one may be inclined to support, which have relationships with Saudi Arabia. While this article does not have all the answers and is only a first stab at this subject, but hopefully it opens the door for more discussion.

Notes

[1] Under the Obama administration, there was biggest arms deal in US history, at the time, with up to $60 billion dollars of military equipment bought for the Saudis, which was largely ignored by the corporate media.

[2] Wallace Murray, “Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray),” May 29, 1941, 890F.51/21, Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016; Alexander Comstock Kirk, “The Minister in Egypt Kirk to the Secretary of State,” June 26, 1941, 890F.21/23: Telegram; Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016; Cordell Hull, “The Secretary to the Minister in Egypt (Kirk),” August 22, 1941, 890F.51/29: Telegram; Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016; Alexander Comstock Kirk, “The Minister in Egypt (Kirk) to the Secretary of State,” August 30, 1941, 890F.51/30: Telegram; Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016; Cordell Hull, “The Secretary to the Minister in Egypt (Kirk),” September 10, 1941, 890F.51/30: Telegram; Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016; Alexander Comstock Kirk, “Minister in Egypt (Kirk) to the Secretary of State,” September 23, 1941, 890F.51/39: Telegram; Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016; Sumner Welles, “Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Welles) to the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray),” September 26, 1941, 890F.515/1⅓, Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016. Even the US was not on board with a Saudi request for 2 million in gold pieces in 1946.

[3] Harold I. Ickes, “The Secretary of Interior (Ickes) to the Secretary of State,” May 21, 1941, 102.64/100; Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016; Gordon P. Merriam, “Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Gordon P. Merriam of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs,” September 19, 1941, 800F.00/67; Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016.

[4] Francis R. Nicosia, Nazi Germany and the Arab World (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 43, 76, 88, 110-114, 124-125, 126-127, 130-132. Reportedly, late Saudi King Abdullah treasured the dagger Hitler gave the Saudis in 1939.

[5] Adam Taylor, “The first time a US president met a Saudi King,” Washington Post, January 27, 2015. Accessed October 14, 2016; Rudy Abramson, “1945 Meeting of FDR and Saudi King Was Pivotal for Relations,” Los Angeles Times, August 9, 1990. Accessed October 14, 2016; G. Jefferson Price III, “Saudis remember FDR’s broken promise,” Baltimore Sun, September 1, 2002. Accessed October 14, 2016.

[6] “Memorandum by the Deputy Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs (Villard) to the Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Clayton),” September 27, 1946, 890F.51/9–2746, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1946, The Near East and Africa, Volume VII. Accessed October 14, 2016; “Memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Hare) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Thorp),” June 30, 1950, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V. Accessed October 14, 2016; “Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Officer in Charge of Arabian Peninsula Affairs (Awalt),” July 28, 1950, 866A.10/7-2850, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V. Accessed October 14, 2016; “Editorial Note,” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V. Accessed October 14, 2016.

[7] “Editorial Note,” 1950, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V. Accessed October 14, 2016; “Editorial Note,” 1950, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V. Accessed October 14, 2016; Fred H. Awalt, “Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Fred H. Awalt of the Office of African and Near Eastern Affairs,” October 5, 1950, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V, Accessed October 14, 2016; “The Chief of Staff of the United States Army to the Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army, 786A.5/4–350: Telegram, April 3, 1950, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V. Accessed October 14, 2016; Raymond A. Hare, “The Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Hare) to the Secretary of Defense (Johnson),” March 8, 1950, 711.56386A/2–1350, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V. Accessed October 14, 2016; “No. 1441: Memorandum of Conversation, by Robert Sturgill of the Office of Near Eastern Affairs,” August 19, 1952, 786A.5 MSP/8–1952, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016; “No. 1432: Memorandum of Conversation, by Robert Sturgill of the Office of Near Eastern Affairs,” January 21, 1952, 711.5886A/1–2152, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016; “No. 1451: Memorandum by the President to the Director for Mutual Security (Stassen),” March 14, 1953, 786A.5 MSP/3–1453, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016; “No. 1453: The Under Secretary of State (Smith) to the Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister (Faisal),” 786A.5 MSP/3–2653, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016; “No. 1510: Memorandum of Conversation, by the Officer in Charge of Arabian Peninsula–Iraq Affairs (Fritzlan),” April 1, 1953, 780.022/4–153, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016; “No. 1448: The Officer in Charge of Arabian Peninsula–Iraq Affairs (Fritzlan) to the Ambassador in Saudi Arabia (Hare),” January 16, 1953, 786A.5 MSP/1-653, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016; “No. 1454: Editorial Note,” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016; Walter B. Smith, “No. 1450: The Under Secretary of State (Smith) to the Director for Mutual Security (Stassen),” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016.

[8] He was also reportedly anti-Semitic. As Tariq Ali writes in his review of Gilbert Archar’s book about Arabs and the Holocaust, he writes that Archar didn’t add that “the late Ibn Saud…was in the habit of presenting visiting Western leaders with copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a virulently anti-Semitic book. Other sources such as an article by Anthony Sampson in the Observer Review titled “Desert Diary” on March 9, 1975 partially confirms this.

[9] Additionally, it is worth noting that Osama Bin Laden used the fact of US troops in the country as a rallying cry to bring support to his cause. He argued that he hated the US also for US sanctions against Iraq and “American policies toward Israel and the occupied territories,” also noting he was infuriated by US troops stationed in the country as he told journalist Robert Frisk.

[10] Clinton also asserted that the Iranians were behind the planned murder of a Saudi ambassador, which was proven false. Investigative journalist Gareth Porter argued, convincingly, that the US government’s narrative on the assassination plot was an an elaborate set up to implicate Iran as part of a campaign against the country and possibly lead to war.

[11] Perhaps this is also why Erdogan thanked Saudi Arabia for its post-coup solidarity as he tries to make Turkey and the Saudis have a common cause.

[12] Wikileaks cables, from the 2010 release with documents gathered by Chelsea Manning, also suggested deals for jetliners given to heads of states and airline executives in multiple Mideast countries, that the Kingdom proposed energy ties with China if Beijing backed sanctions against Iran, and that the country is a major source of financing of Islamic reactionary groups.

[13] “King Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz al-Saud – obituary,” The Telegraph, January 22, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; “Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz dies,” BBC, January 23, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; Anas Hamdan, Catherine E. Shoichet, and Dana Ford, “Saudi Arabia’s ‘reformer’ King Abdullah dies,” CNN, January 23, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; Ian Black, “Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah dies at 90,” The Guardian, January 23, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; Angus McDowell, “Saudi King Abdullah dies, new ruler is Salman,” Reuters, January 22, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; Douglas Martin and Ben Hubbard, “King Abdullah, Shrewd Force Who Reshaped Saudi Arabia, dies at 90,” New York Times, January 22, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; Ellen Knickmeyer and Ahmed Al Omran, “Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Dies,” Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; Helen Nianias, “King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz dead: What did he do for Saudi Arabia?,” The Independent, January 23, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; Robin Wright, “Postscript: King Abdullah, 1924-2015,” The New Yorker, January 23, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016.

[14] CBS News, “Obama vetoes bill allowing 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia”, Sept. 23, 2016. Accessed October 10, 2016; Associated Press, “Obama’s veto of 9/11 bill aimed at Saudi Arabia sets up standoff with Congress,” September 23, 2016. Reprinted in The Guardian. Also see articles in NBC News and Politico.

[15] For more information, also see Strada’s posts on Huffington Post and her appearance on C-Span. Also of note is the response of their lawyers. I would add all of the press releases of Strada’s group here, but there are so many that the links would take up too much space.

[16] See articles in Al Arabiya, Slate, Al Jazeera, ABC (Australian), BBC, DW, and ABC (American).

[17] Karoun Demirjian, Washington Post, “Saudi Arabia is facing unprecedented scrutiny from Congress,” Sept. 21. Accessed October 12, 2016; Steven T. Dennis and Roxana Toxon, Bloomberg, Sept. 21, 2016, “Saudi Arabia’s Clout in Washington Isn’t What It Used to Be.” Also see an article in Euro News.

[18] This is mild compared to the absurd, silly, downright dumb approach of Charles Davis, called Chuckles by many critical radicals on the twittersphere, instituting a no-fly-zone over Saudi Arabia to stop their war.

[19] Articles in Fortune, Bloomberg, and Foreign Policy claimed when the war began that oil prices were negatively effected. However, a CNBC piece quoted a high-level Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Francisco Blanch, who argued that “I don’t think that Yemen had a lot of importance for the oil market…I’m not very worried about physical supply disruptions coming out of Yemen…The main issue…is whether the airstrikes…end up being a proxy war…a proxy war in the Middle East is always a risky event for oil market; there’s no question about it.” Some even claimed that the war in Yemen was a “proxy battlefield” between Iran-backed Houthis and US allies (Yemen and Saudi Arabia). Recently, the Saudis intercepted a missile from the Houthis which they claimed was headed to Mecca, but they could be twisting the truth.

A bastion of imperialism: the corrupted nature of Saudi society

A shopping mall in Saudi Arabia (2011)
A shopping mall in Saudi Arabia (2011)

Editor’s note: Reading this again, I see it as wholly underdeveloped in structure and content. I think it necessary to keep on here, but it is not one of my better pieces. Perhaps I’m being too hard on myself, but I’m a bit embarrassed to have a piece like this on such a site like this where I engage in better, more thoughtful analysis. Still, I think this is a necessary part of understanding Saudi Arabia. As always, I’m open to comments and criticism.

Every day, more of a black gooey substance, black gold as some call it, is pumped out of the ground in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Like the socially democratic state of Venezuela, which is struggling for dear life against US-backed neoliberal opposition, “oil is the economy of Saudi Arabia,” meaning that depletion of oil will undoubtedly weaken their economy. The Saudi economy is so dependent on the substance, despite some efforts to purportedly diversify their economy in recent days, that officials overstated their country’s crude oil reserves by about 40 percent and owe billions of dollars to contractors which they did not pay because of an “oil slump.” As it stands now, the oil Kingdom is a client state of the murderous US empire, a bastion of imperialism with feudal shiekhdoms in place, in no way representing Arab nationalism of the past. This Persian Gulf protectorate is not only authoritarian, but it uses its “oil weapon” to push its agenda. This article is the first in a series about Saudi Arabia, focusing on the corrupted nature of Saudi society as it currently stands.

At the current time, there is the possibility of political instability in the country. The KSA is backed by the imperial juggernaut. Its leaders can easily placate the Saudi citizenry with decisions like slashing the salaries of government ministers, even as they ask ordinary families to cut back their salaries. Another method to maintain control could be the acquisition of millions of acres of prime farmland, mostly in the Senegal River Valley. One of the corporations participating in the land grab is owned by the father of now-deceased Osama Bin Laden: the Bin Laden Group. These land grabs were fully supported by the Saudi state, headed by late King Abdullah, with an idea of acquiring cropland abroad, growing corn, wheat, and soybeans, to feed those in the homeland. In Ethiopia, 1,000 locals every day load, pick, and pack hundreds of tons of fresh produce into waiting trucks, with the food going through the country, one of the “hungriest places on the planet,” and back to those living in the Kingdom. The Saudis are not the only ones engaging in such land grabs, with other states taking land in order to feed those living in their respective homelands. This practice, which leads to exploitation of the poorer, “underdeveloped” countries by ones that are much more wealthy, a form of imperialism which is inherent in the dynamics of capitalism itself.

At the same time, the Sauds can also stir nationalism in an effort to gain territory , such as two islands in the Red Sea, Tiran and Sanafir, handed over by Egypt’s authoritarian (and US-backed) government to the Saudis. This was in exchange for Saudi aid to the Egyptians, to boost their ailing economy, a deal which was recently greenlighted by a court in Cairo. The Saudis could exploit this incident to cull nationalistic feelings in their own country.

The class dynamics of Saudi society are important to recognize in order see its true nature. For one, in imperial client states such as Bahrain, KSA, Qatar, and other monarchies, there has been a large rallying cry against US presence in the country by Islamic reactionaries and by a “significant layer of Saudi society” which see foreign troops, partially, as an affront to national pride. However, an armed uprising in the country could be unlikely due to oil wealth since “Saudi citizens enjoyed a high standard of living” if they stayed quiet and didn’t engage in democratic debate. At the same time, tensions are rising because new migrant workers plus unemployment among young Saudis is creating much resentment, with the creation of a “native Saudi working class.” This could lead to a possible social basis for Saudi social movements and resistance from the working class.

The thousands of migrant workers in the country are also part of the dynamics of the Saudi class society. Due to few opportunities in their home countries in Southeast Asia and the horn of Africa, “millions of poor, desperate men and women” annually immigrate, and are vulnerable at home and abroad. Many are abused, killed, and enslaved through the kafala sponsorship system which ties the status of migrant workers to their employers. This system means that employers control any ability for the eight million workers, comprising one-third of the Saudi population, to leave the country. Additionally, there are excessive working hours, wages withheld, and numerous forms of personal abuse and horrific events, such as sexual violence.

Adding to the misery of workers in KSA, racism is spread across the country’s society. Migrant workers are tarred as “black” and Ethiopians are placed at the bottom of this racist hierarchy. This is reinforced by the fact that all religions, but Islam, are banned inside the country and access to translators is denied to migrants. Some migrants are deported (“repatriated”), in theory, to help native Saudis, but this actually hurts them  since the crackdown on migrants weakens the fabric of society in and of itself even as many Saudis are caught up in anti-migrant sentiment. Some have argued that unless root causes of “poverty, poor education and lack of opportunities…extreme social and economic inequality” are not addressed than many immigrants will “migrate elsewhere…placing themselves at risk of further exploitation, abuse and even death.” Recently, a building bust has trapped thousands of starving (South Asian) Indian workers in Saudi Arabia who are stranded in the desert leading to a “food crisis” and direct action by workers.

The class and racial elements of Saudi society are addressed in the recent Hollywood Hollyweird comedic drama named A Hologram for the King which bombed at the box office. Usually movies about Arabs are utterly horrible. Jack G. Shaheen, an authority on media images and stereotypes of Muslims and Arabs, argues in his tome which reviews 900 Hollyweird films, says that the vast majority of them distort Arabs of all ages and genders, saying that from 1896 to the present, “Hollywood’s caricature of the Arab has prowled the silver screen…[staying] as repulsive and unrepresentative as ever…[with] Arabs are brute murderers, sleazy rapists, religious fanatics, and abusers of women,” treated as the other. [1] The problem with this, of course, is while Arabs can be villains in movies, “almost all Hollywood depictions of Arabs are bad ones” with repetitive and duplicitous images going across generations.

This movie was a bit different in that there were no heroes, no villains, just star actor Tom Hanks playing a businessperson, Alan Clay, who is trying to find his way in a culture foreign to him. Without getting into the movie too much, in one instance, one character, a Saudi cab driver, Yousef (a white actor named Alexander James Black who acts as a person of color, yet again, ugh), asks Clay “so if I start a democratic revolution here, you would support me?,” to which Clay says that he would personally fight for a revolution, but that the US would not send troops, air support, or other assistance. The conversation, of course, is just brushed off, but is telling since it seems to indicate the tensions in society itself. At another point, Clay says when looking at workers working on the roads of a future “desert city” that “I’m guessing these aren’t union men.” Yousef responds “Oh, we don’t have unions here. We have Filipinos.” This is also not addressed any further and is passed by, but is worth noting regardless.

Later, there is a scene when Clay talks to a nearby Saudi who asks “You work for CIA or something?” after seeing him take a lot of picture, with him joking “Just a little freelance work. Nothing full-time.” Of course, the Saudi takes this joke seriously and Hanks tells his cab drive to head off what he deems is a “ludicrous question” by telling the Saudi “if I was from the CIA, I wouldn’t tell the first person who asked me” and shakes his hand. You could say this makes Saudis look dumb for asking about the CIA, but at the same time it is treated as normal and expected as Saudis, like many in the “Third World,” know to watch out for the CIA based on what they’ve done. Also, it pokes at Hanks’s character (and by extension all Americans) are naive about the actions of the CIA. All Hollyweird movies have problems, but this one seemed more positive about Arabs and Saudis than other movies, so that is a good thing. To be clear, I’m not trying to promote this movie, I’m just trying to bring in something I thought was relevant to the subject of this article. If you wish to watch or not watch this movie, that’s up to you.

Back to Saudi society, apart from the racist and class elements, there is a sexist dimension. A recent article on Time’s website described the country as having a private society “rooted in a conservative strand of Islam” that requires adult women to have male guardians, which some call “gender apartheid.” The article further noted that men have more power in relationships since they are allowed to unilaterally divorce their wives while women cannot do the same thing. When men do divorce their wives, mediators and judges are typically conservative men, and the husband remains the guardian of the wife. The article describes specific cases and says that there are consequences for women who engage in legal challenges to male authority, with many women have struggling with “being a women in Saudi” showing that none of them are passive.

The horrid nature of the kingdom is evident. Any dissent or perceived challenge to the absolute monarchy of the Saudi Royals is crushed either by brutal force, concessions, or is outright banned (like unions and labor strikes). The Saudi state includes an internal security agency, the Ministry of the Interior, which has used its power and unlimited budget to train their forces, purchase cameras and surveillance technology in an effort to put in enforce social control. During the so-called “Arab Spring,” the Saudi religious establishment declared that peaceful demonstrations were “a sin against God,” and $36 million in monies was given to the general population with promises of housing and employment. [2] While Pakistan helped suppress dissent in the country, the late King Abdullah granted “reforms” such as the ability of women to participate in local elections in 2015 and the ability to be members of the Consultative Assembly, a formal advisory body, in an effort to blunt protest.

After reading all of this, no one of the right mind should support a relationship with this country. If one considers themselves a feminist or defender of gay rights, they should oppose this country for demeaning women and homosexuals. This can reflexively apply to the United States, which would require challenging existing norms in society. While I am not talking about the US-Saudi imperial interrelationship, these aspects are covered in the next article in this series. This article, for any of those critics out there, is just meant as a brief overview to start a conversation, not to say everything that is possible to say about Saudi society, which would fill a large book easily.

Notes

[1] Jack G. Shaheen, Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People (New York: Olive Branch Press, 2001), 1-2, 6-8, 11, 13, 21-22, 28.

[2] Saudi forces also suppressed protest in the nearby kingdom of Bahrain, with a huge military base, after they were asked by the government for assistance

“The bumbling empire?”: the murderous US empire trudges on

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Recently, President Obama extended the imperial war and occupation in Afghanistan beyond his time in office, leaving more troops “than planned” as bourgeois CNN declared on their website a few days ago. This, if one follows events of the last few years, is not a surprise. Still, some may say that the murderous empire is falling down/“bumbling” (like Jeremy Scahill) or on the road to collapse. This view is widespread across bourgeois “Left” circles: famed journalist Chris Hedges talks about the “failures and discontents” of the US empire, that democracy and imperialism are “incompatible,” and that the empire has been “declining” since the end of the Vietnam War; political theorist Sheldon Wolin says that “American imperium” can be rethought; former CIA analyst Chalmers Johnson says that not dismantling the empire will lead to “likely collapse similar to that of the former Soviet Union” and that “decline and fall [of the empire] is foreordained.” [1] This article aims to point out why these approaches and perspectives are flawed, while looking at what the actual nature of the murderous empire.

Regardless of what some think, the empire seems as strong as ever. Sure, there is a growing US debt from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the US is still the “neighborhood bully” of the world neighborhood, and it still carries a big stick. Perhaps this is possible because of the lack of domestic opposition to the adventures of empire. Some Gallup polls show opposition to the Afghan and Iraq wars due to war-wariness caused by the cost and length of those wars but there is no firm public opposition to war, at the current time, since such opposition can easily be softened by imperialist propaganda projected by the military establishment and bourgeois media. The imperialist ideals can become ingrained in people’s minds, but likely not as much as in 1961. The US public is currently politically demobilized. As for the peace movement in the United States, it is basically a joke. There are few groups like CodePink, United for Peace and Justice, Veterans for Peace, the War Resisters League, and others but for the most part these groups are bourgeois in nature. The only groups of radical stature that are engaging in agitation for peace, as it could be called, are the Answer Coalition, tied to the Workers World Party (WWP), and the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL). Unlike these groups, other groups generally do not build alliances with those in other countries to create an anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist front to oppose the murderous empire.

As comrade Emma Quaragel (EQ), who was doxed and exposed by imperial agents mainly centering around Molly Crabapple, argued in a recent post, the US government “acts as the hired guns of a global class of jet-setting billionaires, imprisons 2.3 million of its own people,” that the Black Panther Party was arguably “the highwater mark for American revolution in the 20th century,” and that in the United States, a revolutionary movement can “only exist when there is praxis that recognizes the relationship between oppression in the US and imperialism.” EQ goes on to argue that today there can’t be an “antiwar movement…because we live in a media environment that seeks to destroy it in its nascence,” that since it is hard to find reliable figures on US empire, it opens the door for propagandists to deride/discredit “any remaining “Left” antiwar sentiment in the US,” meaning that building “an anti-imperialist antiwar movement will remain an uphill battle,” even among those small groups that currently exist. This argument is definitely valid and should be listened but this article does not wish to tread on the same ground and instead goes a different direction.

Some may see the continuing actions of empire with dismay. After all, with the US-backed coups in Ukraine (2014), Honduras (2009), Paraguay (2012), Maldives (2012), and Brazil (2016), coupled with drone strikes across the Muslim world from secretive drone bases, shadowy attack teams (JSOC, CIA, and so on), private mercenaries-for-hire, and authoritarian imperial proxy states such as Saudi Arabia, one may begin to lose hope. The murderous empire does not exist in a vacuum. However, without a country like the Soviet Union, there is no force, with organized (and equal) strength, to oppose this continuous empire. Yes, there are countries dubbed as “enemies” of empire such as Bolivia, Belarus, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Syria, the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), China, and Russia. Of these countries, Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Cuba, Syria, Belarus, and the DPRK are under fierce overt and covert imperial assault coupled with imperial destabilization efforts. Saying this does not mean that Russia and China are not experiencing the same assault, but that these two countries have more resources to stand up to the imperialist monster.

It must be acknowledged that that Russia and China cannot be fully depended on to form part of the anti-imperialist front. Russia may have low approval of US leadership, be opposed to NATO’s movement near its borders, and thwart actions of empire but it is a capitalist state and has a bourgeoisie which is often called “the oligarchs.” These bourgeoisie are content to work with US bourgeoisie on certain issues such as anti-terrorism actions and the Syrian conflict, meaning that Russia is not fundamentally opposed to US empire. As for China, it has removed itself from its communist roots. It has a market economy with a great degree of state control and has retained some socialist principles. Still, since the Nixon visit to China in 1973 and Mao’s death in 1976, the Chinese government has been willing to work with the United States, which, during the Cold War, used China as a wedge to undermine the Soviet Union. There are only a few countries which can truly be described to be part of an anti-imperialist front and stick to anti-capitalist principles. These countries are Cuba and the DPRK, which have been dedicated to these principles since the 1950s. I don’t know enough about Belarus or Bolivia to say if this is true in those countries, but it is clear that Zimbabwe and Syria are committed to revolutionary ideals (Iran is sort of but also not) even if their anti-capitalist ideals have faded in their respective states. Venezuela arguably is also dedicated to anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist principles but is under threat from imperial forces overtly (ex: public support to the opposition by NED and State Department for example) and covertly (ex: CIA agents pushing for a coup) which is exacerbating and contributing violent situation within the country. While Venezuela would fall into the same category as Cuba and the DPRK, it has been, basically compromised as the government, which one could call socially democratic, is hanging on by a thread. Perhaps I do not know as much about Venezuela as I should but to me the current situation could have been mitigated, if not prevented, if the bourgeoisie had been expropriated. Obviously this action, which is not as simple as flicking on a light switch, could have changed the current predicament since the expropriation would have weakened the bourgeoisie in Venezuela, making it harder for the “opposition” backed by NED, USAID, and other imperial organs to gain a foothold and destabilize the country, like has been done in other countries dubbed “enemies.”

As it currently stands, there is no vote in the US presidential contest against the murderous empire. Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary, who should accurately be called Killary, Clinton is a “hawkish” imperialist who contributed to the destruction of Libya after the 2011 imperialist war and turned the State Department into an arm of the war machine as even Ralph Nader noted. Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump is sought by some as a “lesser evil” or “corrective” to the elitism (and warmongering) of Clinton, but he is an unpredictable, bigoted, and fascist monster. Still, Clinton is no better than Trump as both are basically egoists and megalomaniacs. From the edges of “acceptable debate” one may be shouting: “What about Bernie!” As it turns out, like Trump and Clinton, Bernie is also an imperialist, even if he is of a “moderating” or “dovish” flavor. Sanders, as the record shows, supports the continuation of the Afghanistan War, drone strikes of a “selective” quantity, and pushed for a policy to defeat ISIS via imperial proxies. To some it may have seemed that only person talking about “peace” was former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee even though his rhetoric clearly was wrapped in jingoism. Even in the October debate where one may think he was farther “Left” than Sanders on war, he just talked about the Iraq war, ending “perpetual wars,” was against arming Syrian “rebels,” and then talked about imperial “failures” along with repairing “American credibility,” finally casting himself as a “proven peacemaker.” He was almost like Dennis Kucinich who seemed very “pro-peace” but comfortably situated himself within the bourgeois Democratic Party, meaning that he cannot be relied upon to be part of an anti-imperialist front. There is some hope in alternative party candidates of the Green Party (Jill Stein), Socialist Party USA (Mimi Soltysik), WWP (Monica Moorehead), and PSL (Gloria Rivera). The Green Party is the most successful alternative party to the bourgeois Democratic and Republican Parties, which can be classified correctly as one capitalist party with “right” and “left” wings. However, the Green Party has tried to court the Sanders campaign and has reflected the campaign’s rhetoric, especially the laughable call for “political revolution” which was, as it turned out, just code for increasing voter turnout for his campaign and not at all revolutionary.

Some have asked if it is possible to maintain an empire without imperialist methods. This question is important to keep in mind considering that old established and informal national security “wise man” Zbigniew Brzezinski language of US imperial power so he could advocate for US-coalition building, then, as a result, incorporate and subordinate those countries considered “potential rivals.” Sure, one could define imperialism as forming and maintaining an empire, sometimes by conquest, in order to control world markets and raw materials or as the policy and practice of “seeking to dominate the economic and political affairs of underdeveloped…or weaker states.” [2] However, this definition could easily pop up in the column of some bourgeois “radical” writer as it is divorced from capitalism and ignores how imperialism is an activity for the benefit of the bourgeoisie. In his classic work, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, Vladimir Lenin writes about the concentration of production in bigger enterprises, rise of monopolies (and cartels) and centralization of production as essential parts of capitalism, and that imperialism is the highest stage of development (and the monopoly stage), historically, of capitalism. [3] Many years before those bourgeois writers, like Matt Taibbi or Glenn Greenwald, would balk about corporate concentration in society, Lenin wrote that monopoly had become a fact, that capital and banking were becoming concentrated, that competition had been “transformed into monopoly,” and that a “handful of monopolists control all operations…of the…capitalist society.” [4] To any informed observer this sounds familiar to the same types of calls today, to some degree. On the topic of imperialism, Lenin argued that capitalists divide the world not due to greediness but because they are forced to by concentration of forces within capitalism and such concentration occurs in the powers of “monopolist capitalist combines” which place a few wealthy countries in a “monopolist position” in the world market, which was created by capitalism. [5] Lenin went even further and said that capitalism itself had grown into a “world system of colonial oppression and financial strong violation” of much of the world’s people by a small group of so-called “advanced” states which involve the world “in their war over sharing of their booty.” [6] Beyond his comment that imperialism is “striving for annexations” and that the world is divided between usrer states and debtor states, Lenin proposed five essential features of imperialism. [7] These features are as follows [8]:

  1. “concentration of production and capital”
  2. “the merging of bank capital with industrial capital”
  3. “export of capital”
  4. “formation of international capitalist monopolies”
  5. “territorial division of the whole world among the greater capitalist powers”

There is no doubt that at the current time, a society, like in the early 20th century as Lenin put it, “for the benefit of monopolies,” still exists as does these essential aspects of imperialism. [9] The Americanized form of imperialism is not the same as European imperialisms before, during, and after the Berlin Conference. The United States certainly has colonies like the “empires of old” manifested in its inhabited territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa (supposedly “self-governing” since 1967), Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. [10] However, the mainstay of the murderous empire comes in the hundreds of military bases, numbering 500 at minimum (most of which the military calls “installations” [11]), scattered across the world. Some cry about “Russian imperialism” or “Chinese imperialism” but neither of these countries has colonies or ways to project their own “spheres of influence” that matches, in any way, shape or form, the murderous imperial monster. For those people out there that claim that Crimea is a colony of Russia (I know someone will say this) it is important to remember that they voted by referendum to become part of Russia, they were not seized by Russia in a military maneuver or anything along those lines. As for this monster, the US imperial monster, it is building upon the colonial policy of capitalist states that Lenin described as completing the seizure of unoccupied territories, or those territories that do not belong to any state, on the planet. [12] US military bases, in foreign states that are not formally territories/colonies, states that are politically independent, can serve the same purpose of “old” imperialism: they enmesh such states so they are financially and diplomatically dependent on the United States. [13] The best example of this at the current time is the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The country is formally independent but its economy, and the state itself, its dependent on foreign aid from Western capitalist powers as even “mainstream” sources admit. [14] While none of those in bourgeois circles will say it, at least not openly, there is no doubt that such dependence means that Afghanistan is effectively a colony of Western capitalist powers, mainly of the United States, despite those resisting this imposition.

Taking this into account, along with what was said earlier, it is important to chart a way forward or at least provide some thoughts. In 1939, some argued it was time forthe British working class to change the British colonial system by helping to liquidate capitalist imperialism, showing they stand in a different camp than those seen as imperialist robbers” and said that imperial exploitation of South African natives is worse than the tragic condition of Jews under Nazi oppression and that such natives can easily sympathize with victims of Nazi oppression such as Jewish people. Years earlier, MN Roy (Manabendra Nath Roy) had argued that the British empire was tottering, in a “state of decay,” and that it must be broken up and replaced with a “union on a socialist basis” that frees the “present industrial organism” from capitalist ownership and transforms the empire into a “voluntary economic commonwealth.” Commonwealths of that nature were created by the French and British after their respective formal empires fell with the wave of anti-colonial movements in Africa and Asia from the 1940s to the 1960s, and these commonwealths have basically become a form of neo-colonialism. So, Roy’s conception does not seem to be a workable solution. Since the imperialist monster of the United States is a unique beast in many ways, different approaches will have to be tried. But, at minimum, the United States would need to close down all “foreign” (overseas and in colonies) military bases and free its colonies, formally called “territories,” from subjugation. The size of the military would need to drastically reduced, possibly turned into a defense force, as would the number of “domestic” military bases situated within the United States. The latter would require an economic re-orienting of communities dependent on the military and such. Of course, these aspects will not happen on their own. We can’t wait for the empire to fall on its own or hope that it will. Such waiting would be like boiling spaghetti without water and hoping it cooks: it isn’t going to happen unless you add water.

Sure, the ideas I floated could easily be construed as reforms and limited in their scope. That is a valid criticism. After all, the empire is more than colonies and military bases, and is more complicated, basically acting almost like a living being. Like the British empire, the US empire is “indeed in danger” but is not a “self-contained economic unit” unaffected or not threatened by “economic and industrial conditions of other countries.” An anti-imperialist front against the murderous empire is only possible if it is not only anti-capitalist but interlinks with other movements in the United States and those standing against imperial presence in other parts of the world. Specifically such anti-imperialism could easily interlink with Black Lives Matter, regardless of what some could categorize as  a diffused and sometimes bourgeois nature, or anti-racist actions since people of color are killed by the murderous empire, an empire that is inherently ingrained with white supremacy. Additionally, with the spread of “excess” military equipment, the military and “local” police are interlinked, bringing together different struggles for justice. Many groups in the past, including the Black Panthers, the Brown Berets, the Young Lords, and the Red Guard, engaged in such interlinking, so this idea is not a new one in the slightest.

They way forward isn’t even possible by looking at definitions or word origins. As noted earlier, an empire is much more than a state that unites “many territories and peoples under a single sovereign power” but it is a stage and part of capitalism itself. [15] Even defining war was an open-ended hostility, conflict, armed conflict, or prolonged fighting does not go far enough either as such a definition is absent in mentioning of capitalism or even class. [16] Still, the origins of the word empire (and imperialism) derive from a Latin word meaning “command” which implies authority, a helpful reminder that empire and imperialism are dominating and authoritarian structures. [17] Beyond all of this, those that care about bringing the empire to its knees should participate in trying to make connections of imperialism to race, class, and whatnot. At the same time, an important component is critically supporting those peoples and countries standing up to imperialism such as Zimbabwe, Syria, the DPRK, and Cuba while countering those on the “Left” that scoff about “human rights” and refuse to stand in solidarity with active anti-imperialists.

Notes

[1] Chalmers Johnson. Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Best Hope. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2010. p. 184, 190; Chris Hedges. Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle. New York: Nation Books, 2010. p. 103, 147-148, 150-151.

[2] Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Fourth Edition, ed. Michael Agnes). Cleveland, OH: Wiley Publishing, 2007. p. 715

[3] Vladimir Lenin. Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism. New York: International Publishers, 1972. Reprint from 1939. p. 13, 16, 20, 22, 34, 59, 88.

[4] Lenin, Imperialism, p. 20, 25, 32, 25, 37.

[5] Ibid, 62, 68, 75, 82.

[6] Ibid, 10-11.

[7] Ibid, 91, 101.

[8] Ibid, 89.

[9] Ibid, 53.

[10] The US also controls a number of uninhabited territories all acquired before 1900: Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Atoll, Navassa Island (claimed by Haiti), Palmyra Atoll (partially owned by The Nature Conservancy), and Wake Island. Additionally, the Guantanamo Naval Base is an illegal outpost of “extraterritorial jurisdiction” in Cuba and the US exercises a high degree of control in three countries, almost treating them like colonies: Palau, Marshall Islands, and Federated States of Micronesia. There are also two territories administered by Columbia but claimed by the United States: Serranilla Bank and Bajo Nuevo Bank. Magical Ben Norton thought he would have a short and silly post about the “5 US colonies” in which he talked about the Insular Cases, along with colonial exploitation briefly, piggybacking off what bourgeois liberal John Oliver said, and claiming that colonies can become independent by voting to do so which assumes that the vote would be honored by the United States and discounts revolts against the colonial status by assuming the approach for independence needs to be nonviolent. This is utterly ridiculous. It also seems that Norton does not understand how capitalism and imperialism are interlinked, not even mentioning the world in his silly little article.

[11] On page five of the PDF it says that the military counts 513 “active installations” worldwide but on page 7 of the PDF the number of “DOD sites” worldwide (not inside the United States) is 704, a number that combines such sites “overseas” and in “territories.” This number apparently does not include the 42 Army National Guard Sites, noted on page 17 of the pdf, which brings the number up to 746. Now, this number is completely different from what is noted on page 19 of the PDF: that there are overseas and in US territories: 24 large military sites, 16 medium military sites, 561 small military sites, and 101 other military sites, which combine to a grand total of 701 military sites worldwide!

[12] Lenin, Imperialism, 76.

[13] Ibid, 85.

[14] Sources include: “Afghanistan’s Addiction to Foreign Aid” in The Diplomat, “Money Pit: The Monstrous Failure of US Aid to Afghanistan” in World Affairs Journal, “Afghanistan at the Crossroads” in The Diplomat, “A decade of Western aid in Afghanistan: mission unsustainable?” in Reuters, “A Blessing or a Curse? Aid Rentierism and State-building in Afghanistan” in E-International Relations, “Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy,” report by Congressional Research Service, CIA World Factbook entry on Afghanistan which says under economy heading: “…Afghanistan will remain dependent on international donor support over the next several years,” “Afghanistan’s Dependence on Foreign Aid,” Council on Foreign Relations, “The Limits of U.S. Aid in Afghanistan” in Foreign Policy, “The Hand that Feeds” in The Economist, “The Afghanistan Mess: Fed Report Says We’ll Pay Up The Nose Long After Troops Return” in New York Daily News,Fiscal Sustainability and Dwindling Foreign Aid” in Outlook Afghanistan, “After 10 years of Karzai’s rule, has life improved in Afghanistan?” in NBC News and Allissa J. Rubin’s article in the New York Times titled “World Bank Issues Alert on Afghanistan Economy” (Nov. 22, 2011).

[15] Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Fourth Edition, ed. Michael Agnes). Cleveland, OH: Wiley Publishing, 2007. p. 465

[16] Ibid, p. 1611; Roget’s II The New Thesaurus (Expanded Edition, ed. Anne H. Soukhanov). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1988. p. 1164-1165; Marc McClutcheon. Roget’s Super Thesaurus. Cincinnati, OH: Writers Digest Books, 1998. p. 643-644.

[16] John Ayto. Dictionary of Word Origins. New York: Arcade Publishing, 1990. p. 200. The word “war” derives ultimately from a German prehistoric word meaning “strife” (p. 566) but this origin does not enhance the understanding of the word war in a meaningful way to be used in anti-imperialist struggle.

Iran at a crossroads

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Nelson Mandela meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei, a screenshot from 0:12 of this video, which is related to an article where Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjami said that Mandela has told him that “Iran is the most important ideal destination for South African people as [the] Islamic republic has experienced many difficulties over its resistance and dictatorship.”
Back in January, I wrote about Iran beset by the forces of Western imperialism. I gave a more informed view of the capture of ten US sailors and two navy boats at the time, gave a broader picture of US imperialism, noted that Iran after 1979 became anti-imperialist but is also religiously conservative. I concluded by saying that Iran has a choice: “either it bows to…Western imperialism…or it resists Western influence as the hardliners want…[but] whatever the outcome, it is clear that Iran will get integrated into the capitalist system more now than it has [been] in the past.” This article aims to expand on this by examining responses to the US Supreme Court decision forcing Iran to pay $2 billion to victims of terrorist attacks, with this accusation based on only one NSA intercept, apparently. Additionally, I aim to provide an even more holistic viewpoint of Iran’s place on the international stage.

The US Supreme Court’s ruling and the Iranian response

As the bourgeois media noted, the 6-2 ruling meant that Iran’s central bank, Bank Markazi, lost and that over $2.6 billion of Iranian assets frozen in 2012 by President Obama, needed to be seized to satisfy a previous judgment and pay the American plaintiffs, giving them “justice” and “accountability” for supposedly backing the 1983 bombs in Beirut, among other attacks. [1] Interestingly, John Roberts and Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the decision, written by Ruth Bader Ginsburg which justified a 2012 law passed to help the plaintiffs as aiding “in the enforcement of federal-court judgments,” with Roberts saying that Congress was “commandeering the courts to make a political judgment look like a judicial one.” [2] Ginsburg also declared that this decision “provides a new standard clarifying that, if Iran owns certain assets, the victims of Iran-sponsored terrorist attacks will be permitted to executive against those assets,” so expect more cases supporting such seizures in the future. I could go on, examining how the Supreme Court assisted victims of what they declared was “Iran-sponsored acts of terrorism,” and the judgement itself, but without legal expertise and without hours upon hours of researching more on this case, I think it just best to let the reader read the judgment for themselves. Instead, I wish to, in this section, mention the responses from figures in the upper echelons of Iran’s government which, of course, have been not mentioned in the bourgeois media.

The Iran was rightly up and arms about this ruling. On April 22, the spokesperson for Iran’s foreign ministry, Jaberi Ansari said in a speech in New York that “the ruling has mocked international law…such [a] verdict is stealing the assets and properties of the Islamic Republic of Iran” and added that the US government should compensate Iran for any damages “inflicted on Iran as a result of the ruling,” with Iran, long “rejected allegations of involvement in the 1983 Beirut bombing.” The same day, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, blasted the ruling. He said that Iran “do not recognize the court’s ruling and the US government knows this well…whatever action it [the United States government] takes with respect to Iran’s assets will make it accountable in the future and it should return these assets to Iran.” Also that day Iran’s Deputy Foreign minister, Seyed Abbas Araqchi, also condemned the ruling. He told reporters in Vienna that this move is “exactly in violation of international law and it can be considered as an international robbery. We do not officially recognize the U.S. court’s decision because it has confiscated and in fact robbed Iranian assets in a completely non-judicial manner by violating international norms.” Many days later, Zarif again blasted the ruling with even harsher words that almost echoed what Araqchi said. He argued in an interview with The New Yorker, with some quotes reprinted in Iran Daily, that he had lost “every respect for U.S. justice,” adding powerfully the following:

“…the judgment by the Supreme Court and…by a New York circuit court deciding that Iran should pay damages for 9/11 are the height of absurdity. How would you explain Iran being held accountable for the damages to the victims of 9/11—and others being absolved of any responsibility, those who were actually responsible for it? These cases cannot stand in any serious civilized court of law…people can legislate in other countries to confiscate American assets. [similar to what was said on Twitter by VNGiapaganda]  Would you be happy with that? The United States has committed a lot of crimes against Iranians, against the people of Vietnam, the people of Afghanistan, the people of Iraq. Can they legislate in their own countries for every collateral damage suffered because of American bombing, for every person who was tortured by the Savak, which was created by the United States, those people can claim money from the United States and go confiscate it? Would you be willing to accept it? So why should we accept the Supreme Court ruling? The Supreme Court is the Supreme Court of the United States, not the Supreme Court of the world. We’re not under its jurisdiction, nor is our money. It [the recent court decision] is theft…highway robbery. And believe me, we will get it back.”

In the rest of interview, there were numerous other observations by Zarif. He said that the Saudis stymied Iranian efforts to work with neighbors in the Persian Gulf, that he wants to see European banks doing business in his country “without fear of U.S. retaliation,” that hostile policies aimed at Iran have to stop, and that the US owes Iran for giving Saddam Hussein “intelligence to hit our civilians with chemical weapons.” He also said that Iranian defense is “not  subject to bargaining,” that the process forward in Syria should be put “in the hands of the Syrian people” and declared that people shouldn’t consider Iran a monolith. Elsewhere, in a statement picked up by conservative media, it quoted Zarif as saying that “the Iranian government does not recognize U.S. extra-territorial law and considers the U.S. court ruling to blockade Iranian funds null and voice and in gross violation of international law…if they [Iranian funds] are plundered, we will lodge a complaint with the ICJ for reparation.” The original source of this quote clarified that there was a wrongly translated part about lodging a complaint with the ICJ, with Zarif saying that Iran will “claim compensation from the US administration” if Iranian assets are confiscated, that John Kerry has “got to know our protest since the US court made such illegal action,” and that a committee was formed to investigate how this happened, in order to prevent “repetition of such cases and…how to prevent such an illegal action to take effect.”

Later in April, Iran’s Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei spoke in a related note about the US intimidating foreign banks so they don’t engage in business with Iran. He said, and I quote,

“the major reason for major international banks’ refusal to cooperate with Iran is the Iranophobia that Americans have been promoting…there is no place in the region more secure than Iran and the conditions in our country in more secure than in the US where several people are killed every day and is even more secure than the European countries.”

Earlier this month, Iran’s parliament also voted against the verdict. Iranian legislators reiterated that the US court ruling contradicts “international law and order,” with the Vice-Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, Mohammad Hassan Abourorabifard, saying that the ruling is “baseless, unreasonable and invalid, “also saying that “the Iranian nation will strongly safeguard its rights.” The article, and one that is similar to it, also quoted the Iranian Vice-President for Legal Affairs, Elham Aminzadeh saying that Iran had filed a lawsuit against the US at the International Court Justice, and that “the government has powerfully stood against the practice of this ruling because the assets belong to the (Iranian) nation and should be spend on its welfare.” The speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, was also quoted as saying that “US officials have not been bound to their promises towards Iran since the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, but they should know that Iran’s hands are not tied for taking reciprocal measures.” Even the moderate reformist President, Hassan Rouhani, who I will talk about more later, said at a cabinet meeting

“that a court or judiciary in a corner of the world wants to decide about the Iranian nation’s rights and properties is fully illegal and against the international laws and the central banks’ legal immunity…The Iranian nation will stand against this incorrect ruling, and the Islamic Republic and its government will use all their power to restore the Iranian nation’s rights.”

Some strange readers may still laugh and say that there is evidence that Iran was involved in 1983 Beirut bombings, maybe even that they should be “punished.” If you get really wacked out, you might think that Iran somehow owes U.S. victims, of what some laughably call “Iranian terrorism,” $53 billion dollars! Anyway, I looked at some of the available evidence that claims this is the case. The claims that Iran was involved include accusations that it gave Hezbollah “approval and funding,” funding from “Iran’s senior government officials” as this CNN article claims, with the lawsuits just happened to be filed after 2001, and as claimed by one federal judge (also noted here), that “Hezbollah was formed under the auspices of the Iranian government, was completely reliant on Iran.” The best evidence of all of this is a magical document, revealed at the March 2003 trial (note: this is one the site of an anti-Iran activist Kenneth R. Timmerman who I do not agree with), NSA “intercept of a message sent from Iranian intelligence headquarters in Tehran to Hojjat ol-eslam Ali Akbar Mohtashemi, the Iranian ambassador in Damascus,” which is not available to the public only summarized by a judge. Oh boy. The plaintiffs who just won their case in the Supreme Court, in arguably what was an act of robbery, must have been overjoyed when in 2003 a court found that the Iranian Central Bank was “legally responsible for providing material financial and logistical support to help carry out this tragic attack on the 241 servicemen in Beirut in 1983.”

Anyway, a section of a Wiki page on this subject claims that at the time a group called the “Islamic Jihad” claimed responsibility for the bombings but that Reagan officials believed that Iran and/or Syria was responsible for the bombings, and eventually Hezbollah, with a Lebanese author claiming that Iran and Syria helped “organize the bombing,” while some others even say that Mossad was responsible (also argued on numerous other sites). Interestingly enough, the CIA was the first to blame Iran groups and then claim there was “Iranian-sponsored terrorism” and it was the bombing of an embassy by what the CIA claimed was “overwhelming…evidence” pointing to someone opening with “Iranian supporter under the cover name of Islamic Jihad” and some magical callers claiming they were part of Hezbollah. As the CIA said on their website, the Islamic Jihad Organization “claimed responsibility for the Beirut embassy bombing.” In a 2009 article by Muhammad Sahimi argues the following:

“…to this date, no one can point to the true culprits with any great deal of certainty. Iran may have had an indirect role in the attacks, but…the evidence is not conclusive. If Iran played a role, it was in the context of the Iran-Iraq War…an unknown organization calling it the Islamic Jihad [not the Palestine group] took responsibility for the bombings…some experts believe that the Islamic Jihad was the forefather of Hezbollah…there is however no consensus about when the Lebanese Hezbollah was formed…Hezbollah…has always vehemently denied that it had any role in the attacks. Due to close relations between the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Islamic Republic of Iran, those who insist that Hezbollah already existed in 1982 or 1983 tend to also accuse the Islamic Republic of being behind the Beirut bombings. Iran did play a fundamental role in the formation of Hezbollah…it is also true that with Syria’s support, Iran began stationing military personnel…in Lebanon…but departed by 1989…Robert Baer, a CIA agent in Beirut…had concluded that Iran…was the key player behind the embassy bombing…many books and articles have been published on the attacks, but…we still remain in the dark.”

A conservative site, which takes the view that Hezbollah was responsible, notes that the bombing killed 63 people, with many of those killed being from “the CIA’s important Beirut station,” almost implying that the group that engaged in the attack knew of the CIA’s presence. Similarly, libertarian James Bovard, in CounterPunch, does not challenge this placing of responsibility, but says that “the U.S. embassy was a sitting duck for terrorist assault” and how this connected to the “debacle” in Lebanon. As noted in the quote above, Robert Baer and his team concluded, at the time, that Hezbollah was not responsible for the bombing in Beirut, but that it was the Islamic Jihad, one of the “three dozen militias of various persuasion[s] operating just in Beirut in the early 1980’s,” or maybe even the PLO was involved. Then there’s the supposed mastermind of the attacks (if you trust U.S. officials) who was claimed to be part of Hezbollah, who was killed in a car bombing in Damascus, Syria, by unknown assailants.

I could go more into this, but I do think it is clear that it is not clear cut that there was Iranian involvement in this 1983 bombing of the US embassy in Beirut. With that I move onto further sections of this article.

Iran’s geopolitical role in the region and its history

In recent years, the geopolitical role of Iran has undoubtedly increased. After all, it is in a strategic location bordering the Persian Gulf, along with US-allied states of Afghanistan and Iraq, which could arguably be called imperial proxies to some extent. The United States, which should more accurately be described as a murderous imperial monster, is continuing to restrict Iran’s economy. Back in March, this monster and its allies urged more sanctions for Iranian missile tests, which were obviously a defensive measure, but of course such defense is refused for states such as Iran.  As Iran’s Deputy Foreign minister, Araqchi, who was mentioned earlier, put it correctly, “US enmity is endless and still continues against the Iranian government and nation.” This has shown itself to be true when in April, the spokesperson for the State Department, Mark Toner, declared that “the administration has not been and is not planning to grant Iran access to the US financial system,” which was echoed by President Obama. If even a legal fellow of the bourgeois National Iranian American Council, which I’ll talk about more later, says that Obama should engage in more sanctions relief, then that is telling

In response to such imperial assault, there have been, not surprisingly, measures and statements that Iran will not hesitate to defense itself. Most recently, even President Rouhani said that Iran would take drastic measures if there were any delays in the implementation of the 2015 nuclear deal. Zarif added to this that Iran was requiring the Western countries to honor their commitments to this deal. The most insightful comment was from the defense minister, Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan. He implied that US presence in the region “stirs insecurity” in the region and then blaming Iran, furthering saying that “Iran will decisively confront any menacing passage through the Strait of Hormuz” and that it was Iran’s right to hold military exercises. His insight manifested itself in this comment: “We warn the Americans not to repeat their past mistakes and they should learn from historical realities.”  Others, such as Zarif said that Iran would not use force except in defense, a statement falling in line with Article 51 of the UN Charter, which states: “nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations.” Also, Ayatollah Khamenei argued the following at a meeting on the occasion of the birth of the daughter of Prophet Muhammad, Hazat Fatemah Zahra:

“If the Islamic establishment seeks technology and negotiations but does not have defensive power, it will have to back down in the face of any petty country that threatens [it]. That they say the future of the world is one of negotiation and not one of missiles…if that is said of ignorance, well it is ignorance, but if it’s said knowingly, it is treason. The Islamic Republic must use all tools. I am not opposed to political dialog, not with everyone of course. I am fine with political dialogue on the level of global issues. These are times of both missiles and negotiations. Negotiations should be carried out in such a way that we do not get cheated. That we negotiate, put things on paper, but sanctions don’t get removed, and trade doesn’t get going is a sign that something is wrong.”

There is no doubt that Iran is under threat by imperialist machinations. After all, as Khamenei said himself, “American presidential candidates are racing in saying bad words against Iran which is their hostility” and, as he argued later, the West is not serious about confronting terrorism, which, based on the available evidence, seems to be valid. Because of this threat, it is not surprising that despite Saudi efforts to restrict Iran as noted here, for example, an ex-Saudi Price admitting to arming terrorists in the Southeastern part of Iran, that Iran would engage in a foreign policy aiming to stabilize the region. As Zarif noted, with removal of sanctions, the country will try to “restore peace and stability in the region” in part by trying to “quell region tensions” even though some try to thwart this initiative. Rouhani added to this that Iran is concerned about instability in regional states. More than just meetings and such, this policy manifests itself in numerous ways. For one, it includes standing with Syria as a “main chunk in the resistance front against enemies,” in part by sending Iranian commandos to the country on an advisory mission to help Syrian military forces fight foreign-backed militants. Additionally, Iran’s foreign minister is soon to participate in a China-initiated security forum, and Iran’s defense minister may even discuss an arms deal with Russia, regardless of the lies of Fox News.

I could also talk about here about the UN apparently censoring press coverage of the meeting of Kerry and Zarif on April 22 at the UN, Khameini reminding people of the history of the Islamic Republic as one of resistance, or the  non-“revolution” engineered by the CIA to overthrow Mohammad Mossadegh. Instead, I’d like to focus on Iran and the drug trade. Recently, the Secretary General of Drugs Control Headquarters, Abolreza Rahmani Fazli, criticized the UN for failing to live up to their promises, saying that “up until now, the UN has failed to live up to its promises to aid Iran in fighting illicit drugs…what we need from the UN ids the necessary facilities and equipment to combat drug trafficking, particularly detection dogs…Iran, due to sharing borders with Afghanistan, which the origin of production and transit of drugs, has paid the highest price in counteracting illicit drugs.” From this, some could speculate this means that sanctioning countries may be involved in the drug trade, like the United States for instance. This brings us to the history portion of this section, which focuses on Iran and the drug trade. For this, one must turn to a book I am currently reading, The Strength of the Wolf, by Douglas Valentine, which follows a number of agents, or characters, within the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from the 1940s until the 1960s. Valentine who has written about the CIA’s Phoenix Program in Vietnam in a book titled The Phoenix Program, the secret history of the war on drugs, with a specific focus on the DEA, titled The Strength of the Pack, the successor book to The Strength of the Wolf, and more.

Valentine specifically talks about Iran’s place in the drug trade at numerous junctures.  For one, it was clear, from the surveys by FBN agent Garland Williams in 1948 and 1949, and as FBN Commissioner Henry Anslinger knew, that Iran’s most influential families had gained fortunes through the opium trade, intending to keep anti-drug laws weak so their fortunes could continue to grow, with opium shipped to Indochina “through Greek and Armenian brokers,” a trade from which Chinese nationalists were also profiting. [3] More specifically, this trade meant that there were “more than a million addicts” in Iran, but the espionage Establishment cared little, with their goal of keeping the Shah in power rather than pushing Iran to reform its narcotics policies. [4] Interestingly enough, Mohammad Mossadegh, who is well-known for nationalizing Iran’s oil fields in 1951, led a parliamentary coalition, and was hoping to also reform Iran’s narcotic laws, but this was not “the sort of anti-narcotic action that Anslinger appreciated.” [4] Mossadegh also banned opium production in Iran, as he was aware of Iran’s drug addiction problem, but his nationalization of British and American oil firms led to a “bloody coup engineered by the British and CIA,” that was, more specifically, concocted by Kim Roosevelt and the CIA, with Roosevelt working with known CIA asset Faround Nashibi, who was employed as chief of security for Pan American Airlines in Beirut at the time. [5]  In the aftermath of Mossadegh being overthrown in a coup, which the CIA only admitted engaging in a document released in 2013 publicly and Obama tacitly admitted in 2009 (also noted here), the American and British oil companies “regained their properties in Iran,” Roosevelt became the vice-president of Gulf Oil, and the CIA moved in, launching “penetration operations inside the Soviet Union” from Iran. [6] With this change of government, supporting the Shah was a matter of national security eclipsing the “local issues of drug law enforcement” as the royal families in Iran “never stopped overproducing or selling black-market opium.” [6]

There’s more. For one, the FBN had been receiving reports from at least 1951 that the younger brother of the Shah, Mahmoud Pahlevi was “trafficking in narcotics between Tehran, Paris, New York and Detroit,” with the Pahlevi family having holdings in opium fields, and the first documented report of his involvement in February 1951. [7] FBN agent Jim Ryan was surprised to find out that the Shah’s younger brother was engaged in drug smuggling, but as his supervisor, Charlie Siragusa, told him, Prince Ruspoli, another member of the Iranian royal family, was also an addict, and hinted that Pahlevi may have had a drug habit as well, supplying his “jet-set friends so they could all enjoy the same exclusive kick.” [8] It is also worth noting that the family of Prince Ruspoli, “owned huge opium farms” in Iran and how a Corsican even “asked him to supply raw opium to build a heroin conversion factory in Tehran.” [8] This one of the many FBN cases, with a narco boss, Armen Nercessian, set up in a trap and arrested by FBN agent Paul Knight in a garage. [8] The arrest caused quite a stir, but since, at time, the CIA was engaged in Operation Ajax, a plan to reinstall the Shah and overthrow Mossadegh, the FBN never revealed that “Pahlevi’s address was found on Nercessian,” but later Siragusa told Anslinger that the “surplus opium in Iran” could be part of a broader trend. [9] Many years later, the drug trade was still alive and well in Iran. In 1956, while working with General Alavi Moghaddam, Paul Knight and Charlie Siragusa, both working for the FBN, raided a lab “in Tehran that was producing 100 pounds of heroin a week!” [10] This huge bust was only the beginning, with Knight escorting FBN agent Garland Williams to Tehran, at the personal request of President Eisenhower to “solve” the drug problem in Iran, but this was complicated by the fact that CIA officer Bryon Engle with them, who had a job to “create a narcotics squad in Tehran,” at the same time that him and the “were forming, with the Mossad, Iran’s brutal secret police force, SAVAK.” [10] This was further compromised by the reality that America had been “enmeshed in Iran’s opium business since 1943,” when the Third Millspaugh Mission came to Iran to take over Iran’s economy, but not only gave “oil, air transport, and various other commercial rights to American industrialists” but collected “opium revenues, managed the Pharmaceutical Institute, and directed the Royal opium factory,” which prompted some critics to call this team “drug sellers.” [10]

From this history, it is obvious why Iran would be serious about combating the flow of illicit drugs within its country. Additionally, with the explosion of heroin production after the imperial occupation of Afghanistan began in 2001 by US-led forces, this is even more of a pressing issue for them. Perhaps Iran is also doing this in an effort to engender more Western cooperation but that is up for debate.

Where we are now: the crossroads

As Iran currently stands, there are roughly two competing forces: the reformists and the religious hardliners. The reformists are newer, emerging since the 1990s, at minimum, and are backed by the West, specifically the imperialist monster, or “Great Satan” as some Iranians call it. The religious hardliners are those who won in 1979 with the Islamic Revolution, establishing an Islamic Republic, and are vigorously anti-imperialist.

A recent tweet brought this to my attention. It was a tweet from the National Iranian-American Council or NIAC, citing a CNN article which declared, citing magical unnamed “experts,” that the election of reformists “will give Rouhani a less hostile environment to push his reforms.” Before I get into analysis of what these “reforms” are, it is important to analyze NIAC. Their sister organization, NIAC Action, the tweet of which I cited, has five goals: supporting the 2015 nuclear deal (and preventing war), strengthening US-Iran diplomatic relations, lifting sanctions on Iran, promoting “human rights” in Iran, and fighting discrimination against Iranian-Americans and Iranians in the United States. Some of these goals may seem laudable, one must recognize that the board of these organization is staffed with a former Congressional policy advisor, a former intern with the neocon think tank called the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), former American Cancer Society vice-president, former intern for Fund for Peace, a research assistant for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) which tries to support Iranian dissidents (a.k.a. the Iranian opposition like the “Green Movement”) and seems to have connections to NED (but supposedly no funding), and much more. [11] From here, it is best to move onto NIAC itself. On its page about its funders, NIAC says that 82% of its funds came from Iranian Americans and that the rest came from foundations such as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), the Arca Foundation, and Ploughshares Fund. Then, almost oddly, is the declaration that “NIAC does not receive funding from the U.S. or Iranian governments” which should make anyone a bit suspicious.

Doing a little digging, one finds out that NIAC openly admitted in a 2003 annual report that it received money from NED, and as noted by SourceWatch, received money in the years of 2005 and 2006 as well. Furthermore, there are two reports, which relate to the 2005-2006 grant. One of these notes that NIAC only came into existence in 2002, and then says that this nonprofit “will use renewed Endowment support to create an interactive website for Iranian civic groups to develop their capacity and improve their access.” If that doesn’t sound like assisting imperial destabilization, I don’t know what is. The other report, a follow-up from the previous one, declares that with NED funding, NIAC continued to develop its website for the civic groups mentioned previously, and also “continued to cultivate relations with Iranian NGOs and intensified its marketing.” I also found in my searching that the personal project of a neocon I mentioned earlier, Timmermann, hated the president of NIAC for apparently opposing US regime change in Iran and pushing for diplomacy instead. This implies that NIAC does not support such regime change anymore and that everything is just happy and dandy. However, let us not forget what types of things the RBF has funded in the past, including anti-BDS NGOs at the present, and funds many liberal groups, especially environmental groups, along with a role, in tandem with other groups, to, in the words of Jay Taber, “subvert democracy and derail democracy in favor of US hegemony.” When it comes to NIAC, perhaps it is best to look at their campaigns themselves. One recent “action” item of theirs, about lifting visa waivers for Iranian-Americans, cites the support of 35 “tech entrepreneurs,” which are really just capitalists, for justification. [12] Other posts show that NIAC seems to care about “U.S. foreign policy interests” not being trampled, wants there to be “economic reintegration of Iran into the global economy,” and thinks that Iranian-Americans can “make a change” by voting for Democrats. Other posts showing NIAC praising “moderate” imperialist Bernie Sanders, thanking Obama, calling out the supposed “regime” in Iran. If that isn’t enough, NIAC argues that House Republicans opposing the Iran nuclear deal threatens “U.S. national security interests.” [13] What is a bit worrisome is one of the justifications sent to Congress for why the Iran nuclear deal should be approved and I quote directly: “a successful resolution of the nuclear issue will empower Iran’s political moderates in addition to the Iranian people, who can press their leadership for both internal and external moderation.” I could go more into NIAC, but it seems clear from what I found that they serve as an organization that supports the Iranian opposition and hence are in line with US imperial interests at this time, even if they do not receive direct funding from NED. It is also evident that because of this, it means that NIAC is a bourgeois organization, a bourgeois NGO to be precise.

Having covered NIAC, it is vital to return back to the two competing forces in Iran, roughly. The “reforms” proposed by Rouhani are not something that any person, especially those on the “Left,” broadly or narrowly defined, should stand for. According to a few articles I looked at, his reforms include: (1) privatizing the automotive industry; (2) opening up the economy more to the West; (3) engaging in “economic liberalization” which are code words for privatization; and (4) weaken state involvement in the economy. [14] There was an article on a site that is a project of the German Green Party which noted that Rouhani’s administration has “hewed to rather conventional austerity measures, curbing inflation and cutting costs,” and saying that if this approach is maintained, along with the slow amount of foreign investment, “the economy is in danger of shrinking rather than growing.”  Then there was a rash of articles quoting numerous Iranian high-level ministers who declare that Iran wants to fully join the WTO, a mainstay of the existing capitalist system since 1995. [15] This is not very promising, but neither is the fact that one of the leading members of the “neoconservative advocacy community,” the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) sided with Rouhani, declaring that “the elections appear to have given the Rouhani-aligned moderates and reformists a plurality in the new parliament,” praising the harsh cuts to food and fuel subsidies, supporting his “reform agenda,” and that the best option is for “the United States…to do nothing.” This praise is not surprising when, as one Reuters writer declared, after claiming that the idea of a “resistance economy” was bunk, that “Rouhani’s reforms…in many ways resemble policies of a center-right European government.” [16] To me, this is deeply troubling as it basically implies that Rouhani is not only doing the “right thing” but is doing something that governments of Europe, which have been implementing austerity left and right, destroying social programs and social services, is fine as well. That is not a good sign going forward.

The elections this past February proved whether this agenda was “winning” in Iran or not. The Economist declared that this parliamentary election was part of a “backlash” against conservatism. The election results showed that reformists won 66% of the parliamentary seats in the province of Tehran. According to the election results, the Principalists, which is another name for the “hardliners,” seemed to win a majority of the seats, even when I recounted them a second time. However, that was before all of the results were in, which shows that the reformist coalition called “List of Hope” won against “hardline” coalitions like the Principalist Grand Coalition and People’s Voice Coalition. It is also important to note here that Khamenei called for full participation of Iranians in elections and that, as noted by Iranian state media, “more than 60 percent of some 55 million eligible voters cast their ballots at around 53,000 polling stations across the country.” It worth also pointing out that at one point some wanted electronic voting in Iran without a secure system, so it was abandoned, which seems to eliminate one possible avenue of Western manipulation or tampering.

Some may ask what this election means. For one, I’m not sure if these new legislators will heed Khomenei’s message after the election which said that “I shall remind all authorities…[of] preferring national interests over personal or party requests, courageous resistance against foreign intervention, Revolutionary response to plots by the malevolent and traitors,” and so on. Sputnik, a Russian state-funded news outlet posited, around the same time, that “the decline of Islamic clerics…demonstrates that the Islamic revolution in 1979 is a distant memory.” Some Westerners may be cheering at this announcement, but it vital to dig more into what this means. It is clear that Rouhani’s reformist administration is trying to court Western companies like BP (despite its role in the 1953 coup), which recently opened an office in Tehran and a recent “major oil, gas and petrochemical convention” which attracted over “900 international firms…for four days of showing, stalking and cutting deals with 900 domestic companies” including Asian enterprises and European firms such as ABO Value (Czech), Camfil Power Systems AB (Swedish), Carbon Energy Club (Belgian), Sichuan Huagong Petroleum Steel Pipe Co. (Chinese). [17] This obviously will mean that the economy will continue to move from one that is centrally-planned, albeit not entirely; to one that is more of an open market. [18]

There is no doubt that Western capitalists must be jumping up and down and so excited about this opportunity to tap into a new market, exploiting more people for their personal gain, of course. But it also means that NED’s efforts have been relatively successful. NED, as must be remembered, is an appendage of the murderous empire. In terms of Iran, they have given awards to leading Iranian political activists such as Ali Afshari and Manouchehr Mohammadi, awarded the Green Movement with the 2010 Democracy Award, as noted here, here, and here, supported “democracy” efforts in Iran. NED also portrayed Iran as an authoritarian monster that was repressive, gave money for an online journal, radio station, organizations, and activists, honored more activists (also see here and here), and much more. At the same token, one could say that NED has not been successful. For a time that was true because the Green Revolution was pushed back in 2010, a movement which obviously was a method to gain control, like the other movements NED has honored, and put in place a Western-friendly government. Of course NED is not the only organization at play here; likely the CIA has secret operations afoot in Iran, along with USAID, and a number of other organizations like BBG and others that spread imperial propaganda.

Looking forward, there is isn’t even a need to talk about the size of Iran’s economy, a silly pseudo-“left” statement on Iran, or how oil prices were supposedly tied to the outcome of Iran’s recent elections. Instead it is best to remember that Khamenei is the one who, along with others, opposes privatization but supposedly supports an “illusion of privatization.” But the deeper reality is that if such privatization which the reformists, and their Western capitalist backers, want is fully implemented, then the “resistance economy” will be utterly destroyed. Such an economy, which existed under UN sanctions, is one that has five-year development plans, has expanded production of “knowledge-based products,” increased production of “strategic goods,” markets in neighboring countries, increased exports of raw materials, and yes, privatization despite Khomenei saying in 2013 that trust in “imposed economic theories of the West and the East” was harmful, a description which was mostly echoed by the Chairman of Iran’s Expediency Council, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. The Guardian claimed that this type of economy, a term first used in 2010, which includes a “push for self-sufficiency and domestic production…a commitment to the central place in the economy of…bodies like the IRGC,” but is flexible term and depends on what happens in the US.

There are some who oppose Rouhani’s policy of privatization.  One such article is by Drake University Professor Ismael Hossein-zadeh on the website of the sometimes good, sometimes wacky, Global Research Centre. In this article, Hossein-zadeh writes that the efforts of Rouhani’s administration, unlike the “opening of China to foreign capital” has been inspired by “the doctrine of economic liberalism/neoliberalism” which is a break from the past when Iran viewed economic sanctions as an opportunity to be self-reliant. He further argues that the “open-door economic policy” of the Rouhani administration undermined these past gains, the industrialization strategy of import-substitution is ignored, and that soon Iran would be experiencing deindustrialization if it does not temper the opening of itself to foreign trade. He also adds that Rouhani and his administration are taking on foreign debt to improve the country, that the approach forward would lead to dependence of Iran, and that Rouhani and his economic advisors are “West-centric in a misplaced, inappropriate and mistake way” that follows the strategies of “mature or advanced capitalism.” He concludes by saying that unless such neoliberal policies are reversed then Iran’s markets will be “flooded with foreign products,” the manufacturing base will be weakened, foreign debt will escalate and national sovereignty compromised.

Where do we go from here?

After reading this article, some readers may have little hope in Iran changing. Some readers may remember that communist parties in Iran are almost non-existent, with the suppression of the Iranian communist party, Tudeh, in the 1980s. Some readers may say that Iran does, in its current form, serve as an anti-imperialist state. Arguably that is still true, however, with the Rouhani administration, this position is quickly slipping away as Rouhani tries to pull Iran closer to the West. Others may even say that with these new developments, maybe there is a possibility for a push in Iran for a more expanded communist presence. To be honest, I’m not very optimistic about the latter possibility. At this current time, I’m fully willing to support those forces that resist Western imperialism in Iran, even if they are termed “hardliners” in the bourgeois media and even if I disagree with their religious conservativism. For now, that seems the best we can do since Iran is clearly not a socialist government like Cuba, definitely not a “market socialist” country like China, but seems to be religious government with revolutionary roots, the most positive label one could give it apart from it being called a bourgeois reformist government, which one could argue convincingly. I’d like to hear your comments on this issue since it is definitely possible that I misinterpreted something or said something more. That’s all. Thanks for reading.


Notes

[1] See a Reuters article by Lawrence Hurley (April 20, 2016) titled “U.S. top court rules Iran bank must pay 1983 bomb victims.” Also see: an NPR article by Eyder Peralta (April 20, 2016) titled “Supreme Court Rules Frozen Iranian Money Be Turned Over to U.S. Terrorism Victims”; an AP article (April 20, 2016) by Mark Sherman titled “High Court sides with families of ’83 Beirut bombing victims”; a Bloomberg News article by Greg Stohr (April 20, 2015) titled “Iran Terror Victims Win at U.S. Supreme Court, Can Collect $2 billion.”

[2] See a Reuters article by Lawrence Hurley (April 20, 2016) titled “U.S. top court rules Iran bank must pay 1983 bomb victims.” In its defense, the Iranian bank argues that “Congress unlawfully changed the legal rules in a pending case” while Roberts also said in his dissent that after this decision, “with the court’s seal of approval, Congress can unabashedly pick the winners and losers in particular pending cases” as noted in an April 20, 2016 article in the Wall Street Journal by Brent Kendall titled “Supreme Court Upholds Terrorism Victims’ Ability to Collect Frozen Iran Funds.” For more on an analysis of Robert’s dissent, from an unabashedly conservative source, of course, see here.

[3] Valentine, Douglas. The Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America’s War on Drugs. London: Verso, 2004. Print. pp. 78-9, 102, 117.

[4] Valentine, The Strength of the Wolf, 105.

[5] Ibid, 105, 170.

[6] Ibid, 170.

[7] Ibid, 117.

[8] Ibid, 118.

[9] Ibid, 119

[10] Ibid, 169.

[11] Other positions held by those on the board include a former “Physical Therapy Assistant,” former organizer for United for Peace and Justice, a graphic designer, and a former reporter.

[12] This is also cited in a post here.

[13] In their ad, NIAC claimed that opposing the deal threatened a “chance for peace.”

[14] See Arthur MacMillian’s March 1, 2016 AFP article titled “After Iran elections, Rouhani aims for economic reform,” Ian Black’s February 29, 2016 article in The Guardian titled “Iran election results put Hassan Rouhani on cautious path to reform,” and Michael Kaplan’s January 25, 2016 article in the International Business Times titled “After Iran Nuclear Deal, Rouhani And Supreme Leader Battle Over Domestic Reforms.”

[15] Valiollah Afkhami Rad, the Deputy Industry Minister, was quoted as saying in January of this year the following: “Iran will soon form a working group to negotiate its way to join the World Trade Organization and a total of 40 countries have expressed willingness to join the group which marks the prerequisite for permanent membership to the WTO…structural reforms in Iran’s economy need to take place and reduction of tariff levels has been put on the agenda.” A post by a person who formally worked at the United States Institute for Peace declared that “Iran is increasingly vocal about its readiness to join the World Trade Organization…Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh…announced that finalizing its WTO membership is “a priority” for Iran…domestic lobbies…are particularly wary of foreign competition. Iran will thus need not just structural changes but also political mobilization.” In a television talk show in December 2015, Iran’s minister of industry, Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, said that “our country can join the World Trade Organization in less than two years,” and noted that Iran has been requesting to be a WTO member since 1995.

[16] See Andew Torchia’s May 1, 2014 article in Reuters titled “Politics, markets complicate Rouhani’s rescue of Iran economy.”

[17] It is worth reading the letter written by President H.E. Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China which says, in part: “…In history, China and Iran made important contribution[s] to opening the Silk Road and promoting exchanges between Eastern and Western civilizations…since the inception of our diplomatic ties in 1971, the China-Iran relationship has stood the test of international changes and maintained a momentum of sound and steady development…Our development strategies are highly compatible, which creates huge potential for cooperation…the long distance between Beijing and Tehran is no obstacle to the interaction or cooperation between China and Iran, nor to the friendship and exchanges between out peoples. China is ready to join hands with Iran to renew the Silk Road spirit and create an even better future for China-Iran relations.”

[18] For proof that Iran is moving in this direction, see a webpage on Economy Watch’s website, this website, this post on the USIP website, this country brief by the World Bank, this book, and much more.


Addendum

As I continue to read about this subject, I have had some interesting responses. One reader, VNGiapaganda, asked me what I thought of the possibility that “Afghan opium is being used to destabilize Iran” and commented that this is “something I’ve been wondering about, because Iran has been having HUGE problems with narcotics from what I’ve gathered.” I think this a definite possibility. UNODC puts it this way about Iran:

“Drug trafficking represents a major challenge for the Islamic Republic of Iran. The geographical location of the country, particularly its porous 1,923 km-long Eastern border with Afghanistan – the world’s largest illicit opium producer – and Pakistan, has turned it into a major transit country for illicit drugs. In response to this challenge, the country has built one of the strongest counter-narcotics enforcement capabilities in the region over the years…[in 2014] Iran accounted for 74% of the world’s opium seizures and 25% of the world’s heroin and morphine seizures in 2012…More than 3,700 national law enforcement officials have been killed and over 12,000 have been maimed in counter-narcotics operations over the last three decades…the Islamic Republic of Iran also faces emerging trends of illicit production and trafficking in Amphetamine-Type Stimulants (ATS).”

In addition, as NarcoNon puts it, “Iran lies directly in the path of the world’s largest flow of heroin,” and that “Ethnic Kurds…are thought to be heavily involved in the movement of drugs across this border.” Let us not forget the imperial monster has allied with Kurds, at least since the 1990s, a “strong, deep partnership” or “close relationship” as a November 13, 2015 New York Times article (by Tim Arango and titled “Sinjar Victory Bolsters Kurds, but Could Further Alienate U.S. From Iraq) put it, which manifests itself in military strikes, for example (see Morgan L. Kaplan’s September 9, 2014 Washington Post article titled “Why the U.S. backed the Kurds). There are probably more articles than this on this relationship, but one could speculate that the US government, covertly of course, was working with Kurdish traffickers to destabilize Iran. However, that may seem to be too much of a stretch. Still, as an Iranian state media outlet put it, Iran sees itself, among other countries as the “frontline of the fight against narcotics trafficking” and has fighting to stop “infiltration into the country” by drug smuggling groups.

It is clear that Iran is facing “huge problems with narcotics” as VNGipaganda pointed out. The corporate-backed Middle East Institute claims that NGOs are doing the best work in stopping drugs, but this disregards the huge seizures of drugs like tons upon tons of opium (and other illicit drugs), a drug control organization that is part of the Iranian government, which is all part of their “war on narcotics.” Bourgeois media have declared in the past that “Iran is the main gateway for the region’s top drug exporter, Afghanistan” with more than 2.2 million Iranians who are drug addicts, that punishments for those trafficking illicit drugs often result in execution, and that there have been massive public awareness campaigns about illicit drugs. This media has also declared that drug trafficking soared in 2012 even with Western sanctions ravaging the economy, claiming wildly that even that Iranian forces and Hezbollah were involved (see a Washington Post article by Joby Warrick, on November 1, 2012 titled “In Iran, drug trafficking soars as sanctions take bigger bite”), and another quoting a prominent Iranian official is a member of the Expediency Council, Saeed Sefatian apparently illustrating “legalisation of cannabis and opium use under specific circumstances outlined by ad hoc laws.” Some, like High Times, have used the latter quote to call for “opening up” of democratic dialogue in Iran which inherently means to assist the reformists and therein privatization, while others have said that Iran’s drug policy is just paradoxical. Others argued that Iran, “as one of the world’s primary frontiers in the fight against opiate and illicit drug trade, should be actively encouraged and assisted to take a more prominent role.” You can bet that isn’t happening.

Anyway, onto other issues of note. Ali Akbar Velayati, head of the Strategic Research Center, which is part of Iran’s Expediency Council, told reporters in Tehran that “I have had five meetings with Mr. Putin and I never saw his hesitation in supporting the legitimate government of Syria,” and he asserted that Iran regards “Assad and his government as a “red line”” as the Iranian state media outlet summarized it. Yet again, this shows that Iran is staking out not only an anti-terror position but an anti-imperialist one by standing with an arguably Arab nationalist government, regardless of that fact that the latter is secular. Another article I stumbled across said that a “Russian S-300 missile defense system delivered to Iran has been brought to Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base,” further noting that “Moscow and Tehran signed a contract for the delivery of five battalion sets of S-300 PMU1 air defense missile systems in 2007” and that “Iran displayed the first S-300 air defense missile system imported from Russia in April.” This sort of trade probably angers imperial elites as they see Russia as a “threat” despite the fact that it only has 10 military bases worldwide compared to hundreds upon hundreds of bases by the murderous empire. Two other articles I found related to the section of this article on the US Supreme Court case relating to Iran. One of them cited a PressTV video showing the Iranian Parliament speaker condemning the decision. Another quoted Rouhani, the Western-backed reformist, as saying in a speech, following the denouncement by the Non-Aligned Movement, the following:

“The government will never allow for the money that belongs to the Iranian nation be easily gobbled up by the Americans…[Iran will] take this case to the International Court [of Justice] in the near future and will not spare any effort towards the restoration of the nation’s rights through legal, political and banking channels.”

A statement like this could imply that even with reformists in power that Iran may still remain anti-imperialist. However, one must consider that with more cooperation with Western forces there is no doubt that the reason to be anti-imperialist will be left, with Iran ultimately, if Rouhani’s center-right policies are fully implemented, becoming a dependent state. Hence, anti-imperialism won’t even be on the agenda.

Finally I write about here a little bit on NIAC and NED. From what I found, the US State Department, the mainstay of the foreign policy establishment and one of the pillars of the empire, has a transcript of a 2011 press conference with participants including: the NIAC President, Trita Parsi; Congressperson Keith Ellison; former New York Times correspondent Nazila Fathi; Nader Hashemi, a person who edited a book about the Green Movement; the Swedish Ambassador to the US, Jonas Hafstrom; an international policy analyst for the RAND Corporation, Alireza Nader; U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Suzanne Nossel; and a director of Middle East and North Africa for Human Rights Watch, Sarah Leah Whitson. At this press conference, hosted by NIAC, and funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Ploughshares Fund, participants moaned and groaned about “the human rights situation in Iran,” citing International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) and Amnesty International as sources, along with trying to hold Iran “accountable” for its “human rights violations” maybe even refer them to the International Criminal Court! Other participants claimed that Iran is a “very nationalistic country,” claims that US politicians should publicly support Iranian opposition figures, heap more sanctions in Iran, and many more horrid “observations.” I think it also worthy quoting a bit of what Keith Ellison has to say, as it shows what side he is on. He says, in part the following which sounds like an apology for empire:

“The United States has done a lot of good things in the world. There’s no doubt about that. I’m proud of that. We’re one of the largest donor nations in the world, and I’m proud of that. But it’s also true that our relationship to the Middle East in particular has been somewhat limited to a few factors. Oil, our historic relationship with Israel, and counterterrorism basically have been the three prongs of our relationship with the Middle East…When we’re in a relationship with a government that somehow meets some of our economic and strategic needs, but at the same time they’re human rights violators, it’s easy to take a blind eye and not look in that direction…fundamentally human rights do lend to long‑term overall stability in a nation where people can raise their own voices, can speak their own truth without fear of being carted off and being on the business end of a jail cell, or worse. I believe those societies will be more stable over time…in the 1953, the democratic initiative of Iranian people was undermined and so, for so many years, we followed that policy because it met our own economic and strategic interests. That policy changed radically in 1979, and we’ve been dealing with the aftermath ever since that time…as Americans living in the United States, we can form the basis of a peace constituency that says human rights has got to be the way we interact with the rest of the world…I was happy to see that the “smart” sanctions President Obama signed into law last year contain some of the provisions of the legislation that I introduced…The legislation was basically ‑‑ NIAC was an indispensable resource, as I mentioned already — it’s really our legislation…Gaddafi was able to crack down brutally in part because of the absence of foreign media…the international community needs to remind the Iranian government that we are watching…it’s legitimate for the United States to have interests and legitimate for them to pursue them, but I also think that human rights is an interest of ours too…I believe that there is room for sanctions; I’ve actually introduced sanctions bills myself. But the greater history of sanctions is that it doesn’t do much to change the conduct of the country at whom the sanctions are targeted…our default position should be multilateralism…I think we should have an interest section or an embassy everywhere we can, without regard to whether we like that government or not.”

This suck-up to the murderous empire also reveals that NIAC is completely fine with sanctions on Iran, as long as they are “smart,” implying that other sanctions are “dumb.” Additionally, the fact that he only says that “the democratic initiative of the Iranian people was undermined” in 1953 without saying that there was a US and British bloody coup to overthrow Mossadegh is just disgusting.

As much as I would want to go more through that press conference, I must move on. NIAC pops up in a newsletter for the US Embassy in 2011, making one think it could just be a foreign destabilization operation. Beyond this, some of the results from a search of the State Department’s website makes it seem like they are a pawn of the US government itself. Readers may remember the declaration on NIAC’s website that they do not “receive funding from the U.S. or Iranian governments.” Last night, when I was attempting to look for the NED reports, I had archived before my laptop was stolen, I looked specifically through the reports of 1984-2004, the results of which will be explained later. As it turns out, NIAC received $25,000 from NED in 2002 for implementing a two-day workshop for “forty members from five civic groups” to help them develop their publicity efforts. If you don’t think this is an effort of imperial destabilization than I’ve got to say that you are sadly deluded. Additionally, this proves that NIAC is not really telling the full truth with their disclaimer, a disclaimer which implies that people have criticized them for U.S. government funding in the past and that people have accused them of being pro-Iranian government when they obviously are not. Other tweets, with a thread beginning here, show the following:

  • $316,860 for the Iran Teachers’ Association (1991-4, 2001-3)
  • $105,000 for the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation (ABF) (2002-4)
  • $55,949 for the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) (2004, incorrectly called “the Center for the International Private Enterprise”)
  • $50,000 for The Foundation for Democracy in Iran (1995)
  • $40,500 for Vital Voices Global Partnership (2004)
  • No grants for Iranian groups for the years of 1984-1990 and 1996-2000.

Most of the grants for the Iran Teachers’ Association related to distributing their publications, including eventually a journal published by them titled Mehregan. As for the ABF, the descriptions of the grants make it seem that the ABF was given money to create a “human rights” website for “victims” of the “Iranian regime,” code for Iranian opposition activists. CIPE tried to “inject the voice of business” into Iranian society, which is not surprising considering one of its goals is to “help improve the functioning of market economies and build democratic societies” with “partners” to advance their capitalist policies across the world. Like the other organizations, the Vital Voices Global Partnership pushed to help Iranian opposition activists, specifically Iranian women. As for The Foundation for Democracy in Iran, the grant money should be obvious: it tried to monitor “human rights violations” in Iran.

While words from such organizations may seem nice on the surface, it is important to remember that these organizations are part of a broader push for imperial destabilization of Iran. There is no doubt about that. If one adds up the money from the organizations listed above, it is clear that between the years of 1991-1995 and 2002-2004, $568,309 was given to NED grantees in an effort to destabilize Iran. Some may laugh and say this a paltry sum, but lest us forget that there are still reports from 2005 on which are not noted here and that making this reality clear is still significant. Again, I welcome your comments and look forward to future interactions.