Rubio’s Gloating Betrays US Sabotage in Venezuela Power Blitz

Rubio’s Gloating Betrays US Sabotage in Venezuela Power Blitz

FINIAN CUNNINGHAM | 14.03.2019 | WORLD / AMERICAS

Rubio’s Gloating Betrays US Sabotage in Venezuela Power Blitz

US imperialists are so desperate in their regime-change predations over Venezuela, they seem to have a problem controlling their drooling mouths.

The latest orgy of American gloating was triggered by the massive power outages to have hit Venezuela. No sooner had the South American country been blacked out from its power grid collapsing, senior US officials were crowing with perverse relish.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio – who has become a point man for the Trump administration in its regime-change campaign in Venezuela – was a little too celebratory. Within minutes of the nationwide power outage last Thursday, Rubio was having verbal orgasms about the “long-term economic damage”… “in the blink of an eye”. But it was his disclosure concerning the precise damage in the power grid that has led the Venezuelan government to accuse the US of carrying out a sabotage.

Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez noted how Rubio, in his tweeted comments “three minutes” after the power outage, mentioned failure of “back-up generators” in Venezuela’s main hydroelectric plant, known as the Guri Dam, located in Bolivar State. The dam supplies some 80 per cent of the Venezuelan population of 31 million with its electricity consumption.

Rodriguez mockingly ascribed “mystic skills” to Rubio because the Florida Republican senator appeared to know the precise nature of the power failure even before the Venezuelan authorities had determined it.

The Venezuelan government has since claimed that the failure in the electric grid was caused by a cyber attack on the computer system controlling the Guri Dam turbines. Caracas said it will present proof of its claims to the United Nations.

Apart from Rubio’s apparent insider information, there are several other indicators that Venezuela’s latest turmoil from power blackout was indeed caused by US sabotage, and specifically a cyber attack.

The South American country has experienced recurring power cuts over recent years due to economic problems and Washington’s sanctions. But the latest outage was widespread – at least 70 per cent of the country – and sustained for more than four days, rather than being rectified within hours. That scale of disruption suggests an unprecedented event, way beyond intermittent problems of maintenance.

The duration of the blackout in the capital Caracas and other major cities also indicates that the nature of the problem was difficult to reverse, which would be consistent with a cyber attack on the power grid. “It was a kill-shot,” says American political analyst Randy Martin.

Furthermore, US officials like President Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton as well as “special envoy” on Venezuelan affairs Elliot Abrams have been warning that Washington is seeking new ways to pile pressure on Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro to stand down.

Abrams was caught out last week in a prank phone call made by two Russian entertainers posing as Swiss President Ueli Maurer in which Abrams openly advocated crushing the Venezuelan banking system in order to topple the government in Caracas. The American envoy, who was convicted over the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s for sponsoring terrorism to sabotage Nicaragua, appeared to balk at using overt US military power against Venezuela. That suggests Washington was persuaded on the efficacy of cyber warfare to inflict social chaos and incite popular anger against the Maduro government.

The immediate reaction by Washington officials and the US-backed political opposition in Venezuela was to blame the Maduro government for the power disorder. The failure was flagged up as a sign of “incompetence” and “mismanagement” of the oil-rich country by the socialist administration. Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself the rightful president with Washington’s blessing, conveyed the logic of blackmail when he declared, “the lights will come back on when usurper Maduro is gone”.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also weighed in with repulsive gloating within hours of Venezuela’s power crisis. Pompeo tweeted: “No food. No medicine. Now, no power. Next, no Maduro.”

The delight openly displayed by Washington officials in regard to aggression against Venezuela has broken new ground in terms of the brazenness of US imperialism.

Only a few weeks ago, Bolton announced that the objective for seeking regime change in Venezuela against the elected President Nicolas Maduro was for US corporations to seize the South American state’s vast oil wealth – reckoned to be the largest known reserves on the planet, far exceeding those of Saudi Arabia.

Such is Washington’s unbridled lust for Venezuela’s natural resources that its imperialist advocates are falling over themselves with naked lies and crimes.

When a US Trojan Horse aid convoy was blocked from entering into Venezuela from Colombia last month, American politicians and media immediately blamed the Maduro government for sabotaging the effort. An aid truck was set alight on a border crossing on February 23. US Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Rubio, as well as CNN, condemned the Venezuelan authorities for “callous” destruction of vital aid delivery to its long-suffering people. It turns out, as even the New York Times has now admitted three weeks later, that the aid truck was torched by US-backed opposition supporters on the Colombian side of the border.

The obscenity of American imperialism is that it has inflicted huge social misery in Venezuela from years of sanctions and illegal confiscation (theft) of billions of dollars in assets belonging to the nation. Then it has the audacity to mount a charade seeming to deliver humanitarian aid.

The latest twist to this sadistic game played by Washington is turning the lights off across the entire nation, in homes, hospitals, airports and schools, among other essential services, and attempting to lay the blame on the Venezuelan government.

We may, however, be thankful for Washington’s overweening arrogance and criminality. Because, as Marco Rubio’s rash remarks concerning the latest power outage show, the American gangsterism towards Venezuela is being exposed for the naked aggression that it is.

US-based political analyst Randy Martin, in comments for this column, says that what Washington is doing to Venezuela is tantamount to the “rape of democracy”. “American imperialism has no longer any shame,” he said. “It used to rape countries under the cover a seedy alleyway of false excuses and hollow claims of righteousness. Now it has its trousers around its ankles and trying to rape Venezuela right on the global Main Street.”

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Video: Venezuela Blackout: Cyber Attacks, Sabotage and Political Horror Movies

During the past few days, Venezuela was suffering a major blackout that left the country in darkness. The crisis started on March 7 with a failure at the Guri hydroelectric power plant, which produces 80% of the country’s power. Additionally, an explosion was reported at Sidor Substation in Bolivar state.

Since then, the government has been struggling to solve the crisis with varying success.

President Nicolas Maduro says that the blackout is the reason of “the electric war announced and directed by American imperialism.” According to Maduro, electrical systems were targeted by cyberattacks and “infiltrators”. He added that authorities managed to restore power to “many parts” of the country on March 8, but the restored systems were knocked down after the country’s grid was once again attacked. He noted that “one of the sources of generation that was working perfectly” had been sabotaged and accused “infiltrators of attacking the electric company from the inside.”

Communication and information minister Jorge Rodriguez described the situation as “the most brutal attack on the Venezuelan people in 200 years”. He also described the situation as the “deliberate sabotage” on behalf of the US-backed opposition.

In own turn, the US continues to reject claims accusing it of attempts to destabilize the situation in the country. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo even claimed that Washington and its allies would not hurt the “ordinary Venezuelans.” According to him, what’s hurting the people is the “Maduro regime’s incompetence.”

“No food. No medicine. Now, no power. Next, no Maduro,” Pompeo wrote in Twitter, adding that “Maduro’s policies bring nothing but darkness.”

Unfortunately, the top diplomat did not explain how wide-scale economic sanctions imposed to wreck the country’s economic should help the “ordinary Venezuelans”.

The State Department attitude was expectedly supported by US-proclaimed Venezuelan Interim President Juan Guaido, who recently returned to country after an attempt to get more foreign support for US-backed regime change efforts. Guaido accused the “Maduro Regime” of turning the blackout during the night in a “horror movie” with his “gangs” terrorizing people.

Another narrative, which recently set the mainstream media on fire, is the alleged Cuban meddling in the crisis. According to this very version of the event, “forces of democracy” were not able to overthrow the Venezuelan government because its political elite is controlled by Cuban intelligence services. President Donald Trump even said Maduro is nothing more than a “Cuban puppet.”

Taking account already existing allegations about the presence of Hezbollah and Russian mercenaries in Venezuela and an expected second attempt to stage US aid delivery provocation on the Colombian-Venezuelan border, it becomes clear that chances of US direct action to bring into power own political puppet are once again growing.

The February attempt to stage a provocation failed and make a final step toward a regime change by force failed after it was publicly revealed that the US-backed opposition was intentionally burning “aid trucks” to blame the Maduro government. Furthermore, the military backed Maduro, and the scale and intensity of protests across the country were not enough to paralyze the government.

The blackout in Venezuela was likely meant to bring the country into disorder and draw off army and security forces. Therefore, an attempt to stage a new provocation to justify a foreign intervention to overthrow the Venezuelan government could be expected anytime soon.

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What the Press Hides From You About Venezuela

What the Press Hides From You About Venezuela

Alfred de Zayas, human rights lawyer & UN independent expert on international order. His report on Venezuela has been buried by the MSM.

This news-report is being submitted to all US and allied news-media, and is being published by all honest ones, in order to inform you of crucial facts that the others — the dishonest ones, who hide such crucial facts — are hiding about Venezuela. These are facts that have received coverage only in one single British newspaper: the Independent, which published a summary account of them on January 26th. That newspaper’s account will be excerpted here at the end, but first will be highlights from its topic, the official report to the UN General Assembly in August of last year, which has been covered-up ever since. This is why that report’s author has now gone to the Independent, desperate to get the story out, finally, to the public.

THE COVERED-UP DOCUMENT

On 3 August 2018, the UN’s General Assembly received the report from the UN’s Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, concerning his mission to Venezuela and Ecuador. His recent travel though both countries focused on “how best to enhance the enjoyment of all human rights by the populations of both countries.”

He “noted the eradication of illiteracy, free education from primary school to university, and programmes to reduce extreme poverty, provide housing to the homeless and vulnerable, phase out privilege and discrimination, and extend medical care to everyone.”

He noted “that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and Ecuador, both devote around 70 per cent of their national budgets to social services.” However (and here, key paragraphs from the report are now quoted):

22. Observers have identified errors committed by the Chávez and Maduro Governments, noting that there are too many ideologues and too few technocrats in public administration, resulting in government policies that lack coherence and professional management and discourage domestic investment, already crippled by inefficiency and corruption, which extend to government officials, transnational corporations and entrepreneurs. Critics warn about the undue influence of the military on government and on the running of enterprises like Petróleos de Venezuela. The lack of regular, publicly available data on nutrition, epidemiology and inflation are said to complicate efforts to provide humanitarian support.

23. Meanwhile, the Attorney General, Tarek Saab, has launched a vigorous anticorruption campaign, investigating the links between Venezuelan enterprises and tax havens, contracting scams, and deals by public officials with Odebrecht. It is estimated that corruption in the oil industry has cost the Government US$ 4.8 billion. The Attorney General’s Office informed the Independent Expert of pending investigations for embezzlement and extortion against 79 officials of Petróleos de Venezuela, including 22 senior managers. The Office also pointed to the arrest of two high-level oil executives, accused of money-laundering in Andorra. The Ministry of Justice estimates corruption losses at some US$ 15 billion. Other stakeholders, in contrast, assert that anti-corruption programmes are selective and have not sufficiently targeted State institutions, including the military.

29. …Over the past sixty years, non-conventional economic wars have been waged against Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in order to make their economies fail, facilitate regime change and impose a neo-liberal socioeconomic model. In order to discredit selected governments, failures in the field of human rights are maximized so as to make violent overthrow more palatable. Human rights are being “weaponized” against rivals. Yet, human rights are the heritage of every human being and should never be instrumentalized as weapons of demonization.

30. The principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States belong to customary international law and have been reaffirmed in General Assembly resolutions, notably [a list is supplied].

31. In its judgment of 27 June 1986 concerning Nicaragua v. United States, the International Court of Justice quoted from [UN] resolution 2625 (XXV): “no State shall organize, assist, foment, finance, incite or tolerate subversive, terrorist or armed activities directed towards the violent overthrow of the regime of another State, or interfere in civil strife in another State”.

36. The effects of sanctions imposed by Presidents Obama and Trump and unilateral measures by Canada and the European Union have directly and indirectly aggravated the shortages in medicines such as insulin and anti-retroviral drugs. To the extent that economic sanctions have caused delays in distribution and thus contributed to many deaths, sanctions contravene the human rights obligations of the countries imposing them.Moreover, sanctions can amount to crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. An investigation by that Court would be appropriate, but the geopolitical submissiveness of the Court may prevent this.

37. Modern-day economic sanctions and blockades are comparable with medieval sieges of towns with the intention of forcing them to surrender. Twenty-first century sanctions attempt to bring not just a town, but sovereign countries to their knees. A difference, perhaps, is that twenty-first century sanctions are accompanied by the manipulation of public opinion through “fake news”, aggressive public relations and a pseudo-human rights rhetoric so as to give the impression that a human rights “end” justifies the criminal means.

39. Economic asphyxiation policies are comparable to those already practised in Chile, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nicaragua and the Syrian Arab Republic. In January 2018, Middle East correspondent of The Financial Times and The Independent, Patrick Cockburn, wrote on the sanctions affecting Syria: There is usually a pretence that foodstuffs and medical equipment are being allowed through freely and no mention is made of the financial and other regulatory obstacles making it impossible to deliver them. An example of this is the draconian sanctions imposed on Syria by the US and EU which were meant to target President Bashar al-Assad and help remove him from power. They have wholly failed to do this, but a UN internal report leaked in 2016 shows all too convincingly the effect of the embargo in stopping the delivery of aid by international aid agencies. They cannot import the aid despite waivers because banks and commercial companies dare not risk being penalised for having anything to do with Syria. The report quotes a European doctor working in Syria as saying that “the indirect effect of sanctions … makes the import of the medical instruments and other medical supplies immensely difficult, near impossible”. In short: economic sanctions kill.

41. Bearing in mind that Venezuelan society is polarized, what is most needed is dialogue between the Government and the opposition, and it would be a noble task on the part of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to offer his good offices for such a dialogue. Yet, opposition leaders Antonio Ledezma and Julio Borges, during a trip through Europe to denounce the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, called for further sanctions as well as a military “humanitarian intervention”.

44. Although the situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has not yet reached the humanitarian crisis threshold, there is hunger, malnutrition, anxiety, anguish and emigration. What is crucial is to study the causes of the crisis, including neglected factors of sanctions, sabotage, hoarding, black market activities, induced inflation and contraband in food and medicines.

45. The “crisis” in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is an economic crisis, which cannot be compared with the humanitarian crises in Gaza, Yemen, Libya, the Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq, Haiti, Mali, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia, or Myanmar, among others. It is significant that when, in 2017, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela requested medical aid from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the plea was rejected, because it ”is still a high-income country … and as such is not eligible”.

46. It is pertinent to recall the situation in the years prior to the election of Hugo Chávez. 118 Corruption was ubiquitous and in 1993, President Carlos Pérez was removed because of embezzlement. The Chávez election in 1998 reflected despair with the corruption and neo-liberal policies of the 1980s and 1990s, and rejection of the gulf between the super-rich and the abject poor.

47. Participatory democracy in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, called “protagónica”, is anchored in the Constitution of 1999 and relies on frequent elections and referendums. During the mission, the Independent Expert exchanged views with the Electoral Commission and learned that in the 19 years since Chávez, 25 elections and referendums had been conducted, 4 of them observed by the Carter Center. The Independent Expert met with the representative of the Carter Center in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, who recalled Carter’s positive assessment of the electoral system. They also discussed the constitutional objections raised by the opposition to the referendum held on 30 July 2017, resulting in the creation of a Constitutional Assembly. Over 8 million Venezuelans voted in the referendum, which was accompanied by international observers, including from the Council of Electoral Specialists of Latin America.

48. An atmosphere of intimidation accompanied the mission, attempting to pressure the Independent Expert into a predetermined matrix. He received letters from NGOs asking him not to proceed because he was not the “relevant” rapporteur, and almost dictating what should be in the report. Weeks before his arrival, some called the mission a “fake investigation”. Social media insults bordered on “hate speech” and “incitement”. Mobbing before, during and after the mission bore a resemblance to the experience of two American journalists who visited the country in July 2017. Utilizing platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, critics questioned the Independent Expert’s integrity and accused him of bias, demonstrating a culture of intransigence and refusal to accept the duty of an independent expert to be neutral, objective, dispassionate and to apply his expertise free of external pressures.

67. The Independent Expert recommends that the General Assembly:

  • (g) Invoke article 96 of the Charter of the United Nations and refer the following questions to the International Court of Justice: Can unilateral coercive measures be compatible with international law? Can unilateral coercive measures amount to crimes against humanity when a large number of persons perish because of scarcity of food and medicines? What reparations are due to the victims of sanctions? Do sanctions and currency manipulations constitute geopolitical crimes?
  • (h) Adopt a resolution along the lines of the resolutions on the United States embargo against Cuba, declaring the sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela contrary to international law and human rights law. …

70. The Independent Expert recommends that the International Criminal Court investigate the problem of unilateral coercive measures that cause death from malnutrition, lack of medicines and medical equipment.

72. The Independent Expert recommends that, until the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court address the lethal outcomes of economic wars and sanctions regimes, the Permanent Peoples Tribunal, the Russell Tribunal and the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission undertake the task so as to facilitate future judicial pronouncements.

On January 26th, Britain’s Independent headlined “Venezuela crisis: Former UN rapporteur says US sanctions are killing citizens”, and Michael Selby-Green reported that:

The first UN rapporteur to visit Venezuela for 21 years has told The Independent the US sanctions on the country are illegal and could amount to “crimes against humanity” under international law.

Former special rapporteur Alfred de Zayas, who finished his term at the UN in March, has criticized the US for engaging in “economic warfare” against Venezuela which he said is hurting the economy and killing Venezuelans.

The comments come amid worsening tensions in the country after the US and UK have backed Juan Guaido, who appointed himself “interim president” of Venezuela as hundreds of thousands marched to support him….

The US Treasury has not responded to a request for comment on Mr de Zayas’s allegations of the effects of the sanctions programme.

US sanctions prohibit dealing in currencies issued by the Venezuelan government. They also target individuals, and stop US-based companies or people from buying and selling new debt issued by PDVSA or the government.

The US has previously defended its sanctions on Venezuela, with a senior US official saying in 2018: “The fact is that the greatest sanction on Venezuelan oil and oil production is called Nicolas Maduro, and PDVSA’s inefficiencies,” referring to the state-run oil body, Petroleos de Venezuela, SA.

Mr De Zayas’s findings are based on his late-2017 mission to the country and interviews with 12 Venezuelan government minsters, opposition politicians, 35 NGOs working in the country, academics, church officials, activists, chambers of commerce and regional UN agencies.

The US imposed new sanctions against Venezuela on 9 March 2015, when President Barack Obama issued executive order 13692, declaring the country a threat to national security.

The sanctions have since intensified under Donald Trump, who has also threatened military invasion and discussed a coup….

Despite being the first UN official to visit and report from Venezuela in 21 years, Mr de Zayas said his research into the causes of the country’s economic crisis has so far largely been ignored by the UN and the media, and caused little debate within the Human Rights Council.

He believes his report has been ignored because it goes against the popular narrative that Venezuela needs regime change.

The then UN high commissioner, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, reportedly refused to meet Mr de Zayas after the visit, and the Venezuela desk of the UN Human Rights Council also declined to help with his work after his return despite being obliged to do so, Mr de Zayas claimed….

Ivan Briscoe, Latin America and Caribbean programme director for Crisis Group, an international NGO, told The Independent that Venezuela is a polarising subject. … Briscoe is critical of Mr de Zayas’s report because it highlights US economic warfare but in his view neglects to mention the impact of a difficult business environment in the country. … Briscoe acknowledged rising tensions and the likely presence of US personnel operating covertly in the country…

Eugenia Russian, president of FUNDALATIN, one of the oldest human rights NGOs in Venezuela, founded in 1978 before the Chavez and Maduro governments and with special consultative status at the UN, spoke to The Independent on the significance of the sanctions…

“In contact with the popular communities, we consider that one of the fundamental causes of the economic crisis in the country is the effect that the unilateral coercive sanctions that are applied in the economy, especially by the government of the United States,” Ms Russian said.

She said there may also be causes from internal errors, but said probably few countries in the world have suffered an “economic siege” like the one Venezuelans are living under…

In his report, Mr de Zayas expressed concern that those calling the situation a “humanitarian crisis” are trying to justify regime change and that human rights are being “weaponised” to discredit the government and make violent overthrow more “palatable”…

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world and an abundance of other natural resources including gold, bauxite and coltan. But under the Maduro government they’re not easily accessible to US and transnational corporations.

US oil companies had large investments in Venezuela in the early 20th century but were locked out after Venezuelans voted to nationalise the industry in 1973.

Other than readers of that single newspaper, where has the public been able to find these facts? If the public can have these facts hidden from them, then how much trust should the public reasonably have in the government, and in the news-media?

Important Notes

Zeid Raad Al Hussein, who “reportedly refused to meet Mr de Zayas after the visit,” is Prince Zeid Raad Al Hussein, a Jordanian Prince. Jordan is a vassal-state in the US empire. But Prince Hussein is a Jordanian diplomat who served as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2014 to 2018 — hardly an unbiased or independent person in such a supposedly nonpartisan role.

Here is the garbage that a reader comes to, who is trying to find online Mr. de Zayas’s report on this matter. As intended, the document remains effectively hidden to the present day. Perhaps the UN needs to be replaced and located in Venezuela, Iran, or some other country that’s targeted for take-over by the people who effectively own the United States Government and control the UN’s bureaucracy. The hiding of this document was done not only by the press but by the UN itself.

On January 23rd, Germany’s Die Zeit headlined “Christoph Flügge: ‘I am deeply disturbed’: The UN International Criminal Court Judge Christoph Flügge Accuses Western Nations of Threatening the Independence of the Judges”. Flügge especially cited US President Trump’s agent, John Bolton. That same day, the Democratic Party and Labour Party organ, Britain’s Guardian, bannered “International criminal court: UN court judge quits The Hague citing political interference”.

This news-report said that, “A senior judge has resigned from one of the UN’s international courts in The Hague citing ‘shocking’ political interference from the White House and Turkey.” The judge especially criticised Bolton:

The American security adviser held his speech at a time when The Hague was planning preliminary investigations into American soldiers who had been accused of torturing people in Afghanistan. The American threats against international judges clearly show the new political climate. It is shocking. I had never heard such a threat.” Flügge said that the judges on the court had been “stunned” that “the US would roll out such heavy artillery.”

Flügge told the Guardian: “It is consistent with the new American line: ‘We are No 1 and we stand above the law’.”

On February 6th, a former UK Ambassador to Syria vented at an alt-news site, 21st Century Wire (since he couldn’t get any of the major-media sites to publish it), “A Guide to Decoding the Doublespeak on Syria”, and he brazenly exposed there the Doublespeak-Newspeak that the US Government and press (what he called America’s “frothing neocons and their liberal interventionist fellow travellers”) apply in order to report the ‘news’ about Syria.

So: how can the public, in a country such as the US, democratically control the Government, if the government and its press are lying to them, like that, all the time, and so routinely?

‘America First’: A Stronger Monroe Doctrine

‘America First’: A Stronger Monroe Doctrine

FEDERICO PIERACCINI | 07.03.2019 | WORLD / AMERICAS

‘America First’: A Stronger Monroe Doctrine

The previous articles (firstsecond) examined what appears to be a coordinated strategy between Moscow and Beijing to contain the damage wrought by the United States around the world. This strategy’s effectiveness relies heavily on the geographical position of the two countries vis-a-vis the United States and the area of contention. We have seen how the Sino-Russian strategy has been effective in Asia and the Middle-East, greatly stemming American disorder. Moscow and Beijing have less capacity to contain the US and influence events in Europe, given that much depends on the Europeans themselves, who are officially Washington’s allies but are in reality treated as colonies. With the new “America First” doctrine, it is the central and southern parts of the American continent that are on the receiving end of the US struggling to come to terms with the diminishment of its hitherto untrammelled influence in the world.

South and Central American countries blossomed under the reign of socialist or leftist anti-imperialist governments for the first decade of this century. Such terms as “21st-century socialism” were coined, as was documented in the 2010 Oliver Stone documentary film South of the Border. The list of countries with leftist governments was impressive: Fernando Lugo (Paraguay), Evo Morales (Bolivia), Lula da Silva (Brazil), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (Argentina), Fidel Castro (Cuba), Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua) and Hugo Chávez (Venezuela).

We can establish a close correlation between Washington’s actions since 1989 and the political roller-coaster experienced in South America in the ensuing thirty years.

Washington, drunk on the experience of being the only superpower in the post-Soviet period, sought to lock in her commanding position through the establishment of full-spectrum dominance, a strategy that entails being able to deal with any event in any area of ​​the globe, treating the world as Washington’s oyster.

Washington’s endeavor to shape the world in her own image and likeness meant in practical terms the military apparatus increasing its power projection through carrier battle groups and a global missile defense, advancing towards the land and sea borders of Russia and China.

Taking advantage of the US dollar’s dominance in the economic, financial and commercial arenas, Washington cast aside the principles of the free market, leaving other countries to contend with an unfair playing field.

As later revealed by Edward Snowden, Washington exploited her technological dominance to establish a pervasive surveillance system. Guided by the principle of American exceptionalism, combined with a desire to “export democracy”, “human rights” became an enabling justification to intervene in and bomb dozens of countries over three decades, aided and abetted by a compliant and controlled media dominated by the intelligence and military apparatuses.

Central and South America enjoyed an unprecedented political space in the early 2000s as a result of Washington focusing on Russia, China, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Somalia, Georgia and Ukraine. The Latin Americans exploited this breathing space, with a dozen countries becoming outposts of anti-imperialism within a decade, advancing a strong socialist vision in opposition to free-market fundamentalism.

Both Washington and Moscow placed central importance on South America during the Cold War, which was part of the asymmetric and hybrid war that the two superpowers undertook against each other. The determination by the United States to deny the Soviet Union a presence in the American hemisphere had the world holding its collective breath during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

As any student of international relations knows, the first objective of a regional power is to prevent the emergence of another hegemon in any other part of the world. The reason behind this is to obviate the possibility that the new power may venture into other regions occupied by other hegemonic powers, thereby upsetting the status quo. The second primary objective is to prevent access by a foreign power to its own hemisphere. Washington abides by this principle through its Monroe Doctrine, set forth by President James Monroe, with the United States duly expelling the last European powers from the Americas in the early 19th century.

In analyzing the events in South America, one cannot ignore an obvious trend by Washington. While the United States was intent on expanding its empire around the world by consolidating more than 800 military bases in dozens of countries (numbering about 70), South America was experiencing a political rebirth, positioning itself at the opposite end of the spectrum from Washington, favoring socialism over capitalism and reclaiming the ancient anti-imperialist ideals of Simon Bolivar, a South American hero of the late 18th century.

Washington remained uncaring and indifferent to the political changes of South America, focusing instead on dominating the Middle East through bombs and wars. In Asia, the Chinese economy grew at an impressive rate, becoming the factory of the world. The Russian Federation, from the election of Putin in 2000, gradually returned to being a military power that commanded respect. And with the rise of Iran, destined to be the new regional power in the Middle East thanks to the unsuccessful US intervention in Iraq in 2003, Washington began to dig her own grave without even realizing it.

Meanwhile, South America united under the idea of a common market and a socialist ideology. The Mercosur organization was founded in 1991 by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. But it was only when Venezuela, led by Chavez, became an associate member in 2004 that the organization assumed a very specific political tone, standing almost in direct opposition to Washington’s free-market template.

Meanwhile, China and Russia continued their political, military and economic growth, focusing with particular attention on South America and the vast possibilities of economic integration from 2010. Frequent meetings were held between Russia and China and various South American leaders, culminating in the creation of the BRICS organization (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Brazil, first with Lula and then with Dilma Rousseff, was the unofficial spokesperson for the whole of South America, aligning the continent with the emerging Eurasian powers. It is during these years, from the birth of the BRICS organization (2008/2009), that the world began a profound transformation flowing from Washington’s progressive military decline, consumed as it was by endless wars that ended up eroding Washington’s status as a world power. These wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have deeply undermined US military prestige, opening unprecedented opportunities for alliances and future changes to the global order, especially with the rise of Iran’s influence in the region as a counterweight to US imperialism.

China, Russia and the South American continent were certainly among the first to understand the potential of this political and historical period; we can recall meetings between Putin and Chavez, or the presence of Chinese leaders at numerous events in South America. Beijing has always offered high-level economic assistance through important trade agreements, while Moscow has sold a lot of advanced military hardware to Venezuela and other South American countries.

Economic and military assistance are the real bargaining chips Moscow and Beijing offer to countries willing to transition to the multipolar revolution while having their backs covered at the same time.

The transformation of the world order from a unipolar to a multipolar system became a fact in 2014 with the return of Crimea to the Russian Federation following the NATO coup in Ukraine. The inability for the US to prevent this fundamental strategic defeat for Brussels and Washington marked the beginning of the end for the Pentagon still clinging on to a world order that disappeared in 1991.

As the multipolar mutation developed, Washington changed tactics, with Obama offering a different war strategy to the one advanced during the George W. Bush presidency. Projecting power around the globe with bombs, carrier battle groups and boots on the ground was no longer viable, with domestic populations being in no mood for any further major wars.

The use of soft power has always been part of the US toolkit for influencing events in other countries; but given the windfall of the unipolar moment, soft power was set aside in favor of hard power. However, following the failures of explicit hard power from 1990 to 2010, soft power was back in favor, and organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) set about training and financing organizations in dozens of hostile countries to subvert governments by underhanded means (colour revolutions, the Arab Spring, etc.).

Among those on the receiving end of this soft-power onslaught were the South American countries deemed hostile to Washington, already under capitalist-imperialist pressure for a number of years in the form of sanctions.

It is during this time that South America suffered a side effect of the new multipolar world order. The United States started retreating home after losing influence around the globe. This effectively meant focusing once again on its own backyard: Central and South America.

Covert efforts to subvert governments with socialist ideas in the hemisphere increased. First, Kirchner’s Argentina saw the country pass into the hands of the neoliberal Macri, a friend of Washington. Then Dilma Rousseff was expelled as President of Brazil through the unlawful maneuvers of her own parliament, following which Lula was imprisoned, allowing for Bolsonaro, a fan of Washington, to win the presidential election.

In Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, the successor of Correa, betrayed his party and his people by being a cheerleader for the Pentagon, even protesting the asylum granted to Assange in Ecuador’s embassy in London. In Venezuela following Chavez’s suspicious death, Maduro was immediately targeted by the US establishment as the most prominent representative of an anti-imperialist and anti-American Chavismo. The increase in sanctions and the seizure of assets further worsened the situation in Venezuela, leading to the disaster we are seeing today.

South America finds itself in a peculiar position as a result of the world becoming more multipolar. The rest of the world now has more room to maneuver and greater independence from Washington as a result of the military and economic umbrella offered by Moscow and Beijing respectively.

But for geographic and logistical reasons, it is more difficult for China and Russia to extend the same guarantees and protections to South America as they do in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. We can nevertheless see how Beijing offers an indispensable lifeline to Caracas and other South American countries like Nicaragua and Haiti in order to enable them to withstand Washington’s immense economic pressure.

Beijing’s strategy aims to limit the damage Washington can inflict on the South American continent through Beijing’s economic power, without forgetting the numerous Chinese interests in the region, above all the new canal between the Atlantic and the Pacific that runs through Nicaragua (it is no coincidence that the country bears the banner of anti-imperialist socialism) that will be integrated into the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Moscow’s objective is more limited but just as refined and dangerous to Washington’s hegemony. A glimpse of Moscow’s asymmetrical military power was given when two Russian strategic bombers flew to Venezuela less than four months ago, sending an unmistakable signal to Washington. Moscow has the allies and the technical and military capacity to create an air base with nuclear bombers not all that far away from the coast of Florida.

Moscow and Beijing do not intend to allow Washington to mount an eventual armed intervention in Venezuela, which would open the gates of hell for the continent. Moscow and Beijing have few interlocutors left on the continent because of the political positions of several countries like Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, which far prefer an alliance with Washington over one with Moscow or Beijing. We can here see the tendency of the Trump administration to successfully combine its “America First” policy with the economic and military enforcement of the Monroe Doctrine, simultaneously pleasing his base and the hawks in his administration.

Leaving aside a possible strategy (Trump tends to improvise), it seems that Trump’s domestic political battle against the Democrats, declared lovers of socialism (naturally not as strident as the original Soviet or Chavist kind), has combined with a foreign-policy battle against South American countries that have embraced socialism.

The contribution from China and Russia to the survival of the South American continent is limited in comparison to what they have been able to do in countries like Syria, not to mention the deterrence created by Russia in Ukraine in defending the Donbass or with China vis-a-vis North Korea.

The multipolar revolution that is changing the world in which we live in will determine the rest of the century. One of the final battles is being played out in South America, in Venezuela, and its people and the Chavist revolution are at the center of the geopolitical chessboard, as is Syria in the Middle East, Donbass in Central Europe, Iran in the Persian Gulf, and the DPRK in Asia. These countries are at the center of the shift from a unipolar to a multipolar world order, and the success of this shift will be seen if these countries are able to resist US imperialism as a result of Moscow and Beijing respectively offering military help and deterrence and economic survival and alternatives.

Russia and China have all the necessary means to place limits on the United States, protecting the world from a possible thermonuclear war and progressively offering an economic, social and diplomatic umbrella to those countries that want to move away from Washington and enjoy the benefits of living in a multipolar reality, advancing their interests based on their needs and desires and favoring sovereignty and national interest over bending over to please Washington.

Sorry Mr. Pence, the Venezuelan Military Aren’t Rubes

Sorry Mr. Pence, the Venezuelan Military Aren’t Rubes

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 04.03.2019

Sorry Mr. Pence, the Venezuelan Military Aren’t Rubes

Jim CAREY

Here’s a message to Vice-President Piss, his freak family, Elliott Abrams and the rest of Washington: the Venezuelan military isn’t f*cking stupid.

Last weekend we saw an attempted coup in Venezuela by the US along with local lunatic/self-proclaimed “President” Juan Guaidó. This time, rather than just burning people alive in Caracas, the opposition started their stunt at the Colombian border.

The intent of this stunt was to highlight how the actual Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro refuses to let in “aid” from the United States. This is the same type of “aid” from the earlier stunt by the Trump regime that even the Red Cross and UN have called bullshit.

The plan this weekend was to give Maduro and ultimatum: either let in the aid, or the US will do something; although it’s still not clear what with even the bloated tumor Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil has said he’s not interested in any military operations launched from his country.

We all know that this coup attempt by the US and Guaidó failed because we all saw the anti-Maduro thugs on the Colombia-Venezuela border throw a tantrum when they realized their error. Once these CIA stooges realized the trucks of aid weren’t crossing the border they just decided to burn them and blame it on Maduro (which has also failed).

But why did it fail?

In the weeks leading up to the latest coup, multiple US officials spoke publicly (and privately) to members of the Venezuelan military urging them to turn on the Bolivarian Revolution. For the sake of simplifying this argument, let’s focus in particular on the promises made by the Vice President of the US, Mike Pence.

In his pre-coup address to the Venezuelan people, Pence practically begged the military to help the US overthrow – yet another – elected Latin American government. Pence and others such as Mike Pompeo even went so far as to promise any soldiers who defected a chance to ‘live in peace’ after Washington destroys their country if they would just let all the arms disguised as aid enter.

So why didn’t the soldiers do it?

Because, as I’ve already said, they’re not f*cking stupid. The Bolivarian Revolution was built from the ground up when the people of Venezuela (and Latin America as a whole), tired of the neoliberalism enforced by Washington since the 1970s and 80s rose up. In Venezuela, this came exactly 30 years ago with the riots know and the Caracazo.

Prior to the Caracazo, as many libertarian dumbasses will tell you, Venezuela was, in fact, one of the richest countries on the continent but what the free marketeers leave out is that they had massive amounts of poverty and an immoral wealth gap between the richest and poorest citizens. This poverty, the result of neoliberal privatization schemes, set off a chain of events that later helped spawn Venezuela’s communes and a young military leader who attempted to overthrow the crooked puppet state, Hugo Chavez.

The problem for Pence, Pompeo, Trump, Bolton, Abrams and the lot is that this military leader brought the military up with him as a liberatory force. On top of this, not only did Chávez secure the military’s loyalty because he was a military man himself, but also because, they too, had had enough domination from Wall Street.

This military, which is the same one helping Maduro protect Venezuela remembers this but they also remember other parts of history.

Another big reason the military likely won’t turn is that they know people like Pence are lying when they say anyone who supports Maduro, socialism, or even some forms of liberal democracy will never be allowed to live in peace if the US has their way.

Again, the reason they know this to be true is that they know revolutionary history. The Bolivarian military remembers what happened to other socialist movements around Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia once a US-backed anti-communist was in power. A lot of this history they know is still applicable since much of it was also perpetrated by people like Bolton and Abrams in their previous positions.

The Venezuelan military remembers things like Salvador Allende being fairly elected and then overthrown, or the Contras mass murdering civilians. They know that this type of behavior doesn’t end when the US wins. They know Pinochet threw labor leaders, socialists, and anyone who opposed his trash neoliberalism from helicopters after taking power. They know the Contras and other death squads were bayoneting toddlers to prove a point to scared farmers, often while not even actually engaging whatever force they were ostensibly fighting even a single time.

The Bolivarian Revolution and the “Pink Tide” that swept Latin America in the early 2000s were a response to all of this. The Venezuelan military knows there is no peace as long as there is ANY resistance to US financial tyranny. The US, all their intelligence agencies and their various stooges around the continent may have won some fights in countries like Brazil but this won’t be as easy on Venezuela. The Venezuelan military is part of the Bolivarian revolution, they will not be separated, and like the many of the average Venezuelans opposing US intervention, they know what comes next if Washington gets their way.

geopoliticsalert.com

Why Only Fools Trust America’s Mainstream ‘News’ Media After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq

Source

March 04, 2019

Why Only Fools Trust America’s Mainstream ‘News’ Media After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

Here will be yet another current example to demonstrate that all U.S. mainstream ’news’ media hide from their respective publics that the U.S. Government is lying, when the U.S. Government lies — i.e., that all of the mainstream ’news’ media in America hide the truth, when the Government itself is lying. In other words: the U.S. mainstream ’news’ media are propaganda-organs for the U.S. Government.

While some American news-media are Democratic Party propagandists, and others are Republican Party propagandists, and therefore all of them eagerly expose lies that are of only a partisan naturenone of them will expose lies that both Parties share — such as, in 2002 and 2003, the central fact at that time. They hid that George W. Bush and his Administration were outright lying to the public in each and every instance in which they said they possessed conclusive evidence that, as Bush himself put it on 7 September 2002 (and no mainstream and only one alt-news medium exposed as being a lie): “a report came out of the Atomic — the IAEA that they [Iraq] were six months away from developing a [nuclear] weapon. I don’t know what more evidence we need [before invading].” That was his answer when he was asked at a press conference on 7 September 2002, “Mr. President, can you tell us what conclusive evidence of any nuclear — new evidence you have of nuclear weapons capabilities of Saddam Hussein?” Immediately, the IAEA said then that there was no such “new report,” and that the last they were able to find, there was nothing at all left of WMD, nor of an ability to make any, in Iraq. The American news-media simply ignored the IAEA’s denial that they had issued any new report at all such as Bush had alleged they had issued. Republican ’news’-media hid that Bush’s allegation was a lie, and Democratic ’news’-media likewise hid it. And, so, the American people trusted Bush, and destroyed Iraq. (Anyone who says that America’s invasion didn’t vastly harm the Iraqi people is either a liar or else ignorant of the realities, such as the last two links document.)

The example this time will be taken from The Week magazine, which is a compendium of summaries of the week’s ’news’ from America’s major ‘news’-media. The 1 March 2019 issue has this, on its page 8:

Aid for Venezuela: U.S. military planes delivered more than 180 tons of humanitarian aid for Venezuela to the Colombian border city of Cucuta this week, setting up a showdown with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who has vowed to block the supplies. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) made a surprise visit to Cucuta and told Venezuelan troops stationed at the border that it was their patriotic duty to let aid through. ‘Will you prevent the food and medicine from reaching your own people?’”

The presumption there is that readers are simply too stupid to wonder, “Why should I trust that this military plane doesn’t also carry weapons for supporters of a coup to overthrow Venezuela’s President and to replace him with Trump’s choice, Juan Guaido — trust that weapons aren’t included in the cargo of ‘food and medicine’? Is Trump really so kind a person as to care about the Venezuelan people? Or is this instead yet another U.S. set-up for a brutal coup, such as the U.S. did in 1953 to Iran, and in 1954 to Guatemala, and in 1973 to Chile, and, more recently, in 2014, to Ukraine?”

That ‘news’-report, since it’s from The Week, is about what other U.S. propaganda-agencies are saying, and it’s true about that (they actually are saying this), but it’s summarizing from two very un-trustworthy ‘news’-media, one being a tweet from Senator Rubio on 18 February 2019 that was immediately posted at sites such as ABC News, and the other being a ‘news’-report from the Miami Herald, which added that this shipment came from USAID — and yet they ignored  that USAID is a major part of almost every U.S. coup.

Here’s more context about this incident of ‘aid’-shipments: On 6 February 2019, Britain’s Daily Mail, which is less dishonest about the U.S. Government than U.S. ‘news’-media are, headlined “Venezuelan officials accuse the US of sending a cache of high-powered rifles on a commercial cargo flight from Miami so they would get into the hands of ‘extreme right fascist’ groups looking to undermine Maduro’s regime”, and reported that,

Officials in Venezuela have accused the US of sending a cache of high-powered rifles and ammunition on a commercial cargo flight from Miami so they would get into the hands of President Nicolás Maduro’s opponents.

Members with the Venezuelan National Guard [GNB] and the National Integrated Service of Customs and Tax Administration [SENIAT] made the shocking discovery just two days after the plane arrived at Arturo Michelena International Airport in Valencia.

Inspectors found 19 rifles, 118 magazines and 90 wireless radios while investigating the flight which they said arrived Sunday afternoon. 

Monday’s bust also netted four rifle stands, three rifle scopes and six iPhones.

And here’s yet more context: the independent American journalist Aaron Mate, tweeted on 18 February 2019:

https://twitter.com/

Aaron Mate

Page 136 [near end of Ch. 4of [Andrew G.] McCabe’s new [and only] book [THE THREAT, which was published on 19 February 2019], recounting a [July] 2017 Oval Office meeting: “Then the president talked about Venezuela. That’s the country we should be going to war with, he said. They have all that oil and they’re right on our back door.” [Stated there by the authoritarian McCabe, in order to prove how crude Trump is, and McCabe was not condemnatory of such international thefts of Venezuela’s natural resources, but only of Trump’s crudity.]

12:59 PM – 18 Feb 2019 

Furthermore, yet another independent journalist, Ben Norton, at “The GrayZone Project,” headlined on 29 January 2019, “Corporate Interests – Militarist John Bolton Spills the Beans”, and he provided a complete transcript of a brief interview that John Bolton had done with Fox Business Channel five days before, on January 24th. That interview wasn’t publicized by Fox, and its headline was as dull as possible, “Venezuela regime change big business opportunity: John Bolton”, and the ‘news’-report posted below it was empty of anything important, but Ben Norton captured the entire interview, and on January 29th he posted it to youtube and to The GrayZone Project as a news-report, with the full interview-segment also being transcribed there by Norton. In it, Bolton had said, on January 24th:

We’re looking at the oil assets. That’s the single most important income stream to the government of Venezuela. We’re looking at what to do to that. … We’re in conversation with major American companies now that are either in Venezuela, or in the case of Citgo here in the United States. … It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.

Of course, that’s an attempt at theft of the property of another sovereign nation — theft of natural-resources assets of Venezuela, from the people who live in Venezuela — it’s a huge theft-attempt, which is being bragged about by the U.S. regime. Though they’ve done this type of heist in many instances during the past few decades (including in Iraq, where U.S. oil companies now extract), Bolton’s outright bragging about it is certainly extraordinary, and thus is major news. This was major news that however hasn’t been focused upon except in the few honest sites, all of which are non-mainstream (most non-mainstream sites are just as dishonest as America’s mainstream ones are — they’re fake ‘alt-news’ instead of authentically against false ‘news’, but all mainstream national news-sites routinely report lies stenographically, as if what the Government says is always true, and so they’re propaganda). The GrayZone Project is one of the few honest sites, and Norton luckily discovered this huge news-break from the blunder by Fox Business Channel to have aired it — that revelation having been a freak event by America’s major media, a rare slip-up.

And, finally, the great investigative journalist Wayne Madsen, at the Strategic Culture Foundation, headlined sarcastically but truthfully on 1 March 2019, “Military Intervention and Mercenaries, Inc. (MIAMI)”, and he (a journalist whose trustworthiness I have checked and verified for many years — he’s really one of the best) opened with:

The city of Miami, Florida may have started out as a retirement mecca for winter-worn pensioners from northern climes. However, after the beginning of the Cold War and US military and Central Intelligence Agency intervention in Guatemala, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Guyana, the Bahamas, and other Western Hemisphere nations, Miami became a refuge for exiled wealthy businessmen escaping populist revolutions and elections in South and Central America and spies. The retirement and vacation capital of the United States quickly became the “Tropical Casablanca.”

Now home to thousands of limited liability corporations linked to the CIA, as well as private military contractors, sketchy airlines flying from remote Florida airports, the interventionist US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), and exiled oligarchs running destabilization operations in their native countries, Miami – or MIAMI, “Military Intervention and Mercenaries, Inc.” – serves as the nexus for current Trump administration “regime change” efforts. …

Earlier, on February 18th, President Trump had delivered a lengthy speech in Miami, titled “Remarks by President Trump to the Venezuelan American Community”, and this was obviously aimed at passionate enemies of Venezuela’s Government. Here is a typical passage, with accompanying documentations of the actual truth regarding his lies as stated there. Trump’s allegations are in boldface italics, and my commentaries are in regular type within brackets, and linked there to my sources:

Not long ago, Venezuela was the wealthiest nation, by far, in South America. [The allegation that Venezuela’s economy has done less well since Hugo Chavez became President on 2 February 1999 is disconfirmed by World Bank data showing that Venezuela reached its all-time-high economic-growth rate in 2004, 5 years after Hugo Chavez became democratically elected and took office as the country’s President. The economy rapidly declined as soon as the U.S. started its coup-attempts. Furthermore, a scientific study of the data showed in 2017 that: “Mexico’s and Venezuela’s numbers on this question [[of ‘Where would you place our country ten years ago?’”]] with a 1 to 10 scale, from absolutely democratic, to not democratic, throughout the period of 2013-2017, compared to those of other countries in the region, clearly show Venezuela as the country where the highest percentage of people believed that democracy had increased during the 2003-2013 decade. Mexico ranked in twelfth place, out of eighteen surveyed countries. “This comparison helps to dimension the solid sense that Venezuelans had about the strength of their democracy during the Chávez administration, and the weak one that Mexicans had.”] But years of socialist rule have brought this once-thriving nation to the brink of ruin. [That too is false — socialism wasn’t the cause of Venezuela’s economic come-down. Venezuela’s boom-time was the period of massive public-debt buildup prior to the exceptionally high oil prices in 1973-1985, as shown in “Figure 4: Venezuela Real GDP per Capita”. Moreover, as the CIA-edited and written Wikipedia says about Venezuela: ”The election in 1973 of Carlos Andrés Pérez coincided with an oil crisis [[the OPEC oil-embargo]], in which Venezuela’s income exploded as oil prices soared; oil industries were nationalized in 1976. This [oil-nationalization and oil-production investment all at the worst possible time] led to massive increases in public spending, but also increases in external debts, which continued into the 1980s when the collapse of oil prices during the 1980s crippled the Venezuelan economy.“ That “oil crisis” was actually the period of exceptionally high oil prices resulting from Israel’s 1973 invasions and OPEC embargoes, but it was actually hell for Venezuela because Venezuela was losing money on each barrel of oil sold because only the Arabic countries and Iran were able to sell profitably their oil after the period of OPEC”s oil-embargo. Venezuela, seller of the world’ dirtiest oil, after 1976 was losing money on each barrel, when they had to repay all those foreign loans amassed during the boom-period.]  That’s where it is today.

The tyrannical socialist government nationalized private industries and took over private businesses.  They engaged in massive wealth confiscation, shut down free markets, suppressed free speech, and set up a relentless propaganda machine, rigged elections, used the government to persecute their political opponents, and destroyed the impartial rule of law.

In other words, the socialists have done in Venezuela all of the same things that socialists, communists, totalitarians have done everywhere that they’ve had a chance to rule.  The results have been catastrophic.

In conclusion, then, no country in the world has a press that’s more dishonest than the United States of America does. “More dishonest” than this press would even be a ludicrous concept. Though the particular lies that are being promoted elsewhere might happen to be different, they can’t be worse. America’s having destroyed Iran and Libya, etc., is proof of this.

Consequently: Only people who possess a thoroughly scientific orientation toward confirming and disconfirming allegations, are capable of extracting from such ‘news’ a realistic understanding of what’s actually happening. The vast majority of people can be fooled, and they can be fooled constantly and even for (as in the instance of America, since at least 2003) decades, and yet still trust the institutions that have deceived them so mercilessly through all of those decades. This is the major reason why the United States is a dictatorship, not a democracy — and why any ‘news’-site which calls the U.S. a ‘democracy’ is thereby clearly demonstrating its untrustworthiness. But, of course, only honest news-reporting organizations are publishing this report. And there will probably be very few that will do that, though all are receiving it for publication.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Kashmir, Korea, Venezuela, Iran: hot, cold, hybrid war

Source

March 01, 2019

Kashmir, Korea, Venezuela, Iran: hot, cold, hybrid war

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Asia Times by special agreement with the author)

Turning and turning in a widening gyre, the geopolitics of the young  21st century resembles a psychedelic mandala conceived by Yama, the Lord of Death.

Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, fresh from a 70-hour train journey, meets in prosperous, communist Hanoi with fellow Nobel Peace Prize contender Donald Trump under the benevolent gaze of Uncle Ho.

This very sentence, if announced not long ago, would have elicited transcontinental howls of derision.

Chairman Kim, owner of a small nuclear arsenal, is deemed worthy of dialogue by the hyperpower while the nuclear-deprived leadership in Iran is not, even as the hyperpower ditched a multilateral, UN-approved, working nuclear deal.

In parallel, the hottest border in Asia reveals itself not to be the DMZ between the Koreas, but once again the Line of Control between nuclear powers India and Pakistan in Kashmir.

Although Islamabad and Delhi might, in theory, escalate to pointing nuclear missiles towards each other, the DPRK won’t point a nuclear-tipped missile at Guam and Tehran points to nothing at all, as it does not hold any nuclear missiles.

In a lighter, Looney Tunes vein, exit regime change in Pyongyang, while regime change in Iran stays, and enter regime change in Venezuela. Iran may still be placed in the Axis of Evil, but the new motto is the troika of tyranny (Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua) as the government in Caracas plays ‘Beep Beep’ to the hyperpower’s Wily Coyote.

An array of dodgy US neocons and shady “foundations” keep the flame of regime change in Iran alive, even fabricating a Tehran-al-Qaeda axis, while in Venezuela a stealth scenario advances. An astonishing briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Moscow this past Friday revealed that “US special forces and tech units will be delivered closer to Venezuela’s borders. We do have information that the US and its NATO partners are organizing for a mass delivery of weapons for the opposition in Venezuela, which will come from an Eastern European country.”

Facts are implacable. NATO, after nearly two decades, was miserably defeated in Afghanistan. The NATO-Gulf Cooperation Council war by proxy in Syria failed. The winners are Damascus, Tehran and Moscow. The conflict in Donbass is frozen. So, a remixed Monroe doctrine is back, even as a humanitarian ploy – reminiscent of the “humanitarian imperialism” that led to the destruction of Libya – may have failed, for now.

Brazilian Vice-President General Hamilton Mourao has introduced a dose of sanity going against the “all options on the table” regime change of his own President, Jair Bolsonaro. Mourao constantly insists “the Venezuela question must be decided by Venezuelans”, adding that US threats sound “more like rhetoric than action” as a military attack would be “purposeless”.

Watch that K

What’s in a name? Pakistan may indeed mean “land of the pure” in Urdu, but the key is in the acronym; K stands for Kashmir – alongside P for Punjab, A for Afghania (actually the Pashtun tribal areas), S for Sindh and T for the “tan” in Balochistan. K is a matter of national identity.

The first Indo-Pak war after Partition in 1947 was over Kashmir. In the following year, Kashmir was divided by the Line of Control (LoC), which remains the de facto Berlin Wall of Asia, way more dangerous than the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the Koreas. Another mini-war across the LoC took place in 1999.

Kashmir is a crucial geostrategic prize. Assuming India would ever own it all, that would represent a direct bridge to Central Asia and a border with Afghanistan while depriving Pakistan of a border with China, thus nullifying to a great extent the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), one of the key projects of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

If Pakistan ever owned it all, that would solve the country’s worries about water security. The Indus River starts in the Himalayas, in Tibet, and skirts through Indian-controlled Kashmir before entering Pakistan and running all the way down to the Arabian Sea. The Indus and its tributaries provide water to two-thirds of Pakistan. New Delhi has just threatened to weaponize the flow of water to Pakistan.

There’s no end in sight to Kashmir being roiled over and over by skirmishes or even partial conflagration between jihadis – protected by Islamabad at different levels – and the Indian army. The Islamist Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) wants the whole of Kashmir annexed to a Pakistan governed by Sharia law.

JeM’s Kashmir obsession is also shared by their de facto allies Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Both are supported – with degrees of nuance – by Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI. Most of all, both are heavily supported, financially, by the Wahhabi House of Saud and the United Arab Emirates.

There’s no solution for Kashmir that does not involve cutting off Saudi proselytizing, financing and weaponizing – the toxic cocktail that nurtured Pakistan’s famous Kalashnikov culture. And there can be no solution when the House of Saud’s ability to have nuclear weapons “on order” from Islamabad remains the number-one open secret in South Asia.

Russia and China as voices of reason

Were this a sensible realm, oblivious of Yama, India and Pakistan would talk, like Prime Minister Imran Khan has just offered, within a framework such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, of which both are members, with Russia and China as mediators.

And that brings us to what happened in Yueqing, China, on Wednesday, totally under the Western radar; a de facto, ministerial-level meeting of the “RIC” in BRICS, uniting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Lavrov may have denounced “absolutely brazen attempts” to “artificially create a pretext for military intervention” in Venezuela. But the game-changer should have been what Russia, China and India discussed on Kashmir, which may eventually have a direct impact on both Islamabad and New Delhi attempting to defuse a still explosive scenario.

China and Russia’s coordinated positions were absolutely instrumental in facilitating North Korea’s dialogue with the Trump administration. Yet it’s still a long way away from South Korean President Moon’s dream: Trump officially declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean war, via a peace treaty replacing the current armistice with iron-clad security guarantees. After all, that is the number-one condition for the DPRK to start contemplating denuclearization.

China and Russia, in theory, also have what it takes to bring India and Pakistan to reason – plus the clout to put pressure on Saudi Arabia’s weaponized Wahhabism.

And yet, from Washington’s perspective, China and Russia are “threats” – from the National Security Strategy all the way down to functionaries such as Air Force General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the Northcom commander, who just told a Senate committee that Russia’s “intent to hold the US at risk” presents an urgent threat.

Some more equal than others

China, Russia and Iran are essential nodes of Eurasia integration, which interlock key vectors of the New Silk Roads, via Iran’s trade agreement with the Eurasia Economic Union and expansion of the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC). Considering the stakes, Lavrov and Yi could not but be stunned by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif resigning from his post via Instagram.

Sources in Tehran maintained that the key reason for Zarif resigning was that he was not informed – and did not attend – an ultra high-level meeting in Tehran on Monday of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, the IRGC’s Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani and President Hassan Rouhani when they discussed strictly Syrian military matters, not diplomacy. Zarif may not have been in the room, but his number two, Abbas Araghchi, was.

In the end, Rouhani rejected Zarif’s resignation, stressing that it was against Iran’s national interests. And crucially, Soleimani said that Zarif had total support from Khamenei. Even as various factions of Iran’s hardliners may be fuming with both Zarif and Rouhani, characterizing them as fools who fell into an American trap, the last thing Tehran needs at the moment – under pressure by hybrid war – is internal division. In parallel, support from both Russia and China won’t waiver.

Washington may deploy variations of Hybrid War but most reflexes remain undiluted Cold War. The mechanism remains the same. A fortune in US taxpayers’ money is showered on the industrial-military complex, with defense contractors and major corporations paying back fabulous campaign contributions to the political class. That’s why someone like Tulsi Gabbard, who is anti-war – hot, cold and hybrid – and anti-regime change, will be smeared to Kingdom Come by the weapons lobby, and prevented from making a run for the presidency.

The Global South has learned that turning and turning in the widening gyre, some countries are indeed more equal than others. Even though some may be relentlessly blasted as terrorist enablers (Pakistan), and nuclear powers as a rule must be appeased (DPRK) and seduced (India as a plank of the “Indo-Pacific” strategy). Chairman Kim is now a “great leader” who can hand his nation a “tremendous future”.

Non-nuclear powers, especially those rich in natural resources and implementing strategies such as bypassing the US dollar, like Iran and Venezuela, face the fate of being regime change targets, slowly and painfully devoured by Yama, the Lord of Death.

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