The Venezuelan “Petro” – Towards a New World Reserve Currency?

February 22, 2018

by Peter Koenig for The Saker Blog

The Venezuelan “Petro” – Towards a New World Reserve Currency?

Imagine an international currency backed by energy? By a raw material that the entire world needs, not gold – which has hardly any productive use, but whose value is mostly speculative – not hot air like the US dollar. Not fiat money like the US-dollar and the Euro largely made by private banks without any economic substance whatsoever, and which are coercive. But a currency based on the very source for economic output – energy.

On February 20, 2018, Venezuela has launched the “Petro” (PTR), a government-made and controlled cryptocurrency, based on Venezuela’s huge petrol reserves of about 301 billion barrels of petrol. The Petro’s value will fluctuate with the market price of petrol, currently around US$61 per barrel of crude. The Petro was essentially created to avoid and circumvent illegal US sanctions, dollar blockades, confiscations of assets abroad, as well as to escape illegal manipulations from Florida of the Bolivarian Republic’s local currency, the Bolívar, via the black-market dollars flooding Venezuela; and, not least, to trade internationally in a non-US-dollar linked currency. The Petro is a largely government controlled blockchain currency, totally outside the reach of the US Federal Reserve (FED) and Wall Street – and it is based on the value of the world’s key energy, hydrocarbons, of which Venezuela has the world’s largest proven reserves.

In a first batch Venezuela released 100 million Petros, backed by 5.342 billion barrels of crude from the Ayacucho oil fields of Orinoco; a mere 5% of total proven Venezuelan reserves. Of the 100 million, 82.4% will be offered to the market in two stages, an initial private Pre-Sale of 38.4% of so-called non-minable ‘tokens’, followed by a public offering of 44% of the cryptomoney. The remaining 17.6 million are reserved for the government, i.e. the Venezuelan Authority for Cryptomoney and Related Activities, SUPCACVEN.

When launching the currency, on 20 February 2018, Vice-president Tareck El Aissami declared, “Today, the Petro was born and we will formally launch the initial pre-sale of the Venezuelan Petro. Venezuela has placed herself in the vanguard of the future. Today is a historic day. Venezuela is the first nation to launch a cryptomoney, entirely backed by her reserves and her natural riches.” President Maduro has later affirmed that his country has already entered contracts with important trading partners and the world’s major blockchain currencies.

Can you imagine what this means? – It sets a new paradigm for international trade, for safe payment systems that cannot be tampered with by the FED, Wall Street, SWIFT, New York courts, and other Washington puppets, like the European Central Bank (ECB), the unelected European Commission (EC) and other EU-associated Brussels institutions. It will allow economic development outside illegal ‘sanctions’. The Petro is a shining light for new found freedom from a hegemonic dollar oppression.

What is valid for Venezuela can be valid for other countries eager to detach from the tyrannical Anglo-Zion financial system. – Imagine, other countries following Venezuela’s example, other energy producers, many if not most of whom would be happy to get out from under the Yankee’s boots of blood dollars inundating the world thanks to uncountable wars and conflicts they finance – and millions of innocent people they help kill.

Rumors have it, that in a last-ditch effort to salvage the faltering dollar, the FED might order the IMF to revert to some kind of a gold standard, blood-stained gold. – Of the 2,300 to 3,400 tons of gold mined every year around the globe, it is estimated that about a quarter to a third is illegally begotten, so called ‘blood’ gold, extracted under the most horrendous conditions of violence, murder, opaque mafia-type living (and dying) conditions, child labor, sexual enslavement of women, many of whom way under-age, abject poisoning of humans with heavy metals, mercury, cyanite, arsenic and more, contamination of surface and underground water ways, vast illegal deforestation of tropical rain forests – and more. That’s the legacy of gold, the MSM, of course, doesn’t talk about.

That’s what the west based its monetary system on until 1971, when Nixon decided to replace gold with the fiat dollar which then became de facto the world’s major reserve currency, albeit declining rapidly over the last twenty years. In desperation, Washington might want to apply another gold-based international norm to salvage the faltering dollar. Of course, a norm designed to favor the US, with the rest of the western and developing world destined to absorb the astronomical US debt.

Since the world’s major goldmining corporation and the illegal gold-digging mafia networks work hand-in-hand, smuggled gold works its way intricately into the dominium of shady traders, many of whom also deal with so-called white gold (drug powder), washing gold and drug-money simultaneously, thereby confounding and obscuring the origins of either. Eventually this illegal gold is purchased by major gold mining or refining corporations mixed with ‘legal’ gold, so that the illegal portion is no longer traceable.

Therefore, every ounce of gold that would back our money, the purchases of our livelihoods would be smeared in blood, in children’s abuse and death, in murdered and enslaved women and men, in poisoned water ways and in a contaminated environment. But the world wouldn’t go for it. No more. There are healthier and more transparent physical assets to back up international currencies, i.e. the Petro, backed by energy. Though not free from socio-environmental damage, petrol-energy may gradually convert into alternative sources of energy, like solar, wind and aquatic power or a combination of all of them.

What the world is to aim for is a monetary system based on each nation’s or group of nations or societies economic output. Today it’s the other way around – it’s the fiat money, designed by the Anglo-Zionist masters of finance, that defines economies. Thus, economies in our western world are prone to be manipulated by the rulers and their institutions – FED, IMF, World Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO) – that support the debt / interest-based monetary rules – they are purposefully maneuvered into booms and busts. With every bust, more capital is transferred from the bottom to the top, from the poor to an ever-smaller elite. The energy-based Petro is a first step away from this sham.

Imagine the Petro was to become the new OPEC currency! The world would need Petros, as it used to need US dollars to buy hydrocarbon energy. But Petros are blockchain-safe, less vulnerable for manipulation. They are not coercive, they are not made for blackmailing ‘unwilling’ nations into submission; they are not tools for violence. They are instruments of equitable production and trade. They are also instruments of protection from the fiat money abuses.

The world’s ten largest hydrocarbon producers

Ranking Country Petrol (billion barrels)
1 Venezuela 300.9
2 Saudi Arabia 266.5
3 Canada 169.7
4 Iran 158.4
5 Iraq 142.5
6 Kuwait 101.5
7 Emirates 97.8
8 Russia 80.0
9 Libya 48.4
10 Nigeria 37.1
Total 1,402.8


have a capital base of 1.4 trillion barrels of crude. Not bad to start a worldwide cryptocurrency, based on energy, controlled by energy and by all those who will use energy – that might become a world reserve currency, at par with the Chinese economy- and gold-backed Yuan, but much safer than the fiat currencies of the US-dollar, Euro, British Pound and Japanese Yen.

We are talking about a seismic paradigm shift. Its potential is unfathomable. The move away from the US-dollar hegemony might result in an implosion of the western monetary structure as we know it. It may stop the predator empire of the United States in its tracks, by simply decimating her economy of fraud, built on military might, exploitation and colonization of the world, on racism, and on a bulldozing scruple-less killing machine. The Petro, a secured cryptocurrency based on energy that everybody needs, might become the precursor for an international payment and trading scheme towards a more balanced and equitable approach to worldwide socioeconomy development.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Vineyard of The Saker Blog; and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 3 0 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.


‘Great Concern’: Chile Calls on israel to Release Ahed #Tamimi

‘Great Concern’: Chile Calls on Israel to Release Ahed Tamimi

The Palestinian Federation in Chile calls for Ahed Tamimi’s freedom: ‘Will Chile say something?’ (Photo: via Twitter)

Amid a campaign by the large local Palestinian community, the Chilean government expressed Friday its “great concern” over the case of Palestinian iconic teen Ahed Tamimi, who is being tried by an Israeli military court in secret proceedings in a case that has garnered massive international attention.

“In view of this unfortunate situation affecting a minor, the Chilean government reiterated to the representation of Israel the need for the rights of the Palestinian minor to be fully respected,” said a statement released by Chile’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


The statement added that the foreign ministry expressed this “great concern” to the Israeli embassy saying that the Israeli government must provide “guarantees of due process” and that the judiciary has the responsibility to properly evaluate the “the circumstances and area of tension” in which the incident took place.

The statement concluded by saying that the Chilean government “awaits the prompt release of Ahed Tamimi.”

In December Ahed was arrested and indicted on 12 charges including assaulting an Israeli soldier and throwing stones after a video of her slapping an Israeli soldier in her home’s yard went viral. It was revealed later that the Palestinian girl was upset after soldiers had shot her 14-year-old cousin in the face a day earlier.


The tempered statement came hours after the influential Palestinian community in Chile, which amounts to more than 200,000 people and is the biggest in the world outside of the Arab world, launched a local campaign calling for Ahed’s release.

Activists within the community began spreading posters in public roads and bus stops in major cities with the slogans “Freedom for Ahed Tamimi”.

“Tamimi’s case is one of those of more than 300 Palestinian children who are currently imprisoned in Israeli jails, deprived of their childhood and future,” Nadia Garib, the president of the Palestine Federation of Chile, said according to local media.

“As Chileans of Palestinian origin, we ask that the government of Chile to join the international campaign calling for the liberation of Tamimi and demand an end to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territory, which has now been in full swing for more than 50 years with total impunity.”

A day earlier Chilean Senator Francisco Chahuán, who is also of Palestinian origin took to Twitter to demand action from the government.


“We demand the release of young Palestinian Ahed Tamimi! We ask the Foreign Ministry to join this world petition in favor of her human rights and public liberties,” he said from his Twitter account.

“She represents the heart of the Palestinian cause and the right to self-determination of the people,” he said in another tweet Friday thanking the ministry for its statement.

The teen, who turned 17 behind bars last month, has received large international attention and solidarity since her arrest as many prominent actors, artists and academics in the United States and other countries signed letters and petitions calling for her release.

(teleSUR, PC, Social Media)

Trump Administration Planning Pinochet-type Coup in Venezuela

Trump Administration Planning Pinochet-type Coup in Venezuela


Trump Administration Planning Pinochet-type Coup in Venezuela

The retrograde Donald Trump administration is planning a military coup in Venezuela to oust the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, speaking at the University of Texas prior to embarking on a multi-nation tour throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, said the military in Latin America has often intervened in Latin American politics during times of serious crises.

Tillerson’s remarks conjured up scenes from America’s dark past in Latin America. To make matters worse, Tillerson invoked the imperialistic Monroe Doctrine of 1823, stressing that it is as “relevant today as it was the day it was written.” The Monroe Doctrine, throughout American history, has been used by the United States to justify military interventions in Latin America, often with the aim of establishing “banana republics” subservient to Washington’s whims.

According to a BBC report, Tillerson prefaced his augmented his remarks by stating that he was “not advocating regime change and that he had no intelligence on any planned action.” Richard Nixon’s National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger made similar remarks before the bloody September 11, 1973 Central Intelligence Agency-backed coup against Chile’s Socialist President Salvador Allende. While publicly rejecting any U.S. involvement in the destabilization of Chile’s democratically-elected government, Kissinger was working behind the scenes with Chile’s armed forces to overthrow and assassinate Allende. Eleven days after the Chilean coup, Kissinger was rewarded by Nixon by being named Secretary of State, along with keeping his National Security Adviser portfolio.

Ever since Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, came to power in 1999, the CIA has attempted at least one military coup — a putsch that was quickly reversed – in 2002, several “color revolution”-style street protests and disruptions, economic warfare, and CIA-initiated general strikes to force both Chavez and Maduro from power.

Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon-Mobil, has long eyed unfettered U.S. control over Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA). Tillerson’s Latin American itinerary betrays his plans for Venezuela. Tillerson will travel to Mexico, a nation that has a troubled relationship with the United States over Trump’s racially-tinged rhetoric. Tillerson and Trump’s National Security Adviser General H. R. McMaster have charged Russia, without an iota of proof, with interfering in Mexico’s current presidential election campaign. Leftist MORENA party candidate, front-runner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, or “AMLO,” has had to fend off false charges that he has accepted financing from Russian interests. Right-wing candidate Jose Antonio Meade, Washington’s favorite, has charged that AMLO is backed by Russia. AMLO, calling the charges from Meade — who is running on the ticket of the narco-corrupted Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) – ridiculous, often jokingly wears a jacket bearing the name “Andres Manuelovich.”

Besides Mexico, Tillerson is also visiting Argentina, Peru, Colombia, and Jamaica. Tillerson’s stops belie his actual intentions. Argentina, governed by Mauricio Macri, a real estate developer crony of Trump, and Peru, whose scandal-ridden president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has praised Trump, have led anti-Venezuela actions within the Organization of American States and other international institutions. Colombia has served as a base for CIA-backed paramilitary and intelligence operations against Venezuela. Due to U.S.-led sanctions against Venezuela, Colombia is now home to thousands of Venezuelan economic refugees, fertile ground from which to recruit foot soldiers in a coup against Maduro. All of Tillerson’s stops in Latin America – with the exception of Jamaica — are in countries that are members of the Lima Group, a bloc of nations seeking to peacefully ease Maduro from power in Venezuela.

Tillerson’s stopover in Jamaica is obviously designed to pry away from Venezuela’s orbit, several Caribbean Community (CARICOM) island states that have benefitted from inexpensive oil deliveries from Venezuela. According to the BBC, Tillerson even joked in Texas about Maduro’s ultimate fate: “If the kitchen gets a little too hot for him [Maduro], I am sure that he’s got some friends over in Cuba that could give him a nice hacienda on the beach.” For Venezuelans who support their government, Tillerson’s “joke” was a reminder that Chavez, after temporarily being ousted in the April 2002 coup, was held captive at the Antonio Diaz Naval Air Station on the Venezuelan island of La Orchila. Had the coup not failed, it is believed the United States was going to fly Chavez into exile, possibly to Cuba via the U.S. Naval Station and detainee gulag in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Tillerson, who is apparently still carrying the water for Exxon-Mobil, is reprising the role played by Harold Geneen, the president of International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT). Geneen, working with the CIA, provided $1 million to Allende’s opponent in the 1970 presidential election, Jorge Alessandri. ITT was also discovered to have financially supported the 1973 coup plotters in Chile. In 1964, Geneen and ITT worked with the CIA to overthrow the democratically-elected Brazilian government of Joao Goulart. Today, it is Exxon-Mobil and its plant inside the Trump administration – Tillerson – who are working overtime to play the roles of ITT and Geneen in attempting to overthrow Maduro in Venezuela; imprison on trumped up charges, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the former and possible future presidents of Brazil and Argentina, respectively; and return U.S. “gunboat diplomacy” to the Western hemisphere.

In a news conference in Mexico City, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray rejected Tillerson’s notion of a military coup in Venezuela to oust the Maduro government. Present at the news conference was Canadian External Affair Minister Chrystia Freeland, an outspoken enemy of Venezuela and Russia.

Tillerson has a visceral hatred for Venezuela that transcends Maduro and Chavez. In 1976, a year after Tillerson began working for Exxon, Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez nationalized Venezuela’s oil industry. Among the assets nationalized were Exxon’s holdings in the country. Chavez re-nationalized Exxon-Mobil’s assets in 2007, during Tillerson’s reign over the firm. Exxon-Mobil and Tillerson battled Venezuela over compensation by Caracas. Exxon-Mobil took its case to World Bank arbitration and demanded that Venezuela compensate the company with a $15 billion payment. The bank settled on compensation of only $1.6 billion, an act that ruffled Tillerson’s feathers. Tillerson never forgot that Venezuela won the skirmish over compensation for Exxon-Mobil. Tillerson now intends to even the score by seeking to overthrow Chavez’s successor, Maduro, from power.

In 2015, Exxon-Mobil began oil operations off the coast of Guyana, to Venezuela’s east, in the disputed territory of Essequibo. Although Venezuela and Guyana have sought international arbitration in the case, that did not stop Tillerson, while heading Exxon-Mobil, to order his Guyana subsidiary, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd., to continue exploring in the disputed region. For Tillerson and his boss, Trump, legal agreements are apparently not worth the paper they are printed on.

While in Jamaica, Tillerson is expected to lean on Prime Minister Andrew Holness to buy out Venezuela’s 49 percent stake in the Jamaican oil refining company, Petrojam. Tillerson wants to subject Caribbean nations, which established cooperative agreements with the Venezuelan oil industry through the PetroCaribe alliance, to cancel those deals to comply with Trump’s punishing Executive Order 13808, which extended “Russia-style” sanctions to Venezuela. Tillerson would like nothing more than to increase Exxon-Mobil’s profits by nixing PetroCaribe agreements with nations like Haiti, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Guyana, Belize, Honduras, Bahamas, Suriname, St. Kitts-Nevis, and St. Lucia, thus forcing Caribbean nations to purchase more expensive oil and gasoline from Exxon-Mobil.

Tillerson has shown the ugly face of the Trump administration to Latin America. It not only wants to deport millions of undocumented Latin American residents of the United States in a mass movement of displaced persons not seen since World War II, but it wants to change, through bloody coups, governments not to Trump’s pleasing throughout Latin America.

SouthFront & The Saker video

February 02, 2018

Original video:
Original article:
Many thanks to “RS” for redacting the original article for this video!

Now that the Neocons have hamstrung Trump, and with Trump’s planned impeachment and removal from office still in the future, the world must deal with the dangerous decline of the USA-led power bloc, because the Neocons are back in power and will do anything to reverse this trend. It is obvious that the only “solution” that the Neocons see is to trigger another war. So the question is: “Whom will they  strike?”

If the Neocons are out of touch with reality, then everything is possible, even nuking Russia and China. While not dismissing the Neocons’ capacity for violence, it is equally pointless to analyze clearly irrational scenarios, given that modern deterrence theories assume “rational actors” and not madmen running amok.

Assuming a modicum of rational thinking remains in Washington, DC, if the Neocons launch some extreme operation, somebody in the corridors of power will find the courage to prevent it, as Admiral Fallon did with his “Not on my watch!” comment which possibly prevented an attack on Iran in 2007. But the question remains: where could the USA-led power bloc strike next?

The Usual Scenario

The habitual modus operandi is: subvert a weak country, accuse it of human rights violations, impose economic sanctions, trigger riots and militarily intervene to defend “democracy”, “freedom” and “self-determination.” That’s the political recipe. Then there is “the American way of war,” i.e., the way US commanders fight.

During the Cold War, the Pentagon focused on fighting a large conventional war against the Soviet Union that could escalate into nuclear war. Nuclear aspects aside, such a war’s conventional dimension is “heavy”: large formations, lots of armor and artillery. Immense logistical efforts on both sides are required, which would consequently engender deep-strikes on second echelon forces, supply dumps and strategic infrastructure, and a defense in depth in key sectors. The battlefield would be hundreds of kilometers deep on both sides of the front line. Military defenses would be prepared in two, possibly three, echelons. In the Cold War, the Soviet 2nd strategic echelon in Europe was in the Ukraine! — which  inherited huge ammo dumps from Soviet times, so there has been no shortage of weapons on either side to wage the Ukrainian civil war. With the Soviet Union’s collapse, this threat rapidly disappeared. Ultimately, the Gulf War provided the US military and NATO one last, big, conventional war, but it soon became clear to US strategists that the “heavy war” era was over and that armored brigades weren’t the Pentagon’s most useful tool.

So US strategists, mostly from Special Operation Forces, developed “war on the cheap.” First, the CIA funds, arms and trains local insurgents; next, US Special Forces embed with the insurgents as front line soldiers who direct close support aircraft to strike enemy forces; finally, enough aircraft are deployed in and around the combat zone to support 24 hour combat operations. The objective is to provide overwhelming firepower advantage to friendly insurgents.

US and “coalition” forces then advance until they come under fire and, unless they rapidly prevail, they call in airstrikes which result in a huge BOOM!!! – followed by the enemy’s annihilation. The process repeats as necessary for easy, cheap victories over outgunned enemies. The strategy is enhanced by providing the insurgents with better gear (anti-tank weapons, night vision, communications, etc.) and bringing in Pentagon or allied forces, or mercenaries, to defeat really tough targets.

While many in the US military were deeply skeptical, Special Forces dominance and the temporary success of “war on the cheap” in Afghanistan made it immensely popular with US politicians and policy advocates. Moreover, this “cheap” warfare resulted in very few American casualties, with a high degree of “plausible deniability” should something go wrong. The alphabet soup agencies loved it.

But the early euphoria about US invincibility overlooked three very risky assumptions about “war on the cheap”:

First, it required a deeply demoralized enemy who felt that resistance to the USA was futile, because even if the US forces were initially limited in size and capabilities, the Americans could always bring in more forces.

Second, it assumed total battlefield air superiority by the US, since Americans prefer not to provide close air support when they can be shot down by enemy forces.

Third, it required local insurgents who physically occupy and control territory.

But none of these assumptions are necessarily true, and even better said, the USA-led power bloc has  run out of countries in which these assumptions still apply.

Let’s take a closer look.

Hezbollah, Lebanon 2006

This war involved Israel, not the USA, but it nicely illustrates the principle. While superior Hezbollah tactics and battlefield preparation played important roles, and Russian anti-tank weapons permitted Hezbollah to destroy the most advanced Israeli tanks, the most important result was that a small, weak Arab force showed no fear whatsoever against the supposedly invincible Israeli military.

British reporter, Robert Fisk, was the first person to detect the implications of this change. Fisk observed that in the past Arabs were intimidated by Israeli military power, that if the IDF crossed the Lebanese border, for instance, that Palestinians fled to Beirut. However, beginning with the 2006 Israeli assault on southern Lebanon all of that changed. A small, “outgunned” Arab force was not afraid to stand its ground and fight back against the IDF.

It was a huge change. What Hezbollah achieved in 2006 is now repeated in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere. The fear of the “sole superpower” is gone, replaced by a burning desire to settle the score with the USA-led power bloc and its occupation forces.

Hezbollah also proved another very important thing: the winning strategy against a superior enemy is not to protect yourself against his attacks, but to deny him a lucrative target. Put simply: “a cammo tent is better than a bunker.” The more academic way to put it is: “don’t contest your enemy’s superiority – make it irrelevant.”

In retrospect, the most formidable weapon of the USA-led power bloc was not the nuclear bomb or the aircraft carrier, but a huge public relations machine which for decades convinced the world of US invincibility, superior weapons, better trained soldiers, more advanced tactics, etc. But this is total nonsense – the US military is nothing like the glorified image projected to the world! When did the US last win a war against a capable adversary? The Japanese in WWII?

Russian Operation, Syria 2015

The Russian operation in Syria was neither a case of “the Russians are coming” nor “the war is over.” The Russians sent a very small force, This force did not so much defeat Daesh as change the war’s political context. The Russians made American intervention much harder politically, and also kept them from waging “war on the cheap” in Syria.

The Russians deployed to Syria without the capabilities which could deny American use of Syrian air space. Even after the Turks shot down the Russian SU-24, the Russians only deployed enough air-defenses and air superiority fighters to protect themselves from a similar Turkish attack. Even today, if the Pentagon decided to take control of Syrian airspace, the Russians don’t have enough air defenses or combat aircraft to deny Syrian airspace to the Americans. Such an attack would come with very real American political and military costs, true enough, but the realities of modern warfare are such that the tiny Russian air contingent of 33 combat aircraft (of which only 19 can actually contest the Syrian airspace: 4 SU-30s, 6 SU-34s, 9 Su-27s) and an unknown number of S-300/S-400/S-1 Pantsir batteries cannot defeat the combined air power of CENTCOM and NATO.

The problem for the Americans is a matrix of risks, including Russian military capabilities, but also  the political risks of establishing a no-fly zone over Syria. Not only would that further escalate the totally illegal US intervention, it would require a sustained effort to suppress Syrian, and potentially Russian, air defenses; that is something the White House will not do right now, especially when the results of such a risky operation remain unclear. Consequently, the Americans only struck sporadically, with minimal results.

Even worse, the Russians are turning the tables on the Americans and providing the Syrians with close air support, artillery controllers and heavy artillery systems, including multiple-rocket launchers and heavy flamethrowers, all of which are giving the firepower advantage to the Syrians. Paradoxically, the Russians are now fighting a “war on the cheap” while denying this option to the Americans and their allies.

Good Terrorists, aka “FSA”, Syria 2017

The Free Syrian Army’s main weakness is that it doesn’t physically exist! Sure, there are plenty of FSA Syrian exiles in Turkey and elsewhere; there are also many Daesh/al-Qaeda types who try hard to look like FSA; and there are scattered armed groups in Syria who would like to be “the FSA.” But the FSA was always a purely political abstraction. This virtual FSA provided many useful things to the Americans: a propaganda narrative, a pious pretext to send in the CIA, a fig leaf to conceal that Uncle Sam was militarily allied with al-Qaeda and Daesh, and a political ideal to try to unify the world against Assad’s government. But the FSA never provided “boots on the ground” like everybody else: Daesh and al-Qaeda, the Syrians, the Iranians, Hezbollah, the Turks and the Kurds. But since the Takfiris were “officially” the USA’s enemy, the US was limited in the support given to these Wahabi forces. The Syrians, Iranians and Hezbollah were demonized, so it was impossible to work with them. That left the Turks, who had terrible relations with the USA after the US-backed coup against Erdogan, and the Kurds, who were not eager to fight and die deep inside Syria and who were regarded with great hostility by Ankara. As the war progressed the terrible reality hit the Americans: they had no “boots on the ground” with which to embed their Special Ops or to support.

A case in point is the American failure in the al-Tanf region near the Jordanian border. The Americans and Jordanians invaded this desert region hoping to sever the lines of communications between the Syrians and Iraqis. Instead, the Syrians cut the Americans off and reached the border first, rendering the American presence useless. It appears that the Americans have given up on al-Tanf, and will withdraw and redeploy elsewhere in Syria.

So Who Is Next – Venezuela?

History shows that the Americans have always had problem with their local “allies”. Some were pretty good (South Koreans), others less so (Contras), but US use of local forces always has a risk: the locals often have their own agenda and soon realize that if they depend on the Americans, the Americans also depend on them. Additionally, Americans are not well known for having good “multi-cultural sensitivity and expertise.” They are typically not very knowledgeable about their operating environment, meaning that US intelligence usually becomes aware of problems way too late to fix them (fancy technology can’t substitute for solid, expert human intelligence). The US failure in Syria is an excellent example of this.

Having identified some of the weaknesses of the US “war on the cheap” approach, let’s examine a vulnerability matrix for potential target countries:

Notes: “demoralized enemy” and “air superiority” are guesstimates; “boots on the ground” means an indigenous, combat force in-country (not foreign troops) capable of seizing and holding ground, and not just small insurgent groups or political opposition.

By these criteria, the only candidate for US intervention is Venezuela, where successful US intervention would require a realistic exit strategy. But the US is already overextended and cannot afford to bog down in an unwinnable war. While the Venezuelan opposition could provide “boots on the ground,” the Venezuelan pro-American forces lack the capabilities of the regular armed forces or the Leftist guerrilla groups who tolerated the Chavez-Maduro rule, but who retained their weapons “just in case.” As for terrain, while Caracas might appear relatively “easy” to seize, the rest of the country is more difficult and dangerous. As regards staying power, while Americans like quick victories, Latin American guerrillas have repeatedly proven that they can fight for decades. Therefore, while the USA is probably capable of invading and ravaging Venezuela, it is likely incapable of imposing a new regime and controlling the country.

Conclusion – Afghanistan 2001-2017

Afghanistan is often called the “graveyard of empires,” and Afghanistan may well become the graveyard of the “war on the cheap” doctrine, which is paradoxical since this doctrine was initially applied in Afghanistan with apparent success. Remember the US Special Forces on horseback, directing B-52 airstrikes against retreating Afghan forces? Sixteen years later, the Afghan war has dramatically changed and 90% of US casualties come from IEDs, all the efforts at a political settlement have failed, and victory and withdrawal appear completely impossible. The fact that the USA has now accused Russia of “arming the Taliban” is a powerful indicator of the USA-led power bloc’s desperation. Eventually, the Americans will leave, totally defeated, but for the time being all they will admit to is: “not winning.”

Here’s the dilemma: with the end of the Cold War and Post Cold War, complete US military reform is long overdue, but also politically impossible. The present US armed forces are the bizarre result of the Cold War, the “war on the cheap” years and failed military interventions. In theory, the US should adopt a new national security strategy and a military strategy that supports the national security strategy, and then develop a military doctrine which would produce a force modernization plan incorporating all aspects of military reform, from training to force planning to deployment. It took the Russians over a decade to do this. It will take the Americans at least as long. Right now, such far reaching reform seems years away. Garden variety jingoism (“We’re number one!!”) and deep denial rule the day. As in Russia, it will probably take a truly catastrophic embarrassment (like the first Russian war in Chechnya) to force the Pentagon to face reality. Until then, the ability of US forces to impose their domination on countries which refuse to surrender to threats and sanctions will continue to degrade.

So is Venezuela next? Hopefully not. But if so, it will be one very big mess with much destroyed and little achieved. The USA-led power bloc has long been punching above its weight. Prevailing against Iran or North Korea is clearly beyond current US military capabilities. Attacking Russia or China would be suicidal. Which leaves the Ukraine. The US might possibly send some weapons to the junta in Kiev and organize training camps in the western Ukraine. But that’s about it. None of that will make any real difference anyway, except further aggravate the Russians.

The Russians have succeeded in turning the course of the civil war in Syria with what was an extremely small, if highly skilled, task force.  Now, for the 2nd time, President Putin has announced a major withdrawal of Russian forces.  In contrast, the thoroughly defeated US has not only claimed the credit for defeating ISIS for itself, but has ostentatiously failed to make any announcement about a withdrawal of its own, completely illegal and mostly useless, forces from Syria.  Will they ever learn from their own mistakes?

The era of “wars on the cheap” is over. The world is a different place than it was. The USA has to adapt to this reality, if it wants to retain some level of credibility; but right now it does not appear anybody in Washington, DC is willing to admit this. As a result, the era of major US military interventions might well be coming to an end, even if there will always be some small country to “triumphantly” beat up.

Because Mr Trump… Your Country Caused These ‘Shitholes’

Because Mr Trump… Your Country Caused These ‘Shitholes’

Because Mr Trump… Your Country Caused These ‘Shitholes’

US President Trump’s outrageous remarks on various poor nations – calling them “shitholes” – not only reveal a heartless racist. Donald Trump also shows himself to be appallingly ignorant.

What does it say about our world when the leader of supposedly the most powerful military nation is a complete ignoramus about the most basic facts of history? Surely, this is an horrific danger to all of humanity from having someone so reckless and stupid with access to nuclear weapons.

The global indignation over Trump’s foul denigration continues to mount days after he uttered it. The African Union representing 55 nations has demanded an apology from the president. He is now trying to walk back his incendiary comments in a blatant attempt to lie, which is only fueling more anger.

What’s even more abhorrent is that the vast majority of the countries that Trump was referring to can trace their intractable problems of poverty and violence directly to US involvement in those countries. Yet, he crassly wonders why America has any obligation to shelter people fleeing from them.

During a meeting last Thursday with Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the White House to discuss US immigration policy, Trump reportedly became frustrated when the list of countries receiving Temporary Protected Status (TPS) was read out to him.

Currently there are ten countries afforded TPS by official US immigration controls. Such status permits the entry of a certain quota of citizens.

They are: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Yemen and Syria.

Trump reportedly blurted out: “What do we want Haitians here for? Why do we want all these people from Africa here? Why are we having all these people from shithole countries coming here?”

He then capped his racist, exploitative view of the world by adding: “We should have more people from places like Norway.”

So, in Trump’s shallow, utilitarian worldview, as long as you are blond, blue-eyed, educated and from a wealthy state then you are welcome in the US to be utilized for its economic growth.

Trump’s disgust with the listed immigrant countries shows his astounding cluelessness, or maybe callousness.

For the fact is that nine of the ten countries afforded TPS – 90 per cent – can attribute their immigration tendency to the legacy of destructive US policies bearing down on those countries.

Only one of them, Nepal, has a humanitarian crisis unrelated directly to American foreign policy, resulting from a natural cause – the earthquake that hit the Himalayan South Asian nation in April 2015.

Let’s quickly review the 90 per cent.

El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua have all been left with a legacy of US-backed wars over several decades. During the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, the US flooded the Central American region with weapons and American-trained death squads to hunt down leftwing guerrillas, politicians, labour activists, peasants, land rights activists, and priests – anyone who was deemed to threaten the traditional US-backed power structure of Caudillo regimes subordinate to American corporations and capital.

It is estimated that US-backed wars killed as many as 200,000 people across Central America, leaving populations traumatized, impoverished and tormented subsequently with armed criminal gangs.

Nicaragua is a poignant case in point. Its leftwing revolutionary Sandinista government – which ousted the decades-old US-backed Somoza dictatorship in 1979 – was destroyed by American proxy war using Contra death squads operating out of Honduras.

Currently, there are some 250,000 Salvadorans living as migrants in the US. Trump wants to send them all back to their country. A recurring fear among the migrants is the rampant violence from armed gangs in El Salvador – a direct legacy of past US military intervention.

It is true that Nicaragua and El Salvador were also hit by earthquakes which have exacerbated humanitarian problems of poverty and social degradation. But arguably the violence and political turmoil fomented in those countries by the US over decades is the major destructive factor in those societies.

The same can be said for Haiti. The Caribbean island country was devastated by an earthquake in 2009, and is reportedly still reeling from the impact. Nevertheless, the intractable poverty and social discord is a legacy of US governments backing decades of dictatorships under Papa Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier. Repeated US military invasions over the past century to repress socially progressive politics ensured that Haiti retained its function as an impoverished offshore location for American corporations to ruthlessly exploit for sweatshop labor.

Regarding African countries on the TPS list, US policy was instrumental in the break-up of Sudan into Northern and Southern states in 2011-2012. That, in turn, has wrecked the economies of both states and fomented conflicts, leading to massive displacement of communities.

Somalia on the Horn of Africa was invaded by US forces in the early 1990s and for the past three decades has been destabilized by relentless American military aggression from naval, air and drone strikes in a so-called “war on terror”.

More generally, Africa’s mass emigrations can also be traced directly to US and NATO European members waging illegal wars in several countries, including Libya, Mali, Niger, Ivory Coast and the Central African Republic. US-backed proxy wars in Angola, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique have too left a baleful legacy.

More generally, it can never be underestimated the extent of underdevelopment that Africa has been historically hobbled with from American and European colonial and neocolonial economic exploitation.

As for the two other “shithole” countries on Trump’s list – Syria and Yemen – they may most acutely represent just how degenerate this president is.

For continuing under his watch in the White House, American criminal military interventions in those countries have caused millions of people to be killed, maimed, starved and displaced. Syria, in particular, has been reduced from a fairly developed society to a pile of rubble by a six-year war instigated and perpetuated covertly by the US and its NATO and regional client regimes.

Yemen has been turned into an apocalyptic hell-hole from nearly three years of American-backed Saudi aggression against that country, including maintaining a sea, air and land blockade on the whole nation – a massive war crime – resulting in millions of children starving or dying from cholera and other preventable diseases. How could any country suffering a veritable genocide not be turned into anything but a “shithole”?

Mr Trump, are you listening or has your brain been turned into a pile of mush from the fast-food diet you gorge every day?

Considering the carnage that US foreign policy and conduct has inflicted around the world in pursuit of American imperialist interests, the Temporary Protected Status list should not comprise ten nations. It should be extended to dozens of – maybe 100 – countries that have borne the vandalism of American power.

Trump’s deprecation of “shithole” countries is a nauseating display of American ignorance and callousness. No wonder the US continues with its wrecking-ball behavior in the world.

As former Mexican President Vicente Fox alluded to in his outrage over Trump’s latest remarks, the biggest, foulest shit-hole in the world is in Washington. Because there they really do have shit for brains and morals.

The U.S. Role in Turning Countries Into ‘Shitholes’


Demonstrators wrapped in a Salvadoran flag during the “A Day Without Immigrants March” in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 17, 2017. (Lorie Shaull / CC 2.0)

Donald Trump just can’t help letting the cat out of the bag. And boy does his administration have a lot of cats in bags. The line of the Republican Party right wing has been that voter suppression laws are necessary for the integrity of elections. In fact, they are crafted to prevent racial minorities from voting, by making it hard and/or expensive to register. Race drives the policy, not a search for fair elections. Likewise, Trump’s policies on immigration have been portrayed as a matter of law and order. But they aren’t about lawlessness. They are about racial hierarchy.

That is, in some key areas—corporate power, racial hierarchy, militarism—the Trump wing of the Republican Party are Franco or Mussolini fascists in ideology.

Trump could go along with the polite fiction that he is worried about criminality when he addresses immigration. But yesterday, according to the Washington Post, he launched a tirade at Sen. Dick Durbin asking why we have to have people here from “shithole” countries and why we can’t have more Norwegians. Trump always used to say on the campaign trail that countries are not sending us their best citizens (as if countries are sending anyone at all intentionally). But now he is admitting that the real problem, in his view, is that it isn’t the best countries that immigrants are coming from.

Trump was badmouthing a whole range of countries including Haiti, El Salvador and some African states, but for the sake of clarity let me home in on El Salvador here.

Since Trump is a racist, he thinks that countries get to have poor economic and security situations because of the race of the people that inhabit them. That is silly (and dangerous) as history and social science. Central Americans were among the more civilized people in the world when German tribesmen were raiding the Roman Empire.

The United States has about 1.5 million Salvadorans, some of the people at issue in Trump’s conversations with Durbin and other lawmakers. Most of them came to the United States because of a right-wing dirty war against liberals and leftists backed in the 1980s and early 1990s by the U.S. Republican presidency (Reagan and Bush senior) and the U.S. military. The right-wing government and military and death squads of El Salvador, with American help, murdered 70,000 civilians in the 1980s, in the course of crushing a leftist insurgency. They included Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero (who will likely end up being made a saint), four American nuns, 800 villagers (children, women, noncombatant men) in El Mozote and environs, and tens of thousands of others. U.S. politicians such as Ronald Reagan, Elliott Abrams, and the joint chiefs of staff and the CIA station chief actively collaborated in this mass killing. The stated purpose was to roll back the Soviet Union (which I doubt was much involved).

The actual purpose was to make the country safe for U.S. corporations, which had virtually run the place. United Fruit owned 80 percent of the banana crop in the early 20th century along with much of the prime land. Then came the rise of the coffee oligarchy. The International Land Coalition notes,

In El Salvador, the history of land ownership has been marked by coffee cultivation. After production of that crop peaked at the end of the 19th century, the Salvadoran oligarchy of the period concentrated land ownership and dispossessed campesino and indigenous peoples of their ancestral lands. During the first half of the 20th century, the alliance between the military government and the United States went hand-in-hand with landed power linked to coffee cultivation. In 1971, the Agricultural Census identified the persis-tence of an unequal distribution of productive land in the country, with 0.3% of owners owning real estate of more than 200 hectares, which represented 28.2% of the total land area, while 92.5% of owners had real estate of less than 10 hectares, representing 27.1% of the country’s total surface area.

Thus, the U.S. corporate shaping of the country’s political economy had left it with a small landlord class that owned most of the good land (a common colonial outcome) and millions of impoverished sharecroppers, and as even right of center analysts recognize this class conflict fueled much of the civil war. But it was also fueled by the sheer viciousness of the government death squads, which weakened the otherwise positive effect of the land reform instituted in the 1980s.

The Reagan civil war in El Salvador provoked massive out migration, to Honduras and to the United States. Many Salvadorans got citizenship in the 1980s via the 1986 congressional amnesty.

In the 1990s, very large numbers of Salvadoran refugees were deported from the United States. The war-racked economy could not absorb them, and some of them founded Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the 18th Street Gang which became major criminal cartels that Trump now complains about endlessly. (They are a big problem, especially in El Salvador where they have a support base of eight percent of the country, but very few of the 16,000 murders a year in the U.S. are committed by them).

In the early 1990s about 200,000 Salvadoran refugees of American foreign policy were given Temporary Protected Status. They have high rates of employment and are raising 275,000 U.S.-born children.

So now, having messed up their country, in part for the sake of U.S. corporate greed and American hegemony, the U.S. president is declaring them to be from a “shithole” and is set to deport all 200,000 of the adults, raising the question of what will happen to a quarter of a million American children that they are raising.

The Crisis Group is deathly afraid that the Salvadoran-American children, on being sent forcibly from their country of birth to a foreign land and left without resources are jobs, will be recruited by…MS 13.

By the way, the current government of El Salvador, which runs a country the size of Massachusetts with a population of about six million, has some achievements despite the severe challenges of pervasive gang violence. Poverty has been significantly reduced in the past decade, leading to a lower Gini coefficient and one of the more equal societies in Latin America. The environmentally conscious government has banned predatory metals mining, against which villagers had been protesting. But one of the country’s big assets economically has been remittances from workers abroad, into which Trump is about to take a big bite by deporting 200,000 of them from the U.S. And economic growth, at two percent a year, was already among the lowest in the region and is one of the reasons for the ongoing violence.

The World Bank notes,

Immunization rates have also increased from 76 percent in the 1990s to 93 percent in 2016. Similarly, the share of the population with access to improved water sources increased from 79 percent to 89 percent, and the share with access to improved sanitation expanded from 56 percent to over 95 percent during the same period. In education, both access (particularly at the primary level) and literacy rates have increased.

Crime and violence are still an enormous problem. If Trump wanted less immigration from El Salvador he could get it by directing some productive investment to that country much more efficiently than throwing people out of their homes of 20 years.

One short answer to Trump’s question about Norwegians (and could you get more American Nazi Party than that preference?) is that Norwegians are wealthy and have a much better run country than the U.S. and they mostly have no particular reason to leave home. It isn’t the nineteenth century any more, Donald. The U.S. takes in about a million legal immigrants every year. In the past two decades roughly 61,000 a year have come from Europe. And Norway ain’t in the picture.

The alternative to taking in immigrants is to shrink demographically, as Japan is doing and as Germany was doing before the recent change in immigration policy. Urban, educated people don’t want a house full of children usually, and so the Japanese are not replacing themselves, and nor would Americans without immigration. A big shrinkage of the population of the sort in which Japan is engaged is an unprecedented social experiment. Who will support the growing ranks of the elderly and retired? Who will build new buildings? What will happen to property prices as houses and schools empty out? Who will serve in the military? Who will invent new technology? Wouldn’t the country become weak economically and militarily and perhaps prey for a younger, more dynamic neighbor? And, no, Trump, Norway is not going to save you from all that. Salvadoran Americans might, if you let them.

Juan Cole / Informed Comment
Juan Cole

Iran protests: Western salivation, agitation & desperation

December 31, 2017

by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker blog

Iran protests: Western salivation, agitation & desperation

I am on vacation and trying to stay away from politics to recharge my batteries, but a sane voice on Iranian politics in English is almost impossible to find, so….

Despite the Western media’s slobbering at the minor protests in Iran, there is no need to fear that Iranian democracy is about to “fall”. Allow me to get right to the heart of the matter and prove why:

What did the 2009 protests prove?

Firstly, that opposition to the Iranian system is obviously a minority, which was immediately indicated back then by the fact that the pro-Ahmadinejad counter-protests were larger – a rarely reported fact. Today there are major pro-government counter-protests now planned all over Iran, but good luck hearing much about that either.

Secondly, and more importantly – and this cannot be disputed whatsoever:

Exactly like in Venezuela this year – there is a hardcore, GRASSROOTS system of citizen supporters who will defend the Iranian Revolution with their lives…because they feel the Iranian Revolution (like Chavismo) has benefited the average citizen so very much. That’s why Venezuelan democracy didn’t fall – it was due to the common person attending a counter-protest, maybe even wielding a garden tool. This is what preserved Venezuelan democracy – not state military action – and this is also what happened in Iran in 2009.

So Iran 2009 and Venezuela 2017 proved that Mao was wrong when he said “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” – if you have enough of the People, all you really need is a makeshift club.

Because true politics – which is far different from pathetically snarky discussions on TV – is ultimately about People Power, and Iran’s government has the People clearly on their side. 2009 proved that if you push the Iranian People to the brink, you will be confronted with their power. (Iran is NOWHERE near the brink right now, of course.)

Iran’s Basij Resistance Bases – or volunteer militias, in Western terms – are far more deeply embedded in all levels of society than Chavismo colectivos. They are more more akin to the Chinese Communist Party (minus the formalised and incredibly rigorous testing and selection policy) as they compose perhaps 11 million people in an 80-million person country. Strikes are basically the only way to get any revolution going, but good luck getting an unjust strike past the Basij branches which are set up among unions, professional organizations, civil servants groups, student groups, industrial workplaces, etc.

And most of these members are unpaid. And they have families who likely feel similarly. And they have friends who clearly aren’t opposed to them…because they are still friends, after all.

So, you see…we are not talking about a “group” – we are basically talking about half of Iran.

Now you can ignore the ironclad reality of such grassroots (i.e. popular democratic) support all you like, but you will never defeat them internally. Never.

For that, as Libya proved, you need NATO bombs. There was huge internal support for the Libyan system: I was there when it started, and I witnessed pro-Ghadaffi protesters, and I was awed by their intensity – but they were overwhelmed by US and French bombs, 40 tons of illegal arms drops by France, a naval and air blockade spearheaded by the UK, Canada and all of Western Europe, etc.

So the analysis above should answer the question on every idiot Western commentator’s lips regarding a possible “fall” of Iran. I simply say: How do you account for the already-proven massive number of people willing to forget about political niceties/compromises and fight FOR Iran’s government?

This is not “tough talk” or “nationalistic talk” on my part – this is reality, and it must be accounted for in any discussion which claims to be serious (or worth having).

Foreign interventions and false flags – also not a worry for Iran

What must also be remembered is that Iran already had their “NATO intervention” – it was called the Iran-Iraq War. For 8 horrible years the West foisted Iraq on Iran, supplied Iraq with weapons, turned a blind eye to the worst chemical weapons atrocities since World War One, and did all they could to create, prolong and influence the deadliest war in the last quarter of the 20th century.

And it was still not enough.

A 2nd phony Western war would also totally backfire in 2018 – have no doubt about that. The Iran-Iraq War created a nationalist unity which Libya did not have; Libya’s revolution did create the highest standard of living in Africa and fewer poor people than the imperialist Netherlands (and free loans, education, health care, etc.), but it was never really tested. Syrians, on the other hand, will soon enjoy a nationalist unity also forged in the crucible of a horribly unjust war.

So there are simply not the type of divisions in Iranian society which the West was able to exploit in Libya. A 2nd phony Western war would undoubtedly be met with a largely-unified response to expel the invaders and Iran would never be fooled by their phony promises; this is evidenced by massive popular support for our right to nuclear energy, even though it is (allegedly) the main source of inhumane sanctions. The Iran-Iraq War not only “made the bones” of the Iranian system, but it is remembered and feared – a return to that will be wildly, massively opposed.

Iran is, in this sense, like Cuba and China: a revolutionary country full of many revolutionaries. There is no irony in their politics, nor any going back.

Iran is definitely one step ahead of Venezuela in another way: their government is not revolutionary, after all, but based on a democratic support for Chavismo that is fundamentally bourgeois (West European democracy). I am not denigrating Venezuela, but they have never instituted the fundamental, wholesale changes which countries like Cuba, China, Vietnam, Eritrea and others have implemented. This commitment to “playing by the rules” of a bourgeois democratic system leaves them very vulnerable and almost welcoming of the very forces which want to destroy the gains democratically won by Chavismo.

And it was not enough in Venezuela, too – Chavismo is still standing. It’s bruised, bloodied and shaky, but it’s still there despite the vast US-led effort against it. The source of the reactionary-foreign capitalist pact against Venezuelan socialism was because Chavistas are, correctly, starting to implement Cuban-style changes to their governmental structure in order to become less bourgeois and more poplar democratic.

What’s a more realistic fear? A Ukraine-style false flag operation.

recently re-broadcast a totally-ignored Italian report on 3 snipers who admitted they were paid to shoot at both sides at Ukraine’s Maidan. That caused the killing of 100 people, massive chaos, the subsequent discrediting of the government and then what still reigns today – horrible civil war.

However, Ukraine is no revolutionary society. The Iranian government would not, and should not, permit an encampment like at Ukraine’s Maidan. Iran is a country which has been besieged by foreign forces for decades, and is no position to allow an “Occupy” type of protest at Zuccotti Park in New York City (razed at night after less than 2 months, with more repression to prevent their return; that’s a slightly better democratic score than other Occupy protests in the US which were stopped much sooner; and a far better score than France, who rousted out their Nuit Debout protesters in Paris every single night, forcing them to rebuild the following day.) because we all know that it would be filled with 10 times more foreign operatives than in Ukraine, i.e., it cannot possibly be as democratic is it would claim to be. There would be Mossad, CIA, MKO, Al-Qaeda, ISIL, Mi5, DGSE and truly the worst of the worst in the world. You cannot compare the US and Iran; Iran is fighting for its life and its sovereignty, while the US government fights to preserve its capitalist inequality.

However, all those foreign, murderous groups will have no problem creating a sort of false-flag which kills hundreds and hundreds of innocent Iranians if it means installing a compliant billionaire puppet like in Ukraine – Iran is far, far richer than Ukraine, after all. And Iran is also the only thorn in the side of Western imperialist capitalism in the Muslim world.

With great power comes great responsibility, and thus Iran’s government is not about to allow a Ukraine-style Maidan to occur. Staggeringly, Iran has seen 17,000 people killed by terrorists since 1979; during this year’s ISIL attacks there was no overreaction such as installing a 2-year state of emergency like in France. Iran both does not mess around with risks and does not needlessly antagonise their own people (which actually means to make another risk).

Two people have died in the protests, and the government declared that security forces fired no bullets, and attributed the death to foreign agents. Given what has happened in Ukraine (and hundreds of other places over the years), and given the massive democratic support the government has…it would be insane and illogical to rush to judgment against the government.

Of course, this is exactly what the Western media is doing. They will desperately blow this out of proportion. They will salivate at the protests, dissimulate regarding their own hypocrisies, agitate for war, and all because they are so desperate to push their anti-Iranian agenda. This is textbook, and the historical modus operandi, and it will not change when the Western calendar turns to 2018 in around 12 hours.

It will likely work to great effect outside of Iran, but inside? No way. Iran is too busy trying to repair our issues – which every society has because humans are not perfect – to be fooled by tabloid journalism.

Are Iranians not permitted to have normal protests?

These protests are economic. Have you not noticed that these have swept much of the world for the past decade?

You might have an insane MKO cult member willing to burn a poster of Khamenei – giving the Western media the chance to blow that out of proportion – but this is an economic protest. But these are not a fruit-seller setting himself on fire, like in Tunisia, to desperately protest corruption, harassment and everyday brutality.

Protests are not unknown in Iran society: Has your country pulled off a silent march larger than Iran in 2009? Remember the silent marches of 2009? 1979 saw more than a small bit of protesting too, let’s remember. These protests are akin to the 3-500 protests per day in supposedly-undemocratic China: more effective government policies are being called for, not a whole new government!

Because these protests are economic, I will insist that the West give the Iranian government as much leeway as they take for themselves when confronted with similar demonstrations.

Waitaminut…I sure hope Iran is not THAT bad!

Because during the age of austerity I have been tear gassed too many times to count while covering economic protests in France. Only because I am a foreign journalist, I have not been among the thousands of arrested pro-democracy protesters; there have been hundreds of banned protests (how many more chilled into silence and thus strangled in the cradle?); plenty of harsh jail sentences of leading activists; countless people hurt by batons and water cannons amid total Western media silence; countless protesters cowed by invasive searches by riot police and the guarantee of rough treatment.

But where were the Western calls for “regime change” in France, like which are pouring from the mouths of Western commentators?

When Hollande and Macron forced through by executive order the widely-opposed capitalist laws which sparked the anti-government protests, where are their accusations of “authoritarianism”?

Of course there were none.

Ugh. I just remembered I’m on vacation…I shouldn’t be wasting me time trying to point out that Iran’s government doesn’t needs to defend their actions to Westerners….

But the crimes of capitalism do not take a vacation

The truth is that Iran’s economic policies – like China, Cuba and everyone else – have been negatively tainted by the anti-socialist and neoliberal ideas which swept the world after the fall of the USSR.

While Iran has implemented an army of pro-socialist ideas which have undeniably redistributed wealth in an amazingly effective fashion, they have also pursued some pro-capitalist and pro-neoliberal ideas – this trend has spared no nation since 1991. The recent economic choices of Cuba and China are no different, but even though Marx said we must use the tools of capitalism in order to create socialism…that necessarily creates economic problems.

Now without a doubt, the main problem with Iran’s economy is simple: international blockade. It is deranged to believe otherwise.

However, the protests can be interpreted as evidence that experimentations with capitalism have not worked – indeed, they never have and never will. Neoliberalism has led to what it always does – inefficiency and ineffectiveness.

These protests are the same as in France: against decreased purchasing power and unemployment. Can’t we have a “normal” protest, LOL? It is sad, but many have been led to believe that Iranians are aliens, but our problems are actually the same as yours!

But Iran does have much better alternatives, however: Khamenei’s pushing of a “resistance economy” – meaning a nationalist economy which rejects capitalism – is in direct opposition to neoliberalism. But – NEWS FLASH – Iran is a democracy; Khamenei is not anything close to an absolute ruler (the translated title of “supreme leader” is quite misleading, LOL); there are supporters of capitalism in Iran.

Thankfully, supporters of capitalism are a minority, as Iran follows what I have termed “Iranian Islamic Socialism”. These protests will lead to economic changes which implement more Islamic and socialist economic principles.

As we all know, these are two things which the Western media hates.

And thus, the Western media wants to ignore these complaints – which reflect near-universal economic hardship amid the Great Recession (even in non-blockaded countries) – and portray all protesters as pushing for the downfall of the Iranian system.

That’s nonsense, and it won’t happen. The reason why is simple: there is widespread democratic support for Iran and the popular, democratic revolution which set up the current system. Again, I am on vacation and I won’t waste more time telling people that the sky is blue – stick your head out the window and if you still disagree: it must be nighttime, you blockhead.

A minor point: a common Western trope is that these protests are in response to the “wasted resources” caused by lending support and solidarity to places like Palestine, Syria and Iraq. However, polls of Iranians show there is massive support for giving material and military support to these countries. (“In general, to what degree do you support or oppose Iran providing help to”: Hezbollah (71% approve), government of Assad (66% approve), Hamas (70% approve) Shiites and Kurds in Iraq fighting ISIL (88% approve), Iran should send military personnel to Syria(63% approve)) Clearly, the naysayers are in the minority: therefore, changing these policies would be undemocratic. Of course, the West would be ecstatic if Iran was no longer around to thwart their imperial projects. However, Iran’s politicians work in a democracy: if they want to win re-election, they will continue with these popular policies.

A final point: Why are democratic protests for policy reform a “sign of a vibrant and healthy democracy” when they occur in the West…but “an indicator people want to bring down the system” whenever they occur in non-Western countries? Ultimately, these protests will be heeded and, like all genuine protests, will make Iranian democracy stronger and the country better.

But as far as believing the Western media’s coverage of Iran’s protests – which is both uninformed and not remotely objective (and capitalist-imperialist, of course) — I suggest following my lead: enjoy your vacation instead.

Happy Western New Year to all!

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

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