Venezuela – Washington’s Latest Defamation – To Bring NATO to South America?

February 17, 2017

by Peter KoenigVenezuela – Washington’s Latest Defamation – To Bring NATO to South America?

The Trump Administration has just accused Venezuela’s newly appointed Vice-President, Tareck El Aissami, of being involved in drug trafficking, thereby dishing out the usual criminal spiel – illegal sanctions against a foreign dignitary with travel bans and asset seizures. This is Washington’s abject behavior at its best, as are so many others around the world of similar nature.

Therefore, let me say upfront: We can protest as much as we want. The Anglo-Zionist empire in Washington and its European vassals do not care one bit. To the contrary, the more hapless protests there are, the more they laugh to themselves – ‘Bingo! We did it again. – Case closed. And sanctions stay. New ones are invented at will, wherever and whenever it pleases the empire. Because nothing happens from the opponents – other than hot air.

Sanctions – economic sanctions, as most of them are, can only stand and ‘succeed’, as long as countries, who oppose Washington’s dictate remain bound into the western, dollar-based, fraudulent monetary scheme. The system is entirely privatized by a small Zionist-led elite. FED, Wall Street, Bank for International Settlement (BIS), are all private institutions, largely controlled by the Rothschild, Rockefeller, Morgan et al clans. They are also supported by the Breton Woods Organizations, IMF and World Bank, conveniently created under the Charter of the UN.

Few progressive economists understand how this debt-based pyramid scam is manipulating the entire western economic system. When in a just world, it should be just the contrary, the economy that shapes, designs and decides the functioning of the monetary system and policy.

Even Russia, with Atlantists still largely commanding the central bank and much of the financial system, isn’t fully detached from the dollar dominion – yet.

‘Renegades’ of the US-globalized Deep State must de-dollarize and migrate towards the eastern SCO-based economy (SCO = Shanghai Cooperation Organization, including Russia, China, most of Central Asia, Pakistan, Iran; – and India for good or for bad, is a contender), where the future is, where huge and honest prospects of future economic development are emerging, especially the Chinese initiated New Silk Road, or OBOR – One Belt-One Road – that foresees an infrastructure, industrial and technological boom, connecting Vladivostok with Lisbon and Shanghai with Hamburg – and everything in between. China’s President Xi Jinping has opened the door for everyone to join – no force, sheer invitation.

This also means breaking loose from the IMF’s and World Bank’s debt tentacles and the rest of the western monetary gangsters. It doesn’t happen overnight, but steps towards regaining sovereignty should be initiated rather sooner than later – to reduce, speak withstand and eliminate sanction imposed damages. For Russia, despite the Atlantists, sanctions were a blessing. They are the best that could have happened to our economy, Mr. Putin said. They pushed us to promote an economy of self-reliance, especially in agriculture and industrial development. In 2015, Russia was the world’s first wheat exporter.

—–

Back to drugs and fighting drug lords. The Plan Colombia which started in 2000 and has since cost about US$ 20 billion, was officially designed precisely to fight the drug mafia’s coca plantations and drug cartels. Yet, since the Plan begun, the surface of coca plantations has more than doubled in Colombia; and output efficiency today is almost three times what it was in 2000.

Washington’s fake accusations and outrageous slandering of Venezuela’s Vice President, Mr. Tareck El Aissami, are totally absurd. They are aiming in a first instance at further bad-mouthing Venezuela among the uneducated MSM-brainwashed international public. It’s ‘false news’ propaganda, attempting to pull Venezuela into the drug ‘war’ playing out between Colombia, Mexico and Peru – all fomented by Washington.

Up to his recent assignment as Vice-President, Mr. El Aissami was Interior Minister, successfully fighting drug mafias, covertly promoted by the DEA and the CIA. Clamping down on the new Vice-President might be a punishment for his unwavering fight against the US backed drug lords, while he was Interior Minister. In fact, during his ministerial tenure, Tareck Al Aissami, a man of full integrity, has hit hard the cartels of international drug dealers, capturing 102 drug lords, of whom 21 were extradited to the United States. To make things even more ridiculous, apparently Tareck Al Aissimi does not even hold a US visa neither has he any assets in the USA that could be frozen as claimed.

The bigger and larger scale agenda behind this latest defamation scheme maybe a monstrous attempt to bring NATO to South America. Yes, you read right – Pentagon’s European military branch, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. They have absolutely nothing to do in Latin America, but as long as nobody screams murder and acts against it – the impunity of the empire is almost bottomless.

The little publicized fact is that President Manuel Santos of Colombia has recently invited NATO to come to Colombia to help him ‘fight organized crime’ – meaning, most likely a new FARC war, easily revived with a few false flags – as already happened recently (http://thesaker.is/colombia-inviting-nato-to-fight-organized-crime-a-menace-for-latin-america/ ).

This move has been under preparation since 2012 / 2013, right from the beginning of Peace Negotiations between the Santos Government and FARC. It started with a so-called ‘best practice technical assistance agreement’ between NATO and Colombia – extendable to real troops and armory movements into Colombia – meaning automatically NATO spreading all throughout Latin America. The Natoization of LATAM! – What a prospect!

Venezuela with Hugo Chavez was the only country protesting already during Colombia’s initial negotiations with Brussels / NATO. Today, except for Venezuela, I don’t know of any other Latin American country that shouted out in protest. Not that it mattered, as nothing matters to the exceptional nation. But it would help spread awareness about what Washington has in store as its latest oppressing atrocity for Latin America.

Might this be one of the chief purposes of this intimidating defamation launched against Venezuela and her Vice President, whose ethical integrity is proven beyond doubt?

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 4th Media, TeleSUR, TruePublica, 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 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.

Top Trump Aide Michael Flynn Resigns

February 14, 2017

Michael Flynn, US President Donald Trump's National Security adviser

Michael Flynn has resigned from the post of US President Donald Trump’s National Security adviser, the White House announced on Monday.

According to the statement from the White House, retired Lieutenant general Keith Kellog was appointed instead of Flynn.

“President Donald J. Trump has named Lt. General Joseph Keith Kellogg, Jr. (Ret) as Acting National Security Advisor following the resignation of Lt. General Michael Flynn (Ret),” the statement said.

In his resignation letter, Flynn said that he had not provided the White House with full information about his contacts with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak.

“Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect [Mike Pence] and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador. I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology,” Flynn said in the resignation letter revealed by the White House’s press service.

Earlier in the day, Trump was said to be looking into the situation involving National Security Advisor Mike Flynn regarding about reports of his pre-inaugural phone calls with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak.

Flynn’s phone communications with Kislyak prior to Trump’s inauguration on January 20 have raised questions about whether the advisor broke a law forbidding private US citizens from engaging with foreign nations about diplomatic disputes.

US media reported Flynn had discussed the issue of anti-Russian sanctions with Kislyak before Trump was officially sworn in as US president.

Source: Agencies

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President Trump: Nationalist Capitalism, An Alternative to Globalization?

Global Research, January 28, 2017
CIA-trump

During his inaugural speech, President Trump clearly and forcefully outlined the strategic political-economic policies he will pursue over the next four years.  Anti-Trump journalist, editorialists, academics and experts, who appear in the Financial Times, New York Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal have repeatedly distorted and lied about the President’s program as well as his critique of existing and past policies.

We will begin by seriously discussing President Trump’s critique of the contemporary political economy and proceed to elaborate on his alternatives and its weaknesses.

President Trump’s Critique of the Ruling Class

The centerpiece of Trump’s critique of the current ruling elite is the negative impact of its form of globalization on US production, trade and fiscal imbalances and on the labor market.  Trump cites the fact that US industrial capitalism has drastically shifted the locus of its investments, innovations and profits overseas as an example of globalization’s negative effects.  For two decades many politicians and pundits have bemoaned the loss of well-paid jobs and stable local industries as part of their campaign rhetoric or in public meetings, but none have taken any effective action against these most harmful aspects of globalization.  Trump denounced them as “all talk and no action” while promising to end the empty speeches and implement major changes.

President Trump targeted importers who bring in cheap products from overseas manufacturers for the American market undermining US producers and workers.  His economic strategy of prioritizing US industries is an implicit critique of the shift from productive capital to financial and speculative capital under the previous four administrations.  His inaugural address attacking the elites who abandon the ‘rust belt’ for Wall Street is matched by his promise to the working class: “Hear these words!  You will never be ignored again.” Trump’s own words portray the ruling class ‘as pigs at the trough’ (Financial Times, 1/23/2017, p. 11)

Trump’s Political-Economic Critique

President Trump emphasizes market negotiations with overseas partners and adversaries.  He has repeatedly criticized the mass media and politicians’ mindless promotion of free markets and aggressive militarism as undermining the nation’s capacity to negotiate profitable deals.

President Trump’s immigration policy is closely related to his strategic ‘America First’ labor policy.  Massive inflows of immigrant labor have been used to undermine US workers’ wages, labor rights and stable employment.  This was first documented in the meat packing industry, followed by textile, poultry and construction industries.  Trump’s proposal is to limit immigration to allow US workers to shift the balance of power between capital and labor and strengthen the power of organized labor to negotiate wages, conditions and benefits.  Trump’s critique of mass immigration is based on the fact that skilled American workers have been available for employment in the same sectors if wages were raised and work conditions were improved to permit dignified, stable living standards for their families.

President Trump’s Political Critique

Trump points to trade agreements, which have led to huge deficits, and concludes that US negotiators have been failures.  He argues that previous US presidents have signed multi-lateral agreements, to secure military alliances and bases, at the expense of negotiating job-creating economic pacts.  His presidency promises to change the equation:  He wants to tear up or renegotiate unfavorable economic treaties while reducing US overseas military commitments and demands NATO allies shoulder more of their own defense budgets.  Immediately upon taking office Trump canceled the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and convoked a meeting with Canada and Mexico to renegotiate NAFTA.

Trump’s agenda has featured plans for hundred-billion dollar infrastructure projects, including building controversial oil and gas pipelines from Canada to the US Gulf.  It is clear that these pipelines violate existing treaties with indigenous people and threaten ecological mayhem.  However, by prioritizing the use of American-made construction material and insisting on hiring only US workers, his controversial policies will form the basis for developing well-paid American jobs.

The emphasis on investment and jobs in the US is a complete break with the previous Administration, where President Obama focused on waging multiple wars in the Middle East , increasing public debt and the trade deficit.

Trump’s inaugural address issued a stern promise: “The American carnage stops right now and stops right here!”  This resonated with a huge sector of the working class and was spoken before an assemblage of the very architects of four decades of job-destroying globalization.  ‘Carnage’ carried a double meaning:  Widespread carnage resulted from Obama and other administrations’ destruction of domestic jobs resulting in decay and bankruptcy of rural, small town and urban communities.  This domestic carnage was the other side of the coin of their policies of conducting endless overseas wars spreading carnage to three continents.  The last fifteen years of political leadership spread domestic carnage by allowing the epidemic of drug addiction (mostly related to uncontrolled synthetic opiate prescriptions) to kill hundreds of thousands of mostly young American’s and destroy the lives of millions.  Trump promised to finally address this ‘carnage’ of wasted lives.   Unfortunately, he did not hold ‘Big Pharma’ and the medical community responsible for its role in spreading drug addiction into the deepest corners of the economically devastated rural America .  Trump criticized previous elected officials for authorizing huge military subsidies to ‘allies’ while making it clear that his critique did not include US military procurement policies and would not contradict his promise to ‘reinforce old alliances’ (NATO).

Truth and Lies: Garbage Journalists and Arm Chair Militarists

Among the most outrageous example of the mass media’s hysteria about Trump’s New Economy is the systematic and vitriolic series of fabrications designed to obscure the grim national reality that Trump has promised to address.  We will discuss and compare the accounts published by ‘garbage journalists (GJ’s)’ and present a more accurate version of the situation.

The respectable garbage journalists of the Financial Timesclaim that Trump wants to ‘destroy world trade’.  In fact, Trumps has repeatedly stated his intention to increase international trade.  What Trump proposes is to increase US world trade from the inside, rather than from overseas.  He seeks to re-negotiate the terms of multilateral and bilateral trade agreements to secure greater reciprocity with trading partners.  Under Obama, the US was more aggressive in imposing trade tariffs that any other country in the OECD.

Garbage journalists label Trump as a ‘protectionist’,confusing his policies to re-industrialize the economy with autarky.  Trump will promote exports and imports, retain an open economy, while increasing the role of the US as a producer and exporter.. The US will become more selective in its imports.  Trump will favor the growth of manufacturing exporters and increase imports of primary commodities and advanced technology while reducing the import of automobiles, steel and household consumer products.

Trump’s opposition to ‘globalization’ has been conflated by the garbage journalists of the Washington Post as a dire threat to the ‘the post-Second World War economic order’.  In fact, vast changes have already rendered the old order obsolete and attempts to retain it have led to crises, wars and more decay.  Trump has recognized the obsolete nature of the old economic order and stated that change is necessary.

The Obsolete Old Order and the Dubious New Economy

At the end of the Second World War, most of Western Europe and Japan resorted to highly restrictive ‘protectionist’ industrial and monetary policies to rebuild their economies.  Only after a period of prolonged recovery did Germany and Japan carefully and selectively liberalize their economic policies.

In recent decades, Russia was drastically transformed from a powerful collectivist economy to a capitalist vassal-gangster oligarchy and more recently to a reconstituted mixed economy and strong central state.  China has been transformed from a collectivist economy, isolated from world trade, into the world’s second most powerful economy, displacing the US as Asia and Latin America ’s largest trading partner.

Once controlling 50% of world trade, the US share is now less than 20%.  This decline is partly due to the dismantling of its industrial economy when its manufacturers moved their factories abroad.

Despite the transformation of the world order, recent US presidents have failed to recognize the need to re-organize the American political economy.  Instead of recognizing, adapting and accepting shifts in power and market relations, they sought to intensify previous patterns of dominance through war, military intervention and bloody destructive ‘regime changes’ – thus devastating, rather than creating markets for US goods. Instead of recognizing China’s immense economic power and seek to re-negotiate trade and co-operative agreements, they have stupidly excluded China from regional and international trade pacts, to the extent of crudely bullying their junior Asian trade partners, and launching a policy of military encirclement and provocation in the South China Seas.  While Trump recognized these changes and the need to renegotiate economic ties, his cabinet appointees seek to extend Obama’s militarist policies of confrontation.

Under the previous administrations, Washington ignored Russia ’s resurrection, recovery and growth as a regional and world power.  When reality finally took root, previous US administrations increased their meddling among the Soviet Union’s former allies and set up military bases and war exercises on Russia ’s borders.  Instead of deepening trade and investment with Russia , Washington spent billions on sanctions and military spending – especially fomenting the violent putchist regime in Ukraine .  Obama’s policies promoting the violent seizure of power in Ukraine, Syria and Libya were motivated by his desire to overthrow governments friendly to Russia – devastating those countries and ultimately strengthening Russia’s will to consolidate and defend its borders and to form new strategic alliances.

Early in his campaign, Trump recognized the new world realities and proposed to change the substance, symbols, rhetoric and relations with adversaries and allies – adding up to a New Economy.

First and foremost, Trump looked at the disastrous wars in the Middle East and recognized the limits of US military power:  The US could not engage in multiple, open-ended wars of conquest and occupation in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia without paying major domestic costs.

Secondly, Trump recognized that Russia was not a strategic military threat to the United States .  Furthermore, the Russian government under Vladimir Putin was willing to cooperate with the US to defeat a mutual enemy – ISIS and its terrorist networks.  Russia was also keen to re-open its markets to the US investors, who were also anxious to return after years of the Obama-Clinton-Kerry imposed sanctions.  Trump, the realist, proposes to end sanctions and restore favorable market relations.

Thirdly, it is clear to Trump that the US wars in the Middle East imposed enormous costs with minimal benefits for the US economy.  He wants to increase market relations with the regional economic and military powers, like Turkey , Israel and the Gulf monarchies.

Trump is not interested in Palestine , Yemen , Syria or the Kurds – which do not offer much investment and trade opportunities.  He ignores the enormous regional economic and military power of Iran ,  Nevertheless Trump has proposed to re-negotiate the recent six-nation agreement with Iran in order to improve the US side of the bargain.  His hostile campaign rhetoricagainst Tehran may have been designed to placate Israel and its powerful domestic ‘Israel-Firsters’ fifth column.  This certainly came into conflict with his ‘America First’ pronouncements.  It remains to be seen whether Donald Trump will retain a ‘show’ of submission to the Zionist project of an expansionist Israel while proceeding to include Iran as a part of his regional market agenda.

The Garbage Journalists claim that Trump has adopted a new bellicose stance toward China and threatens to launch a ‘protectionist agenda’, which will ultimately push the trans-Pacific countries closer to Beijing .  On the contrary, Trump appears intent on renegotiating and increasing trade via bilateral agreements.

Trump will most probably maintain, but not expand, Obama’s military encirclement of China ’s maritime boundaries which threaten its vital shipping routes.  Nevertheless, unlike Obama, Trump will re-negotiate economic and trade relations with Beijing – viewing China as a major economic power and not a developing nation intent on protecting its ‘infant industries’.  Trump’s realism reflect the new economic order:  China is a mature, highly competitive, world economic power, which has been out-competing the US , in part by retaining its own state subsidies and incentives from its earlier economic phase.  This has led to significant imbalances.  Trump, the realist, recognizes that China offers great opportunities for trade and investment if the US can secure reciprocal agreements, which lead to a more favorable balance of trade.

Trump does not want to launch a ‘trade war’ with China , but he needs to restore the US as a major ‘exporter’ nation in order to implement his domestic economic agenda.  The negotiations with the Chinese will be very difficult because the US importer-elite are against the Trump agenda and side with the Beijing ’s formidable export-oriented ruling class.

Moreover, because Wall Street’s banking elite is pleading with Beijing to enter China ’s financial markets, the financial sector is an unwilling and unstable ally to Trump’s pro-industrial policies.

Conclusion

Trump is not a ‘protectionist’, nor is he opposed to ‘free-trade’.  These charges by the garbage journalists are baseless.  Trump does not oppose US economic imperialist policies abroad.  However, Trump is a market realist who recognizes that military conquest is costly and, in the contemporary world context, a losing economic proposition for the US .  He recognizes that the US must turn from a predominant finance and import economy to a manufacturing and export economy.

Trump views Russia as a potential economic partner and military ally in ending the wars in Syria , Iraq , Afghanistan and Ukraine , and especially in defeating the terrorist threat of ISIS .  He sees China as a powerful economic competitor, which has been taking advantage of outmoded trade privileges and wants to re-negotiate trade pacts in line with the current balance of economic power.

Trump is a capitalist-nationalist, a market-imperialist and political realist, who is willing to trample on women’s rights, climate change legislation, indigenous treaties and immigrant rights.  His cabinet appointments and his Republican colleagues in Congress are motivated by a militarist ideology closer to the Obama-Clinton doctrine than to Trumps new ‘America First’ agenda.  He has surrounded his Cabinet with military imperialists, territorial expansionists and delusional fanatics.

Who will win out in the short or long term remains to be seen.  What is clear is that the liberals, Democratic Party hacks and advocates of Little Mussolini black shirted street thugs will be on the side of the imperialists and will find plenty of allies among and around the Trump regime.

 

The Trump-Putin Phone Call: New US-Russia Partnership? Hold the Cheers!

Global Research, January 29, 2017
Trump and Putin

Except for cooperating during WW II to defeat Nazism, America has been largely adversarial toward Russia for the past century.

On Saturday, Trump and Putin spoke by phone. Discussion lasted nearly an hour. Both leaders agreed to continue “regular personal contacts.”

They’ll meet later in the year for face-to-face talks on an unspecified date at a mutually acceptable venue. A White House statement said the following:

The positive call was a significant start to improving the relationship between the United States and Russia that is in need of repair.

Both President Trump and President Putin are hopeful that after today’s call the two sides can move quickly to tackle terrorism and other important issues of mutual concern.

A more detailed Kremlim press service statement said “(t)he pressing international problems, including tackling terrorism, the developments in the Middle East, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the strategic stability and non-proliferation area, the situation around Iran’s nuclear program and the Korean Peninsula were discussed in detail.”

The key aspects of the Ukrainian crisis have been touched upon as well. It has been agreed to establish partner-type cooperation in those and other areas.

The presidents spoke in favor of creating real coordination of Russian and American actions with a purpose to defeat the ISIL and other terrorist groups in Syria.

Both sides demonstrated their will to take joint steps to stabilize and expand the cooperation between Russia and the United States, on a constructive, equal and mutually beneficial basis.

It was stressed that it is important to restore the mutually advantageous trade and economic ties between business circles of the two countries, which could further enhance a gradual and sustainable development of bilateral relations.

Saturday’s conversation was the first one between both leaders since Trump’s inauguration. One phone call doesn’t erase a century of US-instigated hostility, its longstanding plans for regime change, thousands of US-led heavily armed NATO forces positioned on Russia’s borders, and virtually the entire Congress opposed to normalized relations.

Putin reportedly told Trump he sees Washington as Russia’s most important partner in fighting the scourge of terrorism.

After his deceptive reset outreach, Obama hugely soured bilateral relations. Stepping back from the brink won’t be easy, warm relations likely impossible after adversarial ones for so long.

Bipartisan congressional consensus irresponsibly considers Putin public enemy number one. America’s intelligence community and major media challenged Trump’s legitimacy.

Congress may block lifting sanctions on Russia by executive order. Trump said he’s open to doing it “if we can make some good (bilateral) deals…”

He tweeted and publicly said having good relations with Russia is a good thing. He warned only “fools” believe otherwise.

Moscow is no stranger to US duplicity, its practice of saying one thing and doing another. Putin will proceed cautiously in relations with Trump.

He’ll welcome anything positive, knowing things can change unacceptably any time for any reason. It happened so many times before.

Last week, addressing Russia’s lower house State Duma, Sergey Lavrov said “(w)e have no illusions that there will be a new reset with the United States. We have no naive expectations.”

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

 

Lifting of Sanctions Could Be Costly To Russia

By Paul Craig Roberts

January 27, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – Tweets on social media say Trump is about to lift the sanctions placed on Russia by the Obama regime. Being a showman, Trump would want to make this announcement himself, not have it made for him by someone outside his administration. Nevertheless, the social media tweets are a good guess.

Reports are that Trump and Putin will speak tomorrow. The conversation cannot avoid the issue of sanctions.

Trump during his first week has moved rapidly with his agenda. He is unlikely to delay lifting the sanctions. Moreover, there is no cost to Trump of lifting them. The sanctions have no support in the US and Western business communities. The only constitutuency for the sanctions were the neoconservatives who are not included in the Trump administration. Victoria Nuland, Susan Rice, Samantha Power are gone along with much of the State Department. So there is nothing in Trump’s way.

President Putin is correct that the sanctions helped Russia by pushing Russia to be more economically independent and by pushing Russia toward developing economic relationships with Asia. Lifting the sanctions could actualy hurt Russia by integrating Russia into the West. The Russian government should take note that the only sovereign country in the West is the United States. All the rest are US vassals. Could Russia escape the same fate? Anyone integrated into the West is subject to Washington’s pressure.

The problem with the sanctions is that they are an insult to Russia. The sanctions are based on lies that the Obama regime told. The real purpose of the sanctions was not economic. The purpose was to embarrass Russia as an outlaw state and to isolate the outlaw. Trump cannot normalize relations with Russia if he lets this insult stand.

Therefore, the social media tweets are likely to be correct that Trump is about to lift the sanctions. This will be good for US-Russian relations, but perhaps not so good for the Russian economy and Russian sovereignty. The Western capitalists would love to get Russia deep in debt and to buy up Russia’s industries and raw materials. The sanctions were a partial protection against foreign influence over the Russian economy, and so the removal of the sanctions is like removing a shield as well as removing an insult.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West, How America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

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Failed Anti-War Rallies and America’s Wars: Why I Am Not Joining This Weekend March in Washington (or Anywhere Else)

Global Research, January 20, 2017
Women take part in a protest against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Chicago

On February 15, 2003, when millions reportedly filled the streets of U.S. cities to oppose the invasion of Iraq, I was in Mosul. Yes, the Mosul Iraqi forces are poised to retake, the Iraqi city adjacent to Nineveh, the ancient site trashed by ISIL.

For 12 years, from 1990 to 2002, it was evident that the U.S. and its chief allies, England and Israel, were bent on wholly destroying Iraq. Millions died (lives lost before 2003 are not figured into ‘Iraq body count’); millions more were stricken by one disease or another, fell into poverty, or fled. That war was carried out under the auspices of our global peace agency, the United Nations, in a multi-pronged U.S.-designed and policed blockade. So successful was that embargo, so intimidated or distracted was the public, that only a handful of individuals, mainly Europeans, dared to enter Iraq to document that onslaught, the resulting ‘humanitarian’ disaster, and the collapse of a remarkable modern society and an ancient civilization.

http://johnpilger.com/videos/paying-the-price-killing-the-children-of-iraq

By 1998, after eight brutal years of punishment and deprivation, unexpectedly and wondrously, Iraq began to reverse its downward trajectory. And, when the enemy (U.S.A./U.K./Israel) saw its embargo was collapsing, they raised the WMD scare and activated their military option. Seeing their government preparing for a massive assault, the American public awoke in panic, afraid not for Iraqis but for their own sons and brothers.

Hoards unmoved by 12 years of Iraqi suffering and deaths suddenly erupted with anti-war fervor: “No blood for oil”, “Not in our name”, “We are the greater truth”. The largest rally in history would be remembered as “an incredible moment”—800 cities. Today liberals of all stripes boast of their anti-war devotions, their respect for Iraqi civilization, their opposition to violence. They all loved peace; they loved Iraqi people. (Later they would claim, “while we couldn’t prevent war, we proved it’s clear illegality”.)

It was sobering to be inside Iraq that February 15th in 2003. Together with my friends in Mosul I watched news of the purported millions rallying across the world on Iraq’s behalf. But no one inside Iraq was impressed. The protests had nothing to do with Iraqis. Where had these peace devotees been for the last decade? Those rallies were, we felt, disingenuous–just a panic attack by a naïve people who wanted to assure themselves that they are kind, moral, knowing.

Within Iraq we felt a confused sadness, and surrender. No one knew from where the enemy would descend. Their decimated forces could not defend Iraq’s borders. There was nowhere to run, to hide. To whom could they plead for intervention? People called their families– to gather loved ones near. Everyone prayed silently. Millions sat in a daze, waiting. Hearing about that impulsive interest in peace around the globe did not stir us, not at all. It was late, and childish.

How does that history bear on today’s rallies across USA? Like the righteous anti-war upsurge of 2003, this weekend’s march is a demonstration of liberal America’s panic—a belated attempt to redress a wrong, a mistake, a realization of having been coddled and misled, or misinformed. Those retreating to the street to shout “Not my president” are secretly admitting they goofed. It’s not Trump’s or Clinton’s missteps motivating them. It’s their own errors: their misunderstanding of how democracy works.

Week after week these ‘good guys’ used their (first amendment) freedom of speech repeating daily gossip generated over Facebook and the media, a deluge of funny, encouraging, or bizarre utterances by Sanders, Clinton, Carson or Cruz, and especially by Trump, while ignoring the senate races, state legislative elections, their own district politicians and neighbors with different ideas. Like-minded friends huddled in social networks agreeing that they knew best, that their single news source offered the truth.

There were so many clever quotes to relay, so many alarming things said, so much money spent, such good satire. Overwhelmed, liberals panicked and sought shelter with the familiar. Even those who foreswore network news couldn’t resist indulging crazy quotes and caricatures. When Nov. 8th arrived, perhaps many didn’t bother voting, as if only presidential candidates were on the ballot.

Some knew Clinton would win from their holy book, the New York Times. After all, Clinton was endorsed by a Nobel laureate, Michael Moore, and Noam Chomsky. And millions of feminists were determined that America must finally catch up to the rest of the world with its own woman leader.

We know what happened. And we see today, similar to Feb. 15, 2003 preceding the invasion of Iraq, these good guys find that they have been misled, misinformed, misguided, overconfident, and a minority—just plain out of touch. Some actually wept. When conceding defeat, Clinton addressed her distraught supporters as if they were children.

About the failed 2003 anti-war rally, one unapologetic organizer noted:

“While we did not prevent the Iraq war, the protests proved its clear illegality….” This weekend’s marches are expressing essentially the same message. As John Whitehead writes in his Rutherford Institute 01/19/2017 newsletter: “If those marches and protests are merely outpourings of discontent … with no solid plan of action or follow-through, then what’s the point?”

Some Republican TV presenters’ advice to despondent liberals is:

“You lost; get over it; suck it up”.

The only value of the marches and protests is to energize, rebuild networks, and identify new leaders. Meanwhile a rush of guidebooks, some humorous, for living in the new America have been rushed though the press. Among them is Gene Stone’s Trump Survival Guide. In a radio interview, Stone (http://wamc.org/post/trump-survival-guide) offers some solid counsel, invoking successful organizing strategies of the opposition. I would also advise liberals to dump their New York Times subscription   (although I’m dismayed to learn NYT readership rose after Nov 8th);

The major issue for liberals is: can you learn to cross the isle? America is smitten with a polarized two party system. And liberals thus far seem disinterested in either cleaning up the Democratic Party or building a new movement independent of it.

Just don’t take too long to figure out the way forward.  END

Reporting from Cuba: The absence of right…wing politics

by Ramin Mazaheri

It is with great regret that I have to leave Havana after 1 month of special-assignment reporting for Press TV in order to return to Paris.

That may surprise a lot of people, but think of what type of work I am returning to: Stories about unabashed capitalism, chauvinistic neo-imperialism, anti-Muslim xenophobia and the upcoming presidential contest in which the only 2 serious contenders are a right-wing candidate and the far-right National Front.

Why is reporting in France (leftist reporting) considered easy? I cannot count the number of times I have been tear-gassed in the last year while covering on France’s anti-government protests, due to ineffective austerity policies.

Let’s not forget that France is still (14 months now) a police state of emergency, one step short of marital law. The government’s power grab due to just 2 terror attacks continues to undermine France’s claim of democracy (the Nice tragedy was a crazed lone wolf and not organized by any terror group).

And yet it was Cuba which was described as “militarist”, “tyrannical” and “dictatorial” across the West following the recent death of Fidel Castro.

Well, working in Cuba has been totally free of the reactionary violence which is a daily occurrence in France. It has been a celebration of leftist resistance, and the honoring of amazing advances in the face of the genocidal US-orchestrated international Blockade.

I was quite happy to spend 1 month of my life to defend the modern democratic will of the Cuban people and thus the ongoing Cuban Revolution. About all I am looking forward to in France is the bread.

Cuban bread – the type the average person eats and which I regularly bought at local, state-run panaderías – is an offense to bread everywhere. Cubans rightly pointed out that it was the best they can do when the Blockade makes things like oil, butter and salt scarce. Sure, a piece of the subsidized “staff of life” costs just one-fourth of one US penny, and it did keep me from hunger many nights, but I will remember it only as the bitter taste of omnipresent US imperialism, which tastes bad even when dipped in evaporated milk.

In France I defend more than just the culinary endowments of Western Europe’s geographical breadbasket, I defend the democratic will of the people (when France isn’t being reactionary and racist). However, I am part of a very small minority, both socially and as a journalist. In Cuba, I am not, and it has been wonderful.

Why is it like this? Why is France so rich and yet so troubled? Why do I have such trouble finding positive stories there? I have an idea:

In Cuba a far-right simply does not exist – racism, xenophobia and such reactionary stupidities are banned. If you call that “tyranny”, all I can say is that I side with the Cubans in refusing to defend to the death your right to spread inequality, hate and regression.

And what I cannot stress enough is the enormous effect the absence of a right-wing clearly has on the hearts, minds and daily bearing of the Cuban people.

You cannot simply chalk up to the weather the yawning difference between the open-hearted Cubans and the cold, unfriendly, excessively forma and pessimistic French. Surely it is more due to the corrosive cultural effect of tolerating right-wing thought.

Just imagine for yourself what your Western nation would be like if there was no far-right influence? If the goals of racial solidarity and economic equality simply could not be questioned, and had to be promoted?

That’s what Cuban culture has that the West does not, and such cultural gold is both beyond measure and incredibly rare anywhere in 2017.

It clearly gives many French the jollies to insult, denigrate and promote competitiveness, but I assume this is why the silent majority is nauseated, depressed and reportedly adulterous.

But right-wing thought is more than just tolerated across the West, it is avidly promoted by both government and media. From chauvinistic nationalism to capitalist neoliberal dogma which has no factual grounding in reality to “on what moral ground could you possibly claim” humanitarian interventionism – with such ideological tent poles, how can any Western nation claim to be more “modern” or “humanistic” than Cuba?

And yet, the total war against leftist thought means that it’s the French who are considered “modern” and “advanced”. Paris is city full of rich old people who can afford to live in the past – Havana, so close to the belligerent United States, cannot afford such illusions.

People said I could not “report from Cuba”

The idea was something like that I would be prohibited, spied on, redacted and thought-controlled.

Nothing like that happened remotely. It was quite simple, and here is how you do it: You work with the government, not against it.

You don’t sneak into the country on a tourist visa and do a halfway job – you get a formal journalist visa and follow their laws. You provide the government with a list of story ideas and be upfront about what type of journalism you want to do. You meet with them a few times. You talk with them as equals. You remind them that they know more about their own society than you do, and welcome their ideas. You act like what you are – a guest, and not some zealot missionary there to spread light and truth amid darkness and lies.

This is all to show the government that…you are not one of the very many advocating the destruction of their society and culture.

If you cannot understand why Cuba would be vigilant in this respect, you are not smart enough to be permitted to report from here and I hope your visa request is denied!

If you say “such governmental oversight proves the press is not free”, I encourage you do just a bit of research to find out how Iran’s Press TV, to give one example, has been banned, hounded and subverted in places like France, the UK and the US.

There is a crucial difference here: I don’t ever recall Cuba claiming to be a beacon of free press. I have heard the same false claims from the three Western countries just mentioned.

Bottom line: The Cuban Center for International Press was only helpful in my work, and never once did they do anything which I considered remotely infringing on my press freedom.

They permitted me access wherever I wanted to go, helped find me appropriate analysts, and if I had more time here they would have been even more help. They did not redact anything, nor did they have the chance to as they never even asked to see my final products – my work was published without any oversight from the Cuban government whatsoever.

What did I learn from 1 month reporting in Cuba?

If you only read one paragraph, read this:

I talked to dozens of people here, maybe over 100, and from all ages and backgrounds: What seems rock-solid to me is that Cuba is not changing, post-Fidel. He gave up power 9 years ago anyway, so there is no huge sea change due to his death, just a profound sadness for a national hero. I repeat – if you think Cuba is an island adrift, come visit and talk to the people.

Let’s make one key idea clear: The Cuban Revolution is clearly supported en masse.

Their wrong hypothesis is: That the Cuban Revolution was the work of just one exceptional man, Fidel, instead of the combined, sustained efforts of millions of people.

My hypothesis: Not one but two generations have grown up under a total Blockade, so how could they not support the Revolution? Who could go without so long under the gun of a blockade, being deprived of so many basic opportunities, and not be converted? They have no illusions here that the US can or should be trusted; they are committed to independence, anti-imperialism and solidarity with and for all.

This is the main point I take away from Cuba: The Cuban Blockade is an absolute crime against this noble, modern culture.

If you had to rank it, you could place slightly behind the Nazi genocide against Jews, and the Israeli genocide against Palestinians. But the Cubans justifiably call the blockade “The longest genocide in history”. Are not all three the attempt to kill an entire people and destroy an entire culture? This is exactly what is going against Cuba.

Let’s dispense with another idea: The Cuban government/Communist Party also has widespread support because Cuba has been able to do so much despite such total aggression.

Gaping tourists appear slightly more idiotic in Cuba than elsewhere, because the lack of infrastructure is a surprise. This is a poor country, and that is obvious everywhere.

This country is so impoverished that there should be widespread famine – there isn’t, as the people appear very robust. There should be widespread begging in Havana – there is literally none, save one or two drunks. They should be illiterate and jobless and sick – they aren’t.

The lack of these things amid such poverty perfectly explains why Communist Party has justifiably earned the support of the people.

And I could go on here about how Cuba’s system is, in fact, democratic, with popular votes, easy access to candidature, bans on election campaigning, mechanisms for recall, etc., but this is not a dissection of Cuba’s system of communist democracy, which is not at all a contradiction. It is, however, all there in black and white and in the law for those who want to learn more about it.

Anyway, we need space to discuss the fact that one need not even confuse the Cuban Revolution and the Cuban government: to do so is an attempt to construct a strawman argument, and this is precisely what anti-Cuban or anti-Castro forces do (and all they do).

Recall that I am coming from a place where the president has a 4% approval rating, and where his policies are so unpopular, so undemocratic, that he cannot even stand for re-election. This only confirms my thesis that nobody actually likes their government anywhere in the world and that complaining about any and every government is as natural a pastime as talking about the weather.

But despite all the people who hate Donald Trump, does anyone in the US really push for overturning the American Revolution of 1776? Of course not – it is the same here: You can be pro-revolution and anti-government without contradiction, if you insist.

If you are anti-Cuban government as well as anti-Cuban Revolution…you are just a reactionary fascist. The Cuban Revolution, undoubtedly, restored power, land and life to the people. It ended tyranny and foreign domination.

Now, if you do not realize that you should support the Cuban people’s popular choice of government in order to also give much-needed support their Revolution…well, then you are just an average Western fake leftist.

Yes, nobody here every told me that the Cuban government was the most effective, efficient group of men and women who levied taxes and monopolized the use of force, but you’ll never hear that anywhere. If you are looking for such “insights”, I suggest tuning into Washington-funded propaganda outlet Radio and TV Marti.

A government working amid the US-led Blockade genocide

Just as Sartre said that to understand communism must one first embrace its ideals, to truly understand the Cuban government (and by extension Cuban culture) one must first embrace the idea that they have provided food, health, education and security despite the orchestration of a trans-national blockade for nearly 60 years.

And what is the Blockade? Firstly, it is not what the US claims it is – simply a bilateral “embargo”. The US ruthlessly persecutes any nation which tries to do business or even aid Cuba.

It should be stunning to find out that any ship which docks in Cuba cannot dock in the US for 6 months. Cuba is an island nation, after all, hugely reliant on maritime shipping. But how many shipping companies can afford to bypass the world’s largest market just 100 kilometers away in order to work with Cuba?

The Blockade bans any 3rd party from importing products with Cuban sugar or nickel, their only natural resource. The Blockade bans half of all new, world-class drugs, causing innumerable deaths.

Cuba is locked out of the international banking system, crippling their ability to buy and sell goods.

The US even obstructs charitable donations!

This is total war against Cuba, given that invasion already failed at the Bay of Pigs.

The Cuban government deserves an incredible amount of accolades for providing the equal standard of living that they currently have.

Perhaps I am especially sensitive to all this as I am an Iranian citizen – I thought the US sanctions on our country were bad, but Cuba is another level. Iran benefits from increased distance from the US, 6 times more people, and plenty of oil, but innumerable Iranians have died due to the same lack of medication, modern technology and other aggressions against our popular, democratic revolution.

Iran’s development has skyrocketed since the end of the Iran-Iraq War, but even if you could import 10,000 Macintosh computers to Cuba you would find very few buyers because there is simply no money on the island.

It’s not just Cuban cars which are stuck in a time warp: Seemingly everything here dates from 1959, and that’s the new stuff!

That’s what happens after 6 decades of being unable to sell goods; 6 decades of having foreign investors scared off by the United States.

This is what the Communist Party has been up against for so intolerably long, and yet they still lead the hemisphere in many respects.

Obama apologists will point to Cuba as a success – don’t believe it

Opening an embassy was not gutting the Blockade, which he could have via executive order. Full stop. Obama apologists lose, alongside 11 million innocent Cubans. Please stop trying to defend the indefensible.

He also waited too long to even try – less than $400 million in goods have been exported to Cuba since 2014 – and now there are no “economic realities on the ground” which could prevent Trump from reversing everything, as he has promised.

Yeah I’m sure Cuba did go slow, but the dangerous of immediate US economic domination should be obvious. They also largely insist on productive joint ventures, not typical capitalist exploitation.

Exports to Cuba (mostly food) have actually fallen since restrictions were “eased”, and yet less food for Cuba is somehow a success?

Obama had a ton of executive power at his disposal and his main contribution will be to simply reopen communication, but there should be no doubt that he also strengthened the genocide.Even after restoring relations in 2014 his administration levied billions in fines against French and German companies for “blockade violations”.

The message was clear: there is no thaw in relations, and Cuba stays under our thumb.

Obama did not end subversive US programs, bans on imports and exports, a little torture chamber called Guantanamo on Cuban soil which he promised to close and didn’t – all could have been ended by executive order.

At the 11th hour Obama has just repealed the preferential “wet foot/dry foot” immigration policy. Kudos, better late than never. But by waiting so long he added to the US “brain drain” of Cuba for 7 years, 11 months and 51 weeks – he squeezed the most he could out them, I guess.

Try as his apologists might, Obama cannot be transformed into a leftist, because any clear-eyed analysis shows he’s not even a centrist. As is typical of his entire presidency he only represented a change in form and color, not a change in US tactics.

I was able to console Cubans with, “Iranians say the same thing”: They don’t report any changes following a so-called “historic thaw in relations”.

Getting started is always the most difficult, but going from 0 to 1 on a scale of 10 is not a major advance nor worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize.

In fact Obama just added 10 more years of sanctions against Iran, and he did it in his typical “form over substance” method: He didn’t sign the bill, but he allowed it to pass. This is the same thing but now he has plausible deniability.

Now his apologists can say that the sanctions are only the result of an “obstinate Congress”. It’s best to remember that it was assumed he would sign the bill, but this change of tactic was a surprise.

One step forward, 11 steps back, look good doing it, stress racial/identity politics – peaked on election night 2008, no doubt. No wonder many in Cuba support Trump, even though the Donald really only talked tough against Iran and Cuba.

I had so many stories left to do!

3,500 Cubans killed by Miami-based terrorists and not 1 American by Cuban revolutionaries; the occupation of Guantanamo Bay (the only far-right in Cuba, LOL); who will the US seek to assassinate now that Fidel has passed from natural causes; Raul is stepping down next year after two 5-year terms, what’s his legacy; who is Miguel Diaz-Canal, the 55-year old engineer tipped to become the new Communist Party leader; and much more!

But I am glad to have made my small reports. It is too bad that capitalism and imperialist forces dominate the West so thoroughly that pro-Cuban reports – i.e. reporting what the majority of Cuban people believe – are such an outlier in the English language; it’s too bad that so many English-language journalists are so heavily-indoctrinated that they look askance at any report which isn’t “balancing” the Blockade with accusations of tyranny and dictatorship.

I doubt I have made many friends in the Little Havana area of Miami – that’s no problem, because I don’t expect a warm reception in the Iranian-exile dominated area of Beverly Hills, either.

But enough about me and more about Cuba!

And this where Cuba deserves some criticism: They are failing terribly in the information war.

They have not realized that Cuba needs an international media presence like Iran’s Press TV, Venezuela’s TeleSUR and Russia’s RT/Sputnik.

In a place where technological development has been so forcibly retarded, I hypothesize that Cuba simply doesn’t realize that the Internet means that Cuba can finally broadcast their own story to the world; no longer is the world dominated by AP, Reuters and the New York Times.

Yes, such a media costs money, and Cuba is rightly focused on providing for the basic needs of their own people, but I know the world’s leftists are starving for information about Cuba, that Cuba has so many amazing stories to tell and that Cuba has so many fascinating programs to reveal.

Cuba is certainly the leftist leader of the Western Hemisphere – their history of resistance, geographic location and modern culture also makes them a global leftist leader. They need an international media which reflects that, for the good of international leftism. Granma is, after all, just 8 pages long.

Cuba is undoubtedly has a third-world economy – and that’s an unforgiveable crime created by the Blockade – but it is undoubtedly a first-world culture.

I leave Havana convinced that post-Fidel Cuba will not be regressing, and will remain an amazing place for so many of the right leftist reasons.

*****

One final note of interest I’d like to include:

As the longtime correspondent of Iran’s Press TV in France I take a special interest in Muslims – if I don’t cover the bottom of France’s social pyramid, who will? There are only 10,000 Muslims in Cuba, but I visited Havana’s main mosque and not one person said they had ever encountered governmental or even societal discrimination due to their religious belief. One person said he converted 13 years ago and had never heard any Muslim make such a complaint.

This is the exact opposite of what Muslims report in France, as well as much of supposedly “tolerant” Europe.

Of course, the idea that Cuba is anti-religion has been outdated for 2 decades – John Paul II was here in 1998. It’s only promoted by establishment media because it’s another form of anti-Communist propaganda.

Banning religion has clearly not been a long-term success for Communism anywhere, and Cuba recognized that and changed.

Yes, some hugely annoying (and US-based) evangelistic groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been banned, but perhaps they should consider not knocking on everyone’s door to aggressively convert people. When I lived in Gary, Indiana, they disturbed my Saturday morning too many times to count.

I’m not condoning religious oppression and I didn’t care to dig that deep into it, but I was reminded that seemingly every society has some religion that gets oppressed: Scientologists are harassed in Germany (even though I doubt many even know what its tenets are – I don’t), the US killed 82 Seventh-Day Adventists at Waco, Texas, Muslims are attacked in Burma, Jews are targeted for attacks in France, and the list goes on.

The biggest religion in Cuba may be Santeria – a distinctly Cuban-African mix. I visited the homes of White/Aboriginal people who put up elaborate altars to this West African religion, with pictures of Jesus and some Catholic saints added in. It’s pretty telling about the open-mindedness of Cuban culture that non-Blacks have widely embraced a religion which started among the Yoruba of today’s Nigeria.

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 Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television.

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