Al-Jaafari calls for lifting economic coercive measures imposed on Syria in the light of coronavirus outbreak globally

Monday, 30 March 2020 17:15 

ST

New York, (ST)_Syria’s permanent representative to the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari, called for lifting the illegitimate economic, coercive measures imposed on Syria and other states, particularly after the spread of Coronavirus in the world. 

Al-Jaafari, speaking at a UN Security council session on the situation in Syria via video, said that the continuation of the economic sanctions stresses the hypocrisy adopted by some sides in dealing with the humanitarian situation in Syria and those states. 

He thanked the People’s Republic of China, for presiding over the work of the Council in these difficult and exceptional circumstances, and for China’s efforts in assisting 89 member states affected by the emerging COVID-19 pandemic, in a true embodiment of the values and meanings of international cooperation, humanitarian feeling and impartial implementation of the responsibility of the Presidency of the Council in maintaining international peace and security under the provisions of the Charter. 

Al-Jaafari expressed hope to jointly overcome the catastrophic repercussions of this pandemic. This pandemic has united our peoples away from the efforts of some governments to create a rift between them, and revealed the fragility of the international structures that have existed since the end of the Second World War, and their inability to serve humanity and mankind. 

In this context, the Syrian delegation reiterated its strong condemnation of the unilateral economic coercive measures used by some governments of member states of this organization as a weapon in their sinful war against Syria, and on other member states, which prevent, among other things, the Syrians and their medical healthcare workers from obtaining their basic needs to prevent this pandemic and dealing with possible cases of infection, as well as preventing the provision of food needs and basic services to Syrians. 

“Persistence of imposing these unjust coercive measures that violate international law, the Charter of the United Nations and human rights instruments, and not responding to our repeated requests to end them, the most recent of which is contained in the joint letter sent by the Permanent Representatives of eight countries: China, Cuba, DPRK, Nicaragua, Iran, Russia, Syria and Venezuela to His the Secretary-General on 25 March 2020, demonstrate once again, what we have always emphasized in terms of hypocrisy that some have adopted in dealing with the humanitarian situation in my country and other countries. In this regard, my delegation welcomes the prompt positive response of the Secretary-General to the initiative of the eight countries,” al-Jaafari said. 

He added that Syria has received recently a number of high ranking officials of international organizations partnering with the Syrian government in humanitarian work, including Mrs. Henrietta Four, UNICEF Executive Director, and Mr. David Paisley, Executive Director of the World Food Program, Mr. Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The discussions with them were positive, and included stressing the pursuit of joint cooperation, in a manner consistent with the principles of non-politicized humanitarian action, and the willingness of the Syrian government to facilitate access to all parts of the country from within Syrian territory and through a mechanism that includes alongside the Syrian state both the United Nations and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to ensure that aid reaches those who deserve it and that it does not reach terrorists. 

“Syria has affirmed to its partners the necessity to compel the Turkish regime and its affiliated terrorist organizations to stop their crimes, and to enable the Syrian civilians detained by these terrorist organizations in some areas of Idleb to return to their homes in areas liberated from terrorism, and to provide immediate assistance to them from inside Syria, and support national efforts to normalize life once again,” al-Jaafari affirmed. 

He went on to say that Syria stresses that it is unacceptable to allow the terrorism-sponsoring Turkish regime to take advantage of the suffering of the Syrian refugees and use them as a bargaining card to blackmail Europe and pressure European governments to support this regime militarily under the umbrella of NATO or to give it advantages and privileges of European Union countries. It is also unacceptable to tolerate the Turkish regime’s support for terrorism and to transfer publicly, without shame, terrorists from Idleb to Libya and to other countries, after it had transferred, several years ago, many terrorists from Libya to Syria. 

“The Syrian delegation again draws the kind attention of the Security Council to the fact that the doors of Syria are wide open to receive Syrian refugees to return to their homeland, and that the Syrian state has created all conditions to ensure a dignified return to them,” al-Jaafari said. 

He condemned the prevention by the American forces and their affiliated terrorist gangs, which occupy al-Tanf area in which the Rukban camp is located, of the return of displaced persons in the camp to their chosen areas of residence. The Syrian government reaffirms its full readiness to facilitate their return and rid them of the inhuman conditions in which they live, and the exploitation of American occupation forces and their tools, which claim that they are unwilling to return. 

“The terrorist organizations supported by the Turkish regime still impose their control on some areas of Idleb Governorate,” al-Jaafari added. 

He went on to say that on Monday, March 16th, 2020, those terrorist organizations, supported by the Turkish occupation forces, attacked the facilities of humanitarian NGOs in the cities of Idleb and Ariha in northwest Syria, looting and seizing their assets, and assaulting their volunteers. 

“In my letter sent to your good self on March 24th, 2020, I conveyed to you that Erdogan’s regime and its terrorist proxies continue to use water as war weapon against civilians in Al-Hassaka city and surrounding congregations north-east Syria. It keeps cutting of the water from Allok station and its wells which prevents million Syrian civilians, the majority of which is children and women, from drinking water. This is a war crime especially in the time we are all trying to avoid the spread of COVID-19 pandemic,” al-Jaafari said. 

He stressed that some member states and OCHA were dead silent in dealing with such information, while they broke all hell loose because of alleged rumors of Gaziantep office, which became a hub for terrorist organizations and their supporting countries with the sole aim of tarnishing the image of the Syrian government. 

“In the phone call between the Syrian and the Russian presidents, on March 6th 2020, my government welcomed the achievements of the Russian leadership on March 5th, that adds to the efforts aiming to guarantee the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria expressed in the latest agreement. Furthermore, the agreement stressed the necessity of combating terrorism. The Syrian government has been fully committed to all ceasefire agreements that were concluded previously, and this also applies to the recent Moscow agreement concerning Idleb. Although we do not trust the Turkish part, that has not honored the two year- old Astana agreements, nor Sochi agreement that was concluded a year and a half ago before Moscow agreement, we are looking forward to the full and timely implementation of Moscow agreement by the Turkish regime’s terrorist groups, since it has guaranteed their commitment, the Syrian diplomat said. 

He underlined that Pederson has just conveyed to the UN that the Syrian national delegation accepted the agenda to continue the work of the constitutional committee. “Thus, the other party no longer has any excuse to evade its responsibilities, especially that its empty maneuvers and futile attempts were behind the impediment of the constitutional committee work. We were also informed that during the last period, the Syrian national delegation has suggested many proposals for an agenda according to the rules of procedure, but they were all rejected without any explanation, which led to the disruption of the Committee’s third session, until now,” al-Jaafari concluded.

Sitrep – Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua

February 19, 2020

Chris Faure for The Saker Blog

While the Mena is exploding in tensions, the Empire is hungry and is not leaving these countries in Latin America any breathing room. Although it can be argued that the circumstances are different in each, there are certain commonalities that can be pointed out.

Venezuela

The Trump administration warned early in February of “impactful” measures on the government of Venezuela

First was a blanket set of sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned airline CONVIASA. Why, you may ask? Well according to the administration, this airline is used to “shuttle corrupt officials.” We see the ‘rules based international order’ at work, as there is no evidence of corruption, but these days it seems as if one fights US sanctions, you must be corrupt. The rule of evidence for corruption now is resisting imperial sanctions. CONVIASA operates flight services to domestic destinations and throughout South America and the Caribbean.

The other notable event was that Guiadó went home to Venezuela on TAP, a Portugese airline, only to be ‘warmly welcomed’ by screaming Venezuelans beating him up. The Venezuelan Government suspended for 90 days the Portuguese airline, over what is formally declared as “some irregularities detected in Juan Guaido´s returning flight. The self-proclaimed ‘president’ returned to Venezuela after a tour of Europe and the United States on a TAP flight under a different identification, as Antonio Márquez, and his uncle was on the same flight, smuggling explosives.  Name change or no name change, he was still beaten up by Venezuelans.

Some good news is that the US Government’s case against the Venezuelan embassy protectors ended up in a hung jury, and the four protectors were not jailed. This was another failure in the open coup attempt on Venezuela.

The latest is that the US is placing more sanctions on Russia’s Rosneft Trading in relation to their quest for what they call “the opportunity for a transition of power” which the rest of us understand as color revolution and extraction of assets from a country working hard at their own sovereignty.

“Russia categorically repudiates unilateral restrictions, through which the US, which seeks global hegemony, is trying to make the whole world bend to its will. This has never influenced and will not influence Russia’s international policy, including its cooperation with the legitimate authorities of Venezuela, Syria, Iran and any other country,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Nicaragua

In Nica, as the locals call it, the startup to regime change has commenced. The Grayzone reports that the US embassy and European Union are meeting with right-wing Nicaraguan opposition leaders and pressuring them to unite against elected leftist President Daniel Ortega in the lead-up to the 2021 election. https://thegrayzone.com/2020/02/07/nicaragua-opposition-support-us-eu-coalition/

Sanctions are rolling in and this one is similar to what we saw in Brazil, and now in Bolivia, where the rightist evangelicals (usually Christian Zionist) are being used as the pressure point aiming to unseat the Sandinistas.

Nicaragua, according to the Empire under the guise of the Donald Trump administration has declared the small nation of Nicaragua to be a supposed “national security threat,” and has imposed several rounds of aggressive sanctions on the country, with the aim of destabilizing its economy.

Bolivia

After the contested election and a coup d’état that saw Evo Morales being expelled as President as well as having to flee from his beloved country, snap general elections will be held in Bolivia on May 3rd, 2020.

The situation on the ground is still that of a coup d’état. The indigenous Bolivian population which Evo Morales brought into the light and gave opportunity to flourish economically, is under stress, pressure and still being murdered as we speak.

Few people know that as in Venezuela, we are dealing with another Western backed self-elected interim president in Bolivia – Jeanine Añez. On declaring herself interim president, she also undertook not to run for the position in forthcoming elections. That undertaking did not last long though and she is a candidate now.

As in Nicaragua, we are also dealing with rightist evangelicals being used for political power. “Evangelical preacher Chi Hyun Chung exposed this corruption after he placed third in the last election but didn’t make it onto the ballot. Chung reported that these groups were asking for payments of between one million and 1.5 million U.S. Dollars for the right to use their names. He called on electoral authorities to intervene to end the practice.”

But was this a Western backed coup and how do we know that it was? The easiest to see, is who the golpistas immediately made friends with.

Ollie Vargas states : “The Anez administration’s ties to the U.S. are openly admitted. Evident in the dramatic speed with which Morales’ progressive foreign policy was torn up. Full relations were re-established with the U.S. and Israel and USAID was brought in to ‘cooperate’ in the elections and other government functions. However, less known are Anez’s hiring choices. One of the first advisors to be brought in to her inner circle was Erick Foronda, who was chief advisor to the U.S. embassy in Bolivia for 25 years prior to taking on the role with Añez.

The cooperation continues as the electoral campaign gets underway. Following the footsteps of many Bolivian rightists, Añez is now contracting the services of CLS Strategies, a U.S. political consulting firm, to provide “strategic communications counsel” during the coming elections. CLS Strategies is the same firm used by the government in Honduras after that country’s coup against Manuel Zelaya.”

The golpistas are doing their best to ban any candidate from MAS. The MAS radio channels are being banned and the people are being scattered violently wherever they gather. Evo Morales is still a candidate and has declared his candidacy from Argentina, where he has safe harbor. But he is not running for President. The presidential front runner for MAS (Evo’s party, the biggest voting block in Bolivia and generally known as The Movement toward Socialism) is Luis Arce. He has just had a conference with Evo Morales in Argentina, to plan the election. It is generally accepted that even since Morales left, MAS still has the majority and will win a fair election. This is clearly not the era of fair elections and the lastest news in, is that MAS is declaring an emergency as both Evo Morales as well as Luis Arce will be banned from running, under some invented pretext by the electoral commission.  The real issue is, despite the coup or golpe in Bolivia, despite the exit of Evo Morales, MAS is still winning.

The golpistas have serious western support, and MAS is not standing down from their Movement toward Socialism. The police forces are brutal toward the indigenous, one has no idea what the defense forces are really doing and the expectation is that we will have another coup type event arise as tempers are hot.

In the cities, it feels as if the right is winning, yet in the indigenous rural areas, MAS has a clear lead. This is where it stands now and one has to keep in mind that the rural areas are not being polled thoroughly.  The rural areas are all MAS supporters as it is these people that received an economic opportunity under Evo Morales:

C:\Users\NIETZS~1\AppData\Local\Temp\lu5700hdiuj.tmp\lu5700hdix9_tmp_7613a400b6ddbfce.jpg

Summary : Now that we have seen the similarities between a coup starting in Nicaragua, the longer lasting meddling in Venezuela, and the similarities in the playbook for Bolivia, we can only go back to Harold Pinter’s Nobel Acceptance Speech for Literature, 2005.

“It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self love. It’s a winner. Listen to all American presidents on television say the words, ‘the American people’, as in the sentence, ‘I say to the American people it is time to pray and to defend the rights of the American people and I ask the American people to trust their president in the action he is about to take on behalf of the American people.’ It’s a scintillating stratagem.”

“Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. “

https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/2005/pinter/25621-harold-pinter-nobel-lecture-2005/


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New memoire by Margaret Randall: Intrepid Anti-imperialist

by Susan Babbitt for The Saker Blog

Margaret Randall’s new memoire, I Never Left Home[1] is a story of resistance in Mexico, Cuba and Nicaragua. Now 83, in New Mexico, she is writer, teacher and mentor to younger artists. Randall is an intrepid, compassionate example of anti-imperialist creativity, with more than 150 publications of poetry and non-fiction, all demonstrating profound respect for ideas from the South.

It is not common. Two 2019 books on the Cuban Revolution, sympathetic to the leaders of that revolution, ignore the ideas that explain it. Centuries-long philosophical traditions, challenging popular ideas arising in Europe, now dominant in universities, are just left out. I return to this.

Randall integrated the 1968 protests in Mexico supporting the Cuban Revolution. With Sergio Mondragón, she founded El corno emplumado /the plumed horn, a bilingual quarterly publishing vanguard poets from North and South America from 1962-1969. In all, it published 31 issues and a dozen books. According to Roberto Fernandez Retamar, legendary director of the iconic Casa de las Américas in Havana, recently deceased, El Corno was a “great achievement”.

Randall worked sacrificially, without a salary. After the journal’s defense of Mexico’s 1968 Student Movement, it was closed. Randall was forced to leave Mexico (without a passport) and worked and raised children in Cuba from 1969-80. She then joined the “explosion of exuberance” that was the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua until its “death” provided reason to leave.

She returned to the US (1984) where she fought deportation from her country of birth for five long years.

Lived Lies

Yet Randall does not question the philosophical roots of imperialism. This is not a criticism. It is precisely because Randall is so respectful of ideas from the South that her fascinating story shows just how hard it is to question the philosophical roots of imperialism or even to identify them.

They are behaviour patterns and values. They are identity. In Dostoevsky’s Demons, liberal academic Stepan Trofimovich says before dying: “I’ve been lying all my life. Even when I was telling the truth …. The worst of it is that I believe myself when I lie. The most difficult thing in life is to live and not lie.”

It’s because lies are behaviour. Dostoevsky was a liberal in the 1840s and Demons (written in the 1860s when Russia was being flooded by new ideas like feminism, atheism, nihilism) exposes a problem. Its characters “eat” ideas. They don’t believe them, and they don’t know they don’t believe them. [2]

Beliefs can be tacit, presupposed, not acknowledged, just lived. This aspect of thinking is known in analytic philosophy of science in North America.[3] Philosophers call such beliefs “non-propositional”. They are not expressed in sentences. They explain behaviour, movement. You know what you believe by looking at how you live. And you may not believe that you believe what you in fact believe.

It is partly why, in the anti-war movement in the US in the 60s and 70s, there was a slogan: There are no innocents. It meant that a quiet white life was collusion in the slaughter abroad. Behaviour patterns and values lived day by day, sustained ideology justifying slaughter abroad.

Toni Morrison calls it the “story beneath the story” and James Baldwin a “burning fire”. The phenomenon – lies that are lived, without knowing – has been known in Cuba since the early nineteenth century. It’s been known elsewhere, in fact in many philosophical traditions outside Europe (and within Europe by Marx). The Buddha, for instance, was very clear that beliefs, which we identify with and out of which we create an image of or story about ourselves, arise mostly arbitrarily from habit patterns, our own and society’s. We are in bondage to such (often tacit) beliefs.

They prevent choice. It is partly why the Buddha taught mental control, through the practise of meditation, although this is not understood in the current “mindfulness” craze in the US. [4]

Randall picks out elements of the ideas that challenge dominant worldviews but does not put them together or draw the consequences. They have to do with power, as I explain further below. Throughout the memoire, she comes back to the question of power. It is, she writes throughout the book, the explanation for political failures in Mexico, Cuba and Nicaragua.

Maybe, but the problem is not power as such, as we will see. This is a mistake and she could know it. But again, this is not meant as criticism ; it is indication of how hard it is to recognize lived ideology.

In 1999 in Caracus, Fidel Castro said, “They discovered smart weapons. We discovered something more important: people think and feel.” The statement is about lies that are lived and how to know them.

José de la Luz y Caballero, in early 19th century Cuba, a priest who wanted independence, taught philosophy because of a lie: slavery. Progressives accepted it.[5] They couldn’t imagine life without slavery. Luz taught philosophy in order that privileged youth could know injustice when injustice is identity: lived lies.

Cuban philosopher and revolutionary, José Martí, later, identified another lie: that the South must look North to live well. He built a revolution resisting it in the nineteenth century. It extended into the twentieth. It was not just about the lie, but about how to know it: a revolution in thinking.[6]

Early independence leaders, and later Martí, studied thinking. This point gets missed.

About her experiences in Mexico, Cuba and Nicaragua, Randall comments on the deep connection, in each of these societies, between art and politics. Cuban philosopher Armando Hart, admired by Randall, has said the connection between art and politics is one of the Cuban Revolution’s most important ideological strengths.

It is about how we know. “People think and feel”. It has consequences, including for power.

Reciprocity

Italian philosopher, Antonio Gramsci, said everyone is a philosopher but only some are called philosophers. This is because everyone, at some moments, thinks philosophically. You ask yourself whether you’re living a good life, whether you’ve done the right thing, or whether you’ve been a good friend to someone. In such moments, you employ philosophical concepts. You do so without realizing.

How we think determines how we act. This is known in many philosophical traditions. In the West, we think that how I act and what I say is most important and what I think is private, of no practical consequence. For the Buddha, just to mention one philosopher who thought otherwise, “mind matters most”. [7]

What you think results inevitably in actions and words. It includes what you think of “human”, that is, what you think it means to be human and to realize your unique potential as a human being. But how you think about “human” depends upon your society. We consider this further in the next section.

Marx made this point and his philosophy[8] challenges an idea that dominated in nineteenth century Europe and even more so today. It is the view that who I am – my self – is my mind, my thoughts. It goes back to René Descartes (1641) and evolved into ideas of identity, rationality and most notably freedom. They are ideas that are so deep-seated, culturally, that they are difficult to point out.

They are assumed, lived. This is part of the rationale for this current work, inspired by Randall.

Both Luz and Martí taught that “people think and feel”. It’s about reciprocity. Interconnectedness is a trendy idea among some philosophers, especially feminists, who emphasize relationships and emotional sensitivity. They urge connectivity as an antidote to liberal individualism, and a source of knowledge. Cuba’s philosophers, especially Martí, broke that trail in this hemisphere long ago, as I explain.

A new book on the US medical system identifies just such thinking, known to science, but hard to practise. Reciprocity involves experiencing – that is, feeling – relations between people, and becoming motivated, even humanized. Anyone seriously ill in the US (and Canada), knows medicine is not about care. Soul of Care, by Harvard psychiatrist, Arthur Kleinman, explains why.[9]

The failure is systemic. He cites an educator at a major US medical school, who feels like a “hypocrite” teaching about care. She knows doctors don’t have time to listen and are not so encouraged. Medicine is about “cost, efficiency, management talk”. Survival “depends on cutting corners, spending as little time as you can get away with in human interactions that can be emotionally and morally taxing.”

As Kleinman tells his personal story, of caring for his beloved wife, Joan, he offers a different view. Caregiving is not a moral obligation; it is existential. At its heart is reciprocity, the ““invisible glue that holds societies together”. In caregiving, one finds within oneself “a tender mercy and a need to act on it”. Caregiving, Kleinman argues, made him more human

Reciprocity offers solutions not identifiable previously. It matters for science, for truth. But the capacity must be cultivated. “Being present” means submitting intellectual judgment, on occasion, to experience of feelings. One can’t just decide to do it without preparation.

Yet such training is not happening. It’s not likely to. It contradicts “politically useful fictions” like the “self-made man”.

Two points stand out: Reciprocity makes you. Its value is not moral. It is about who you are, as a person. It explains capacities. Exercising reciprocity, you gain capacities. You gain energy, drive, wisdom. Second, reciprocity has epistemic value. It leads you to truths that could not be accessed otherwise.

These points are made by a US scientist. He is not a Marxist. He is a caring, sensible, medical professional and he draws on his own personal experience to make a case of urgent philosophical merit.

The same case was made by the nineteenth century independistas who rejected, thoroughly, a view of freedom arising from Europe. They understood that (1) it disallowed the acquiring of human capacities and (2) it made truth, especially about what it means to be human, inaccessible. On this, more anon.

Kleinman says medicine needs help from sociology and “even philosophy”. But the myth of the self-made man is taught in philosophy. It’s called philosophical liberalism. Liberalism is not just a political view. It is importantly philosophical, and it is assumed by many who do not call themselves liberals: feminists, anarchists, Aristotelians, environmentalists. If you look closely at the arguments you discover they assume liberal ideas of identity, rationality and autonomy.[10]

Philosophical liberalism denies person-making reciprocity. It becomes unimaginable in the way Kleinman so compellingly describes.

Marx taught such reciprocity – the kind that recognizes receiving back, cause and effect, giving. So did Lenin, the Buddha, and Christian philosophers, Thomas Merton, Jean Vanier and Ivan Illich. We don’t teach these philosophers in philosophy departments in North America. We barely recognize them.

Caregiving is so alien to medical practise that Kleinman’s “modest proposal” is to omit it from the curriculum altogether. Nonetheless, as he points out, health institutions claim to care about care. Kleinman’s colleague says: “We can’t even tell ourselves lies we can believe in”.

But they can. Whole societies can, and we do. “There are no innocents”, as they said in the 70s.

Group Think

The early Cuban independence activists, not radical, knew something about thinking that is now uncontroversial in analytic philosophy of science in North America. What they knew is this: All individual thinking is “group think”.

Everyone wants to be “authentic”: a real individual. Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor referred to an “age of authenticity” in which the priority is happiness and choice: my own, of course.[11] But philosophers of science argue that in every instance of individual thinking, you name what you are thinking about. You say to yourself, “I am falling in love”. Why call it “love”? it is because of what you saw on TV.

Every act of thinking, no matter how private, involves naming. And names come from society. They are not from you. Names are socially dependent, a result of the “group”. Your “private”, individual thinking is always group think.

There is only one way to avoid group think. Cuban philosopher Cintio Vitier uses the word “teluricidad” (earthiness) to link Luz y Caballero and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, then Martí and eventually Fidel and Che Guevara.[12] Teluricidad has to do with feeling and how it moves us beyond conformity, if we have the guts to think it matters.

It takes guts because it challenges an entire world view: liberalism. Part of philosophical liberalism is an intellectual idea of rationality. It makes feelings suspect, as is explained further below.

That Descartes was wrong is cliché, but his view is influential. It is the idea that my self is my story, my memories. I act freely when I act from “within.” Yet there is no “within”, at least not unless you learn mental control, which Is not valued in the West and the North, although it was in ancient times.

Brilliant Cuban philosopher, diplomat and politician, Raúl Roa, argued in 1953 that the world was passing through its gravest crisis ever.[13] It was because the consolidation of US power brought with it a conception of human beings. It was an idea that arose in the Renaissance, which was not a rebirth of ancient humanism which recognized contemplation but, instead, the invention of a view appropriate for capitalism: homo faber, the man of action.

Roa calls it the “world’s gravest crisis” precisely because it makes moral and human truth implausible. Liberalism separated fact and value: There is no truth about value. It’s a convenient view if you live in the rich and powerful part of the world.

When I started reading philosophers from the South – those who resisted imperialism and colonialism – I discovered that they didn’t ask whether there is knowledge about value.[14] They had no doubt. I discovered the same about the Buddha. He didn’t ask whether there is knowledge about value. He assumed there is. [15]

The existence of moral and human truths is, arguably, an essential dividing point between Eastern and Western philosophy. It has significant implications.[16] The point for now is that philosophers from the South – at least those who resisted imperialism and colonialism – are more Eastern than Western in this crucial respect.

Roa could see this. Luz, mentioned above, taught philosophy because of the implication of European (liberal) philosophy for truth. He knew slavery was a lie. But slavery was an injustice lived by the privileged classes, somewhat like the division between North and South is lived by the rich North today: an identity. We consider ourselves “lucky” when we should, if we were honest, feel shame.

Luz saw the intersection between art and nature, feelings and science, faith and proof. He was a scientist who taught philosophy, credited by historians for teaching Cubans “how to think”. Roa’s point, in 1953, from Cuba, in the South, is that homo faber doesn’t contemplate such intersections. Homo faber doesn’t tolerate insecurity. Homo faber controls.

Desires, preferences, values, life plans are from without. They are a result of cause and effect. Thinking, desiring, planning, no matter how supposedly private, involves naming. Feeling does not. Alright, it sometimes does, such as in the example above about falling in love. But it doesn’t have to. Thinking always involves naming. It can’t happen without naming. And names are shared.

The Buddha knew this 2500 years ago, and he taught people to control their minds, so they could feel without naming.[17] That’s partly what meditation is about, although it is not how it is understood currently, as mentioned above.

The “Problem” of Power

Even before Martí, radical Cuban liberation activists condemned a popular presupposition of European philosophy: We act on “our own” when we follow our dreams just because they are ours. Some call it “the bourgeois myth of self-origination”, the idea that we ourselves cause our desires.

Che Guevara called it a cage: One attempts to escape alienation by doing one’s own thing but the remedy “bears the germs of the same sickness”, not permitting “escape from the invisible cage”.[18]

The cage is not just power structures. It is also accepted beliefs, stories, memories. But these depend on power structures. Martí mistrusted “the Yankee and European book”, at least for democracy, because “imported forms and ideas … have in their lack of local reality” prevented real self-government. Some of those ideas were about freedom itself: what Isaiah Berlin called “negative freedom”. It is the idea, roughly, that you are free if nothing gets in your way, within limits.

It is not the only idea out there in the history of philosophy. It is certainly not the most sensible. Human beings, like every other entity in the universe are subject to cause and effect. Reciprocity. It means, as Marx said, that we change the world that changes us. We know the world as it acts upon us, changes us, transforms us, sometime in ways we do not choose or even understand.

This is how we get truth, not by looking “inside” at a mythical “self”, mostly invented.[19]

Martí praised the poet José María de Heredia who dared “to be free in a time of pretentious slaves”, suggesting that “pretentious slaves” are “so accustomed . . . to servitude that [they become] … slaves of Liberty!” We can only become free when we understand the causal forces that determine our thinking and do the work to properly challenge and change such structures.

In doing so we exercise power.

Martí, admired by Randall and translated into English by her mother, states in his famous “Our America” that Latin American leaders must bring about “by means and institutions . . . the desirable state in which every man knows himself and is active”. [20] This is a remarkably unliberal claim. Individuals, Martí is saying, know themselves, not by looking “within”, but “by means and institutions” brought about by good government, that is, through the government’s exercise of power.

It doesn’t mean there have not been misuses of power in Cuba. In 26 years of going there regularly I have not met anyone who would deny misuses of power. But it changes the analysis.

Randall admires Cuba’s humanism, writing that “one of the Cuban revolution’s saving graces is [that] … a great humanity underpins its initiatives” (196). She quotes Che Guevara, who says a true revolutionary must be guided by “great feelings of love”. [21]

Philosophical liberalism devalues “feelings of love”. They are irrational. They cannot involve truth. Rationality is intellectual. It is what Fidel Castro was referring to when he said that better than smart bombs is recognition that “people think and feel”. He is referring to a philosophical view that has existed in many cultures, including the indigenous cultures of Central America that so profoundly influenced Martí, and which Randall cites.

It was the view of ancient philosophers like Chuang Tzu and the Buddha, and poets such as Rumi.

Cuban history makes such humanistic motivation believable. Cuban presence in Angola, according to historian Richard Gott, was “entirely without selfish motivation”. Cuba sent 300,000 volunteers between 1975 and 1991, more than 2,000 of whom died, to push back and eventually defeat apartheid South Africa. In Pretoria, a “wall of names” commemorates those who died in the struggle against apartheid. Many Cuban names are inscribed there. No other foreign country is represented.[22]

The US claimed that Cuba was acting as a Soviet proxy but according to US intelligence, Castro had “no intention of subordinating himself to Soviet discipline and direction.” He criticized the Soviets as dogmatic and opportunistic, ungenerous toward Third World liberation movements, and unwilling to adequately support North Vietnam. Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger wrote in his memoire 25 years later that Castro was “probably the most genuinely revolutionary leader then in power”.[23]

US Intelligence even identified the real motivation for Cuba’s costly involvement. Castro, it was reported, “places particular importance on maintaining a ‘principled’ foreign policy . . . [and] on questions of basic importance such as Cuba’s right and duty to support nationalist revolutionary movements and friendly governments in the Third World, Castro permits no compromise of principle for the sake of economic or political expediency.”

In 1991, Cuba’s “great crusade” led Nelson Mandela to ask, “What other country can point to a record of greater selflessness than Cuba has displayed in its relations to Africa?”

Cuba’s internationalism continues. In 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that “Few have heeded the call [to fight Ebola]s, but one country has responded in strength: Cuba.” Cuba responded without hesitation, sending more than 450 doctors and nurses, chosen from more than 15,000 volunteers, by far the largest medical mission sent by any country.

Explained philosophically, though, internationalism is a practical, not moral, obligation as it is often portrayed. Human beings are part of nature, and we depend upon nature, including other human beings. In 1998, Fidel Castro said that Cuba’s humanist project explains Cuba’s resistance to the US financial, commercial and economic blockade.

He cited the power of ideas, specifically ideas about the practical, not moral significance of internationalism. This gets missed. It is reciprocity: lived, not just theorized

Two books published in 2019, both sympathetic to Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution (to a point) miss it. Cubans call it the “battle for ideas”. It is about ideas but also about the nature of ideas, that they arise from feeling, for example, and not just from rationalization.

Cuba Libre! Che, Fidel, and the Improbable Revolution That Changed World History by Tony Perrottet [24] tells stories – good ones – about the guerilla struggle between 1956-8, leading to the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista. There is only caricatured reference to Martí and no explanation of the history of resistance that explained and energized the sacrifice that Perrotet describes as “improbable”.

It is not improbable if philosophical liberalism is rejected, as it was, and reciprocity is lived.

The second book, of note, is a “revisionist” view of young Fidel Castro [25] describing Fidel Castro as an individual with strengths and weaknesses, that is, as a normal human being. Jonathan Hansen does not explain why we should expect otherwise. Although Hansen mentions the struggle for “cuba libre”, he does not explain it. In particular, he does not mention resistance to European ideology and the driving force of a quite different vision of human freedom than the one the consolidation of which Roa identifies as “the world’s gravest crisis”.

It’s like writing a biography of Stephen Hawking without mentioning collapsing stars or imaginary time. No one would do it. But Hansen makes the strange claim that Castro loved only one thing: the revolution. He didn’t love anything else, not even his son. Would anyone say Hawking loved only one thing: cosmology? And nothing else? Cosmology shaped his life, and the revolution shaped Castro’s. Does that mean no love for human beings is possible?

It is a silly view, only plausible if not examined. And there’s the rub. Philosophers of science argue that we only find empirical evidence to support theories if we first, to some degree, believe such theories, even without evidence.[26] This means that we don’t examine that which we don’t find surprising.

It’s why Cuba’s “battle for ideas” does not get proper attention in Randall’s memoire. It is not expected. There is no question the answer to which is expected to be useful and interesting. This is how theory works. It depends upon judgments of interest and plausibility. There is no question about the battle for ideas because there is nothing we care about that the battle for ideas might explain.

So, ironically, the battle for idea can only matter if there is a battle for ideas: against philosophical liberalism. It makes human truths implausible and inaccessible. In the “age of authenticity”, as Charles Taylor points out, the priority is happiness and choice, and humanness is whatever you believe it to be.

It is not a plausible view for those who have struggled for centuries against dehumanizing imperialism and, for anyone who cares to look seriously, plenty of compelling evidence supports their position.

Conclusion

Cuba resisted the US embargo for sixty years. It defied predictions of imminent collapse after the disappearance of the Soviet Union. And when Fidel Castro stepped down in 2006 because of illness, Cuba again defied predictions— this time of internal squabbling and chaos. Julia Sweig, US Rockefeller senior fellow, noted a “stunning display of orderliness and seriousness” and concluded that the Cuban Revolution “rests upon far more than the charisma, authority and legend of [Raul and Fidel Castro].”

Far more than power.

The “far more” is philosophical, a vision of who we can be, and know ourselves as, as human beings. It predates Martí but was most radically realized by Martí, who thought political liberation does not long endure without spiritual freedom. He meant that sensitivity and humility matter more than knowledge because we gain capacity to respond to beauty, whether in ideas, people or events.

Only with such responsiveness can we know the unexpected, which may be humanness.

It is Cuba’s gift to the world. But it must be understood. It Is not simple and can even be disruptive. But it is urgent. It is not clear that Randall sees this. However, she has done more than many and deserves enormous credit. But what is missed matters. I believe she’d agree.

Notes:

  1. I Never Left Home: A Memoire of Time and Place (Duke University Press, 2020) 
  2. Richard Pevear “Introduction” Demons (Vintage, 1995). 
  3. E.g. Boyd, Richard N. “How to be a moral realist”, Geoffrey Sayre-McCord (Ed.), Essays on moral realism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988) 181-228; Kitcher, Philip, ”The Naturalists Return”, The Philosophical Review 101(1992 1): 53 – 114. 
  4. E.g. Ronald Purser, McMindfulness: How Mindfulness became the New Capitalist Spirituality (Penguin Random House 2019) HOW MINDFULNESS BECAME THE NEW CAPITALIST SPIRITUALITY HOW MINDFULNESS BECAME THE NEW CAPITALIST SPIRITUALITY By RONALD PURSER 
  5. Cintio Vitier, Ese sol del mundo moral (Havana, Editorial Félix Varela, 1996)10-18 
  6. Rodriguez, Pedro Pablo Pensar, prever, servir (Havana: Ediciones Unión, 2012) 
  7. Chapter 1 of Dhammapada found here: http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/scrndhamma.pdf 
  8. Allen Wood, Karl Marx (Routledge 2003) is arguably the best account of Marx’s philosophy (as opposed to his politics). Wood argues that many Marxists do not sufficiently consider Marx’s philosophy. 
  9. Penguin Random House, 2019. Review is here: https://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/soul-care-moral 
  10. I have argued this in “Anarchy a false hope? Latin American revolutionaries knew dhamma and saddha” Kalmanson, Leah, ed. Comparative Studies in Asian and Latin American Philosophies (Bloomsbury Press, 2018); “Political Freedom and Epistemic Injustice” in Ian Kidd, José Medina, Gaile Polhaus eds. Handbook on Epistemic Injustice (Routledge Press, 2017). 
  11. A Secular Age (Harvard University, 2007), 473-479). 
  12. Ese sol, op. cit., 14-18 
  13. Roa, Raúl “Grandeza y servidumbre del humanismo”, Viento Sur, Havana: Centro cultural de Pablo de la Torriente Brau 2015) 44-62 . 
  14. E.g. Brazilian philosopher, Paulo Freire, wrote that “authentic humanism” is “impossible” not to discover, even with deep-seated cultural, intellectual and political acceptance of imperialist and colonialist dehumanization. See Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Myra Berman Ramos (Trans.) (New York: Continuum Press, 2000) 43. 93. 
  15. I have explored this in Humanism and Embodiment (Bloomsbury 2014) 
  16. Ernesto Limia Díaz explains the ineffectiveness of the international left by this phenomenon: denial of moral truth in Cuba:¿fin de la Historia? (NY: Ocean Sur, 2015) 90 
  17. Hart, William, The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation as Taught by S.N. Goenka ( Harper Collins, 1987). 
  18. “Man and socialism in Cuba”. In David Deutschman (Ed.), The Che Guevara reader: Writings on guerilla strategy, politics and revolution (pp. 197– 214). (Ocean Press, 1997). (Originally published 1965) 
  19. Patrick Modiano’s Sleep of Memory (Yale University press, 2018) See review at https://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/sleep-memory 
  20. 1891 rpt. In Esther Allen (Ed. and Trans.), José Martí: Selected writings (Penguin Books, 2002) 290 
  21. “Man and socialism”, op cit, 211 
  22. Gleijeses, Piero, Conflicting missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959–1976 (University of North Carolina, 2002) 300-327. 
  23. Gleijeses, Piero, Visions of Freedom: Havana. Washington, Pretoria and the struggle for southern Africa (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2013) 306, 373, 521, 525, 526 
  24. Blue Rider Press (January 22, 2019). See review https://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/cuba-libre-che 
  25. Hansen, Jonathan M. Young Castro: The Making of a Revolutionary (Simon and Schuster, 2019). See review at https://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/young-castro 
  26. E.g. Philip Kitcher, Abusing Science: The Case against Creationism (MIT Press, 1982) ch. 2 

Message for my Latin American friends (in the form of a song)

The Saker

Dear friends,

I have to admit that I am absolutely heartbroken at the news coming out of Latin America.  Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Bolivia – everywhere the people are struggling against what has been known as “Yankee imperialism” for decades.  The pendulum of history has swung back and forth many times in Latin America.  I remember the civil war in Argentina just before the coup of 1976, I was still a kid, but I remember it all.  Then the coup, the vicious and ugly “dirty war”, the disaster of the (just!) war for the Malvinas, then the years of “democracy”.  Rivers of blood, and still the new era of freedom and peace everybody kept hoping for did not come.  Now, four or five decades later, the people of Latin America are still dying and suffering under the yoke of a CIA-installed and CIA-controlled comprador class which would gladly sell their mothers and daughters to Uncle Shmuel for a few bucks.

And yet.

And yet 40 or 50 years are short when seen from the point of view of history, other struggles in history have lasted much longer.  So, as a poignant reminder that we will never lose hope, nor will we ever accept oppression, here is a song by Pedro Aznar whose beautiful lyrics will be understood by everyone from Patagonia to Mexico’s northern border (including my Brazilian friends) and which beautifully expresses the hope common to all of us!

Venceremos!

The Saker

PS: if somebody had the time to translate these lyrics into English, I would be most grateful.

A few short comments about the Fascist coup in Bolivia

November 12, 2019

Source

These are the folks who just came to power:

They are all members of some kind of Fascist “Christian” cult.

This is what these folks did with those who dare oppose them:

Trump loves this.  He called it a

significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere” and then he proceeded to threaten two more Latin American states by saying “these events send a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail. We are now one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western Hemisphere”.

Old Uncle Shmuel is still hard at work

In fact, he has a very good point.  What this latest coup signals to all patriotic Latin Americans who want to see their continent free from US oppression is this: if you want to openly defy the diktats of the Empire, make absolutely sure the commanders of your armed forces are loyal to you.  Furthermore, you should never forget that the most powerful weapon of the Empire is not its bloated and mostly clueless military force, but its ability to use corruption to obtain by the printing press what they cannot seize by brute force.

So far, Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua have been successful in their resistance against Uncle Shmuel.  Likewise, there seems to be an internal (and covert) “hidden patriotic opposition” inside the Brazilian military (at least according to my Brazilian contacts) which might limit the damage done by the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff and the coup against Lula da Silva (for example, the Brazilian military has declared that they will not allow Brazil or Brazilian forces to be used in an attack against Venezuela).

Finally, the absolutely shameful behavior of many Latin American countries whose comprador elites are trying to catch up with Poland as the most abjectly subservient voluntary slaves of the Empire.  These countries all know that both Maduro in Venezuela or Morales in Bolivia were honestly elected and that all the rumors about a stolen election are nothing more than crude lies.  In sharp contrast, the so-called “US allies” in the region are all spineless prostitutes who are in power solely because of the support of the AngloZionist Empire.

In 1971 an Uruguayan journalist named Eduardo Galeano wrote a seminal book entitled “Las Venas Abiertas de América Latina” which was eventually translated into English under the title “The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent“.  This extremely famous book (at least in Latin America) is as actual in 2019 as it was almost half a century ago: the veins of Latin America are still bleeding and the folks doing the bloodletting have not changed one bit.

The only good news so far is that the US-backed regimes in Latin America are all facing various levels of protests and dissatisfaction which might lead to popular protests which could eventually remove the comprador elites once again, but this time around the leaders of the resistance need to truly understand that winning a popular vote is simply not enough: every time a truly patriotic regime comes to power, the US eventually is successful in using its agents in the ruling classes in general and especially in the armed forces to overthrow the popularly elected leaders.

Hugo Chavez made many mistakes, but that he got right, and that is why the US has not been able, at least so far, to trigger a color revolution in Venezuela.  Well, they tried and failed.  As for Cuba, it has resisted the combined might of the US Empire for many decades, so they also know something crucial.

Over the past decades the “front lines” between sovereign and free Latin American countries and US puppets has moved many times, and both sides felt at times victorious and at times despondent.

And yes, the coup against Morales is a HUGE blow to the resistance to the Empire.  The man was much more than just a leftist patriot, he was a moral symbol of hope for the entire continent.  Now that he is gone, a lot of Latin Americans will be as disgusted and sad as I am today.

I take some solace in Mexico’s decision to give Morales political asylum. I don’t know enough about Mexico to speculate on the motives of the Mexican President, but now that Morales is safe he can always relocate to another country if needed.

Should Morales ever come back to power, his first priority ought to be a profound purge of the military and the replacement of “School of the Americas” types with real patriots.  Doing this will not be a sufficient condition for success, but it will be a required one nonetheless.

The Saker

The head of the Russian GRU reveals US plans against Venezuela (MUST SEE!)

The head of the Russian GRU reveals US plans against Venezuela (MUST SEE!)

May 02, 2019

The U.S. wants to change the government in Venezuela and use Colombia to do that. The head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Vice-Admiral Igor Kostyukov, stated that. He made that statement at the conference on international security. It was held last week in Moscow.

‘America First’: A Stronger Monroe Doctrine

‘America First’: A Stronger Monroe Doctrine

FEDERICO PIERACCINI | 07.03.2019 | WORLD / AMERICAS

‘America First’: A Stronger Monroe Doctrine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US Declares War on ‘Troika of Tyranny’ Pushing Them Closer to Russia

US Declares War on ‘Troika of Tyranny’ Pushing Them Closer to Russia

US Declares War on ‘Troika of Tyranny’ Pushing Them Closer to Russia

The US is going to extend its “combat operations” — the sanctions war aimed at reshaping the world — to Latin America. Tough new penalties are planned against the “troika of tyranny,” consisting of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua “in the very near future.” This announcement was made by National Security Adviser (NSA) John Bolton on Nov.1 — a few days before the US mid-term elections — in an attempt to draw more support from Hispanic voters, especially in Florida. An executive order on sanctions against Venezuela has already been signed by President Trump, but that’s just the beginning.

It was rather symbolic that on the same day the NSA delivered his bellicose speech, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) voted overwhelmingly in support of a resolution calling for an end to the US economic embargo against Cuba. The document did not include amendments proposed by the US that would put pressure on Havana to improve its human-rights record.

This is a prelude to a massive escalation in US foreign policy, which will include the formation of alliances, in addition to the active confrontation of those who dare to pursue policies believed to be anti-US. “Under this administration, we will no longer appease dictators and despots near our shores,” Bolton stated, adding, “The troika of tyranny in this hemisphere — Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua – has finally met its match.” Sounds like a declaration of war. Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, and Peru are probably some of the nations the US is eyeing for a potential alliance.

Bolton’s “troika” includes only countries ruled by governments that are openly “red” or Communist.  The list of nations unfriendly to the US is much longer and includes Bolivia, Ecuador, Dominica, Grenada, Uruguay, and some other states ruled by leftist governments. Andrés Obrador, the president-elect of Mexico, takes office on Dec. 1. The Mexican leader represents the country’s left wing and looks like a tough nut to crack. Outright pressure may not be helpful in this particular case.

Now that this new US policy is in place, Moscow and Washington appear to have another divisive issue clouding their relationship. The “troika of tyranny” against which Washington has declared war enjoys friendly relations with Russia.

With Cuba facing tougher restrictions, new opportunities are opening up that will encourage the Russian-Cuban relationship to thrive.   The chairman of the Cuban State Council and Council of Ministers, Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his official visit to Moscow Nov. 1-3.  Their joint statement reaffirmed the strategic and allied relations between the two counties. Their long list of joint projects includes the deployment of a Russian GLONASS ground station in Cuba, which will give it access to a broad array of technical capabilities for satellite and telecommunications services and for taking remote readings of Earth. Russia will modernize Cuba’s railways. Sixty contracts are scheduled to be signed during President Putin’s visit to Cuba next year. Rosneft, the Russian state oil giant, has recently resumed fuel shipments to Cuba and is negotiating a major energy agreement.

Military cooperation is also to get a boost. The military chiefs are to meet this month to discuss the details. Moscow is considering granting Havana €38 million for Russian arms purchases.

The US-imposed restrictions are a factor spurring Russian exports to Cuba and other regional countries. When the US cut aid to Nicaragua in 2012, Russia increased its economic and military cooperation with that country. The memorandum signed between the Russian and Nicaraguan governments on May 8, 2018 states that the parties are to“mark a new step to boost political dialog” in such areas as “international security and cooperation through various international political platforms.”  Russia accounts for about 90% of Nicaraguan arms and munitions imports. It has far-reaching interests in building the Nicaraguan Canal in its role as a stakeholder and partner responsible for security-related missions.

President Vladimir Putin offered support for his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro after the United States rejected his reelection in May.  Russian energy giant Rosneft plays an important role in that country’s energy sector. It was Russia that came to Venezuela’s rescue in 2017 with a debt-restructuring deal that prevented the default that was looming after the US sanctions were imposed. This was just another example of Moscow lending a helping hand to a Latin American nation that was facing difficult times.

Russia is currently pursuing a number of commercial projects in the region, in oil, mining, nuclear energy, construction, and space services. It enjoys a special relationship with the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), which was founded by Cuba and Venezuela and includes Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua, among other countries. This grouping is looking to create economic alternatives to Western-dominated financial institutions. This cooperation with Latin American nations goes far beyond ALBA. For instance, the Peruvian air force is in the process of contracting for 24 additional Mi-171s, as well as establishing a maintenance facility for their helicopters near the La Joya base in Arequipa. A contract to upgrade its aging Mig-29 fighters is under consideration. In January 2018, Russia signed a number of economic agreements with Argentina during President Macri’s visit to Moscow.  All in all, trade between Russia and Latin American countries reached $14.5 bln in 2017 and is growing.

RT Spanish was launched in 2009, featuring its own news presenters and programming in addition to translated content, with bureaus operating in Buenos Aires, CaracasHavanaLos AngelesMadridManagua, and Miami.  Russia’s Sputnik media outlet has been broadcasting in Spanish since 2014, offering radio- and web-based news and entertainment to audiences across Latin America.

Some countries may back down under the US sanctions and threats, but many will not. There’s a flip side to everything. The policy could backfire. The harder the pressure, the stronger the desire of the affected nations to diversify their international relations and resist the implementation of the Monroe doctrine that relegates them to the role of America’s backyard.

Photo: Flickr

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