The Dastardly Russians Are Tampering with Our Democratic Elections! 2/2

US_Election_Meddling

The US Brings Democracy to the Mediterranean/2

During the Italian election campaign of 1948 the US extended and refined their menu of dirty tricks. They covertly financed the right-wing Christian Democrats and mounted elaborate media campaigns to discredit the left. American corporations spent millions of dollars to keep the Communists and Socialists out of power. This subversion of democratic elections was justified in the name of “saving democracy” in Italy. Eventually the communists made a modest comeback in Italian politics, thanks only to massive popular support.

The case of Greece was far worse. Beginning in the period 1946-49 the United States joined in the Greek civil war on the side of the neo-fascists against the Greek left, who had been the Americans’ loyal allies and reliable resistance fighters against the Nazis during the World War. The fascists won with American help and went on to become the dreaded “Greek colonels” regime which ruled with an iron fist between 1967 and 1974 until relieved under the pressure of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. The fall of the junta was followed by the establishment of the Third Hellenic Republic. The script for this grotesque nearly three-decade-long clown show was the familiar one: left-wing patriots liberate their country with US support; then the Americans turn on them and hand the country over to “reliable” fascists. American aversion to collectivist governments and enthusiasm for tutored right-wing dictatorships know no ends.

Asia Does Not Get Off Easy

The direction and ferocity of American intervention in Korea after the Second World War was no surprise. They suppressed Korean progressive elements who had been allies during the war in favor of ultra-conservatives who had collaborated with the Japanese, thus derailing the best possibilities of unifying the country. (They saw the possibilities for strategic US bases in Asia. There are still 30,000 US troops along the 38th parallel.) This suffocating of the left gave rise to a long series of corrupt, reactionary governments and, eventually the American-stimulated Korean War, laden with injustices, war crimes, not to mention American dead and wounded. Korea remains divided today and, not surprisingly, the United States continues to frustrate reunification.

Not to Bore You More, Here’s a Quick List

Blum’s book details many more cases of American interference in other people’s countries by means of propaganda, clandestine financing, bombing, assassinations and outright invasions. Their modus operandi is essentially the same in all cases, with varying degrees of ferocity. I don’t want to bore you, so I’ll just register the list here and let you google them yourself (or, better yet, buy the book):

  • Marshall Islands, 1946-58
  • Albania, 1949-53
  • Eastern Europe, 1948-56
  • Germany, 1950s
  • Iran, 1953
  • Guatemala, 1953-1990s
  • Costa Rica, mid-1950s-1971
  • Middle East, 1956-58
  • Indonesia, 1957-58
  • Haiti, 1959
  • Western Europe, 1950s-60s
  • British Guiana/Guyana, 1953-64
  • Iraq, 1958-63 to the present
  • Soviet Union, 1940s-1960s
  • Vietnam, 1945-73
  • Cambodia, 1955-73
  • Laos, 1957-73
  • Thailand, 1965-73
  • Ecuador, 1960-63
  • The Congo/Zaire, 1977-78
  • France/Algeria, 1960s
  • Brazil, 1961-64
  • Peru, 1965
  • Dominican Republic, 1963-65
  • Cuba, 1959 to the present
  • Indonesia, 1965
  • Ghana, 1966
  • Uruguay, 1969-72
  • Chile, 1964-73
  • South Africa, 1960s-1980s
  • Bolivia, 1964-75
  • Australia, 1972-75
  • Portugal, 1974-76
  • East Timor, 1975-99
  • Angola, 1975-1980s
  • Jamaica, 1976
  • Honduras, 1980sç
  • Nicaragua, 1978-90
  • Philippines, 1970s-1990s
  • Seychelles, 1979-81
  • South Yemen, 1979-84
  • South Korea, 1980
  • Chad, 1981-82
  • Grenada, 1979-83
  • Suriname, 1982-84
  • Libya, 1981-89 and afterward
  • Fiji, 1987
  • Panama, 1989
  • Afghanistan, 1979-92 and afterward
  • El Salvador, 1980-92
  • Haiti, 1987-94
  • Bulgaria, 1990-91
  • Albania, 1991-92
  • Somalia, 1993
  • Peru, 1990s-present
  • Mexico, 1990s-present
  • Colombia, 1990s-present
  • Yugoslavia, 1995-99

This is just to cite the most egregious examples… There are more.

How Does a Great Country Justify This Cruel and Unusual Behavior?

In the first place, the US government has never felt that they had to “justify” anything. They are, after all, Americans and, as God made them exceptional, they owe no explanations to anyone. This conviction of American exceptionalism is just as fatuous as “manifest destiny” or delivering democracy with Cruise missiles, but in the United States it passes for gospel.

What might be considered war crimes or crimes against humanity by less illuminated unfortunates, looks like mere business as usual to the top ranks of American democracy. Not only is it legitimate, it’s actually profitable for American corporations. Who could object to that?

Who’s Going to Propose a Remedy?

Recent US governments have been impressed by the fact that theirs is the most powerful country on in the world. That may be true; they are certainly well armed. But they seem to lose sight of three relevant facts:

  1. The United States is not the only powerful country on earth.
  2. They were equally well armed in Viet Nam, in Afghanistan and in Iraq.
  3. They have never had a commander in chief with the unique set of disqualifications embodied by President Donald Trump.

These examples of non-victories and leadership limitations remind us that there’s an element of hubris in American attitudes toward little countries with rich natural resources and/or strategic locations.  What comes after hubris? It will be interesting to see how that plays out next time.

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The Dastardly Russians Are Tampering with Our Democratic Elections! 1/2

interventions_map

It’s Them Pesky Russkies Again

The United States is up in arms against Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The Council on Foreign Relations affirmed shortly afterward that “foreign power interference” in the election had grave national security implications that touched off multiple federal inquiries questioning the security of the U.S. electoral process. The Council expressed fears that a rival power could influence an election’s results. That “rival power,” they maintained, was Russia.

The CFR is not alone. The CIA, FBI, and NSA issued a joint statement affirming that the Russian government conducted a “sophisticated campaign” to influence the 2016 election. According to the American intelligence establishment, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the effort in order to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and undermine the U.S. democratic process. “Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump,” a declassified version of the 2016 report said. Russia denied these allegations.

Writing for The New Yorker,  Masha Gessen, National Book Award winner in 2017, casts some doubt on the official version of the election interference, affirming that Russian election hanky-panky, though it apparently existed, was more of a cacophony than a conspiracy, amateurish and unfocused, with virtually no impact on the election results.

In Any Case, Don’t Worry, the United States Still Leads the World in Manipulation of Other People’s Elections, Governments and Lives

Though most Americans might not notice, this latest election-tampering brouhaha comes accompanied by a generous dish of house-specialty hypocrisy, insofar as no other country in the world has promoted, sponsored, financed or organized so much election tampering and “regime change” around the world since the Second World War as the United States of America.

Just for the record, I want to list here some of the most flagrant examples of U.S. American interference in other people’s governments. The source of this material is an absolutely-necessary book written by William Blum and published in the year 2000 called Rogue State, A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower. It’s necessary because it shines an authoritative light on issues and events that the American establishment– the government, the corporate media, and the military-industrial complex–has no interest in disseminating. Blum’s book, meticulously footnoted and indexed, with places, names and dates, is the best source I know of for this information (except his other book, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II), expressed clearly and dispassionately.

The List of Beneficiaries of US Intervention Is a Long One

Let’s approach this list of victims of United States’ geo-meddling chronologically, starting with China, 1945. With the war against Japan recently concluded the U.S. jumped into the Chinese civil war on the side of Chiang-Kai-shek’s Nationalists against the Communist forces of Mao Tse Tung, even though Mao hade been a more valuable and loyal ally than Chiang in the fight against the Japanese in China. In fact, the United States employed Japanese troops against Mao, an expedient decision as the Japanese were handily still in China after their 1937 invasion. The Chinese adventure, in which the United States provided Chiang with heavy arms and aircraft, and supplied his armies by parachute drops from American planes, was to set a pattern for later CIA interventions in sovereign nations around the world.

This was a time when the CIA was still the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), under Allen Dulles, the notorious cold warrior/geo-meddler. Just the introductory paragraph of Dulles’s Wikipedia biography will give you an idea of his style.

Allen Welsh Dulles; (April 7, 1893 – January 29, 1969) was an American diplomat and lawyer who became the first civilian Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), and its longest-serving director to date. As head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the early Cold War, he oversaw the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état, Operation Ajax (the overthrow of Iran’s elected government), the Lockheed U-2 aircraft program and the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Dulles was one of the members of the Warren Commission.

Liberated from the Nazis, Europe Receives American “Aid”

In 1947 it was France’s turn. Many (most?) of the heroic members of the French resistance were Communists, including many Spanish, who were valuable allies of the Americans during the Second World War. Nevertheless, the United States went to extreme lengths to deprive them of any post-war participation in the French government. Their efforts were many and various: financing the Socialist Party, the Communists’ principal electoral adversaries; sending American Federation of Labor (AFL) experts to subvert the Communists’ dominance of French labor unions; sponsoring gangs of Corsican thugs to bust up Communist strikes, burn down their offices and beat up and murder party members and strikers… The coup de grace was refusing much-needed aid to France until they had dismissed all their Communist government ministers.

The US Brings Democracy to the Mediterranean

Italy was next on the Americans’ list of countries to be “corrected.” Before the 1948 elections the US forced the Italian government to rid itself of its Communist and Socialist cabinet members in order to receive American economic aid. With all the countries in Europe devastated physically and economically, this deny-aid card was successfully played all over Europe. One suspects that the US-British “special relationship” dates from this time.

Part 2/2 coming soon

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Washington’s Hollow Men Write Their Own Ticket–and Yours 2/2

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to media mogul Rupert Murdoch as they walk out of Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeen

Where the money is, billionaire media mogul, Rupert Murdoch with Donald Trump.

Does President Donald Trump Even Exist?

Does he even exist? Or is he just an empty shell, selected for his flashiness and impropriety, traits guaranteed to take our eye off the ball while his handlers re-stack all the decks. There’s an exact word in the dictionary for this kind of cheap distraction with worthless nonsense. It’s called “trumpery.” Samuel Johnson, in his  dictionary of 1755, assigned three meanings to trumpery:

(1) Something fallaciously splendid; something of less value than it seems
(2) Falsehood, empty talk
(3) Something of no value; trifles

(See the Merriam-Webster definition here.)

If we look behind the advisors at the President’s backers and influencers, the panorama is even more depressing. What are President Trump’s principal influencers are made of? I’ll give you a hint. It’s mainly money. One of the earliest of these wise men is Rupert Murdoch, a superannuated nationalized American media mogul born in Australia who has always been associated with yellow journalism and right-wing causes in all places where he has substantial media holdings: among others Australia (Leader Newspaper Group, Quest Community Newspapers), the U.K. (Sky  UK) and the United States (Fox News, News Corporation. 21st Century Fox). Continue reading “Washington’s Hollow Men Write Their Own Ticket–and Yours 2/2”

Washington’s Hollow Men Write Their Own Ticket–and Yours 1/2

Trump_Cabinet_Categorized

The “experts” in President Donald Trump’s first cabinet.

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

T.S. Eliot
(Full text here.)

Beware the Lycanthropic Superpower

There’s a prima facie case for believing that President Donald Trump’s dubious curriculum and limited intellectual and moral capacities are sufficient justification for asserting that he exercises very little power in the White House. What, after all, can a man who doesn’t read contribute to decision making at the world’s highest level?  That leaves us to believe he’s just a straw man, a placeholder for the oligarchs that really run the United States in every significant respect. The obligatory next question is: Do the oligarchs themselves embody the necessary intellectual and moral capacities?

Since the only values recognized by the USA’s neo-con ruling class are economic in nature they are the only values the Trump administration proposes and promotes. They give no credit to human, nor historical, nor esthetic nor ethical considerations. The mythical “market” rules: just the bucks and the bling, and the faster the better. They know this scenario is essentially based on lies but they will continue to employ it as long as it works.

In matters of international politics the values of the American strategists of permanent war are equally bleak, just brutal smash-and-grab tactics, applied around the world, their aim to consolidate the United States as the world’s pre-eminent lycanthropic superpower.

What Ever Happened to the Free and Fair Election?

Just over two centuries ago the United States of America was cast in the Constitution as a democracy, albeit limited and imperfect. Women and slaves couldn’t vote, for example, and the election of the President was indirect, via an “electoral college” created by the Twelfth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Founding Fathers didn’t trust the unwashed masses; neither has any US American administration since. Even so, it was a step forward over Europe’s absolute monarchies.

Then, as now, the authenticity of a democracy depended upon free and fair elections. Without elections free of fraud and outside influence a “democracy” is a democracy in name only. Flash forward 231 years. How is the United States doing today in matters of preserving democracy? Not terribly well, it seems. Today the great election influencer is money. According to the Wikipedia, in 2009 the Washington Post estimated that there were 13,700 registered lobbyists and described the nation’s Capitol as “teeming with lobbyists.” The ratio of lobbyists employed by the healthcare industry, compared with every elected politician, was six to one, according to one account. (Could this be why the United States doesn’t have proper universal health care, like nearly every other country in the industrialized world?) This is just healthcare lobbyists; the ratio of the total is more like 16 to one. Someone has to pay all these lobbyists. Who pays and what do they get in return?

According to Tom Murse, writing on the ThoughtCo.com website,

Lobbyists are hired and paid by special interest groups, companies, nonprofits and even school districts to exert influence over elected officials at all levels of government. Lobbyists work at the federal level by meeting with members of Congress to introduce legislation and encourage them to vote certain ways that benefit their clients. But they also work at the local and state levels as well.

What does a lobbyist do, then, that makes him so unpopular? It comes down to money. Most Americans don’t have the money to spend on trying to influence their members of Congress, so they view special interests and their lobbyists as having an unfair advantage in creating policy that benefits them rather than the good of the people. 

Lobbyists, however, say they simply want to make sure your elected officials “hear and understand both sides of an issue before making a decision,” as one lobbying firm puts it. Together they spend more than $3 billion trying to influence members of Congress every year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C.

PACs and Super PACs Thicken the Plot

The “political action committee” (PAC) dates from a 1943 CIO union initiative, but it has come a long way since then. Its latest iteration, from, 2010, is the Super PAC, thanks to two judicial decisions that revolutionized campaign financing in the United States. A Super PAC may not make contributions directly to candidate campaigns or parties but may engage in unlimited political spending independently of the campaigns. Unlike traditional PACs, they can raise funds from individuals, corporations, unions, and other groups without any legal limit on donation size. (Emphasis mine.)

That is to say, they can exert massive influence the outcome of elections. The bottom line is that big money, whether individual billionaires, companies, trade associations or unions, can now virtually buy legislators. The process is admittedly indirect but mortally effective. The United States government has become a commodity in their much-vaunted free-market economy. It has passed from democracy to “democracy.” There is only one limit on the power of the Super PAC: how much money are they willing to spend?

Add to the lobbyists and the Super PACs, the legislators’ self-arrogated right to redesign their congressional districts to assure their own re-election (gerrymandering), a grotesque and anti-democratic practice that is also legal.

gerrymandering1

The Spanish philosopher and essayist, José Ortega y Gasset, wrote in his Meditaciones del Quijote, “Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia y si no la salvo a ella no me salvo yo.” (I am myself and my circumstances and if I don’t save them I don’t save myself.) President Donald Trump is himself and his advisors, and he doesn’t seem capable of saving either them nor himself. Without personal resources, without civilized criteria, nor advisors who are more than neophytes, party hacks and generals, the President is a hollow man.

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Playing the U.S. American Game of Rogue States/Regime Change–2/2

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Sowing Chaos for Fun and Profit

It doesn’t take a lot of resources or imagination to wreak massive social and political chaos in someone else’s country. Washington operatives just have to pay off a few crooked local politicians—there’s no shortage of those–and call upon the CIA to put its coup techniques to work. After more than half a century of running these operations the CIA has got it down to a sinister routine. Just organize and finance a right-wing “opposition,” put pressure on the media, and encourage (organize and finance) anti-government demonstrations. Bingo! Another impertinent little country (with a democratically elected government or not; that’s irrelevant) privatizes its sovereign wealth and joins NATO.

“Privatize?” That means selling off their mines and oil fields, farms and forests, industries and even housing to US American banks and vulture funds at market prices. You can imagine how the “market” looks after a couple of decades of CIA black ops. The first stages of this process are currently underway in Venezuela and Iran. If all goes well they will soon join the long list of U.S. “client states.”

They Don’t Always Win

It’s only fair to point out that these US American regime-change programs don’t always work out as planned. When they fail it’s usually thanks to the sheer bloody-mindedness of local populations that resent being invaded and—above all—humiliated by invaders from “advanced countries.” The history of these failed regime-change attempts goes back at least to the Russian revolution. According to William Blum, “By the summer of 1918 some 13,000 American troops could be found active in the newly-born Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Two years and thousands of casualties later, the American troops left, having failed in their mission to ‘strangle at its birth’ the Bolshevik state, as Winston Churchill put it. Aside from the strangler’s fantasies, was the British-American invasion of Russia in any way justifiable? Not really.

Flash forward to 1954. Iran was another egregious example of US American regime-change treachery, one that has left a bitter legacy and wounds that are still not closed. Iran’s democratically-elected president, Mohammed Mossadegh, came under siege in part because of his nationalization of British oil interests. The British-engineered international boycott of Iran failed and in 1952 they turned to the Americans for help. Using a possible but highly-improbable “Soviet threat” as a pretext, President Truman encouraged Iran’s former monarch, Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, to issue decrees dismissing Mossadegh and replacing him with a general who had been imprisoned by the British during World War II for his collaboration with the Nazis.

It was a simple matter for the American ambassador, Henderson, the CIA, and the American military mission in Iran to cobble together an anti-Mossadegh mob marching in the streets of Tehran, while at the same time a Long-Live-the-Shah demonstration was pouring out of the city’s ancient bazaar. The clash between the two precipitated a nine-hour street battle that caused some 300 dead and many more wounded before Mossadegh’s defenders were finally defeated. The coup d’etat was a fait accompli. Was there any objective reason for the American overthrow of Mossadegh? We’re talking about toppling the elected government of a sovereign nation with which the United States was not at war. Of course, there wasn’t, beyond high-handed US American delusions of grandeur.

The Iranian Dragon’s Egg Hatches

It was only 25 years later, in 1979, when a group of Iranian students, who had apparently not forgotten the U.S. role in overthrowing Mossadegh nor its longstanding support of the (recently ousted) Shah, took 52 American hostages in the American embassy and held them for 444 days. The incident was complicated by a botched rescue attempt, known as Operation Eagle Claw, which resulted in the accidental deaths of eight American servicemen and one Iranian civilian, as well as the destruction of two helicopters.

Given these antecedents, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to understand the profoundly resentful and belligerent attitude of the United States today vis a vis Iran, the outcome of which remains to be seen.

To whom do you turn when your backward little banana republic comes under bombardment from CIA planes? Guatemala tried everybody—the U.N., the Organization of American States, neighboring countries, the world press…” but no help was forthcoming. Dwight Eisenhower, John Foster Dulles, and Alan Dulles had decided that Jacobo Arbenz, the only democratically-elected president of Central America, was “communist” and had to be neutralized. He was ousted in June of 1954. What does it take to brand a country’s leader “communist.” Nothing much, really, just stick a label on him.

Do You Remember Vietnam?

Then there’s Vietnam, whose victory after 14 years of war against the most powerful military machine in the world, should have been a once-and-for-all lesson for ambitious US American policymakers but, unfortunately, they never learned. I can still see the television images of sailors tipping Huey helicopters off the deck of an aircraft carrier to make room for the choppers evacuating American personnel and Vietnamese collaborators from Saigon in 1975.

Here’s Newsweek reminiscing about the event 40 years later:

Just over 40 years ago, on April 23, 1975, President Gerald Ford announced the Vietnam War was “finished as far as America is concerned.” Military involvement had come to an end, but the U.S. still faced a crucial task: the safe evacuation of Americans who remained in Saigon, including the then-U.S. ambassador, Graham Martin.

After Tan Son Nhut Airport was bombed heavily on April 29, and the last two Americans were killed in action, the evacuation had to continue with helicopters. “It was an absolute mess,” Colin Broussard, a marine assigned to Martin’s personal security detail, told the Chicago Tribune in 2005. “We knew immediately when we saw the airfield that the fixed-wing operation was done.”

Over the course of April 29 and into the following morning, Operation Frequent Wind transported more than 1,000 Americans and more than 5,000 Vietnamese out of the city. The 19-hour operation involved 81 helicopters and is often called the largest helicopter evacuation on record.

helicopter_tip

U.S. Navy personnel aboard the U.S.S. Blue Ridge push a helicopter into the sea off the coast of Vietnam in order to make room for more evacuation flights from Saigon on April 29, 1975. The helicopter had carried Vietnamese fleeing Saigon as North Vietnamese forces closed in on the capital.

What about Iraq and Afghanistan?

Then there are the Iraq and Afghanistan experiences. The gratuitous Iraq adventure was only “successful” in terms of massive destruction and human suffering including wholesale infant mortality. The Afghan mission was justified by an American-sponsored Muslim guerilla fighter hiding in a cave. Imagine that. Uncle Sam certainly never expected still to be fighting in Afghanistan 17 years on. The jauntily-named “Operation Enduring Freedom” may be enduring but it’s surely not freedom; who writes this dreck, anyway?

We don’t have time or space here to discuss the cases of Cuba (Cuba, a rogue state?!) nor Chile, perhaps the most egregious of all. So I won’t bore you with more regime-change operations fathered (or mothered, if you prefer) by the world’s premier rogue state. I trust you get the picture. The question that remains is: How will it end? I can answer that. It will end with eventual world domination. Unless someone comes up with a better idea.

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Playing the U.S. American Game of Rogue States/Regime Change–1/2

Rogue_States_Regime_Change1

What’s a “Rogue State?”

“Rogue state” is a term applied by some theorists to states they consider threatening to world peace. That is, countries ruled by authoritarian governments that severely restrict human rights, sponsor terrorism and seek to extend weapons of mass destruction. The term is used primarily by the United States (though the US State Department officially stopped using it in 2000). In a speech to the UN in 2017, President Donald Trump reiterated the phrase.

The US Americans have established themselves as the world authority on “rogue states.” They decide which are the countries that function outside of the constrictions of international order and reject the rule of law. In fact, it was President Clinton’s National Security Advisor, Anthony Lake, who coined the term “rogue state” in a 1994 issue of Foreign Affairs. He categorized five countries as rogue states: North Korea, Cuba, Iraq, Iran and Libya. One nation was conspicuously missing from this list but it would have been unseemly for Mr. Lake to name his own country.

In was in June of 2000 when U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, swapped the term for “States of Concern.” Other euphemisms have been employed since then–“Axis of Evil,” “Outposts of Tyranny,” and “State Sponsors of Terrorism.” I recently discovered that two excellent books were published on the subject of rogue states some time ago, by Noam Chomsky and William Blum. Both included the term “rogue state” in the title, and the United States was the protagonist of both of them. Interestingly, both of these prestigious commentator/activists also included Israel in the category of rogue state, principally for their treatment of the Palestinians since 1948. Continue reading “Playing the U.S. American Game of Rogue States/Regime Change–1/2”