Workers Vanguard No. 1103
13 January 2017
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Anti-Russia Hysteria and Democrats’ Sour Grapes
Down With the Sanctions!
Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign had two major themes. The first asserted that voters were well on the road to recovery from the ravages of the 2008 recession, an assertion garnished with a sprig of patriotic parsley encapsulated in the slogan “America is great.” The second theme was to question whether a sexist, racist, egomaniacal admirer of Russian president Vladimir Putin should be placed in charge of the nuclear launch button. The rather contradictory implication was that he might casually ignite an atomic Armageddon or fail to do so if the annihilation of Russia (and the rest of humanity) rose to the top of the imperialists’ agenda. In the event, a major chunk of the electorate thought the first theme was hogwash, and many were apparently unmoved by the efforts to revive the battle cries of the Cold War and McCarthy eras. In the final analysis, what won the day in the key swing states was the claim by the reactionary Trump that he, and he alone, could provide the personal elixir required to purge the country of the forces that have eroded the good jobs and prosperity that once were the supposed birthright of every white American male.
Since the election, the Democrats have pulled out all the stops in an effort to persuade the world that “we wuz robbed” by an attack of hackers operating under the command of Putin with the intent of undermining “American democracy” by electing his puppet Trump. Their proof: a gilt-edged report prepared by the CIA, the FBI and the National Security Agency (NSA) that purportedly tracks the chain of command to the Kremlin. Widely accused of playing a role in tipping the election to Trump is WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, as well as FBI director James Comey. It is as yet unclear if the Pope played any role in this cabal.
These complaints of Russian interference in the presidential election are pretty rich coming from the U.S. rulers. Ever since American imperialism emerged onto the world stage during the 1898 Spanish American War, it has intervened around the world through outright invasion or “regime change.” In the early years of the 20th century, the U.S. routinely dispatched troops to countries across Latin America, including Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. After World War II, Washington was behind the coups that ousted Mohammad Mossadeq in Iran in 1953, Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954 and Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973. The CIA-linked National Endowment for Democracy funded groups opposed to Putin during Russia’s 2012 elections, which reportedly has the Russian president still fuming.
The bourgeois media that is now howling about Russian hacking has long promoted the CIA as the pinnacle of veracity. Founded in 1947, at the onset of the Cold War, that agency has provided the lies to justify every one of U.S. imperialism’s unending stream of wars from Korea and Vietnam through Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Including 14 years ago when it provided the “proof” that Saddam Hussein had accrued an arsenal of “weapons of mass destruction.”
Instead of providing any actual evidence of Putin’s role in hacking the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign chairman (which John McCain labeled “an act of war”), the intelligence chiefs engaged in some classic bait and switch, directing their main attention to RT, a Russian English-language news outlet that few Americans watch. RT’s coverage of Clinton, the report tells us, “was consistently negative and focused on her leaked emails and accused her of corruption, poor physical and mental health and ties to Islamic extremism.” How was that different from Fox News? The report also has the temerity to complain: “RT has also focused on criticism of the US economic system, US currency policy, alleged Wall Street greed, and the US national debt.” Americans hardly need RT to tell them about the depredations of the U.S. economic system, Washington and Wall Street.
Barack Obama, who has evidently been “trumped” by Putin in Syria, was quick to endorse the intelligence findings. At the same time, the president made clear that the full version of the exposé will not be available for popular consumption since it would reveal the ever-so-secret methods employed by U.S. operatives. The FBI managed for a while to maintain a skeptical attitude toward the findings of the CIA and NSA. It recently caved in to pressures to join the chorus, perhaps reflecting its director’s desire to maintain his security clearance. Trump voters are hardly alone in remaining decidedly unconvinced by the supposed revelations, in spite of the patriotic hue and cry.
In fact, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the election. The responsibility for this quite undemocratic result lies entirely with the U.S. Constitution and its Electoral College, an institution created by the “founding fathers” to give disproportionate power to the slaveowning states. To quote the memorable cartoon character Pogo, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” For our part, as Marxists we are equally opposed to any candidates for public office of the bourgeois parties—Democrats, Republicans and Greens—while fighting against all attacks on the right to vote.
It is immaterial whether the alleged hackers were mobilized by Vladimir Putin or the tooth fairy, as in this instance no attack on voting rights occurred. The real undermining of voting rights in the U.S. starts with mass incarceration, especially of black people and Latinos, and the denial of their right to vote. It continues with the gutting of the 1965 Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court in 2013 and the subsequent barrage of voter ID laws and other anti-voting measures passed by mostly Republican-controlled statehouses.
Hacking foreign governments is the stock in trade of all spy agencies. The espionage operations of the U.S. imperialists are especially devoted to this pursuit, sparing no one, including loyal allies like German chancellor Angela Merkel. Domestically, especially since 9/11, the U.S. government has arrogated to itself the right to monitor everyone’s emails and other personal communications. At the same time, the “right” to proscribe all leaks and exposures has been a special obsession of the Obama presidency.
In the eyes of liberal pundits who portray skepticism of the recent intelligence report as apostasy, the real “crime against democracy” is that the information gathered by hacking was released to the public. No doubts have been raised about its accuracy or authenticity. The leaks merely revealed a portion of the wheelings, dealings and hypocrisy of Clinton and her campaign staff. As Julian Assange noted during a January 9 press conference: “If WikiLeaks had an effect it’s because people read the words of Hillary Clinton and her team and didn’t like what they saw.” Bourgeois democracy evidently demands that its subjects be kept ignorant of the machinations of their leaders.
Indeed, control of information by the capitalist class—through its control of the education system, the press and mass media—is vital to the normal workings of bourgeois democracy, a fig leaf for the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Elections under bourgeois democracy allow the oppressed masses to “choose” who will subjugate them during the next few years. Ultimately, domination by the capitalist rulers is ensured through the armed might of the military, the police and the prisons, which together constitute the core of the capitalist state.
The hysteria the Democrats desire to provoke against the fictional war on democracy is simply to cover with jingoist bluster their failure to retain control of the White House, regain control of the Senate or end the ongoing losses of state legislative seats. This has had some impact on the gullible as many Democratic supporters were reportedly willing to believe that the ballot boxes had been hacked.
The diplomatic sanctions against Russia recently put in place by Obama are the cosmetic and fairly routine measures employed by states to signal their displeasure with each other. Not so those put in place almost three years ago to punish Putin for the actions he took in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Those sanctions have exacerbated Russian economic difficulties that were set off by the decline of world oil prices. All these sanctions are an expression of U.S. imperialism’s diktats and must be opposed.
The confrontation with Putin over Ukraine was touched off by the February 2014 fascist-spearheaded coup in Kiev that was engineered by Washington with the assistance of the European Union. With the overwhelming support of the ethnic Russian majority in Crimea, historically part of Russia, Putin moved to reclaim the peninsula the following month, an action we supported. In the ethnically mixed but predominantly Russian-speaking provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, militants fighting government and fascist attacks held a referendum that resulted in an overwhelming vote in favor of “self-rule.” We defended the right of the population of those areas to conduct the poll and act on the result of the vote. That position is an expression of our support for the democratic right of national self-determination, i.e., the right of peoples to amalgamate or to separate. At the same time, we give no political support to the Great Russian chauvinist rebel leaders of Donetsk and Luhansk, nor to Putin’s repressive capitalist regime.
The imperialist NATO alliance has expanded into East Europe, right up to Russia’s doorstep. U.S. imperialism has also sponsored color “revolutions” to install pro-Washington regimes in several former republics of the USSR. The largest contingent of U.S. tanks since the fall of the Soviet Union is just arriving in northern Germany, to be stationed in the Baltics and East Europe, backed up by troops from Britain, France and Germany. In the 2016 budget, Obama laid the groundwork for spending a trillion dollars to upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal, a stance echoed by Trump.
The belligerence of the U.S. rulers toward Putin’s Russia is rooted in their determination to keep Russia out of the club of imperialist powers. Arising out of capitalist counterrevolution in 1991-92, post-Soviet Russia inherited a large nuclear arsenal in a country with enormous natural resources. Yet it remains essentially a regional capitalist power. Where imperialist countries are characterized by the export of capital, Russia mainly exports oil and other natural resources as well as armaments. The imperialists intervene militarily throughout the world in their drive to control markets, raw materials and cheap labor. Moscow’s main military campaigns, with the exception of Syria, have been within the borders of the former Soviet Union: above all, two brutal wars in Chechnya to prevent the oppressed Chechens from asserting their right to secede, a right that we support.
Trump is no less committed than the Cold Warriors and neocons—from Hillary Clinton to John McCain—to expanding, prosecuting and enforcing the dominance of U.S. imperialism. That is the real content of Trump’s promise to make America great again. Trump’s obsession is to conduct the orchestra; he cares little about the program as long as it promises to further American might. While his opponents fret about whether “fake news” stories influenced the electorate, Trump wants to throw flag burners in prison, the First Amendment be damned. Meanwhile, he appears intent on acquiring many more megatons of nuclear explosive capacity as he charges off to duel with those he perceives as America’s enemies.
The recent U.S. elections revealed the widespread contempt the citizenry has for the governmental administrators of the capitalist system. However, this is not a threat to that system absent a proletarian-centered social upheaval led by a revolutionary working-class party. The model for such a revolutionary transformation is the 1917 October Revolution in Russia. It is necessary to abandon all illusions in lesser-evil nostrums and commit to the building of a workers party that embraces the traditions and intent of the Bolsheviks to overthrow the imperialist order through international socialist revolution.
Doll’s Story-With The Film Adaptation Of W.R. Burnett’s “The Asphalt Jungle” In Mind
By Si Landon
“I never had a man who drew an even break, never had a man who drew an honest breathe, never had a man who could go all the way, could take me out of the B-girl tinsel town racket. Dix tried, Dix from back about twenty years ago now tried, tried like hell but he was just a hooligan and how could a girl pin her hopes on such a guy,” pined Doll Savoy, but any surname would do she sure had used enough of them, as a tear formed under her mascara eyes thinking about that big lug who went down in a blaze of nothingness twenty years to the day.
No matter where she was, what guy was paying her bills, who she was fucking or taking around the world she would always shed a tear thinking about Dix, Dix Dixon if you needed a last name and how he came to that terrible end in some horseshit meadow in blue mountain Kentucky where he hailed from, where they were supposed to get a fresh start. Fresh start she said with a shrug and a wicked-edged laugh at the irony of Dix pushing up daisies and leaving her alone to fend for herself back at Tilly’s the biggest “clip joint” west of the Mississippi. Left alone to let some guy pick up her bills for a few months before he blew town, went back to his wife or something. Or she got tired of him, tired of the cheap cons, tired of the tired sex, tired of looney guys and their blow-job desires.
Tonight thought Doll would have no truck with guys paying her bills, guys looking to go around the world, guys looking for a quick blow-job behind the alley to Tilly’s (and the bitch of it was if she wanted to keep her job, wanted to be a Tilly’s B-girl, wanted “the life” at her age then she had better be ready to suck cock as Eddie G., Tilly’s night manager made very clear one night when some jerk complained that she didn’t want to go under the table on him. Yeah, where was a real man like Dix when a girl needed a safe harbor and maybe no loving, a guy like Dix had had all loving bled out of him by the time he was about thirteen, but also no bullshit either. The straightest shooter she had ever known. Hell she had enough love to carry the two of them. Didn’t she prove it riding with him through cop roadblocks and blood so he could get back to that fucking hayseed farm he kept dreaming about going back to, going back to get washed clean like in some old time Bible story. And she didn’t say word one when the coppers came to that bloody horseshit meadow about who he was and where he had been so his kin, that was Dix’s word for his folks could cash in some jewels he had in his pocket and reclaim the old farm lost in some Depression wildness. (She had never taken diamond one from his pocket when he went down to that blaze of nothingness. Yeah she had her own straight-shooter code too.)
Dix’s anniversary always made Doll think about how close they had come to happiness, happiness for her anyway since Dix probably was clear out of happiness as much as he was out of loving. She would have created enough happiness for the two of them. Then as the night got darker and she sat in a push-broom hotel room thinking about her own place, a flop really with that fucking roll-up bed and that never working stove, drinking her Thompson’s blended. Dix’s drink that was how they got started the night he had come into Benny’s, the clip joint she was working at then, and he noticed that she was drinking the same low blend drink that he was looking to buy. (When she had her Dix “wanting habits” on she wanted no truck with her place over on Kendall Street that Sal was paying the bills on who knows for how long, probably not long as he kept talking about his wife and how maybe if she would just give him a blow-job now and again they might work things out-never a good sign when a man was talking about some other dame, wife or not, giving him head). So this night she was sitting in this cheap Paradise Hotel broom closet, some name for the hour tricks that kept the place going, drinking her Thompson’s blended and working her way back to those final few days when if things had gone according to plan, according to Doc’s big ass fucking fool-proof plan, she and Dix might have gotten off cheap street. Who knows she might have grown to like that horseshit meadow although she had not lived away from the city for more than three days, the one time when she was a kid and a kindly aunt took her to the mountains outside of Denver where she had grown up.
Her thoughts always went back to the night when Louie Lomax came into Benny’s looking for Dix. It was early and Dix was sitting at the bar drinking his maybe third shot of Thompson’s and she was getting ready down the other end of the bar for her B-girl chores for the night. She had hoped that she would not have to go out into some guy’s car or to some motel since earlier in the afternoon she and Dix had had a great bout of sex, he seemed to relax for once and seemed to enjoy the sex, liked when she took his cock in her mouth and did him until he cried “uncle” when after he cummed she kept her mouth on that big thing until he really did cry uncle. That was the first time he said she was alright, was a fit woman for him and she blushed with joy when he uttered those few words. She would omit that afternoon tryst with Dix part when she retailed the story of her lost love to her girlfriends like Dottie although Dottie could probably figure out what kept Dix on her leash even if only for a few days.
Louie went straight to where Dix was sitting and asked him if he wanted a drink something Louie would not spring for if he wasn’t looking for something. Dix, after Louie left, had told her when she wasn’t hustling some guy for a drink (so-called drink-it was nothing but Lipton’s tea for her at ten bucks a pop-a “clip” no question) that he was going out, going to a meeting with some guy named Doc who was looking for a guy who could throw his weight around (a “hooligan” is what they called them but she didn’t know the term until the coppers ran down his felony sheet and one cop said he was nothing but a hooligan and she asked him what was that-and that was exactly what her big man, six two, two hundred pounds was built for-pushing his weight around).The next morning when Dix woke up he told he in vague terms whether she liked the idea of heading to easy street. She had thought nothing of it, had heard that from a million guys before-usually looking for some quick sex in the meantime, except she privately thrilled that Dix had said “we” would be on easy street. Told her too that Doc had a plan so that the whole crew (Doc, a box man, a wheel, a hooligan-and then a fence) would be on easy street from here on in. (She did not find out who the others were until after the caper had been completed-and Dix was on the run.)
After that morning she had not seen Dix for several days until one late night she heard a rapping on her door and there was Dix with a small, wiry foreign looking guy bleeding, Doc. The plan had been to rob Kaye’s Jewelry Store, the high-end jewelers, from the inside out. Doc had had it all figured. Had it figured right, they had grabbed half a million, maybe more in precious stones-except he, Doc, had forgotten about the accidental which can monkey up any perfect plan. First “forgot” was that the box man, the guy who blew the safe got shot accidently when he had tumbled to guys inside the building after the safe explosion had set off every alarm system in the area-bringing in every copper. Dix had tried to stop the copper and his gun dropped to the ground shooting both the box man in the stomach and grazing Dix. He had shrugged off the wound as nothing at the time-just like Dix. Then the coppers having sensed that the job, the plan for the job, could only have been hatched by Doc who had just been released from prison started their full-court press. Got to Louie first. Cheapjack stoolie no heart feet of clay Louie turned over Jimmy the wheelman.
That wasn’t all that went wrong on the caper once the script went awry. A big job like this jewelry caper needed plenty of front money to get the crew gathered and so Doc had turned to Allan Ladd, the big well-known crooked lawyer who fronted for half the mob in town, was their mouthpiece when they got to court (and he got them off a lot-the fix was usually in). Ladd was going to front the dough but it turned out he was keeping half the whores in town under his wings and was broke. He was looking to “steal” the stones by a sleigh of hand and get himself out of hock. What were Doc and his boys going to do-go to the cops and complain. What a laugh. He was working with his own guy who was going to be the stick-up man for Ladd. No go-Dix might have been behind the eight-ball but he was a good hooligan-took his job seriously and he wasted Ladd’s confederate. Another guy gone when Ladd put him in the river face down and with as much remorse as he would have a killing a flea.
Then the coppers came for Ladd, knowing that such a caper could not have been greased without a guy who get the stuff fenced on the quiet-and fast. He bought his own life, bought it cheap when all things were considered, wasn’t built for tough guy prisons anyway. Everybody was out of the paly except Dix and Doc. Some cop had ruffled Doc and that was how Dix and Doc had gotten to Doll’s place. Doc decided to head out of town and try to sell the stuff. Dix, bleeding still from that wound at the jewelry store decided he would blow for home. Without me. I talked him out of that with a quick roll in the hay. Then we were off to hayseed Kentucky. You know the rest as Dix bled away in that horseshit Kentucky meadow. Yeah, Dix never drew an even break. And neither did Doll Savoy.
WARS ABROAD, WARS AT HOME
IT CAN HAPPEN HERE
On November 8 the rise of a right-wing nationalist regime in the United States became a realistic possibility, if not now then in the coming years. Such regimes stress nationalist and patriotic themes, play upon and intensify fear of minority ethnicities and/or religions and/or other long-oppressed groups, promise to resolve festering economic problems of ordinary people, and direct the blame for such problems at a convenient scapegoat such as foreigners or immigrants rather than the real causes… Such coalitions have underpinned right-wing nationalist regimes in the past. It is made up of traditional right-wing constituencies suddenly combined with significant parts of the working class. Such a political base, held together by the above themes and promises, can enable a right-wing nationalist regime to emerge in a democratic capitalist system even without the upstart demagogic leader winning an absolute majority. More
Trump’s Muslim Immigration Executive Order: If We Bombed You, We Ban You
What all seven countries also have in common is that the United States government has violently intervened in them. The U.S. is currently bombing — or has bombed in the recent past — six of them. The U.S. has not bombed Iran, but has a long history of intervention including a recent cyberattack. It’s like a twisted version of the you-break-it-you-buy-it Pottery Barn rule: If we bomb a country or help destabilize its society, we will then ban its citizens from being able to seek refuge in the United States… And consider that Iran, where al Qaeda, ISIS, and other anti-American terrorist organizations have no significant foothold, is included — but Saudi Arabia, where 15 of the 9/11 hijackers came from and which has been a funding source for extremist groups, is not included. More
Trump's Visa Ban is about anti-Muslim Bigotry, not Security
Trump will represent this step as being about security, but it is not. Of the 750,000 refugees admitted since 2001, hundreds of thousands of them from the Middle East, virtually no refugees have committed an act of terrorism on US soil (typically they are running away from the violent people). He will say that refugees and immigrants from these countries need to be better vetted, but refugees are already subjected to a rigorous 18-month vetting process. This measure, if it is taken, is just more racial and religious exclusion, policies we have seen before in the long and rich history of American racism. The 3 million Muslim-Americans are in Trump’s sites. By far the majority of terrorist acts and political violence in the United States is committed by white supremacists. More
MAKE AMERICA TORTURE AGAIN:
Trump’s administration is working on an executive order that could revive the George W. Bush-era program of detention and interrogation at CIA “black site” prisons overseas. The order also would also set up a review of interrogation policies by senior national security officials... This order, if issued, would be the first step toward Trump’s realizing his sadistic campaign promise to reinstate waterboarding and even more brutal torture tactics for no other reason than that suspected terrorists “deserve” to be tortured. Reinstating actual torture, thankfully, is not as easy as all that. As the draft order noted, the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2016 contained language restricting approved interrogation techniques to those currently outlined in the Army Field Manual. That law “provides a significant statutory barrier to the resumption of the CIA interrogation program,” the draft order noted, somewhat ruefully. More
Gag Me: Trump's Anti-Abortion Executive Order
President Donald Trump signed an executive order reinstating the global gag rule on overseas discussion of abortion by individuals and organizations receiving federal funding… Since 1973, under the Helms Amendment, it has been illegal to use US government money to directly fund abortions overseas. The global gag rule, introduced by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 as part of his Mexico City Policy, made discussion of abortion by a group receiving federal support for any purpose illegal… Implementation of the global gag rule went well beyond abortion to effectively limit all discussions of family planning, including condom use to prevent HIV infection and multiyear spacing of pregnancies to avoid maternal deaths. Organizations as diverse as the World Health Organization, the United Nations Population Fund and Family Health International lost millions of dollars in support from the US government during the years the gag rule was enforced… Women's health and HIV/AIDS organizations felt, justifiably, that the global gag rule made it impossible to engage in family planning and HIV prevention efforts, and many American groups that accepted US government funds after acceding to the rules were denied access to international meetings, shunned by counterpart non-American groups. More
A Bad Day for the Environment, with Many More to Come
Tuesday began with news that the Trump Administration had imposed a comprehensive gag order on employees of the Environmental Protection Agency. According to a leaked memo, “no press releases,” “no blog messages,” and “no social media will be going out,” and “no new content can be placed on any website” until further notice—perhaps an attempt to camouflage the other big E.P.A. announcement, which was that the agency’s grants and contracts had been temporarily frozen, effectively halting its work. Then, at nine o’clock, the President had breakfast with a group of beaming auto executives… Another leaked memo, released on Monday and attributed to Myron Ebell, the veteran climate-change denier overseeing Trump’s E.P.A. transition team, made clear some of the Administration’s first priorities: stopping Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which uses the Clean Air Act to regulate power plants; revising the rules on development in crucial wetlands; and even such granular tasks as reining in efforts to halt the rampant pollution of Chesapeake Bay. More
Trump Greenlights Dakota Access and Keystone XL Pipelines
President Donald Trump signed executive orders Tuesday morning paving the way for both the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipeline projects to move forward. Both projects have been fiercely opposed by indigenous and environmental activists, who have so far been successful in stalling them -- Keystone XL was cancelled by Obama in January 2015, and the Dakota Access pipeline has been on hold since December 4, 2016, when the Army Corps of Engineers denied it a permit to drill under the Missouri River in Cannonball, North Dakota. The DAPL order will have immediate implications in North Dakota, where the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, along with native and non-native allies, has been protesting the completion of the 1,172-mile Dakota Access pipeline. Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the project, has been waiting to complete the final 1,100-foot piece of the pipeline, which threatens both clean water resources and Native American sacred sites in the region. More
Yesterday we received devastating news of Trump’s intention to resume construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, issued via executive memo. His decision violates tribal treaties, poses grave environmental risks, and blatantly disrespects all those who fought so hard in the #noDAPL battle. We will be taking legal action, and we need your help. The Environmental Impact Statement is still on-going. By leaving your comment, it will help us compound our claim that the pipeline poses grave environmental risks. Do not allow the Department of the Army to withdraw the Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS as President Trump suggests in his memo.
Please click here and show that you #StandWithStandingRock
If Progressives Want to Defeat Trump, They Must Win Back Workers
In particular, we should be extremely worried about how Trump is approaching the loss of manufacturing jobs. The neoliberal fog should not cause us to miss the obvious: Presidents Obama and Clinton did absolutely nothing to stop the hemorrhaging of middle class manufacturing jobs to low wage countries. (U.S. manufacturing fell from 20.1 percent of all jobs in 1980 to only 8.8 percent by 2013.) Not only did Obama and Clinton fail to stop even one factory from moving away, but they truly believed that capital mobility and free trade were good for America and the world. In other words they had sipped plenty of the neoliberal Kool-Aid… In opposing Trump, we must not slip into defending neoliberalism. It’s not ok for corporations to pack up and leave. We should have some control over our economic lives and not leave all the crucial decisions to Wall Street and their corporate puppets. Trade deals are bad deals unless they enforce the highest health, safety, environmental and labor standards. And those measures must be enforceable by all the parties. The race to the bottom is real and must stop. More
THE INJUSTICES OF MANNING’S ORDEAL
After overseeing the aggressive prosecution and near-seven-year incarceration of Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, President Obama – in one of his last acts in office – commuted all but four months of her remaining sentence but ignored the fact that he had taken no action on the war crimes that Manning revealed… But there has been no justice for the Iraqis and Afghans whose unjustified deaths and mistreatment were exposed by the then-22-year-old Army private, known at the time as Bradley Manning. An Army intelligence analyst in Iraq, Manning sent hundreds of thousands of classified files, documents and videos, including the “Collateral Murder” video, the “Iraq War Logs,” the “Afghan War Logs” and State Department cables, to WikiLeaks. Many of the items that she transmitted contained evidence of war crimes… The Uniform Code of Military Justice sets forth the duty of a service member to obey lawful orders. But that duty includes the concomitant duty to disobey unlawful orders. An order not to reveal evidence of war crimes would be an unlawful order. Manning had a legal duty to expose the commission of war crimes. More
A GAME OF RUSSIAN ROULETTE:
Couching opposition to Trump in anti-Russia language will only end up benefiting the Right.
Denouncing opponents as fellow travelers of Putin allows political and media elites to delegitimize critics of the neoliberal order, scrubbing public debate of any mention of the root causes plaguing the advanced capitalist world. It is not austerity that drives opposition to the European Union, but a Russian plot to weaken Western European institutions. It is not the legacy of colonialism that is re-emerging in the program of the European far right, but bad thoughts the Kremlin has put into people’s minds… Worse yet, in some cases it appears the Russia fixation is not merely a distraction, but a deliberate cudgel to use against those who oppose attacks on the welfare state or civil liberties… Thus, not only are wide sectors of the media and political class focusing on Russia to the exclusion of actual issues, those who do focus on actual issues are chastised for not forming a popular front with people like Senator John McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham — two men who have yet to locate a country on a map they didn’t wish to bomb. More
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NEW WARS / OLD WARS – What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Weapons, Warriors, and Fear as the New Order in America
After the USSR imploded in 1991, dominating the world’s arms trade somehow came to seem so much less evil. In fact, faced with large trade deficits, a powerful military-industrial complex looking for markets, and ever more global military commitments, Washington actively sought to promote and sell American-made weaponry on a remarkable scale. And in that it succeeded admirably. Today, when it comes to building andexporting murderous weaponry, no other country, not even that evil-empire-substitute, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, comes faintly close. The U.S. doth bestride the world of arms production and dealing like a colossus. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, U.S. arms contractors sold $209.7 billion in weaponry in 2015, representing 56% of the world’s production. Of that, $40 billionwas exported to an array of countries, representing “half of all agreements in the worldwide arms bazaar,” as the New York Times put it. France ($15 billion) was a distant second, with Putin’s Russia ($11 billion) earning a weak third... Not only has the U.S. come to dominate the arms trade in an almost monopolistic fashion over the last two decades, but it has also become the top exporter of troops globally. Leaving aside the ongoing, seemingly endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. continues to garrison the globe with approximately 800 military bases, while deploying its Special Operations forces to a significant majority of the planet’s countries annually. More
Dems seek to limit Trump's options for using nuclear weapons
Two Democrats are pushing Congress to restrict President Trump’s ability to launch nuclear weapons, reintroducing a bicameral bill Tuesday that would prohibit the president from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress. “Nuclear war poses the gravest risk to human survival,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said in a statement. “Yet, President Trump has suggested that he would consider launching nuclear attacks against terrorists. Unfortunately, by maintaining the option of using nuclear weapons first in a conflict, U.S. policy provides him with that power.” Markey and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) have long opposed America's first-strike policy, which says the country reserves the right to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike. Former President Obama reportedly weighed changing the policy before leaving office, but ultimately did not after advisers argued against it. More
REP. TULSI GABBARD:
The Syrian People Desperately Want Peace
It is clear now more than ever: this regime change war does not serve America’s interest, and it certainly isn’t in the interest of the Syrian people… Their message to the American people was powerful and consistent: There is no difference between “moderate” rebels and al-Qaeda (al-Nusra) or ISIS – they are all the same. This is a war between terrorists under the command of groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda and the Syrian government. They cry out for the U.S. and other countries to stop supporting those who are destroying Syria and her people. I heard this message over and over again from those who have suffered and survived unspeakable horrors. They asked that I share their voice with the world; frustrated voices which have not been heard due to the false, one-sided biased reports pushing a narrative that supports this regime change war at the expense of Syrian lives… I return to Washington, DC with even greater resolve to end our illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government. From Iraq to Libya and now in Syria, the U.S. has waged wars of regime change, each resulting in unimaginable suffering, devastating loss of life, and the strengthening of groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS. I call upon Congress and the new Administration to answer the pleas of the Syrian people immediately and support the Stop Arming Terrorists Act. More
The Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.6504) has only 5 co-sponsors, none from Massachusetts
Washington think-tank warriors and editorial writers have long looked to the FSA as America’s natural allies in the Syrian conflict — so-called “moderates” unblemished by the Assad regime’s cruel record of repression, or the Islamists’ preference for cutting the throats of apostates… On Tuesday, the Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda affiliate that rebranded itself last year as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS), attacked the FSA in Idlib and Aleppo provinces with heavy artillery, suicide bombs, and even cyber attacks. Within a day, they largely succeeded in wiping out local FSA forces… Similar debacles, complete with weapons transfers to extremists, have taken place many times over the past few years. In September 2013, FSA forces in the northern city of Raqqa surrendered abjectly to Islamists, despite outnumbering them. One top rebel commander said, “There is no such thing as the FSA [here]. We are all Al Qaeda now. Half of the FSA has been devoured by ISIS, and the other half joined Jabhat al-Nusra.” … In 2015, former Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, who has long advocated a more muscular policy of arming moderate rebels against the Assad regime, confessed that the strategy had backfired.. “For a long time,” Ford said, “we have looked the other way while the Nusra Front and armed groups on the ground, some of whom are getting help from us, have coordinated in military operations against the regime. I think the days of us looking the other way are finished.” More
PATRICK COCKBURN: Misreporting in Syria and Iraq
The nadir of Western media coverage of the wars in Iraq and Syria has been the reporting of the siege of East Aleppo, which began in earnest in July and ended in December, when Syrian government forces took control of the last rebel-held areas and more than 100,000 civilians were evacuated. During the bombardment, TV networks and many newspapers appeared to lose interest in whether any given report was true or false and instead competed with one another to publicise the most eye-catching atrocity story even when there was little evidence that it had taken place… All wars always produce phony atrocity stories – along with real atrocities. But in the Syrian case fabricated news and one-sided reporting have taken over the news agenda to a degree probably not seen since the First World War… The real reason that reporting of the Syrian conflict has been so inadequate is that Western news organisations have almost entirely outsourced their coverage to the rebel side. More
Donald Trump eyes establishment of safe zones in Syria
The safe-zone mandate was tucked into the text of a draft executive order by Mr. Trump obtained by several news outlets* that establishes curbs on the flow of refugees from Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and other conflict zones from migrating to the United States. The order also institutes a revamped screening process for all U.S. immigrants… As president, Barack Obama resisted calls for the safe zones along the borders of Syria, designed to be a protective shield for Syrian refugees fleeing the violence, for fear that the U.S. would be forced to defend the zones in a war in which Syrian rebels, Islamic State militants, Kurdish militias and soldiers from Iran, Lebanon, Russia, Turkey and Iraq are all involved… On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump backed safe zones, as did his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. More
Democrats urged Obama to cease Yemen war role before Trump took over
Twenty-five House Democrats unsuccessfully wrote to President Barack Obama earlier this month to urge him to end US support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen before Donald Trump took over. The Jan. 13 letter, led by habitual Yemen war critics Ted Lieu, D-Calif., and John Conyers, D-Mich., raises concerns that the United States is abetting “war crimes” by supporting Riyadh’s imprecise bombing campaign. It goes on to argue that the fight against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels is doing little more than fueling terrorism. “These airstrikes — which have killed children, women, doctors, newlyweds and funeral mourners — are likely war crimes,” the letter states. “We respectfully ask you to do the right thing before you leave office and stop the US refueling of Coalition aircraft that strike civilian targets in Yemen.” More
Signers included McGovern and Capuano