By ZCommunications | April 22, 2013
Amnesty USA called on the Venezuelan government to eliminate post-election violence. The small matter that the violence has been directed at government supporters was comically evaded.
Showing off its command of the obvious, Amnesty USA stated:
“Violent incidents around Venezuela following last Sunday’s presidential elections are only likely to increase unless the authorities carry out prompt, effective investigations and bring those responsible to justice”
That recent deaths strongly implicate opposition supporters should have been impossible to miss, even for Amnesty USA, given statements put out by Henrique Capriles, the candidate who lost the presidential election to Maduro. Reuters reported that Capriles said:
“To all my followers … this is a peaceful quarrel. Whoever is involved in violence is not part of this project, is not with me,…. It is doing me harm.”
Capriles cancelled a march on the National Electoral Council (CNE) alleging that the government would “infiltrate” it with violent saboteurs.
HRW put out a similarly fatuous statement condemning Maduro for saying he would forbid the opposition march that Capriles ended up cancelling.
When it suits them, the human rights industry pretends that governments the USA dislikes are omnipotent – that they exert complete control of opponents and supporters alike and can “guarantee” security for all without the slightest infringement of civil liberties. Weeks prior to the US perpetrated coup in Haiti in 2004, Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, put out statements demanding that Jean Bertrand Aristide, who was just about to be kidnaped by US troops, guarantee the security of his opponents – including people financing terrorists to overthrow him.
Amnesty USA refuses to make obvious demands of its own government – demands like “disclose who you are funding and working with”, “stop trying to overthrow democratically elected governments”. That would actually be useful to promoting human rights rather than US backed coups. That is expecting too much of Amnesty when it cannot even recognize Bradley Manning as a Prisoner of Conscience, or acknowledge that Saudi armed rebels in Syria will inevitably commit atrocities.
Stupidity is not actually the problem as Chris Hedges made clear when he resigned from PEN after Suzanne Nossel, recently head of Amnesty USA, was appointed to run that group:
Nossel’s relentless championing of preemptive war—which under international law is illegal—as a State Department official along with her callous disregard for Israeli mistreatment of the Palestinians and her refusal as a government official to denounce the use of torture and use of extra-judicial killings, makes her utterly unfit to lead any human rights organization, especially one that has global concerns.
It should not be up to Chris Hedges alone to denounce the “hijacking of human rights organizations to promote imperial projects”.
- When War Hawks Become Human Rights Officials (truth-out.org)
The Canadian International Development Agency is no longer. In its recent budget the Conservative government collapsed CIDA into Foreign Affairs, creating the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.
While there was plenty of commentary on the Tories’ move, no one — from the mainstream right to the development NGO left — pointed out that Canadian aid has primarily been about maintaining and/or extending the grip the world’s richest one percent holds over the entire globe.
Canada began its first significant (non-European) allocation of foreign aid through the Colombo Plan. With Mao’s triumph in China in 1949, the 1950 Colombo Plan’s primary aim was to keep the former British Asian colonies, especially India, within the Western capitalist fold.
To justify an initial $25 million ($250 million in today’s dollars) in Colombo Plan aid External Affairs Minister Lester Pearson told the House of Commons:
Communist expansionism may now spill over into South East Asia as well as into the Middle East … it seemed to all of us at the [Colombo] conference that if the tide of totalitarian expansionism should flow over this general area, … the Free World will have been driven off all but a relatively small bit of the great Eurasian landmass. … We agreed at Colombo that the forces of totalitarian expansionism could not be stopped in South Asia and South East Asia by military force alone.
Two years later Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent was even more explicit about the carrot and stick approach to defeating left wing nationalism (“communism”). In September 1952 St. Laurent explained:
In South East Asia through the establishment of the Colombo plan not only are we trying to provide wider commercial relations but we are also fighting another Asiatic war against Communism in the interests of peace, this time with economic rather than military weapons. We Canadians know that in the struggle against Communism there are two useful weapons, the economic and the military. While we much prefer to use the economic weapons as we are in the Colombo plan, we know that we may have no choice but to use the military weapons as we have been forced to do in Korea [27 000 Canadian troops participated in this war that left 3 million dead].
In other words, if some of India’s post-colonial population had not set their sights on a socialistic solution to their troubles — with the possibility of Soviet or Chinese assistance — Canada probably would not have provided aid. Five years into the Colombo Plan, Pearson admitted “Canada would not have started giving aid if not for the perceived communist threat.”
The broad rationale for extending foreign aid was laid out at a 1968 seminar for the newly established Canadian International Development Agency. This day-long event was devoted to discussing a paper titled “Canada’s Purpose in Extending Foreign Assistance” written by Professor Steven Triantas of the University of Toronto. Foreign aid, Triantas argued, “may be used to induce the underdeveloped countries to accept the international status quo or change it in our favour.” Aid provided an opportunity “to lead them to rational political and economic developments and a better understanding of our interests and problems of mutual concern.” Triantis discussed the appeal of a “‘Sunday School mentality’ which ‘appears’ noble and unselfish and can serve in pushing into the background other motives … [that] might be difficult to discuss publicly.”
A 1969 CIDA background paper, expanding on Triantas views, summarized the rationale for Canadian aid:
To establish within recipient countries those political attitudes or commitments, military alliances or military bases that would assist Canada or Canada’s western allies to maintain a reasonably stable and secure international political system. Through this objective, Canada’s aid programs would serve not only to help increase Canada’s influence within the developing world, but also within the western alliance.
This type of thinking continues to drive aid policy. Largely ignored in recent commentary, there are innumerable documented instances of Canadian aid advancing highly politicized geopolitical objectives over the past 25 years.
As an early advocate of International Monetary Fund/World Bank structural adjustment programs, since the early 1980s Canada has channeled hundreds of millions in “aid” dollars to supporting privatization and economic liberalization efforts in the Global South. At the start of the 2000s Ottawa plowed millions of dollars into supporting the Western-backed “coloured revolutions” in Eastern Europe and opposition to Jean Bertrand Aristide’s elected government in Haiti. More recently, the Conservatives have ramped up aid spending in Latin America to combat independent-minded, socialist-oriented governments. Barely discussed in the media, the Harper government’s shift of aid from Africa to Latin America was largely designed to stunt Latin America’s recent rejection of neoliberalism and U.S. dependence by supporting the region’s right-wing governments and movements.
An entirely unacknowledged, though increasingly obvious, principle of Canadian aid is that where the USA wields its big stick, Canada carries its police baton and offers a carrot. Or to put it more bluntly, where U.S. and Canadian troops kill Ottawa provides aid.
During the 1950-53 Korean War the south of that country became a major recipient of Canadian aid and so was Vietnam during the U.S. war there. The leading recipient of Canadian aid in 1999/2000 was the war-ravaged former Yugoslavia and Iraq and Afghanistan were top two recipients in 2003/2004. Since that time Afghanistan and Haiti (where Canadian and U.S. troops helped overthrow the elected government in February 2004) have been the leading recipients. Tens of millions in Canadian “aid” dollars have been spent to reestablish foreign and elite control over Haiti’s security forces.
There are a number of reasons for the lack of discussion about aid being used as a tool to maintain/extend Western capitalist dominance. NGO critics of aid policy are generally unwilling to point out the geopolitical underpinnings of Canadian aid because their jobs depend on keeping quiet. They stick to criticizing the ways in which foreign assistance is used to benefit specific corporate interests. This stakeholder criticism generally amounts to no more than NGOs saying: “Give the aid money to us not the corporations, because we’ll do a better job of whatever it is you want to accomplish.”
If you tell truth to power by saying Canadian aid is largely designed to maintain Western capitalist dominance of the Global South, you’re not likely to have your grant renewed.
The funny thing is, with the Conservatives in power, if you’re doing anything remotely useful to ordinary people, you’re not likely to anyway.
Yves Engler is the author of Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping: The Truth May Hurt. His latest book is The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s foreign policy.
Why does it matter if Susan Rice serves as secretary of state?
That is a trick question, because in fact, it doesn’t matter at all. American foreign policy will be unchanged regardless of who the next secretary may be. The full force of imperialism will be brought to bear against the people of the world under the Obama administration. The democratic president has made real the goals of the neo-con Project for a New American Century, a 21st century version of Manifest Destiny, the belief that the United States should rule the world and do so with a vengeance.
Rice’s nomination is a non-issue but is treated as an important one for many black people because of the words of right wing racists. The sight of the embittered sore loser John McCain calling Rice “unqualified” and “not very smart” reminds black people of the slights they are personally subjected to in their lives every day. It is especially galling for the insult to come from McCain, the quintessential entitlement baby. He was admitted to the U.S. Naval Academy because his father and grandfather were admirals. The legacy leg up didn’t help much because the mediocre young McCain still graduated at the bottom of his class. McCain’s insistence that the obviously sub-par Sarah Palin was a qualified vice presidential candidate makes the racist slaps at Rice all the more offensive.
The yearning to see a black face in one of the highest and most rarefied places is a very deep one and not to be easily dismissed, but it is crucial to note that Rice is no different from John McCain in her beliefs of how the United States should conduct itself in the world. The facts against Rice and her predecessors are obscured by a corporate media which hides all the atrocities committed by the United States government, making the Rice story appear like nothing more than that of a high achieving black woman being slandered by evil racists.
The case against Rice or whomever is nominated by the president should be a case made against United States foreign policy and all of the people who now or ever were in charge of carrying it out. The presidents, secretaries of state, United Nations ambassadors, national security advisers and their ilk are held up as paragons of virtue, intelligence and moral rectitude. They emerge from elite institutions and are held up as the “best and the brightest” the country has to offer.
A secretary of state not only has a prestigious position, but is considered an elder statesman or woman for life. Of course, he or she also can walk into positions of great wealth after their public service has ended. Corporate speeches, book deals and lucrative board positions await every living secretary of state from Henry Kissinger to Condoleezza Rice.
The true horror is that the people who hold these supposedly august positions are in fact no better than criminal enforcers in organized crime families. American secretaries of state have plotted invasions and assassinations, occupied countries, destroyed economies, fomented coups and in a myriad of other ways laid waste to sovereign nations. Countries which try to bring about their own democracies are thwarted if their plans are seen as a threat to American interests.
No secretary of state should be lionized and there is nothing wonderful about black people having the right to perform the evil acts which were once the reserve of whites.The Dulleses and Kissingers and their predecessors and successors made wars on huge swaths of the planet and did in fact crush attempts at democracy so that American businesses might be able to harvest bananas at cheap prices.
The appearance of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice as part of the Bush administration foreign policy team ended the white monopoly on American state terror. Colin Powell went to the United Nations with his power point presentation full of lies in order to justify the invasion of Iraq. He also removed Jean Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s democratically elected president, from office. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice covered up her own incompetence and the still murky facts which brought the September 11th terrorist attacks onto American soil.
It was during the Bush administration that the black face in the high place joined in committing the worst kinds of dirty work to be carried out by the United States around the globe. It was also the first time that black Americans began to look the other way and excuse their government’s inhumanity. Defending Colin and Condi became substitutes for analysis and the ideology that once made black Americans the group least supportive of their government’s acts of aggression.
The ascendancy of Barack Obama to the presidency accelerated this grotesque delusion of racial uplift. Not only are NDAA, kill lists, and naked imperialism to be overlooked, but the black man who destroyed Libya and Somalia and who is on the road to destroying Syria will have another terrorist of color by his side. In a perverse way this terrible duo will increase the joy of a people who a mere five years ago recoiled at the very behavior which Obama and Rice have exhibited toward the rest of the world.
America is and will continue to pose terrible threats to the rest of the world, whether the next secretary of state if Susan Rice or John Kerry or an unknown player to be named later. That should be the crux of any debates about who should serve in these positions. Anything else is just drama playing out while the world burns because the United States keeps lighting the match.
Margaret Kimberley can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.
- Susan “Genocide” Rice: Is Susan Rice “Bad for Congo” (disquietreservations.blogspot.com)
Five family members of Réginald Antoine were murdered on the morning of Tuesday, March 13, 2012 in Port au Prince. He and Charles Fritz-Gérald are leaders of the Platform of Employees Unjustly Fired from Public Administration (PEVEP). They have fought for years for financial compensation for those who were fired from public service jobs by the 2004-06 regime of Gerard Latortue. This was the regime whose installation was overseen by the U.S., Canada and France following the coup d’etat of February 2004 against President Jean Bertrand Aristide.
The PEVEP fought the Latortue regime and then the governments of President Préval and Michel Martelly for compensation for workers illegally fired from their jobs in public enterprises. The group accuses Martelly of reneging on promises he made to settle its grievances.
According to witnesses, several people attacked the home where Réginald Antoine grew up. The murderers used guns and a hand grenade to carry out their grisly task. Antoine was not in the house at the time of the attack. The dead include Antoine’s brother and sister, Claudy and Nancy, his brother in law Wilson and two children.
In a statement to Radio Metropole, a police spokesperson dismissed the gravity of the crime, saying it was carried out by a mentally deranged person. Antoine has called on police to find the killers.
Réginald Antoine is one of signators of this open letter published in the UK Guardian on March 2, 2011 calling on the U.S., Canada and other foreign powers to stop interfering in Haiti’s political affairs. The letter is critical of the first round of Haiti’s national election on November 28, 2010 whose vote count saw Michel Martelly finish third and therefore be ineligible to pass into the second round of voting. The result of that count was later reversed by the chairperson of the country’s electoral council under pressure and threats by the Organization of American States.
- Haiti’s president denies dual citizenship (thegrio.com)