There is no doubt that the 2016 Presidential election may ultimately be declared the most divisive and the most problematic election in American history, indeed the beginning of an unwelcome but perhaps necessary watershed event.
As the 2016 election approached, the importance of the Electoral College was never an unknown obscurity of American politics. Everyone knew the magic number of 270 electoral votes. Certainly that fact should have been of uppermost importance in the HRC and Trump campaigns. As should be completely obvious, a campaign based on reaching that Electoral College number is a very different campaign than one conducted simply to achieve the highest total of popular votes. That is Lesson #1 in Elementary Presidential Campaign Organizing 101 but HRC never grasped that she could not manipulate the final result, whatever the outcome.
My first indication that there would be an ultra-upset with the results was a very late election evening call from an east coast Dem-Lib friend who had supported Bernie – sobbing and wailing; at times it was difficult to understand her; Initially I thought she had tragically lost a member of her family, perhaps the family dog had been hit by a car. “What is happening to our country? I can’t believe it,” she cried. She was inconsolably distraught that the nation was about to be taken over by gangs of the indescribable ‘deplorable’ type running wild through the streets; setting cars on fire, blocking traffic, burning the American flag, breaking store windows and causing general mayhem while committing acts of civil unrest and even threatening Constitutional order.
Well, she was correct; some of that happened but it was not the deplorables who took to the streets, gloating in triumph or taunting the losers with defeat. To consider the anti Trump street protests as ‘resistance’ may be more about wishful thinking since they were clearly orchestrated by Soros-sponsored groups like MoveOn.org which will continue their ‘group think’ campaign to manipulate a public response to The Donald.
Like many of us during our voting years, there has been no candidate whom we truly believed would make a Great President. Many of us have spent a decade or two of disillusionment on election night and yet our inner Snowflakes never cried, spun off into hysterics nor did most of us ever have the luxury of having a tantrum or an emotional breakdown. Disappointment yes – like when Ralph lost the 2000 election and then again in 2004. What was wrong with the country? Why would anyone vote for a Democratic party that had dismantled welfare reform, throwing single moms and their kids off their monthly pittance and do nothing to initiate a modern day Reconstruction for the inner cities? Why would anyone vote for a Democrat who was, at best, an undercover Republicrat? Why couldn’t the rest of the country see through the partisan platitudes and lies?
If the response to Trump’s election had been spontaneous and independent uprisings as acts of defiance, the opposition would be validated as authentic and powerful glimmers of a true democratic movement. Unfortunately, they are more reminiscent of the coordinated Color campaigns that have taken place around the globe with one goal in mind – regime change.
It has been stunning to observe the outpouring of easily-led, well-meaning adolescents who continue to be betrayed by Bernie, the Senate’s new Outreach Chair as well as adult Dem-Libs convinced of their own superiority that they know best for every other American and who yet believe themselves to be tolerant and respectful of differences.
To understand that the street protests were coordinated, predetermined efforts rather than spontaneous, instinctive events is one thing (authentic taking-to-the-streets response are the backbone of democracy), but then to witness the emotional, cultural breakdown of a weeping, traumatized generation with an inability to cope with reality, their immediate environment or life’s vagaries is more than worrisome. The videos of students in need of play doh, arts and craft classes, group counseling, excused absence from class, coloring books and safe spaces are indicative of a coddled generation sheltered from the ‘real’ feelings of failure and pain and with little developed sense of self-reliance. Have we created a generation raised with an expectation that they earned a soccer trophy for losing and deserve the latest cd and the newest digital toy at their fingertips.
Will this be a generation with the fortitude, the intellect and the inner core of strength to some day take the reins of government or, in the meantime, to stand up in a powerful way against the established order or will they crumple when truly confronted with the brick-wall of opposition to their egalitarian ideals.
So far, from what we have seen, protest violence, albeit a minority, has been a response which begs the question of who is committing the violence? Is there an SDS off shoot on the horizon or is there an undercurrent of something more sinister?
To those who see Trump’s election as a dire misdirection for the country and that all he represents as objectionable (and yes, many of his Cabinet appointments are objectionable but then some of us elders felt the same about Obama’s cabinet), then man the barricades and dig in with some strategic thinking; preferably not at the knee of MoveOn or other oligarch funded ‘non-profits’ which have their own agenda to control a protest movement.
A Constitutional response is that this is what Election Day is all about and that, like it or not, Donald Trump is the democratically elected President and who can forget as HRC so eloquently put it that whoever does not accept election results is a “direct threat to our democracy.” Et tu, Hillary? As a refresher, we have an Electoral College process to protect the concept of “one person, one vote;” that is a vote in Los Angeles is no more important than a vote in Wood River, Illinois and the transparent efforts to delegitimize the Trump election with specious, frivolous claims of hacking represents a self-serving, inappropriate intrusion into our Constitutional democratic process. I don’t buy Stein’s assertions for a moment.
While ‘Deport Trump’ signs have been evident throughout the protests as a major objection to a Trump Presidency, my grasp of the President-elect’s immigration policy has been sketchy, encouraged some of my own research. Check this out:
“All Americans not only in the states most heavily affected by and in every place in this country are rightly disturbed by the large number of illegal aliens entering our country. The jobs they hold might otherwise be held by citizens or legal immigrants. The public services they use impose burdens on our taxpayers. That’s why our administration has moved aggressively to secure our borders more by hiring a record number of new border guards, by deporting twice as many criminal aliens as ever before, by cracking down on illegal hiring, by barring welfare benefit to illegal aliens. In the budget I will present to you, we will try to do more to speed the deportation of illegal aliens who are arrested for crimes, to better identify illegal aliens in the work place as recommended by the commission head by former Rep Barbara Jordan. We are a nation of immigrants but we are also a nation of laws. It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years and we must do more to stop it.”
Sounds like Trump right? Actually that was President Bill Clinton’s 1995 State of the Union Address to Congress for which he received a standing ovation. Needless to say, neither Obama who has deported two million illegals and Clinton were never accused of being racist but we now know that the Democrats have realized what a trove of potential registered Democrats the immigrant community represent.
And then there is the issue of Trump’s plan to register Muslims in a database from specific countries with a history of terrorism which has been criticized as further evidence of Trump’s racism. Trump’s proposal sounds similar to the Entry-Exit Registration System established by President GW Bush in 2001, the system later morphed into the Department of Homeland Security and was operational until 2011.
During the Iranian hostage crisis of 1980, President Jimmy Carter adopted a ban of Shiite Muslim immigrants from Iran entering into the US in an effort to ‘protect the country.” He ultimately deported 15,000 Iranian students. Carter’s ban “invalidated all visas issued to Iranian citizens for future entry into the United States.”
So if we accept that there is common ground amongst Presidents Clinton, GW Bush, Carter and President elect Trump that the impact of illegal immigration on our public school system and other social institutions is a legitimate concern for the nation, why the double standard? It is not just because Trump does not fit into the image of a sleek, urbane President; he is not a smooth, sugar coated talker like Obama while a rough-around-the-edges Trump may actually act on immigration reform.
On the campaign trail, the President-elect has been hyperbolic and straightforward, sometimes crude and discourteous and yet Trump has questioned the globalized economy and trade deals, the existence of NATO and the Fed Banks, a desire to get along with Russia and in his Cincinnati speech, establish a “new foreign policy that will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments. Our goal is stability; not chaos” and more recently in North Carolina to “reestablish the Rule of Law and defend the Constitution of the US.”
When was the last time a Democrat talked like that or are those peace-niks among us being conned? Who does that kind of language threaten?
Renee Parsons has been a member of the ACLU’s Florida State Board of Directors and president of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter. She has been an elected public official in Colorado, an environmental lobbyist and staff member of the US House of Representatives in Washington DC. She can be found on Twitter @reneedove31
The United States military says it will deploy an armor brigade and an aviation brigade totaling about 2,300 soldiers to Afghanistan this winter.
The Pentagon made the announcement in a statement released on Thursday, saying 1,500 soldiers will be sent to Afghanistan this winter, in addition to another 800 troops that will be deployed in support of a training mission known as Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
“This deployment is part of a regular rotation of forces in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel,” the press release stated, adding that the soldiers were “well-trained, well-led and fully prepared for the challenges this mission will bring.”
No exact date was given in the announcement for when the US troops will leave for the deployment to Afghanistan.
The United States — under Republican George W. Bush’s presidency — and its allies invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban regime from power, but after about one and-a-half-decade, the foreign troops are still deployed to the country.
After becoming the president in 2008, President Barack Obama, a Democrat, vowed to end the Afghan war — one of the longest conflicts in US history – but he failed to keep his promise.
US President-elect Donald Trump, who speaks against the Afghan war, has dubbed the 2001 invasion and following occupation of Afghanistan as “Obama’s war”.
Obama has ordered the military to take on the Taliban more directly and enable Afghan forces battling the militant group.
In October last year, Obama announced plans to keep 9,800 US troops in Afghanistan through 2016 and 5,500 in 2017, reneging on his promise to end the war there and bring home most American forces from the Asian country before he leaves office.
According to US officials, Washington would also maintain a large counter-terrorism capability of terror drones and Special Operations Forces to fight militants in Afghanistan.
There are now about 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan, as well as some 6,000 NATO service members, to “train and advise” Afghan security forces fighting Taliban.
Over the past several months, Taliban militants have intensified their pressure with numerous offensives on other key Afghan provinces, including Kunduz and Takhar.
The head of Russia’s Emergencies Ministry has proposed a new economic model of humanitarian assistance and reparation payments to victims of war zones, recommending that initiators of conflict pay for the destruction and suffering caused by their policies.
“The Russian Federation proposes to build a new economic model of international humanitarian aid,” Vladimir Puchkov told the UN General Assembly in New York. The model is quite simple, according to Puchkov, who said that nations which initiate, incite and sponsor conflicts in other states should be “obliged to bear primary responsibility, including financial” for providing aid to refugees and persons internally displaced as a result.
The need to create a new mechanism arises from the lack of funding for international humanitarian relief budgets. Currently only around 5 percent of the funds required to remedy the widespread destruction and suffering are available, the Russian minister said.
To reduce the financial burden on the international humanitarian aid system, associated with the rise of terrorism and waves of refugees, Puchkov also stressed the need to focus on conflict prevention.
“We believe that settlement and conflict prevention is the best approach to reducing the burden on the international humanitarian system,” the minister said in a report at the 71st session of the UN General Assembly.
In order to improve the quality of international aid the minister also offered to take additional measures and help develop local crises response capabilities in conflict-torn countries.
“Instead of trying to provide for the millions of refugees in Europe, it is necessary to create opportunities for them to stay at home, or at least in the same region,” Puchkov noted.
Among other things, Puchkov urged that the international community intensify efforts to improve the international legal and contractual framework which would allow aid to quickly reach affected areas. Meanwhile developing countries, the minister said, should also recognize their responsibility and not remain “passive recipients.”
Speaking about the Russian contribution to global humanitarian aid missions, Puchkov highlighted that this year Russia participated in over 40 missions across the globe, offering aid to over 10 countries. Besides Syria and Ukraine, some of the recent recipients of Russian aid include countries such as Yemen and Afghanistan, in addition to western states such as Italy and Portugal. Overall, Russia engaged in over 450 missions across the globe over the last quarter of a century.
In addition, over the last three years, Moscow has sent more than $250 million to battle humanitarian crisis in a number of countries, by sending emergency food and medical assistance to populations affected by conflict and natural disasters.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which coordinates international humanitarian relief efforts said that last year more than 76 million people from 31 countries needed assistance. The UN office also noted in 2015 some 51 million people were displaced worldwide, which is the highest number since WWII.
Congress has authorized $618.7 billion for the 2017 military budget. The bill ups aid to Ukraine by $50 million and allows the transfer of missiles to Syrian rebels. However, it omits controversial provisions about drafting women or religious exemptions for contractors.
The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed in the Senate on Thursday with 92 votes in favor and seven opposing. It already cleared the House last Friday in a 375-34 vote. With the annexes, appendices and the conference report harmonizing the two chambers’ versions, the final document is 3,076 pages long.
Absent from the NDAA is the proposal to allow female Americans to register for the Selective Service system, which replaced the Vietnam War-era draft but currently only applies to men aged 18-25. That proposal was sent to the Government Accountability Office for further study.
Lawmakers also abandoned the so-called Russell Amendment, which would have created a religious freedom exemption from the Obama administration executive order mandating nondiscrimination from federal contractors. Obama threatened to veto the bill with this amendment.
Buried in the bill, in Section 1224, was the provision to allow Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) to Syrian rebels appropriately vetted by US intelligence. The law requires the Pentagon and the State Department to file extensive documentation with Congress, including details of the weaponry provided, the recipient’s location and the intelligence assessment, including “a description of the alignment of such element within the broader conflict in Syria.” The report would need to include a justification for supplying the MANPADs, “including an explanation of the purpose and expected employment of such systems.”
“We appreciate the bicameral and bipartisan support in the US Congress for Ukraine in our fight against the ongoing Russian aggression,” Ukraine’s embassy in Washington said on Thursday, commenting on the fact that the NDAA increased military aid to the government in Kiev to $350 million, $50 million more than in 2016.
What could potentially have the biggest long-term impact is the provision allowing the application of the 2012 “Magnitsky Act” to anyone in the world, rather than just the Russian Federation and Moldova.
Sections 1261-65 authorize the US president to sanction anyone responsible for “extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against individuals in any foreign country” who seek to expose illegal activity carried out by government officials” or to “obtain, exercise, defend, or promote internationally recognized human rights and freedoms.”
Authorized sanctions include denying entry to the US or revoking an existing US visa; seizure of any property and interests that are located in the US “or come within the possession or control of a United States person.” The provision would sunset six years after the NDAA’s enactment.
Of further interest are the provisions allowing the establishment of the US Cyber Command as a fully separate combat command (Section 923), capping the size of the National Security Council staff at 200 – down from 400 or so it currently employs (Section 1085).
The NDAA maintained the prohibition of using any funds to close the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or transfer any of the remaining 59 detainees onto US soil.
President Barack Obama has ordered a waiver of restrictions on military aid for foreign forces in Syria, deeming it “essential to the national security interests” of the US to allow exceptions from provisions in the four-decades-old Arms Export Control Act.
A White House press release Thursday announced that foreign fighters in Syria supporting US special operations “to combat terrorism in Syria” would be excused from restrictions on military assistance.
“I hereby determine that the transaction, encompassing the provision of defense articles and services to foreign forces, irregular forces, groups, or individuals engaged in supporting or facilitating ongoing U.S. military operations to counter terrorism in Syria, is essential to the national security interests of the United States,” President Obama affirmed in the presidential determination and waiver.
The order delegates responsibility to the US secretary of state to work with and report to Congress on weapons export proposals, requiring 15 days of notice before they are authorized.
Obama announced a similar waiver of the Arms Export Control Act in September 2013, following the Ghouta chemical attack in August of that year. That order facilitated the transfer of US military weaponry to “select vetted members” of opposition forces battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Thursday’s order appears less narrow in scope.
The challenge of differentiating between terrorist forces, such as Al-Nusra, and more moderate forces in Syria has been acknowledged by press secretaries in recent State Department briefings.
MOSCOW – Russia expects from Germany specific details on an initiative on a new agreement on arms control in Europe, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.
“We expect from the German side the concretization of its initiative and formation of a concept of dialogue. The reaction to the initiative of NATO steps by whose efforts arms control dialogue was brought to a dead end and frozen is important. Russia is open for discussion of issues of international security on the basis of equality and mutual consideration of interests,” the statement read.
On Wednesday, 57-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will convene for its 23rd two-day Ministerial Council in Hamburg hosted by its current chair Germany. One of the topics that Germany has pushed for the broad discussions this week under the OSCE framework is new arms control agreement with Russia.
Petro Poroshenko holds sway in Ukraine by channeling western financial aid into war and bribery, while making big money with a close circle of loyal oligarchs, fugitive Ukrainian MP Aleksandr Onishchenko told RT in an exclusive interview.
Aleksandr Onishchenko, a former MP in Ukraine’s parliament, a billionaire oligarch and professional Olympic showjumper, fled the country this summer a week before being stripped of parliamentary immunity due to an investigation into an alleged gas fraud scheme.
He said that the case against him is a setup and the Ukrainian government tried to frame him to cover up a large-scale bribery scheme linked directly to President Poroshenko.
Onishchenko, who said he was a key figure in the complex scheme for two years, vowed to show western sponsors of the Ukrainian government where their money is actually going. He told RT that most IMF aid money is being used by President Poroshenko and his accomplices to fuel the ongoing civil conflict in the east of Ukraine.
“Most of the money they use for the war. I think that Poroshenko is very interested to keep the war,” Onishchenko said. An overgrown military not only allows Poroshenko to reap profits from “war-time” contracts but also suppress political opponents, the fugitive Ukrainian MP alleged.
“All the contracts for this war, even the smaller [ones], like weapons, or some stuff for the army, they [are going through] the companies which are close to [Poroshenko]. They are just [laundering] money … for them the war is like business.”
Ukraine’s president and his accomplices have a stake in all the major businesses in the country now and it’s impossible for someone outside the inner circle to make money in Ukraine, according to Onishchenko, who claims Poroshenko and his team are scared that someone could potentially fund the opposition in the wake of upcoming elections
“Poroshenko is in control now [of] all the state’s companies. It’s the biggest business they’re doing. It’s a chemical factory in Odessa, a lot of state energy companies,” said Onishchenko. Only people close to the president have been put in charge of these companies, he said.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko © Valentyn Ogirenko Fugitive Ukrainian MP says he handed proof of Poroshenko ‘buying votes’ to US Justice Dept
“They use this money for political [advantage] for voting, for supporting … they use this money to make Poroshenko stronger,” Onishchenko added.
A scandal surrounding impressive income declarations, recently filed by Ukrainian politicians, brought to attention the scale of Ukrainian corruption, Onishchenko told RT.
He hopes the recent revelations about the scale of corruption in the Ukrainian government will result in the end of financial aid to the country.
“All Europe was shocked after the declaration of the people from the parliament of Ukraine. If you saw, all the people’s deputies, they declared so much cash. It was crazy, like millions and millions. How did they make that cash?” Onishchenko said.
“Poroshenko corrupts them … pays them money for… voting. That’s why they have so much money now. They’re buying … big houses, they are buying yachts and a lot of stuff. They must explain where the money is from. That’s why they put the money in these declarations. After these declarations from the government of Ukraine and this corruption scandal, even what I said to the press, I don’t see that western Europe will support [them] anymore, I mean, financially, Ukraine. Because they see they just use money for corruption and they’ll never accept this.”
With a few notable exceptions, political leaders are chosen by political leaders, and not by electorates or community-based organizations or popular assemblies. Popular media figures and the so-called ‘pundits’, including academics and self-declared experts and ‘think-tank’ analysts reinforce and propagate these choices.
A collection of terms and pseudo concepts are essential in validating what is really an oligarchical process. These concepts are tagged onto whoever is chosen by the elite for electoral candidates or for the seizure of political power. With this framework in mind, we have to critically analyze the symbols and signs used by popular opinion-makers as they promote political elites. We will conclude by posing an alternative to the ‘propaganda of choice’, which has so far resulted in broken pre-election promises and political debacles.
Language and Pseudo-Concepts: Subterfuges for Manipulated Choices
The usual suspects in the business of mass-manipulation describe their political leaders in the same folksy or pseudo-serious terms that they attribute to themselves: Experts/ intuitive improvisers/ trial and error ‘muddlers’. The ‘experts’ often mean wrong-headed policymakers and advisers whose decisions usually reflect the demands of their current paymasters. Their stated or unstated assumptions are rarely questioned and almost never placed in the context of the contemporary power structures. The experts determine the future trajectory for their political choices. In this way, the views expressed by ‘experts’ are primarily ideological and not some disembodied scholarly entity floating in an indeterminate space and time.
Pundits often promote ‘experience’ in describing the ‘experienced’ leader, adviser or cabinet member. They denigrate the opposition candidate adversary as ‘lacking experience’. The obvious questions to this platitude should be: ‘What kind of experience? What were the political results of this experience? Who did this experience serve?
We know that Secretaries of Defense William Gates and Donald Rumsfeld and their leading assistants, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith were appointed to their high positions and praised for their ‘experience’. This ‘experience’ drove the country into repeated disastrous military engagements, political debacles and unending wars. It would be better to reject officials who are highly ‘experienced’ in creating disasters and appoint those officials experienced in conciliation and reconciliation. Unfortunately the ‘experts’ never discuss these matters in any historical context.
Many political choices are adorned with ‘titles’, such as ‘successful entrepreneur’ and/or ‘prize winning journalist’. This ignores the fact that those ‘bestowing titles’ come from a narrow band of inbred organizations with financial, military or ideological interests looking for near-future rewards from their now titled, prize winning political choice.
Highly certified candidates, we are told, are those eminently qualified to lead, whether they are university academics with prestigious degrees, or doctors, lawyers, or investors who work for leading groups. The most highly vetted officials coming from Harvard University have implemented economic policies leading to the worst crises in the shortest time in world history.
Lawrence Summers, PhD and Harvard University President-turned Treasury Secretary participated in the pillage of Russia in the 1990s and then brought his talent for sowing international chaos home by joining Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. These two ‘experts’ promoted enormous financial swindles, which led to the worst economic crash in the US in seven decades.
Money laundering by the big banks flourished under Princeton Summa Cum Laude and US Treasury ‘Under-Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence’, Stuart Levey. Levey concentrated on implementing brutal economic sanctions against Iran shutting US businesses out of multi-billion-dollar oil deals with Tehran, promoting a huge annual $4 billion-dollar giveaway to Israel and a granting a uniquely privileged trade status for the Jewish state – which cost the US taxpayers additional billions.
Receiving ‘prestigious awards’ does not predict a successful policymaker in contemporary US politics. The underlying ideological commitments and political allegiances determine the appointment of these ‘prize-winning’ leaders. From an objective perspective, any obscure college economics graduate, eager to increase high tech US exports and sign profitable trade agreements with Iran, would have been far more successful political choice as Secretary of Treasury.
Frequently ‘identity’ colors the choice of appointees, especially favoring an ‘oppressed’ minority, even if their field of competence and their political allegiances run counter to the real interests and political needs of the vast majority of American citizens. Some ‘ethnic’ groups wear their identity on their shirt sleeves as a point of entry into lucrative or influential appointments: “Hello, I’m a Jewish graduate of Yale Law school, which makes me the best choice for an appointment to the Supreme Court … where there are already three Jews out of the ten Justices… and only an anti-Semite would consider a fourth to be an ‘over-representation’ of our tiny national minority… whereas the total absence of any WASPs (white Anglo-Protestants) on ‘The Court’ only confirms their historical degeneracy…” Who could object to that?
‘Identity’ appointees are not reluctant to employ scare tactics, including citing old historical grievances and claiming special suffering unique to their heritage, to justify their appointment to privileged, lucrative positions. Their identity also seems to insulate them from any fall-out from their policy catastrophes such as disastrous wars and economic crises, as well as providing impunity for their personal involvement in financial mega-swindles.
Race and claims of victimization often serves as a justification for being a political ‘chosen one’. We are told repeatedly that some appointee, even with a tangential link to skin color, must have suffered past indignities and is therefore uniquely qualified to represent the aspirations of an entire group, promising to eliminate all inequality, right injustices and promote peace and prosperity. Racial identity never prevented three of the worst Caribbean tyrants from robbing and torturing their people: The two Haitian dictators, ‘Papa Doc’ and ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier murdered tens of thousands Haitians, especially among mixed race educated elites. Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista had to slaughter hundreds of Afro-Caribbean sugar workers in Santiago de Cuba before he could enter the exclusive ‘whites only’ Havana Golf and Country Club.
In the United States, it was a ‘man of color’, General Colin Powell, Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, who bombed and invaded black African Somalia and implemented the policy of invading and destroying Iraq and Afghanistan. The carefully groomed ‘First Black President-To-Be’ Barack Obama, was the protégé of a Chicago-based millionaire lobby led by the fanatical ‘Israel-First’ mob, to bring ‘identity’ to its highest level. This charade culminated in the ‘First Black President’ and promoter of seven devastating wars against the poorest people of the world receiving the Nobel Peace Prize from the he Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee in the presence of the King of Norway and a committee composed of five members appointed by the Storting (Norwegian Parliament). Such is the power of identity. It was of little comfort to the hundreds of thousands of Libyans and South Sahara Africans murdered, pillaged, raped and forced to flee in rotting boats to Europe, that the NATO bombs destroying their country had been sent by the ‘Historic Black US President and Nobel Peace Prize Winner’. When the wounded, captive President of Libya, Muammar Gadaffi, the greatest proponent of Pan-African integration, was brutalized and slaughtered, was he aware that his tormentors were armed and supported by ‘America’s First Black President’? A video of Gadaffi’s gruesome end became a source of gleeful entertainment for the ‘Feminist’ US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who would go on to cite her ‘victory’ over the Libyan President in her bid to become ‘The First Female President of the US”.
The question is not about one’s race or identity, but whose interests are served by the Afro-American leader in question. US President Barack Obama served Wall Street and the Pentagon, whereas Malcolm X and Martin Luther King had a long and arduous history of leading peoples’ movements. MLK joined the striking Afro-American garbage workers in Memphis and the autoworkers in Detroit. Malcolm X organized and spoke for the Harlem community – while inspiring millions.
Gender labels covered the fact that a politically chosen woman ruled on behalf of a family-led tyranny, as in the case of Indira Gandhi in India. The financial lords of the City of London financiers, and the mining and factory bosses in Great Britain chose the very female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who launched multiple wars abroad and smashed trade unions at home. Madame Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who promoted seven wars resulting in the deaths, injuries, displacement and rape of 5 million African and Middle Eastern women and destruction of their families, had the unconditional support of the top 20 Wall Street banks when she ran to become the ‘First Woman President of the United States’.
In other words, political appointments chosen for their ‘gender identity’ bring no special qualities or experience that would recommend them as progressive. When political and business elites choose a female for a high political office, they do so because it serves their interests to put a progressive political gloss on their reactionary policies. The ‘gender emphasis’ is most effective on liberals and the advocates of ‘identity over class politics’. In reality it is a vacuous symbol rather than real power and highlights elite upward mobility.
Often media moguls, publicists and corporate leaders laud the ‘social background’ of a candidate. They use such criteria to groom and co-opt upwardly mobile workers, trade union officials and community militants. ‘Chosen leaders’ from minority or oppressed backgrounds are put in charge of discipline, work-place speed-ups and lay-offs. They sometimes adopt ‘workers’ language, splicing rough anti-establishment curses with their abuses as they fire workers and cut wages. One’s past social background is a far less useful criterion than current social commitments. As Karl Marx long ago noted, the ruling class is not a closed caste: It is always open to co-opting bright and influential new members among upwardly mobile labor leaders and activists.
Labor leaders receive ‘special favors’, including invitations to political inaugurations and corporate meetings with all the travel and luxury accommodations paid. Elites frequently transform past militant leaders into corporate policemen, ready to identify, exclude and expel any genuine emerging local and shop floor militants. Public and private labor relations experts frequently describe a labor militant’s ascent to the elite as an ‘up by his own bootstraps operation’ – putting a virtuous gloss on the ‘self-made worker’ ready to serve the interests of the corporate elite! The primary feature that characterizes these ‘boot-strappers’ is how their sense of ‘solidarity’ turns upward and forward toward the bosses, and not backward and downward toward the working masses, as they transform into ‘boot-lickers’.
Many examples of these ‘upward and forward’-looking political choices are found among entertainment celebrities, sports heroes, media figures and pop musicians. Rap singers become ghetto millionaires. And ‘working-class hero’ rock musicians, the well-wrinkled as well as the young, charge hundreds of dollars a seat for their rasping and grasping performances while refusing to play on behalf of striking workers.
The popular music, promoted by the elite, contain country and working class lyrics, sung with phony regional twangs to entertain mass audiences even as the successful performers flaunt their Presidential awards, luxury mansions and limos. The political and corporate elite frequently choose phony working class or ethnic identity celebrities to endorse their products, as the gullible public is encouraged to purchase useless commodities, electronic gadgets and gimmicks, and to support reactionary politicians and politics. There are a few celebrities who protest or maintain real mass solidarity but they are blacklisted, ostracized or past their peak earning power. Most celebrities prefer to shake their backsides, mouth raunchy language, snort or smoke dope and slum a bit with their bodyguards, but the political elite have chosen them to distract and depoliticize the young and discontented. They are paid well for their services.
The concepts, symbols and signs of the ruling class determine who will be the political ‘choices’ for leaders and officials. Political elites co-opt upwardly mobile ‘identities’, among minorities and workers, carefully assessing which of their qualities will contribute to the desired elite outcomes. This is how working class and community-based electorates are seduced into voting against their real class, national, community, gender and racial economic interests.
Renegades, demagogues, soothsayers and other charlatans of many races, ethnicities, genders and proclivities run for office and win on that basis.
The elite pay a relatively small fee for procuring the services of prestigious, certified, titled and diversified candidates to elect or appoint as leaders.
Elite power only partially depends on the mass media, money and power. It also needs the services of the concept and language masters, identity promoters and propagandists of the embellished deed.
Stripping away the phony veneer of the ‘chosen’ politicians requires a forceful critique of the signs and symbols that cloak the real identity of the makers and breakers of these leaders. And it requires that they be exposed for their proven failures and disasters, especially their role in leading America into an unending series of political, military and economic debacles.
A White House report on efforts to target so-called extremists abroad shows a broadening use of war powers in the fight against Al-Qaeda, beyond military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
The 60-page report shows deployments in over half a dozen new areas – including Somalia, Yemen, Jordan, Niger, Cameroon, Central Africa, the Red Sea, Somalia and South Sudan – with troops on the ground, regular air strikes, and surveillance efforts, all in the name of counterterrorism.
In a presidential memorandum released on Monday, the White House said US military operations are grounded in the October 7, 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), by which Congress approved military operations and counterterrorism combat operations against Al-Qaeda. Since August 2014, those have expanded to include operations against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), which was “formerly known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq.”
The Obama administration’s broad use of the 2001 resolution has raised concerns about how President-elect Donald Trump might use the authority.
The memo includes some new details about how the Obama administration determines which regions are “areas of active hostilities” or war zones, taking into account not only whether a war has been declared there but also the size and scope of the threat, the scope of US involvement, and threats posed to US forces in the area.
President Barack Obama has called for the report to be updated and released publicly on an annual basis.
“The United States has deployed combat-equipped forces to a number of locations in the US Central, Pacifica, European, Southern and African Command areas of operation,” said the White House. “Such operations and deployments … consistent with Public Law and the War Powers Resolution, and operations and deployments remain ongoing.”
“It is not possible to know at this time the precise scope or the duration of the deployments of the US Armed Force necessary to counter terrorist threats to the United States,” the memo added.
Among its broadening efforts, the US identified Al-Shabaab in Somalia as Al-Qaeda for the first time, but provides no justification for the change. The administration believes it can target Al-Shabaab because it “seeks to establish a strict Islamic emirate.”
“United States advises, assists, and occasionally accompany regional forces … during counterterrorism operations … conducted airstrikes [in Somalia] on June 21, July 20, July 31, August 31, September 25 and September 28, 2016,” said the memo.
The US has deployed “a small number of military personnel in Yemen to support operations against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)” and carried out 18 airstrikes since June 13, 2016.
In Africa, the US has a base of operations in Djibouti and has conducted airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Libya. The US is also conducting military operations in Niger, where it has deployed approximately 575 personnel, and is sharing intelligence with French forces. There are another 285 US troops in Cameroon, conducting intelligence and surveillance operations. Washington has also deployed troops in Central Africa, conducted military operations in the Red Sea, and assigned 700 military personnel to Egypt.
Further in the memorandum, the White House said it had deployed over 2,300 military personnel to Jordan “to support counter-ISIL operations,” and to provide security to the country.
The prison camp inside the naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is still holding 59 detainees.
The Obama administration said it had tried to apply “rules, practices and policies long used in traditional warfare” to a new type of conflict embodied by extremist groups who often “do not wear uniforms ore respect geographic boundaries” and show little regard for the rules of war.
“To say that a military tactic is legal, or effective, is not to say that is wise or moral in every instance,” the White House said, according to AP, which obtained a copy of the memo and report.
Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States are the world’s five «nuclear weapons states», a description officially recognised in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which lays down that «each nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices…»
It is apparent that the word ‘transfer’ involves ownership and not location, because the United States has transferred many nuclear weapons to countries which, although members of the US-NATO military alliance, are not nuclear weapons states. An analysis by the Nuclear Threat Initiative indicates that the US has positioned 160-200 B-61 nuclear warheads «at six bases in five NATO countries: Belgium (10-20), Germany (10-20), Italy (60-70), Netherlands (10-20), and Turkey (60-70)».
According to a NATO statement of December 2015, «A number of NATO member countries contribute a dual-capable aircraft (DCA) capability to the Alliance. These aircraft are available for nuclear roles at various levels of readiness – the highest level of readiness is measured in weeks. In their nuclear role, the aircraft are equipped to carry nuclear bombs and personnel are trained accordingly».
The claim that the readiness level is measured in weeks is intriguing, because, as indicated in the US-NATO Readiness Action Plan of October 2015, the entire alliance is gearing up for war against Russia and, among other blatantly provocative initiatives, is «Raising the readiness and capabilities of the Multinational Corps Northeast Headquarters in Szczecin, Poland and enhancing its role as a hub for regional cooperation».
NATO’s policy of confrontation with Russia is causing some disquiet in western Europe, whose citizens are kept in the dark about the depth and demands of the military alliance to which their countries are committed, such as their aircraft being «equipped to carry nuclear bombs». It is policy that the US B-61 nuclear weapons stored in Europe are delivered to targets by aircraft of the Belgian, Dutch, German and Italian air forces.
NATO declares that «Nuclear weapons are a core component of the Alliance’s overall capabilities for deterrence and defence alongside conventional and missile defence forces». This strategy was approved at its 2012 Summit in Chicago, but had been evident for many years and had been continued in spite of the ending of the Cold War against the Soviet Union, a quarter of a century ago. Since then NATO has maintained a firm nuclear posture, but the question that was never asked in the post-Cold War years of NATO’s expansion towards Russia’s borders was «against whom are your nuclear weapons directed?»
There could be only one target country. What nation other than Russia could possibly interest the US-NATO military alliance? It is unlikely that the Brussels headquarters of NATO, the regional office of the Pentagon, is considering using nuclear weapons against any other country in the world. Even in the course of its catastrophic wars in Afghanistan and Libya it couldn’t have possibly considered a nuclear option.
Large numbers of US nuclear weapons systems were withdrawn from Europe at the end of the Cold War, but many remain, in the embrace of NATO, which Brussels uncompromisingly states will «remain a nuclear alliance» for «as long as nuclear weapons exist».
At the manifestly anti-Russian NATO Summit in Warsaw in July it was noted by Arms Control that «Leaders of the 28 member countries of NATO strongly criticized Russian nuclear behaviour and reaffirmed the security role played by US nuclear weapons deployed in Europe. The sections of the alliance statement, or communiqué, devoted to nuclear weapons are nearly three times as long as those issued at the 2014 summit in the United Kingdom». It is not surprising that Russia was criticised — but it is NATO that has been performing nuclear antics.
For many years before the 2016 Warsaw summit, NATO had been deploying aircraft all round Europe that were capable of delivering nuclear weapons against Russia. The only difference in recent times is that NATO, as recorded by Arms Control in June 2016, «is beefing up its nuclear posture. Polish F-16s participated for the first time on the sidelines of a NATO nuclear strike exercise at the end of 2014. As a clear signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin, four B-52 bombers flew a nuclear strike mission over the North Pole and the North Sea in a bomber exercise in April 2015. Although these planes did not have nuclear weapons on board, they were equipped to carry 80 nuclear air-launched cruise missiles».
It goes further than that, because NATO’s most recent nuclear-associated deployments to the Baltic have involved aircraft from Belgium’s 10th Tactical Wing which is based at Kleine Brogel Air Base and flies US-supplied F-16 nuclear-capable strike aircraft. NATO reported that four of them are currently conducting missions from Ämari Air Base in Estonia, in order «to guard the Baltic skies against unauthorised overflights» and that their duties included «intercepting Russian aircraft flying in international airspace at the Baltic borders».
According to NATO, the Mission of the 10th Tactical Wing is «to generate air power effects in the full operational spectrum by putting into action the best combat ready people and equipment to execute or support both conventional and nuclear operations in a joint, national or multinational environment, anytime and anywhere, in the most proficient, safe and efficient manner». So it sends four of 10 Wing’s nuclear-capable F-16s, flown by nuclear-delivery trained pilots to Estonia to guard the Baltic skies.
In Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia the Alliance has established «NATO Force Integration Units» which are advanced military headquarters whose Mission is «to improve cooperation and coordination between NATO and national forces, and prepare and support exercises and any deployments needed». The relentless expansion of US-NATO forces right up to Russia’s borders continues apace, with formation of a «new standing Joint Logistic Support Group Headquarters, to support deployed forces».
NATO is on a war footing, and has made it clear that «nuclear weapons are a core component of the Alliance’s overall capabilities». The Belgian F-16 deployments, deliberately and provocatively in a most sensitive area on Russia’s borders, together with creation of advanced military control organisations in eight countries, have been authorised and greeted with approval by western governments whose citizens have little understanding that the west’s policy of confrontation is increasing tension day by day.
Russia has no intention of invading any of the Baltic nations, or, indeed, any other country. It has no interest whatever in becoming engaged in conflict that could result only in vast expenditure, no territorial gain of any value, and destruction of much-valued trade and other commercial arrangements.
Yet NATO’s nuclear capabilities are to be boosted by an $8 billion upgrade to the B-61 nuclear bombs held in the US and five other NATO nations. This escalation in nuclear capabilities is consistent with NATO’s deployment of nuclear-capable aircraft to countries on Russia’s borders, and it can be hoped only that next year Washington will call a halt to the escalating confrontation caused by a military organisation that the President-elect perceptively called «obsolete».
With the president-elect’s nominations for the positions of national security adviser and defense secretary announced, Donald Trump’s team is expected to articulate its policy on nuclear arms issues.
As a Republican nominee, Donald Trump sharply criticized the US military’s existing nuclear weapons programs. The New START Treaty is to provide arms control restrictions on Russia-US strategic offensive potentials till 2021, but nothing definite has so far been said by the president-elect’s team members about non-strategic potential – the B-61-12 life extension program (LEP). The issue threatens to become a bone of contention at the time Russia and NATO mull launching discussions on a new European arms control treaty that may become a milestone document in the history of the Old Continent.
The B61-12, the new US nuclear bomb intended to replace the B-61 deployed in Italy, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Turkey, was «officially authorized» in August by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). This agency is responsible for the military use of nuclear technology.
The weapon has entered the final development phase of the upgraded airborne nuclear bomb B61-12 prior to production. The B61-12, the cost of which is expected to run about $8 billion to $12 billion for 400 to 500 bombs, will begin to be mass-produced in fiscal 2020 to replace the B-61.
The B61-12 is widely believed to be a new weapon. Being a guided nuclear munition, it can hit targets far more precisely than its predecessors. The capability to penetrate below the surface has significant implications for hardened targets within the B61-12’s reach.
With «dial-a-yield» technology, the explosive force can be adjusted before launch. It is designed to have four selectable explosive yields: 0.3 kilotons (kt.), 1.5 kt., 10 kt. and 50 kt. This combination of accuracy and low-yield make the B61-12 the most usable nuclear bomb in America’s arsenal. The smaller yields and better targeting can make the arms more tempting to use – even to use first, rather than in retaliation, knowing the radioactive fallout and collateral damage would be limited.
The B61-12 will initially be integrated with B-2, F-15E, F-16, and Tornado aircraft. From the 2020s, the weapon will also be integrated with, first, the F-35A bomber-fighter F-35 and later the LRS-B next-generation long-range bomber. The US Air Force says it does not predict when the squadron of F-35s will be combat-proven, but that it is probably during one of its overseas deployments at the beginning of 2017. The new bombs lower the nuclear threshold or make the launching of a nuclear attack against Russia more likely.
According to Rick Wayman, Director of Programs at Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, «the B61-12 is uniquely destabilizing». In his opinion, the B61-12 LEP is an «exhibit A of the second nuclear age – a new nuclear arms race for the 21st century». Mr. Wayman believes that the presence of B61, B61-12’s predecessor, in five NATO countries, namely Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey, inflames tensions with Russia.
The upgrade makes Russia take retaliatory measures increasing the possibility of Europe plunging in the quagmire of arms race. Russia considers US forward-based tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Europe to be an addition to the US strategic arsenal that is capable of striking deep into its territory. It will greatly complicate further arms control efforts with the New START Treaty expiring in 2021.
The withdrawal of these weapons is a prerequisite for starting talks on reduction of tactical nuclear weapons. The US decision to implement the LEP makes such prospects bleak.
NATO members to host the new weapon on their soil should realize that the move will automatically make them targets for possible pre-emptive or retaliatory attack. Countries that host foreign nuclear weapons don’t enhance their security.
The program competes with resources needed for more important conventional forces and operations to fight the real terrorist threat, not the imaginary one, allegedly coming from Russia.
The need to deploy the weapon is widely questioned by US experts.
Around 200 B61 bombs are currently deployed in underground vaults at six bases in Italy, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Turkey. About half of the munitions are earmarked for delivery by the national aircraft of these states – the parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968 that forbids non-nuclear states from receiving nuclear weapons.
Article I of the NPT prohibits the transfer of nuclear weapons from NWS (nuclear weapons states) to other states: «Each nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices». Article II requires NNWS (non-nuclear weapons states) not to receive nuclear weapons: «Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to receive the transfer from any transfer or whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices».
Cancellation of the program would pave the way for the two great powers to launch arms control dialogue. It would also make possible talks on arms control between Russia and NATO. It makes the stance taken by the US administration on the B61-12 program an issue of fundamental importance.
“No ambition to oppress them”?
Recently, I’ve been reading Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, a book by veteran New York Times correspondent Stephen Kinzer, which focuses on US-backed coups from 1893 (Hawaii) to Iraq (2003). In the book, Kinzer devotes only fourteen pages to Puerto Rico, a small island nation controlled by the murderous empire of the United States. On page 94, he declares that “most Puerto Ricans” understand that the US, despite colonial “misdeeds,” harbors “no ambition to oppress them.” He goes on to say that most want to continue ties with the US and that colonial rule has been “relatively benign,” meaning it was partially beneficial to islanders. In his view, this hasn’t led to a “violent backlash” because of US efforts to take “direct political responsibility” to govern the island, and even floats the idea that there could be a reasonable case that US control over the island has made it “better off”! Kinzer ends optimistically, saying that “a happy end to the long story” would not only take away stigma of US citizens from “ruling another people” but would tell them that “toppling of foreign regimes need not end badly.” Such words, like this, reek of apologism for imperialism and existing US colonialism in Puerto Rico. In this article, using quotes from Kinzer’s own book, I plan to prove that US rule in the island nation has not been “relatively benign,” but that the US imperialists should not be seen as engaging in “nice” oppression, with “no ambition,” of Puerto Rico’s citizens.
On May 12, 1898, seven US warships appeared off the coast of San Juan. They soon began their bombardment, firing over 1,300 shells, met by a Spanish response of about 400 shells, killed a dozen people and one US soldier.1 The small island nation of Puerto Rico comprises of an island 3,515 square miles across, called Borinquen by many native residents, three inhabited islands (Vieques, Cuelbra, and Mona), and 140 other small reefs, islands, and atolls. For over 400 years, the island was an established Spanish colony (1493-1898), with the indigenous Taino nation pushed into forced labor as part of the encomienda system. It was not until the early nineteenth century that Puerto Rico would be integrated into the international capitalist economy.2
The island, which exported commodities such as coffee and tobacco, became a sugar colony, supported by the country’s Creole elite, with 276 sugar plantations dotting the island’s landscape.3 As the sugar industry thrived, thousands of white wage laborers and enslaved blacks suffered in the “sugar haciendas,” or plantations, concentrated near Ponce, Guayama, and Mayaguez.4 The number of enslaved black laborers, who were mistreated, abused, and overworked despite “favorable” laws, reached into the tens of thousands, numbering 17,890 in 1828.5 They were chosen over wage laborers as more profitable for the sugar industry.6 It would not be until 1873 that slavery would be abolished in the Spanish empire, but the exploitation would not end, continuing under the system of apprenticeship, for example.7
About two months before the US warships arrived, Puerto Rico had elected a new government. The Spanish, likely in a measure to stave off revolt, had offered the Puerto Ricans political autonomy.8 They didn’t want rebellions like the Lares Uprising (Grito de Lares) in 1868 or the Attempted Coup of Yauco (Intentona de Yauco) in 1897 which were strongly pro-independence and opposed to Spanish colonial rule. On March 27, 1898, Luis Munoz Rivera’s Liberal Fusion Party was elected in a legislative body, created with agreement from the “liberal” Spanish government, of the island’s autonomous government.9 However, this would not last. On July 25, US marines from the Glouchester gunboat waded ashore, raising a US flag above a customs house after a short exchange of firearms.10
As Kinzer puts it, after the US flag fluttered in the breeze above the customs house, the “United States effectively took control of Puerto Rico” with every institution of Spanish colonial control, and the autonomous Liberal Fusion Party government, would quickly disappear. The objective of the US imperialists like Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, who declared that “Puerto Rico is not forgotten [in this war] and we mean to have it” came to be true, with US trade routes protected and a naval base established on the island.11 While some Puerto Ricans welcomed the US presence, this quickly changed, as the US seizure of the island nation became “legal” with the Treaty of Paris.12
The imposition of US imperialism on Puerto Rico began in 1898 as the island was declared a colony. Luis Munoz Rivera, the former leader of the island before the US arrived, declared that “we are witnessing a spectacle of terrible assimilation… our present condition is that of serfs attached to conquered territory.”13 The “individual freedom” that was promised, was not delivered upon, with the US instead engaging in exploitation which, as Martinquis revolutionary Frantz Fanon said about all colonizers, was part of a spiral of “domination, exploitation and looting.”14
The bank on the island was transferred to US investors, who printed Puerto Rican dollars, pegged to the US dollar, replacing the Spanish peso. Other banks were established on the island by investors such as the American Colonial Bank, which opened in 1899. As a result, new taxes were imposed. The following years, as US military troops remained in place as an occupying force, the US Congress passed the Foraker Act which put the Puerto Rican assembly under direct US control.15 As the people of the island nation had “no liberty, no rights, no protection,” as civil rights campaigner Julio Henna once put it, four US corporations took over land on the island for mass production and farming.16 This was reinforced by one of Insular Cases, which some say established “political apartheid,” Downes v. Bidwell (1901) in which the Supreme Court held that Puerto Rico wasn’t a foreign country, allowing Congress to treat it like a dependent colonial possession.
In later years, the island nation forced “permanent uncertainty” in its political status. In 1910, foreign banks began foreclosing on land in Puerto Rico, and the island became an official protectorate in 1913 with the existing naval bases reinforcing economic and ideological interests.17 By World War I, with the imposition of US citizenship with the Jones Act, 18,000 Puerto Ricans were conscripted to fight in the forces of empire as 200 Puerto Ricans were arrested for refusing to participate. Such imposition did not end there. From 1920 to 1923, Moncho Reyes ruled as the Governor on the island, declaring English as the only official language, not Spanish, and that the US flag is the only one to be flown across the island. He was only forced out by corruption scandals. This was accompanied the Balzac v. Porto Rico (1922) case, in which the Supreme Court said that provisions of the US constitution did not apply to a “territory” that was not a US state. In the following years, more and more of the island was controlled by US corporations, including 80% of the farms, and half of the arable land!
By the 1930s, medicine went to war on the island’s inhabitants. In 1931, Dr. Cornelius P. Rhoads injected patients on the island with live cancer cells, with thirteen people dying. He bragged about killing them, calling for a “tidal wave or something to totally exterminate the population” and saying that the island’s inhabitants were “the dirtiest, laziest, most degenerate and thievish race of men ever inhabiting this sphere.” He went on to head the US Army’s Biological Weapons division, serve on the Atomic Energy Commission, and sent memos to US military leaders expressing the opinion that Puerto Rican supporters of independence should be “eradicated” with the use of germ bombs! This was only a prelude, in a sense.
Henry Laughlin, superintendent of the US Eugenics Record Office, pushed the Model Eugenical Sterilization Law, targeting “socially inadequate” people for sterilization in 30 US states and Puerto Rico. On the island itself, in 1936, Law 116 entered into force by making sterilization legal and free for women, with no alternative plan of birth control, backed by the International Planned Parenthood Federation18, the Puerto Rican government, and Human Betterment Association. It was voluntary, only in theory, with employer discrimination and a dearth of other options giving women the incentive to participate, coupled with the veneer of being “feminist” and sometimes a lack of informed consent. This was done after scientists conducted research experiments on Puerto Rican women who had taken birth control pills, with a high amount of estrogen. Such an approach was rejected by the Catholic Church, which supported sterilization instead. By the 1970s, this horrendous practice ended, with more than one-third of Puerto Rico’s female population of childbearing age undergoing the procedure.19
At the same time, repression of the island’s spirit and feelings for independence intensified. On October 24, 1935, police at the campus of the University of Puerto Rico confronted nationalists, resulting in the death of four nationalists and one police officer, in what has been called the Rios Piedras massacre, what police chief E. Francis Riggs declared was part of his “war to the death against all Puerto Ricans.” In response to this action, the nationalist party called for a boycott to all actions held while Puerto Rico was a part of the United States.
The nationalist party continued its actions on the island. On March 21, 1937, it peacefully marched to Ponce. As they requested a permit, it was denied, and as they continued the action, police cordoned off unarmed demonstrators, then firing upon them from multiple directions, killing a total of 21 and wounding 140-200 people, in what has been called the Ponce Massacre. As “hysteria and near civil war swept the island” with nationalists arrested and hunted on sight, 23 nationalists and four police officers were arrested for participation in the massacre, with the ACLU even investigating the matter, finding that the protesters were not armed and had been surrounded by the police.
As the years passed, the US strengthened its hold on the island. By 1940, 80% of the country’s arable land was US-owned. In 1939, the US began bombing on the island of Culebra (which it later fully occupied until protests in the 1970s forced it to move operations to Vieques), and two years later, it began the occupation of Vieques, an island of 7,000 inhabitants. As William Blum, a renowned critic of US foreign policy, writes, from 1940 to 2000, the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, had to endure years of “target practices and war games” which included dropping depleted uranium and napalm.20 This led to the island’s drinking water to be reportedly poisoned and resulted in the land being “contaminated by radioactivity.”
Even as US military officials outrageously said that they could only have a bombing range on that island since one on the East Coast would be too close to population centers, President Bill Clinton promised that the US would stop using the bombing range in 2005.21 With international pressure and local protests, the bombing range stopped being used in 2003, but was accompanied by the closing of the Roosevelt Roads naval facility, the following year, almost to make residents “regret” their decision. Still, this was another victory against the empire. Such bombing on Vieques and Culebra islands was not the only imposition. From 1948 to 1957, Law 53, also called Le Ley de Mondonza or “gag law,” made it illegal to support or say anything construed as pro-independence, with a penalty of ten years in prison.
As the Cold War started, by arrogant imperialists who didn’t want to have friendly relationships with the Soviets after World War II, the imperialists began their “charm offensive” to the world stage. US leaders were recognizing that “ruling an impoverished colony in the Caribbean made the United States look bad.”22 Of course, they could only say this, feeling assured that those in the Puerto Rican government, like Luis Munoz Martin, the “Father of Modern Puerto Rico,” were accommodationist to US imperial power, even pushing for Law 53 and by the 1950s, at least, was clearly a symbol of an organ of the machine of colonial control.
In the UN, the US government attempted to stifle criticism of US colonial control by working on changing the country to a commonwealth. Diplomats saw the island helping in the anti-communist Korean War as a vital “political association” which respects individuality and culture of the island, and declaring that the occupation was legal. As the diplomats frankly admitted, declaring colonial control of the island nation as “free choice” of the residents would head off attacks “by those who have charged the United States government with imperialism and colonial exploitation.” While the “Soviet bloc” argued correctly that self-government didn’t exist in Puerto Rico, diplomats claimed they had a “strong case” of moving Puerto Rico from the list of non-self-governing territories (discussed more in the following paragraph), even as they felt difficulties would arise in the “usual anti-colonial propaganda by Iron Curtain countries,” along with other factors.
This veneer was first reinforced by the Constitutional Referendum in 1952, which approved a constitution proposed in 1950 by the US Congress, stripped of social democratic measures before it was approved, after negotiation with the accommodationist leaders on the island, including Governor Marin. Not surprisingly, independence was never offered as an option, showing that the motive of the US could have been to douse revolutionary feelings. The second reinforcement was on November 27, 1953, when the US imperialists achieved a victory which allowed “approval” of the commonwealth status of the island. The passing of Resolution 748, in the UN’s General Assembly, after a push of US hegemony, made it clear that the US was given sanction to determine the “status of territories under its sovereignty.” Years later, the US imperialists have tried to soften the push for independence by allowing multiple plebiscites on the island to “decide” its fate, but none of these considered that the island is a colony and needs to have self-determination, as asserted in UN General Assembly resolution 1514, described later in this article.
This may be the basis of Kinzer’s claim that colonialism in Puerto Rico has been “benign” and that US imperialists had “no ambition” to oppress the island’s inhabitants. Some may even think the idea the island is under “self-rule” or a change in its status, means that neocolonialism is in place. These are both incorrect. For neocolonialism to be present, the island would have to be under indirect colonial control. Such domination, unlike direct colonial control of the past keeping people politically and economically exploited, often used by Britain, France, and the United States, would require formal recognition of political independence even with domination by political, economic, social, military, and other means.23
This “norm” of neocolonialism, which exists under imperial rivalry, and assists profitable enterprises, is not the case in Puerto Rico.24 This is because the island is not formally an independent political entity. As recently as October 2016, the Supreme Court held that while the island nation functioned as a separate sovereign entity for certain purposes, the authority to govern the island derives from the US Constitution, saying that the US Congress still has the supreme authority over the island.25
This is buttressed by the case of United States v. Sanchez in 1993, in which a US Court of Appeals which said that Congress may unilaterally repeal the constitution of Puerto Rico, and a congressional committee report in 1997 declaring that the island is “subject to the supremacy of the Federal Constitution and laws passed by Congress,” even including the rescinding of the current “commonwealth” status! Hence, while the current government in Puerto Rico is, officially, a separate political entity from the United States, the US is still the imperial overlord of the island. By extension, this means that the officially deemed US “territories” in Guam, American Samoa, US Virgin Islands, and Northern Marinas Islands are colonies, along with arguably Hawaii.26 Hence, for these “territories,” colonialism, rather than neocolonialism, is at work, a subset of imperialism.
Efforts by US imperialists to repress or weaken resistance was abundantly clear. The FBI, the secret “internal” police of the murderous empire, spent forty years (1936-1976) working to repress, disrupt, and surveil the independence movement (“independentista”) in Puerto Rico. This included surveillance of renowned nationalist leader Pedro Albizu Campos from 1936 until his death in 1965.27 Specifically, the FBI kept files, illegally, on 140,000 pro-independence individuals! Even Governor Marin, the founder of the Popular Democratic Party, and later pliant puppet leader, was originally under surveillance until the FBI changed its mind, trying to protect him from threats. Years later, FBI director Louis J. Freeh admitted that his agency engaged in “egregious illegal activity, maybe criminal action” and violated the civil rights of those on the island. This suppression was only part of the story. The island’s police, FBI, and US Army intelligence had dossiers on 100,000 Puerto Ricans, 75,000 who were under “political” surveillance. Apart from the police provocateurs who assassinated independentistas,15,000 Puerto Ricans (of the 75,000) had extensive police files for political activity.
There were other forms of US domination. In 1976, the US put in place Section 936 of the internal revenue code, which allowed US companies to operate on the island without paying any corporate taxes. This was released years later when there was a huge pharmaceutical boom on the island, and the provision was replaced by Section 30A, which had similar language, in 2006. In 1979, Jimmy Carter, trying to engage in a “significant humanitarian gesture” mainly to fend off criticism of the United States, commuted the sentences of four Puerto Rican nationalists who participated in the 1950 and 1954 actions, described in the next paragraph, saying they had served enough time in prison.28
Clearly, the FBI’s brutal streak did not end, with surveillance of Puerto Rican independence activists still occurring in 1995. Ten years later, in 2005, the FBI murdered a Puerto Rican independence leader named Ojeda Rios in a shootout.29 This outraged many islanders. The following year, the FBI engaged in violent raids on the island. And two years later, an FBI/NYPD anti-terrorism task force targeted three independentistas living in the US mainland, currently, handing them subpoenas.30 This clearly shows that the crackdown on independentistas has not ended in the slightest.
Such impositions were not met without resistance. In 1934, sugar workers went on strike, and gained a few wage concessions, one of the victories for the small island nation. Two years later, on February 23, 1936, Riggs, on the island to protect colonial investments, was killed by nationalist Elias Beauchamp, accompanied by Hiram Rosado, who were, in turn, murdered by police, within hours and without trial! This killing was one of the times that Puerto Ricans would engage in what Fanon called “counterviolence” and recognized that the “colonized men liberates himself in and through violence.”31 Flash forward to 1950. On October 30, there were uprisings in Ponce, Jayuya, Utado, Naranjito, and elsewhere, led by Campos. These uprisings were brutally crushed, some by National Guardsmen flying planes and firing down upon the crowd as ordered by Governor Martin, a reliable US puppet leader.32 The revolutionary spirit would not die. In 1950, two Puerto Rican nationalists struck at the heart of the empire: they attempted to kill President Truman.33 While the action was not successful, there was no doubt that the anti-colonial struggle by Puerto Ricans was connected to that of other peoples as Campos said before being arrested in 1950:
… it’s not easy to give a speech when we have our mother laying in bed and an assassin waiting to take your life… The assassin is the power of the United States of North America. One cannot give a speech while the newborn of our country are dying of hunger; while the adolescents of our homeland are being poisoned with the worst virus of them all, the virus of slavery… They must go to the United States to be the slaves of the economic powers, of the tyrants of our country… One cannot easily give a speech when this tyrant has the power to tear the sons right out of the hearts of Puerto Rico mothers to send to Korea, or into hell, to kill, to be the murderers of innocent Koreans, or to die covering a front for the Yankee enemies of our country, for them to return insane to their own people or for them to return mutilated beyond recognition… It’s not easy… We have called together here those who want the union of our brothers, of our Latin American brothers, and, very specially, the Cubans, all the people of the Antilles, the Haitians, the Dominicans, for all of them who love the independence of Puerto Rico as their very own, because as long as Puerto Rico is not free, every single one of those nations feels mutilated.
By the 1950s, the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party was starting to fade from the political landscape. By the 1960s, it was being replaced by armed revolutionary groups, like the Los Macheteras, with the latter engaging in counterviolence. In 1954, this was proven to be true when Campos led a group of 37 nationalists who fired on Congressmen from the house balcony, with many taken into custody after a two-hour gun battle.34 Campos would die years later, in 1965, after being tear gassed, tortured, and beaten in prison.35
By the 1960s, the equation was changing. Between 1955 and 1960, seventy-seven newly independent nations had been admitted to the UN, which formed an alliance to push for the adoption of resolution 1514 in the General Assembly in 1960. The resolution, initially proposed by Nikita S. Khrushchev of the USSR, declared that the “colonial situation in all its forms and manifestations” had to be remedied, with eighty-nine countries voting in favor. There were only nine abstentions (and no votes against) by the U.K., US, Western-backed apartheid South Africa, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, France, Australia, and the Dominican Republic, then controlled by the US-backed Rafael Trujillo. The latter was assassinated in 1961, with the CIA, without consent of the State Department, giving the assassins rifles and other firearms, as noted in pages 70-85 of the Rockefeller Commission’s report in 1975.
In the US, with the development of the “New Left”, social movements began to gain steam. The Young Lords Party, originally a gang in Chicago, re-organized itself as a pro-Puerto Rican organization, in 1968, that took a strong anti-imperialist position. In their principles, they argued that they had been colonized for five hundred years, first by Spain, then the United States, making them the “slaves of the gringo” and rejecting Puerto Rican rulers who were “puppets of the oppressor… who keep our communities peaceful for business,” instead of pushing for a socialist society, and ultimately against machismo, a fundamentally feminist position.
Like the Black Panthers, they supported armed self-defense and had free breakfast programs to support the community while increasing their base of support. In 1969, the Black Panthers reached out to them, the Brown Berets fighting for Chicano liberation, and anti-racist Young Patriots who tried to support young, white migrants who came from Appalachia, to create the first “rainbow coalition.” The name of the coalition was later taken by black opportunist Jesse Jackson, Jr. in a failed effort to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination and push for political reforms. Years later, the Lords changed their name to the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization (PRRWO), pushed for a revolutionary party, and fell apart in 1975 after FBI disruption, infighting and other factors.
The Puerto Ricans are not alone. Starting in 1972, the UN Special Committee on Decolonization (The Committee of 24) condemned the status of Puerto Rico, recognizing that the Commonwealth status is untenable, with US investors getting preferential treatment, and that the island should be independent from the supposedly “benign empire” of the United States. Due to the more than 33 resolutions calling for Puerto Rico’s independence by the Committee of 24 since 1972, building off of resolution 1514, it has been tarred by the US. In 1968, only five years into its existence, US diplomats declared that the Committee had become “anti-Western” because it criticized US imperialism and supported “independentistas” in Puerto Rico. Such criticism didn’t stop the Committee. Recently, the Committee concluded that the US violated Puerto Rico’s right to self-determination to be an independent nation. Specifically, representatives from Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Iran have talked about independence for the island nation and relinquishing US colonial rule, with some witnesses talking about how the island was illegally taken and under corporate control. Latin America clearly did not abandon the island. Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, former Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, and Raul Castro of Cuba have all supported the island’s independence.
Other organizations that have argued for independence include the Non-Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) founded by Latin American states in Carcas, Venezuela in 2011. Clearly, the Democratic and Republican parties, along with the island’s two major political parties (The Popular Democratic Party and the New Progressive Party) do not support independence.36 The island’s governors, under the constitution of the Puerto Rican “commonwealth,” five from the Popular Democratic Party (Luis Muñoz Marín, Roberto Sánchez Vilella, Rafael Hernández Colón, Sila Calderón, and Aníbal Salvador Acevedo Vilá) who want to maintain the current status of the island, five from the New Progressive Party (Luis A. Ferré, Carlos Romero Barceló, Pedro Rosselló, Luis Fortuño, Alejandro García Padilla, and newly elected Ricky Rosselló), who want the island to be a US state, have stayed within acceptable bourgeois opinion. While some may be liberal and others conservative, through all eleven of the governors, there has been concentration of corporate power on the island and maintenance of the colonial relationship. While some could claim the referendum in 2012 “solved” the status of the island, less than half supported statehood, with most, instead, wanting a change to the status quo.
In 1975, when Cuba pushed to give special status for the island for the Puerto Rican independence movement, the US balked with anger. Such a response is predictable. Deep down, the imperialists of the US are afraid of Puerto Rican independence. If the country became independent, it is possible that Vieques couldn’t become a bombing range again, the US couldn’t store nuclear weapons there, plan for strikes on Cuba, use the island to intercept “enemy” signals, and so on.37 Even some diplomats tried to say that if the island is separated from the US, the residents would be jeopardizing their “paramount interests in economic, social, education… [and] political matters.” This is reflexively talking about what US and foreign capitalists would lose, instead of referring to the real needs of Puerto Ricans.
The question remains: where do we stand now? Undoubtedly, the coverage of the island by the bourgeois media focuses on “unpayable debt.” The island is, as writer Nelson Denis argued (with likely feminist implications), the “battered spouse of the Caribbean.” An article last fall by Linda Backiel, in the Monthly Review, is vital in explaining the current situation. She writes that the dire straits of the island, $73 billion of debt, is not a surprise, since it has been “sacked by colonial powers for half of a millennium.” She goes on to say that IMF officials were paid $400,000 to make recommendations about the island’s economic crisis, which is ridiculous considering that the island has no access to financing from the World Bank, IMF, or elsewhere because it is a colony. Backiel adds that Article VI, section 8 of the island’s constitution, payment of interest and debt is the first priority, coupled with the country “running on bonds” held by US banks such as Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, and Bank of America, along with numerous venture and hedge funds.
She then writes that “the vultures are circling” the small island nation, with the island in crisis, even as human misery caused by colonialism is ignored and over 45% of the people live below the poverty line, with the country seeming on the verge of economic collapse. If this occurs, it could threaten the “propaganda value” of the island and its economy, destroyed in part by the collaboration of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party and US Congress, leaving the Popular Democratic Party to “clean up” the mess. She closes by saying “in the battle between soul and capital, who will win? Until the people of Puerto Rico organize to defend their soul; it is not even a stalemate: Black is playing with nothing but pawns.” Other accounts affirm this assessment of the situation in Puerto Rico.38
In the most recent election cycle, the island’s precarious state got some play. Bernie Sanders, the “nice” imperialist running for the Democratic nomination, declared in June of this year that the US cannot “continue a colonial-like relationship with the people of Puerto Rico,” and saying he would offer it three options: becoming a state, enhancing its territorial rights, or becoming an independent country, which is no different than the previous plebiscites ordered by the US government.39 Predictably, he didn’t mention Resolution 1514, the efforts of the Committee of 24, or actions by Puerto Ricans to engage in counterviolence, instead posing himself as a “savior” of the island, an act of racist and imperialist positioning.
Jill Stein of the Green Party had a similar statement on the subject; however, she more clearly called out colonial exploitation, even calling for a bailout of the island.40
What Vladimir Lenin wrote in 1917 in his book, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism is relevant here, as related to the island’s debt and plans for “restructuring.” Lenin writes that concentration of production leads to monopoly especially in the US, which was described, even then, as an “advanced country of modern capitalism.”41 In the island nation, the spreading of monopoly, specifically of “monopolist combines of big capitalists” or “gigantic monopolist combines” into every sphere of life would likely get a boost under a Trump administration.42 If he follows his cost-benefit formulation of “solving” the world’s problems, he would support debt restructuring, but let the “bondholders take a hit.” Even if this sounds “anti-business,” it is likely that his plan, whatever that is, would move away from the populist rhetoric and benefit the same economic actors, reinforcing the “world system of colonial oppression” manifested in capitalism, with “world marauders” like the United States “armed to the teeth.”43 It is also possible the newly-elected Puerto Rico Governor Rosselló will clash with Trump, but what happens in that realm remains to be seen.
At the present, Puerto Rico stands at a crossroads. US control of the island, which has never enjoyed real sovereignty, arguably led to a colonial mentality where Puerto Ricans feel they cannot engage in true self-rule, despite a strong nationalist sentiment. As a result, due to economic dependence on the US, and 25% unemployment, many are not supportive of independence from the US. These feelings are reinforced by existing assimilation showing that people haven’t been decolonized, with the possible compromise of Puerto Rican strong identity and culture. With the advent of neoliberal policies on the island, accommodationist Puerto Rican leaders, as described earlier, and blatant efforts to tamp down demands for independence, it hasn’t got any better.
According to the most recent report by the military establishment in September, there are 142 military personnel, 7,598 reservists, and 1,922 civilian personnel, coming to a total of 9,662!44 Such personnel are clearly used as a way of asserting colonial dominance. Still, Puerto Ricans have not remained silent, with continuing resistance to colonial rule. One example of this would be the student strikes which shut down the university system in the country and were repressed brutally. Either the status quo of neoliberal and capitalist exploitation can remain, or there can be a challenge and destruction to the existing colonial system, ending over 520 years of colonial rule (1493-2016) by the Spanish, then the United States. That is the choice at hand.
There is no doubt that Puerto Rico should be freed from colonial shackles of the murderous empire and its corporate clients. Negotiation may lead to a situation of neocolonialism, like in a number of African countries, where a national bourgeoisie on the island is subservient to the US, not changing the existing relationship between the US and the island nation. While the Puerto Rican people ultimately have to decide their fate, it is clear that decolonization, when part of a real liberation struggle, is “always a violent event,” as Fanon put it, where the colonized masses engage in violence, such as guerrilla warfare, to push for the demolition of the colonial system and allow for the emergence of a new nation.45 In the current economic situation, such counterviolence, which undermines the role of the US as “barons of international capitalism” and demands the independence of island from the imperial behemoth, could erupt once again.46
As one stands in solidarity with Puerto Rico in resisting “a monster where the flaws, sickness and inhumanity of Europe have reached frightening proportions,” what Fanon wrote in 1961 is apt to this island nation at the crossroads: “we must shake off the great mantle of night which has enveloped upon us, and reach for the light. The new day which is dawning must find us determined, enlightened and resolute.”47
- Stephen Kinzer, Overthrow: America’s History of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq (New York: Henry Holt & Company, 2006), 45. [↩]
- Francisco Scarano, “The Origins of Plantation Growth in Puerto Rico,” Caribbean Slave Society and Economy (ed. Hilary Beckles and Verene Shepherd, New York: The New Press, 1991), 57-59. [↩]
- Scarano, 56-58. [↩]
- Scarano, 58-60, 61, 63-64, 66. [↩]
- Scarano, 62-65. [↩]
- Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present (New York: HarperCollins, 2003, Fifth Edition), 532. This was not done without resistance in Puerto Rico, in terms of slave revolts, in the 1520s and 1530s. [↩]
- Scarano, 66. French abolition of slavery in its colonies in 1794 (while re-established in Haiti in 1802 by Napoleon in failed attempt to stop revolution, which succeeded in 1804 after twelve years) set off panic among Puerto Rican planters. [↩]
- Kinzer, 44. [↩]
- Ibid. [↩]
- Kinzer, 45. [↩]
- Kinzer, 44 [↩]
- Kinzer, 45, 46, 48, 70, 80; Zinn, 312, 408; Ziaudin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies, Why Do People Hate America? (New York: The Disinformation Company, 2002), 43. [↩]
- Kinzer, 91. [↩]
- Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Press, 2004 reprint, originally published in 1961, 14. [↩]
- Kinzer, 91-92. [↩]
- Kinzer, 92. [↩]
- Kinzer, 92, 104, 107, 108, 215, 300. [↩]
- Anti-abortion activists have even used this to criticize Planned Parenthood, with a lawyer for such a group, Casey Mattox, writing that Planned Parenthood worked with the government of Puerto Rico to sterilize women, which was not voluntary, and was a major part of the island’s sterilization program. Of course, Mattox uses it to argue against contraceptive use instead of developing it into a criticism of US imperialism.
- Some have argued that feminists on the US mainland too often framed the discussion around the idea that “Puerto Rican women are victimized and need to be saved,” denying the action of Puerto Rican feminists in support of the measure, and deny the possibility of “Puerto Rican feminist agency” (see pages 31-34 of Laura Briggs’s “Discourses of ‘Forced Sterilization’ in Puerto Rico: The Problem with the Speaking Subaltern”). Be that as it may, parts of this argument come very close to apology for US imperial and colonial action, such as imposed sterilization. Saying this does not deny that Puerto Rican women didn’t act in their best interests and engaged in sterilization in order to improve their own conditions. However, as said in the article, women had little choice but to engage in this procedure, so they didn’t even have “agency,” a word also used to throw off certain analysis, especially of a radical kind, or free choice to engage in all possible birth control measures if they wished to do so. [↩]
- William Blum, Rogue State (Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 2000), 98. [↩]
- Blum-Ibid. [↩]
- Kinzer, 92-93. [↩]
- Jack Woodis, Introduction to Neo-Colonialism:The New Imperialism in Asia, Africa, & Latin America (New York: International Publishers, 1969, second printing, originally published in 1967), 13, 16, 28, 32-33, 43-47, 49, 58, 61, 68-69. [↩]
- Woddis, 50, 68-69. [↩]
- The Court’s majority opinion, written by “liberal” Justice Elena Kagan, declared in flowery words that the colonial relationship is “unique” and built on the “island’s evolution into a constitutional democracy exercising local self-rule,” while admitting that the US Congress stripped the Puerto Rican constitution of social democratic qualities before it was approved since US colonies are “not sovereigns distinct from the United States” as noted on pages 2, 3, 10-11, 15 of the decision. Even Stephen Breyer, who accepted that federal power was the governing authority over US states and colonies, posited the “self-rule” argument, claiming that the island was self-ruling, citing numerous sources including the horrid Resolution 748. The dissenting opinion of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not not challenge, fundamentally, the court’s ruling, only saying that the matter warrants attention to future cases. Clarence Thomas had a similar opinion, only saying that he felt the decision would be a negative precedent on law governing indigenous peoples in the United States.
- The US also controls uninhabited islands in the Pacific including Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Atoll, Navassa Island, Palmyra Atoll, and Wake Island. They could be effectively considered part of the US colonial system.
- The FBI began its close attention on the island in 1936 when a local US attorney said that Campos was publishing articles insulting the US and giving “public speeches in favor of independence.” His influence was so widely recognized that when he refused to go to his parole officer, the Roosevelt administration didn’t order him back to prison for fear that there would be unrest on the island.
- In September 1999, Bill Clinton would commute the sentences of eleven Puerto Rican nationalists, which sparked anger among police officers, numerous leading Democrats, and numerous Republicans. Not surprisingly, Hillary Clinton opposed this move, expressing her opposition.
- See articles on this from Democracy Now!, USA Today, Associated Press, and Socialist Worker just for examples of differing reactions among those on the internet. [↩]
- From 1936 to 1995, the FBI generated 1.5 to 1.8 million pages on Puerto Rican independence activists! [↩]
- Fanon, 44, 47. [↩]
- Sardar and Davies, 96. [↩]
- Chronicle of America (Mount Kisco, NY: Chronicle Publications, 1988), 755, 758. The surviving man from this action, who was not killed in a gun battle with police officers, was sentenced to life imprisonment instead of being killed. [↩]
- Chronicle of America, 765. [↩]
- Laura Briggs, wrote in her article, as mentioned in an earlier footnote, that Campos was opposed to radicals who pushed for birth control on the island (along with independence), started by the Puerto Rican Socialist Party, and other efforts. This, in and of itself, would not be surprising, as machismo is widely cemented in many Latin American societies and reflected itself in liberation struggles. Despite this major flaw, it still worth recognizing his struggle in resisting US colonialism on the island nation of Puerto Rico, making him a hero to many. [↩]
- Politically, the Republicans would likely oppose statehood due to the large number of Puerto Ricans voting for the Democratic Party in presidential elections. [↩]
- In 1977, some diplomats claimed that the US could not place nuclear weapons on the island if it became a state. Whether this is actually true is not known.
- See articles on The Real News, The Hill, Democracy Now!, Telesur English, Mother Jones, Common Dreams, and Dissident Voice, of course
- Sanders is also on record for rejecting the neoliberal debt restructuring in place. However, due to his imperialist stance on foreign policy, there is no guarantee his debt restructuring would be any better overall.
- The Green Party of the United States has a plank on their platform declaring that the people of the island have the right to self-determination and independence, release of Puerto Rican political prisoners, environmental cleanup of Vieques, that the island’s debt is “unpayable” and that decolonization had to be supported as the “first step for the Puerto Rican people to live in a democracy.” Even the Communist Party USA, a political party that became rightist after the Hungarian “Revolution” in 1956 and with its call for a left-liberal inclusive coalition against the right-wing in the US instead of actively organizing people for socialism, declared in its 2006 “Road to Socialism” that the island nation composes an “oppressed national minority” who are mostly working class, dependent on the US, and says there needs to be a “free and independent Puerto Rico.” This is even further left, strangely enough, then the Socialist Party USA. In their recent platform, the party only calls for Guam, Puerto Rico, indigenous nations, and D.C. to have congressional representation, the similar to a position held by the Democratic Party. [↩]
- Vladimir Lenin, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism (New York: International Publishers, 1972 reprint of 1939 English translation, originally published in 1917), 16-17, 20, 22, 32. [↩]
- Lenin, 25, 28, 31, 35, 58, 60, 62, 82. [↩]
- Lenin, 10-11. [↩]
- The “Military and Civilian Personnel by Service/Agency by State/Country (Updated Quarterly)” excel spreadsheet report from September 2016 is used here. That’s around the same number of personnel in the state of Delaware, which isn’t a colony in the slightest (although it is occupied indigenous land), which is telling. [↩]
- Fanon, 1, 10, 26, 30. [↩]
- Fanon, 38. [↩]
- Fanon, 235-237. [↩]