“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. [↩]
After Fidel Castro passed away Friday night at 90 years old, the obituaries written about him in the American press typified the U.S. government propaganda used for decades to demonize Castro and obscure the tremendous social and humanitarian advances that the Cuban Revolution was able to achieve in the face of unrelenting interference, subversion and destabilization. None were more over-the-top in their bias than the obituary in the New York Times.
A mere 54 words, the lede paragraph contains an astonishing amount of misinformation and innuendo:
“Fidel Castro, the fiery apostle of revolution who brought the Cold War to the Western Hemisphere in 1959”
It’s hard to imagine any Western leader being called a “fiery apostle.” The phrase suggests Castro was driven by an irrational, religious mission to undertake revolution, rather than having resorted to armed resistance as a last resort after the possibility of nonviolent opposition through political means was eliminated. In 1952, as Castro was favored to win a seat in the House of Representatives, Fulgencio Batista promptly cancelled the upcoming elections as it became clear he would not be able to hold power in a free and fair vote. Only after this did Castro and others start to organize a guerilla resistance in order to prevent rule by a military dictatorship. Calling him a “fiery apostle of revolution” is reductionist and Manichean.
The second part of the sentence is easily disprovable. The Cold War was well underway and active in the Western Hemisphere long before the Revolution came to power in 1959. Five years earlier, the CIA, at the behest of the United Fruit Company and working in conjunction with Congress and the White House, supported the overthrow of Guatemala’s democratically elected progressive President Jacobo Arbenz by the Guatemalan military. The reason was summed up by Senator George Smathers of Florida, who was quoted in an article in the CIA’s professional journal, Studies in Intelligence, saying: “In all candor, we must admit that the democratic nations of the Western Hemisphere could not permit the continued existence of a Communist base in Latin America, so close to home.”
Aside from misrepresenting the Cold War timeline, the idea that it was Castro who was responsible for Cold War tensions with the United States is laughable. Castro immediately reached out to the U.S. government after taking power in 1959, and even visited the country four months later. Upon arriving he was stood up by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who decided to play golf instead meeting with Castro. The next year, Eisenhower would cancel the sugar quota Cuba depended on for export revenue, provoking Cuba to exercise its sovereign right to nationalize U.S. properties. In return, the U.S. government prohibited delivery of oil to the island, which led to Cuba seeking oil from the Soviet Union.
“and then defied the United States for nearly half a century as Cuba’s maximum leader”
It is strange that Castro’s commitment not to compromise on the sovereignty of Cuba and its people would be seen as remarkable enough to draw attention to it so prominently. Imagine a Russian obituary to Ronald Reagan stating that he defied the Soviet Union. Such a statement presumes that the natural state of affairs would be subservience to the dictates of a foreign power. Americans would find this notion absurd.
“bedeviling 11 American presidents”
This is one way of stating that Castro survived more than 600 assassination attempts authorized by multiple U.S. executives and resisted their criminal economic war that sought “to bring about hunger, desperation” and “hardship” and to this day continues to deny food and medicine to children.
“and briefly pushing the world to the brink of nuclear war”
A year and a half prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the CIA directed a mercenary invasion of Cuba that failed spectacularly after it was quickly repelled. Understanding that another invasion was imminent, Castro sought nuclear missiles from the Soviet Union because he believed it would possibly be the only deterrent to another U.S. attack. Meanwhile, the United States had nuclear missiles positioned across Eastern Europe at the Soviet Union. When Kennedy protested to the Soviets, Khrushchev offered to withdraw the missiles before they reached Cuba if the U.S. would likewise withdraw its nuclear missiles from Turkey and promise not to invade Cuba. Kennedy said this would “look like a very fair trade” to any “rational man.” Yet, he was still not satisfied and instead of accepting it decided to engage in a game of chicken that could easily have resulted in a nuclear holocaust. To pin responsibility on Fidel Castro for the escalation of this situation is a gross distortion.
“died on Friday. He was 90.”
This I don’t take issue with.
The rest of the obituary is riddled with other inaccuracies and rhetorical flourishes that all predictably echo decades worth of U.S. government propaganda.
The Times claims Castro “ceded much of his power to his younger brother Raúl.” In reality, Fidel resigned his position as the President of State in 2006. He did not personally hand power to his brother in a dictatorial display of nepotism. Raúl was at the time Vice President, having been elected in the process stipulated by the Cuban Constitution. Likewise under the Constitution, as Vice President he assumed the role of the Presidency upon the resignation of the current President. No different than how succession would work in the United States.
The piece goes on to make unfounded claims of Castro’s self-aggrandizement (“he believed himself to be the messiah of his fatherland”) and launch evidence-free smears about his abuse of power (“he wielded power like a tyrant, controlling every aspect of the island’s existence”).
No one in recent history has been the subject of such vitriolic and politically biased propaganda emanating from the U.S. government as Fidel Castro. It is unsurprising that the self-declared paper of record in the U.S. would replicate the same disingenuous rhetoric rather than attempt to objectively assess the life of undoubtedly the most important individual of the 20th century based on documented facts placed in historical context.
US officialdom and their media megaphones have systematically concocted narratives having less to do with political reality and more with their hallucinogenic world view. Pre-election and post-election reportage weaves a tapestry of fiction and fantasy.
We will discuss the most pernicious of these remarkable foibles and fables and their predictable failures.
1. The pundits, prestigious editorialists and ‘economists with gravitas’, have convinced themselves that the election of Donald Trump would ‘lead to the Collapse of Capitalism’. They cited his campaign attacks on globalization and trade agreements, as well as his ‘reckless’ swipes at speculators. In reality, Trump was criticizing a specific kind of capitalism. The pundits overlooked the variety of capitalisms that constitute the US economy. With their snouts deep in the trough, their own vision was limited; their curly tails blindly twirled meaningless formulae on blackboards; their ample backsides flapping away in place of their mouths. Thus occupied, they easily ignored Trump’s glorification of national capitalism.
Trump followed the legacy of protectionism in US policies established by George Washington and Alexander Hamilton and carried into the administrations of Franklin Roosevelt and others. Capitalism comes in various forms and is promoted by different protagonists at different times in our history. Some leaders have championed such economic sectors as domestic energy production, manufacturing, mining and agriculture and depended largely on the local labor markets. Nevertheless, the pundits’ dream of a final collapse of capitalism with the rise of Trump turned into a real stock market bonanza, the ‘DOW’ boomed to record levels, and monopolists rubbed their hands in anticipation of larger and more lucrative merger and acquisitions.
The world’s largest billionaire bankers had bankrolled Secretary Hillary Clinton, the ‘million-dollar-a-speech’ War Goddess. Blankfein, Soros and the dirty dozen had bet heavily against the populist-nationalist Donald Trump and they lost. Their pre-paid political manifestos, addressed to the readers of the NY Times, flopped and sputtered: Most readers and investors in domestic markets had placed their bets on ‘The Donald’. Their domestic celebrations pumped up the market after the election. The unimaginable had happened: George Soros had bet and lost! The ‘deplorable’ electorate preferred the obnoxious nationalist to the obnoxious speculator. ‘Who’d a thunk it?’
2. From electoral losers to street putschists, the speculators and their whiny media mouthpieces strive to overthrow the election process. Against the tens of millions of free voters, the speculators bankrolled a few thousands demonstrators, drunk with their own delusions of starting a color-coded ‘Manhattan Spring’ to overthrow the elected President. Decked out in black ‘anarchist chic’, the window vandals and historically illiterate students were energized by George Soros’ promise to replicate the putsches in Kiev and Tbilisi. They took to the streets, cracked a few windows and signed thousands of ‘on-line petitions’ (while denouncing Trump as the ‘Second Coming of Kristalnacht’). The media magnified the theatrics as a sort of uprising to restore their loser-emancipator to the throne – the bleery-eyed Jean D’Arc of the Hedge Funds. The losers lost and Hillary will hopefully retire to count her millions. The stock market soared to record heights.
3. The four most influential financial newspapers, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the Financial Times (FT), the New York Times (NYT) and the Washington Post (WP) had deeply mourned their ‘Paradise Lost’: Long-gone was the rotting vassal-state of Russia under Boris Yeltsin 1991 – 2000, source of so much Western pillage. Their bile turned to venom, directed at the new Nemesis: Putin. The election of Vladimir Putin led to a remarkable economic and social recovery for Russia. From a Western controlled gangster-capitalist ‘thug-ocracy’, Russia has become a modern global power asserting its own sovereignty and national interests.
Gone are the days when Harvard economists could sack Russia of millions through their various ‘democracy’ foundations and Wall Street bankers could launder billions from the criminal oligarchs. Pentagon planners had dismantled Russian bases throughout its previous Warsaw Pact neighbors and set up NATO bases on Russia’s borders. State Department functionaries had overthrown elected pro-Russian regimes in the Ukraine, Georgia and as far afield as Libya. These were the unfettered joys of the US unipolar rulers and their stable of prestigious press pimps and academics, until Putin arrived to spoil the party. And in the run-up to the US election, the Clintonites and their Democratic entourage in the media launched the most frenzied demonic attack accusing Vladimir Putin of financing Trump’s campaign, of hacking Clinton’s messy, unsecured e-mail messages to undermine elections, of bombing Syrian hospitals full of children, of preparing to invade Latvia and Poland etc., etc. If there is one sliver of truth in the vassal press, it is that the demonic changes made against Putin reflected the gory reality of Hillary Clinton’s well-documented policies.
Clinton’s model for a democratic Russia was the drunken President Yeltsin, bankrolled by thugs as they gorged themselves on the corpse of the USSR. But Vladimir Putin was elected repeatedly by huge majorities and his governance has been far more representative of the Russian electorate than those of the recidivist loser, Hillary Clinton. Russia didn’t ‘invade’ the Ukraine or Crimea. It was the ‘potty-mouthed’ Victoria Nuland, US Undersecretary of State for European Affairs, who boasted of having tossed a mere 5 billion dollars into neo-fascist-kleptocratic putsch that took over Ukraine and who famously dismissed the concerns of the European Union… with her secretly recorded ‘F— the EU’ comment to the US Ambassador!
At some point, reality has to bubble up through the slime: Putin never financed Trump – the billionaire financed his own campaign. On the other hand, Clinton was bankrolled by Saudi despots, Zionist billionaires and Wall Street bankers. The mass media, the WSJ, FT, NYT and the WP, dutifully served the same stale, old sexist gossip about Trump in support of the sweet and sour, wide-eyed Madam Strangelove, who never hesitated to rip the lives out of thousands of Muslim women in their own countries. The media celebrated Madame Clinton’s nuclear option for Syria (the ‘No-Fly Zone’) while it ridiculed Trump’s proposal to negotiate a settlement with Putin.
The media accused Trump of being a sexist, racist, anti-immigrant villain, all the while ignoring Secretary of State Clinton’s blood-soaked history of bombs and destruction, of killing of tens of thousands women in the Middle East and Africa and driving hundreds of thousands among the two million sub-Sahara Africans formerly employed in Libya under Gadhafi’s rule onto rotting ships in the Mediterranean Sea. Who in Madame’s media count the millions of people dispossessed or the 300,000 killed by the US-promoted mercenary invasion of Syria? Where were the feminists, who now dredge up Trump’s crude ‘crotch talk’, when millions of women and children of color were killed, injured, raped and dispossessed by Madame Clinton’s seven wars? Given the choice, most women would prefer to defend themselves from the stupid words of a vulgar misogynist over the threat of a Clinton-Obama predator drone ripping their families to shreds. Nasty, juvenile words do not compare with a history of bloody war crimes.
It is much easier to denounce Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump than to analyze the consequences of Madame Candidate Clinton’s policies. The mass media, subservient to Clinton, wave the flag of ‘worker struggles’ and highlight ‘capitalist exploitation’ when they describe China, Russia and the businesses of US President-Elect Trump. But their perspective is that of the ‘Uni-Polar Empire’. They cite non-unionized worker protests in Chinese factories and peasants fighting the rapacious developers. They cite corrupt oil sales in Russia. They find cheap immigrant labor employed on Trump’s building projects. The media describe and defend Hong Kong separatists. They heap praise on the Uighar, Chechen and Tibetan terrorists as “freedom fighters” and “liberators”. They fail to acknowledge that, as bad as worker exploitation is in these examples, it is far less horrific than the suffering experienced by millions of local and immigrant peasants and workers who have been injured, killed and rendered jobless and homeless by US bombing campaigns in Libya and US invasion-destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. The imperial media’s phony ‘anti-capitalist-exploiter stories’ against Trump, Putin and the Chinese are mere propaganda rhetoric designed to entice leftists, influence liberals and reinforce conservatives by playing on workers’ plight inflicted by national adversaries instead of imperial conquests and egregious crimes against humanity.
These financial scribes are very selective in their critique of economic exploitation: They denounce political adversaries while churning out vapid cultural stories and reports on the ‘eclectic tastes’ of the elite. Their weekend cultural pages may occasionally contain a critique of some predatory financiers next to a special feature on an unusual sculptor or successful upwardly mobile immigrant writer. Day after day, the same financial media publishes predictable ‘bootlickeries’ masquerading as reports on vulture capitalists, warmongers and imperial warlords. They court and offer advice to Wall Street, the City of London and Gulf State sheikdoms. They write in blubbering awe at the bold multi-billion dollar mergers and acquisitions, which eliminate competitive prices and establish effective monopolies. Then they deftly turn to rant against President-Elect Donald Trump’s pronouncements on workers’ rights – he is ‘the demagogue threatening free-market . . . capitalism’.
The fear and loathing of the ‘Wildman’ Trump, so evident in the four most prestigious English language newspapers, is nowhere to be found in reference to Secretary Clinton’s pathological glee over the gruesome torture-murder of the injured President Gadhafi by her allied jihadi tribesmen. The global and domestic implications of the US Secretary of State expressing glee and high pitched squeals on viewing the filmed torture and final ‘coup de grace’ on the wounded head of the Libyan President was never analyzed in the respectable press. Instead, the press superficially covers the plight of millions of immigrants and refugees who would never have left their jobs and homes were it not for the US destruction of the Middle East and North Africa. The respectable media defend the US officials directly responsible for the plight of these migrants flooding and threatening to destabilize Europe.
The same newspapers defend the ‘human rights’ of Chinese workers in local and US-owned factories who out-competed domestic American factories, but ignore the plight of millions of unemployed and destitute workers trying to survive in the US war zones and Israeli-occupied territories.
The Presidential elections made millions of American voters starkly aware of the mendacity of the mass media and the corruption of the Clinton political elite.
The media and the Clinton-elite denounced the Trump voters as ‘deplorables’ and totally mischaracterized them. They were not overwhelmingly unemployed, bitter former industrial workers or minimum wage, uneducated racists from the gutted ‘heartland’. ‘Angry white male workers’ constituted only a fraction of the Trump electorate. Trump received the vote of large sections of suburban middle class professionals, managers and local business people; joined by downwardly mobile Main Street shopkeepers, garage owners and construction contractors. A majority of white women voted for Trump. City household residents, still trying to recover from the Obama-Clinton era mortgage foreclosures, formed an important segment of the Trump majority, as did underpaid university and community college graduates – despairing of ever finding long-term stable employment. In short, low-paid, exploited and precarious business owners and service sector employees formed a larger section of the Trump majority than the stereotyped ‘deplorable angry white racists’ embedded in the media and Clinton-Sanders propaganda.
Post-election media has magnified the political significance and size of the anti-Trump demonstrations. Altogether the demonstrators barely surpassed a hundred thousand in a country of 100 million voters. Most have been white students, Democratic Party activists and Soros-financed NGOs. Their demonstrations have been far smaller than the huge pro-Trump public rallies during the campaign. The pro-Clinton media, which consistently ignored the size of Trump’s rallies, doesn’t bother to make any comparison. They have focused exclusively on the post-election protest, completely papering over the outrageous manipulation by which the Democratic National Committee under ‘Debbie’ Wasserman Schultz cheated Clinton’s wildly popular left-wing rival, Bernie Sanders, during the primaries.
Instead, the media has been featuring Clintonesque ‘feminist’ professionals and ‘identity’ political activists, ignoring the fact that a majority of working women voted for Trump for economic reasons. Many politically conscious African-American and Latino women knew that Clinton was deeply involved in policies that deported 2 million immigrant workers and family members between 2009 – 2014 and destroyed the lives of millions of women of color in North and Central Africa because of her war against the government of Libya. For millions of female and male workers, as well as immigrants – there was a ‘lesser evil’ – Trump. For them, the Donald’s nasty remarks about women and Mexicans were less disturbing than the real history of Hillary Clinton’s brutal wars destroying women of color in Africa and the Middle East and her savage policies against immigrants.
The more bizarre (but transient) aspect of the anti-Trump smear campaign came from an hysterical section of the pro-Hillary ‘Zionist Power Configuration’ (ZPC) and ‘Israel-First’ crackpots who accused him and some of his appointees of anti-Semitism. These venomous propagandists slapped the Manhattan real-estate mogul Trump with an odd assortment of labels: ‘fascist’, ‘misogynist’, ‘anti-Israel’, Ku Klux Klan apologist and White Nationalist. The Minnesota Senator and former comedian Al Franken described Trump’s critique against Wall Street Bankers and finance capital as ‘dog whistles’ for anti-Semites, labeling the candidate as a 21st century disseminator of the ‘Protocols of Zion’. Senator Franken darkly hinted that ‘rogue’ (anti-Semitic) agents had infiltrated the FBI and were working to undermine Israel’s favorite, Clinton. He even promised to initiate a post-election purge of the FBI… upon Clinton’s victory… Needless to say, the Senator’s own rant, published (and quickly buried) two days before the election in the Guardian, did not help Madame Hillary with the security apparatus in the United States. History has never been a strong point with the Comedian Senator Al Franken, who should have know better than to threaten the deep security state: his Mid-West predecessor Senator Joseph McCarthy quickly deflated after he threatened the generals.
The accusations of anti-Semitism against Trump were baseless and desperate: The Trump campaign team has prominently included Jews and Israel-Firsters and secured a minority of Jewish votes, especially among smaller business people supporting greater protectionism. Secondly, Trump condemned anti-Semitic acts and language and did not appeal to any of the extremist groups – let alone ‘cite the Protocols of Zion’.
Thirdly (and predictably) the Zionist Anti-Defamation League (ADL) slapped an anti-Semitic ‘guilt by association’ label on Donald Trump because of his consistent criticism of US wars and occupations in the Middle East, which Trump had correctly pointed out cost the US over two trillion dollars – money that would have totally rebuilt the failing US infrastructure and created millions of domestic jobs. For the loony ADL, the US wars in the Middle East have enhanced Israel’s security and thus any opposition to these wars is anti-Semitic or ‘guilt by association’.
The ADL directors, who have raked in over $3 million dollar salaries over the past 5 years ‘protecting’ US Jews, objected to Trump because Hillary Clinton was the darling of the pro-war Israel-First lobbies and Obama-Clinton appointees.
Trump’s daughter Ivanka (a convert to Judaism) is married into a prominent Orthodox Jewish family with strong ties to Israel; the Trump clan is close to elements among the Israeli elite, including the uber-racist Netanyahu. These hysterical slanders against ‘Trump the Anti-Semite’ reflect the fact that the most prominent domestic Jewish power bloc, ‘the 52 Presidents of American Jewish Organization’ had invested heavily in Hillary Clinton. No matter what the cost, no matter what the land grab, no matter how many Palestinians were ‘killed or maimed by Jewish settler-vigilantes’; the State of Israel could always count on Clinton’s unconditional support. The Lobby would not need to ‘petition’ their ‘First Woman’ President; Madame Hillary would have anticipated Israel’s every desire and even embellished their rhetoric.
In the end, Senator Al Franken’s rabid anti- Trump rant went too far . . . vanishing from the Guardian website in less than one day. Influential Zionist organizations turned their backs on the Senator Comedian; the Zionist Organization of America reprimanded the ADL for its intemperate slanders – sensing that Clinton could lose.
The Franken-Zionist power structure’s last-ditch efforts to attack Trump must have provoked a very negative response within the US ‘deep state’. There can be no doubt that the entire intelligence, military and security elites struck back and put their organizational ‘thumb on the scale’.
The FBI’s release of damaging documents related to Secretary Clinton undermined the ADL’s candidate in the run-up to the election and hinted at an interesting power struggle behind the curtains. The confidential documents, likely including epistles from Chappaqua to and from Tel Aviv, linked tangentially to the pedophilic crimes of the disgraced Congressman (and former Clinton ally) Anthony Weiner was a heavy blow.
The Netanyahu Cabinet put distance between themselves and their favorites, probably telling AIPAC leaders to muzzle Al Franken and pretend his threats to purge the FBI had never been launched. They were clearly worried that their lunatic attack dogs could set the entire US Security State on a hostile track against Israel.
The Franken-ADL trial balloon fizzled and disappeared. The intelligence establishment pounded the final nail into the coffin of Hillary Clinton’s Presidential aspirations. She even briefly accused the FBI of ruining her candidacy – hinting at some partial but oversimplified truth. A Zionist darling to the end, Hillary would never dare to identify and castigate the crazy and incompetent Zionist provocateurs that had helped to turn the Deep State against Madame Secretary.
A last note: Once Clinton lost and Trump took ‘the prize’, the Zionist Power Structure deftly switched sides: the former ‘Anti-Semite’ candidate Trump became ‘Israel’s Best Friend in the White House’. None of the 52 leading Zionist organizations would join the street protests. Only vulture-speculator George Soros (who had bet heavily on the wrong horse) would finance the motley group of goys marching in the streets and collecting on-line petitions for ‘democracy’.
The foibles, fables and failure of the financial press and their keepers lost the election but are back, hard at work, remaking President-Elect Trump into a global free marketer.
Media falsely spins Trump’s NYT climate comments – Trump cited Climategate, restated skepticism of ‘global warming’
The media spin on President Elect Donald J. Trump’s sit down with the New York Times on November 22, can only be described as dishonest. Trump appears to soften stance on climate change & Donald Trump backflips on climate change …
The ‘fake news’ that Trump had somehow moderated or changed his “global warming” views was not supported by the full transcript of the meeting. […]
Trump also told resident NYT warmist Tom Friedman: ‘A lot of smart people disagree with you’ on climate change. (Note: Friedman has some wacky views: Flashback 2009: NYT’s Tom Friedman lauds China’s eco-policies: ‘One party can just impose politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward’)
Trump’s climate science view that there is “some connectivity” between humans and climate is squarely a skeptical climate view. Trump explained, “There is some, something. It depends on how much.”
Trump’s views are shared by prominent skeptical scientists. University of London professor emeritus Philip Stott has said: “The fundamental point has always been this. Climate change is governed by hundreds of factors, or variables, and the very idea that we can manage climate change predictably by understanding and manipulating at the margins one politically selected factor (CO2) is as misguided as it gets.” “It’s scientific nonsense,” Stott added. Stott is featured in new skeptical climate change documentary Climate Hustle.
Once again, Trump was 100% accurate as very prominent scientists are bailing out of the so-called climate “consensus.”
Green Guru James Lovelock reverses belief in ‘global warming’: Now says ‘I’m not sure the whole thing isn’t crazy’ – Condemns green movement: ‘It’s a religion really, It’s totally unscientific’
Trump cites correctly Climategate scandal: ‘They say they have science on one side but then they also have those horrible emails that were sent between scientists… Terrible. Where they got caught, you know, so you see that and you say, what’s this all about.’ See: Watch & Read: 7th anniversary of Climategate – The UN Top Scientists Exposed
Trump cited his uncle, a skeptical MIT scientist: ‘My uncle was for 35 years a professor at M.I.T. He was a great engineer, scientist. He was a great guy. And he was … a long time ago, he had feelings — this was a long time ago — he had feelings on this subject.’ (Yes, other MIT scientists are very skeptical as well. See: MIT Climate Scientist Dr. Richard Lindzen Mocks 97% Consensus: ‘It is propaganda’
It is also worth noting that Trump’s often cited 2012 tweet about climate change stating “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” was clearly a joke and he has said it was a joke. It is further worth noting that climate skeptics do not believe the concept of “climate change” was “created” by China.
And in what has been described as “fake news”, the publisher of NYT tried to sell CO2-induced storms to Trump; but Trump refused to accept the claim.<
NYT’s Arthur Sulzberger: ‘We saw what these storms are now doing, right? We’ve seen it personally. Straight up.’
Trump countered: ‘We’ve had storms always, Arthur.’
Trump is accurately citing the latest climate science by noting that extreme weather is not getting worse. See: 2016 ‘State of the Climate Report’
- The U.S. has had no Category 3 or larger hurricane make landfall since 2005 – the longest spell since the Civil War.
- Strong F3 or larger tornadoes have been in decline since the 1970s.
- Sea level rise rates have been steady for over a century, with recent deceleration.
- Droughts and floods are neither historically unusual nor caused by mankind, and there is no evidence we are currently having any unusual weather.
Trump’s claim to have an “open mind” on U.S. climate policy and his comment that “I’m going to take a look at” withdrawing from the UN Paris agreement are more nuanced than his previous blunt statements that the U.S. will cancel the UN agreement. But those comments in the context of the interview are hardly a flip-flop or major signal of changing views on the issue. … Full transcript
In its lead editorial on Sunday, The New York Times decried what it deemed “The Digital Virus Called Fake News” and called for Internet censorship to counter this alleged problem, taking particular aim at Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for letting “liars and con artists hijack his platform.”
As this mainstream campaign against “fake news” quickly has gained momentum in the past week, two false items get cited repeatedly, a claim that Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump and an assertion that Trump was prevailing in the popular vote over Hillary Clinton. I could add another election-related falsehood, a hoax spread by Trump supporters that liberal documentarian Michael Moore was endorsing Trump when he actually was backing Clinton.
But I also know that Clinton supporters were privately pushing some salacious and unsubstantiated charges about Trump’s sex life, and Clinton personally charged that Trump was under the control of Russian President Vladimir Putin although there was no evidence presented to support that McCarthyistic accusation.
The simple reality is that lots of dubious accusations get flung around during the heat of a campaign – nothing new there – and it is always a challenge for professional journalists to swat them down the best we can. What’s different now is that the Times envisions some structure (or algorithm) for eliminating what it calls “fake news.”
But, with a stunning lack of self-awareness, the Times fails to acknowledge the many times that it has published “fake news,” such as reporting in 2002 that Iraq’s purchase of aluminum tubes meant that it was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program; its bogus analysis tracing the firing location of a Syrian sarin-laden rocket in 2013 back to a Syrian military base that turned out to be four times outside the rocket’s range; or its publication of photos supposedly showing Russian soldiers inside Russia and then inside Ukraine in 2014 when it turned out that the “inside-Russia” photo was also taken inside Ukraine, destroying the premise of the story.
These are just three examples among many of the Times publishing “fake news” – and all three appeared on Page One before being grudgingly or partially retracted, usually far inside the newspaper under opaque headlines so most readers wouldn’t notice. Much of the Times’ “fake news” continued to reverberate in support of U.S. government propaganda even after the partial retractions.
Who Is the Judge?
So, should Zuckerberg prevent Facebook users from circulating New York Times stories? Obviously, the Times would not favor that solution to the problem of “fake news.” Instead, the Times expects to be one of the arbiters deciding which Internet outlets get banned and which ones get gold seals of approval.
The Times lead editorial, following a front-page article on the same topic on Friday, leaves little doubt what the newspaper would like to see. It wants major Internet platforms and search engines, such as Facebook and Google, to close off access to sites accused of disseminating “fake news.”
The editorial said, “a big part of the responsibility for this scourge rests with internet companies like Facebook and Google, which have made it possible for fake news to be shared nearly instantly with millions of users and have been slow to block it from their sites. …
“Facebook says it is working on weeding out such fabrications. It said last Monday that it would no longer place Facebook-powered ads on fake news websites, a move that could cost Facebook and those fake news sites a lucrative source of revenue. Earlier on the same day, Google said it would stop letting those sites use its ad placement network. These steps would help, but Facebook, in particular, owes its users, and democracy itself, far more.
“Facebook has demonstrated that it can effectively block content like click-bait articles and spam from its platform by tweaking its algorithms, which determine what links, photos and ads users see in their news feeds. … Facebook managers are constantly changing and refining the algorithms, which means the system is malleable and subject to human judgment.”
The Times editorial continued: “This summer, Facebook decided to show more posts from friends and family members in users’ news feeds and reduce stories from news organizations, because that’s what it said users wanted. If it can do that, surely its programmers can train the software to spot bogus stories and outwit the people producing this garbage. …
“Mr. Zuckerberg himself has spoken at length about how social media can help improve society. … None of that will happen if he continues to let liars and con artists hijack his platform.”
But the problem is that while some falsehoods may be obvious and clear-cut, much information exists in a gray area in which two or more sides may disagree on what the facts are. And the U.S. government doesn’t always tell the truth although you would be hard-pressed to find recent examples of the Times recognizing that reality. Especially over the past several decades, the Times has usually embraced the Official Version of a disputed event and has deemed serious skepticism out of bounds.
That was the way the Times treated denials from the Iraqi government and some outside experts who disputed the “aluminum tube” story in 2002 – and how the Times has brushed off disagreements regarding the U.S. government’s portrayal of events in Syria, Ukraine and Russia. Increasingly, the Times has come across as a propaganda conduit for Official Washington rather than a professional journalistic entity.
But the Times and other mainstream news outlets – along with some favored Internet sites – now sit on a Google-financed entity called the First Draft Coalition, which presents itself as a kind of Ministry of Truth that will decide which stories are true and which are “fake.”
If the Times’ editorial recommendations are followed, the disfavored stories and the sites publishing them would no longer be accessible through popular search engines and platforms, essentially blocking the public’s access to them. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “What to Do About ‘Fake News.’”]
The Times asserts that such censorship would be good for democracy – and it surely is true that hoaxes and baseless conspiracy theories are no help to democracy – but regulation of information in the manner that the Times suggests has more than a whiff of Orwellian totalitarianism to it.
And the proposal is especially troubling coming from the Times, with its checkered recent record of disseminating dangerous disinformation.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.
For most long time exiles from the Democratic Party, the post election liberal meltdown as a result of HRC’s historic, unexpected loss continues to gratify as photos of White House staff in tears do little to stir sympathy.
But unexpected? Only in the eyes of Democratic party stalwarts who wouldn’t know what to say to a Trump supporter, if they met one.
After all, how could she lose with the unwavering support of every institution in American life that mattered including every media conglomerate at the DNC’s fingertips – but even that boomeranged on the impending coronation.
Having digested Wikileaks emails re the MSM and partisan collusion, it was of no small interest then to view the Anderson Cooper and the Jake Tapper interviews on CNN’s Sunday morning talk shows two days before the election with Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.
Tapper who hosted the Presidential town hall debate in Columbus, Ohio and Cooper who co-hosted the last debate in St. Louis are both regarded as credible liberal reporters, synonymous with being fair and respectful, professional and amenable to alternative points of view. Their respective interviews with Conway proved none of that to be true.
On that Sunday, HRC was leading in the polls and expected to win up to 320 electoral votes. What was revealing was that, even in the face of Wikileaks confirmation, the MSM continued to unabashedly favor Clinton which did not go unnoticed by ‘deplorables’ around the country. Media bias for Democrats came as no surprise but what was unexpected was proof -positive that the media has been infiltrated by political partisans such as CNN’s Donna Brazile (she of the passing debate questions scandal). MSNBC, of course, is rife with political operatives who have moved into hosting their own shows masquerading as objective journalists.
As if deliberately thumbing their nose with a certainty that the mass of American voters are semi literate, bumbling racists who don’t know how to think, corporate media continued to display an obvious partiality, disputing any analysis that did not conform with their high opinion of HRC as they persisted in following Clinton’s grievously flawed candidacy down the tubes to ignominious defeat.
Obviously Conway’s choice of candidate is irrelevant to her right to speak freely on publicly-owned airwaves without being humiliated and bullied by big name, multi-million dollar media stars who believe that as journalists they inherited a God-given right to influence an election by disparaging one candidate against another – some of those same media stars who believe steadfastly in their own arrogance were so utterly wrong and ethically compromised on election evening for all the world to see.
As Anderson and Tapper approached their prospective interviews with Conway, they had to know beforehand that she had already proven to be an intelligent, knowledgeable and savvy politico as any Presidential campaign manager on the national stage should be. It was clear watching their performance that there was a deliberate intent on ‘cracking’ her composure and breaking her resolve. As millions of women watched, some of whom may not have yet voted, saw the Cooper/Tapper assault as another example of Big Media anti Trump overreach.
In what might easily be seen by HRC’s female supporters as sexual harassment, both Cooper and Tapper ‘s behavior was consistently unprofessional and discourteous as they repeatedly interrupted Conway, spoke over her so as to drown out her comments and otherwise continued a harangue they never would have unloaded on John Podesta .
While much media attention was focused on Trump’s sexual indiscretions of more than a decade ago, the Big Blue Propaganda Machine was banking on voters believing that liberal men are paragons of virtue immune from sexual misconduct. White female voters proved to be more discriminating as economic issues mattered more with 53% voting for Trump over Clinton.
Lest you think this essay is only about how high powered men in positions of power publicly mistreat women in comparable positions of power, Conway’s interview on The View in early October was equally appalling. In an insightful if excruciating ‘view’ of how liberal women treat other women who have a different political point of view, there was no evidence of Sisterhood. Whoopi Goldberg grilled Conway about Trump’s tax returns claiming that HRC’s ‘transparency is insane” while another member of the panel suggested that Trump spent money in Cuba during the US embargo equated to ‘treason’.
Throughout all three interviews which millions of women who vote were watching, Conway, a smart, experienced political strategist, stayed on message, never lost her cool and maintained an admirable poise. As the first woman to successfully manage a Presidential campaign, Conway is tough enough to understand that being female and a Trump supporter made her an object of ridicule and an irresistible target for the Hollywood/New York City and MSM elites.
Clearly, if the MSM does not agree with the message, the DNC playbook is to attack the messenger. Any communications professor might consider using either of these interviews to teach their students how not to conduct an interview.
In an October 31 appearance on Morning Joe, Conway commented that since “Hillary Clinton was engendering boos for the FBI and the FBI director at her rallies yesterday,” she asked “Are we going to start asking if she’s going to accept the result if she loses” and “are we going to start asking her if she’s inciting violence.”
As if a prescient answer to Conway, much of the nation may have been surprised to see thousands of young people in the streets to protest Trump’s election with a disturbing level of violence, property destruction and their own version of intense hatred. While it is encouraging to see young’uns feel passionate about civic engagement and stand up for principle as they take advantage of their constitutional rights, they have been duped.
What the MSM has described as ‘spontaneous’ demonstrations were generated by MoveOn.org which has been a thinly-disguised front for the Democratic party since its inception. Created in 1998 in response to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton for lying about his sexual indiscretions, MoveOn (aka Change.org) has a reported membership of eight million members and received funding of $1.4 million from Big Blue oligarch, international financier and currency speculator George Soros who recently donated $50 million to the ACLU which promptly issued a challenge to President-elect Trump.
As a Wikileaks release in August described, this is the same Soros, who has a history of funding and fomenting protests around the world and in 2011 instructed Secretary of State HRC to overthrow the government of Albania including the need to “forestall further public demonstrations.” Days later, HRC followed Soros’ instructions to a T.
On March 11th, the NY Times reported on the cancellation of a Trump rally in Chicago due to ‘violent scuffles’ and protestors who “engaged in intense disputes” with security officials. What the Times did not report was that MoveOn took credit for the mob violence sending out an email that read “This is what standing up to hate looks like” citing an ‘outpouring of peaceful opposition” which was actually not peaceful.
So in orchestrating protests that fan the flames of fear, violence and civil disorder, high school and college students are being taught that lawless, violent behavior is appropriate and to be condoned if a valid election result does not meet their expectation. Adult liberals have also reacted with shock in discovering that much of country does not necessarily think as they do.
The issue here is not that Trump’s rhetoric did not deserve an appropriate response; he is clearly a flawed individual and will be watched for authentic evidence of violating his oath of office. However, the 2016 election is not a replay of 2000 when the Democrats rolled over as the election was stolen. MoveOn could have then provided a useful public service but GW was akin to the influential oligarch elite class which would have presumably been satisfied with either Gore or Bush.
The larger problem is that partisan-connected oligarchs have a personal agenda that threatens the integrity of a constitutional democracy as they found and fund public interest groups which manipulate its members that, in turn, benefit the oligarchs own financial and political gain.
Despite anxiety and concern generated by HRC and MSM that Trump would not accept election results thereby causing riots, civil unrest and perhaps beginning a civil war, there have been no signs of Trump supporters confronting the protests – so who exactly is perpetuating the violence and hostility?
On November 15, U.S News and World Report released an article by Rachel Dicker providing a list of “fake sites” to “avoid at all costs.” On the list, Activist Post was prominently noted as being “fake” or, more accurately to the point of the article, a “propaganda” site.
This article comes shortly after an announcement by Google that it would be prohibiting “fake” and “misrepresentative” sites from using its AdSense program. The company stated to Reuters that,
Moving forward, we will restrict ad serving on pages that misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about the publisher, the publisher’s content, or the primary purpose of the web property. This policy includes fake news sites, the spokesperson confirmed. Google already prevents its AdSense program from being used by sites that promote violent videos and imagery, pornography, and hate speech.
And, of course, the definition of the Orwellian-named “hate speech,” violence, misrepresentation and “fake news” is all going to be determined by Facebook and Google. War, for instance, is extremely violent but there is a necessity to cover it and even produce images from the battlefield in the process. Police shootings and other forms of violence against citizens is also violent but a necessary issue to cover. “Hate speech” is incredibly subjective and, in 2016, speech has come to be labeled as “hate” even when it merely respectfully disagreed with a protected identity group.
But the new Google policy and the intent to remove what is for many websites a main source of revenue has obvious political implications and is about much more than a desire to prevent unpleasant images, violence, and hate from being shown to Americans. That is, it is obvious that the intention of Google is to starve out the source of revenue for the alternative media, thereby crashing the alternative media as a competitor for mainstream outlets and eliminating any sources of critical thought and competing narratives.
The mainstream media is a dying institution. This much is clear. Fewer and fewer people are paying attention to CNN, FOX, U.S. News and World Report, and the rest of the corporate press, while more and more people are tuning in to independent and alternative broadcasts and visiting alternative media websites. This is posing a major threat not only to the very survival of the corporate news but also to the narratives being peddled by the U.S. State Department, Wall Street, and Corporate America via their media mouthpieces. The cat is coming out of the bag for the U.S. oligarchy and the only way to put it back is to ensure that the alternative media goes away and that the American people will only be able to consume the garbage shoveled out by major corporations from here on out.
But back to Dicker’s article. We should note that the categorization of the flagged sites is interesting indeed. The “fake news” sites are listed into three groups – satire, hoax, and propaganda. As Activist Post has pointed out, satire is a legitimate form of literature. Perhaps the writers and editors of stuffy and irrelevant media organizations like U.S. News and World Report are unaware of the art of sarcasm or irony, which is apparent by the fact that U.S. News and World Report has the audacity to call another outlet a “propaganda site.”
Dicker also mentions hoax websites. I must confess much irritation over constantly seeing actual fake news websites often even listed as satire but which are, in reality, hoaxes, floating around the Internet and social media and being shared by well-meaning people who cannot take the time to investigate their own source of information. Sites with headlines like “Hillary Clinton Shoots Puppy After Election Loss” or “Donald Trump Vomits Demon On Israeli Prime Minister” are unfortunately clogging up the works for legitimate news organizations (and by that I mean many alternative outlets) but such is the risk in a free society where people are free to choose what they read and think.
That being said, I wonder how many lives would have been lost as a result of a number of Americans believing that Hillary Clinton shot a puppy or Donald Trump is possessed versus believing that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction? I guess we will never know the stats for the former, but perhaps we should ask the editors of the “trusted” New York Times, CNN, CBS, and their ilk for the numbers on the latter.
Indeed, for U.S. News and World Report to label Activist Post as propaganda whilst disseminating unproven allegations and obvious pro-war propaganda is hypocritical to say the least.
Remember, it was U.S. News and World Report that published “The Liberal Case For Intervention In Syria,” which was a pathetic attempt to justify yet another American war of aggression against a country that did nothing to the U.S. nor posed any threat to it. The author, Eric Schnurer, attempted to make the case that invading Syria and slaughtering civilians directly (as opposed to the proxy method being used currently) was actually the moral thing to do. Or perhaps we should mention the countless interviews with military-industrial complex “Think Tanks” and “foreign-relations strategy firms” that are consistently promoted by US News And World Report (USNAWR) in order to add to the cheerleading squad of pro-war/anti-Russia commentators designed to create a false-consensus, i.e. that the “experts” all agree that Assad is a “brutal dictator killing his own people” and that Putin “wants to control the world.” We must also mention the constant braying over “chemical weapons” being used in Syria, being blamed on Assad, all the while these news organizations are aware that there is virtually no evidence to back up their claims.
USNAWR even saw fit to post an editorial by an individual claiming that WMDs were found in Iraq and that “Bush was right” all along, a separation from reality if ever there was one.
The saddest part about the journalistic quality of USNAWR is that, bad as their articles often are, the really bad ones are actually the most interesting. Looking at USNAWR’s website, the corporation seems to be nothing more than a bigger version of those “ranking” sites advertised under so many news articles. You know the ones I’m talking about with headlines like “10 Hottest Athletes” and “30 Actors That Are Actually Gay.” The difference, however, is that USNAWR throws in several articles to give their readers the false impression that visiting the site is not an incredible waste of time.
Rachel Dicker’s articles themselves are evidence of the irrelevance of USNAWR. Take a look at her history and you will see articles full of incredible journalistic sleuthing – a Golden Pheasant that looks like Donald Trump, what’s trending on Chinese social media, a letter written by a creator of a television show, and, of course, a musical performance by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Riveting stuff.
Interestingly enough, Dicker did not mention the New York Times and their coverage of the non-existent WMDs in Iraq. Shouldn’t that organization be labeled propaganda? Not only that, NYT’s information managed to kill a million Iraqis and over 3,000 American soldiers. Not even an honorable mention?
There was also no mention of CNN for its infamous “Syria Danny” fiasco where the corporation was caught red-handed staging a propaganda video against the Syrian government, ultimately to draw Americans in to having pro-war sentiment despite the weariness of foreign adventures enabled by “real” news organizations like the New York Times and CNN. This outright lie was exposed by the alternative media, highlighting the reason why corporate news organizations, Wall Street, and the military industrial complex want the alternative media silent.
Likewise, Dicker did not mention NPR and its “Gay Girl In Damascus” ordeal where the organization promoted a storyline designed to demonize the Syrian government despite the fact that the “Gay Girl In Damascus” was neither gay, nor a girl, nor even in Damascus.
Indeed, we can make many lists of many different things when discussing the mainstream and alternative media but I suggest we begin by making lists of the actual consequences of their work. Perhaps a list of the dead civilians who were killed as a result of the malfeasance and deception of the corporate media would be a place to start. Perhaps a list of dead military personnel would also make for an interesting list. But while CNN concerns itself with Beyonce and U.S. News And World Report must first report on birds that look like Trump, the alternative media will continue to cover real news which, of course, includes the epic fails of the corporate press.
While Zuckerberg and Schmidt attempt to deal a lethal blow to the alternative press, rest assured that AdSense will not be the end of alternative media. America’s favorite dorks may deliver a decent punch to many outlets but, in the end, the alternative media and the “propaganda” sites Dicker is so worried about will have the opportunity of watching the corporate press decay and disappear into the dustbin of history.
Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President.
Photo – Joshua Roberts, Reuters
In the week leading up to last Tuesday’s election the press was busy writing obituaries for the Republican Party. This continued even after Donald Trump’s “surprising” victory – which, like the 2008 bank-fraud crash, “nobody could have expected.” The pretense is that Trump saw what no other politician saw: that the economy has not recovered since 2008.
Democrats still seem amazed that voters are more concerned about economic conditions and resentment against Wall Street (no bankers jailed, few junk mortgages written down). It is a sign of their wrong path that party strategists are holding on to the same identity politics they have used since the 1960s to divide Americans into hyphenated special-interest groups.
Obviously, the bottom 95 Percent realize that their incomes and net worth have declined, not recovered. National Income and Federal Reserve statistics show that all growth has accrued to just 5 percent of the population. Hillary is said to have spent $1 billion on polling, TV advertising and high-salaried staff members, but managed not to foresee the political reaction to this polarization. She and her coterie ignored economic policy as soon as Bernie was shoved out of the way and his followers all but told to join a third party. Her campaign speech tried to convince voters that they were better off than they were eight years ago. They knew better!
So the question now is whether Donald Trump will really be a maverick and shake up the Republican Party. There seems to be a fight going on for Donald’s soul – or at least the personnel he appoints to his cabinet. Thursday and Friday saw corporate lobbyists in the Republican leadership love-bombing him like the Moonies or Hari Krishna cults welcoming a new potential recruit. Will he simply surrender now and pass on the real work of government to the Republican apparatchiks?
The stock market thinks so! On Wednesday it soared almost by 300 points, and repeated this gain on Thursday, setting a DJIA record! Pharmaceuticals are way up, as higher drug prices loom for Medicaid and Medicare. Stocks of the pipelines and major environmental polluters are soaring, from oil and gas to coal, mining and forestry, expecting U.S. environmental leadership to be as dead under Trump as it was under Obama and his push for the TPP and TTIP (with its fines for any government daring to impose standards that cost these companies money). On the bright side, these “trade” agreements to enable corporations to block public laws protecting the environment, consumers and society at large are now presumably dead.
For now, personalities are policy. A problem with this is that anyone who runs for president is in it partly for applause. That was Carter’s weak point, leading him to cave in to Democratic apparatchiks in 1974. It looks like Trump may be similarly susceptible. He wants to be loved, and the Republican lobbyists are offering plenty of applause if only he will turn to them and break his campaign promises in the way that Obama did in 2008. It would undo his hope to be a great president and champion of the working class that was his image leading up to November 8.
The fight for the Democratic Party’s future (dare I say “soul”?)
In her Wednesday morning post mortem speech, Hillary made a bizarre request for young people (especially young women) to become politically active as Democrats after her own model. What made this so strange is that the Democratic National Committee has done everything it can to discourage millennials from running. There are few young candidates – except for corporate and Wall Street Republicans running as Blue Dog Democrats. The left has not been welcome in the party for a decade – unless it confines itself only to rhetoric and demagogy, not actual content. For Hillary’s DNC coterie the problem with millennials is that they are not shills for Wall Street. The treatment of Bernie Sanders is exemplary. The DNC threw down the gauntlet.
Instead of a love fest within the Democratic Party’s ranks, the blame game is burning. The Democrats raised a reported $182 million dollars running up to the election. But when Russ Feingold in Wisconsin and other candidates in Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania asked for help, Hillary monopolized it all for TV ads, leaving these candidates in the lurch. The election seemed to be all about her, about personality and identity politics, not about the economic issues paramount in most voters’ minds.
Six months ago the polls showed her $1 billion spent on data polling, TV ads and immense staff of sycophants to have been a vast exercise in GIGO. From May to June the Democratic National Committee (DNC) saw polls showing Bernie Sanders beating Trump, but Hillary losing. Did the Democratic leadership really prefer to lose with Hillary than win behind him and his social democratic reformers.
Hillary doesn’t learn. Over the weekend she claimed that her analysis showed that FBI director Comey’s reports “rais[ing] doubts that were groundless, baseless,” stopped her momentum. This was on a par with the New York Times analysis that had showed her with an 84 percent probability of winning last Tuesday. She still hasn’t admitted that her analysis was inaccurate.
What is the Democratic Party’s former constituency of labor and progressive reformers to do? Are they to stand by and let the party be captured in Hillary’s wake by Robert Rubin’s Goldman Sachs-Citigroup gang that backed her and Obama?
If the party is to be recaptured, now is the moment to move. The 2016 election sounded the death knell for the identity politics. Its aim was to persuade voters not to think of their identity in economic terms, but to think of themselves as women or as racial and ethnic groups first and foremost, not as having common economic interests. This strategy to distract voters from economic policies has obviously failed.
It did not work with women. In Florida, only 51 percent of white women are estimated to have voted for Hillary. It didn’t even work very well in ethnic Hispanic precincts. They too were more concerned about their own job opportunities.
The ethnic card did work with many black voters (although not so strongly; fewer blacks voted for Hillary than had showed up for Obama). Under the Obama administration for the past eight years, blacks have done worse in terms of income and net worth than any other grouping, according to the Federal Reserve Board’s statistics. But black voters were distracted from their economic interests by the Democrats’ ethnic-identity politics.
This election showed that voters have a sense of when they’re being lied to. After eight years of Obama’s demagogy, pretending to support the people but delivering his constituency to his financial backers on Wall Street. “Identity politics” has given way to the stronger force of economic distress. Mobilizing identity politics behind a Wall Street program will no longer work.
If we are indeed experiencing a revival of economic class consciousness, who should lead the fight to clean up the Democratic Party Wall Street leadership? Will it be the Wall Street wing, or can Bernie and perhaps Elizabeth Warren make their move?
There is only one way to rescue the Democrats from the Clintons and Rubin’s gang. That is to save the Democratic Party from being tarred irreversibly as the party of Wall Street and neocon brinkmanship. It is necessary to tell the Clintons and the Rubin gang from Wall Street to leave now. And take Evan Bayh with them.
The danger of not taking this opportunity to clean out the party now
The Democratic Party can save itself only by focusing on economic issues – in a way that reverses its neoliberal stance under Obama, and indeed going back to Bill Clinton’s pro-Wall Street administration. The Democrats need to do what Britain’s Labour Party did by cleaning out Tony Blair’s Thatcherites. As Paul Craig Roberts wrote over the weekend: “Change cannot occur if the displaced ruling class is left intact after a revolution against them. We have proof of this throughout South America. Every revolution by the indigenous people has left unmolested the Spanish ruling class, and every revolution has been overthrown by collusion between the ruling class and Washington.” Otherwise the Democrats will be left as an empty shell.
Now is the time for Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and the few other progressives who have not been kept out of office by the DNC to make their move and appoint their own nominees to the DNC. If they fail, the Democratic Party is dead.
An indication of how hard the present Democratic Party leadership will fight against this change of allegiance is reflected in their long fight against Bernie Sanders and other progressives going back to Dennis Kucinich. The past five days of MoveOn demonstrations sponsored by Hillary’s backer George Soros may be an attempt to preempt the expected push by Bernie’s supporters, by backing Howard Dean for head of the DNC while organizing groups to be called on for what may be an American “Maidan Spring.”
Perhaps some leading Democrats preferred to lose with their Wall Street candidate Hillary than win with a reformer who would have edged them out of their right-wing positions. But the main problem was hubris. Hillary’s coterie thought they could make their own reality. They believed that hundreds of millions of dollars of TV and other advertising could sway voters. But eight years of Obama’s rescue of Wall Street instead of the economy was enough for most voters to see how deceptive his promises had been. And they distrusted Hillary’s pretended embrace of Bernie’s opposition to TPP.
The Rust Belt swing states that shifted away from backing Obama for the last two terms are not racist states. They voted for Obama twice, after all. But seeing his support for Wall Street, they had lost faith in her credibility – and were won by Bernie in his primaries against Hillary.
Donald Trump is thus Obama’s legacy. Last week’s vote was a backlash. Hillary thought that getting Barack and Michelle Obama to campaign as her surrogates would help, but it turned out to be the kiss of death. Obama egged her on by urging voters to “save his legacy” by supporting her as his Third Term. But voters did not want his legacy of giveaways to the banks, the pharmaceutical and health-insurance monopolies.
Most of all, it was Hillary’s asking voters to ignore her economic loyalty to Wall Street simply to elect a woman, and her McCarthy-like accusations that Trump was “Putin’s candidate” (duly echoed by Paul Krugman). On Wednesday, Obama’s former Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul tweeted that “Putin intervened in our elections and succeeded.” It was as if the Republicans and even the FBI were a kind of fifth column for the KGB. Her receptiveness to cutting back Social Security and steering wage withholding into the stock market did not help – especially her hedge fund campaign contributors. Compulsory health-insurance fees continue to rise for healthy young people as the main profit center that Obamacare has offered the health-insurance monopoly.
The anti-Trump rallies mobilized by George Soros and MoveOn look like a preemptive attempt to capture the potential socialist left for the old Clinton divide-and-conquer strategy. The group was defeated five years ago when it tried to capture Occupy Wall Street to make it part of the Democratic Party. It’s attempt to make a comeback right now should be heard as an urgent call to Bernie’s supporters and other “real” Democrats that they need to create an alternative pretty quickly so as not to let “socialism” be captured by the Soros and his apparatchiks carried over from the Clinton campaign.
 Paul Craig Roberts, “The Anti-Trump Protesters Are Tools of the Oligarchy,” November 11, 2016.
The immediate impact of Donald Trump’s victory among those of us who favored his candidacy over Hillary Clinton’s was triumphalism on the day after. This euphoric mood was very well captured on a special edition of the Russia Today’s “Cross Talk” show, which registered an audience of more than 110,000 on-line viewers, a number which is rare if not unprecedented.
But much of the potential for positive change which came with Trump’s victory will be dissipated if all of us do not do what Barack Obama and Donald Trump did a couple of days ago: reach out to shake hands with political opponents, who will remain opponents, and nonetheless move forward together in a constructive manner.
If left to its own devices, the U.S. foreign policy establishment will continue doing what it has done since Nov. 8: wishing away the whole Trump victory. At present, these think tank scholars and major media columnists are in denial, as we see from op-eds published by The New York Times and other anti-Trump mainstream media. They question his mandate for change and his ability to execute change. They offer to hold his hand, bring him to his senses and ensure that his election (at least regarding its message about trying to cooperate with Russia on shared goals such as fighting terrorism) was in vain.
These spokesmen for the Establishment choose to ignore that Trump’s first moves after winning were to reward those in his party who had first come out in support of him and who stood by him in the worst days of the campaign, of which there were many. I note the rising stars of Mike Pence and Rudy Giuliani, among others. This makes it most improbable that he will also reward those who did everything possible to stymie his candidacy, first, and foremost the neoconservative and liberal interventionist foreign policy loudmouths.
Perhaps to comfort themselves, perhaps to confuse us, these foreign policy elitists say Trump is interested mainly in domestic affairs, in particular rebuilding American infrastructure, canceling or modifying Obamacare. They call him an isolationist and then fill in the content of his supposed isolationism to suit their purposes. They propose to give him a speed course on why continued global hegemony serves America’s interests and the interests of his electorate.
Yet, the record shows that Trump formulated his plans for U.S. military and foreign policy explicitly during the campaign. He said he would build up the U.S. military potential. He spoke specifically of targets for raising the number of men and women under arms, raising the construction of naval vessels, modernizing the nuclear arsenal. These plans are cited by the Establishment writers today as contradicting Trump’s thinking about getting along with all nations, another major motif of his campaign rhetoric. They propose to help him iron out the contradictions.
Explaining Trump’s Contradictions
But the answer to the apparent contradictions could well be that Trump was saying what he had to say to get elected. Consistency has not been at the center of Trump’s style. I maintain that the apparent contradictions were intentionally planted by Trump to secure the support of unsophisticated patriots while a very well integrated program for the way forward has been there in his pocket all the time.
Expanding U.S. military might will cost a lot, at the same time Trump has said he will not raise taxes nor raise debt. This means, in fact, reallocation of existing budgets. The most obvious place to start will be to cut back on the number of U.S. military bases abroad, which now number more than 600 and which consume $600 billion annually in maintenance costs.
The Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky recently described this spending rather colorfully when reassuring his compatriots that the U.S. is not as powerful as it appears. Said Zhirinovsky, a lot of the Pentagon’s allocations go to buying toilet paper and sausages, not military muscle as such. Moreover, the bases abroad tend to create local, regional and global grievances against the United States that, in turn, increase the need for still more bases and military expenditures.
If Trump begins by cutting back on the bases now surrounding and infuriating the Russian Federation, he would take a big step towards relaxation of international tensions, while saving money for his other security and domestic priorities.
Trump also has said he will require U.S. allies to pay more for their defense. This particularly concerns Europe, which is prosperous, but not carrying its weight in NATO despite years of exhortations and cajoling by the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. The U.S. pays two-thirds of the NATO’s bills. Trump has declared that this is unacceptable.
The Pentagon budget represents a bit over 4 percent of GDP, whereas in Europe only several countries have approached or crossed the 2% of GDP minimum that the U.S. and NATO officials have called for. As a practical matter, given the ongoing stagnation of the European economies, widespread heavy indebtedness and the ongoing national budgets operating at deficits that exceed the guidelines of the European Central Bank, it is improbable (read impossible) for Europe to step up to bat and meet U.S. demands.
This will then justify the U.S. withdrawal from NATO that figures at the sidelines of the wish list of Trump supporters, not isolationism per se. Trump supporter and military analyst Andrew Bacevich wrote recently in Foreign Affairs that the U.S. may well pull out of NATO completely in the early 2020s.
As a fallback, the Establishment spokesmen speculate on how the President-elect will be taken in hand by members of his own party and by their own peers so that his wings are clipped and his directional changes in U.S. foreign and defense policy are frustrated before they are even rolled out during the 100 days of the new administration.
Very likely, that same foreign policy establishment will resume its howling in the wind if they are proven wrong after Trump’s Inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017, and he proceeds precisely down the path of policies that he clearly enunciated during the campaign.
Why do I think that Trump as President will follow through on the foreign policy promises of Trump, the candidate? There is a simple explanation. His announced policies regarding accommodation with Russia, renunciation of “regime change” as a U.S. government priority abroad and the like were all set out by Trump during the campaign in the full knowledge they would bring him lots of well-organized criticism and gain him few votes, given the electorate’s focus on domestic policy issues.
He also knew that his positions, including condemning President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, would cost him support within his own party leaders, which is what happened. He even weathered Hillary Clinton calling him a “puppet” of Russian President Vladimir Putin during the third presidential debate and other McCarthyistic innuendo portraying him as some kind of Manchurian Candidate.
A Clash over Wars
Thus, we may assume that once he is in the saddle, he will not shy away from implementing these clearly stated policies. The impending clash between a foreign policy establishment with its supercilious attitude toward the new incumbent in the Oval Office and a determined President pulling in the other direction will surely create political tension and prompt many angry op-eds in Washington.
Accordingly, I have some constructive recommendations both to my fellow Trump supporters and to Trump’s opponents in the foreign policy establishment and mass media. I earnestly ask the editors of Foreign Affairs magazine and their peer publications serving the international-relations expert community to finally open their pages and give equal time for high quality contributions by followers of the “realist” school, who have been systematically excluded over the past several years as the New Cold War set in.
I address the same message to the mainstream electronic and print media, which has engaged in a New McCarthyism by blacklisting commentators whose views run counter to the Washington consensus and also publicly denigrating them as “tools of Putin.”
To put it in terms that anyone in the Russian affairs field and even members of the general public will understand, we need a six-to-nine month period of Glasnost, of open, free and very public debate of all those key international security issues which have not been discussed due to the monopoly power of one side in the argument.
I am calling for genuinely open debate, which allows for opinions that clash with the bipartisan “group thinks” that have dominated the Democratic and Republican elites. This concerns firstly the question of how to manage relations with Russia and China. Without any serious consideration of where the West’s escalating hostilities have been leading, we have been plunging forward blindly, stumbling towards a potential nuclear war — precisely because alternative policy views were kept out.
For those of us who have been part of the silenced opposition to the Washington consensus of the Bush and Obama years, we must engage with our intellectual opponents. Only in this way can we strengthen our reasoning powers and the quality of our policy recommendations so that we are fully prepared to deal with the fateful questions under review.
Gilbert Doctorow is the European Coordinator of The American Committee for East West Accord Ltd. His most recent book, Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015.
As much as The New York Times and the mainstream U.S. media have become propaganda outlets on most foreign policy issues, like the one-sided coverage of the bloody Syrian war, sometimes the truth seeps through in on-the-ground reporting by correspondents, even ones who usually are pushing the “propo.”
Such was the case with Anne Barnard’s new reporting from inside west Aleppo, the major portion of the city which is in government hands and copes with regular terror rocket and mortar attacks from rebel-held east Aleppo where Al Qaeda militants and U.S.-armed-and-funded “moderate” rebels fight side-by-side.
Almost in passing, Barnard’s article on Sunday acknowledged the rarely admitted reality of the Al Qaeda/”moderate” rebel collaboration, which puts the United States into a de facto alliance with Al Qaeda terrorists and their jihadist allies, fighting under banners such as Nusra Front (recently renamed Syria Conquest Front) and Ahrar al-Sham.
Barnard also finally puts the blame for preventing civilians in east Aleppo from escaping the fighting on a rebel policy of keeping them in harm’s way rather than letting them transit through “humanitarian corridors” to safety. Some of her earlier pro-rebel accounts suggested that it wasn’t clear who was stopping movement of civilians through those corridors.
However, on Sunday, she reported: “We had arrived at a critical moment, as Russia said there was only one day left to pass through a corridor it had provided for people to escape eastern Aleppo before the rebel side was flattened, a corridor through which precious few had passed. The government says rebels are preventing civilians from leaving. Rebels refuse any evacuation without international supervision and a broader deal to deliver humanitarian aid.”
Granted, you still have to read between the lines, but at least there is the acknowledgement that rebels are refusing civilian evacuations under the current conditions. How that is different from Islamic State terrorists in Mosul, Iraq, preventing departures from their areas – a practice which the Times and other U.S. outlets condemn as using women and children as “human shields” – isn’t addressed. But Barnard’s crimped admission is at least a start.
Barnard then writes: “Instead [of allowing civilians to move through the humanitarian corridors], they [the rebels] are trying to break the siege, with Qaeda-linked groups and those backed by the United States working together — the opposite of what Russia has demanded.”
Again, that isn’t the clearest description of the situation, which is stunning enough that one might have expected it in the lede rather than buried deep inside the story, but it is significant that the Times is recognizing that Al Qaeda and the U.S.-backed “moderates” are “working together” and that Russia opposes that collaboration.
She also noted that “Three Qaeda-linked suicide bombers attacked a military position with explosive-packed personnel carriers on Thursday, military officials said, and mortar fire was raining on neighborhoods that until now had been relatively safe. It was among the most intense rounds in four years of rebel shelling that officials say has killed 11,000 civilians.”
While she then throws in a caveat about the impossibility of verifying the numbers, the acknowledgement that the U.S.-backed “moderate” rebels and their Al Qaeda comrades have been shelling civilians in west Aleppo is significant, too. Before this, all the American people heard was the other side, from rebel-held east Aleppo, about the human suffering there, often conveyed by “activists” with video cameras who have depicted the conflict as simply the willful killing of children by the evil Syrian government and the even more evil Russians.
With the admission of rebel terror attacks on civilians in west Aleppo, the picture finally is put into more balance. The Al Qaeda and U.S.-backed rebels have been killing thousands of civilians in government-controlled areas and the Syrian military and its Russian allies have struck back only to be condemned for committing “war crimes.”
Though the human toll in both sides of Aleppo is tragic, we have seen comparable situations before – in which the U.S. government has supported, supplied and encouraged governments to mount fierce offensives to silence rockets or mortars fired by rebels toward civilian areas.
For instance, senior U.S. government officials, including President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, have defended Israel’s right to defend itself from rockets fired from inside Gaza even though those missile rarely kill anyone. Yet, Israel is allowed to bomb the near-defenseless people of Gaza at will, killing thousands including the four little boys blown apart in July 2014 while playing on a beach during the last round of what the Israelis call “mowing the grass.”
In the context of those deaths, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, who has built her career as a supposed humanitarian advocating a “responsibility to protect” civilians, laid the blame not on the Israeli military but on fighters in Gaza who had fired rockets that rarely hit anything besides sand.
At the United Nations on July 18, 2014, Power said, “President Obama spoke with [Israeli] Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning to reaffirm the United States’ strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself…. Hamas’ attacks are unacceptable and would be unacceptable to any member state of the United Nations. Israel has the right to defend its citizens and prevent these attacks.”
But that universal right apparently does not extend to Syria where U.S.-supplied rockets are fired into civilian neighborhoods of west Aleppo. In that case, Power and other U.S. officials apply an entirely different set of standards. Any Syrian or Russian destruction of east Aleppo with the goal of suppressing that rocket fire becomes a “war crime.”
Perhaps it’s expected that the U.S. government, like other governments, will engage in hypocrisy regarding affairs of state: one set of rules for U.S. allies and another for countries marked for U.S. “regime change.” Statements by supposed “humanitarians” – such as Samantha Power, “Ms. R2P” – are no exception.
But double standards are even more distasteful when they come from allegedly “objective” journalists such as those who work at The New York Times, The Washington Post and other prestige American news outlets. When they take the “U.S. side” in a dispute and become crude propagandists, they encourage the kind of misguided “group thinks” that led to the criminal Iraq War and other disastrous “regime change” projects over the past two decades.
Yet, that is what we normally see. A thoughtful reader can’t peruse the international reporting of the U.S. mainstream media without realizing that it is corrupted by propaganda from both government officials and from U.S.-funded operations, often disguised as “human rights activists” or “citizen journalists” whose supposed independence makes their “propo” even more effective.
So, it’s worth noting those rare occasions when The New York Times and the rest of the MSM let some of the reality peek through. When evaluating the latest plans from Hillary Clinton and other interventionists to expand the U.S. military intervention in Syria – via prettily named “safe zones” and “no-fly zones” – the American people should realize that they are being asked to come to the aid of Al Qaeda.
For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’s “The De Facto US/Al Qaeda Alliance.”
By Dominic Basulto | July 10, 2016
Chances are, if a story about Russia appears on the cover of a major Western magazine, it’s not good news. Most likely, there’s been an international scandal, a breakout of geopolitical tensions, the resumption of Cold War hostilities, or some nefarious Russian plot to bring the entire free world to its knees.
Russophobia — or the unnatural fear of Russia — generally leads magazine editors to choose the most over-the-top images to convey Russia as a backwards, clumsy, non-Western and aggressively malevolent power. Unfortunately, that’s led to a few rules of thumb for anyone trying to create a magazine cover featuring Russia. You can think of these rules as the dark art of making an anti-Russian magazine cover:
OPTION 1: Go with the Russian bear
This is a no-brainer, actually, and pretty much the default option for any magazine editor. The symbol of the Russian bear is universally understood to be the symbol of Russia, so it’s an immediate attention-grabber that readers will grasp quickly. After all, for centuries, Western satirists have used the Russian bear as a symbol of imperial aggression.
Given the latest round of U.S.-Russian tensions over the Ukraine crisis, the key is to make the Russian bear look as scary as possible. Take the May/June 2016 cover from Foreign Affairs, for example:
The cover title seems relatively harmless — “Putin’s Russia: Down But Not Out.” But check out the image of the bear — it’s bloodied and still relatively menacing, despite being bruised and battered — check out the red, bloodshot eyes and the sharp claws. Definitely not someone you’d want to mess with, even after a few shots of vodka.
And Foreign Affairs is not the only magazine to go the full bear with the cover. Ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, Bloomberg BusinessWeek went with what has to be the scariest, most menacing Russia bear that’s ever appeared on the cover of a magazine. The magazine shows a malevolent bear on a pair of skis wearing a Russian hockey jersey, armed to the teeth (literally), with the headline: “Is Russia Ready?”
This Olympic cover immediately calls to mind a cover story TIME ran on Russia (then the Soviet Union) ahead of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics — “Olympic Turmoil: Why the Soviets Said Nyet.” Here you have a menacing (and slightly psychotic-looking) Russian bear chewing on the Olympic rings:
There are other options, of course, if you don’t want to go with the anthropomorphic bear. In late 2014, The Economist pulled off a story about “Russia’s Wounded Economy” after Western sanctions and falling oil prices — it showed a bear stalking through the wintry, Siberian snow with bloody footprints:
But you probably want to emphasize either the claws or teeth of the Russian bear, right? So here’s a terrifying image of a Russian bear “welcoming” U.S. President Barack Obama to Moscow:
OPTION 2: Go with Vladimir Putin
The next best choice after using the Russian bear is the image of Vladimir Putin. After all, in the minds of most Western readers, Putin is Russia and Russia is Putin.
If you’re ready to head down this road, then an image of an evil James Bond villain, hatching a diabolical plot to take over the world, might work. This 2014 Newsweek cover of Putin, showing him and the menacing sunglasses, is a classic:
To play up the Soviet spy background of Putin, you could try using an image of him wearing sunglasses in a grim-looking Red Square (Gray Square!):
A variant of the James Bond villain look is the classic “moody Putin” look that’s been around for almost a decade. This image somehow captures the Western perception of Russia as a vast, unsmiling wasteland full of snow, ice and a vast moral void. Who better to run that country than an unsmiling dictator? What started it all was this TIME magazine cover naming Putin as “Person of the Year”:
From there, the moody, unsmiling Putin image took off. Pull your camera angle back from the close-up of Putin’s face and you get this — “the unsmiling tsar”:
Which, of course, led to the cover of this 2015 book by Steven Lee Myers of the New York Times:
Of course, the moody, unsmiling, sour-looking Putin can be updated to make him look like a gangster:
Or a Mario Puzo-style mafia don:
If you really want to grab the reader’s attention, though, go for the shirtless Putin. The shirtless Vladimir Putin is a classic Internet meme, of course. (Google: Shirtless Putin hummingbird hamster) The meme of a shirtless Putin doing manly things is so popular that “The Simpsons” even used the image of a completely naked Putin on horseback (bareback?) around the time of the Crimea crisis:
Look long enough, and you start to see images of shirtless Vladimir Putins Photoshopped on top of everything. So it’s perhaps no big surprise that the shirtless Vladimir Putin has ended up on the cover of a few major magazines, including this classic Economist cover where he’s shirtless on top of a Russian tank:
And shirtless while playing poker:
But, if you want an image of Putin, and you also want to keep things classy, how about a mashup of Putin and a classic symbol of Russian culture, like ballet or ice skating? In 2014, The New Yorker pulled off a cover of Putin, pirouetting through the air during the Sochi Winter Olympics, while a bunch of Putin yes-man clones give him top marks for his performance:
And, here’s another cover featuring Putin as an ice skater, this time from The Economist:
But here’s the twist — note the fallen Russian figure skater on the ice and the suggestion that the Sochi Olympics were basically a giant personal ego project for Putin. (Also note the subtext of the imagery — whereas Putin usually opts for “macho” sports like hunting, swimming and hockey, this cover shows him as a slightly effeminate ice skater. Look at the hands!!!)
OPTION 3: Go with a classic image of Russia, slightly twisted
If you’re tired of using the Russian bear image and you’re concerned that putting Vladimir Putin on the cover of your magazine might create a few unsavory possibilities for your editorial team (Russian spies! Russian mafia! Russian hooligans!), there’s the old standby — the matryoshka image. This, of course, conveys the enigmatic nature of Russia — the old “riddle inside an enigma wrapped in a mystery” of Winston Churchill:
But why stop there? To convey the threatening nature of all things Russia, maybe it’s just easier just to come out and show the Russian missiles, tanks, weapons and troops directly:
What all these magazine covers have in common, of course, is their Russophobia. These magazine covers are not so much different from the images that appeared a hundred years ago, when Russia really was an enigma unknown to the West. In fact, the image of Russia as a big, clumsy and aggressive state dates all the way back to the 16th century, and not much seems to have changed since then.
There’s always been a sense in Western media circles that a giant power in the middle of the Eurasian landmass posed a threat to someone — and maybe to everyone:
Although, in all fairness, the image of the Russian bear is probably preferable to the image of the Russian octopus:
Which leads to the obvious question — Are these images of Russia from 100 years ago really so much different from the images appearing today in Western mass media?
At a time when the Kremlin has called on the Culture Ministry to investigate anti-Russian propaganda and Russophobia in the West, this question isn’t very hard to answer.
Dominic Basulto is the author of the new book Russophobia.
Photo by Jamelle Bouie | CC BY 2.0
According to the mainstream media, in a recent speech in West Palm Beach, Donald Trump finally completely lost it. Sawing the air with his tiny hands in a unmistakeably Hitlerian manner, he spat out a series of undeniably hateful anti-Semitic code words … like “political establishment,” “global elites” and, yes, “international banks.” He even went so far as to claim that “corporations” and their (ahem) “lobbyists” have millions of dollars at stake in this election, and are trying to pass the TTP, not to benefit the American people, but simply to enrich themselves. He then went on to accuse the media of collaborating with “the Clinton machine,” presumably to benefit these “global elites” and “international banks” and “lobbyists.”
Now, a lot of folks didn’t immediately recognize the secret meanings of these fascistic code words, and so mistakenly assumed that “global elites” referred to the transnational capitalist ruling classes, and that “lobbyists” referred to actual lobbyists, and that “banks” meant … well … you know, banks. As it turned out, this was completely wrong. None of these words actually meant what they meant, not in anti-Semitic CodeSpeak. So the mainstream media translated for us. “Political establishment” meant “the Jews.” “Global elites” also meant “the Jews.” “Banks” meant “Jews.” “Lobbyists” meant “Jews.” Even “corporate media,” meant “Jews.” Apparently, Trump’s entire speech was a series of secret dog-whistle signals to his legions of neo-Nazi goons, who, immediately following Clinton’s victory, are going to storm out of their hidey holes, frontally attack the US military, overthrow the US government, and, yes, you guessed it … “kill the Jews.”
OK, maybe I’m exaggerating the mainstream media’s reaction just a little bit. Or maybe Trump’s speech really was that fascistic. Judge for yourself. Read the transcript. (NPR offers a complete version of it here.) Then compare the reactions of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Washington Post, The Inquirer, The Guardian, and other leading broadsheets, and magazines and blogs like Mother Jones, Forward, Slate, Salon, Vox, Alternet, and a host of others, most of which rely on Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League and former Special Assistant to the President, as their authoritative source on Trumpian cryptology. (Mr. Greenblatt, incidentally, should know better, given the treatment he has received from hard-line Zionist publications for refusing to demonize Black Lives Matter, and for “taking sides against” the State of Israel.)
Look, I’m not defending Donald Trump, who I consider a self-aggrandizing idiot and a soulless huckster of the lowest order, and whose supporters include a lot of real anti-Semites, and racists, and misogynists, and other such creeps. I’m simply trying to point out how the corporate media have, for months, been playing the same hysterical tune like an enormous Goebbelsian keyboard instrument, and how millions of Americans are singing along (as they were before the invasion of Iraq, which posed no threat to the USA , but which according to the media had WMDs), and how terribly fucking disturbing that is. In case you didn’t instantly recognize it, the name of the tune is “This guy is Hitler!” and it isn’t the short vulgarian fingers of Donald Trump that are tickling the ivories. And no, it isn’t “the Jews” either. It’s the corporate media, and the corporations that own them, and the rest of the global capitalist ruling classes … in other words, those “global elites.”
The thing I find particularly disturbing is how these rather mundane observations — i.e., (a) that a global ruling class exists, (b) that it’s primarily corporate in character, (c) that this class is pursuing its interests and not the interests of sovereign states — how such observations are being stigmatized as the ravings of unhinged anti-Semites. This stigmatization is not limited to Trumpists. Anyone to the left of Clinton is now, apparently, an anti-Semite. For example, Roger Cohen, in The New York Times, riding the tsunami of condemnation of the insidious verbiage of Trump’s West Palm speech, executed an extended smear-job on Jeremy Corbyn and his “Corbynistas” (they’re fond of coining these epithets, the media), denouncing their virulent “anti-Americanism,” “anti-Capitalism,” “anti-globalism,” and “anti-Semitic anti-Zionism.”
Which, let me hasten to add, and stress, and underscore, and repeatedly emphasize, is not to imply that the Labour Party, or the British Left, or the American Left, or any other Left, is anti-Semitism-free. Of course not. There are anti-Semites everywhere. That isn’t the point. Or it isn’t my point.
My point is that this stigmatization campaign is part of a much larger ideological project, one that has little to do with Trump, or Jeremy Corbyn, or their respective parties. Smearing one’s political opponents is nothing new, of course, it’s as old as the hills. But what we’re witnessing is more than smears. As I proposed in these pages back in July, political dissent is being gradually pathologized (i.e., stigmatized as aberrant or “abnormal” behavior, as opposed to a position meriting discussion). Consider the abnormalization of Sanders, back when he was talking about “banks,” “global elites,” and other things that matter, or the media’s portrayal of British voters as racists in the wake of the Brexit referendum. And, yes, the charges being leveled against Trump, much as we might despise the man. Anti-Semitism, inciting violence, paranoid conspiracy theorizing, insurrection, treason, et cetera — these are not legitimate arguments one needs to counter with superior arguments; they are symptoms of deviations from a norm, signs of criminality or pathology, which is increasingly how the corporate ruling classes are dismissing anyone who attempts to challenge them.
A line is being drawn in the ideological sand. On one side of it are the decent people, the normal people, in their business wear, with their university degrees, and prescriptions, and debts. On the other side are … well, the deplorables, the ignorant, racist, anti-Semitic, neo-nationalist, populist extremists. This line cuts through both the Left and the Right … supersedes both Left and Right, making bedfellows of supposed adversaries like Obama, Clinton, Kagan, Wolfowitz, Scowcroft, and their ilk on the Normal team, and a motley crew of Trumpists, Putinists, European populists, Corbynistas, Sandernistas, socialists, anarchists, Wikileakers, anti-Zionists, anti-capitalists, neo-Nazis, Black Lives Matterers, angry Greek pensioners, environmental activists, religious zealots, the Klu Klux Klan, David Graeber, most of the contributors to CounterPunch, and various other “extremist” types, many of whom detest each other, in the Deplorables’ current starting line-up.
The corporate media is sending a message … a message aimed at a much broader audience than undecided American voters (assuming such creatures really exist). The message is, “get with the fucking program, or get stigmatized as an anti-Semite, or a racist, or a Russian spy, or whatever.” The message is, “drop the populist rhetoric, shut the hell up about the Wall Street banks, and the corporations, and the ‘one percent,’ and … actually … forget about politics completely, except for identity politics, of course. Go ahead and knock yourself out with that.” The message is, “you’re either with us or against us … and it doesn’t matter why you’re against us, or what it is you think you’re for. Right, Left … who gives a shit? It’s one big Basket of Deplorables to us.”
This message, of course, displays many of the hallmarks of the classic authoritarian mentality, the need for nearly total conformity, mindless allegiance to one’s so-called superiors, delegitimization of all opposing viewpoints, and the infantile type of hero-worship figures like Obama and Clinton inspire … not the old-fashioned authoritarianism that would-be despots like Trump represent, but, rather, a more attractive version, a hopey, changey, lovey version, where there are no frightening Hitlerian leaders barking out anti-Semitic code words, and no one is exterminating thousands of people in faraway countries they want to destabilize in order to entirely dominate the region. No, this is the version where Obama sells the TPP on the Jimmy Fallon show, and wars of aggression are not wars of aggression, but “humanitarian interventions.” It’s also the version where universal healthcare is, regrettably, “unrealistic,” but $38 billion for the State of Israel so it can operate its Apartheid State, and weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, so they can bomb the shit out of farmers in Yemen, and cut off people’s heads for blasphemy, is somehow in “America’s vital interests.”
But what do I know? I’m just a satirist. I should probably leave all this complex stuff, like what is and isn’t in my interest, and what words really mean and all that, to the experts in the mainstream media. Since they did so well decoding Trump’s speech, maybe they could translate some of these other code words I’ve been having trouble with, like the ones I put in scare quotes above, or other such code words, like “enemy combatant,” “free trade agreement,” “security barrier,” “indefinite detention,” “targeted killing,” or “troubled asset relief program.”
I could go on, but I probably shouldn’t. Odds are, I’m already on the list of Putin-worshiping, anti-Semitic, racist, misogynist, neo-nationalist, non-standing up for the National Anthem, conspiracy theorizing America-haters. The last thing I need to do at this point is start jabbering about how the United States is an authoritarian corporatist dystopia ruled by a global capitalist elite that couldn’t give less of a shit about Americans (or any other actual people living in any other actual countries), where the corporate media can whip up mass fanatical support for wars of aggression, or corporate puppets, by pointing their fingers at yet another bogeyman and shouting “Hitler” at the top of their lungs. Next thing you know I’d be writing about “banks,” and “global corporations,” and “national sovereignty,” and we all know what that’s about, don’t we?
C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright and satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (UK) and Broadway Play Publishing (US). He can reached at his website, cjhopkins.com, or at consentfactory.org.