US IMPERIALISM IN LATIN AMERICA CONTINUES: IT IS TIME FOR THE PEACE MOVEMENT TO SAY “NO”

by Harry Targ

“The Maduro government in Venezuela has been waging a violent crackdown on Venezuelan civil society, violated the constitution by dissolving the National Assembly and was re-elected last year in an election that many observers said was fraudulent. Further, the economy is a disaster and millions are migrating.

“The United States should support the rule of law, fair elections and self-determination for the Venezuelan people. We must condemn the use of violence against unarmed protesters and the suppression of dissent. However, we must learn the lessons of the past and not be in the business of regime change or supporting coups – as we have in Chile, Guatemala, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic. The United States has a long history of inappropriately intervening in Latin American countries; we must not go down that road again.”  (Statement issued by Senator Bernie Sanders, January 24, 2019).

Progressives Need to Move Beyond Stances Based on Critiques of Both Sides to Address US Imperialism

The world again enters an economic, political, and military crisis in the Western Hemisphere. It remains important to historicize and contextualize this week’s call by the United States and 10 hemisphere countries for President Nicholas Maduro to step down as President of Venezuela. The sub-text of statements from the United States, the Organization of American States, and numerous right-leaning governments in Latin America is “or else” or “all options are on the table;” meaning that there might be a military intervention to overthrow the government of Venezuela. For many who are learning about US imperialism for the first time, it is important to revisit the history of the Western Hemisphere and to contextualize a regional crisis which is misrepresented throughout the mainstream media. And after revisiting this history it becomes clear that a progressive position, such as that of Senator Bernie Sanders, is inadequate. The peace movement needs to infuse political discourse with a twenty-first century anti-imperialist agenda.

A Brief History  As Greg Grandin argues in “Empire’s Workshop,” the rise of the United States as a global empire begins in the Western Hemisphere. For example, the Spanish/Cuban/American war provided the occasion for the United States to develop a two-ocean navy, fulfilling Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt’s dreams. After interfering in the Cuban Revolution in 1898 defeating Spain, the United States attacked the Spanish outpost in the Philippines, thus becoming a global power. Latin American interventionism throughout the Western Hemisphere, sending troops into Central American and Caribbean countries thirty times between the 1890s and 1933, (including a Marine occupation of Haiti from 1915 until 1934), “tested” what would become after World War II a pattern of covert interventions and wars in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

The Western Hemisphere was colonized by Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, and France from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries. The main source of accumulated wealth that funded the rise of capitalism as a world system came from raw material and slave labor in the Western Hemisphere: gold, silver, sugar, coffee, tea, cocoa, and later oil. What Marx called the stage of “primitive accumulation,” was a period in world history governed by land grabs, mass slaughter of indigenous peoples, expropriation of natural resources, and the capture, transport, and enslavement of millions of African people. Conquest, land occupation, and dispossession was coupled with the institutionalization of a Church that would convince the survivors of this stage of capitalism’s development that all was “God’s plan.”

Imperial expansion generated resistance throughout this history.  In the nineteenth century countries and peoples achieved their formal independence from colonial rule. Simon Bolivar, the nineteenth century leader of resistance, spoke for national sovereignty in Latin America.But from 1898 until the present, the Western Hemisphere has been shaped by US efforts to replace the traditional colonial powers with neo-colonial regimes. Economic institutions, class systems, militaries, and religious institutions were influenced by United States domination of the region.In the period of the Cold War, 1945-1991, the United States played the leading role in overthrowing the reformist government of Jacob Arbenz in Guatemala (1954), Salvador Allende in Chile (1973), and gave support to brutal military dictatorships in the 1970s in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. Also, the United States supported dictatorship in Haiti from 1957 until 1986. The Reagan administration engaged in a decade-long war on Central America in the 1980s.  In 1965 the United States sent thousands of marines to the Dominican Republic to forestall nationalist Juan Bosch from returning to power and in 1989 to overthrow the government of Manuel Noriega in Panama. (This was a prelude to Gulf War I against Iraq).

From 1959 until today the United States has sought through attempted military intervention, economic blockade, cultural intrusion, and international pressures to undermine, weaken, and destroy the Cuban Revolution.

Often during this dark history US policymakers have sought to mask interventionism in the warm glow of economic development. President Kennedy called for an economic development program in Latin America, called the Alliance for Progress and Operation Bootstrap for Puerto Rico. Even the harsh “shock therapy” of neoliberalism imposed on Bolivia in the 1980s was based upon the promise of rapid economic development in that country.

The Bolivarian Revolution  The 21st century has witnessed a variety of forms of resistance to the drive for global hegemony and the perpetuation of neoliberal globalization. First, the two largest economies in the world, China and India, have experienced economic growth rates well in excess of the industrial capitalist countries. China has developed a global export and investment program in Latin America and Africa that exceeds that of the United States and Europe.
On the Latin American continent, under the leadership and inspiration of former President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela launched the latest round of state resistance to the colossus of the north, with his Bolivarian Revolution. He planted the seeds of socialism at home and encouraged Latin Americans to participate in the construction of financial institutions and economic assistance programs to challenge the traditional hegemony of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization.

The Bolivarian Revolution stimulated political change based on varying degrees of grassroots democratization, the construction of workers’ cooperatives, and a shift from neoliberal economic policies to economic populism. A Bolivarian Revolution was being constructed with a growing web of participants: Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and, of course, Cuba.  It was hoped that after the premature death of Chavez in 2013, the Bolivarian Revolution would continue in Venezuela and throughout the region. But the economic ties and political solidarity of progressive regimes, hemisphere regional institutions, and grassroots movements have been challenged by declining oil prices and economic errors by Maduro; increasing covert intervention in Venezuelan affairs by the United States; a US-encouraged shift to the right by “soft coups” in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Ecuador; and a more aggressive United States foreign policy toward Latin America. Governments supportive of Latin American solidarity with Venezuela have been undermined and/or defeated in elections in Honduras, Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina, and now attacks have escalated against what National Security Advisor John Bolton calls “the troika of tyranny;” Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba.  As Vijay Prashad puts it: “Far right leaders in the hemisphere (Bolsonaro, Márquez, and Trump) salivate at the prospect of regime change in each of these countries. They want to eviscerate the “pink tide” from the region” (Vijay Prashad, thetricontinental.org, January 20, 2019).

Special Dilemmas Latin Americans Face  Historically all Western Hemisphere countries have been shaped and distorted in their economies, polities, and cultures by colonialism and neo-colonialism. They have also been shaped by their long histories of resistance to outside forces seeking to develop imperial hegemony. Latin American history is both a history of oppression, exploitation, and violence, and confrontation with mass movements of various kinds. The Bolivarian Revolution of the twenty-first century is the most recent exemplar of grassroots resistance against neo-colonial domination. Armed with this historical understanding several historical realities bear on the current threats to the Venezuelan government.

First, every country, with the exception of Cuba, experiences deep class divisions. Workers, peasants, the new precariat, people of color, youth, and women face off against very wealthy financiers, entrepreneurs, and industrialists, often with family ties, as well as corporate ties, with the United States. Whether one is trying to understand the soft coup in Brazil, the instability in Nicaragua, or the deep divisions in Venezuela, class struggle is a central feature of whatever conflicts are occurring.

Second, United States policy in the administrations of both political parties is fundamentally driven by opposition to the full independence of Latin America. US policy throughout the new century has been inalterably opposed to the Bolivarian Revolution. Consequently, a centerpiece of United States policy is to support by whatever means the wealthy classes in each country.

Third, as a byproduct of the colonial and neo-colonial stages in the region, local ruling classes and their North American allies have supported the creation of sizable militaries. Consequently, in political and economic life, the military remains a key actor in each country in the region. Most often, the military serves the interests of the wealthy class (or is part of it), and works overtly or covertly to resist democracy, majority rule, and the grassroots. Consequently, each progressive government in the region has had to figure out how to relate to the military. In the case of Chile, President Allende assumed the military would stay neutral in growing political disputes among competing class forces. But the Nixon Administration was able to identify and work with generals who ultimately carried out a military coup against the popular elected socialist government of Chile. So far in the Venezuelan case, the military seems to be siding with the government. Chavez himself was a military officer. Fourth, given the rise of grassroots movements, the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela began to support “dual power,” particularly at the local level. Along with political institutions that traditionally were controlled by the rich and powerful, new local institutions of popular power were created. The establishment of popular power has been a key feature of many governments ever since the Cuban Revolution. Popular power, to varying degrees, is replicated in economic institutions, in culture, and in community life such that in Venezuela and elsewhere workers and peasants see their own empowerment as tied to the survival of revolutionary governments. In short, defense of the Maduro government, depends on the continuing support of the grassroots and the military.Fifth, the governments of the Bolivarian Revolution face many obstacles. Small but powerful capitalist classes is one. Persistent United States covert operations and military bases throughout the region is another. And, perhaps most importantly, given the hundreds of years of colonial and neo-colonial rule, Latin American economies remain distorted by over-reliance on small numbers of raw materials and, as a result of pressure from international financial institutions, on export of selected products such as agricultural crops. In other words, historically Latin American economies have been distorted by the pressure on them to create one-crop economies to serve the interests of powerful capitalist countries, not diversified economies to serve the people.Finally, and more speculatively, United States policy toward the region from time to time is affected by the exigencies of domestic politics. For example, the Trump Administration verbal threats against Venezuela are being articulated as the president’s domestic fortunes are being challenged by the threat of impeachment and confrontations with the new Congressional leadership. War often masks domestic troubles.

Where do Progressives Stand First, and foremost, progressives should prioritize an understanding of imperialism, colonialism, neocolonialism, and the role of Latin American as the “laboratory” for testing United States interventionist foreign policies. This means that critics of US imperialism can be most effective by avoiding “purity tests” when contemplating political activism around US foreign policy. One cannot forget the connections between current patterns of policy toward Venezuela, with the rhetoric, the threats, the claims, and US policies toward Guatemala, Haiti, the Domincan Republic, Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, and in the new century, Bolivia, Venezuela, Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina.

Second, progressives need to show solidarity with grassroots movements in the region, support human rights, oppose military interventions, and demand the closure of the myriad of United States military bases in the region and end training military personnel from the region. (When citizens raise concerns about other countries interfering in the US political system, it is hypocritical for the United States to interfere in the political and economic lives of other countries in Latin America.).

Finally, progressives must oppose all United States foreign policies that are designed to maintain twenty-first century forms of imperialism in the Western Hemisphere. Support for progressive candidates for public office should require that they oppose economic blockades, punishing austerity programs imposed by international financial institutions, the maintenance of US ties with ruling classes in the region; essentially all forms of interference in the economic and political life of the region. And, as progressives correctly proclaim about domestic life, their candidates should be in solidarity with the poor, oppressed, and marginalized people of the Western Hemisphere. Progressives cannot with integrity support the “99 percent” in the United States against the “1 percent” without giving similar support for the vast majority of workers, farmers, women, people of color, and indigenous people throughout the hemisphere. And if it is true that US policy toward Latin America is a laboratory for its policy globally, the same standard should be applied to United States policy globally.

The time has come for the articulation of a comprehensive stand against United States imperialism in the Western Hemisphere, and around the world. (A useful history of United States interventionism can be found in Stephen Kinzer, Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq,

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized

REMEMBERING THE PERMANENT WAR ECONOMY

https://heartlandradical.blogspot.com/2018/11/remembering-permanent-war-economy.html

Written nearly 10 years ago…

In the Beginning

After suffering the greatest economic depression in United States history, this country participated in a war-time coalition with Great Britain and the former Soviet Union to defeat fascism in Europe and Japanese imperialism in Asia. As a result of the economic mobilization for war, the United States economy grew to become the most powerful one by war’s end. By 1945, Americans were responsible for three-fourths of the world’s invested capital and controlled two-thirds of its industrial capacity. Near the end of World War II, General Electric CEO Charles Wilson recommended that the U.S. continue the wartime partnership between the government, the corporate sector, and the military to maintain what he called a “permanent war economy.” He and others feared the possibility of return to depression.  Read the whole article.

Posted in Uncategorized

How America’s War-Financing Strategies Increase Social Inequality in the U.S.

alternet.org

By Stephanie Savell / Tom Dispatch

In the name of the fight against terrorism, the United States is currently waging “credit-card wars” in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere. Never before has this country relied so heavily on deficit spending to pay for its conflicts. The consequences are expected to be ruinous for the long-term fiscal health of the U.S., but they go far beyond the economic. Massive levels of war-related debt will have lasting repercussions of all sorts. One potentially devastating effect, a new study finds, will be more societal inequality.

Read more

Posted in Uncategorized

Divest From War Campaign

img.alternet.org

Congress Keeps Funding a War Machine That the Public Should Divest From

By Medea Benjamin, Elliot Swain / AlterNet

Photo Credit: specnaz / Shutterstock.com

In recent budget negotiations, Senate Democrats agreed to a boost in military spending that exceeded the cap for fiscal 2018 by $70 billion, bringing the total request to an enormous $716 billion. Inevitably, this means more Pentagon contracts will be awarded to private corporations that use endless war to line their pockets. Democrats capitulated to this massive increase without so much as a scuffle. But the move hardly comes as a surprise, given how much money flows from weapons makers to the coffers of congressional campaigns for both parties.

While the majority of the weapons money goes to Republicans, Democratic Senators Tim Kaine and Bill Nelson appear in the top ten recipients of campaign contributions–in both chambers and parties–from military contractors in 2017 and 2018. Northrop Grumman gave$785,000 to Democratic candidates since 2017.Hillary Clinton took over $1 million from the industry in 2016. Even progressive darlings like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders take money from weapons manufacturers, and Sanders supported Boeing’s disastrous F-35 because his home state had a financial stake in the program.

If neither major political party will stand up to this status quo, what can be done?

One answer might be found in the recent push to divest from fossil fuel companies undertaken by, among others, Norway and New York City. By December of 2016, 688 institutions, representing over $5 trillion in assets, had divested from fossil fuels. In an interview with The Guardian, author Naomi Klein described the fossil fuel divestment effort as “a process of delegitimizing” the sector and of affirming that it yields “odious profits.”

An analogous campaign to delegitimize beneficiaries of war is long overdue. In addition to pressuring our members of Congress to refuse campaign donations from weapons manufacturers and war profiteers, we must mount a divestment effort at the institutional and municipal level. Investment in war must come at the cost of public disgrace.

University students can request holdings information from their schools. Often, investments in military corporations are bundled into more complex financial instruments whose investments are not publicly disclosed. The content of these instruments can be determined by contacting a university board of trustees or endowment manager. Then a divestment campaign can be launched, building campus coalitions, creating petitions, organizing direct actions and passing resolutions through student government bodies. A helpful guide for student activists can be found here.

Activists can launch municipal divestment efforts by determining the holdings of city pension, utility, or insurance funds. In 2017 the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the national association of cities with populations over 30,000, adopted a resolution acknowledging the need to transform funding priorities away from war-making and into local communities. Divestment campaigns can leverage this resolution in order to hold city leaders to their word. More information for activists at the city level is available here.

Divestment offers an alternate means of addressing the blight of war profiteering in an era in which traditional political routes have been closed by our craven representatives. It also brings the message into smaller communities–communities that crumble while defense contractors live in luxury.

A new coalition of about 70 groups across the country has formed to launch a Divest From the War Machine campaign. The coalition is inviting all those who are disgusted by the war profiteers to help galvanize university, city, pension and faith institutions to divest from war. Learn more at: //www.divestfromwarmachine.org/

In a 2015 speech to the U.S. Congress, the very Congress that is so beholden to the war machine, Pope Francis asked why deadly weapons were being sold to those who inflict untold suffering on society. The answer, he said, was money, “money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.” Looking at a room full of congresspeople who benefit from what he called “merchants of death,” the Pope called for the elimination of the arms trade. One way to heed the Pope’s call is to eat away at the profits of those who make a killing on killing.

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of the peace group CodePink. Her latest book is Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection (OR Books, September 2016).

Elliot Swain is a Baltimore-based activist, public policy graduate student and researcher for CODEPINK.

Posted in Uncategorized

Medea Benjamin: 10 Good Things About 2017

When I recently asked a prominent activist how she was doing, she took my hands, looked me in the eyes and said, “Everything I’ve been working on for 50 years has gone down the toilet.” With so many good people feeling depressed, let’s point to the positive things that happened, even in this really, really bad year.

1. #MeToo movement has empowered victims of sexual harassment and assault, and encouraged accountability. Those two small words defined a social media-based movement in which women,  and some men, have come forward to publicly share their stories of sexual assault and harassment, and expose their abusers. The movement—and fallout—spread globally, with the hashtag trending in at least 85 countries. The bravery and solidarity of these victims of sexual abuse will help build a future in which impunity for sexual predators is no longer the norm.

2. The year has seen an explosion of grassroots organizing, protest, and activism. An active and uncompromising spirit of revolt has blossomed in the face of a frightening political climate during Donald Trump’s presidency. On January 21, two million people took to the streets in Women’s Marches across the world as a show of solidarity against Trump’s vile and misogynistic rhetoric.

On January 29, thousands gathered in airports around the country to protest Trump’s xenophobic and unconstitutional Muslim ban. In April, 200,000 people joined the People’s Climate March to stand up to the administration’s reckless stance on climate. In July, disability rights activists staged countless actions on Capitol Hill in response to the GOP’s cruel and life-threatening healthcare bill.

In November and December, “Dreamers” protected by Obama’s provision called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) stormed the Hill to demand a replacement for that program, which Trump ended in September.

New groups like Indivisible have helped millions of Americans confront their members of Congress, roughly 24,000 people joined the Democratic Socialists of America, and organizations like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood have seen massive surges in donations.

3. We’re already seeing rebukes of Trump at the ballot box. A wave of Democratic electoral victories swept some unlikely regions of the country, showing popular rejection of Donald Trump and his party. Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie, who ran a shameless race-baiting campaign, lost by a wide margin to Democrat Ralph Northam in Virginia.

In New Jersey, Phil Murphy handily defeated Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, making that state the seventh in the nation with Democratic control over legislative and executive branches. In Alabama’s special election to fill Jeff Sessions’ vacant Senate seat, Democrat Doug Jones took the lead over alleged sexual predator Roy Moore—an astonishing win in a deep red state, propelled largely by Black voters.

Danica Roem in Virginia, who ran against a virulently anti-LGBTQ opponent, became the first openly transgender person elected as a US legislator. Her win ended 26 years of Republican rule in that district. And in Virginia’s 50th district, self-described democratic socialist Lee Carter defeated powerful Republican delegate Jackson Miller.

4. The first group of J20 protesters, people arrested in Washington DC on the day of Trump’s inauguration, were found not guilty. It was a scary year for the 194 protesters, journalists and medics facing multiple felony charges, including rioting and property destruction, that could have resulted in prison terms of up to 60 years.

The state’s attempt to collectively punish almost 200 people for property destruction committed by a handful is an outrageous example of judicial overreach in an era in which First Amendment rights are under siege. On December 21, however, the jury returned 42 separate not-guilty verdicts for the first six defendants to stand trial. Their acquittal on all charges hopefully portends more non-guilty verdicts for the remaining 188 defendants and gives a boost to our basic rights of free speech and assembly.

5. Chelsea Manning was released from prison after 7 years. Army Pvt. Manning was first detained in 2010 and ultimately convicted of violating the Espionage Act after she leaked troves of documents exposing abuses by the US military, including a video of American helicopters firing on unarmed civilians in Baghdad, Iraq. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

She developed post-traumatic stress disorder in prison and was repeatedly denied medical treatment for her gender dysphoria. The Army finally granted her the treatment after she went on a hunger strike. On January 17, 2017, President Obama commuted Manning’s sentence, and she was released in May. We owe Chelsea Manning a debt of gratitude for her tenacious commitment to exposing the crimes of U.S. empire.

6. Cities and states have committed to positive climate initiatives, despite federal regression. Twenty states and 110 cities signed “America’s Pledge,” a commitment to stick to Obama-era climate goals even after Trump’s disastrous decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords. In December, a group of 36 cities signed the “Chicago Charter,” an agreement to reduce greenhouse emissions and monitor each others progress. These pacts demonstrate popular sentiment and political will, at the local, city and state level, to fight the corporate oligarchs who perpetuate climate chaos.

7. Trump’s presidency has deepened the critical national conversation about racism and white supremacy. The Black Lives Matter movement, which started under Obama’s administration, exposed this nation’s systemic racism. The victory of Donald Trump emboldened white supremacists, as evidenced in the violent Charlottesville neo-Nazi rally in August.

But the year has also seen a wave of opposition to racism, Islamophobia and anti-semitism that includes the toppling of confederate flags and statues, confronting hate speech, demanding the removal of white supremacists Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka and Stephen Miller from the White House (two of the three are gone), and building strong interfaith alliances locally and nationally.

8. This was the year the world said no to nuclear weapons. While Donald Trump taunted North Korea’s Kim Jung Un (“Little Rocket Man”) and threatened to tear up the Iran nuclear deal, on July 7, 122 of the world’s nations showed their rejection of nuclear weapons by adopting an historic Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty. The treaty, opposed by all nine nuclear states, is now open for signatures and the ban will come into effect 90 days after being ratified by 50 states.

The organization that promoted this ban is The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), an alliance of 450 nongovernmental organizations in about 100 countries. It was thrilling to learn that ICAN was awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. The treaty and the Peace Prize are indications that despite the intransigence of the nuclear-armed states, the global community is determined to ban nuclear weapons.

9. ISIS no longer has a caliphate. For peace activists, it’s hard to put forth military actions as victories, especially when these actions incur a large civilian toll. This is indeed the case with ISIS, where at least 9,000 civilians were killed in the battle to retake the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

But we do have to acknowledge that taking away ISIS’ territorial base has put a stop to some of the group’s horrific human rights abuses. It will also hopefully make it easier to find a settlement to the dreadful wars that have been raging in Syria and Iraq, and give our government one less excuse for dumping so much of our resources into the military.

10. The global community stood up to Trump’s stance on Jerusalem. In a stinging rebuke of President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel, 128 countries, including some of the US’s most trusted and reliable allies, voted in favor of a United Nations resolution calling for a reversal of his position.

Despite the threat from US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley that the US would be“taking names” of those who voted against it, only nine countries voted with the US and 25 abstained. The resolution isn’t binding, but it’s a stark illustration of just how isolated the United States is in its stance toward Israel.

As we head into the new year, let’s keep ourselves inspired by the hard work of folks at home and abroad who gave us something to cheer about for 2017. May we have a much longer list in 2018.

(This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License)

Posted in Uncategorized

North Korea: The Costs of War, Calculated

By ,

Donald Trump is contemplating wars that would dwarf anything that his immediate predecessors ever considered.

He has dropped the mother of all bombs in Afghanistan, and he’s considering the mother of all wars in the Middle East. He is abetting Saudi Arabia’s devastating war in Yemen. Many evangelicals are welcoming his announcement of U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as a sign that the end of days is nigh. The conflict with Iran is about to heat up early next year when Trump, in the absence of any congressional action, will decide whether to fulfill his promise to tear up the nuclear agreement that the Obama administration worked so hard to negotiate and the peace movement backed with crucial support.

But no war has acquired quite the same apparent inevitability as the conflict with North Korea. Here in Washington, pundits and policymakers are talking about a “three-month window” within which the Trump administration can stop North Korea from acquiring the capability to strike U.S. cities with nuclear weapons.

Read the full article.

Posted in Uncategorized

America Has Taken Nearly 70% of the World’s Wealth Gains Since 2012

alternet.org

Incentive for Terrorism: America Has Taken Nearly 70% of the World’s Wealth Gains Since 2012

By Paul Buchheit / AlterNet

America’s super-rich are taking not just from their own nation, but from the rest of the world. Data from the 2017 Global Wealth Databook and various war reports help to explain why U.S. citizens are alienating people outside our borders.

From 2012 to 2017, global wealth increased by $37.7 trillion, and U.S. wealth increased by $26 trillion. Largely because of a surging stock market, our nation took nearly 70 percent of the entire global wealth gain over the past five years. Based on their dominant share of U.S. wealth, America’s richest 10 percent—much less than 1 percent of the world’s adult population—took over half the world’s wealth gain in the past five years.

Wealth in the Volatile Middle East Has Declined

It’s not surprising that young men in the Middle East and Africa would harbor resentment against a country that takes the great majority of the wealth—especially considering that the most troubled areas of the world have collectively lost wealth between 2012 and 2017. That’s both average wealth and median wealth.

Although the GWD has limited data about individual nations in the Middle East and Africa, some is available. Median wealth has plummeted in Syria and Iran and Yemen. It has gone down by almost half in all of Africa. Wealth levels are crashing in the areas of the world where we wage war.

We’re Bombing Nations That Aren’t Terrorist Threats

An explosion jolted Basim awake, and he could see the night sky through the massive hole in his bombed-out Iraqi house. “Mayada!” he screamed for his wife. No response from her, or from his daughter Tuqa…. In the hospital days later, Basim lifted his phone and looked at the smiling images of a wife and daughter he would never see again. He began to sob uncontrollably.

One would think that a nation monopolizing the world’s new wealth would avoid alienating the victims of inequality. But it’s just the opposite. The U.S. dropped thousands of bombs on seven Middle Eastern and African countries in 2016. Estimates of civilian deaths by airwar monitoring groups surpass official Pentagon numbers by a wide margin.

For the desperate residents of Yemen, attacks by Saudi Arabia continue with American weapons, using American targeting data and delivered by American jets. Power and water facilities have been destroyed. Supply lines have been cut. Hospitals have been bombed, and a cholera epidemic is raging out of control.

In Africa, the Pentagon is engaged in about 100 missions in 20 African countries. That includes Somalia, which has been the target of a wave of new U.S. bombings in 2017, even though that country is one of the Middle Eastern states that “are not serious terrorism risks,” according to the Cato Institute. The bombing campaign in Somalia is waged with no public debate or congressional authorization. Since 2001 the Authorization for Use of Military Force Act has been used to justify deadly attacks on any newly feared potential enemy, under the guise of taking aggressive action on any nation that might have “planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks” of 9/11.

Apology to the Troops

Big money interests have turned America into a financial machine, accumulating more and more tax-deferred wealth through the stock market, and using the media to frighten us with overblown terrorist threats. At the same time, Americans are brainwashed into believing that we’re forever fighting a war for freedom. But freedom has become a distorted concept in our increasingly unequal nation. Young lives are put at risk to ensure that a few thousand American households are free to take most of the wealth.

Paul Buchheit is the author of “Disposable Americans” (2017). He is an advocate for social and economic justice. His essays, videos, and poems can be found at YouDeserveFacts.org.

Posted in Uncategorized