Top Five Worst US-Supported Dictators

With friends like these, who needs democracy?

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1. Suharto

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Between 1965-6, Indonesian dictator Suharto carried out mass anti-“communist”pogroms that cost over a million Indonesian lives, mostly landless peasants. The CIA had a ‘kill list’ of some 5000 PKR leaders, ticking off their names as they were murdered. The American press welcomed what had happened. While accurately describing the horrific slaughter, Time Magazine insisted that it was “the West’s best news for years in Asia”. The New York Times called the bloodbath “a gleam of light in Asia”.

With Suharto’s nationalist predecessor Sukarno finally out of the way, capitalism was restored to the former Dutch colony: Western corporations and the IMF & World Bank swept in, literally redesigning Indonesia’s economy at a conference held in Switzerland.

In 1975, US President Ford gave a green light for Suharto to invade the small neighbour of East Timor. By the occupation’s end in 1999, 25-33% (125,000-200,000) of Timorese had been extinguished under the genocidal military occupation. When the Indonesians started running out of arms in 1978, the Carter administration began an annual $200 million arms flow to Suharto. In the 1980s, Reagan escalated the arms sales. Four years after the 1991 Dili massacre, Clinton proposed the sale of twenty F-15s to “our kind of guy” Suharto, continuing his predecessor Bush I’s illegal training of Indonesia’s Red Berets, behind some of the worst Timor atrocities.

2. Saddam Hussein

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Originally a Soviet client, Saddam Hussein was courted by the West following his aggression against post-revolutionary Iran in 1979, leading to a ten-year conflict that killed 1m+ on both sides. Hussein was armed to the teeth by the US, Britain, France and other Western countries.

His WMD components came from American, British and German firms. When 20,000 Kurds were gassed to death by Iraqi forces at Halabja, US President Reagan blamed the Iranians. When the Kurds rose up against Saddam following the Gulf War, Washington supported the tyrant again, reasoning that there was no opposition to replace him that “the free world” favoured.

At the height of friendly Iraq-US relations, Hussein wiped out 300,000 people in the Al-Anfal campaign. In addition to bogus WMDs, this was used to justify the 2003 invasion, long after the campaign had finished.

3. Shah of Iran

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Installed by a 1953 CIA coup that ousted Iran’s secular democratic government after it threatened to nationalise the country’s oil in accordance with popular aspirations, Pahveli ran a corrupt family dynasty while his CIA/Mossad-trained “SAVAK” police ran torture chambers and death squads. By 1975, Amnesty International described Iran as having “the highest rate of death penalties in the world…and a history of torture which is beyond belief”.

His opponents were sodomised by cattle prods and made to sit on hot grills, or in the electric chair; others were raped, pissed on, had their nails torn out, and subjected to near-drownings and mock executions. In 1979, US President Jimmy “human rights” Carter praised the Shah for transforming Iran into “an island of stability”. Months later, he was overthrow by the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

4. Rios Montt

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After seizing power in Guatemala through a military coup in March 1982, the Christian televangelist launched a savage counterinsurgency campaign that soon became wholesale genocide of tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans in the northwest highlands.

Five months into the slaughter, US President Ronald Reagan warmly greeted Montt and praised him as “a man of great personal integrity and commitment”, while decrying the “bum rap” he was receiving from Amnesty International and other human rights groups reporting his massacres. Reagan’s spin doctor Elliot Abrams, currently Trump’s coup manager for Venezuela, rationalised and whitewashed this Indian holocaust.

In 2013, Montt was finally tried for crimes against humanity and genocide.

5. Batista

imageAfter presiding over 20,000 deaths, the US-backed thug was overthrown by Fidel Castro’s revolution in 1959. During his brutal reign, Cuba became a playground for the American mafia while 40% of the economy was controlled by U.S. corporations. Castro’s reversal of this colonial relationship by nationalising US assets led to Cuba’s seemingly endless punishment by Uncle Sam.

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The Untold History of Terrorism against Cuba

Check out my ebook ‘Eurasian Tinderbox: The U.S. Buildup against Russia and China’

In the decades following the July 1959 revolution, Cuba faced a murderous terrorist campaign waged from Miami and South Florida by its exiled elite. Granted a free hand by successive U.S. administrations, it was responsible for the death and injury of almost 5,600 innocent civilians1. In a familiar case of blowback, the groups responsible were largely drawn from veterans of the CIA-trained Bay of Pigs fiasco.

From the very beginning in 1959, most of the exile operations were being waged under CIA and White House auspices via southern Florida and other bases in the Caribbean1. CIA agent David Atlee Philips aka Maurice Bishop, who co-ran the 1953 Guatemala coup, arranged the founding of Alpha 66 and guided its activities, which included the shoot-up of fourteen wood-homes in Boca de Sama village in 1971 (killing 2 and injuring 8, while damaging the local kids’ school)2 and . By 1973 the organisation had become a liability and was dropped by the CIA2, but its attacks against Cuba continued as Washington let them operate freely from bases in Miami and Florida.

Similar groups such as Omega 7, perhaps the most lethal of all in terms of bombings and assassinations both in Cuba and the U.S., were also given a free hand. This included the introduction of various biological agents into Cuba during the early 80s, including a Dengue-2 epidemic between June and November 1981 that afflicted 300,000+ victims across the island and killed over a hundred children2.

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Orlando Bosch (left) and Luis Carriles Posada (right)

The most notorious Cuban terrorists, Luis Carriles Posada and Orlando Bosch, arranged the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner, murdering all 73 people onboard. Files declassified in 1978 showed how the CIA directed Posada’s activities between the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis. According to far more sensitive records, the Agency directed Posada to “establish a training camp for guerrilla ops against Castro”4. “The CIA taught us everything”, Posada said. “…explosives, how to kill, bomb, trained us in acts of sabotage”4.

By 1976, Posada had become a liability and the CIA dropped him3. But despite being informed of his involvement in the 1997 hotel/restaurant bombings, U.S. law enforcement took no action against the notorious mass murderer5. He was done briefly for lying to immigration agents, while the Bush II Administration refused to extradite him to Cuba and Venezuela for fear that they would be tortured. He died peacefully on May 23 2018.

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Robert Kennedy: “No time, no money, effort or manpower is to be spared”

Kennedy’s botched invasion of Cuba (‘the Bay of Pigs’) was an international embarrassment for the US. As an internal source recounts, Kennedy had indicated to his brother Robert that “the final chapter had not been written – it’s got to be done and will be done”6. To quote Noam Chomsky:

At the first cabinet meeting after the failed invasion, the atmosphere was “almost savage,” Chester Bowles noted privately: “there was an almost frantic reaction for an action program.” At an NSC meeting two days later, Bowles found the atmosphere “almost as emotional” and was struck by “the great lack of moral integrity” that prevailed. The mood was reflected in Kennedy’s public pronouncements: “The complacent, the self-indulgent, the soft societies are about to be swept away with the debris of history. Only the strong . . . can possibly survive,” he told the country…Kennedy was aware that allies “think that we’re slightly demented” on the subject of Cuba, a perception that persists to the present.

To lubricate the island for a second invasion (ultimately aborted by the presence of Soviet nukes on the otherwise defenceless island), he approved Operation Mongoose, an RFK-run and U.S. Army-trained1 sabotage campaign against Cuban ships, fishing boats, sugar mills, power plants, petrochemical facilities, oil refineries, warehouses, urban transportation and department stores: in a nutshell, “sabotage and more sabotage, place bombs, create fear, and carry out terrorist plans, so that agitation will engulf the country and the government will have to carry out a violent repression with much bloodshed which they can then use in their propaganda throughout Latin America”6.

Theoretically the world’s biggest terror operation (at least until Reagan’s terror policy in Central America), this elaborate campaign proved deadly: on March 13 1961, a CIA gunboat attacked an oil refinery in Santiago de Cuba, killing 27-year-old Rene Rodriguez Hernandez and seriously injuring 19-year-old Roberto Ramon Castro. A further 50+ people died when the CIA bombed the Citorro chemical plant on April 27 1962. Four months later, US planes escorted a group of armed vessels in their deadly assault on the Chaplin Theatre and a selection of homes in the Miramar neighbourhood of Havana4.

The 1963 proposals included the “placing of incendiary devices and/or explosives with suitable time delay within the hull or cargo to disable or to sink Cuban vessels and/or damage their cargos while at sea” and “introducing abrasive or other damaging materials into the propulsion, communication and other systems of the ship to inactivate the ship”7.

In September of that year, the U.S. Army Department confirmed a successful demolition beneath La Isabela harbour. Mongoose agent Bradley Ayers recounts the operation:

The single-track line [of the railway bridge] carried large amounts of freight and produce between the inland city of Sagua la Grande and the port of Isabela. It was one of the key supply lines in the central part of the Communist island. The commando force was to blow up the bridge and destroy telephone and telegraph lines running adjacent to the tracks6.

[I trained commando units] to infiltrate Cuba, reach human targets, and assassinate them. Anyone in a senior position in government was fair game, and it reached down to the provincial heads, police chiefs and so on…[Robert] Kennedy was aware of what we were doing down there. It wasn’t a case of the Agency mounting these assassination operations without the knowledge of the Special Group…RFK had a hands-on kind of control of the operations7.

Two months after the La Isabela attack, the CIA confirmed the bombing of a power plant, sawmill and multiple oil storage facilities, while announcing further scheduled attacks “against a large oil refinery and storage facilities, a large electric plant, sugar refineries, railroad bridges, harbor facilities, and underwater demolition of docks and ships*”.

“Remember the Maine”

The sheer number of CIA plots to assassinate Castro are alone extraordinary: 638 by a former Cuban intelligence officer’s account3. They even plotted to bomb/poison him on American soil, namely his New York visit in 1961. To quote Fabian Escalante6:

The head of the so-called Cuban Revolutionary Council, Jose milo Cardona, met with President Kennedy in the White House [in April 1962]. After the meeting Miro Cardona declared that Castro’s days were numbered. At the same time William Harvey, head of the CIA’s “executive action” group, was reactivating the plans with the Mafia and Tony Varona to assassinate Fidel Castro.

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1961: Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro delivers historic speech at the United Nations

Inside jobs hardly stopped there: the latest files released in 2016 reveal a CIA scheme to stage a false-flag terror campaign in Miami in order to legitimate the full-scale invasion of Cuba, echoing the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s notorious Operation Northwoods plan to blow up an American ship in Guantanamo Bay so as to provide “a ‘Remember the Maine’ incident”, or to stage “a Communist Cuban terror campaign [in Florida] and even in Washington”.

The Threat of Castroism

While rejected by a flabbergasted White House, such plans reflected Washington’s obsession with Cuba for defying the Monroe Doctrine. To quote Noam Chomsky:

From the timing alone, it is clear that concern over a Russian threat could not have been a major factor. The plans for forceful regime change were drawn up and implemented before there was any significant Russian connection, and punishment was intensified after the Russians disappeared from the scene. True, a Russian threat did develop, but that was more a consequence than a cause of US terrorism and economic warfare.

In July 1961 the CIA warned that “the extensive influence of ‘Castroism’ is not a function of Cuban power. . . . Castro’s shadow looms large because social and economic conditions throughout Latin America invite opposition to ruling authority and encourage agitation for radical change,” for which Castro’s Cuba provided a model. Earlier, Arthur Schlesinger had transmitted to the incoming President Kennedy his Latin American Mission report, which warned of the susceptibility of Latin Americans to “the Castro idea of taking matters into one’s own hands.” The report did identify a Kremlin connection: the Soviet Union “hovers in the wings, flourishing large development loans and presenting itself as the model for achieving modernization in a single generation.” The dangers of the “Castro idea” are particularly grave, Schlesinger later elaborated, when “the distribution of land and other forms of national wealth greatly favors the propertied classes” and “the poor and underprivileged, stimulated by the example of the Cuban revolution, are now demanding opportunities for a decent living.” Kennedy feared that Russian aid might make Cuba a “showcase” for development, giving the Soviets the upper hand throughout Latin America.

In early 1964, the State Department Policy Planning Council expanded on these concerns: “The primary danger we face in Castro is . . . in the impact the very existence of his regime has upon the leftist movement in many Latin American countries. . . . The simple fact is that Castro represents a successful defiance of the US, a negation of our whole hemispheric policy of almost a century and a half.” To put it simply, Thomas Paterson writes, “Cuba, as symbol and reality, challenged U.S. hegemony in Latin America.”

*On December 23 1963, CIA commandos sank the Revolutionary Navy’s LT-385 torpedo boat in Siguanea dock on the Isle of Pines, killing four crewmen.

Notes

1. Bradley Earl Ayers, The War That Never Was (Major Books: Canoga Park, California), pages 30 and 39
2. Keith Bolender, Stories From Th
e Other Side: An Oral History of Terrorism Against Cuba (Pluto Press 2010); this is the most comprehensive account to date of this unknown history; to hear a presentation by Bolender and Noam Chomsky, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_AaFN5FHc8.
3. See http://www.jfk-online.com/daphscavec.html
4. https://www.nytimes.com/1998/07/13/world/bomber-s-tale-decades-intrigue-life-shadows-trying-bring-down-castro.html; according to his Cuban criminal record published in Granma (the official Cuban Communist Party newspaper), he enlisted in Bay of Pigs and, in July 1963 at Fort Benning, received training in demolition, propaganda and intelligence.
5. Bardach and Rohter, “Authorities Knew of Bombing Campaign, Says Cuban Exile”, New York Times 12/07/98
6. https://archive.org/details/FabianEscalanteSecretWarCubaCIA/page/n1
; ibid. Bolender
7. ibid. Ayers as quoted in https://nacla.org/news/2016/12/16/cost-covert-operations-cuba

After reporter’s assassination, Saudis continue to kill children with US/UK-sold bombs

In March 2015, Saudi Arabia launched an attack on Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world, to stamp out a Shiite insurgency (‘Houthis’) that threatened to advance Iranian influence in the strategic energy-rich region at the expense of Western-Saudi hegemony. The result has been a humanitarian catastrophe killing thousands and threatening millions with famine. Saudi warplanes have bombed countless civilian targets from factories and markets to hospitals and villages.

US Assistant Secretary John Kerry soon confirmed US support for the war, including “intelligence sharing, targeting assistance, and advisory and logistical support for strikes against Houthi targets”. Riyadh’s command and control centre includes both American and British military trainers/advisers with access to target lists, though they are said to not be directly involved in selecting targets.

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Catastrophe: Saudi-led war has killed thousands, threatens millions with famine

The UN soon reported 2300 civilian deaths due to airstrikes alone. The following month, Obama pushed for a series of arms deals with the Saudis worth $115b. Apparently, his previous $60b arms deal with the medieval monarchy, the biggest in US history with its 154 F-15s and Apaches, was insufficient in satisfying the Kingdom’s bloodlust. Ditto Britain’s delivery of 500lb Paveway IVs a couple months earlier…

Following the Saudi bombing of a wedding that killed nearly 50, a PR-conscious Washington was forced to back off from most of the proposal due to pressure from human rights groups. A billion-dollar deal, however, did go ahead. On his visit to the Great Democracy, the Four Seasons literally laid out a (blood?) red carpet for the King and his royal entourage.

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Deal in blood: Six months into Yemen slaughter, a billion dollar arms deal

Wsws.org comments on the tacit AQ-US alliance throughout this period and ongoing, a hardly surprising fact given Washington’s covert CIA activities in Libya and Syria:

…The only areas which have escaped coalition airstrikes are those parts of the country controlled by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has proven itself an effective ally of the US in the effort to defeat the Houthis. US drone strikes continue to target individual AQAP leaders, but their fighters have been free to move throughout the country unmolested.

As for Trump, he followed up his $15b arms sale last October with a $110b series of deals plus an optional $350b extra over the next ten years. This all seems to be hoopla, but Trump has made his point: he, like his ‘liberal’ predecessor, is proud to serve his country…by helping to kill children.

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“This is peanuts for you”: Prince Salman and President Trump

UK arms sales, meanwhile, have increased fivefold since the Saudi war began. In May, the Daily Telegraph cited Saudi military sources as saying that, of the 100 warplanes it is using round-the-clock, “about 50 percent are British-made Tornados and Eurofighters that have been sold to the Saudis over the past 30 years…”.

In defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2286, the British government is immunising the Saudis by allowing them to conduct their own war crimes investigations. On October 13, it disclosed that Saudi Arabia had used five different UK bombs and missiles in Yemen.

Since its creation by Britain, Saudi Arabia has functioned as the chief pillar of Western power in the strategic oil-rich Middle East. As such, merely “dropping the Saudis” is insufficient. All the Gulf dictators are brutal and repressive, and they all serve as “stabilizers” for foreign investments in the region. The broader necessity, in whose context a struggle against the Saudi monarchy resides, is to drop the Anglo capitalist-imperialist order.

Sources

Johnpilger.com

Chomsky.info

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/uk-british-weapons-arms-sales-saudi-arabia-yemen-war-increase-500-civilians-war-crimes-export-a8042871.html

To Stop American Empire, First Decolonize America

The thesis of my forthcoming film and ebook

Columbus Day, the official celebration of America’s founding genocide, is based upon a falsified historical narrative drilled into every American schoolkid[1-3]. Ward Churchill’s portrait of the 16th century explorer is far more consistent with the historical reality[4]:

Columbus did not sally forth upon the Atlantic for reasons of “neutral science” or altruism. He went, as his own diaries, reports, and letters make clear, fully expecting to encounter wealth belonging to others. It was his stated purpose to seize this wealth, by whatever means necessary and available, in order to enrich both his sponsors and himself. Plainly, he pre-figured, both in design and by intent, what came next. To this extent, he not only symbolizes the process of conquest and genocide which eventually consumed the indigenous peoples of America, but bears the personal responsibility of having participated in it…Plainly, the Nazi-esque dynamics set in motion by Columbus in 1492 continued, and were not ultimately consummated until the present century.

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Columbus: “these people are very simple in war-like matters…I could conquer the whole of them with fifty men, and govern them as I pleased”[3]

Columbus did not discover America: the Vikings, and perhaps other trading peoples, had reached the hemisphere long before him. Moreover, it was the Caribbean basin that Columbus reached. He never set foot in North America[1].

National mythology aside, the moment Columbus’ men sighted those floating branches/sticks on the water and that innocuous flock of birds[1], the awful human and cultural fate of an entire hemisphere – and eventually much of the world[5] – was sealed.

Following his return to Spain, the Crown sent Columbus out on a second voyage the following year, this time with a 1200-strong invasion force of seventeen ships[1-4]. Savagery ensued: Columbus would chop off the heads or ears of whoever refused to dig gold for him. For stealing corn, one man had his nose and ears sliced off and was slave-auctioned. For suggesting Columbus was a bastard, a woman was stripped and paraded and had her tongue cut out[6].

The Spanish colonists would pillage, enslave and rape[6]. One joked of having beaten and raped a Caribbean sex slave he bought from Columbus who, as revealed in a 1500 letter, sold 9+ year old sex slaves[7]. A likely 10,000 14+ year olds bled to death after having their hands cut off for refusing to pay Columbus a hawk’s bell of gold dust (or twelve pounds of spun cotton) every three months[3]. In short, life in his colony was “horrifying”*[6].

A Hemispheric Holocaust

By 1542, just 200 remained on the island of Hispaniola, a population decline of 99.67-99.99% within the span of half a century[8]. This became the model for the entire hemisphere: according to the Smithsonian Institution, 65 million indigenous inhabitants perished in the three centuries between 1492 and 1800[9].

Scholars attribute 75-90% of these deaths to diseases the Europeans brought with them[10] – from bubonic plague to measles to (most lethally) smallpox to countless more – from which the native peoples had no immunities. The invaders pushed on despite this obvious cause-and-effect “we come, they die” (Churchill) phenomena, gleefully attributing it to divine providence[10-11]. Thus concludes one author[11]:

The destruction of the Indians of the Americas was, far and away, the most massive act of genocide in the history of the world. That is why, as one historian aptly has said, far from the heroic and romantic heraldry that customarily is used to symbolize the European settlement of the Americas, the emblem most congruent with reality would be a pyramid of skulls.

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Native Americans had no immunities to European diseases

The remainder 10-25% were killed by massacre, castration, torture, starvation and slave labour. This alone amounted to 440-1,099 homicides per week, or 1,759-4397 per month, for 308 years straight. In 1890, the US government reported just 2.5% of indigenous North Americans remaining and only 2.5% of their land remaining in their name, perfectly illustrating the inseparable nature of the colonization process of indigenous extermination (the means) and land appropriation(the end)[4].

Despite the abundance of US army massacres (not least of which was the Sand Creek bloodbath where delirious troops danced around in their defenceless victims’ severed scalps, genitalia and fetuses), a huge chunk of this 10-25% was inflicted by civilian miners and settlers[4]. The entire native populations of Texas (then the densest in North America) and northern California, for example, were virtually wiped out by the scalp bounty trade alone. With varying rates for Indian men, women and children (incl. fetuses), pregnant women were naturally a favourite target[12]).

Resurgence

From the 1511 revolt to the 1800s resistance of Geronimo, Indians have always fought back. The initial attempt to conquer North America was called off after Ponce de Leon was fatally wounded trying to take on the stiff-necked Calusa during a mere skirmish. Paraguay’s Guaycuru resisted too. Enriquillo is still remembered in the Dominican Republic and Haiti today as a resistance hero for his 1519-33 guerrilla war.

1973 saw a tense 71-day standoff between the FBI and the recently founded American Indian Movement, following the latter’s armed siege of Wounded Knee – site of the horrific US army massacre – on Pine Ridge reservation. This event became the turning point for an ongoing resurgence of indigenous activism, ranging from issues of treaty rights and sovereignty to land recovery and environment/ecology.

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AIM leader Russell Means (-2012) speaking before the US Senate in 1989

Perhaps the biggest flashpoint since is the attempt by a US energy conglomerate to build a pipeline that would traverse native land and threatens the local and sacred water supply. The National Guard, together with SWAT teams and a private security company hired by the energy consortium, deployed rubber bullets, pepper spray and tear gas against hundreds of protesters. Sophia Wilansky, one of many non-natives who had joined the camp in solidarity, was killed by a police grenade.

With pressure from his liberal constituents (incl. longtime pro-native actor Robert Redford and his video appeal in solidarity), a legacy-conscious Obama cynically postponed the pipeline’s construction during his final days in office, leaving its resumption up to his successor Donald Trump, himself financially linked to the pipeline’s consortium and whose advisors are eyeing oil-rich Indian land for outright privatization.

Genocide Today

As far as Native Americans are concerned, their genocide never ended. The rough third (700,000) still living on reservations[13] endure Third World conditions, suffering the country’s highest rates of poverty, unemployment, death, suicide, infant mortality, substance abuse and disease[14].

Churchill explains the apparent paradox between native poverty and resources[4]:

It’s not that reservation resources are not being exploited, or profits accrued. To the contrary…the BIA has utilized its plenary and trust capacities to negotiate contracts with major mining corporations “in behalf of” its “Indian wards” which pay pennies on the dollar of the conventional mineral royalty rates. Further, the BIA has typically exempted such corporations from an obligation to perform basic environmental cleanup of nuclear and other forms of waste.

While President Trump enacts multi-trillion-dollar corporate tax breaks and commits tens of billions to the Saudi destruction of Yemen, the Indian Health Service lacks 50% of the staff and funding required for adequate provision[15]. A 2004 study found 40% of natives with mental disorders untreated, correlating with a reported 40% deficit between the number of mental health professionals available per native and those per non-native[15].

42% of native women of childbearing age were involuntarily sterilized during the decades following WWII as part of a government-funded program driven by racist eugenics and long-term mining interests[16]. A direct violation of the Genocide Convention, the program almost halved the women’s fertility rate[17].

Lessons

The left’s lack of interest in native American history and ongoing activism is rooted in an ignorance it shares with mainstream opinion, namely of the fact that the genocide – albeit not taking the holocaustal form it took when 97.5% of the population inhabited North America, namely because they’re no longer there – is ongoing and has never stopped.

But what the left must realise further is that the decolonization of North America is a vital prerequisite for the dismantlement of America’s overseas empire. Churchill’s argument to this effect is just as valid now as it was when he wrote the following in 1983, Trumpism being the present-day parallel to the 80s “New Right”[18]:

…if the treaty obligations of the United States to the various tribes which are on the books right now were met, the landbase of the 48 contiguous states would be diminished by approximately one third. Further, identified U.S. energy resource reserves would be reduced by two thirds. Significant reserves of minerals including gold, silver, iron, molybdenum, magnesium, bauxite and sulphur would also pass from U.S. control. Any hard-nosed Marxist revolutionary should be able to detect the absolutely critical nature of the issues. By any definition, the mere potential for even a partial dissolution of the U.S. landbase should be a high priority consideration for anyone interested in destabilizing the status quo.

…If the liberation struggles of Native America are defeated while the left stands idly by debating “correct lines” and “social priorities,”, a crucial opportunity to draw a line on the capitalist process in America will have been lost, perhaps forever. In the view of the emergence of outright American neo-fascism – as represented by the “New Right” and “Moral Majority” – none of us can afford to pass such opportunities by, least of all on points of polemical pride.

…Bill Tabb has said, “Let the debate continue.” I would only add, “and let the action begin.”

1. https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/10/the-real-christopher-columbus/ (an excerpt from Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States (Harper Perennial 2015 Reissue), Chapter 1); to listen to chapters 1-25, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCHuPpyoyBQ&list=PLYUr4j9fnsUzHJA6iP-0x0vPdDzskPWiU; to hear Zinn speak about the book, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EI907Tm11sc
2. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (Beacon Press 2015 Reprint); for a lecture delivered by Ortiz at The Evergreen State College, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLl561BBkdI
3. Kirkpatrick Sale, Christopher Columbus and the Conquest of Paradise 2nd ed. (Tauris Parke Paperbacks 2006); for a fascinating discussion ft. Sale, see https://archive.org/details/AV_481-COLUMBUS_THE_MAN_THE_LEGACY
4. http://www.mit.edu/~thistle/v0/9.11/1columbus.html; also see https://www.vox.com/2014/10/13/6957875/christopher-columbus-murderer-tyrant-scoundrel; for a fascinating discussion ft. Churchill, see https://archive.org/details/AV_481-COLUMBUS_THE_MAN_THE_LEGACY
5. For the record of US interventionism since 1945, see williamblum.org
6. J.W. Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (The New Press 2008), page 52; Jacques Nicolas Leger, Haiti, Her History and Her Detractors (Neale Publishing Company 1907), page 23; https://web.archive.org/web/20081202053219/http://www.kacike.org/LynneGuitar.html; http://www.raceandhistory.com/Taino/Women.htm; Kathryn A. Sloan, Women’s Roles in Latin America and the Caribbean (Greenwood 2011); https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/aug/07/books.spain
7. https://archive.org/stream/christophercolu02thacgoog#page/n451/mode/2up; for the original passage in Early Modern Spanish, see note 443
8. https://web.archive.org/web/20131216024311/http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/070121/29jamestown.b.htm; for census summaries, see Lewis Hank, The Spanish Conquest of America (University of Pennsylvania Press: Philadelphia 1947), page 200ff; also see Salvador de Madariaga, The Rise of the Spanish American Empire (Hollis nd Carter Publishers: London 1947); the range estimated by historians centering on 500,000-8,000,000; see Suzanne Austin Alchon, A pest in the land: New world epidemics in a global perspective (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press 2003), pages 164-7
9. https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2015/08/17/holocaust-native-americans-65-million-counting.html
10. https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/7302
11. http://www.skeptic.ca/American_Holocaust.htm; listen to chapters 1-6 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Q4NyuImKMk&list=PLAYJ1WwgOpjZZD5TNNC3X8bnFDclAQMCe; for a lecture with Q/A delivered by the author, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qra6pcn4AOE.
12. Ward Churchill, A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas 1492 to the Present (City Light Books 2001)
13. Eliza Barclay, “Navajos Fight Their Food Desert With Junk Food And Soda Taxes”, National Public Radio 01.04.15
14. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_social_statistics_of_Native_Americans
15. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1524838005283005
16. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNsAK7jS0WY; https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/figure/10.1080/2201473X.2014.955947?scroll=top&needAccess=true
17. Jane Lawrence, “The Sterilization of Native American Women”, American Indian Quarterly 24:3:402
18. https://archive.org/stream/MarxismAndNativeAmericans, pages 201-3; for a sample of native activist causes at the time of publication, see page 200

*I have spared the reader the worst allegations of Spanish depravities on Hispaniola, made by self-purported eyewitness Bartolome Das Lacas.

 

 

The Long War on Central America

The story behind America’s immigration issues today

…150 Contras attacked two villages in the southern province of Rio San Juan with 88-mm mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, killing six children and six adults and injuring 30 others. Even cooperatives of religious pacifists who refused to bear arms were destroyed… In El Salvador too, the army attacks cooperatives, killing, raping and abducting members[1].

These were the killing fields of Central America. Throughout the 1980s, the Reagan administration armed, trained and funded terrorist death squads worthy of ISIS:

Many top Salvadoran, Honduran and Guatemalan army officers were trained at the School of the Americas in Panama, and then after 1984, Fort Benning in Georgia… The 15,000-men contra army – employing kidnapping, torture, rape and murder – targeted health clinics, schools, agricultural cooperatives, bridges and power stations (i.e. State Department-authorised ‘soft targets’[1]).

…Similar atrocities occurred in neighbouring El Salvador, where US-trained troops stabbed, decapitated, raped and machine-gunned 767 civilians in the village of El Mozote in late 1981, including 358 children under age thirteen. Congress ended up funding almost $6 billion to this tiny country, making it the largest recipient of US foreign aid per capita in the world. Wealthy landlords were running the right-wing death squads and murdered thousands of suspected leftists. The death toll from the war reached 70,000[2].

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The contras: America’s terrorists

In 1988, an Amnesty report accused Reagan’s El Salvadoran death squads of “killing and mutilating victims in the most macabre way…[bodies] mutilated, decapitated, dismembered, strangled or showing marks of torture…or rape”. Women were publicly hung from trees by their hair, their breasts cut off and faces painted red.

Two years earlier, the US had dismissed a World Court ruling against its “unlawful use of force” against Nicaragua, quickly vetoing a pair of subsequent UN resolutions to the same effect and providing an extra $100m in military aid to the contras in 1987[1].

Of the 20-30,000 civilians who ultimately perished in the Nicaraguan conflict, the contras were responsible for the vast majority[2]. Among the victims were six Jesuit intellectuals and archbishop Oscar Romero, “the voice of the voiceless” whose radical liberation theology favoured the empowerment of the poor: a threat to US finance capital.

The US war on Central America began long before Reagan. In 1823, the Monroe Doctrine asserting America’s divine right to singularly control the hemisphere. The first to challenge this was Augusto Sandino’s poorly-armed guerrilla insurgency against the US invasion of Nicaragua, launched in 1912 to defend its conservative puppet Adolfo Diaz against a Liberal revolt, secure US monopoly over canal construction and open the country up to international banking[3].

Sandino favoured the unification of all of Central America. “Nicaragua shall not be the patrimony of Imperialists”, he proudly declared. “I will fight for my cause as long as my heart beats”.

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Anastasio Somoza (left) and Augusto Sandino (right)

The outbreak of the Great Depression forced the US to withdraw its troops from Nicaragua in 1933 but, the following year, head of the US-commanded National Guard Anastasio Somoza ordered Sandino’s assassination and seized power in an eventual coup d’état.

For the next 44 years, Somoza ran a mafia-like dynasty that controlled whole swathes of industry and almost half the country’s arable land. Somoza’s opponents were often dumped alive into a live volcano from his US-supplied helicopters. The Carter administration sponsored a $65m IMF loan for Somoza even as he bombed his own people[3].

A month before his overthrow by the 1979 Sandinista revolution, a member of his National Guard shot dead American reporter Bill Stuart live on camera, cementing US antiwar opposition that forced Reagan to resort to clandestine terror: Somoza’s national guard regrouped in neighbouring Honduras with CIA funds, arms and training before launching a ferocious campaign to undermine the revolution’s remarkable social reforms.

During the 1980s, the Reagan administration also armed, trained and funded the Guatemalan army as it conducted a brutal genocide of some 100,000 indigenous Mayan peasants. The general responsible, finally sentenced in the Hague a few years ago, was welcomed to the White House by fellow born-again evangelical Reagan, who called him “a man of great personal integrity”[2]. According to documents seen by the late investigative reporter Robert Parry, Washington had full knowledge of the subsequent native Indian genocide, yet continued to give him aid[4].

guat.jpg

In 1989, Reagan’s successor and former CIA chief George Bush Sr. launched an invasion of Panama to secure US control of the strategic Panama Canal, indiscriminately killing thousands of civilians[5] and leading to the capture and sentencing of one of his ex-employees, Manuel Noriega, for crimes mostly committed while on the CIA payroll[1].

Washington’s long war on Central America continues today in different forms. In 1994, the Clinton administration passed NAFTA, a profit bonanza for US corporations and Wall Street while a disaster for Mexican agriculture unable to withstand the competition. Earlier that year, Clinton had the border militarized via Operation Gatekeeper, clearly anticipating – notes Chomsky – the exodus from Mexico that NAFTA would generate[1].

In 2009, the Obama administration engineered a coup against the elected government of Honduras. Since then, US “anti-drug” operations constitute an occupying force echoing previous US occupations of the island: the victims of a helicopter attack on a boat of Mothers Day celebrants included two pregnant women, one of them a single mother of six, and apparently no traffickers. Such helicopters are piloted by Guatemalan mercenaries on the US payroll.

Criminal violence related to the drug war in Central America is skyrocketing. Homicides are way up. There is massive deforestation, driven in many places by the demand for biofuels; intensified corporate mining, including open-pit mining, is poisoning water supplies. Political repression is likewise on the rise, in places like Honduras’s Aguán Valley and in Guatemala’s Polochic Valley. The old Cold War alliance between death squads and a landed class seems to be back in operation, albeit updated: “death squads” are now legal security companies, often staffed with veterans from global hot spots, including former paramilitaries from Colombia, while landlords now receive funding from international development agencies to convert their fields into biofuel plantations to supply the United States with its energy needs[1].

Today’s atrocious policy at the US-Mexico border is the latest chapter in this long war on Central Americans and Mexicans. Mexican protesters called Obama the “deporter-in-chief”: he warehoused and deported 2.7 million, more than any US president before him. Under Obama, they were systematically beaten, tortured and raped by CBF agents. In one case, hungry babies were deprived of milk, while others vomited from repeatedly receiving contaminated meat and milk[6].

His successor Donald Trump has accelerated this savage policy, including the now suspended (due to public outrage) family separation policy that violated the US-ratified Genocide Convention.

US-NATO wars this century helped create the conditions of “Europe’s” refugee/migrant crisis. Reagan, Clinton and Obama’s policies have had a similar contribution to the flight of Central Americans and Mexicans to North America.

Trump’s proposed wall epitomises the mentality of imperial self-entitlement that discards history and refuses to acknowledge responsibility. Such an attitude of blind arrogance brought down the Roman empire. History does not bode well for Donald Trump’s campaign slogan!

  1. Chomsky.info
  2. Oliver Stone, The Untold History of the United States (PBS Mini Series)
  3. Nicaragua (freely viewable at johnpilger.com)
  4. consortiumnews.com
  5. The Panama Deception
  6. ACLU report 05/18

How the West and Saudi Arabia Cultivated Islamist Terror

Of the estimated $50b Riyadh has spent exporting its extremist Wahabi brand of Islam around the world, 15-20% has been diverted to Al Qaeda and other terror groups[Source]. A leaked 2009 cable signed by then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton identified Saudi Arabia as their top financial source, criticising its “limited action” against wealthy private donors.

In an email leaked in 2016, her election campaign organiser went further, accusing the Saudi and Qatari governments directly of having funded and logistically supported ISIS, the Iraq War’s ‘Frankenstein’s Monster’. Indeed, following the terror group’s capture of Mosul (Iraq) in June 2014, ex Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told US Secretary of State John Kerry: “Daesh (ISIS) is our response to your support for the Da’wa (Shia government in Iraq)”.

Before its official ban on ISIS, Riyadh pummelled billions to Syrian rebels with the full knowledge of US and British officials[1]. General Jonathan Shaw, a former Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff, has described the Saudi-Qatari “wahabbisation of Sunni Islam” (Patrick Cockburn) as a “time bomb…that must stop.

Britain armed and funded Saudi Arabia’s founder Ibn Saud during WWI and, under a signed treaty in 1915, recognised his rule of Nejd. In his work “Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam”, which documents the West’s utilisation of Islamist forces as a counterweight to secular/left nationalism in the Muslim world, British historian Mark Curtis writes:

Ibn Saud established ‘Saudi’ Arabia in an orgy of murder. In his exposé of the corruption of the Saudi ruling family, Said Aburish describes Ibn Saud as ‘a lecher and a bloodthirsty autocrat … whose savagery wreaked havoc across Arabia’, terrorising and mercilessly slaughtering his enemies. The conquest of Arabia cost the lives of around 400,000 people, since Saud’s forces did not take prisoners; over a million people fled to neighbouring countries. Numerous rebellions against the House of Saud subsequently took place, each put down in ‘mass killings of mostly innocent victims, including women and children’. By the mid-1920s most of Arabia had been subdued, 40,000 people had been publicly executed and some 350,000 had had limbs amputated; the territory was divided into districts under the control of Saud’s relatives, a situation which largely prevails today.

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In 1921, Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill described Ibn Saud’s Wahabi followers to the House of Commons[2]:

They hold it as an article of duty, as well as of faith, to kill all who do not share their opinions and to make slaves of their wives and children. Women have been put to death in Wahabi villages for simply appearing in the streets. It is a penal offence to wear a silk garment. Men have been killed for smoking a cigarette…the Wahabis are a distinct factor which must be taken into account, and they have been, and still are, very dangerous to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, and to the whole institution of the pilgrimage, in which our Indian fellow-subjects are so deeply concerned.

saud.jpg

Despite this, he went on to provide a cynical defence for Britain’s continued support for Ibn Saud[2]:

The Emir Bin Saud has shown himself capable of leading and, within considerable limits, of controlling these formidable sectaries. He has always shown himself well disposed towards Great Britain and has long been in intimate relations with Sir Percy Cox. Under the advice of Sir Percy Cox, and of my counsellors here at home, we have arranged to continue the subsidy which Bin Saud has hitherto received from the British Government of £60,000 a year, together with a lump sum of £20,000.

…deprived of these funds, he would soon lose control of the nomadic and predatory tribes which are brought under what is after all a restraining influence…we desire to live on friendly and amicable terms with this potentate and not to be disturbed by him, particularly at a time when we are seeking to withdraw so large a proportion of our garrison from the country.

“…my admiration for him was deep”, Churchill later wrote, “because of his unfailing loyalty to us”. With help from the RAF and troops despatched from Iraq, Ibn Saud put down an internal anti-British rebellion in 1929[3].

One of Britain’s own diplomats Jonathon Allen told the UN Security Council that “the conflict creates ungoverned spaces in which terrorists can operate, poses security threats to countries in the region and international shipping, and fuels regional tensions”.

None of this seems to deter ongoing UK policy: it, after all, knowingly risked the blowback that materialised in Manchester last year by backing Al Qaeda-linked forces in Libya and Syria this past decade for the sake of regime changes in those countries. In this, they were following Washington’s lead, just as they did in 1980s Soviet-occupied Afghanistan when the CIA and MI6’s Operation Cyclone – the longest covert op since WWII – armed, trained and funded today’s generation of terrorists, including Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.

Along with Pakistan’s then Islamist dictator Zia ul-Haq, Saudi Arabia was the financial conduit for Cyclone and, according to a classified section of the 9/11 Commission report, the September 11 2001 attacks. This role has been revitalised in Libya and Syria, contributing to the destruction of both nations, a European refugee crisis and a spawn of terror attacks in Europe.

The reaction – intensifying the very “war on ISIS” that ostensibly motivated said attacks to begin with – fits Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same over and over (bombing the terrorists, in the process spawning more of them), expecting different results.

1. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/article31034067.html
2. https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/commons/1921/jun/14/middle-eastern-services
3. Mark Curtis, Secret Affairs

Royal Air Force: Centenary of Carnage

“We reserve the right to bomb the niggers!”

“We reserve the right to bomb the niggers!”

Such was how then Prime Minister David Lloyd George defended the indiscriminate bombing of Kurdish villages by the Royal Air Force during the 1920s. Through a deal with France to carve up the post-WWI Middle East (Who is Responsible for Today’s Middle East?), Imperial Britain created Iraq and annexed its former province of Kuwait in order to landlock Iraq and thus maintain the flow of oil to the West[1][2].

When the Kurds bravely revolted against this oppression, they paid with their lives. “If the Kurds were going to misbehave”, recalled a pilot, “we would smack their bottoms”. Containing similarly callous veterans as well as elderly Kurdish survivors, the Channel 4 documentary from which this quote is taken – “Birds of Death” – is available on YouTube and worth watching.

To avoid international notoriety, then War Secretary Winston Churchill’s eager request to deploy mustard gas against these “recalcitrant tribes” was fortunately denied. But the campaign proved no less ruthless. “The attack with bombs and machine guns”, ordered one RAF commander, “must be relentless and unremitting and carried on continuously by day and night, on houses, inhabitants, crops and cattle”[1].

Lionel Charlton resigned after visiting a local hospital full of injured civilians. But other RAF commanders such as Arthur “Bomber” Harris showed no mercy. “The Arab and Kurd now know what real bombing means, in casualties and damage”, Harris intoned. “They know that within 45 minutes a full-sized village can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured”[1].

This soon became standard RAF practice in the Middle East, explains British historian David Omissi:

Schemes of air control similar to that practiced in Mesopotamia were set up in the Palestine Mandate in 1922 and in the Aden Protectorate six years later. Bombers were active at various times against rioters in Egypt, tribesmen on the Frontier, pastoralists in the Southern Sudan and nomads in the Somali hinterland[1].

Like the Palestinians the following decade (put down with comparable savagery that murdered thousands), the lightly armed Kurds were crushed and defeated. Likewise the Omani rebels in the 1950s, when Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson personally selected RAF targets: water treatment facilities, villages, and other civilian infrastructure. Read historian Mark Curtis’ research based on internal government files.

Empire Today

iraqAli Abbas: a symbol of the US-UK “Shock and Awe” blitz on Baghdad, March 20 2003

This all provided the precedent for the more recent holocaust in Iraq. During the 1991 Gulf War, the USAF and RAF decimated the civilian infrastructure of a country that once boasted, despite the formerly Western-backed Saddam dictatorship, one of the highest living standards in the Arab world[2].

Echoing Lloyd George, the Ministry of Defence justified one of its many attacks on civilian targets (in this case, a herd of sheep) documented by a UN report in the late 90s: “We reserve the right to take robust action”[2].

This, on top of an economic embargo that starved more than half a million children to death (“We think the price is worth it”, a US official explained at the time[2]).

Curtis refers to “the RAF’s secret drone war, which involves a fleet of “Reaper” drones operating since 2007 to strike targets in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria… The targeted killing of terrorists (and the use of force generally) is only lawful in self–defence or following UN authorisation, and thus the drone programme is widely regarded as illegal”.

Of the more than one million deaths caused during the Iraq War, 2% (20,000) were caused by American and British aircraft[Opinion Research Business]. Up to 90% of the dead were civilians[3], meaning US and British pilots slaughtered up to 18,000 innocent men, women and children. What heroes!

And then there’s Libya, where the RAF killed thousands at indiscriminate targets such as water and food facilities, schools, homes and other civilian infrastructure. This is documented by the International Legal Assistance Consortium, the Arab Centre for Human Rights and the Palestinian Centre of Human Rights. The “Shock and Awe” bombing of Baghdad on March 20 2003 followed the exact same procedure, taking some 10,000 lives.

Boasting the highest living standard in Africa, Libya’s greatest achievement (among many others) was the Great Manmade River Project, its deliberate bombing by NATO reflecting a broader campaign to terrorise and demoralise the Libyan people: with forbears like anti-Mussolini insurgent Omar Mukhtar, the West knew it was up against a brave and proud nation who do not accept colonization.

An Obama-sponsored genocide of blacks ensued via Al Qaeda-linked terrorists, including a group whose members included the eventual Manchester bomber. Chalmers Johnson: “blowback”.

raf.jpg
2011 NATO assault on Libya was illegal, spawned Europe’s refugee crisis

In addition to 2-3000 civilians killed by airstrikes on Iraq and Libya since 2014[airwars.org], the longest war in US history continues in Afghanistan and has witnessed horrifying civilian casualties resulting from Western (incl. RAF) airstrikes. Targets have ranged from weddings and funerals to villages and hospitals. This is all documented and systemic.

Prince Harry, a member of the 1% in whose interest imperialism is waged, is the veritable poster boy for the MoD as it seeks to revive jingoism amidst a country suffering from “Iraq War syndrome”. Harry, who once dressed up as a Nazi at a “colonels and natives” party, has likened shooting “raghead[s]” and “paki[s]” to playing a video game. Again, what a hero!

There is no pride in the most lethal weapon in Britain’s imperialist arsenal. There is no pride in a force that specialises in slaughtering children and women from high above, commanding the skies of other countries like a foreign overlord. With the exception of World War II, the British homeland has never faced a military threat.

All of Britain’s wars have been imperial endeavours to defend and advance the interests of the very same corporate elite that we rightly damn at home for dodging billions in tax every year while austerity and privatisation continues unabated on their behalf. The real enemy is at home, not abroad!

Air Power and Colonial Control: The Royal Air Force 1919-1939
2. Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq ITV (1999); watch at johnpilger.com
3. American School of Public Health (2006); cited in The War You Don’t See ITV (2010), watchable at johnpilger.com