The hypocrisy of Washington and elitist politicians like Emmanuel Macron has become too much to stomach.
It was billed politely as a Franco-German “compromise” when the EU balked at adopting a Gas Directive which would have undermined the Nord Stream 2 project with Russia.
Nevertheless, diplomatic rhetoric aside, Berlin’s blocking last week of a bid by French President Emmanuel Macron to impose tougher regulations on the Nord Stream 2 gas project was without doubt a firm rebuff to Paris.
Macron wanted to give the EU administration in Brussels greater control over the new pipeline running from Russia to Germany. But in the end the so-called “compromise” was a rejection of Macron’s proposal, reaffirming Germany in the lead role of implementing the Nord Stream 2 route, along with Russia.
The $11-billion, 1,200 kilometer pipeline is due to become operational at the end of this year. Stretching from Russian mainland under the Baltic Sea, it will double the natural gas supply from Russia to Germany. The Berlin government and German industry view the project as a vital boost to the country’s ever-robust economy. Gas supplies will also be distributed from Germany to other European states. Consumers stand to gain from lower prices for heating homes and businesses.
Thus Macron’s belated bizarre meddling was rebuffed by Berlin. A rebuff was given too to the stepped-up pressure from Washington for the Nord Stream 2 project to be cancelled. Last week, US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and two other American envoys wrote an op-ed for Deutsche Welle in which they accused Russia of trying to use “energy blackmail” over Europe’s geopolitics.
Why France’s Macron, at the last minute, attempted to undermine the project by placing stiffer regulations is a curious question. Those extra regulations if they had been imposed would have potentially made the Russian gas supply more expensive. As it turns out, the project will now go-ahead without onerous restrictions.
In short, Macron and the spoiling tactics of Washington, along with EU states hostile to Russia, Poland and the Baltic countries, have been put in their place by Germany and its assertion of national interests of securing economical and abundant gas supply from Russia. Other EU member states that backed Berlin over Nord Stream 2 were Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Greece and the Netherlands.
Washington’s claims that Nord Stream 2 would give Russia leverage of Europe’s security have been echoed by Poland and the Baltic states. Poland, and non-EU Ukraine, stand to lose out billions of dollars-worth of transit fees. Such a move, however, is the prerogative of Germany and Russia to find a more economical mode of supply. Besides, what right has Ukraine to make demands on a bilateral matter that is none of its business? Kiev’s previous bad faith over not paying gas bills to Russia disbars it from reasonable opinion.
Another factor is the inherent Russophobia of Polish and Baltic politicians who view everything concerning Russia through a prism of paranoia.
For the Americans, it is obviously a blatant case of seeking to sell their own much more expensive natural gas to Europe’s giant energy market – in place of Russia’s product. Based on objective market figures, Russia is the most competitive supplier to Europe. The Americans are therefore trying to snatch a strategic business through foul means of propaganda and political pressure. Ironically, the US German ambassador Richard Grenell and the other American envoys wrote in their recent oped: “Europe must retain control of its energy security.”
Last month, Grenell threatened German and European firms involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 that they could face punitive American sanctions in the future. Evidently, it is the US side that is using “blackmail” to coerce others into submission, not Russia.
Back to Macron. What was he up to in his belated spoiling tactics over Nord Stream 2 and in particular the attempted problems being leveled for Germany if the extra regulations had been imposed?
It seems implausible that Macron was suddenly finding a concern for Poland and the Baltic states in their paranoia over alleged Russian invasion.
Was Macron trying to garner favors from the Trump administration? His initial obsequious rapport with Trump has since faded from the early days of Macron’s presidency in 2017. By doing Washington’s bidding to undermine the Nord Stream 2 project was Macron trying to ingratiate himself again?
The contradictions regarding Macron are replete. He is supposed to be a champion of “ecological causes”. A major factor in Germany’s desire for the Nord Stream 2 project is that the increased gas supply will reduce the European powerhouse’s dependence on dirty fuels of coal, oil and nuclear power. By throwing up regulatory barriers, Macron is making it harder for Germany and Europe to move to cleaner sources of energy that the Russian natural gas represents.
Also, if Macron had succeeded in imposing tougher regulations on the Nord Stream 2 project it would have inevitably increased the costs to consumers for gas bills. This is at a time when his government is being assailed by nationwide Yellow Vest protests over soaring living costs, in particular fuel-price hikes.
A possible factor in Macron’s sabotage bid in Germany’s Nord Stream 2 plans was his chagrin over Berlin’s rejection of his much-vaunted reform agenda for the Eurozone bloc within the EU. Despite Macron’s very public amity with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Berlin has continually knocked back the French leader’s ambitions for reform.
It’s hard to discern what are the real objectives of Macron’s reforms. But they seem to constitute a “banker’s charter”. Many eminent German economists have lambasted his plans, which they say will give more taxpayer-funded bailouts to insolvent banks. They say Macron is trying to move the EU further away from the social-market economy than the bloc already has moved.
What Macron, an ex-Rothschild banker, appears to be striving for is a replication of his pro-rich, anti-worker policies that he is imposing on France, and for these policies to be extended across the Eurozone. Berlin is not buying it, realizing such policies will further erode the social fabric. This could be the main reason why Macron tried to use the Nord Stream 2 project as leverage over Berlin.
In the end, Macron and Washington – albeit working for different objectives – were defeated in their attempts to sabotage the emerging energy trade between Germany, Europe and Russia. Nord Stream 2, as with Russia’s Turk Stream to the south of Europe, seems inevitable by sheer force of natural partnership.
On this note, the Hungarian government’s comments this week were apt. Budapest accused some European leaders and the US of “huge hypocrisy” in decrying association with Russia over energy trade. Macron has previously attended an economics forum in St Petersburg, and yet lately has sought to “blackmail” and disrupt Germany over its trade plans with Russia.
As for the Americans, their arrant hypocrisy is beyond words. As well as trying to dictate to Europe about “market principles” and “energy security”, it was reported this week that Washington is similarly demanding Iraq to end its import of natural gas from neighboring Iran.
Iraq is crippled by electricity and power shortages because of the criminal war that the US waged on that country from 2003-2011 which destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure. Iraq critically needs Iranian gas supplies to keep the lights and fans running. Yet, here we have the US now dictating to Iraq to end its lifeline import of Iranian fuel in order to comply with the Trump administration’s sanctions against Tehran. Iraq is furious at the latest bullying interference by Washington in its sovereign affairs.
The hypocrisy of Washington and elitist politicians like Emmanuel Macron has become too much to stomach. Maybe Germany and others are finally realizing who the charlatans are.
What is happening to Venezuela is a coup d’état and it has nothing to do with democracy, human rights, free and fair elections or international law. The US and Canada represent the antithesis of those values; defying the United Nations Charter and international law by interfering in the internal affairs of Venezuela. Their hands are not clean, and their motives are not pure, because their foreign policy objectives everywhere are to promote the interests of their domestic corporations, oligarchs and war profiteers.
In 2017 the US and Canada formed a posse of vigilantes that they named the Lima Group. The members of the Lima Group are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Saint Lucia. Mexico’s newly elected liberal government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has withdrawn from the Lima Group, saying that Mexico follows the principles of sovereignty, non-intervention, and self-determination in foreign policy. Viva AMLO! The Lima Group makes a mockery out of the United Nations and international law.
The US, which is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, handpicked the gang members of the Lima Group. Most are rightwing governments, and politically dominated by business-centric oligarchs, and wealthy families just like those that are trying to take control in Venezuela. Fascism, supported by corporations, elites and imperialists are on the march. There is a new wave of anti-immigrant, xenophobic, evangelical, homophobic, and social conservatives gaining power in Latin America, as elsewhere.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, Idriss Jazairy specifically condemned the US and Canada for imposing economic sanctions on Venezuela. Jazairy stressed that the economic sanctions are immoral on humanitarian grounds, and they are an illegal attempt to overthrow the internationally recognized sovereign government of Venezuela. On January 31, 2019 the UN released a report that quoted him as saying:
“I am especially concerned to hear reports that these sanctions are aimed at changing the government of Venezuela… Coercion, whether military or economic, must never be used to seek a change in government in a sovereign state. The use of sanctions by outside powers to overthrow an elected government is in violation of all norms of international law…. Economic sanctions are effectively compounding the grave crisis affecting the Venezuelan economy, adding to the damage caused by hyperinflation and the fall in oil prices.”
Former UN Special Rapporteur Alfred de Zayas, who is also an international expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, said on his website on February 7th the following about the current situation in Venezuela:
“Members of the United Nations are bound by the Charter, articles one and two of which affirm the right of all peoples to determine themselves, the sovereign equality of states, the prohibition of the use of force and of economic or political interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states…… the enormous suffering inflicted on the Venezuelan people by the United States is nothing less than appalling. The economic war against Venezuela, carried out not only by the United States, but also by the Grupo de Lima in clear violation of Chapter 4, Article 19 of the OAS Charter, the financial blockade and the sanctions have demonstrably caused hundreds of deaths directly related to the scarcity of food and medicines resulting from the blockade.”
Zayas also said that what the US, Canada and the mainstream media are doing to Venezuela reminds him of the deliberate disinformation campaign that led to the US, and the “coalitions of the willing” that included Canada anonymously, illegally invading Iraq in 2003, and their destruction of Libya in 2011.
In the case of Libya in 2011, the so-called “no-fly zone” authorized by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 was for the intended purpose of bringing about a ceasefire. It specifically forbade any “boots on the ground”, which the US is known to have violated.
The US, Canada and other NATO forces illegally exceeded their UN mandate, and used it as a cover to completely destroy Libya and regime change. It later was learned that the supposed Gaddafi genocide, which the no-fly zone was intended to stop was a hoax. The point is that the US and its junior partners can never be trusted to tell the truth when a lie serves their purposes much better.
Whenever the US and its junior imperial partners resort to pleas of democracy and human rights, an ulterior motive should be assumed. For instance, the little the US and Canada care about democracy, human rights and free elections is shown by their long history of supporting non-democratic governments.
Canada has supported every US regime change project, and the overthrow of democratic governments, which did not conform to their mutual foreign policy objectives. Both countries’ foreign policies prefer corrupt business-centric rightwing repressive governments. Democracy and human rights conflict with the interests and profits of their exploitative and extractive corporations.
Both the US and Canada supported the apartheid government of South Africa right up until the very end; they support the apartheid government of Israel, which is the number one violator of human rights in the world; and they both sell arms and support the most repressive government in the world, Saudi Arabia. Human rights have not been an issue.
The US overthrew the democratically elected Salvador Allende of Chile, with Canada’s support. Both countries supported the junta regime of Augusto Pinochet, whom was later arrested for crimes against humanity. Both the US and Canada supported the illegitimate coup governments of Haiti in 2004, and in Honduras in 2009. By some estimates, the US (and Canada) support 73% of the dictators in the world. Human rights have not been an issue.
The US and Canada have been trying to overthrow the democratically elected reformist government of Venezuela, known as the Bolivarian Revolution, since 1999. Hugo Chavez’s elections were all certified by the Carter Foundation, the OAS and other legitimate observers. Chavez was elected in free, fair and democratic elections, but that did not matter to the US and Canada. They wanted to overthrow him anyway. Human rights were not an issue.
Democracy, human rights, the right-to-protect, humanitarian interventions and all the other righteous soundbites are just talking points for the US and Canada. They are only used against governments that get in their way, and never used against corrupt business-friendly governments, no matter how oppressive. Paul Jay, a Canadian, who is the editor-in-chief of The Real News Network says that he personally became aware in 2005 of Canada’s involvement in the conspiracy of regime change in Venezuela:
The hypocrisy of US concerns over human rights is on full display in a leaked US State Department memo from Brian Hook to then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The memo is titled “Balancing Interests and Values”. The memo does not mince words about human rights concerns being only a tactic to use against adversaries:
“America’s allies should be supported rather than badgered…. allies should be treated differently — and better — than adversaries…. We do not look to bolster America’s adversaries overseas; we look to pressure, compete with, and outmaneuver them…. pressing those regimes [adversaries] on human rights is one way to impose costs, apply counter-pressure, and regain the initiative from them strategically.”
Hook continues his memo by giving Tillerson a history lesson on the art of US hypocrisy from 1940 to 2017.
In other words, rightwing dictators, military juntas, ethnic cleansing, fraudulent elections, human rights violations, political prisoners, torture and murder should be treated differently, and better, with compliant allies. Even when adversaries are democratically elected, they should be roasted in order to “extract costs”, according to Hook…. but not because the US cares about people.
There is no serious doubt about the legitimacy of the more than a dozen elections in Venezuela between 1998 to 2013. That did not prevent the US and Canada from “extracting costs”, and trying to overthrow Hugo Chavez anyway. Given the examples of the US and Canada overthrowing the democratically elected governments in Chile, Haiti and Honduras, the objections to Maduro are unbelievable.
In the past few years, there have been a half-dozen certified democratic elections in Venezuela. The real motives for opposing Maduro must be something else. It is obvious what that something else is. The real motives behind the US and Canada are Venezuela’s massive wealth in oil, gas, and other natural resources, such as gold, copper and coltan.
There are also tremendous profits to be had by bringing Venezuela into the Washington Consensus. US and Canadian banks profit from IMF and World Bank loans. The corrupt politicians and oligarchs steal the loans, and then it is the poor that have to repay them, through higher prices for life’s necessities, reduced wages and government-imposed austerity. The privatization of state-owned enterprises at corrupt fire-sale prices enrich oligarchs and corporations tremendously.
The Washington Consensus also forces unequal trade agreements and currency devaluation on poor countries. The resulting lower prices are used to extract natural resources, monocrops and sweatshop produced products for export. Small farmers are driven off the land because they cannot compete with dumped US and Canadian tax-payer highly-subsidized agricultural products, such as corn and wheat. Those that suffer are the local farmers, the poor, landless and indigenous people, who go from subsistence, to poverty, to wage slavery.
The chaotic political situation in Venezuela has been purposely made worse by the US and Canada. Since Venezuela is “cursed” with natural resources, especially oil, its economy has historically gone from boom to bust depending on international oil prices.
It was low oil prices, endemic poverty, gross inequality, and neoliberal economic policies that favored the rich in the 1990’s, which swept Chavez into power in the 1998 election. A majority of the Venezuelan people elected Hugo Chavez and his “Bolivarian Revolution” of rewriting the constitution, increasing participatory democracy, frequent elections, and implementing social programs for the poor. The Carter Center (as well as the OAS) certified the election, and praised Venezuela’s modern voting systems as one of the best in the world:
“Venezuelans voted peacefully, but definitively for change. With more than 96 percent voting for the two candidates who promised to overhaul the system, Venezuelans carried out a peaceful revolution through the ballot box”, said Jimmy Carter’s Foundation upon Chavez’s victory.
The US opposed Chavez regardless of fair and democratic elections. A surprisingly honest 2005 article in the Professional Journal of the US Army explained why the US opposed Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution for economic and geopolitical reasons:
“Since he was elected president in 1998, Chávez has transformed Venezuelan Government and society in what he has termed a Bolivarian revolution. Based on Chávez’s interpretation of the thinking of Venezuelan founding fathers Simón Bolívar and Simón Rodríguez, this revolution brings together a set of ideas that justifies a populist and sometimes authoritarian approach to government, the integration of the military into domestic politics, and a focus on using the state’s resources to serve the poor—the president’s main constituency.”
“Although the Bolivarian revolution is mostly oriented toward domestic politics, it also has an important foreign policy component. Bolivarian foreign policy seeks to defend the revolution in Venezuela; promote a sovereign, autonomous leadership role for Venezuela in Latin America; oppose globalization and neoliberal economic policies; and work toward the emergence of a multipolar world in which U.S. hegemony is checked. The revolution also opposes the war in Iraq and is skeptical of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). The United States has worked fruitfully in the past with Venezuela when the country pursued an independent foreign policy, but the last three policies run directly contrary to U.S. foreign policy preferences and inevitably have generated friction between the two countries.” [Emphasis added.] [See Appendix]
Whether it is Chavez or Maduro, the US, Canada and the oligarchs in Venezuela have been trying to kill the Bolivarian Revolution from when it was an infant in the cradle.
The opposition with the support of imperialists have been trying to get rid of the Bolivarian Revolution with every means imaginable. They have tried a US supported military coup against Hugo Chavez in 2002. It failed. They tried strikes by the management of the Venezuelan oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela. It failed. They tried a recall election in 2004. It failed. Obama tried economic sanctions in 2015. It failed. The US and Canada tried an economic blockade in 2017. It has failed, as of this article. They tried to assassinate Maduro with a drone. It failed.
In 2018 the opposition boycotted the election. Maduro won by a landslide. He had invited the United Nations to be election observers, but the opposition kept the UN away. Other international observers certified the election. Now the opposition complains about the integrity of the election observers. The opposition is making a circus out of elections. The objections by the oligarchs, the US and Canada that the 2018 elections in Venezuela where fraudulent is itself a fraud. Their objectives are to knowingly “extract costs” that Venezuela can ill afford.
The US chose Canada to be the mouthpiece for the Lima Group, but the coup is being directed by imperial powers in Washington. Canadian politeness is not working, and its imperialism is out of the closet where it has been hiding. As Canadian historian Yves Engler puts it, the US carries the big stick in Latin America, and Canada comes along afterwards with the billy club. Engler is referring to Canadian peacekeeping missions, which he exposes as actually policing and counter insurgency missions. Yves Engler has written dozens of books and articles on Canadian imperialism.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may be fooling some of the people, some of the time. But he is now under attack at home for corruption. His accusers say that he has obstructed justice in the world-wide corruption scandal involving the powerful international Canadian conglomerate SNC-Lavalin. SNC-Lavalin is a mining, energy and engineering company that is typical of the corrupt face of Canadian imperialism.
Trudeau’s conspiracy with Trump to overthrow the internationally recognized government of Venezuela has unmasked Canada as a second-rate imperial power. Upon closer look, Canada has been protecting its oil and mining companies that have been raping Latin American countries, destroying their environment and poisoning their people for decades. Canadian imperialism has to obey its “deep state” too, as Canadian journalist Bruce Livesey puts it:
“Those who believe the oil industry has become a deep state point to how the political elites, whether Liberal, Conservative or NDP — from Justin Trudeau to Stephen Harper to Rachel Notley — go to bat for the industry….”.
Mining companies as well as oil and gas are a big part of Canada’s “deep state”. They control approximately 50 to 70% of the mines in Latin America, and they are not held accountable in Canadian courts for their destruction to the environment and harm to human beings in foreign countries. They dispossess the indigenous people and poor of their land. They hire goons to threaten, attack and murder those that try to form labor unions, or demonstrate about land confiscation and human rights abuses. Honduras is just one example of what happens when a democratically elected leader is overthrow by a US and Canadian-backed coup; Canadian mining companies move in. It is all exposed in the book “Ottawa and Empire: Canada and the Military Coup in Honduras”, by Tyler Shipley.
All extractive industries wound the planet. That happens with relatively more impunity abroad, but capitalism inflicts severe harm at home, too. [Canadian Mining Companies in Latin America. Photo Council on Hemispheric Affairs.]
Dispossessing native people of their land and natural resources comes natural to Canada. After all, like the US it was a settler colonial outpost for the British Empire. Both the US and Canada committed genocide and ethnic cleansing of their mutual Indigenous People. They were even allies and coordinated the genocide. According to historian Andrew Graybill:
“….the NorthWest Mounted Police were created and the Texas Rangers renewed and reorganized in the early 1870s specifically to address the pressing ‘native question’ confronting Texas and western Canada, among the few places where bison still roamed after 1870….. both Austin and Ottawa called on their rural police to manage indigenous populations facing societal collapse….by controlling or denying the Natives access to the bison.”
In other words, both the US and Canada collaborated in killing the buffalo to extinction. It was the coup de grâce for the starving “native question”. [This reminds us that the “settler” capitalist states have been morally despicable practically from inception, all propaganda to the contrary.—Ed ]
Mining is one of Canada’s biggest and most powerful and politically influential industries. Canada has approximately 60% of all mining companies in the world. Canadian companies such as Ascendant Copper, Barrick Gold, Kinder Morgan, and TriMetals Mining have operations in Canada, Latin America and elsewhere. They are continuing the ethnic cleansing of the “native question” in Latin America, and at home. (See map and statistics of Canadian Mining in Latin America.)
Canadian mining and natural resource companies are heavy handed when it comes to First Nations at home. TransCanada Corporation recently was in the news because of its pipeline route, which they are trying to put through First Nation’s land in the Wet’suwet’en territory, in northern British Columbia. On a court order, a militarized unit of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police broke up a road blockade, which the tribal leaders had put up to keep the pipeline company out of their nation. The Mounties whom lacked jurisdiction arrested 14 tribal leaders on their sovereign land.
During the reign of the British Empire, Canada helped the British put down slave rebellions in the Caribbean. Canada was involved in the slave trade, and slavery was legal in Canada until 1834. The products of slavery, such as cotton and sugar were used for trade and to industrialize Canada. When the British conquered New France, the 1760 declaration of surrender signed in Montreal specifically said:
“The Negroes and panis [aborigines] of both sexes shall remain, in their quality of slaves, in the possession of the French and Canadians to whom they belong; they shall be at liberty to keep them in their service in the colony, or to sell them; and they may also continue to bring them up in the Roman Religion.”
In the 19th century Canadian banking and insurance companies, along with those of the British, monopolized finance in British controlled parts of Latin America. Canada is still financially powerful in the English-speaking Caribbean. For example, the Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and the Royal Bank of Canada, as well as Sun Life Financial are dominate in the Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, and Trinidad. After the decline of the British Empire, Canada assumed its natural role as a second-rate imperial power and junior partner for US imperialism.
In the Lima Group, Canada is the US’s junior partner. The US has the leading role from behind the curtain. To prove it, right on cue at the January 4th meeting of the Lima Group, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pulled the curtain back in a video presentation to the group. Pompeo showed the members who they would have to answer to if they did not vote according to Washington’s wishes. The Lima group obeyed, and voted to politically isolate and economically blockade Venezuela, contrary to international law. Leaving nothing to chance, Pompeo again addressed the group from behind the video curtain at their February 4th meeting in Ottawa.
As Christopher Black wrote in New Eastern Outlook:
“The United States is the principal actor in all this but it has beside it among other flunkey nations, perhaps the worst of them all, Canada, which has been an enthusiastic partner in crime of the United States since the end of the Second World War. We cannot forget its role in the aggression against North Korea, the Soviet Union, China, its secret role in the American aggression against Vietnam, against Iraq, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine, Haiti, Iran, and the past several years Venezuela.”
Black left out many other imperial crimes of the partners in Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Somalia, Sudan, the Congo, Palestine, Libya, Yemen, etc. The US and Canada are “always there for each other” and stand “shoulder to shoulder” in war and imperialism, in Justin Trudeau’s own words. Even against Cuba!
The current Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland recently referred to Venezuela as being in “Canada’s backyard”. As the SNC-Lavalin case illustrates, the Canadian “backyard” of imperialism also extends to Africa, Asia, the Middle East and former Soviet Union republics, such as Ukraine.
This is not the 19th century. Central America, South America and the Caribbean Islands are not anybody’s back yard. It is insulting, degrading and shows a colonial mentality for the US and Canada to even think about having a backyard.
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This article was originally published on The Greanville Post.
David William Pear is a columnist writing on U.S. foreign policy, economic and political issues, human rights and social issues. David is a Senior Contributing Editor of The Greanville Post (TGP) and a prior Senior Editor for OpEdNews (OEN). David has been writing for The Real News Network (TRNN) and other publications for over 10 years. David is a member of Veterans for Peace, Saint Pete (Florida) for Peace, CodePink, and the Palestinian-led non-violent organization International Solidarity Movement.
Featured image: A Hands Off Venezuela protest in London on January 28, 2018. (Socialist Appeal/Flickr).
Rep. Ilhan Omar has been applauded for grilling Elliott Abrams over his role in the US-backed genocide and death squads in Latin America.
“In 1991, you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding your involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush,” Omar accurately stated. “I fail to understand why members of this committee, or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful.”
Wipe up that stupid grin ye pathetic war criminal!
(CJ Opinion) — Days after being smashed with a vicious establishment smear campaign to paint her as an antisemite for accurately criticizing AIPAC, Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is already back on the horse aggressively disrupting the establishment narrative matrix that our rulers have worked so hard to construct for us.
Elliott Abrams is a monster. The atrocities that he has facilitated, covered up and whitewashed in Panama, El Salvador, Gaza, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Iraq are utterly unforgivable, and the fact that he has been appointed as special envoy to Venezuela by the Trump administration completely invalidates the US government’s Venezuela narrative all by itself. Even without the blatant lies, the known oil agendas, the CIA ops, the mounting evidence of US arms smuggling to right-wing militias, and America’s extensive history of utterly disastrous regime change interventionism, the fact that this administration would appoint such a ghoulish individual to spearhead its Venezuela interventionism alone is enough to show you that the US government has nothing but malevolent intentions for that nation.
So it was nice to see someone in that government calling him what he is right to his face in front of everybody.
At a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on US Venezuela policy, Abrams was presented with the only line of questioning that is appropriate for such a beast by the very congresswoman the Democrats threw to the wolves just two days ago. Someone had to do it, and they left it to Ilhan Omar.
“In 1991, you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding your involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush,” Omar accurately stated. “I fail to understand why members of this committee, or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful.”
“If I could respond to that-” Abrams began.
“That wasn’t a question,” Omar responded, cutting him off.
“It was an attack! It was an attack!” Abrams exclaimed, visibly upset.
“I reserve the right to my time,” said Omar.
“It is not right that members of this Committee can attack a witness who is not permitted to reply,” Abrams said, talking over Omar.
“That was not a question; thank you for your participation,” Omar continued. “On February 8th, 1982, you testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about US foreign policy in El Salvador. In that hearing, you dismissed as communist propaganda a report about the massacre of El Mozote of which more than 800 civilians, including children as young as two years old, were brutally murdered by U.S.-trained troops. During that massacre, some of those troops bragged about raping 12 year-old girls before they killed them. You later said that the U.S. policy in El Salvador was a ‘fabulous achievement.’ Yes or no, do you still think so?”
“From the day that President Duarte was elected in a free election, to this day, El Salvador has been a democracy,” Abrams said angrily. “That’s a fabulous achievement.”
“Yes or no, do you think that massacre was a fabulous achievement that happened under our watch?” Omar asked.
“That is a ridiculous question and I will not respond to it,” Abrams replied. “I’m sorry Mr. Chairman, I am not going to respond to that kind of personal attack which is not a question.”
“I will take that as a yes,” Omar said. “Yes or no, would you support an armed faction within Venezuela that engages in war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide if you believe they were serving US interests as you did in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua?”
“I’m not going to respond to that question,” Abrams again answered. “I’m sorry, I don’t think this entire line of questioning is meant to be real questions, and so I will not reply.”
“Whether under your watch a genocide will take place, and you will look the other way because American interests were being upheld is a fair question,” Omar said. “Because the American people want to know that any time we engage a country that we think about what our actions could be and how we believe our values are being furthered. That is my question: Will you make sure that human rights are not violated and that we uphold international and human rights?”
“I suppose there is a question in there, and the answer is that the entire thrust of American policy in Venezuela is to support the Venezuelan people’s effort to restore democracy to their country,” Abrams responded. “That’s our policy.”
“I don’t think anybody disputes that,” Omar said. “The question I had for you is that does the interests of the United States include protecting human rights and include protecting people against genocide?”
“That is always the position of the United States,” Abrams lied.
“Thank you,” concluded Omar. “I yield back the rest of my time.”
There is no legitimate reason for Elliott Abrams to ever find himself before a group of people who are ostensibly concerned with accountability and responsibility without being asked such questions. But that didn’t stop all the world’s worst people from crawling out of the woodwork to his defense.
“Disgraceful ad hominem attacks by @IlhanMN on my @CFR_org colleague Elliott Abrams,” tweeted Iraq-raping neocon Max Boot. “She doesn’t seem to realize he is a leading advocate of human rights and democracy — not a promoter of genocide! More evidence of the loony left I caution Democrats about.”
“I worked for Elliott Abrams as a civil servant,” tweeted Kelly Magsamen, Vice President of National Security for the plutocrat-backed liberal think tank Center for American Progress. “He is a fierce advocate for human rights and democracy. Yes, he made serious professional mistakes and was held accountable. I’m a liberal but I’m also fair. We all have a lot of work to do together in Venezuela. We share goals.”
“I am not greatly sympathetic to Rep. Omar (surprise surprise),” tweeted National Review senior editor and former George W Bush speech writer Jay Nordlinger. “But really, someone ought to have given her a clue who Elliott Abrams is. The guy has been championing freedom and human rights his entire life (and taking unholy sh** for it from the illiberal Left and Right).”
Conservative pundit Michael Knowles tossed his two cents into the campaign to purge the concept of antisemitism of any meaning by tweeting, “One wonders why @IlhanMN seems to harbor such particular contempt for Elliott¹ Abrams² (¹ from the Hebrew ‘Elijah,’ meaning ‘My God is Yahweh’ ² the father of the Jewish people).”
This is the bipartisan establishment orthodoxy that is guiding your foreign policy, America. One which claims Elliott Abrams is a saint, which claims criticism of US warmongering is antisemitic, and which throws a bold Somali-American woman under the bus for speaking the truth after years of paying lip service to the need to get more women of color elected to the leadership of the Democratic Party. This whole Abrams incident happened, by the way, at the same time Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deleted a tweet in which he accidentally acknowledged the agenda to start a war with Iran, but you probably won’t see Omar commenting on this because she knows she’ll be smeared as an antisemite for it.
US warmongering is the most aggressively protected part of the establishment narrative matrix, because US warmongering is the glue that holds the unipolar empire together. Without it, our rulers cannot rule, so you’ll see imperial lackeys fiercely attacking anyone who draws attention to America’s bloodbaths around the world, even if they are good servants of the empire in other areas.
The difficulty for our rulers, though, is that warmongering is a very difficult thing to paint a pretty picture of, especially with our newfound ability to quickly share ideas and information around the globe. I mean, look at Elliott Abrams. Seriously, just watch him talk. That demonic grimace is the prettiest face they could find to put on their Venezuela agenda. I find that very encouraging.
The reason they work so hard to manufacture our consent for warmongering agendas is because they need that consent. They wouldn’t propagandize us so aggressively if they didn’t need us all trusting them and believing their stories, so the best way to fight establishment warmongering is to circulate disbelief in their stories. Whenever you see someone like Ilhan Omar drawing attention to the gaping plot holes in agendas like regime change interventionism in Venezuela, go ahead and help draw attention to it.
Things are only shitty because a few extremely powerful people do very shitty things. The only reason powerful people get away with doing very shitty things is because the majority allows them to. The majority only allows them to because they’ve been propagandized to. The weakest link in this chain is the propaganda. Attack there.
A virtual unknown before declaring himself president of Venezuela, it seems that Guaido’s only qualification for the job is a willingness to open up his country’s vast oil reserves – and much more – to US companies.
If it seems like we’ve been here before, that’s not just déjà vu talking to you.
Reminiscent of Ukraine’s 2014 Maidan uprising, which saw US officials dictating the political makeup of the unelected opposition government, something equally sinister is taking place in Venezuela where Washington is working to topple the “Maduro regime” and replace it with a puppet ruler.
The name of that puppet-in-waiting is English-speaking, US-educated, Obama doppelganger Juan Guaido, 35, who in a very short period of time went from relative obscurity – 80 percent of Venezuelans reportedly never heard of him just one month ago – to declaring himself the interim president of the Latin American country.
How on earth does something like that happen?
In reality it doesn’t, unless there are some very powerful forces aligned behind the individual. Guaido was not even a high-ranking member inside of his own party, Popular Will, yet in early January was handpicked to be President of the National Assembly, Venezuela’s unicameral parliament. This set the stage for Guaido to be positioned as some sort of legitimate usurper to residing President Nicolás Maduro, whose victory at the polls was declared “fraudulent” by the opposition, despite the fact that Venezuela has one of the most transparent election processes in the world.
In other words, what we have here is a classic domestic political dispute, much like what is happening in France for the thirteenth weekend in a row. Yet that has not prevented the United States from exerting extreme pressure on the situation – not on Paris, of course, but on Caracas. Which begs the question: are the French people any less worthy of intrusive American meddling in their domestic affairs than Venezuelans? Why the double standard when it comes to not sending humanitarian aid packages to the taxed ‘Yellow Vest’ protesters? And how is it that the government of French leader Immanuel Macron can arrest the leader of the “hateful mob,” as he described them, without any recriminations from the Western mainstream media? I shudder to think what sort of hell will rain down on Venezuela should Guaido suffer a similar fate. But I digress.
Members of the most-righteous Republican Party, as well as high-ranking officials inside of the Trump administration, have taken an active role in energizing the Venezuela flare-up, goading the opposition while prodding the military into rallying behind Juan Guaido.
In fact, on January 22, the day before a scheduled mass protest against Maduro, Vice President Mike Pence, doing an impressive Robocop impersonation like only he can, sent an unblinking message to the protesters:
“Nicolas Maduro is a dictator with no legitimate claim to power,” he droned metallically. “He has never won the presidency in a free and fair election, and has maintained his grip of power by imprisoning anyone who dares to oppose him.”
Is it any coincidence that the very next day Guaido – with the ironclad blessing of the United States – unilaterally declared himself interim president of Venezuela?
But the meddling from Uncle Sam has gone beyond the merely rhetorical. Less than a week after Guaido assumed his whimsical throne, the Trump administration went after the jugular of the real government, sanctioning the state-owned oil company PDVSA with the proviso that the sanction regime will be lifted once Caracas transfers control of the company to the opposition. A less diplomatic way of describing that arrangement would be ‘blackmail.’
Incidentally, there’s a rather hefty footnote to the Venezuela crisis that the media has not been talking about. In 2017, Goldman Sachs bought about $2.8 billion (at 31 cents on the dollar, or about $865 million) for bonds issued by Petróleos de Venezuela SA in 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“Those bonds double in value if Maduro goes,” Jan Dehn, head of research at the Ashmore Group told Forbes.
Is it any wonder, then, that Trump the consummate capitalist has called up from the bullpen some of the most notorious names in the business to deal with Maduro? Nice guys like Eliot Abrams, who makes John Bolton resemble a Boy Scout by comparison. According to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Abrams, who was once tasked with covering up the El Mozote massacre at the hands of US-trained Salvadoran troops, will oversee Venezuela’s “democratic transition.”
This sends an unmistakable message to the Venezuelan government, and certainly not one that Hallmark would have in stock. As Jon Schwarz wrote in The Intercept, “it’s uncanny to see how Abrams has almost always been there when U.S. actions were at their most sordid.”
But that’s just the icing on the crap cake. The White House has already assembled a squad of ‘shock doctrinaires’ to deal with the Socialist patient once it’s prostrate on the operating table. Harvard professor Ricardo Hausmann, for example, who once served as Venezuelan economic minister is now Guaido’s on-call adviser.
In a sign of the pain to come should the Georgetown University graduate gain control, Hausmann, who admitted to having discussed the plight of Venezuela with the IMF, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying, “This is a country in a terrible situation; the haircut has to be large.”
So what to make of this convoluted ball of wax? Is this all just a warning shot across the bow of the Maduro government to either accept American diktat or else? We’ve seen such strong-handed tactics before by the Trump administration in places like North Korea where a lot of heated rhetoric eventually simmered down into negotiations and, to everyone’s surprise, some semblance of peace. Trump is a businessman, after all, and he makes a point of prompting talks with a lot of swagger and bluster in an effort to throw the other side off balance. It’s a risky game in an age of nuclear weapons, but thus far it has worked.
Nevertheless, with all of the notable hawks in the Trump administration squawking aggressively, it looks as though another US military intervention were on the horizon. However, and this is a serious factor, the Venezuelan people are still behind Maduro, and the threat of a US invasion – real or imagined – has had the effect of galvanizing that support. A full 86 percent of the people have no desire to see the Libyan business model imposed upon them.
Meanwhile, Juan Guaido proved his political ineptitude and overall gullibility when he commented this week that he “may authorize a US military intervention.” That’s a very poor reading as to how the world – at least the world according to America – has been working. These days not even US Congress is empowered to authorize such things, since most presidents (before Trump, who, to his credit, has kept the US out of military smashups) act unilaterally when it comes to mandating military aggression. Moreover, Guaido will simply have no say over such matters, of course, if push comes to shove.
The fact that the young political upstart seems to think otherwise suggests the White House may have stumbled upon the perfect tool in its regime change toolkit, which hasn’t been opened in several years. Hopefully, Trump won’t be tempted to reopen it any time soon.
Who owns a record $21.21 trillion in U.S. national debt? Some 70% is owned by Americans in one form or another. Foreigners own the rest.
Americans own 70% of U.S. debt, but China, Japan loom large
Who owns the huge and growing U.S. national debt? By and large, Americans.
Some 70% of the national debt is owned by domestic government, institutions investors and the Federal Reserve. A shade under 30% is owned by foreign entities, according to the latest information from the U.S. Treasury.
The nation’s debt climbed to a record $21.21 trillion at the end of June, a 6.9% increase from a year earlier.
American institutions such as private and state pension funds as well as individual investors were the biggest holders. They owned $6.89 trillion in debt and absorbed about four-fifths of the increase over the past year.
Foreigners, led by the Chinese and Japanese, owned $6.21 trillion. Those two countries have cut their stakes since 2015, but each country still owns more than $1 trillion worth of Treasury bonds and notes.