Kimball Cariou is the Communist Party of Canada candidate in Vancouver Kingsway.
(Image: Protest in Haiti against UN sexual crimes against women. Source)
The word peacekeeping is like the word terrorism: it is meaningless on its own and able to be molded to serve the interests of a political clique. Like Alex P. Schmidt’s description of terrorism in The Routledge Handbook of Terrorism Research, peacekeeping “is usually an instrument for the attempted realization of a political…project that perpetrators lacking mass support are seeking”.
Peacekeepers have never kept the peace in any conflict. On the contrary, peacekeepers themselves have been linked to an increase in violence and human rights abuses, particularly of a sexual nature. In Bosnia, Somalia, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Mozambique, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, peacekeepers have been “associated with criminal misconduct, including sexual violence. Crimes against women and children have followed UN peacekeeping operations in several locations, and the UN reported that the entrance of peacekeeping troops into a conflict situation has been associated with a rapid rise in child prostitution”. Allegations of sexual violence against peacekeepers dates back to the 1990s. During the 1995-2002 UN mission in Bosnia, Kathryn Bolkovac, a human rights investigator, found that young “girls from Romania, Ukraine, Moldova and other Eastern European countries [were] being brought in to service the UN and military bases as sex-slaves. The cases involved the officers from many foreign countries, including the USA, Pakistan, Germany, Romania, Ukraine, government contractors, and local organized criminals”. Bolkovac was subsequently fired for her investigation. As of 2015 more than 200 women and girls have been sexually exploited by UN peacekeepers in Haiti in exchange for food, clothing, medicine, and other basic necessities . In the Central African Republic, French peacekeepers have forced young girls to have sex with dogs , starving and homeless boys as young as nine have been sodomized by peacekeepers , and an entire UN contingent was expelled from the country due to sex crimes .
Extrajudicial murder, torture, and mass murder – all war crimes under international law – have also been committed by peacekeepers. A 14-year-old Somali boy was beaten, tortured, and murdered by Canadian peacekeepers in Somalia; the peacekeepers having posed in photos with the boy’s bloody corpse. Not to be outdone, Belgian peacekeepers were photographed roasting a Somali over a fire. (more…)
An explosive new report reveals how the U.S. government paid a British public relations company linked to right-wing politics and repressive regimes more than $500 million from American taxpayers to spearhead a top-secret propaganda campaign in Iraq.
Bell Pottinger, a London-based P.R. firm, created fake videos that appeared to be the work of al-Qaida, the Islamist extremist group formerly headed by Osama bin Laden. It also created news stories that looked as though they were produced by Arab media outlets, and distributed them through Middle Eastern news networks.
The company worked in Camp Victory, the U.S. military base in Baghdad, side-by-side with high-ranking U.S. military officers.
The propaganda videos were personally approved by Gen. David Petraeus — then the commander of U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq, who would go on to become the director of the CIA. On some occasions, even the White House signed off on the propaganda materials. (more…)
The same message is clear everywhere you look: be afraid, be very, very afraid. Whether it is about terrorism, jobs, or who to vote for, fear is a powerful weapon, economically and politically, in the hands of the ruling class. Fear is divisive, it is incapacitating, and ultimately immobilizes the working class and everyone struggling for social change.
The power of fear is that it shuts down. It shuts down debate, it shuts down dialogue, it shuts down meaningful action. Whether or not the fear is rational is largely irrelevant. Many people fear many things with very little, if any, rational explanation for the fear. According to a public survey, Iran was ranked as the biggest threat to world peace in the U.S. and Canada. Why? Iran hasn’t attacked another country since 1798. On the flip side, Iran has been attacked on many occasions by the U.S.-NATO alliance. The U.S. and Britain overthrew Iran’s democratically elected government in 1953 on behalf of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, BP’s predecessor, ushering in a reign of terror by a brutal monarch. The U.S. supplied Saddam Hussein with chemical weapons to attack the Iranians during the Iran-Iraq War, the very same weapons the U.S. illegally occupied and destroyed Iraq for allegedly possessing. In 1988, the U.S. Navy shot down a civilian airliner, Iran Air flight 655, killing all 290 people on board, while the plane was over Iranian territory, in Iranian airspace, traveling the plane’s standard flight path. There is no basis to any claim that Iran is a threat to world peace, but there is overwhelming evidence the U.S. and its allies are. (more…)
In no other department have the Liberals veered farther from their expectations than in foreign policy. Trudeau went to great lengths to distance himself from his predecessor during the campaign. Among other things, he promised he would end the combat mission in Iraq. Upon being elected, he said he would restore Canada’s “compassionate and constructive voice in the world.” Many were led to believe that Harper’s divisive foreign policy had come to an end. But it is unlikely that this was ever Trudeau’s intention.
On May 1, 2003, George W Bush stood in a dinky little flying suit on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and in a super stage-managed appearance told the lie of the century: “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.”
The illegal occupation and decimation of Iraq continued until December 2011. In June 2014 they returned to bomb again in the guise of combating ISIS. As the 13th anniversary of Bush’s appearance with a vast “Mission Accomplished” banner behind him, Iraq is largely in ruins, Iraqis have fled the murderous “liberation” and it’s aftermath in millions and there are over three million internally displaced.
The nation is pinned between a tyrannical, corrupt US puppet government, a homicidal, head chopping, raping, organ eating, history erasing, US-spawned ISIS – and a renewed, relentless US bombardment. So much for the 2008 US-Iraq State of Forces agreement, which stated that by December 31, 2011: “all United States forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory.”
On the USS Abraham Lincoln Bush stated: “In this battle, we have fought for the cause of liberty, and for the peace of the world … Because of you, our nation is more secure. Because of you, the tyrant has fallen, and Iraq is free.”
In what has transpired to be monumental irony, he continued: “The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We have removed an ally of Al-Qaida, and cut off a source of terrorist funding.” There was of course, no Al-Qaida in Iraq, no funding of fundamentalist terrorism under Saddam Hussein, it is the invasion’s conception, birth, now reached maturity from Baghdad to Brussels, Mosul to the Maghreb, Latakia to London.
In Iraq, US terrorism from the air is back in all its genocidal force.
Incredibly on April 23, the Independent newspaper reported another staggering piece of either disinformation or childish naivety, in a predictably familiar script : “A spokesperson for the US military said all possible precautions were taken to avoid ‘collateral damage’, but in approaching 7,000 air strikes the number of confirmed civilian deaths had risen on Planet Pentagon to just … 41.
In another past its sell-by-date mantra: “Colonel Patrick Ryder, a spokesperson for Central Command, said the casualties were ‘deeply regretted’ but maintained that the campaign was the ‘most precise air campaign in the history of warfare’.”
And here’s another familiar one: “In this type of armed conflict, particularly with an enemy who hides among the civilian population, there are going to be, unfortunately, civilian casualties at times.” The Geneva Convention, amongst other Treaties, Principles and Conventions, is specific on the protections of populations in conflict.
So another onslaught in a quarter of a century of bombing Iraq is underway – another mass murder with an obscure name: “Operation Inherent Resolve.”
Here is reality from Dr Souad Al-Azzawi, Award winning environmental scientist who gained her PhD from the Colorado School of Mines.
She states of just the onslaught on Mosul, her home, the ancient university city of 1.5 million, that the stated figures from US spokespersons are: Either misinformed about the real situation on the ground, since they are using drones and guided missiles, or air strikes blindly, intentionally not saying the truth.
“I would like to list some of what the American’s air strikes have been targeting and killing in Mosul:
- Destroyed are all state services buildings, including Municipalities in right and left sides of Mosul. When they bomb at night, all security personnel get killed or injured, also residents of close by areas, and adjacent properties are destroyed.
- Bombed and destroyed all communication centres.
- Destruction of Dairy Production Factories in both left and right sides of Mosul. Casualties of these two are 100 deaths and 200 injuries among civilians who gathered to receive milk and dairy products from the factories. Dr Al-Azzawi reminds that this is reminiscent of the bombing of the baby milk factor outside Baghdad in 1991 with the claim it was a chemical weapons factory. This writer visited the factory ruins just months later; there were still charred containers of milk power – the machinery was provided and maintained by a company in Birmingham, England which specialised in infant food prodiction.
- Bombing of Mosul Pharmaceutical Industries.
- Mosul University was bombed with 92 deaths and 135 injuries. Earlier estimates were higher, but many were pulled from the rubble alive. “They were students, faculty members, staff members, families of faculties, and restaurants workers.”
- Al Hadbaa and Al Khadraa Residential Apartments compounds. Fifty people killed (families) and 100 injured.
- Hay al Dhubat residential area in the right side of Mosul, two days ago, five women and four children killed and the whole house [destroyed]. The father is a respected pharmacist who has nothing to do with ISIL.
- Destruction of houses in front of the Medical College, killed 22 civilians – 11 in one family.
- Bombing Sunni Waqif Building, 20 deaths and 70 injuries which included those in nearby commercial and residential buildings.
- Car maintenance industrial areas in both left and right sides of Mosul destroyed with civilian’s casualties.
- Bombing of flour factories in both sides of Mosul.
- Rafidain and Rasheed banks and all their branches in both sides of Mosul. Destruction of all commercial and residential areas in the vicinity of these places, with as yet unknown civilian casualties.
- Central Bank of Mosul in Ghazi Street, with nearby residential and commercial properties.
- Pepsi factory, currently producing ice cubes only. Three deaths and 12 injuries among the workers.
- The Governor’s house and close by guest house.
- Mosul’s old industrial compound destroyed, with parking area for fuel tankers and cars. Three days ago, huge explosion of fuel tankers, 150 deaths and injuries.
- Urban Planning Directory in Hay al Maliyah bombed.
- Engineering Planning Directory in Hay al Maliyah bombed.
- Food Storages in left side of Mosul bombed.
- Drinking water treatment plants bombed.
- All electrical generation and transformer stations in the left side of Mosul bombed.
- Domez land communications centre in left side of Mosul destroyed.
- Al Hurairah Bridge – and many more.
There is a sickening familiarity to some of the targets – food, pharmaceuticals, water treatment plants, electricity generation, communications and educational facilities, bridges (the country, towns and cities are divided by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers) have been favoured targets since 1991. Every time painstakingly and imaginatively restored they have been re-bombed for a quarter of a century.
During the 1990’s a Canadian film crew captured footage of US planes dropping flares on harvested wheat and barley, incinerating entire harvests in a country, which due to the strangulating embargo there were near famine conditions in parts of society.
“When Iraqi civilians looked into the faces of our servicemen and women, they saw strength, and kindness, and good will”, said George W Bush in his “Mission Accomplished” speech. No, they saw invaders destroying their lives, their families, their history, raping, pillaging. They saw Falluja’s destruction, Abu Ghraib’s horrors and the 11 other secret prisons and nightmares ever ongoing.
On April 25, Dr Al-Azzawi added: “More war crimes have been committed by American Coalition, yesterday April 24, 2016. The coalition planes bombed Rashidiya water treatment plant left side of Mosul city and Yermouk electricity generation station in the right side of Mosul. Through targeting these populations’ life sustaining necessities, the coalition is committing genocidal action towards Mosul residents in the pretext of fighting ISIS.”
Also on April 25, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kate Gilmore, on returning from a week in Iraq wrote starkly of the government: “Iraqis are crying out for fairness, recognition, justice, appreciation and meaningful participation in shaping their future – a process that goes forward and not backwards … We all have responsibilities towards the people of Iraq. While there is an international military coalition in place, a comparably resourced international coalition of practical compassion is also needed to help with the building blocks towards a sustained peace in Iraq.”
In the US military lexicon it seems “compassion” has been replaced by their missiles of choice.
Ms Gilmore also stated that Iraq was being run by a failed government and warned foreign powers not to be “complicit” in its neglect of the plight of normal Iraqis.
Further: “The international community must not allow itself to be made complicit with the failed leadership of Iraq … There is political paralysis in Iraq. There is no government in Iraq”, she stated blisteringly of America and Britain’s illegal, abortive, parliamentary project.
“Our commitment to Liberty is America’s tradition … We stand for human liberty,” concluded Bush on the USS Abraham Lincoln. Were mistruths ever bleaker? And when will George W Bush, Charles Anthony Lynton Blair and their cohorts answer for their crimes in a Court of Law?
During the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Syrian forces had surprised Israel and were fast approaching the edge of the steep Golan Heights, captured by Israel during the 1967 war. It seemed as if Syrian armour and infantry would retake Golan, then pour down into Israeli Galilee.
Soviet recon satellites observed Israel moving its nuclear-armed, 500 kilometre-range Jericho missiles out of protective caves and onto their launch pads. At the same time, Israel was seen loading nuclear bombs on their US-supplied F-4 fighter-bombers at Tel Nof airbase.
Believing Israel was about to use nuclear weapons against Syria and Egypt, Moscow put huge pressure on both to rein in their advancing forces. Damascus, already in range of Israeli artillery on Golan, ordered its armoured forces on Golan to halt, allowing Israel to mount powerful counter-attacks and retake the strategic heights.
In 1981, Israel formally annexed the 580 square mile portion of Golan that it occupied. This illegal annexation was condemned by the United Nations, the United States and Europe’ powers. But Israel held on to Golan and implanted 50,000 there in some 41 subsidised settlements.
The world has pretty much forgotten how close it came to nuclear war in 1973 over Golan. The heights became a primary nuclear trigger point along with Kashmir, Germany’s Fulda Gap, and the DMZ, Korea’s inner border.
Golan recently resurfaced in the news when Israel’s rightwing prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, told Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, that his nation would never return Golan to Syria. In a speech soon after, Netanyahu vowed Israel would hold on to Golan for “all eternity.” He also admitted for the first time that Israel had made “dozens” of cross-border attacks on Syria.
The long basalt plateau is indeed a valuable prize. It extends from snow-capped, 2,814 metre Mount Hermon in the north to the Sea of Galilee and Yarmouk River in the south. Golan supplies 15 percent of Israel’s scarce water and may contain gas or petroleum deposits.
Israeli artillery on Golan can hit Syria’s capitol Damascus; Israeli electronic sensors blanket Damascus and cover all Syrian military movement below. Having walked much of the Golan on both Syrian and Israeli-held sides, I can attest to its remarkable military importance and thick defences.
After the 1967 war, Israel ethnically cleansed Golan, levelling the capital, Kuneitra, with bulldozers and expelled almost all Golan’s 130,000 Druze and Arab inhabitants. Jewish settlers were brought in to replace them. The US shielded Israel from UN action and world-wide protests.
Before 2011, Israel hinted that it would return Golan to Syria as part of a comprehensive peace agreement – provided Damascus ceased supporting Palestinian claims to their lost lands. But once the Syrian civil war conveniently began, there was no more talk of Golan.
In fact, it’s pretty much clear that Israel has been quietly fuelling the Syrian conflict by discreet arms and logistics support to so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels and lobbying for the war in Washington and with the US media. Netanyahu has even said – with a straight face – that Israel cannot return Golan or even negotiate, until calm returns to Syria and Iraq.
Netanyahu is clearly following the grand strategy of the founder of his rightwing Likud Party, Zeev Jabotinsky, a militant Russian Zionist. Jabotinsky asserted that the Arab states were an artificial, fragile mosaic of inimical Arab tribes.
Hit them hard enough, claimed Jabotinsky, and they will shatter into small pieces, leaving Israel master of the Levant (central Arab world). The destruction of Iraq and Syria have confirmed Jabotinsky’s theory.
Accordingly, Israel is delighted to see Syria, a primary foe, lying in ruins as a result of a US, British, French, Turkish and Saudi-instigated civil war. Damascus is in no shape to demand the return of Golan, and the rest of the world does not care.
The destruction of Syria as a unitary state offers the expansionist Likud government many opportunities to extend influence into Syria – as was the case in Lebanon during its bloody 1975-1990 civil war. Or even carve off more Syrian territory “to protect Israel’s security”.
The words of Israel’s founding father, David Ben-Gurion, still resonate: the state of Israel is a work in progress and its borders should not be fixed or even defined. Notably the borders with Syria and Jordan.
Image Source: http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Analysis-Al-Qaida-and-Iranian-terror-are-on-the-border-but-war-headlines-are-a-stretch-412341
In this exclusive interview, Prof Peter Kuznick speaks of: the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagazaki; US crimes and lies behind the Vietnam war, and what was really behind that inhumane invasion; why the US engaged a Cold War with the Soviet Union, and how that war and the mainstream media influences the world today; the interests behind the assassinations of President Kennedy; US imperialism towards Latin America, during the Cold War and today, under the false premise of War on Terror and War on Drugs.
Edu Montesanti: Professor Peter Kuznick, thank you so very much for granting me this interview. In the book The Untold History of the United States, Oliver Stone and you reveal that the the launch of the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki by President Harry Truman was militarily unnecessary, and the reasons behind it. Would you comment these versions, please?
Peter Kuznick: It is interesting to me that when I speak to people from outside the United States, most think the atomic bombings were unnecessary and unjustifiable, but most Americans still believe that the atomic bombs were actually humane acts because they saved the lives of not only hundreds of thousands of Americans who would have died in an invasion but of millions of Japanese.
That is a comforting illusion that is deeply held by many Americans, especially older ones. It is one of the fundamental myths emanating from World War II. It was deliberately propagated by President Truman, Secretary of War Henry Stimson, and many others who also spread the erroneous information that the atomic bombs forced Japanese surrender. Truman claimed in his memoirs that the atomic bombs saved a half million American lives.
President George H.W. Bush later raised that number to “millions.” The reality is that the atomic bombings neither saved American lives nor did they contribute significantly to the Japanese decision to surrender. They may have actually delayed the end of the war and cost American lives. They certainly cost hundreds of thousands of Japanese lives and injured many more.
As the January 1946 report by the U.S. War Department made clear, there was very little discussion of the atomic bombings by Japanese officials leading up to their decision to surrender. This has recently been acknowledged somewhat stunningly by the official National Museum of the U.S. Navy in Washington, DC, which states, “The vast destruction wreaked by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the loss of 135,000 people made little impact on the Japanese military.
However, the Soviet invasion of Manchuria…changed their minds.” Few Americans realize that six of America’s seven five star admirals and generals who earned their fifth star during the war are on record as saying that the atomic bombs were either militarily unnecessary or morally reprehensible or both.
That list includes Generals Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower, and Henry “Hap” Arnold and Admirals William Leahy, Ernest King, and Chester Nimitz. Leahy, who was chief of staff to presidents Roosevelt and Truman, called the atomic bombings violations of “every Christian ethic I have ever heard of and all of the known laws of war.” He proclaimed that the “Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender…The used of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. In being the first to use it we adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the dark ages.”
Eisenhower agreed that the Japanese were already defeated. MacArthur said that the Japanese would have surrendered months earlier if the U.S. had told them they could keep the emperor, which the U.S. did ultimately allow them to do.
What really happened? By spring 1945, it was clear to most Japanese leaders that victory was impossible. In February 1945, Prince Fumimaro Konoe, former Japanese prime minister, wrote to Emperor Hirohito, “I regret to say that Japan’s defeat is inevitable.”
The same sentiment was expressed by the Supreme War Council in May when it declared that “Soviet entry into the war will deal a death blow to the Empire” and was repeated frequently thereafter by Japanese leaders.
The U.S., which had broken Japanese codes and was intercepting Japanese cables, was fully aware of Japan’s increasing desperation to end the war if the U.S. would ease its demand for “unconditional surrender.” Not only was Japan getting battered militarily,
it’s railroad system was in tatters and its food supply was shrinking. Truman himself referred to the intercepted July 18 cable as “the telegram from the Jap emperor asking for peace.” American leaders also knew that what Japan really dreaded was the possibility of a Soviet invasion, which they maneuvered unsuccessfully to forestall.
The Japanese leaders did not know that at Yalta Stalin had agreed to come into the Pacific War three months after the end of the fighting in Europe. But Truman knew this and understood the significance. As early as April 11, 1945, the Joint Intelligence Staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was reporting that “If at any time the USSR should enter the war, all Japanese will realize that absolute defeat is inevitable.”
At Potsdam in mid-July, when Truman received Stalin’s confirmation that the Soviets were coming into the war, Truman rejoiced and wrote in his diary, “Fini Japs when that comes about.” The next day he wrote home to his wife, “We’ll end the war a year sooner now, and think of the kids who won’t be killed.”
So there were two ways to expedite the end of the war without dropping atomic bombs. The first was to change the demand for unconditional surrender and inform the Japanese that they could keep the emperor, which most American policymakers wanted to do anyway because they saw the emperor as key to postwar stability. The second was to wait for the Soviet invasion, which began at midnight on August 8.
It was the invasion that proved decisive not the atomic bombs, whose effects took longer to register and were more localized. The Soviet invasion completely discredited Japan’s ketsu-go strategy. The powerful Red Army quickly demolished the Japan’s Kwantung Army. When Prime Minister Kantaro Suzuki was asked why Japan needed to surrender so quickly, he replied that if Japan delayed, “the Soviet Union will take not only Manchuria, Korea, Karafuto, but also Hokkaido.
This will destroy the foundation of Japan. We must end the war when we can deal with the United States.” The Soviet invasion changed the military equation; the atomic bombs, as terrible as they were, did not. The Americans had been firebombing Japanese cities for months. As Yuki Tanaka has shown, the U.S. had already firebombed more than 100 Japanese cities.
Destruction reached as high as 99.5 percent in downtown Toyama. Japanese leaders had already accepted that the United States could wipe out Japanese cities. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were two more cities to vanquish, however thorough the destruction or horrific the details. But the Soviet invasion proved devastating as both American and Japanese leaders anticipated it would.
But the U.S. wanted to use atomic bombs in part as a stern warning to the Soviets of what was in store for them if they interfered with U.S. plans for postwar hegemony. That was exactly how Stalin and those around him in the Kremlin interpreted the bombings. U.S. use of the bombs had little effect on Japanese leaders, but it proved a major factor in jumpstarting the Cold War.
And it put the world on a glide path to annihilation. Truman observed on at least three separate occasions that he was beginning a process that might result in the end of life on this planet and he plowed ahead recklessly. When he received word at Potsdam of how powerful the July 16 bomb test in New Mexico had been, he wrote in his diary, “We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world.
It may be the fire destruction prophesied in the Euphrates Valley Era after Noah and his fabulous Ark.” So the atomic bombings contributed very little if anything to the end of the war, but they began a process that continues to threaten humanity with annihilation today–70 plus years after the bombings. As Oliver Stone and I say in The Untold History of the United States, to kill innocent civilians is a war crime. To threaten humanity with extinction is far, far worse. It is the worst crime that can ever be committed.
Edu Montesanti: In the Vietnam War’s chapter, it is revealed that the US armed forces conducted in that small country the launch of a greater number of bombs that all launched during World War II. Would you please detail it, and comment why you think it happened, professor Kuznick?
Peter Kuzinick: The U.S. dropped more bombs against little Vietnam than had been dropped by all sided in all previous wars in history–three times as many as were dropped by all sides in WWII. That war was the worst atrocity–the worst example of foreign aggression– committed since the end of WWII. Nineteen million gallons of herbicide poisoned the countryside. Vietnam’s beautiful triple canopy forests were effectively eliminated. The U.S. destroyed 9,000 of South Vietnam’s 15,000 hamlets.
It destroyed all six industrial cities in the North as well as 28 of 30 provincial towns and 96 of 116 district towns. It threatened to use nuclear weapons on numerous occasions. Among those who discussed and occasionally supported such use was Henry Kissinger. Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara told my students that he believes that 3.8 million Vietnamese died in the war.
Thus, the war was truly horrific and the Americans have never atoned for this crime. Instead of winning a Nobel Peace Prize for ending the war, Henry Kissinger should be in the dock in the Hague standing trial for having committed crimes against humanity.
Edu Montesanti: Please speak of your experiences in the 60′s in Vietnam, and why the US decided to engage a war against that nation.
Peter Kuznick: Oliver and I approached the war from different perspectives. He dropped out of Yale and volunteered for combat in Vietnam. He was wounded twice and won a medal for combat valor. I, on the other hand, was fiercely opposed to the U.S. invasion of Vietnam from the start.
As a freshman in college, I started an anti-war group. I organized actively against the war. I hated it. I hated the people who were responsible for it. I thought they were all war criminals and still do. I attended many antiwar marches and spoke often at public events. I understood, as my friend Daniel Ellsberg likes to say, we weren’t on the wrong side. We were the wrong side.
The U.S. got gradually involved. It first financed the French colonial war and then took over the fighting itself after the Vietnamese defeated the French. President Kennedy sent in 16,000 “advisers,” but realized the war was wrong and planned to end it if he hadn’t been killed. U.S. motives were mixed. Ho was not only a nationalist, he was a communist. No U.S. leader wanted to lose a war to the communists anywhere.
This was especially true after the communist victory in China in 1949. Many feared the domino effect–that Vietnam would lead to communist victories across Southeast Asia. That would leave Japan isolated and Japan, too, would eventually turn toward the communist bloc for allies and trading partners. So one motivation was geopolitical.
Another was economic. U.S. leaders didn’t want to lose the cheap labor, raw materials, and markets in Indochina. Another reason was that the military-industrial complex in the U.S.–the “defense” industries and the military leaders allied with them–got fat and prosperous from war. War was their reason for being and they profited handsomely from war in both inflated profits and promotions.
So it was a combination of maintaining U.S. preeminence in the world, defending and exploiting U.S. economic interests, and a perverse and corrosive anti-communist mentality that wanted to defeat the communists everywhere.
Edu Montesanti: What were the real reasons behind the US Cold War with the Soviet Union?
Peter Kuznick: George Kennan, the U.S. State Department official who provided the theoretical rationale for the containment theory, laid out the economic motives behind the Cold War in a very illuminating memo in 1948 in which he said, “We have about 50 percent of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population…we cannot fail to be the object of envying resentment.
Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity.” The U.S. pursued this task. Sometimes that required supporting brutal dictatorships. Sometimes it required supporting democratic regimes. The fight occurred on the cultural as well as the political, ideological, and economic realms.
Henry Luce, the publisher of Time and Life Magazines, said, in 1941, that the 20th century must be the American Century. The U.S. would dominate the world. The U.S. set out to do so. The Soviets, having been invaded twice through Eastern Europe, wanted a buffer zone between themselves and Germany. The U.S. was opposed to such economic and political spheres that limited U.S. economic penetration.
Although the U.S. and the U.S.S.R, never went to war, they fought many dangerous proxy wars. Human beings are lucky to have survived this dismal era.
Edu Montesanti: How do you see US politics towards Cuba since the Cuban Revolution, and towards Latin America in general since the Cold War?
Peter Kuznick: The U.S. completely controlled the Cuban economy and politics from the 1890s until the 1959 revolution. Batista carried water for U.S. investors. The U.S. had intervened repeatedly in Latin American affairs between 1890 and 1933 and then often again in the 1950s. Castro represented the first major break in that cycle.
The U.S. wanted to destroy him and make sure that no one else in Latin America would follow his example. It failed. It didn’t destroy his revolution, but it guaranteed that it would not succeed economically or create the people’s democracy many hoped for.
However, it has succeeded in other ways. And the revolution has survived throughout the Cold War and since. It has inspired other Latin American revolutionaries despite all the U.S.-backed and U.S.-trained death squads that have patrolled the continent, leaving hundreds of thousands of dead in their wake.
The U.S. School for the Americas has been instrumental in training the death squad leaders. Hugo Chavez and others have picked up where Fidel left off in inspiring the Latin American left. But many progressive leaders have been brought down in recent years.
Today Dilma Rouseff is fighting for her life but Evo Morales and Alvaro Garcie Linera in Bolivia are standing proud and standing tall to resist U.S. efforts to again dominate and exploit Latin America. But across Latin America, progressive leaders have either been toppled or are being weakened by scandals. U.S.-backed neoliberals are poised once again to loot local economies in the interest of foreign and domestic capitalists. It is not a pretty picture. The people will suffer immensely while some get rich.
Edu Montesanti: According to your researches, Professor Kuznick, who killed President John Kennedy? What interests were behind that magnicide?
Peter Kuznick: Oliver made a great movie about the Kennedy assassination–JFK. We didn’t feel that we needed to revisit those issues in our books and documentaries. We focused instead on what was lost to humanity when Kennedy was stolen from us. He had grown immensely during his short time in office.
He began as a Cold Warrior. By the end of his life, following the lessons he learned during the first two years of his administration and punctuated by the Cuban Missile Crisis, he wanted desperately to end the Cold War and nuclear arms race. Had he lived, as Robert McNamara stated, the world would have been fundamentally different.
The U.S. would have withdrawn from Vietnam. Military expenditures would have dropped sharply. The U.S. and the Soviets would have explored ways to work together. The arms race would have been transformed into a peace race. But he had his enemies in the military and intelligence communities and in the military sector of the economy.
He was also hated by the Southern segregationists, the Mafia, and the reactionary Cuban exile community. But those behind his assassination would much more likely have come from the military and intelligence wing.
We don’t know who did it, but we know whose interests were advanced by the assassination. Given all the holes in the official story as detailed by the Warren Commission, it is difficult to believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and that the magic bullet did all that damage.
Edu Montesanti: Do you think US imperialism against the region today, especially attacks against progressive countries are in essence the same policy during the Cold War?
Peter Kuznick: I don’t think the U.S. wants a new cold war with a real rival that can compete around the globe. As the neocons proclaimed after the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S. really wants a unipolar world in which there is only one superpower and no rivals.
Progressive countries have fewer major allies today than they had during the Cold War. Russia and China provide some balance to the U.S., but they are not really progressive countries challenging the world capitalist order. They both are beset by their own internal problems and inequalities.
There are few democratic socialist models for the world to follow. The U.S. has managed to subvert and sabotage most of the forward thinking and visionary governments. Hugo, despite all his excesses, was one such role model. He achieved great things for the poor in Venezuela. But if we look at what is happening now in Brazil, Argentina, Honduras, it is a very sad picture.
A new revolutionary wave is needed across the third world with new leaders committed to rooting out corruption and fighting for social justice. I am personally excited by recent developments in Bolivia, despite the results of the latest election.
Edu Montesanti: How do you see the Cold War culture influences US and world society today, Professor Kuznick? What role the Washington regime and the mainstream media play on it?
Peter Kuznick: The media are part of the problem. They have served to obfuscate rather than educate and enlighten. They inculcate the sense that there are dangers and enemies lurking everywhere, but they offer no positive solutions.
As, a result, people are driven by fear and respond irrationally. Former U.S. Vice President Henry Wallace, one of America’s leading visionaries in the 20th century, responded to Winston Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech in 1946 by warning,
“The source of all our mistakes is fear… If these fears continue, the day will come when our sons and grandsons will pay for these fears with rivers of blood… Out of fear great nations have been acting like cornered beasts, thinking only of survival.”
This also operates on the personal level where people will sacrifice their freedoms to achieve greater security. We saw that play out in the U.S. after 9/11. We’re seeing that now in France and Belgium.
The world is moving in the wrong direction. Inequality is growing. The richest 62 people in the world now have more wealth than the poorest 3.6 billion. That is obscene. There is no excuse for poverty and hunger in a world of such abundant resources. In this world, the media serve several purposes, the least of which is to inform the people and arm them with the information they need to change their societies and the world.
The media instead magnify people’s fears so that they will accept authoritarian regimes and militaristic solutions to problems that have no military solutions, provide mindless entertainment to distract people from real problems, and narcotize people into somnambulence and apathy.
This is especially a problem in the United States where many people believe there is a “free” press. Where there is a controlled press, people learn to approach the media with skepticism. Many gullible Americans don’t understand the more subtle forms of manipulation and deception.
In the U.S., the mainstream media rarely offer perspectives that challenge conventional thinking. For example, I’m constantly getting interviewed by leading media outlets in Russia, China, Japan, Europe, and elsewhere, but I’m rarely interviewed by media in the United States.
Nor do my progressive colleagues get invited onto mainstream U.S. shows. So, yes, there is a certain measure of press freedom in the United States, but that freedom is undermined not by the government as much as it is by self-censorship and silencing of progressive voices. Much of the rest of the world is more open to criticizing the U.S. but not as forthright when it comes to criticizing their own governments’ policies.
Edu Montesanti: What could you say about the ideia [sic] that the current US “War on Terror” and even “War on Drugs” especially in Latin America are ways the US has found to replace the Cold War, and so expand its military power and world domination?
Peter Kuznick: The U.S. rejects the methods of the old colonial regimes. It has created a new kind of empire undergirded by between 800 and 1,000 overseas military bases from which U.S. special forces operate in more than 130 countries each year.
Instead of invading forces consisting of large land armies, which has proven not to work in country after country, the U.S. operates in more covert and less heavy-handed ways. Obama’s preferred method of killing is by drones.
These are of dubious legality and produce questionable results. They are certainly effective in killing people, but there is lots of evidence to suggest that for every “terrorist” they kill, they create 10 more in his or her place.
The War on Terror that the U.S. and its allies have waged for the past 15 years has only created more terrorists. Military solutions rarely work. Different approaches are needed and they will have to begin with redistribution of the world’s resources in order to make people want to live rather than to kill and die. People need hope.
They need a sense of connection. They need to believe that a better life is possible for them and their children. Too many feel hopeless and alienated. The failure of the Soviet model has produced a vacuum in its place. As Marx warned long ago, Russia was too culturally and economically backward to serve as a model for global socialist development.
The Revolution was challenged from the start by invading capitalist forces. Problems abounded from the beginning. Then Stalinism brought its own spate of horrors. To the extent that the Soviet model became the world standard for revolutionary change, there was little hope for creating a decent world. Nor did the Chinese model provide a better standard.
So some have turned to radical Islam, which brings its own nightmare vision. As progressive governments continue to stumble and fall, U.S. hegemony strengthens. But the U.S. has had little positive to offer the world. Future generations will look back at this Pax Americana not as a period of enlightenment but one of constant war and growing inequality.
Democracy is great in principle but less uplifting in practice. And now with the nuclear threat intensifying and climate change also threatening the future existence of humanity, the future remains uncertain. The U.S. will cling to wars on terror and wars on drugs to maintain the disparities that George Kennan outlined 68 years ago. But that is not the way forward.
The world may look upon U.S. internal politics as a descent into lunacy–an amusing sign of the complete failure of American democracy–but the outsider success of Bernie Sanders and even the anti-establishment revolt among the Republican grassroots shows that Americans are hungry for change. Both Hillary Clinton and the Republican establishment, with their Wall Street ties and militaristic solutions, do not command respect outside of certain limited segments of the population.
They may win now, but their time is limited. People everywhere are desperate for new positive, progressive answers. Some, clearly, as we see now across Europe, will turn to rightwing demagogues in times of crisis, but that is at least in part because the left has failed to provide the leadership the world needs.
A revitalized left is the key to saving this planet. We’re running out of time though. The road ahead will not be easy. But we can and must prevail.
Image Source: http://wonderfulrife.blogspot.ca/2016/05/was-japan-afraid-of-atomic-bombs-no-so.html
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it is a “matter of principle” that Canada follows through with a $15 billion armaments deal with Saudi Arabia, a totalitarian state which funds international terrorism, stones women to death for the crime of being raped, and that leads the world in public beheadings. This decision has been sharply criticized by journalists, activists, and international organizations. In a public statement Amnesty International said that it has “good reason to fear that light armored vehicles supplied” to Saudi Arabia by Canada “are likely to be used in situations that would violate human rights” in both “neighboring countries” and for ‘suppressing demonstrations and unrest within Saudi Arabia.” Montreal students and a former Bloc Quebecois MP and law professor have filed a class action lawsuit to block the deal, citing that by selling weapons to countries with poor human rights records Canada is violating its own laws.
Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion, in response to criticism about how these weapons will be used, replied that Canada has undertaken similar deals with Saudi Arabia, and that country “has not misused the equipment to violate human rights” according to the government’s “best, and regularly updated, information.” This is an outright lie.
In 2011 more than a hundred thousand protestors participated in an uprising against the undemocratic monarchy in Bahrain, calling for “political reforms, right of political participation, respect for human rights, stopping of systematic discrimination against Shias.” The regime responded by banning all demonstrations, caging villages in barbed wire, firing live ammunition at doctors that tried to help injured protestors in hospitals, torturing some protestors to death in police custody, and calling in the military of Saudi Arabia. 1, 000 Saudi troops crossed into Bahrain in armored vehicles not unlike those sold to Saudi Arabia by Canada throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. The Canadian government has neither confirmed nor denied that Canadian armored vehicles were used to suppress pro-democracy demonstrations in Bahrain.
In Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies have been at war with the country’s Houthi rebels, the U.N. has accused Saudi Arabia of war crimes. The Saudi-led coalition’s war against the poorest Arab country has caused the deaths of more than 8, 000, displaced millions, and destroyed nearly all of the country’s schools, hospitals, and historical heritage. Hundreds of thousands of children are at risk of starvation due to the violence and the Saudi-led coalition’s naval blockade in a bid to starve the country into submission. Based on photos of Saudi ground forces in Yemen, the armored vehicles being used by the Saudi military bore a striking resemblance to those manufactured in Canada, while a retired Canadian general, speaking anonymously to the Globe and Mail, identified the armored vehicles as having been manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems, the same company manufacturing the armaments in the latest $15 billion deal.
An arms deal with Saudi Arabia raises serious questions about the role of Canada in the international community. Critics of the deal have said that if Canada follows through with selling arms to Saudi Arabia “we can kiss Canada’s human rights credibility goodbye.” But such criticism presupposes that Canada has a credible human rights record. “Canada,” writes BJ Siekierski, “hasn’t suddenly been transformed from Boy Scout to arms merchant.” The history of Canada, both domestically and internationally, isn’t a history of a country dedicated to the defense of democracy and human rights, it is a history of an imperialist state built on the theft of Aboriginal land that faithfully serves as a junior partner to U.S. imperialism’s war of exploitation and subjugation of the world.
Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A. MacDonald, was an ally of the most racist section of the elite of that time. In the House of Commons he was in favor of a system of legalized racism, claiming Europeans and Chinese were different species, introducing “biological racism as a defining characteristic of Canadianness.” While starving thousands of Aboriginal people to death by withholding food, MacDonald argued that the disenfranchisement of the Chinese people was imperative to protect the “the Aryan character of the future of British America.” Liberal Prime Minister Mackenzie King wrote in his diary that after meeting Adolf Hitler he believed Hitler “might come to be thought of as one of the saviors of the world.” Trudeau, like his father before him, is an avowed supporter of apartheid regimes. The late Pierre Trudeau, Justin Trudeau’s father, “sympathized with the [South African] apartheid regime not the black liberation movement or nascent Canadian solidarity groups,” while one of the first acts of the Justin Trudeau Liberals was to pass a Conservative motion to condemn all Canadians who exercise their democratic right to support the non-violent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement as a form of resistance to Israeli apartheid.
Let us not forget the ongoing genocide of Aboriginal people in Canada. For more than a century Aboriginal children were taken away, sometimes at gunpoint and in handcuffs, to be shipped off to residential schools, where they were to learn how to “assimilate” and become “civilized” through a system for forced labour and re-education. The “Residential Schools were predicated on the notion that Indigenous children were less human than other children, so they were worked like animals in the slave labour many schools mandated.” Thousands of children died from malnourishment, disease, physical and sexual abuse, with many buried in unmarked graves near the site of the schools. To this day Aboriginal people are more likely to be born into poverty, are less likely to graduate from high school, and have a shorter life expectancy than non-Aboriginal people.
Internationally Canadian foreign policy has been reflective of the country’s imperialist system of exploitation. Canada was among the 14 imperialist states that invaded the Soviet Union in 1918 in an effort to bolster the forces of the anti-Bolshevik White Army and stop the Russian working class from establishing socialist government. More recently the Canadian military has been involved in Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, Mali, Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. In Somalia, where Canadian troops were participating in the U.N. mission, Canadian ‘peacekeepers’ tortured and murdered a 16-year-old boy. In a sociopathic ritual that has repeatedly been documented wherever Western forces are active, these Canadian ‘peacekeepers’ photographed themselves with boy’s bloodied corpse like he was a trophy kill. In Libya, a country that prior to the NATO-led intervention had the highest standard of living in Africa, the Canadian military supported al-Qaeda-linked Islamist terrorists that ransacked the country’s wealth, brutally murdering the country’s former leader Muammar al-Gaddafi by sodomizing him with a bayonet.
Nine years before Canada’s invasion of the Soviet Union trains “loaded not only with supplies, rifles, and ammunition, but also with machine guns and light artillery pieces” were dispatched to Cape Breton in preparation for the military occupation of the island, where miners and steelworkers were striking for improved working conditions and higher wages. Such violence and disdain for the working class has been repeated throughout Canadian history. During the “Hungry Thirties,” striking miners in Estevan, Saskatchewan were murdered in cold blood by the RCMP, while the unemployed were rounded up and sent to labour in slave-like conditions in relief camps.
The deal to sell armaments to Saudi Arabia must be opposed on all moral and political grounds, but to be able to effectively oppose such a deal, the deal must be put into the historical context of Canada’s role as a junior partner of U.S.-led imperialism.