Germany wants again be a Military Force

CDU Chairwoman and Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer gave a keynote speech on the new security policy orientation of Germany and the associated tasks for the Bundeswehr. Among other things, it is now a question of containing “China’s claim to power” in the “Indo-Pacific region” in order to defend Germany’s global economic interests. Just a few years ago this would have been a taboo break and Kramp-Karrenbauer would have triggered a storm of indignation. But today? Leaden silence. By Jens Berger.

“My assessment, however, is that, overall, we are on the way to understanding in the broadest sense of society that a country of our size with this foreign trade orientation and thus also dependence on foreign trade must also know that in case of doubt, and in an emergency, military action is necessary in order to protect our interests, for example to prevent free trade routes, for example entire regional instabilities, which will certainly have a negative impact on our chances through trade, jobs and income. All this is to be discussed and I believe we are not on such a bad path.”

No, these sentences are not from Kramp-Karrenbauer’s keynote speech, but from an interview given to Deutschlandfunk on 22 May 2010 by the then Federal President Horst Köhler. The criticism that followed these sentences was enormous. The then SPD faction leader Thomas Oppermann announced “We don’t want an economic war”. Green faction leader Jürgen Trittin said, “We need neither a gunboat policy nor a loose rhetorical deck cannon at the head of state” and found that Köhler’s remarks were no longer based on the Basic Law. There was also criticism from the then governing parties CDU and FDP. Köhler’s statement was “not a particularly happy formulation, to say the least” (Ruprecht Polenz, CDU) and “somewhat alienating” (Rainer Stinner, FDP). Even security policy hawks went too far with these statements. Michael Wolffsohn called on Köhler to correct himself publicly. The constitutional lawyer Ulrich Preuß of the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin summed up: “This is an extension of the permissible reasons for a Bundeswehr mission to include economic interests, which is hardly covered by the Basic Law. There is an imperial tongue blow recognizable”.

A political debate quickly turned into a social debate and the criticism of Horst Köhler was so present that a few days later he felt compelled to resign and resigned from office. That was a little more than nine years ago. Take another look at Köhler’s remarks and compare them with the remarks in Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer’s keynote speech …

There is broad agreement that Germany must become more active in view of the strategic challenges. […] A country our size and our economic and technological power, a country our geostrategic position and with our global interests, cannot simply stand on the sidelines and watch. Not simply waiting to see whether others act and then more or less resolutely join in or not. […] Our partners in the Indo-Pacific region – above all Australia, Japan and South Korea, but also India – feel increasingly pressured by China’s claim to power. They want a clear sign of solidarity. […] We are the trading nation that thrives on international reliability.

Besides China, we are leaders in international container shipping – and depend on free and peaceful sea routes. […] Germany, like every other country in the world, naturally has its own strategic interests. For example, as a globally networked trading nation in the heart of Europe.

In August, Albrecht Müller had already taken a stand on the fundamental question of whether it makes sense to secure world trade militarily. What is particularly striking here is that while Köhler’s remarks nine years ago were still perceived as a breach of taboo and were correspondingly controversially discussed, Kramp-Karrenbauer’s keynote speech triggered one thing above all else: Silence.

Apparently it has become part of normal political discourse to formulate global power claims for economic motives and to “defend” these claims militarily, or rather to enforce them. What was perceived as a taboo break nine years ago is now the norm.

It would also be wrong to focus this on the person of Kramp-Karrenbauer. It is hardly conceivable that the CDU Chairwoman and Defence Minister did not agree her statements beforehand with the Chancellor and certainly also with her international partners from NATO and the USA. There one will have heard this thrust surely with joy, demands Kramp Karrenbauer – with support of the Kanzlerin – in its speech nevertheless also other things, which would be only a few years ago still a Tabubruch – e.g. it wants to defend Germany security in the future also in the Sahel zone and demands emphatically a substantial armament in accordance with the 2% goal.

And the reactions? As expected, the Left Party criticises the statements, and discreet criticism can also be heard from the ranks of the Greens. What is astonishing is that Green Party leader Habeck himself recently considered a military protection of the trade routes to be “conceivable”. This is understandable, as there have also been attempts in this direction from their ranks in recent months. The media even proactively defend Kramp-Karrenbauer against the non-existent criticism. The Tagesspiegel thinks it is “on the right track” and the FAZ is secondary, “Yes, we have to get involved”. And the rest is silence. It is hopeless.

An article from: Jens Berger translated by alfonso

Bangladesh

Security forces continued anti-militancy operations while attempt at repatriating Rohingya refugees to Myanmar stalled. Amid regional tensions over Indian govt’s 5 Aug decision to change constitutional status of Kashmir (see Kashmir), Bangladeshi security officials implied events could encourage militancy in Bangladesh; head of paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) 9 Aug warned security forces would take “strict legal actions” against those creating unrest. RAB 7 Aug arrested suspected member of banned Hizb ut-Tahrir in Dhaka and next day, police arrested five suspected members of Wolf Pack, faction of militant Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, in Dhaka alleging they were preparing attack on police officers. UN Committee Against Torture 9 Aug issued its concluding observations on country’s record, expressing concern over allegations of enforced disappearances, custodial deaths and widespread use of torture by security forces; recommended govt to set up independent enquiry into allegations of RAB abuses. As part of repatriation efforts, govt 15 Aug said it was ready to return some 3,450 refugees (approved by Myanmar from list of over 22,000 sent by govt late-July); however no refugees turned up on 22 Aug, day repatriation due to begin, amid Rohingya concerns over security, rights and access to services if they return to Myanmar.

by Alfonso

Afghanistan

U.S.-Taliban talks in Doha (Qatar) continued to progress, entering possible final round ahead of potential framework agreement in coming month, while insurgent attacks struck Kabul. In Doha, U.S. Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad 21 Aug met with Taliban representatives in potentially last round of talks ahead of framework agreement; followed 3-12 Aug round, which reportedly concluded with both sides agreeing near-final text; Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid called discussions “long and useful” without providing details. U.S. President Trump 29 Aug announced U.S. would reduce troops to 8,600 as first step. Insurgent attacks continued, particularly in Kabul, despite lull around Eid holiday 11-14 Aug: Taliban 2 Aug targeted police checkpoint in Daykundi province, killing at least ten policemen; in west Kabul, Taliban car bomb 7 Aug exploded in majority Shia neighbourhood, killing fourteen. Islamic State-Khorasan Province 16 Aug carried out deadliest bombing in Kabul this year, killing at least 80 at Shia Hazara wedding; President Ghani called bombing “barbaric”, Taliban condemned attack. In Jalalabad city, during celebrations of independence anniversary, ten unclaimed explosions 19 Aug injured dozens; U.S. military 21 Aug reported two soldiers killed in combat in Faryab province, increasing U.S. combat-related deaths in 2019 to fourteen – highest since 2014. In Chahardara area, Herat province, Taliban 27 Aug killed fourteen pro-govt militiamen; in western Baghdis province, militants same day attacked army checkpoint, killing eight soldiers. Govt 30 Aug announced at least 28 Taliban killed in clashes with Afghan forces in north-east Takhar province. Taliban 31 Aug staged offensive on provincial capital Kunduz, reportedly killing twenty soldiers and five civilians before security forces repelled militants. UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan 3 Aug said 1,500 civilian casualties in July, highest monthly number since 2017, with over half caused by bombings. Taliban 6 Aug denounced election planned on 28 Sept as “sham” and pledged to disturb process. NGO Amnesty International 28 Aug reported human rights activists under intensifying attack from both authorities and armed groups since 2014.

by Alfonso

The tension between China and Taiwan

Tensions between Taiwan and China continued as U.S. pushed through arms deal with Taiwan, and President Tsai raised concerns of Chinese activities. U.S. administration 21 Aug formally notified U.S. Congress it was moving ahead with $8bn sale of 66 F-16 fighter aircraft to Taiwan. In response, Chinese foreign ministry same day threatened imposing sanctions on U.S. companies involved in deal, claiming they “constitute severe interference” and “undermine China’s sovereignty and security interests”. Tsai 10 Aug warned of “Chinese infiltration in Taiwan” including fake news, after a Reuters report claimed Chinese authorities paid Taiwanese media groups for positive coverage. Tsai’s cabinet 15 Aug proposed to parliament over 8% increase in annual military spending, largest yearly increase since 2008. U.S. navy 23 Aug sailed amphibious ship through Taiwan Strait in fourth freedom of navigation operation in 2019. Chinese authorities 27-29 Aug prohibited ships from entering water near Taiwan off coast of China’s Zhejiang Province for 48 hours to hold military exercises; Taiwan defence ministry confirmed U.S. military plane 29 Aug flew over “median line” of strait.

by Alfonso

Transparent manoeuvre

The West is cringing about Iran’s action against a British tanker – and is taking far worse for itself.

by Rubicon’s World Editorial Office

The application of double standards has already become so normal that we simply accept this strategy, says Peter König in his contribution to the conflict that is currently escalating in the Middle East. How else could the West simply accept the act of pure piracy in the unlawful boarding of an Iranian tanker while screaming teter and murder in the lawful boarding of a British tanker by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards?The British-flagged tanker “Stena Impero” to Saudi Arabia was upset by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on Friday 19 July 2019 in the Strait of Hormus after ignoring the cry for help from an Iranian fishing boat and ramming it.

Open provocation?

The tanker was taken to an Iranian port because it did not “comply with international shipping law,” the Iranian Revolutionary Guards said. More importantly, the ship did not respond to several warnings from helicopters and Iranian boats because it had apparently disabled its transponder. One has to wonder how this could happen under the guidance of professional seamen – unless it was an open provocation.

The safety of shipping in the Strait of Hormus is extremely important – 20 to 30 per cent of the world’s maritime oil is shipped through this bottleneck into international waters before it reaches the Gulf of Oman. The strait is closely monitored by Iran, as it is extremely important to it in terms of safety. Blocking this passage as a result of conflict could bring the world economy to a standstill.

It is about the nuclear agreement

Are those who carry out these provocations – here Great Britain as Washington’s puppet – aware of what is at stake? Do they want to bring the Middle East to the brink of war? A regional war that could easily become a world war? In the long term this may well be intentional. In the short term, on the other hand, it looks as if they want to heat up the escalation to such an extent that the US satellite Europe no longer insists on adhering to its part of the nuclear treaty (JCPOA), and on the other hand put Iran under so much pressure that it finally enters into bilateral negotiations with the US on its nuclear programme. The first objective would be achievable, the second in no way. Iran does not fall for such deception – especially not for a country that unilaterally cancels an agreement that had been negotiated for almost two years (since November 2013) before signing the five plus one, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – China, France, Russia, Great Britain and the USA with Germany and the EU – plus, of course, Iran on 14 July 2015 in Vienna, Austria.

Not only did President Trump, led by his buddy, Israel’s Netanyahu, unilaterally rip the deal apart – in addition to all the Western lies and slander propaganda, he also relaunched one of the toughest economic sanctions programmes against Iran. It is madness to believe that under these circumstances Iran would sit at a negotiating table with its executioner. That will not happen. However, tensions continue to intensify, in line with the wishes of war criminal John Bolton since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, in the planning of which he was instrumental. This is like the purpose of this sick man’s life: mass murder through war and conflict are in his genes. The world can only hope that Trump or those who are pulling the strings behind him will finally release Bolton.

Iran has already announced that it is launching a comprehensive investigation into the British tanker “Stena Impero” into the course deviation and ramming of a fishing boat – and invited Britain to join the investigation.

An act of piracy Let us come back to 4 July, when the British Marines brought the Iranian tanker “Grace I” into Spanish waters off Gibraltar under the pretext that the supertanker was transporting oil for Syria, which contradicted EU sanctions. Iran’s Foreign Minister Dschwad Sarif denied that the oil was destined for Syria, but did not comment further. Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell announced that Washington had informed Spain of the imminent fixing of the Iranian tanker by Britain in Spanish waters. Spain could have said no, but it did not. Why not? For fear of sanctions? The United Kingdom, against its own interests, made itself the US henchman, as it was – along with Germany and France – one of the three countries that at least appeared to want to honour their part of the nuclear agreement with Iran. Not out of love for Iran, of course, but out of pure business interest. Iran should be aware of this: The EU can fall behind it at any time, through the very countries that are trying – or pretending to try – to circumvent US sanctions.

What happened on 4 July was an act of pure piracy – no less. A crime on the high seas which the West simply tolerates. The ship is still in British hands, the crew has been released in the meantime. Apart from the fact that Iran’s arrest of the British oil tanker may look like a “Like you to me, if I please you”, Iran acted perfectly legitimately as its Revolutionary Guards watched the Strait of Hormus to ensure the safety of other ship passages through the Strait.

Fire and anger – once again In one of his typical crazy outbursts on Friday 19 July, President Trump warned in a televised “Fire and Rage” speech in the White House: “We have the best ships – the deadliest ships and we don’t want to have to use them. We hope for Iran’s sake that it does not do anything unwise. If it does, it will pay a price that no one has ever paid.” Why doesn’t Trump warn the British in the same tone about their piracy of an Iranian ship in Spanish waters? Well, we know that’s the crazy, unsymmetrical, out of kilter world we live in. It is so normal that people in the West see this inequality and injustice, this duplicity and hypocrisy as their gospel.

Another step towards world domination?

But it all points to the fact that the U.S. – while building a war scenario – is seeking justification for what it has already proclaimed: an alliance of the willing that sends warships into the Strait of Hormus to ensure a safe passage for “everyone. Well, Iran will certainly not join in. But it is important to know what is behind this idea. Imagine if the US navy and its allied puppets had the violence of the sea passage that almost a third of the world’s ocean-going oil tankers pass through daily – Washington would then have another sanctioning tool to harass countries that, in Washington’s view, do not bow sufficiently to Washington’s dictates. Their oil supplies would be held back to bring down their economies – this could be the most effective weapon yet. Beware, world! Even those who now enjoy the benevolence of the self-proclaimed hegemon – you never know when the pendulum will swing in the other direction – for no reason: perhaps because the Israel-led U.S. is on a whimsical aggression course against an imaginary enemy or because corporate interests are shifting. Ultimately, no one would be safe. The world economy could collapse like a house of cards. 2008 would be a walk against it!

Translate: by Alfonso

Court of Auditors in Venezuela imposes ban on Guaidó from holding office

Caracas.

In Venezuela, self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaidó has been banned from holding political office for 15 years. The opposition politician conspired with foreign actors to harm the country, the chairman of the Court of Audit, Elvis Amoroso, was quoted by the Venezuelan media. The head of the office added that there were also doubts as to the legality of his income. Guaidó sharply rejected the decision. He accused the Court of Auditors of being close to President Nicolás Maduro’s government and of abusing the constitution. The Court’s decision will not change the political situation in the short term. President Maduro’s government already does not recognize the opposition-dominated National Assembly. Parliament, on the other hand, meets in parallel with a constituent assembly in which the government camp has a majority.

Support for Guaidó again came from the international level. Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), rejected “any illegal decisions of the repressive authorities of the dictatorship under Nicolás Maduro against the interim president Juan Guaidó”. A spokesman for the US government spoke of a “laughable” manoeuvre. In the daily El Nacional, which is critical of the government, constitutional lawyer Juan Manuel Raffalli questioned the decision of the Court of Audit. It violates Article 65 of the constitution, according to which such a measure could only be taken by criminal courts. However, a final judgement is necessary for this. In addition, the Court of Auditors infringed Guaidó’s parliamentary immunity as acting president of the National Assembly. The Latin American news channel Telesur, which occupies a position close to the government in Venezuela, refers to Article 187 of the Constitution, according to which parliamentarians are obliged “to work exclusively for the benefit of the Venezuelan people and not to receive any additional income or to hold offices other than their parliamentary functions”.

According to the Venezuelan Migration Service, Guaidó has undertaken more than 91 foreign trips since the start of his parliamentary mandate, the cost of which is estimated at 310 million bolivares. He had not declared these funds for tax purposes.

Translated by Alfonso

NLG Statement on the Illegal U.S. Interference in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) is the oldest human rights bar association in the United States, with members in every state and a mission to value human rights and the rights of ecosystems over property interests. For more than a decade, the NLG International Committee has sent numerous delegations to Venezuela to observe nearly a dozen elections and research the electoral system, including meeting with lawyers and judges, community workers, union members, economists, journalists, government officials and opposition leaders.

The statements of Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo openly calling for democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro to be removed by a military and popular revolt harken back to the dark days of direct intervention in Latin America and make it clear that the U.S. is currently orchestrating a coup against the elected government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The shocking aggression and illegal interference against a sovereign nation by the Trump administration is a blatant violation of the charters of the United Nations and Organization of American States, which recognize the principles of national sovereignty, peaceful settlement of disputes, and a prohibition on threatening or using force against the territory of another state.

The contempt that this administration has shown for the norms and core values of international law has been apparent from threatening the use of force against other nations, withdrawing from the U.N. Human Rights Council and attempting to discredit U.N. independent experts. However, directly fomenting a coup in a sovereign nation is not only illegal and outright shunned by the international community, it fundamentally undermines any pretextual concern about interference by other nations in U.S. elections.

Plots to overthrow the elected government in order to dismantle the regional economic, military, political and social alliances that have been established without the participation of the U.S. have been at the core of U.S. policy in Venezuela and the region since the election of former President Hugo Chávez. After unsuccessfully supporting a military coup against Chávez in 2002, U.S. administrations have consistently funded hard right opposition forces in their efforts to oust Chávez and reverse the people-centered Bolivarian Project. As recently as 2014, the U.S. supported violent street actions (guarimbas) planned and executed by the opposition. In 2015, President Obama declared Venezuela to be an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to U.S. national security and imposed unilateral sanctions. The recent appointment of Elliott Abrams by the Trump administration—a notorious human rights violator and war criminal—to coordinate the Venezuela destabilization operation further strips away any pretextual argument that the U.S. is concerned about democracy and human rights in Venezuela and instead shows how far the U.S. will go to implement its long-standing plans for regime change.

The National Lawyers Guild recognizes the complexities of the situation in Venezuela and joins the concerns of other progressive leaders that there is a critical need for dialogue. We condemn the statement by Secretary of State Pompeo on January 24, 2019, that “the time for debate is over.” Our government has consistently stood in the way of any meaningful dialogue between the Bolivarian government and its opposition and continues to support the forces that promote violence and polarization. The NLG calls on our government to respect international law, to refrain from intervening (militarily, economically or politically) in the sovereign affairs of Venezuela and to allow for peaceful debate among all sectors of Venezuelan society to take place as determined by its people.

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The National Lawyers Guild (NLG), whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.

The NLG International Committee seeks to change U.S. foreign policy that threatens, rather than engages, or is based on a model of domination rather than respect. The Guild provides assistance and solidarity to movements in the United States and abroad that work for social justice in this increasingly interconnected world.

alfonso

Guaidó returns to Venezuela for next stage of US regime-change operation

 

By Bill Van Auken
5 March 2019

Self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaidó returned to Venezuela after an 11-day absence Monday, escorted into the country by a phalanx of Western diplomats, including the ambassadors of the US, Germany, France, Canada, Brazil and several other countries.

In advance of his return, Washington issued threats of retaliation against any attempt by Venezuelan authorities to apprehend Guaidó, who violated an order of Venezuela’s supreme court barring him from leaving the country after state prosecutors announced the initiation of a criminal investigation into the right-wing opposition operative’s involvement in the US-orchestrated coup.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton warned that any interference with Washington’s Venezuelan puppet would provoke “a strong and significant response” from the US.

Similarly, US Vice President Mike Pence tweeted that any action taken against Guaidó would “not be tolerated & will be met with a swift response.”

After leaving the Simon Bolivar airport, Guaidó was driven to a rally in eastern Caracas, the wealthy district of Venezuela’s capital, where he told a crowd of supporters that the fact that he was not arrested upon arrival was proof that the Venezuelan security forces were not obeying the orders of President Nicolas Maduro’s government. “The chain of command is broken,” he said.

He directed much of his speech to the military, demanding that it not “stand idly by” and ordered them to arrest armed supporters of the Maduro government organized in so-called colectivos based in the poorer neighborhoods of Caracas and other Venezuelan cities.

Guaidó left Venezuela on February 22 to lead the Trojan Horse “humanitarian aid” operation organized by Washington. Both he and his US backers had promoted an attempt the next day to forcibly crash through the Venezuelan border from Colombia with a handful of trucks carrying food and other supplies stockpiled by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) as the event that would bring down the Maduro government, forcing the military to turn against it.

Nothing of the kind took place. The “aid” convoys were easily blocked, while clashes between security forces and protesters led to several deaths, concentrated among an indigenous population on Venezuela’s border with Brazil.

The “tidal wave” of aid and millions of supporters that Guaidó had promised failed to materialize. The entire operation was a filthy and cynical propaganda stunt staged by a US government that offered a pittance in terms of food supplies, even as it systematically strangles Venezuela’s economy and impoverishes its population with sweeping sanctions barring the country from the US-dominated financial system and blocking its export of oil.

In his speech in eastern Caracas Monday, Guaidó promised that even more sanctions are to come, but did not provide any details as to their scope.

During his 11 days outside of Venezuela, Guaidó met in Colombia with Pence and the so-called Lima Group, consisting of several Latin American governments along with Canada. He traveled on for meetings with Brazil’s newly installed president, the fascistic former army captain Jair Bolsonaro, as well as the right-wing government of Mauricio Macri in Argentina, and in Paraguay that of Mario Abdo Benítez, a former military officer who has extolled the legacy of the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner, whom his father served as private secretary. He also went to Ecuador for a meeting with President Lenin Moreno, who is attempting to curry favor with Washington.

Throughout this tour, Guaidó was accompanied by his US “handler,” the State Department’s assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Kimberly Breier, who is described on the department’s website as a “policy expert and intelligence professional with more than 20 years of experience.”

Guaidó, a member of the right-wing party Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) party, which has received substantial financial aid from the National Endowment for Democracy and other US agencies, is a creature of US intelligence, groomed for a regime change operation and unknown to the Venezuelan population before he proclaimed himself “interim president” on January 23.

The appeals made by Guaidó to the Venezuelan military, offering a blanket amnesty to anyone who supports his coup and guarantees of their interests, while threatening prosecution of those who fail to do so, have thus far produced few results. The Colombian government and the Venezuelan right-wing opposition claim that some 700 members of the security forces—out of a force of 235,000—have defected, while the Maduro government puts the number at 116.

Guaidó, both before and after the debacle of the “humanitarian aid” stunt of February 23, has appealed openly for a US military intervention to secure the overthrow of the Maduro government. He argued last month that the Venezuelan National Assembly, where he was installed as president in January, was authorized to approve the intervention of an “international force” to “restore the constitutional order and protect the lives of our citizens.” He also invoked the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) doctrine used to justify previous imperialist regime-change operations, such as those in the former Yugoslavia and Libya.

The Lima Group has formally rejected military intervention in Venezuela, opting for “diplomatic and financial pressure” to topple the Maduro government.

In a March 1 interview with Patricia Janiot, the anchor of the US Spanish-language television broadcaster Univision, Elliott Abrams, appointed in January as the Trump administration’s special representative for Venezuela, denied that Washington is preparing to use military force, either to topple Maduro or to force through the “humanitarian aid” supplies it has stockpiled on Venezuela’s borders.

Abrams, it should be noted, is a convicted liar, who gave false testimony to the US Congress on the illegal conspiracy to arm and finance the CIA-organized “contra” terrorists who were unleashed upon Nicaragua in the 1980s. He served as the Reagan administration’s point man in justifying and covering up the atrocities of US-backed dictatorships in El Salvador and Guatemala.

In a Sunday interview with CNN, however, John Bolton gave a full-throated defense of US intervention in Venezuela, declaring, “In this administration we’re not afraid to use the word Monroe Doctrine.”

He was referring to the nearly 200-year-old canon of US foreign policy that supposedly endowed Washington with the right to use force in preventing outside powers from establishing a foothold in the Western Hemisphere.

Initially invoked as a US policy of opposing any attempt by European empires to re-colonize newly independent countries in Latin America, it was turned into a declaration of a US imperialist sphere of influence and became the rationale for some 50 direct US military interventions in the region along with the fomenting of CIA-backed coups that imposed fascist-military dictatorships over much of the region in the second half of the 20th century.

If this doctrine is being resurrected today against Venezuela, it is because of the close economic and political ties established by Caracas with both Beijing and Moscow. The United States, as Bolton previously acknowledged, is determined to bring the country and its oil wealth—the largest proven reserves in the world—back under the domination of US imperialism and the US-based energy conglomerates.

An indication of Washington’s real intentions was provided by a column published in the Spanish daily El Pais by Hector Schamis, who is an instructor on Latin America at the US School of Foreign Service.

He writes that while “the diplomatic solution would be ideal” in Venezuela, “the problem is that, in politics, the ideal rarely takes place in reality.”

He goes on to state that “without American troops [Yugoslavian president Slobodan] Milosevic would not have gone to the diplomatic negotiating table. Much less would he have died as a prisoner in The Hague in 2006.”

Guaidó has called for anti-government protests on Saturday and announced that he is meeting with leaders of public employee unions today. The union leaderships are seeking to channel the widespread anger of workers over the austerity policies and repressive measures of Maduro’s bourgeois government behind the US imperialist regime-change operation.

The success of this operation would impose a brutal dictatorship of US imperialism and Venezuelan capitalist interests over the masses of working people, leading to far more severe austerity measures and police-state repression.

The desperate crisis created by capitalism in Venezuela and the threat of US military intervention can be countered only by means of the political mobilization of the Venezuelan working class, independently of Maduro’s capitalist government and its trade union stooges. The organization of workers’ assemblies to expropriate foreign and domestic capitalist interests and establish workers’ control over the country’s vast oil wealth must be combined with a struggle to unite the Venezuelan working class with workers throughout the hemisphere to put an end to capitalism.

by Alfonso

 

 

Eagle without claws

Because the Russian economy is growing strongly, the sanctions of the West are becoming irrelevant.

by Rubicon’s World Editorial Office, Mac Slavo
The hybrid warfare of the USA has long relied on economic sanctions as a measure of subjugation and discipline. There are, however, increasing signs that the method is gradually being phased out, says Mac Slavo.

The USA has the problem that its sanctions are no longer effective because states are increasingly disregarding what governments of other states want them to dictate. Despite the sanctions imposed on Russia, the Russian economy continues to grow.

Russia’s inflation rate remained low last year, while the economy has grown, according to the World Bank. “Although economic sanctions have been tightened, Russia’s inflation rate has remained stable at a relatively low level and oil production has increased. As a result of the robust domestic economy, Russia’s economic growth last year was 1.6 percent,” the World Bank report says.

The US has long used sanctions to damage the economies of other countries for a variety of reasons, but more recently such sanctions no longer seem to be effective. According to an RT report, the World Bank has pointed out that Russia and other oil exporters “had stable growth in 2018 due to rising oil prices”. In Russia, “growth was supported by private consumption and exports”. For the current year, the World Bank predicts a short-term decline in growth to 1.5 percent, but expects Russia’s gross domestic product to increase by 1.8 percent in both 2020 and 2021.

In October, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) raised its forecast for Russia’s GDP growth in 2019 to 1.8 percent. His chief economist Maurice Obstfeld stated that the positive influence that rising oil prices on the world market would have on the Russian economy more than compensated for the negative effect of the sanctions imposed by Washington (1).

In May 2018, Bloomberg reported that the effect of US sanctions was reaching its limits. The states affected by US sanctions dropped the dollar “like a hot potato” in their trade transactions, rendering US sanctions ineffective.Six years ago, when the New York State Revenue Service investigated the London-based bank Standard Chartered Plc (2) on suspicion of having disregarded the sanctions imposed by the US on Iran, a department head of this bank complained in an e-mail to New York as follows:

“You damn Americans, who are you to ban the rest of the world from trading with Iran?”

Russia is not the only state that the sanctions imposed on it can hardly affect. China has founded the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, AIIB, a commercial bank that competes with the World Bank and the IMF, both of which are based in Washington, and through which international business can be transacted in yuan (1 Chinese yuan equals 0.13 euros). And China is likely to expand its trade with Iran, no matter how Trump reacts.

What China has done could also be done by Europe if it also wants to override US sanctions. “Out of justified self-interest, China will certainly find ways not to rely on US banks,” said Jeffrey Sachs, an economics professor at Columbia University.

translated by Alfonso

 

President Maduro: An open letter to thePeople of the USA

Nicolas Maduro writes:

“If I know anything, it is about peoples, such as you, I am a man of the people. I was born and raised in a poor neighborhood of Caracas. I forged myself in the heat of popular and union struggles in a Venezuela submerged in exclusion and inequality. I am not a tycoon, I am a worker of reason and heart, today I have the great privilege of presiding over the new Venezuela, rooted in a model of inclusive development and social equality, which was forged by Commander Hugo Chávez since 1998 inspired by the Bolivarian legacy.

We live today a historical trance. There are days that will define the future of our countries between war and peace. Your national representatives of Washington want to bring to their borders the same hatred that they planted in Vietnam. They want to invade and intervene in Venezuela – they say, as they said then – in the name of democracy and freedom. But it’s not like that. The history of the usurpation of power in Venezuela is as false as the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It is a false case, but it can have dramatic consequences for our entire region.

Venezuela is a country that, by virtue of its 1999 Constitution, has broadly expanded the participatory and protagonist democracy of the people, and that is unprecedented today, as one of the countries with the largest number of electoral processes in its last 20 years. You might not like our ideology or our appearance, but we exist and we are millions.

I address these words to the people of the United States of America to warn of the gravity and danger that intend some sectors in the White House to invade Venezuela with unpredictable consequences for my country and for the entire American region. President Donald Trump also intends to disturb noble dialogue initiatives promoted by Uruguay and Mexico with the support of CARICOM for a peaceful solution and dialogue in favor of Venezuela. We know that for the good of Venezuela we have to sit down and talk because to refuse to dialogue is to choose strength as a way. Keep in mind the words of John F. Kennedy: “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate”. Are those who do not want to dialogue afraid of the truth?

The political intolerance towards the Venezuelan Bolivarian model and the desires for our immense oil resources, minerals, and other great riches, has prompted an international coalition headed by the US government to commit the serious insanity of militarily attacking Venezuela under the false excuse of a non-existent humanitarian crisis.

The people of Venezuela have suffered painfully social wounds caused by a criminal commercial and financial blockade, which has been aggravated by the dispossession and robbery of our financial resources and assets in countries aligned with this demented onslaught.

And yet, thanks to a new system of social protection, of direct attention to the most vulnerable sectors, we proudly continue to be a country with high human development index and lower inequality in the Americas.

The American people must know that this complex multiform aggression is carried out with total impunity and in clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations, which expressly outlaws the threat or use of force, among other principles and purposes for the sake of peace and the friendly relations between the Nations.

We want to continue being business partners of the people of the United States, as we have been throughout our history. Their politicians in Washington, on the other hand, are willing to send their sons and daughters to die in an absurd war, instead of respecting the sacred right of the Venezuelan people to self-determination and safeguarding their sovereignty.

Like you, people of the United States, we Venezuelans are patriots. And we shall defend our homeland with all the pieces of our soul. Today Venezuela is united in a single clamor: we demand the cessation of the aggression that seeks to suffocate our economy and socially suffocate our people, as well as the cessation of the serious and dangerous threats of military intervention against Venezuela. We appeal to the good soul of the American society, a victim of its own leaders, to join our call for peace, let us be all one people against warmongering and war.

Long live the peoples of America!

Nicolás Maduro
President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela”

by Alfonso