One of the most alarming developments in US foreign policy in 2016 was the ratcheting up of the new iteration of the Cold War. Looking back at US foreign policy in this last year of Barack Obama’s presidential tenure, other weighty developments include the ongoing proxy war in Syria, the US-supported Saudi-led bombing in Yemen, US use of drones and manned bombers in Libya, US bombing in Iraq and Afghanistan, unprecedented US military aid to Israel, US special operations in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Yemen, US saber-rattling against China in the South China Sea, and steps toward normalization of relations with Cuba.
The intensification of Cold War dynamics became particularly apparent in March, when the US government announced it would significantly increase the number of troops stationed in Eastern Europe, a direct provocation of Russia. Reuters called the expanded positioning of NATO troops and military equipment in that region the “biggest military build-up on Russia’s borders since the Cold War.”Read more
By Marjorie Cohn and Jeanne Mirer
The American people deserve to know that the outcome of this election is actually valid.
We are tired of hearing the pundits say that the election is over and there is nothing we can do when there are significant questions raised by the recounts that have been going on in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, as well issues raised in a recent lawsuit seeking a recount in Florida.
Hillary Clinton has garnered almost 3 million more popular votes than Donald Trump. The polls and exit polls in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania showed Clinton was the winner. The recount efforts by the Stein campaign have revealed that many votes remained uncounted at the time those three states were called for Trump. These efforts have also raised many concerns about the validity of the outcome even before the CIA reported the intent of the Russians to influence the results of the election. Under these circumstances it is absolutely imperative that there be a full recount and investigation into potential hacking in these states, before the electors are certified and the votes of the Electoral College counted.Read more
When Fidel Castro died on Nov. 25 at the age of 90, we lost one of the most remarkable leaders of the 20th century. No other head of state has so steadfastly stood up to the United States and survived.
In 1959, the Cuban Revolution, led by Castro and Ernesto “Che” Guevara, overthrew the ruthless Fulgencio Batista, who had come to power in a coup d’état. Batista’s government had protected the interests of the wealthy landowners. In order to control the populace, Batista had carried out torture and public executions, killing as many as 20,000 people. During his regime, Batista was supported—financially and militarily—by the United States. Indeed, the U.S. Mafia’s gambling, drug and prostitution operations flourished under Batista’s government.
Led by Castro, the new Cuban government expropriated U.S.-owned property, companies and holdings in Cuba. The United States responded with a punishing economic embargo, which later became a blockade. The CIA attempted unsuccessfully to overthrow the revolution in the disastrous 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion.
Since 1959, the U.S. government and the expatriated Cuban-Americans who fled Cuba after the revolution have tried mightily to topple the Castro government, without success. Castro survived more than 630 assassination attempts.Read more
President-elect Donald Trump has selected retired Marine General James Mattis to exercise civilian control over the Department of Defense. Originally known as the Department of War, it was renamed Department of Defense in 1949. But war is precisely what Mattis, known as “Mad Dog,” has enthusiastically done throughout his career.
In 2005, Mattis declared, “It’s fun to shoot some people.” That was one year after he oversaw the Battle of Fallujah in Iraq, which began in April 2004, after four Blackwater Security Consulting mercenaries were killed and their bodies mutilated. In retaliation, US forces attacked the city and killed 736 people. At least 60 percent of them were women and children, according to independent journalist Dahr Jamail, who interviewed doctors at Fallujah General Hospital and at other small clinics inside the city both during and after the April siege.
In November 2004 NBC News correspondent Kevin Sites, embedded with the US Marines, heard Staff Sgt. Sam Mortimer radio that “everything to the west is weapons free.” Weapons Free, explained Sites, “means the Marines can shoot whatever they see — it’s all considered hostile.” The rules of engagement come from the top, and Mattis was in charge.Read more
In April 2016, Rodrigo Duterte won the Philippine presidential election by a landslide, with more than 6 million votes. He openly declared that he was the nation’s first Left president, calling himself a socialist but not a communist. So far, his regime has been controversial, to put it mildly.
The U.S. press has focused on Duterte’s vicious war on drugs that claimed upwards of 2,000 lives and led to the incarceration of tens of thousands of people. His decision to allow former Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos’s burial in the National Cemetery of the Heroes also has drawn the ire of those who recall Marcos’s brutal two-decade regime that killed more than 3,000, tortured tens of thousands, and stole $10 billion from the Philippines.
But, significantly, Duterte is engaging with revolutionary forces in the peace process that aims to end 47 years of armed struggle against the repressive Filipino government. And Duterte has taken actions that, for the first time, challenge the longstanding military and economic power of the United States in the Philippines.
As thousands of Indigenous people from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, other Native American tribes, and their allies continue their protest against the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), corporate media have continued to focus almost exclusively on the presidential election. Most media ignored last week’s vicious attack on the Water Protectors, as they call themselves.
The construction of the pipeline would violate the human right to water, the right of Indigenous peoples to practice their cultural traditions, and several federal statutes.
On October 27, more than 100 police from seven different states and the North Dakota National Guard, clad in riot gear and carrying automatic rifles, arrived in MRAPs [Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected military vehicles], Humvees and an armored police truck. They defended Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company behind the pipeline, and arrested 142 Water Protectors. That brings the total arrested since August to over 400. More than 40 people have been injured, and some have broken bones and welts from rubber bullets fired by officers.Read more
As the media focuses on Donald Trump’s sexually predatory behavior and Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street speeches, the future of the Supreme Court has received only an occasional mention. During the final presidential debate, the topic was finally given some attention.
When asked about late-term abortion, Clinton said Roe v. Wade “very clearly sets out that there can be regulations on abortion so long as the life and the health of the mother is taken into account.” Trump responded with the incendiary retort, “If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the 9th month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.”
What Trump was actually describing was a C-section, which would result in the birth of a live baby.
An examination of how the two candidates’ judicial nominees would likely vote on critical issues the high court will face reveals the enormous stakes in the upcoming presidential election.Read more
The almost daily reports of police killings of African-Americans and resulting community outrage have shined a light on persistent racism in the United States. Yet, in the first presidential debate, Donald Trump was asked what he would do to heal the racial divide and replied: “Bring back law and order.”
He added that the use of stop-and-frisk in New York and Chicago “worked very well” and “brought the crime rate way down.”
But, as reported in the New York Times, “about 90 percent of the people who were stopped were young black or Latino men who had committed no crime whatsoever, according to police data. Of those few who were arrested, the vast majority were charged with nothing more serious than possession of marijuana, not having guns.”
When debate moderator Lester Holt noted that stop-and-frisk had been ruled unconstitutional in New York because it “largely singled out black and Hispanic young men,” Trump disagreed.Read more
President Barack Obama has agreed to give Israel a record $38 billion in military aid over the next 10 years, cementing his legacy as the strongest financial supporter of Israel ever to occupy the White House. Obama, whom Israeli journalist Gideon Levy calls “the patron of the occupation,” increased the amount of money the U.S. provides Israel each year from $3.1 to $3.8 billion.
Although the corporate media portray the relationship between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as chilly, Obama put his money where his heart apparently is with the unprecedented allocation of military assistance to Israel.Read more
Fifteen years ago, 19 men committed suicide and took more than 3,000 people with them. The 9/11 attacks constituted crimes against humanity and should have been treated as such, with investigations and prosecutions of those who helped plan and finance the horrific crimes.
If they had been armed attacks by another country, George W. Bush could have lawfully used military force in self-defense under the United Nations Charter. But they were not. Neither Afghanistan nor Iraq had attacked the United States or any other UN member country. In fact, Iraq had not invaded any country for 11 years, since it went into Kuwait. Neither Afghanistan nor Iraq posed an imminent threat to any nation.
None of the hijackers hailed from Afghanistan or Iraq. In fact, 15 came from Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, the Bush administration invaded both Afghanistan and Iraq and changed their regimes, killing and injuring untold numbers of people. The resulting vacuum in Iraq has been filled by Islamic State, which formed and became powerful after the US invaded that country.Read more