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Posts Tagged ‘Regime Change’

Coming Soon to a U.S. Neighborhood Near You? Regime-Change Foot Soldiers Parading as Social Justice Warriors — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on September 27, 2020

Reading such comments almost forces one to conclude that the Democrats, at least the radical progressive wing of the Democratic Party, have no illusions about Biden’s real chances for beating Trump. After all, if victory looked certain there would be no need for the threats.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/09/22/coming-soon-to-us-neighborhood-near-you-regime-change-foot-soldiers-parading-as-social-justice-warriors/

Robert Bridge
 

Is the ‘Trump regime’ about to get a taste of the color revolution tactics that America has employed in the past against “illiberal” foreign governments that refused to toe the neoliberal globalist line? It’s looking highly likely.

Despite great efforts by the mainstream media to play it down, an increasing number of Americans are being subjected to a level of aggression, intimidation and street violence that the authorities seem unable or unwilling to control. This is no accident.

Since 2016, a series of actions by the political left indicate that the chaos unfolding on the streets of America is no grassroots movement on behalf of ‘social justice,’ but rather a carefully coordinated plan to oust Trump in the event the Democrats fail to get Biden into office. Indeed, for the orchestrators of this coup, what happens on Nov. 4 is of far more relevance that what happens on Election Day.

The first sign of trouble came in 2016, when none other than George Soros began spending a king’s ransom in local judicial elections. As the Daily Signal noted, “[r]adical social justice activists will serve as the top prosecutors for three major Washington, D.C., suburbs—including the two wealthiest counties in the U.S.—after George Soros’ political action committee poured $2.1 million into ordinarily sleepy local races.”

Only a crazed conspiracy theorist, like Newt Gingrich, apparently, would see any connection between Soros supporting radical prosecutors, and his other pet project of supporting ‘social justice’ groups, like Black Lives Matter and Antifa, who occasionally find themselves in need of a sympathetic justice system. And if local courts somehow fail to catch and release the hoodlums, Hollywood has shown a disturbing willingness to write out the bail checks. The only thing the looters and ‘peaceful protesters’ need now is a government mandate that requires masks be worn in public to protect their identities, and for property owners to understand they will be prosecuted for demonstrating their 2nd Amendment rights.

 

Now that the radicals have their institutional support structure all in place, a strange yet not wholly unexpected thing is happening. Although police brutality has been occurring in the United States long Trump became president, and it effects both whites and blacks, the ‘peaceful protesters’ are venting their outrage primarily against Republicans, which the left has come to associate with ‘white supremacists’ and ‘fascism.’ This demonization of the right, which the mainstream media is happy to accentuate so long Trump is at the helm, gives left-wing groups the bare amount of legitimacy they need to carry out their activities.

By way of example, consider the way members of Black Lives Matter aggressively taunted Republicans as they attempted to leave the Republican National Convention where Trump accepted the nomination for the presidential election. As Senator Rand Paul and his wife Michele walked down the sidewalk, a frenzied mob could be heard shouting, “say her name!” in reference to Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was shot to death by police at her home in March during a botched raid. Apparently it did not matter to the rabble, or they never knew, that Paul was responsible for filing legislation to prohibit police officers from using no-knock warrants like the one that led to the fatal shooting of Ms. Taylor.

 

Another strange coincidence for the coincidence theorists is that a number of Democrats have been calling for exactly the sort of harassment against Trump supporters that is now unfolding across the nation. In June, Maxine Waters, for example, incited her followers to “create a crowd, and you push back on them.” More recently, Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice president nominee, said in an interview with Stephen Colbert, “They [the protesters] are not going to stop before Election Day in November, and they’re not going to stop after Election Day…They’re not going to let up, and they should not, and we should not.”

Reading such comments almost forces one to conclude that the Democrats, at least the radical progressive wing of the Democratic Party, have no illusions about Biden’s real chances for beating Trump. After all, if victory looked certain there would be no need for the threats. In other words, what the Democrats are most concerned about are not the actual results of the election, which have a very high chance of being unfavorable, but rather the reaction to the results. On this point, appearances are everything. Thus the mainstream media, in cahoots with left-leaning polling agencies and colleges, have conditioned Liberals – in the very same way they did in 2016 with their hugely inaccurate polls – to believe that Biden simply cannot lose. It doesn’t require a degree in the theory of revolutions to predict how those BLM/Antifa protesters, many of whom were too young to vote in 2016, are going to react to the news of four more years of a ‘white supremacist in chief.’ Not calmly and rationally, that’s for sure. After all, we are talking about an entire generation that has graduated from Woke U. with a Marxist major in ‘American Imperialism’ and a minor in ‘Mass Destruction’.

© 2010 – 2020 | Strategic Culture Foundation | Republishing is welcomed with reference to Strategic Culture online journal www.strategic-culture.org.

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What U.S. Troops Are Really Doing In Syria | The National Interest

Posted by M. C. on September 25, 2020

One of the greatest contradictions in Washington’s Syria policy is not the reason(s) that we’re there but the fact that we haven’t left. At least twice now, there has been an order to withdraw that has never been carried out.

U.S. policy toward Syria is defined by an absurdity that can’t be neatly untangled—a low-intensity regime change mission defined as anything other than its central mission. Every now and then, we’re offered a new explanation for why our troops are in Syria. At this point, the best response is to say, “enough is enough.”

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/skeptics/what-us-troops-are-really-doing-syria-169410

by Michael Hall

James Mattis famously resigned from his secretary of defense post citing opposition to President Donald Trump’s order to remove U.S. troops from Syria. So it came as a mild surprise when it was recently confirmed that Mattis opposed a plan to assassinate Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria. This opposition was a prudent move as deposing Assad would not end Syria’s civil war but throw the country into deeper chaos. But this seeming incongruity of Mattis the hawk contra Mattis the dove is representative of the larger contradictions in Washington’s Syria policy.

 

These contradictions arise from the fact that U.S. policy in Syria has always been centered around opposition to Assad, rather than the defeat of ISIS, whose caliphate was destroyed long before Trump’s withdrawal order.

 

Perhaps this contradiction is most glaringly seen in the justifications Washington offers for the U.S. military presence in Syria. We are frequently told we’re there for one reason only to be given a new reason a few months later. It’s hard not to notice.

We were told the ISIS caliphate had to be defeated. But they lost their last scrap of territory in March 2019. Denied a physical base of operations, those going under the name of ISIS today are—as far as legitimate U.S. interests are concerned—indistinguishable from any other ragtag Sunni militias. But a defeated ISIS still wasn’t enough to convince Washington to withdraw.

 

ISIS’s caliphate was destroyed, completing the military mission that brought U.S. troops to the country. Why then are our soldiers still there? We’ve also been told they’re over there to counter Iran (which, by the way, had the same goal of destroying the ISIS caliphate).

 

Years ago, we were told that it’s important to be in Syria to counter Russia too. But today this mission—if it can be called that—amounts to the occasional road rage incident involving convoys representing the world’s only two nuclear superpowers pathetically struggling for space on a road or wheat field. It’s notable that this reason was recently revived to justify the decision to send more troops to Syria.

We’re also told that it’s important to support the Kurds and, though Washington has been quieter on this front lately, we were once told training and equipping anti-Assad militants was also vital. This latter notion resulted in an embarrassing situation where the CIA’s favored militants were fighting the Pentagon’s favored militants. These local groups have their own interests, but they shouldn’t be confused for America’s interests.

 

More recently, President Trump has touted a plan to “secure the oil” and his administration has paved the way for a U.S. company to manage some oil fields in the war-torn country. Trump has cited this as a reason for keeping the last few hundred U.S. troops in Syria. The thing is, ensuring American access to Syrian oil demands a certain level of security. More bluntly, it necessitates an endless occupation of Syria.

But, like any of the above reasons, it would be a mistake to accept that oil serves as the principal justification for the U.S. presence in Syria.

 

Trump has also defended the decision to keep a small contingent of troops in Syria by stating that Israel and Jordan asked him to keep our forces there. This justification was reaffirmed in a recent Trump rally where the president characteristically stated off-the-cuff, “The fact is, we don’t have to be in the Middle East, other than we want to protect Israel. We’ve been very good to Israel.”

What are we to make of this flurry of reasons for staying in Syria? It may be a little bit of each, but the overarching reason has always been to engage in a campaign of “regime change-lite,” tragically keeping Syria territorially divided in a simmering civil war and making Syrians bear the brunt of any—and there are many—negative consequences. This is why the United States originally armed anti-Assad rebels and why troops that were ostensibly sent to defeat ISIS have remained after the fall of the caliphate.

 

But viewing all these reasons together, it is dizzying to keep track of them. It is perhaps tempting to just take Trump at his word and assume that we’re actually there for the oil. While the amount of oil in Syria is a significant amount for Syrians, it’s nowhere near enough to be a vital concern for the United States. According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, the amount of oil in Syria is not even two percent of what Iran or Iraq boast, never mind America’s own status as the number one oil producer in the world.

In fact, this is what’s striking about all of the above reasons in this list—not one of the justifications is about something vital to the security of the United States. Instead of carefully deconstructing each reason, this bird’s eye view is all we need to make sense of this confusing list of inconsistent and constantly evolving justifications for staying in Syria.

 

One of the greatest contradictions in Washington’s Syria policy is not the reason(s) that we’re there but the fact that we haven’t left. At least twice now, there has been an order to withdraw that has never been carried out.

U.S. policy toward Syria is defined by an absurdity that can’t be neatly untangled—a low-intensity regime change mission defined as anything other than its central mission. Every now and then, we’re offered a new explanation for why our troops are in Syria. At this point, the best response is to say, “enough is enough.”

 

We don’t need to keep playing this game of roulette where Washington spins the wheel and tells us why our troops are there—it’s a racket and should be recognized as such. Syria’s problems aren’t our problems and the only sensible option that comports with U.S. interests is a full withdrawal of American forces.

Michael R. Hall is the communications manager of Defense Priorities and a geopolitical analyst. Follow him on Twitter: @michaelryhall.

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‘Zombie Neocon’: How This Iran Contra Architect Is Leading Trump Policy | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on May 16, 2020

A little background on Abrams: when he served as Reagan’s assistant secretary of state for human rights, he concealed a massacre of a thousand men, women, and children by U.S.-funded death squads in El Salvador. He was also involved in the Iran Contra scandal, helping to secure covert funding for Contra rebels in Nicaragua in violation of laws passed by Congress. In 1991, he pled guilty to lying to Congress about the America’s role in those two fiascos—twice.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/zombie-neocon-how-this-iran-contra-architect-is-now-leading-trump-policy/

Hawk Elliot Abrams, reborn as a U.S. envoy, is at the spear point of recent aggressive moves in Venezuela.

US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliot Abrams addresses the Atlantic Council on the future of Venezuela in Washington, DC, on April 25, 2019. (Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

As we await answers on who funded the plot to use a handful of mercenaries and ex-Green Berets to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, it’s worth taking a closer look at the man behind regime change policy, the special envoy on Venezuela, Elliott Abrams.

Called the “neocon zombie” by officials at the State Department, Abrams is known as an operator who doesn’t let anything stand in his way. He has a long history of pursuing disastrous policies in government.

“Everything Abrams is doing now is the same thing he was doing during the Reagan administration. He’s very adept at manipulating the levers of power without a lot of oversight,” a former senior official at the State Department told The American Conservative. The official added that Abrams is “singularly focused” on pursuing regime change in Venezuela.

A little background on Abrams: when he served as Reagan’s assistant secretary of state for human rights, he concealed a massacre of a thousand men, women, and children by U.S.-funded death squads in El Salvador. He was also involved in the Iran Contra scandal, helping to secure covert funding for Contra rebels in Nicaragua in violation of laws passed by Congress. In 1991, he pled guilty to lying to Congress about the America’s role in those two fiascos—twice.

But then-president George H.W. Bush pardoned Abrams. He went on to support “measures to scuttle the Latin American peace process launched by the Costa Rican president, Óscar Arias” and use “the agency’s money to unseat the Sandinistas in Nicaragua’s 1990 general elections,” according to Brian D’Haeseleer.

Under President George W. Bush, Abrams promoted regime change in Iraq.

Abrams was initially blocked from joining the Trump administration on account of a Never Trump op-ed he’d penned. But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo succeeded in bringing him onboard last year, despite his history of support for disastrous regime change policies.

It’s no surprise that with Abrams at the helm, U.S. rhetoric and actions towards Venezuela are constantly “escalating,” Dr. Alejandro Velasco, associate professor of Modern Latin America at New York University, said an interview with TAC.

In just the last month, Washington has placed bounties on the heads of President Nicolás Maduro and a dozen current and former Venezuelan officials. The U.S. also deployed the largest fleet ever to the Southern Hemisphere.

Meanwhile, Abrams announced the “Democratic Transition Framework for Venezuela,” which calls on Maduro’s government to embrace a power-sharing deal. The plan doesn’t explain how Venezuelan leaders with bounties on their heads are supposed to come to the table and negotiate with Juan Guaido, whom the U.S. recognizes as Venezuela’s legitimate leader. Abrams has also said that the U.S. does not support a coup.

A few days after recommending a power-sharing arrangement, and 18 years after the U.S. backed a putsch against Hugo Chavez, Abrams warned that if Maduro resisted the organization of a “transitional government,” his departure would be far more “dangerous and abrupt.” To many, Abrams’ aggressive rhetoric against Maduro made it sound like the U.S. was “effectively threatening him with another assassination attempt,” like the one Washington had “tacitly supported” in 2018.

Two weeks after Abrams’ warning, Operation Gideon began. Jordan Goudreau, an American citizen, former Green Beret, and three-time Bronze Star recipient for bravery in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with Javier Nieto, a retired Venezuelan military captain, posted a video from an undisclosed location saying they had launched an attack that was meant to begin a rebellion that would lead to Maduro’s arrest and the installation of Juan Guaido.

In a public relations coup for Maduro, the plot was quickly foiled. Given that American citizens were involved and have produced a contract allegedly signed by Guaido, the incident has severely harmed the reputations of both the U.S. and the Venezuelan opposition.

Both President Trump and Pompeo have denied that the U.S. had any “direct” involvement with Goudreau’s plot.

However, the Trump administration has given billions of dollars from USAID to Venezuela, and that money is largely untraceable due to concerns about outing supporters of Guaido.

“With all the cash and arms sloshing around in Venezuela,” it is not hard to imagine how U.S. funding could inadvertently wind up supporting something like this, said Velasco.

There are other signs that the U.S. may have been more involved in the plot than they are saying publicly.

For one, American mercenaries don’t carry passports identifying themselves as American nor do they return to the U.S. where they can be brought up on charges for their work, said Sean McFate, professor of war and strategy at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and the National Defense University.

In order to sell weapons or training to another nation, it is necessary to receive permission from the State Department. It’s unclear whether Goudreau and his band did so. But Goudreau’s social media posts look like a pretty “clear cut” violation of the International Convention Against the Recruitment, Financing and Training of Mercenaries and the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR) said Peter Singer, a senior fellow at New America.

We know that months before the fated coup, the CIA met with Goudreau in Jamaica and allegedly warned him off the project. According to the AP, Goudreau is now under investigation for arms trafficking. Members of Congress have asked the State Department what they knew of Goudreau’s plans. Given the illegal nature of the supposedly unauthorized project, it’s very strange that the ringleader is at present in Florida, talking to the press and posting on social media.

Besides that warning, it seems no one in government tried to stop this calamitous operation.

And it’s not just regime change. Last year, Abrams advocated granting special immigration status for the 70,000 Venezuelans residing illegally in the U.S. as a way to “pressure Maduro” even though Trump ran on the promise to severely limit the number of people granted Temporary Protected Status.

It was in pursuit of special status for Venezuelans that Abrams showed himself to be “incredibly pompous, bull-headed, and willing to destroy anyone who opposes him, in a personal way, including by trashing their reputations in the media,” another senior State Department official told TAC. Abrams is not above hiding policy options he doesn’t like and offering only those he favors to Pompeo to present to Trump, sources said.

Abrams ultimately prevailed and Venezuelans received refugee status from the Trump administration, despite the fact that it betrayed Trump’s campaign promises.

According to Velasco, there are some people in the administration who believe that Venezuelans are the “new Cubans”—that they will become a solid, loyal Republican vote in the swing state of Florida if they’re granted special status. They also believe that Venezuelan expats want to see the U.S. remove Maduro. There are “many Cold Warriors” who believe all it will take is a “little push” for Venezuelans to rise up and take out Maduro, said Velasco.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment on whether Abrams is pursuing a military confrontation in Venezuela.

“Cold Warrior” beliefs are dangerous. While “Operation Gideon” was especially clownish, had it been more sophisticated, it could have easily sparked a world war. The Russians, Iranians, and Chinese are all operating in Venezuela.

That specter is even more concerning now that Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov has said that Russian special services are on standby to help Venezuela’s investigation of the mercenaries.

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Biden vs. Trump on Foreign Policy – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on May 9, 2020

We won’t know what’s in them until the election has passed.

https://original.antiwar.com/Reese_Erlich/2020/05/08/biden-vs-trump-on-foreign-policy/

We all know that President Donald Trump’s foreign policy has been a disaster. But is Joe Biden’s any better?

Trump promised to stop America’s endless wars but has stationed some 80,000 troops in the Middle East. He pulled out of the Iran nuclear accord, and imposed harsh sanctions and even sent drones to assassinate a top Iranian Revolutionary Guard. But Iran still has more political influence in Iraq than the United States. His administration negotiated an agreement with the Taliban, only to see it rejected by the US-installed Afghan government.

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee, sharply criticizes Trump but, unfortunately, continues to defend many of the failed policies of the Obama Administration.

During Biden’s time as Vice President, the White House went from fighting two active wars (Afghanistan and Iraq) to seven (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, drone war in Pakistan, and escalation in Somalia).

Biden now says he disagreed with some of Obama’s interventionist policies, most notably in Libya. Today Biden calls for easing Iran sanctions, returning to the Iran nuclear accord, and reestablishing relations with Cuba.

“Biden represents the return of the classical foreign policy establishment,” Alan Minsky, executive director of Progressive Democrats of America, tells me. “Biden is running a campaign as a restoration candidate.”

But given significant changes in the world’s balance of power, it’s not all that clear what Biden could restore.

A changing world

Many corporate, State Department, military, and intelligence officials – otherwise known as the Deep State – hate Trump for his nationalist, America First policies.

The President imposed tariffs on allies around the world. He’s questioned the need for NATO. China and Russia have grown stronger economically and politically on the world stage, even after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even card-carrying members of the Deep State acknowledge Washington has no reason to keep fighting in the Middle East. Martin Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel, says what’s “been hard for many in the American foreign-policy establishment, including me, to accept: Few vital interests of the US continue to be at stake in the Middle East.”

In a major mea culpa in The Wall Street Journal, Indyk admits, “[A]fter the sacrifice of so many American lives, the waste of so much energy and money in quixotic efforts that ended up doing more harm than good, it is time for the US to find a way to escape the costly, demoralizing cycle of crusades and retreats.”

Whoever wins the election in November will face an economy wracked by recession, an electorate wary of more long-term military interventions, and other countries determined to go their own way.

What kind of foreign policy will that produce?

Biden boasts

Biden boasts of his foreign policy credentials. He chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2001-2003 and 2007-2009. While generally hewing to interventionist Democratic Party policies, he has taken some independent stands, for example, by voting against the 1991 Gulf War.

By far Biden’s most reprehensible stand was his strong support for the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. As documented by Professor Stephen Zunes in The Progressive, Biden forcefully supported the war, but later claimed he opposed it. (Of course, Trump lied about his support for the war as well.)

When the Iraqi occupation failed in the mid-2000s, Biden infamously called for splitting Iraq into three parts along sectarian lines, so the United States could continue imperial control at least in Kurdistan.

Even today, Biden favors maintaining some troops in the region, using the excuse of fighting ISIS. “I think it’s a mistake to pull out the small number of troops that are there now to deal with ISIS,” he’s said.

Biden hasn’t learned the lessons of the Afghan war either. After nineteen years of failed war and occupation, he still wants to maintain some troops in the country.

“I would bring American combat troops in Afghanistan home during my first term,” Biden tells the Council on Foreign Relations. “Any residual US military presence in Afghanistan would be focused only on counterterrorism operations.”

But whoever wins in November will have to face the new reality: People in Afghanistan and the United States are fed up with the war. All foreign troops will have to withdraw.

Venezuela

Besides his bad record in the Middle East, Biden continues to support US domination in Latin America. Both Trump and Biden call for the removal of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, for example. Last year they supported efforts by Juan Guaido, the former head of the National Assembly, to anoint himself president.

The Venezuelan government accuses Washington and Guaido of trying to overthrow Maduro by armed force. Rightwing, former military officers tried to assassinate Maduro with a drone strike last year. Then on May 4, a group of mercenaries – including two US Army vets – landed on the Venezuelan coast intending to overthrow Maduro and install Guaido in power. The coup plot was organized by a Florida private security company. It has the earmarks of a US intelligence operation, although not surprisingly, Trump denies it.

While Biden has not formally called for regime change in Venezuela, neither has he criticized the armed coup attempts. And he favors economic sanctions to cripple the economy, saying: “The US should push for stronger multilateral sanctions so that supporters of the regime cannot live, study, shop, or hide their assets in the United States, Europe, or Latin America.”

In my opinion and that of many others, Bernie Sanders offered a far better foreign policy program than Biden. But Biden may at least restore the Iran nuclear accord, normalize relations with Cuba, and take steps to end the Yemen War.

But one thing is for sure. Those who oppose America’s wars of aggression should take to the streets in peaceful protests no matter who wins.

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Regime Change through the Drug War – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on April 3, 2020

U.S. officials knew that it would look bad to simply invade the country and effect a regime-change operation through force of arms. Undoubtedly, they considered a state-sponsored assassination through the CIA, which specialized in that form of regime change, but for whatever reason that regime-method wasn’t employed.

https://www.fff.org/2020/04/01/regime-change-through-the-drug-war/

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The Justice Department’s securing of a criminal indictment of Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro reminds us that when it comes to the U.S. government’s regime-change operations, coups, invasions, sanctions, embargoes, and state-sponsored assassinations are not the only ways to achieve regime change. Another way is through a criminal indictment issued by a federal grand jury that deferentially accedes to the wishes of federal prosecutors.

The best example of this regime change method involved the president of Panama, Manuel Noriega.

Like many corrupt and brutal dictators around the world, Noriega was a partner and ally of the U.S. government. In fact, he was actually trained at the Pentagon’s School of the Americas, which is referred to in Latin America as the School of Assassins. He later served as a paid asset of the CIA. He also served as a conduit for the U.S. government’s illegal war in Nicaragua, where U.S. officials were using the Contra rebels to effect a regime change in that country.

But like other loyal pro-U.S. dictators, Noriega fell out of favor with U.S. officials, who decided they wanted him out of office and replaced with someone more to their liking.

The big problem, of course, is the one that always afflicts U.S. regime-change aspirations: Noriega refused to go voluntarily.

U.S. officials knew that it would look bad to simply invade the country and effect a regime-change operation through force of arms. Undoubtedly, they considered a state-sponsored assassination through the CIA, which specialized in that form of regime change, but for whatever reason that regime-method wasn’t employed.

So, the regime-changers turned to the U.S. Justice Department, which secured a criminal indictment against Noriega for supposedly violating America’s drug laws. The U.S. rationale was that the U.S. government, as the world’s international policeman, has jurisdiction to enforce its drug laws against everyone in the world.

On December 20,  1989, the U.S. military invaded Panama to bring Noriega back to the United States to stand trial on the drug charges. One might consider the invasion to be one gigantic no-knock raid on an entire country as part of U.S. drug-war enforcement.

An estimated 23-60 U.S. soldiers were killed in the operation while some 300 were wounded. An estimated 300-800 Panamanian soldiers were killed. Estimates of civilian deaths ranged from 200 to 3,000. Property damage ranged in the billions of dollars.

But it was all considered worth it. By capturing Noriega and bringing him back for trial, U.S. officials felt that they had made big progress in finally winning the war on drugs. Equally important, they had secured the regime change that had been their original goal. At the same time, they sent a message to other rulers around the world: Leave office when we say or we’ll do this to you.

Noriega was convicted and received a 40-year jail sentence. When his lawyers tried to introduce evidence at trial of his close working relationship with the CIA and other elements of the U.S. national security state, not surprisingly federal prosecutors objected and the judge sustained their objections. Better to keep those types of things as secret as possible.

Alas, Noriega’s conviction and incarceration did not bring an end to the war on drugs, as this crooked, corrupt, failed, and racially bigoted government program continues to this day. Moreover, as Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro might soon find out., the drug war continues to provide an effective way for U.S. officials to effect regime change.

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Lift the U.S. Embargo on Cuba – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on March 7, 2020

Only 60 years! You have to give these things a chance…and of course a much bigger budget.

https://www.fff.org/2020/03/03/lift-the-u-s-embargo-on-cuba/

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The U.S. embargo on Cuba has been in effect for 60 years. It’s time to end it.

The embargo makes it a criminal offense for any American to spend money in Cuba or to do business in Cuba. If an American travels to Cuba and spends money there or does business there, he is subject to criminal prosecution, conviction, fine, and imprisonment by his own government upon his return to the United States.

The purpose of the embargo is regime change. The idea is to squeeze the Cuban people economically with the aim of causing discontent against Cuba’s communist regime. If the discontent gets significant enough, U.S. officials believe, the population will revolt and re-install a pro-U.S. regime into power.

Where is the morality in targeting the civilian population with death and impoverishment with the aim of achieving a political goal? Isn’t that why we condemn terrorism?

I say “re-install” because Cuba had a pro-U.S. dictator in power before the Cuban revolution installed Fidel Castro into power. The country was ruled by a man named Fulgencio Batista, one of the most brutal and corrupt dictators in the world. U.S. officials didn’t care about his tyranny because he was a pro-U.S. dictator — that is, one who could be counted on to do the bidding of the U.S. government.

But the Cuban people, who were suffering under Batista’s regime, revolted against it. Successfully ousting Batista from power, new Cuban dictator Fidel Castro made it clear that he would be no such puppet. In the eyes of U.S. officials, that made him a threat to “national security.”

What many Americans fail to realize is that the embargo is actually an infringement on their liberty. Under principles of freedom, people have the natural, God-given right to travel anywhere they want and spend their money any way they want. Freedom of travel and economic liberty are encompassed by the rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness that the Declaration of Independence enumerates as rights that preexist government.

When the American people agreed to this fundamental infringement on their rights and liberty, it was at the height of the Cold War. U.S. officials told them that there was a worldwide communist conspiracy based in Russia to take over the world, especially the United States. Cuba, U.S. officials said, was a spearhead in that effort. If a communist regime was permitted to remain in Cuba, which is only 90 miles away from U.S. shores, they said, there was no way to keep America from going Red.

The irony is that America was already going socialist and without an invasion by Cuba. That was reflected by the U.S. embrace of such socialist programs as Social Security, Medicare, public schooling, immigration controls, and a central bank, all of which are core elements of Cuba’s socialist economic system.

Terribly fearful of this supposed communist threat to conquer the United States, the American people traded away their rights and liberties for the sake of purported safety and security from communism.

The irony is that Cuba never attacked the United States and never even threatened to do so. Throughout the Cold War, it remained an impoverished Third World nation that never posed any military threat to the United States.

Instead, throughout the Cold War it was always the U.S. government that was the aggressor against Cuba. Not only did the U.S. government target the Cuban people with its embargo, it also secretly partnered with the Mafia to assassinate Castro.

In fact, the reason that Castro invited the Soviet Union to install nuclear missiles in Cuba was not to attack the United States but rather to deter the U.S. government from invading Cuba a second time or to defend Cuba in the event of another U.S. invasion of the island.

The Cold War ended some 30 years ago, but not for the Cuban people. When it comes to freedom and prosperity, they have been left behind, squeezed in a vise that consists of socialism on the one side and the U.S. embargo on the other.

Fidel Castro outlasted the embargo and the U.S.-Mafia murder attempts on his life and ended up dying four years ago. Nonetheless, the embargo goes on.

It’s time to bring an end to this sordid, immoral behavior on the part of U.S. officials. Leave the Cuban people alone, and restore freedom to the American people. If Cubans want to end their socialist system, that’s up to them to do so. The U.S. government has no legitimate business contributing to their suffering with its brutal economic embargo.

Moreover, the American people have the right to the restoration of their rights of freedom of travel and economic liberty, which should never have been traded away in the first place. The U.S. government has no legitimate authority to be prosecuting and punishing Americans for exercising what are natural, God-given rights.

Lift the embargo, now. It’s the morally and economically sound thing to do.

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Opportunity To Repatriate American Cars From Cuba?

 

 

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MoA – The Russian Prime Minister Resigns And No One Knows Why

Posted by M. C. on January 16, 2020

It appears we didn’t see this coming.

Peaceful regime change and no one died. Definitely not a CIA job.

If Russia hacked

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2020/01/the-russian-prime-minister-resigns-and-no-one-knows-why.html#more

Moon Of Alabama

A curious ‘regime change’ happened in Russia today as the Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev and his whole cabinet resigned.

This morning President Vladimir Putin held his yearly speech to the Federal Assembly of Russia (English transcript). Putin spoke about Russia’s demographic situation, its weaponry and the celebration of the upcoming 75th anniversary of its second world war victory.

But the most important part was about constitutional changes. A summary via TASS:

Putin has suggested a putting up a package of constitutional amendments for a plebiscite. At the same time, the Russian president stated that he sees no grounds to adopt new constitution in Russia.Putin also suggest stipulating the supremacy of the Russian Constitution over international norms in Russia.

“The time has come to make some changes to the nation’s fundamental law that would directly guarantee the priority of the Russian Constitution in our legal space. What does this mean? It means that requirements of international law and decisions of international bodies can only be enforced in Russia to such an extent that does not violate human and civil rights and freedoms and does not violate our Constitution,” Putin emphasized.

It seems that the European Court of Human Rights has pissed off Russia once too often. The court is associated with the Council of Europe which has 47 member states including Russia. It has several times judged in the favor of renegade oligarchs in exile and the ‘western’ supported wannabe opposition in Russia.

Putin then proposed additional changes to the constitution. These were probably the points that led to Medvedev resignation:

Putin agrees that the same person should not hold the post of the head of state for more than two consecutive terms.”I know that our society is debating the constitutional provision that the same person should not hold the office of President of the Russian Federation for more than two consecutive terms. I do not believe that this question is of fundamental importance, but I agree with this,” Putin said.

The TASS interpretation that Putin ‘agrees that the same person should not hold the post of the head of state for more than two consecutive terms’ is not supported by Putin’s statement…

Medvedev is thereby not sidelined but gains a position in which he is Putin’s deputy in important internal and external affairs.

In the evening Putin announced that he appointed Mikhail Mishustin, the head of Russia’s Federal Tax Service, as the new Prime Minister. The 53 year old native of Moscow is practically unknown to the wider public. He is a curious and surprising choice.

Even Russian analysts near to Putin seem not to know if Putin and Medvedev had planned today’s ‘regime change’ or if it was a totally spontaneous move by a pissed off Medvedev. They also seem unsure if Putin wants to leave in 2024 or if he wants to stay for another term.

We are thus left to make our own bets.

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According to a report citing intelligence sources, the FBI ...

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Another Crisis in the Middle East – When Will We Ever Learn?

Posted by M. C. on January 9, 2020

https://boydcatheyreviewofbooks.blogspot.com/

by Boyd Cathey

Friends,

Qasem Soleimani is dead, his life snuffed out by missiles shot from American drones which targeted his convoy near Bagdad International Airport. By all accounts this man, in many ways the second most important figure in Iran, was the mastermind of numerous violent actions—we call them “terrorist” acts—throughout the Middle East, and very likely was indirectly (maybe directly) responsible for the deaths of dozens of Americans in the region, at least if we can believe our discredited intelligence agencies (it’s ironic that most of those who rightly indict these agencies for their anti-constitutional attempts to “take out” President Trump, now enthusiastically embrace the assessments of those very same agencies when it comes to Iran).

And now the Iranians have reacted directly by firing ground-to-ground missiles aimed at Iraqi army bases; from reports no Americans, military or civilian, were killed or injured in these attacks. That may or may not indicate a particular strategic calculation on the part of the Iranians. Indeed, if this should be the only major response to Soleimani’s death it may—underline “may”—indicate an implicit desire to lower the level of high stakes hostilities…and a realization that the United States under President Trump is unlike previous American administrations. After all, Soleimani was arguably the most powerful and most significant military leader in Iran; the Iranians, given his death, had to react. As our leaders recognized, that was certain, and the attacks by the Iranians did not come as a surprise.

But now that this is done, multiple questions arise.

Watching “Fox & Friends” this morning there appeared former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and newscaster Brian Kilmeade, all a-twitter—almost in a frenzy—talking about “regime change” in Iran, about a “future strategy” to “take out” the regime in Tehran, about a Middle East strategy of total American involvement which takes hardly any account of the fall of Soviet Russia or the sorry record of repeated American disaster in that region of the world (e.g. Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, etc.).

President Trump ran for office on a platform of strategic disengagement from many areas of the world, the draw-down of American troops, including from the immense and complex quagmire of the Fertile Crescent.

The fall of Communism in late 1991 as a world threat radically altered global politics. Winst0n Churchill once described Soviet Russia as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”; if that was the case with Communist Russia, it certainly describes tenfold the situation in places like Iraq or Syria…

But American interests in this case do not coincide with the interests of either Israel or with the Neocons policy wonks who zealously continue to push what they call “democratic regime change” (at the price of thousands of dead Americans). Since 1991 that has been attempted too many times with horrendous results. It is not in the interest of the United States.

No; we have made our point in Iraq. We need now to find a way to withdraw our troops from that nation whose parliament just asked us to leave (Iraq is, after all, a sovereign nation). Our invasion and toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003, while presented as necessary by the G. H. W. Bush administration was a tragic mistake, based on faulty and contrived intelligence. Yes, he was a cruel dictator, but he was a Sunni Muslim (who favored Iraq’s large Christian population) and a staunch opponent of Iran. What we “achieved” by that invasion was rule by a fanatical Shi’a majority, favorable to Iran…just the reverse that those think-tank ensconced Neocon “experts” and advisers promised us. And with dozens of body bags on their way back to American shores.

Let us hope that America will now finally come to its senses.

Let us pray that President Trump will honor his campaign promises…

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Iran's female skier blazes a trail to Pyeongchang | Iran ...

 

 

 

 

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Is Trump’s New Drug Cartel Terrorism Designation Masking a More Sinister Agenda?

Posted by M. C. on December 12, 2019

If the Trump administration is serious and attempts to unseat AMLO, do not expect the media to resist it. Democracy won’t die in darkness in Mexico; it will die to the sound of cheering from the Washington Post editorial board.

https://www.mintpressnews.com/trump-mexico-drug-cartel-terrorism-designation-agenda-obrador/263193/

By Alan Macleod

President Donald Trump announced that he will designate Mexican drug cartels as “terrorists”, paving the way for a potentially massive increase in American military involvement directly south of its border. “They will be designated,” Trump told ex-Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly during an interview, revealing that he asked the Mexican government for permission to put soldiers on the ground: “let us go in and clean it out,” Trump said, revealing that they have “so far has rejected the offer. But at some point, something has to be done.”

Mexico’s left-wing president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, commonly referred to by his initials, AMLO, hit back Friday, insisting that his country had not been invaded for more than a century and that he would not permit an invasion under his watch, revealing exactly how he understood Trump’s offer.

The United States has increased its intervention in the domestic affairs of Latin American countries of late, supporting a coup that last month overthrew AMLO’s Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales. An official White House statement noted that Morales’ ouster constitutes a “significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere,” claiming that “after nearly 14 years and his recent attempt to override the Bolivian constitution and the will of the people” the coup means “We are now one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western Hemisphere.”

Operation Condor 2.0

The statement specifically mentioned Venezuela and Nicaragua as the next targets of U.S. regime change, and Trump’s former Special Advisor on Latin America, John Bolton, described the countries as belonging to a “troika of tyranny.” This brazen policy of overthrowing democratically-elected left-wing administrations has been dubbed Operation Condor 2.0 by The Grayzone’s Ben Norton.

AMLO has been in office since December 1, 2018, and is Mexico’s first left-of-center president in decades. He came to power in a landslide, promising to end the “disastrous” 36-year neoliberal experiment in his country and oppose “the small minority that has profited of its influence.” He has enacted a number of cost-cutting measures, including selling off a presidential plane and reducing his own salary. He has used some of this money to fund infrastructure projects like building railroads and to give direct cash transfers to the poor.

Inequality has fallen, but the country continues to be plagued by drug-related violence. His approval ratings are among the highest of any head of state in the world. He bypasses the traditional, conservative media by putting out a daily conference at 7 a.m. where he speaks directly to the nation. He also immediately sent a jet to rescue Morales after his downfall, offering him asylum in Mexico City.

ALMO approval ratings ingoggraph

Everybody in Latin America knows what happens to leftist heads of state who challenge the power of the local elites and of the U.S. government. The list of overthrown or assassinated presidents is virtually endless: Jacobo Arbenz (Guatemala), Cheddi Jagan (Guyana), Joao Goulart (Brazil), Salvador Allende (Chile), Omar Torrijos (Panama), Jean-Bertrand Aristide (Haiti), Fernando Lugo (Paraguay) and Dilma Rousseff (Brazil) are just a few.

AMLO is very open about the possibility of his own impending death, discussing it on Twitter last month. He argued that the hawks who dream of overthrowing him have not taken into account his large social base who will protect him and “not allow another coup d’état.

The U.S. government has used the terrorist designation in Latin America before to justify an increased military presence. Overnight Colombian narco-traffickers became “narco-terrorists,” as the Bush administration used the extant war on terror legislation to push through an expanded military role in supporting the local government which was waging war on its own population, a program called “Plan Colombia.”

 

The “resistance” media stands by Trump

Fox News immediately demanded American boots on the ground. “We’ve done it before in Colombia…the president’s got to force his way in there,” one host said, after dismissing AMLO’s refusal.

Perhaps most ominously, the “resistance” media that nominally opposes Trump on domestic issues but stands shoulder-to-shoulder with him on international policy, has begun quietly sowing the seeds for regime change in Mexico.

Last week the Washington Post wrote that AMLO is “consolidating power” and “threatening some of Mexico’s hard-won democratic gains,” claiming that he is “weakening institutions that safeguard human rights and clean elections and is exerting more control” over the country. It also presents his daily news conference as a threat to “independent” (i.e. corporate) media that are critical of him. The language used is distinctly similar to that used by the White House’s in justifying its support for the coup in Bolivia, and to that which the Post has used to call for a coup in Venezuela.

Last month, its editorial board welcomed the Bolivian military deposing Morales, claiming that he has “grown increasingly autocratic,” arguing that he personally controlled the country’s democratic institutions. In 2017, it published an article entitled “The odds of a military coup in Venezuela are going up. But coups can sometimes lead to democracy,” suggesting the country’s military should intervene to overthrow the leftist government of Nicolas Maduro.

If the Trump administration is serious and attempts to unseat AMLO, do not expect the media to resist it. Democracy won’t die in darkness in Mexico; it will die to the sound of cheering from the Washington Post editorial board.

Feature photo | Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador points to a reporter during his daily morning press conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Nov. 13, 2019. Marco Ugarte | AP

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The USA’s History Of Controlling The OPCW To Promote Regime Change – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on November 1, 2019

Think of this the next time you hear the lamestream media say Assad gassed his people.

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/10/29/the-usas-history-of-controlling-the-opcw-to-promote-regime-change/

You wouldn’t know it from today’s news headlines, but there’s a major scandal unfolding with potentially far-reaching consequences for the entire international community. The political/media class has been dead silent about the fact that there are now two whistleblowers whose revelations have cast serious doubts on a chemical weapons watchdog group that is widely regarded as authoritative, despite the fact that this same political/media class has been crowing all month about how important whistleblowers are and how they need to be protected ever since a CIA spook exposed some dirt on the Trump administration.

When the Courage Foundation and WikiLeaks published the findings of an interdisciplinary panel which received an extensive presentation from a whistleblower from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) investigation of an alleged 2018 chlorine gas attack in Douma, Syria, it was left unclear (perhaps intentionally) whether this was the same whistleblower who leaked a dissenting Engineering Assessment to the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media this past May or a different one. Subsequent comments from British journalist Jonathan Steele assert that there are indeed two separate whistleblowers from within the OPCW’s Douma investigation, both of whom claim that their investigative findings differed widely from the final OPCW Douma report and were suppressed from the public by the organization.

The official final report aligned with the mainstream narrative promulgated by America’s political/media class that the Syrian government killed dozens of civilians in Douma using cylinders of chlorine gas dropped from the air, while the two whistleblowers found that this is unlikely to have been the case. The official report did not explicitly assign blame to Assad, but it said its findings were in alignment with a chlorine gas attack and included a ballistics report which strongly implied an air strike (opposition fighters in Syria have no air force). The whistleblowers dispute both of these conclusions.

At the very least we can conclude from these revelations that the OPCW hid information from the public that an international watchdog organization has no business hiding about an event which led to an act of war in the form of an airstrike by the US, UK and France. We may also conclude that skepticism of their entire body of work around the world is perfectly legitimate until some very serious questions are answered. Right now no attempt is being made by the organization to bring about the kind of transparency which would help restore trust, with multiple journalists now reporting that the OPCW is refusing to answer their questions.

It is also not at all unreasonable to question whether the OPCW could have been influenced in some way by the United States behind the scenes, given how its now-dubious final report aligns so nicely with the narratives promoted by the CIA and US State Department, and given how we know for a fact that the US has aggressively manipulated the OPCW before in order to advance its regime change agendas.

In June of 2002, as the United States was preparing to invade Iraq, Mother Jones published an article titled “A Coup in The Hague” about the US government’s campaign to oust the OPCW’s very first Director General, José Bustani. If you’ve been following the recent OPCW revelations you will recall that Bustani was one of the panelists at the Courage Foundation whistleblower presentation in Brussels on October 15, after which he wrote the following: “The convincing evidence of irregular behavior in the OPCW investigation of the alleged Douma chemical attack confirms doubts and suspicions I already had. I could make no sense of what I was reading in the international press. Even official reports of investigations seemed incoherent at best. The picture is certainly clearer now, although very disturbing.”

Mother Jones (which used to be a decent outlet for the record) breaks down how the US government was able to successfully bully the OPCW into ousting the very popular Bustani from his position as Director General in April 2002 by threatening to withdraw funding from the organization. This was done because Bustani was having an uncomfortable amount of success bringing the Saddam Hussein government to the negotiating table, and his efforts were perceived as a threat to the war agenda.

“Indeed, US officials have offered little reason for its opposition to Bustani, saying only that they questioned his ‘management style’ and differed with several of Bustani’s decisions,” Mother Jones reports. “Despite this, Washington waged an unusually public and vocal campaign to unseat Bustani, who had been unanimously reelected to lead the 145-nation body in May, 2000. Finally, at a ‘special session’ called after the US had threatened to cut off all funding for the organization, Bustani was sent packing.”

This happened despite broad international support for Bustani, including from then-Secretary of State Colin Powell who’d written to the renowned Brazilian diplomat praising his work in February 2001. According to the report’s author Hannah Wallace, the US was able to oust a unanimously re-elected Director General due to the disproportionate amount of financial influence America had over the OPCW.

“[I]n March of 2002, Bustani survived a US-led motion calling for a vote of no confidence in his leadership,” Wallace writes. “Having failed in that effort, Washington increased the pressure, threatening to cut off funding for the organization — a significant threat given that the US underwrites 22 percent of the total budget. A little more than a month later, Bustani was out.”

“Bustani suggests US officials were particularly displeased with his attempts to persuade Iraq to sign the chemical weapons treaty, which would have provided for routine and unannounced inspections of Iraqi weapons plants,” Wallace reported. “Of course, the Bush White House has recently cited Iraq’s refusal to allow such inspections as one justification for a new attack on Saddam Hussein’s regime.”

“Of course, had Iraq [joined the OPCW], a door would be opened towards the return of inspectors to Bagdad and consequently a viable, peaceful solution to the impasse,” Bustani told Mother Jones. “Is that what Washington wants these days?”

Bustani told Mother Jones that he was already seeing a shift in the OPCW into alignment with US interests. Again, this was back in 2002.

“The new OPCW, after my ousting, is already undergoing radical structural changes, along the lines of the US recipe, which will strike a definitive blow to the post of the Director General, making it once and for all a mere figurehead of a sham international regime,” he said.

“Bustani traces the shift to the influence of several hawkish officials in the Bush State Department, particularly Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, John Bolton,” Wallace wrote.

Indeed, we’ve learned since that Bolton took it much further than that. Bustani reported to The Intercept last year that Bolton literally threatened to harm his children if he didn’t resign from his position as Director General.

“You have 24 hours to leave the organization, and if you don’t comply with this decision by Washington, we have ways to retaliate against you,” Bolton reportedly told him, adding after a pause, “We know where your kids live. You have two sons in New York.”

The Intercept reports that Bolton’s office did not deny Bustani’s claim when asked for comment.

It is worth noting here that John Bolton was serving in the Trump administration as National Security Advisor throughout the entire time of the OPCW’s Douma investigation. Bolton held that position from April 9, 2018 to September 10, 2019. The OPCW’s Fact-Finding mission didn’t arrive in Syria until April 14 2018 and didn’t begin its investigation in Douma until several days after that, with its final report being released in March of 2019.

It is perfectly reasonable, given all this, to suspect that the US government may have exerted some influence over the OPCW’s Douma investigation. If they were depraved enough to not only threaten to withdraw funding from a chemical weapons watchdog in order to attain their warmongering agendas but actually threaten a diplomat’s family, they’re certainly depraved enough to manipulate an investigation into an alleged chemical weapons attack. This would explain the highly suspicious omissions and discrepancies in its report.

It is a well-established fact that the US government has long sought regime change in Syria, not just in 2012 with Timber Sycamore and the official position of “Assad must go”, but even before the violence began in 2011. I’ve compiled multiple primary source pieces of evidence in an article you can read by clicking here that the US government and its allies have been planning to orchestrate an uprising in Syria exactly as it occurred with the goal of toppling Assad, and a former Qatari Prime Minister revealed on television in 2017 that the US and its allies were involved in that conflict from the very moment it first started.

So to recap, we know that the US government has manipulated the OPCW in order to advance regime change agendas in the past, and we know that the US government has long had a regime change agenda against Syria. Many questions will need to be answered before we can rule out the possibility that these two facts converged in an ugly way upon the OPCW’s Douma investigation.

________________________

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